Saturday, December 31, 2011

Have a Safe and Happy New Year

I just wanted to wish everybody a spectacular New Year's Eve.  2012 is going to bring a whole lotta awesomeness on this blog.  I basically have all of January to catch up in the blogging world.  I have a few reviews and some giveaways planned.  Plus, more recipes.  So excited.

And I feel like I'm obligated to show what we had for Christmas, because I totally forgot to.  We basically spent the past week lounging around and eating way too many tamales.  For brunch we had sweet potato-pumpkin cinnamon rolls w/ maple cream cheese glaze, Spanish omelet from VWAV w/ romesco sauce, and sauteed spinach and chorizo (adapted from Vegan Brunch w/ Viva Vegan chorizo).

sweet potato-pumpkin cinnamon rolls
sauteed spinach w/ chorizo and lemons from our tree
spanish omelet and romesco sauce (in background)
spread of Viva Vegan awesomeness
Overall, this year has been incredibly pleasant for me.  I read a lot.  I wrote a lot.  I took a chance on something and almost succeeded, but the real win is that I didn't give up.  Vida Vegan Con was everything I dreamed it would be.  I went back to school (and straight owned my classes).  I learned a lot and struggled a bit.  Next year is gonna be even more epic.  I can feel it.

Wishing y'all a truly happy and safe night!  Have fun!  Stay safe.  See you on the other side of 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Festivus Miracle!

On Saturday, Era and I threw our first official Festivus since moving to California.  I was slightly worried because the two other parties we attempted, resulted in practically nobody showing up.  This party, however, was epic.  Dancing!  Drinking!  Food!  Fun!  So, I'd like to share with you how I did it.

homemade garland.  everything was from the dollar store.
Planning.  This is the key to any successful party.  I plotted out the menu.  I drew sketches so I knew where I wanted food to go.  I also decided what food would go in a certain dish.  You don't have to be as crazy as me, though.

dance floor before people arrived.
Know your guests' drinking habits.  Back home, my friends were all about liquor and Era's friends were about beer.  We make sure to have plenty of both on hand.  However, always go light on the beer because people WILL show up with beer.  Save yourself some money.  We started out with maybe 20 beers, and I don't even know how many bottles I recycled.  Also, treat your designated drivers and non-drinkers with respect.  Make sure to have plenty of juice and water.  This year, thanks to the PPK, I had a cider station.  It was a huge success!

i only bought three new liquors for this party.
cider station: pear cider, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and crystallized ginger.
Every room or area serves a different purpose.  The formal living room was the dance floor.  Dining room had most of the food.  Kitchen had the cider station, hot food, chips, and salsa.  Living room had pretzels, nuts, chocolates, and holiday movies.  Back yard was the smoking section.

world's simplest centerpiece.  cost 2 dollars to make.
fireplace decorated.  a friend brought me the poinsettias.  very thoughtful!
Have a menu that kills.  I made the appetizers center around cheese and crackers.  We were in mixed company, but everything was vegan except a small tray of dairy cheese, some eggnog, and Era brought some chocolates (there were also vegan versions of all of these).  I made the almond feta from Vegetarian Times.  I also set out Wayfare's hickory cheddar spread.  I also had a tray of pickles, grapes, olives, nuts, and apricots.  Plus, I made some olive salad, salsas, and a spread of Indian food.  Desserts were rice krispie treats, peanut butter fudge, gingerbread cupcakes from VCTOTW, and chocolate chip chai shortbread from VCIYCJ.

gingerbread cupcakes w/ lemon buttercream and crystallized ginger
almond feta
Have fun.  This is the most important thing.  Dance.  Drink.  Relax.  Talk to guests.  The best time is when you go from host to partygoer.

dancing machines
more dancing partygoers
Make sure to get a pole.  Trust me when I say that Home Depot is your best friend.  Do not pay $30 online for a Festivus pole when you can buy something similar for less than $10.

tabletop pole
I should be blogging again for Christmas, so see you soon!  Have a festive holiday season!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Why I Hate Apple Pie

My disdain for apple pie knows no bounds.  I hate it on a few levels.  First of all, the kinda pies I like are the stir and dump kind.  Just mixing all ingredients and pouring them in a crust is as invested as I like to get with pie.  So, I absolutely loathe peeling, chopping, and coring a bunch of apples for pie.  This year, I figured I'd throw the boy a friggin bone to see what dessert he wanted because he hates lemon and I was for realsies making lemon mousse pie.  Naturally, he said "apple," the most boring of all the pies.  My hatred is irrational, but what can I say. was good pie (cosmos apple).

full spread, but the potatoes aren't pictured
This year went by in a freaking blur.  I didn't prep as much as last year, but we were eating pretty much on schedule.  Onto the menu...

