Month: March 2012

The Running Depot

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Besides Expressly Leslie, the other great thing about living in McHenry County is The Running Depot. I’ve met many good friends while running from the store. We had a Pam (the owner) appreciation event this morning. Unfortunately, I could not attend, but I sent a cake instead.

It was vanilla cake frosted with vanilla buttercream and a lemon buttercream filling.

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The cake got a little messed up in transport, but this is what it looked like at home (in bad lighting).

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Vegan Seafood Dishes

I found this recipe on Pinterest and veganized it using vegan shrimp from Chinatown and Earth Balance. It was delicious.

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I actually had to wait in a grocery store line on Sunday and I spent that time looking at Martha Stewart Living. With this noodle free lasagna recipe, an article on cupcake supplies and Easter decorating ideas, I decided to buy it. Honestly, the recipe is weird. It’s just a big mushy mess, but the flavors are good. I’ll buy a loaf of Italian bread tonight and we can spread the lasagna left-overs over toasty bread.

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We also tried Sophie’s vegan breaded calamari. I’ve never had calamari before, but H said it had a similar flavor. Some of them were tough, but I think that was a cooking issue. They all froze together and peeling them apart caused the breading to come off.

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Cupcake Decorating Class

Last Friday I took a Cupcake decorating class at MCC. I brought some of my own cookies, honey-free graham crackers, candies and Dandies marshmallows and I tried to make everything vegan. But there were a couple techniques I tried using melted white chocolate, which are not vegan.

Sheep made with Dandies marshmallows
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Using my skills from last week’s cake decorating class by making a rose

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The flower is not vegan, but I’ll be trying this technique with some vegan white chocolate soon.

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This was one of my favorite cupcakes- hyacinths using toothpicks and 2 Dandies marshmallows

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Combining two of my favorite things: shoes & cupcakes

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The Easter bunny with jelly beans and Dandies marshmallows

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And finally, a fish with jelly beans.

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Suburban Chicago Vegetarian Meetup Group’s Vegan Bake Sale

There was another bake sale on Sunday. I’ve made so many cupcakes recently with lots of left-over frosting. I used this opportunity to use up that frosting and practice some of the things I learned at class on Friday. I tried to make chocolate peanut butter eggs, which didn’t come out as pretty; the recipe needs a little tweaking.

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Grilled Avocado Bacon & Teese Sandwiches + an April Fool’s Challenge

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This is my first recipe using my free Teese. It was inspired by Two Peas in Their Pod, which is a great blog. Veganizing is often required, but I have pinned several recipes. Guacamole on grilled cheese is genius, but it’s even better when you add tempeh bacon and replace the cruelty with cheddar style Teese.

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April Fools’ Day Giveaway

Chicago Vegan Foods has a new giveaway with an even better prize package than the Superbowl competition (Dandies Vegan Marshmallows T-Shirt!!) Here’s what you need to do: “Make a video or pics of you pranking someone and submit it to us.  Extra points if it includes a Chicago Vegan Foods product. Post your proof to Twitter (use #ChicagoVeganPrank) or to our Facebook page.

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

St. Patrick’s Day, Madness Race Report & Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

We are having crazy warm weather in Chicago. This worries me for two reasons: global warming and if it’s 80 degrees in March, will it be 105 in August? But I’m not going to lie, after a couple weeks of snow, this weather feels amazing (except when you are running a half-marathon, more on that later).

On Saturday, we made our way downtown with thousands of other people dressed in green t-shirts and tank tops to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. First stop, Native Foods for half-priced beer and a Classic Deli Reuben: thinly-sliced deli-style Native Reuben Seitan piled high on grilled marble rye, topped with homemade sauerkraut, Native Horseradish Cheese and a slather of Russian dressing, and served with a side of lemon-dill potato salad. Yum!

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Next up the green water: the fountains at the Daley Center.

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This is my fourth St. Patrick’s day in Chicagoland, and I finally saw the green river. It was much brighter than my pictures.

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March Madness Half-Marathon

Two weeks ago, when I ran this course in the snow with gloves, tights, hat, and a jacket, I was hoping it would be warm enough to wear a sleeveless shirt and my new armwarmers. It was way too hot for armwarmers. It was too hot for a shirt, too (but I kept that on). I had the ambitious goal of qualifying for a C Corral at Chicago and I needed a 1:45:59. On this hilly course in this heat, that was not realistic. It started off well; I was on pace for a 1:45 until mile 10. But there is a big hill before getting to the mile 10 marker that knocked me out and I was never able to recover.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I made Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes for the Hillstriders post-race party: chocolate Guinness cupcakes (from Sticky Fingers Sweets) with whiskey chocolate ganache filling and Baileys Irish cream frosting.

