Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Z is for Zombie

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Happy Halloween!

I was able to leave work a little early to be home in time for Trick or Treating.  I put out some pumpkins and a happy Halloween sign to let kids know candy is available! There are kids in the neighborhood, but I guess they think people in our units don’t hand out candy because some will  just walk right by our door.

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We don’t get a lot of trick or treaters, so I usually have a ton of extra candy. This year I bought a lot less, but I bought quality vegan candy: Sjaaks Halloween bites (peanut butter and orange – that’s two different flavors, not a combination) and caramel bites, all with fair trade chocolate, and Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears.

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Halloween dinner:
Black tofu, forbidden rice, orange bell pepper, and roasted butternut squash with coriander seeds (from Veganomicon) .

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While I waited for trick or treaters, I made Halloween sugar cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

Zombies and braaaains!

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Bats, cats, ghosts, pumpkins and witch’s brooms.

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Ghosts in the graveyard with vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream

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Last weekend, I celebrated  Halloween with a costume 5K and brunch party.

The Running Scared 5K in McHenry benefited Illinois Special Olympics. This was its first year, so it was not a large race, but the majority of people were in costume. I went as Robin.

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And I won! During the whole race I was in front, which is a scary place to be when you don’t know the route. I have never had to worry about making a wrong turn in a race before. Turns out, I am not a good race leader. Either I missed an arrow or the race missed putting an arrow at the intersection, but I led around 15-20 people on a .3 mile detour; it was a long 5K. My official time was 24:33 and I probably added about 2 minutes by doing the extra loop.

Halloween Brunch Menu

Spooky Hummus

Caramelized Onion Quiche

Pumpkin French Toast

Gluten-Free Pancakes

Apple Sticky Buns

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

Hot Cranberry Apple Cider

The quiche, french toast and pancakes were from Vegan Brunch; my friend brought the pumpkin muffins.

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C is for Candy Corn

I love candy corn. My addiction started in college and continued until I realized they contained gelatin. I can’t explain my love for this super sweet candy, because I always felt sick to my stomach after eating them. Giving up a cheese pizza is nothing compared to resisting the bags of orange, yellow and white candies that are everywhere this time of year.

If you can’t buy it, make it. That’s my suburban vegan mantra. I pinned this candy corn recipe from Fork & Beans. She made Valentine’s Day candy corn, but I stuck with the traditional. It’s a simple recipe, but be prepared for hand cramps; there is lots of kneading (it didn’t help that I let some of it sit out too long). I used half the dough for candy corn and the other half for pumpkins.

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I have a bit of a stomachache from all the sugar, so definitely a success!

Fourth of July Recap

My parents are in town and we started the celebration of America’s birthday with America’s pastime. It was my first time to US Cellular Field. The White Sox were playing the Texas Rangers. The White Sox soundly beat the Rangers, 19-2. Not that I go to a lot of baseball games, but this is the most runs I have ever seen scored. It made for a very exciting game.

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I heard there was a vegan Sloppy Joe at the ballpark, but during the third inning or so, I read that it is only available on the club level. Unfortunately, you cannot get there without club level tickets and they are quite strict about it. I was a little annoyed about that, because, besides that MLB website, no one bothered to mention the Sloppy Jane was only for the elite. According to the concession stand workers, the veggie burger is vegan. However, the veggie dog is not.

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The one bad thing about the evening was the trip home. We took the 11:30 train, which only goes to Crystal Lake. There are always cabs at Crystal Lake station, except Tuesday night. We couldn’t get a cab to come, so we just waited. Of course, 10 minutes before the next train came in (the one that went to Woodstock), three cabs show up! At that point it was quicker and cheaper to take the train. We didn’t get home until after 2 a.m., so our plan to go to Moraine State Park in the morning was scrapped.

On Wednesday morning, we started off with a patriotic breakfast: granola, strawberries, blueberries and vanilla coconut yogurt.

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That afternoon, we drove up to Lake Geneva, WI with a picnic lunch. We totally lucked out and found a nice shady spot with a picnic table.

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I made festive five bean salad from Vegan Holiday Kitchen; red, white & blue potato salad from Party Vegan; and red pepper, artichoke and pesto sandwiches from The Vegan Table.

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And of course, cupcakes. Chocolate stout cupcakes from Sticky Fingers Sweets with leftover cream cheese frosting from the Uncle Same cake. Unfortunately, the cream cheese frosting did not travel well. 20120705-111345.jpg

After lunch, we walked around the lake and some of the shops.

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For dinner, we went to the Baker House. It’s a lovely old house with lots of hats, which patrons are encouraged to wear.

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The cocktails were pretty good. I ordered a bellini.

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The gazpacho was good, too. In fact, I probably should have just ordered a big bowl of soup.

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But instead, I let the chef get “creative” and this is what I got: overcooked veggies, enough rice for a family of twelve and a paper American flag.

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After dinner there was a sunset toast. Everyone moved outside for free champagne. We got a little history of the house. Like most houses around the lake, it was once a summer house.

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I was previously informed that the dark chocolate fondue was dairy-free. Of course, on July 4th, they ran out and made their own dark chocolate with butter. So I had a couple bites of fruit and pretzels for dessert.