Thanksgiving 2011
Bryanna's Soy and Seitan Turkey
Cornbread stuffing
Cosmos Apple and Lemon Mousse Pies
Rad Whip
2 Buck Chuck all day, son!

mashed potatoes
there's some mac in that sea of cheese
As you can see, I love me some Tyler Florence.  My favorites this year: soy and seitan turkey, pies, rolls, and Alton Brown's mac and cheese.  Seriously.  I will never ever make another mac and cheese for Thanksgiving.  Easily subbed (I used blended silken tofu for the egg), and absolutely wonderful.  More expensive than I generally like, but definitely worth it.

green bean casserole w/ croutons instead of nasty onions
candied yams
Things I'd improve on: green beans, yams, cranberry sauce, and gravy.  The green beans were most excellent (those croutons are legit!), but I wanted more of a creamy base to tie everything together.  Though, I will definitely make this again with that minor tweak.  The yams were too sweet for my liking.  The cranberries were not sweet enough.  And the gravy...blech.  I just didn't like it so I made a quick poultry gravy.  Overall, we had a fantastic day and got drunk off of $2 wine.  Awesome!

roast was marinated in sparkling cider and roasted with carrots and onions
Happy Leftovers Day!  I'm buying nothing, doing nothing, and don't plan to leave my pajamas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moldy Nog Update

Y'all, this completely warrants a separate entry.  Earth Balance called me back yesterday, then emailed me, then called me back again today.  They wanted to see if I was all right after initially getting sick from the moldy nog incident.  I explained everything to them, and they are sending me some coupons because of everything!  Yay!  You know me and coupons, yo.

Anyways, I just wanted to say that I especially love when vegan businesses give a damn.

Also, I have learned a very valuable lesson in when to stop drinking things.  Haha.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nog Off: Earth Balance vs. So Delicious

EDIT: I just discovered the "chunks" were mold!  I'm dyiiing.  Omigod, I've never been so disgusted in my life.  Not sure why the other "chunks" didn't have mold in them.  Bah!  Gonna contact Earth Balance and the store I got it from.  Gross.

Awww yeah, boyee!  Early Christmas™ has crept its way into the calendar even earlier this year.  I swear, I saw Christmas lights before Halloween was even here.  About the only thing I love about Early Christmas™ is that I get to get drunk off nog for about 5 months straight.  Hallelujah, holla back!

2 will enter.  I will win!
The whole nog off idea kinda started as a joke when Jordan and Mike (of PPK fame) were talking about So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog.  While doing my Thanksvegan shopping, I also stumbled upon Earth Balance Soy Nog.  Now, you know it was on!

earth balance soy nog
First up was the Earth Balance nog.  What I basically did was taste it straight up...then drowned in alcohol.  The nog was creamy and on the medium side of thick.  The consistency was great for drinking straight up, but watered down easily when made alcoholic and served on the rocks.  There was a nice amount of spice, and I'm pretty sure I like this better than Silk Nog (or at least as much).  However, there was one large problem.  There were chunks in it, as in something went horribly wrong with the thickening.  I'm hoping it was just an anomaly because those chunks ruined an otherwise lovely drink.

so delicious coconut nog
The So Delicious nog was super creamy and ultra thick.  Not quite as thick as dairy nog, but the closest vegan version I've tasted.  I'm a fan of thinner nogs for drinking straight up, but this is perfect as a mixer.  Plus, the first thing I noticed were the huge flakes of nutmeg.  This does have a coconut essence, but it works super well with the overall nog.

Nog Off Results
Creaminess: So Delicious
Thickness: So Delicious
Spice: So Delicious
Price: So Delicious was $3.19, and Earth Balance was $3.89
Spiced Caucasian Pwnage: So Delicious
Overall Nog Factor: Tie

Clearly, So Delicious is the winner!  The Earth Balance nog is fantastic, but the chunks are worrisome and it just got slaughtered in a side-by-side tasting.  I'd still buy both, though, depending on my mood.

Now, I'll leave you with my favorite holiday dranky drank.  Enjoy, dudes!

Spiced Caucasian
lowball glass
1 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlua, etc.)
1 oz espresso vodka (Seagram's, Smirnoff, etc.)
vegan nog
nutmeg, optional

Fill the glass with ice. Top with liqueur and vodka. Fill will nog. Stir. Top with nutmeg, if so desired. For a truly caffeinated version, try Mocha Kahlua!