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Takashi’s Noodles

Last weekend, H and I went into the city to see Bring It On: The Musical, which was a lot of fun. Except for the cheerleaders, it was nothing like the movie.  The next morning, we went to Takashi for their Sunday Noodles.  The silky tofu mushroom is delicious and you can substitute rice noodles for ramen, which have egg in them.

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H loves noodles. He asked if I could veganize the recipes in the Takashi’s Noodle cookbook. With a big batch of veggie dashi, I thought that would be possible, so he bought the book.  The first recipe I tried didn’t need any modification and it was pretty good.  The Seaweed, Avocado and Hearts of Palm Noodle Salad has a nice citrus flavor with a hint of spice.

Takashi at home

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P.S. This Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce is amazing. It kind of overshadowed the noodles.

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Happy Pi(e) Day & How to Ship Cupcakes

The Challenge: ship “pie” cupcakes to my dad, a math teacher, in Birmingham, Alabama without messing up the frosting. I found this solution from Beantown Baker and it worked pretty well.

Using mason jars: Cut cupcakes in half and put frosting in between. To avoid it turning into a jar of frosting, I piped frosting around the edges. The idea is to get frosting to ooze out so the cupcake sticks to the jar.

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I added a dab of frosting to the bottom, too.

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Jam the cupcake in the jar.

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Mason jars are heavy and I didn’t think they were necessary for the Boston Cream Pie cupcakes. For those, I used plastic containers. Again, I cut the cupcakes in half. Then I added a full layer of pastry cream.

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When all the jars are filled, you are ready to decorate.

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For the Boston cream pie cupcakes, I just topped with ganache and put them in the freezer for about an hour and a half without the lid on. When the chocolate is hard, you can press on the lid. It worked perfectly. On one cupcake I had to press down pretty hard, but the others were perfectly snug.

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For the Raspberry Pie cupcakes I used raspberry flavored buttercream and made dots of “raspberries” and then did a “pie crust”:

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This cupcake is not falling out.
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Wrap the mason jars in paper, throw in an ice pack and wrap with insulation:

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The result: delicious. The best vanilla cake I’ve ever made. I’m pretty sure this was the recipe for our wedding cake, and I’m so happy I can make that now. I am loving the Sticky Fingers cookbook.

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The raspberry pie cupcakes were a bit messy out of the jar. Probably best to eat them straight from the jar with a fork.

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Top Chef Texas Finale

Congratulations to Paul, the winner of Top Chef Texas! To cheer on our favorite chef, we ate two of his winning recipes: Shrimp Yuzu Ceviche with Corn Salsa & Yucca Chips and Fried Brussels Sprouts. Lots of veganization and suburbanization going on, but both dishes had a complex flavor combination. No wonder he won this season!

Fried Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 peaches
  • 1-2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 teaspoon madras curry
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon green onion
  • 1/2 cup Tofutti Better than Sour Cream
  • 1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried Thai chili
  • 10 basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 quart vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup candied pine nuts

Directions

1. Sweat garlic, ginger and green onion. Season with dried Thai chili and salt and pepper to taste. Deglaze with 1/2 apple cider vinegar.

2. Make reduction with sugar and other half of apple cider vinegar and reserve.

3. Season Tofutti with madras curry and salt.

5. Quarter Brussels sprouts and deep fry on high heat until golden brown.

6. Cut peaches in to 8 pieces (wedges). Chill and reserve.

Assembly:

1. Place 1 tablespoon of Tofutti on a plate with the back of a spoon. Brush into a line.

2. Place the peaches, Brussels sprouts, and  garlic, ginger and green onion mixture on top of the Tofutti and garnish with basil leaves, candied pine nuts, and capers. Drizzle apple vinegar reduction to finish; add salt to taste.

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Vegan Prawn Citrus Ceviche with Corn Salsa & Potato Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 package Vegan Prawns
  • 3 ounces lemon juice
  • 3 ounces lime juice + extra to dress vegetables and garnish
  • 2 ounces agave nectar
  • 1 medium sized potato
  • 1 ear corn
  • 2 ounces cilantro; minced
  • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 2 pieces baby fennel
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

Directions

1. Prepare prawns as directed on box (for salads).

2. Mix all the citrus juices and agave nectar. Marinate the prawns in the citrus mixture for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

3. Cut corn off the cob and small dice the tomatoes. Slice the baby fennel paper-thin. Dress corn, tomatoes and yucca with lime zest, cilantro and lime juice. Add sliced garlic, chili, and season with black pepper and Garam Masala.

4. Slice potato across and fry at 300 degrees Celsius until crispy.

Assembly:

1. Place potato chips on a plate and place 1 piece of prawn on top of the chips and put salsa on top. Garnish with Tofutti sour cream, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt to taste.

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