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We ended the evening with fireworks over the lake.

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Uncle Sam

He was our country’s first vegan uncle, right?

Red Velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

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It was delicious; another Sticky Fingers Sweets success. However, I do not advise using cream cheese frosting to decorate cakes.

Easter Review

I had my second order of cupcakes last week- one & a half dozen Easter cupcakes. There would be a mix of kids and adults, so I did half as baby farm animals – pigs, chicks & sheep.  Aren’t they cute?

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The adult cupcakes were a mixture of things. I made pink & purple white chocolate eggs to go on top of frosting grass

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I love these flower cupcake liners. I topped two of them with chocolate frosting and a white chocolate egg.

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The other two had lemon buttercream and a spring mix sprinkles.

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And finally, chocolate frosting with roses.

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They barely fit in the box.

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Easter brunch: traditional English breakfast according to Alicia Silverstone in The Kind Diet.

Roasted potatoes and tomatoes, tempeh bacon & Field Roast Sausage, spinach, mushrooms, and baked beans.

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Easter Dinner from Vegan Holiday Kitchen: Spring Vegetable Tart and Lemony Spinach and Chickpea Soup

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And finally, this is what the vegan Easter bunny would bring:

  • A dairy-free milk chocolate egg

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  • Confectioner’s glaze-free jelly beans

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  • Sweet & Sara peeps

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  • Homemade chocolate bunnies

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  • Chocolate Peanut Butter eggs

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Happy Mardi Gras

It’s Fat Tuesday, Sassafras’s favorite holiday! To celebrate we had Tofu Jambalaya from Fat Free Vegan and okra. I probably should have drained the tofu a little more, but the flavors of the dish were great.

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I attempted to make hand grenades, but this recipe was just awful. I watered it down with some ginger ale so we could drink it. It wasn’t like being at the Tropical Isle, but that’s probably a good thing.

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And finally, king cake! It’s not Mardi Gras without one. I made a cream cheese filled king cake this year and this recipe from PETA is pretty good, but it was hard to tell when the cake is done. I baked it longer than the stated 20 minutes, but it probably should have stayed in a little longer.

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Valentine’s Day at Expressly Leslie

I have been terribly sick since last Friday with some kind of sinus infection, but after three days of antibiotics, the majority of my remaining ailments are the medication’s side effects (which, honestly, are just as bad as being sick). I have two more days of this nonsense. But fortunately, I felt well enough to enjoy a Valentine’s Day dinner with H at the best restaurant in Woodstock, Expressly Leslie.  The only thing that could have made this night better was the bottle of champagne that we had to leave at home because I was still taking antibiotics.

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It started with a buffet of delicious dips and pita bread.

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I tried to get all the vegan dishes, but they didn’t fit on my plate. The spicy potatoes and Muhammara were my favorite dishes.

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The lentil soup was also very good.

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My favorites from the entree were the savory kunafa and the veggie kebab.

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And what is Valentine’s Day without dessert. The oranges and syrup were good and that thing behind the carrot cake was surprisingly delicious, but my favorite was the truffle. I love their vegan truffles!

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Groundhog Day Party

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Menu for the Second Annual Groundhog Day Party

Crackers and veggies with sun-dried tomato hummus and cilantro hummus
Chips and salsa
Mixed green and avocado salad with cilantro-cumin vinaigrette
Brazilian Collard Greens
Citrus Rum BBQ tempeh sandwiches with coleslaw
Mango black beans with rice
Peanut butter bites
Gluten-free blueberry crumb cake
Groundhog cupcakes

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Happy Groundhog Day!

The most wonderful time of the year! Last year the festivities were canceled because of the blizzard; this year it was a toasty 32 degrees and there was a large crowd at the Woodstock Square.

The Square is still decked out with Christmas lights. I love fog. Maybe not when I’m driving, but for standing around, it has a calming effect.

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I arrived at the Square shortly before seven, so I caught some of the singing. The guest of honor (besides Woodstock Willie, of course) was Bryan White. His career must be going nicely.

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Woodstock Willie dancing

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Woodstock Willie waiving to the poor people on the side who can’t see anything.

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Woodstock Willie did not see his shadow (yay!). Spring will be here soon!

I really wish they didn’t use a real groundhog. They have the big mascot, who is the highlight of the event; a stuffed groundhog would do the job. It’s not like the groundhog actually predicts the weather. The groundhog comes from some animal rental company and that kind of makes me sick. How is it treated in captivity and how traumatic is it being stuffed in a fake tree stump and then shown off to a big group of fans and cameras? It’s a fun celebration and groundhogs are  cute (and often overlooked), so it’s nice that they get their day, but there is no need to use a live animal.

Bye-bye, Willie!

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2012: the year of the dragon

Happy New Year!

This was the inspiration for New Year’s dinner (from Pier 1)

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I made mapo tofu.

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Steamed eggplant

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Noodles

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Vegetable dumplings. I made the wrappers and they were better than my first attempt a few years ago, but still a little too thick.

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And, of course, a lychee martini.

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