Monday, October 31, 2011

VeganMoFo V: Happy Shaun-o-ween!

We have reached the end!  I have to say that I am super ridiculous glad because I have been exhausted this semester.  Next year's MoFo will own.  I am already beyond organized.  This year was fun, but I have tons of blogs to read.  Even if I'm commenting in March, I will read your blog.  Phew.

Today, is a movie Monday of a different persuasion.  I decided to go with a horror marathon, seeing as how it's Halloween!  Today's movies are Lost Boys, The Craft, and Shaun of the Dead.

Halloween Menu
Red Beans and Maggots, Michael
Witches Brew
Girl in the Garden Cake

red beans and maggots, michael
The Lost Boys is this awesome vampire flick that stars the two Coreys.  That's pretty much all you need to know.  It's awesome.  Do not watch the sequel, as the only good part happens in the last 30 seconds.  Anyway...  Creepy ass Keifer Sutherland delivers the infamous line about maggots.  I figured that was easy enough.  Especially, since I was fiending for Kittee's red beans.

witches brew
The Craft is pretty much what Secret Circle ripped off.  It's about these three witches who ask a fourth, more powerful witch into their circle.  Plus, it takes place in high school so it's all angsty and whatnot.  Oh, and Fairuza Balk delivers the single best line in a witch movie (besides the whole Top That segment of Teen Witch).  "I'm flying!  I'm flyiiiiing!"  The drink was easy.  Lime skittles vodka and gingerale.  Yowza!

there's a girl in the garden.  what?  in the garden, there's a girl.
Okay.  I'm not too thrilled about this cake.  Not the flavor, but the decoration.  I keep reminding myself that I made everything from start to finish in only 3 hours between classes.  That takes the pressure off.  So, I know how to better navigate this the next time...and there will be a next time.

Mary, the shed, some tree things
You can't see that there is a hole in her right now.  That black thing is supposed to be the pole she gets skewered on.

you can see Mary's hole now
For those not in the know, Shaun of the Dead is one of the best zombie movies ever.  It's a zombie comedy and the reason I even started watching zombie movies.  I did it backwards...I knew very few of the references when I saw this.  I had to go back and learn about this stuff.  But it was worth it. Simon Pegg.  Swoon.

Well, that is all!  Happy Halloween!  See you next MoFo!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

VeganMoFo V: Salsa Lovin' Had Me a Blast

This is kind of an impromptu post. Last night, Era and I went to a family friendly Halloween party...only I didn't know it was family friendly until we got there.  My costume was Zoe from Fanboys (Picasso's blue period), so I had dyed tampons all over me.  Awkward.

Anyway, it was totally not vegan friendly.  Can a mothatrucka get a veg tray?!  However, the hosts were awesome AND made some damn fine salsas.  Era and I had an in depth talk about it last night.  At the very least, the two states I've resided in know their frickin salsas.  The host was telling us that the secret to their chunky variation was relish.  Whaaat?!  I even hate loathe abhor sweet relish, but that salsa was the jam!

my 30 second salsa.  recipe here.
My favorite salsa is definitely red, but I love all kinds.  Fruit ones, bean ones, corn, pepper based.  It's all good...

Pico de gallo-Fresh salsa.  Everything is diced.  This makes a perfect addition to quesadillas.  Just throw it in with the cheeze.  This recipe looks super.
Salsa Verde-I don't eat this nearly enough, but I used to go to a place that made poblano enchiladas with delicious salsa verde.  Cooking In Mexico has a few recipes.
Mango Salsa-This always reminds me of tropical things.  I really want to try it on some coconut tofu or something.  This recipe looks kinda nice because the huge mango chunks caught my eye.
Black Bean Salsa-I have served this at many a Festivus.  It's so easy and a bit more filling than your regular tomato variety.  Check out this droolworthy one.
Salsa Roja-Maybe the most complicated salsa to me.  It's got such a depth of flavor that I loves it.  However, working with dried chiles is scary to me.  I've not had very good experiences with getting great flavor from the.  User error for sure.  Peep the recipe I found.
Corn Salsa-I love this salsa so hard.  Actually, it always makes me want to go to Chipotle.  Fresh corn is the best, but holy crap I have to try this roasted corn salsa!

Hope everybody had a great weekend.  Expect many comments from me once MoFo is over and I have time to breathe.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

VeganMoFo V: MMMS-Saved

It's here!  My favorite Mandy Moore movie is here!  If you've never seen Saved, stop what you're doing and rent it today!  It's seriously amazing.  Dark comedy.  Religious fanaticism.  Heavenly ordained premarital sex.  I loves it!  Mandy plays a total jerkface named Hillary Faye.  She's this super hypocritical religious person, head of the Christian Jewels.  There's a lot going on in this: teenage pregnancy, Love Won Out type anti-gay camps, and the most effed up underwater Jesus vision ever.

Naturally, I wanted to make food that looks innocent, but is really not.  The only things innocent about this menu are the peas and carrots.

this meal ain't free.  read this pamphlet while you wait.
Collection Plate Special
Berbere Coconut Crusted Tofu
Smashed Potatoes and Beer Gravy
Peas 'n' Carrots
Fish Tank Jello Shot

mmm.  coconut tofu.
There are no recipes here, as I just threw things together.  The tofu had three dipping thingies: cornstarch, berbere, garlic pepper, poultry seasoning, thyme AND milk, whole grain mustard, berbere, hot sauce AND shredded coconut and nooch.  It was pretty damn good.  The potatoes are covered in beer gravy, but I accidentally grabbed a dark beer that I hate.  So...blech.  The peas and carrots are tossed with some dill and parsley.

there's a fish in there!
A character in the movie says that Jesus appeared to her in her fish tank.  You'll be seeing visions, too, if you down this lethal shot.  I really wish the jello shot wasn't so opaque.  Next time, I'm adding the smallest drop of food coloring.  I will definitely tweak this because 1 to 1 ratio of juice to alcohol is way too strong for me.  However, I'll share it because every recipe I saw online used too much damn agar powder.  These came out gel like.

Fish Tank Jello Shot
1 cup pineapple juice
2 Tbsp sugar
¾ tsp agar powder (not flakes)
1 cup flavored vodka or rum (coconut, passion fruit, or mango are great)
blue food coloring
Swedish fish

Combine the pineapple juice, sugar, and agar in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium until the agar has been activated, no longer than 5 minutes.  You'll know this has happened when the mixture starts boiling and thickens slightly.  Remove from heat, and stir in the alcohol.  Add a couple of drops food coloring.  Fill each cup with a Swedish fish, and pour the mixture over them.  Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

Be sure to use right away because the Swedish fish turns to goo after about a day.  Next time, I'm totally just putting the fish on top, maybe with whipped cream!

Friday, October 28, 2011

VeganMoFo V: Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

Since last year's MoFo, I've been trying to compile recipes that remind me of home.  Bread pudding, at its finest,  makes me feel so cozy that I feel like I'm back in SA.  Capirotada is a traditional bread pudding usually eaten around Lent.  I, however, am not religious so I eats it whenever.  Different ingredients have symbolic meaning, and you can read about it here.  What you mainly need to know: it's versatile and topped with cheese!

Basically, capirotada is layered bread, fruit, nuts, syrup "tea," and cheese.  It's baked off to perfection.  I've even seen some recipes containing tomato and onion, but that's a little too much for me.  The key to this is definitely stale bread.  Staler is better.  Also, go for the cuts through the sweetness and tastes awesome.

fresh out the oven
Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)
(serves 10)
Orange is not traditional in capirotada, but I love the flavor it lends. When making the “tea,” it should be just slightly thicker than actual tea.

4 cups water
2 piloncillos (Mexican brown sugar cones), broken
2 medium oranges, juiced
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp anise seed
½ tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp vanilla
zest from 1 medium orange
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup raisins or cranberries
2 small granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 lb loaf of French bread, stale or toasted and sliced
1 cup melty vegan cheese, optional

Make the syrup “tea” first. Combine the water, piloncillos, orange juice, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, anise seed, and cloves in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower to a simmer for 20 minutes, until piloncillos have dissolved and the mixture thickens slightly, though it will still be thin. Remove from heat and stir in the zest and vanilla. Discard the cinnamon sticks.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan and add half the bread in a single layer. Layer half of the pecans, raisins, and apples on top of the bread. Spoon half of the “tea” over this layer, making sure the bread soaks up the syrup. Repeat with the remaining bread, nuts, fruits, and “tea.” Let sit for 15 minutes so the bread can soak up the syrup.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, add the cheese, and bake for 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

the crustier the bread, the better
Feel free to replace the dried fruit and nuts with whatever you like best.  Today I used a cranberry and date combo.  I like pecans, but peanuts and almonds are also used.  I didn't use cheese this time because I didn't have any.  I really love cheddar on this.  So good!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

VeganMoFo V: Best Thing I Never Ate-Tyler Florence Edition

Technically, this isn't from Best Thing I Never Ate.  I just love Tyler Florence and Tyler's Ultimate.  I think his food is some of the most gorgeously shot food on the Food Network.  On the rare occasions that dude makes something veganizable, I'm totally there.

I've been wanting to make his ultimate Swedish meatballs for years.  Well, last night I did.  Totally amazeballs.

lingonberry sauce, mashed taters, meatballs, gravy, pickled cukes
The meal has three elements.  He serves the meatballs with these amazing potatoes and pickled cucumbers.  Tyler also does not skimp on the fat.  I didn't use nearly as much as he said, though adding a wee bit of olive oil to the potatoes made them super amazing.  Best potatoes ever!

For the meatballs, I just tweaked an albondigas recipe I've been working on.  It worked out fine, though I'm thinking about trying to make them soy and gluten free.  Anyway, the recipe I used last night is below.

this totally tastes like thanksgiving
Swedish Meatballs
1½ cups textured vegetable protein granules
1 cup beef flavored or regular vegetable broth
1 tsp marmite or 2 tsp dark miso
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp vegan worcestershire or steak sauce
4 Tbsp oil or margarine
1 small onion, minced
½ cup non-dairy milk
1½ tsp ground allspice
salt and black pepper to taste
2 bread slices, crusts removed, soaked in non-dairy milk
¾ cup vital wheat gluten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a large cookie sheet with non stick spray.  Bring the broth, marmite, olive oil, soy sauce, and worcestershire to a boil over medium heat.  Pour over the tvp to rehydrate. Meanwhile, heat the oil or margarine in a large skillet.  Cook the onion until translucent.  Mix the onion with the tvp before adding the milk, allspice, salt and pepper.  Squeeze the excess milk from the bread slices and add them to the tvp mixture.  Combine everything thoroughly before mixing in the vital wheat gluten.  Roll into walnut sized balls and place on greased cooking sheet.

Spray the tops with more non-stick spray and bake for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the gravy.

So...  Am I the only nerd with a thorough outline for next year's MoFo?  I already know and am researching my theme.  I feel way too disorganized this year.  Excited for this to come around again.  Tomorrow I can finally catch up on blogs.  Woo!

VeganMoFo V: End of the Rainbow

Since I didn't do a MoFo entry yesterday, this is the first of 2 entries.  My very last rainbow entry is....

aww yeah, sucka!

These are the ones from VCIYCJ, but I left out the chocolate chips on accident.  It was quite labor intensive to divide it into six different layers.  Next time, I would use the recipe as a base but put more cheesecake topping because it was seriously hard to blend the colors.  So much fun!

does a chocolate rainbow come from chocolate rain?
This was a fun thing to do even though it took a bit more work than the regular ones.  I think I'm going to do rainbow nights all the time now.  It's so purty!

Monday, October 24, 2011

VeganMoFo V: Woof, There It Is

I feel like most vegans have cats.  I, however, have dogs.  Ferocious little chihuahua mixes that are seriously fearless of anything...unless we're talking about boxes.  I present to you: Gizmo and Emma.

Name: Gizmo
Aliases: Many
Age: 7
Status: Adopted stray.  Era's niece had a dog who got a girl pregnant and Era introduced us on my 22nd birthday!
Best Friend: Mr. Frog.  He's gone through 3 in his lifetime, attacking the eye balls of each impostor upon introduction.
Vegan Likes: Carrots, frozen peas, nooch, the occasional bell pepper
Strengths: Super tracking abilities.  No human can hide for long.
True Story: Got hit by a truck and walked away with a one inch cut that healed within days.  The vet was amazed.
Dislikes: Anything cold, celery, and when Emma steals his toys.

Name: Emma
Aliases: Fo' dayz
Age: 7
Status: Adopted stray.  When Era was a substitute teacher, he called me up one day saying he found a girl chihuahua.  He waited a few days until he saw her again, and he brought her home.  We took her to the vet and the rest is history.
Best Friend: Ducky, but she'll totally steal Mr. Frog.
Vegan Likes: Carrots, frozen peas, apples, bell peppers, oranges, everything.
Freegan Likes: Straight dumpster dives like a mothatrucka.  Girl gets into everything.
True Story: Super jumping and opening abilities.  She has unzipped my backpack and my purse before.  And...without opposable thumbs!
Dislikes: Zombie sheep, dogs on television, when humans scratch their fingernails on upholstery.

These two chuckleheads are the loves of my life and best friends forever.  So, hope you liked meeting the two  other members of the Martin-Cisneros clan.