Month: December 2012

Christmas Wrap Up

H and i went to Birmingham for Christmas and we had a great time with friends and family. My sister and I decorated gingerbread and sugar cookies on Christmas Eve. We forgot to leave some out with a glass of soy milk for Santa.

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After a hilly run and opening presents, we had a lovely brunch: spinach artichoke dip quiche, Field Roast sausages, my mom’s famous sticky buns, a healthy fruit salad, cranberry mimosas and Barney’s Santa’s white Christmas coffee.

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Brunch put us way behind, so dinner preparations went hours past the scheduled time (not that we would have been hungry any earlier). We had portobello Wellingtons with carrots and roasted potatoes, but I didn’t get any pictures.

Between making the marshmallow fondant, baking the cake and delicately putting the dragees on the side, I spent hours on this cake. It tasted good and looked okay, but I definitely need to work on my fondant skills.

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(photo credit: Clara)

Coconut Peanut Butter-filled Chocolate Cupcakes

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My second entry into the Earth Balance baking contest.

Chocolate cupcakes filled with coconut peanut butter frosting and covered with ganache.

Ingredients
Cupcakes:
3/4 cup Earth Balance Soymilk
1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coffee extract
1/2 cup sweetened cocoa powder
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Coconut Peanut Butter filling
2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
2 tablespoons Earth Balance Shortening
1/2 cup Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Butter (creamy or follow directions below)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Earth Balance Soymilk
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Ganache
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate
1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance Shortening
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup Shredded coconut (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin pan.
2. Whisk together Earth Balance soymilk, sugar, oil, and vanilla and coffee extracts.
3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make an indention in the middle of the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients.
4. When ingredients are just combined, add apple cider vinegar. Barely combine vinegar; you want there to be streaks throughout the batter.
5. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. For the coconut peanut butter filling: Add coconut peanut butter to a food processor and blend until creamy. It must be perfectly creamy or else that one little nut will find its way to the tip of your pastry bag.
7. In an electric mixer, combine shortening, buttery sticks and creamy coconut peanut butter. Add confectioners sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of soymilk at a time. Mix on high for a couple of minutes.
8. When cupcakes are completely cooled, poke a hole in the center of each cupcake (I use the end of a chopstick). Fill a pastry bag with the peanut butter frosting, and fill cupcakes with as much as you can get in.
9. For the ganache: in a microwave safe dish, melt chocolate for 1 minute. Remove and stir until it is all melted, add shortening. Depending on how bitter your chocolate is, add 2-4 tablespoons of maple syrup until you get the desired sweetness. Cover each cupcake with ganache. Sprinkle shredded coconut, if desired.

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Eggnog Cupcakes with Spiked Eggnog Frosting

This is the first of two recipes I entered in the Earth Balance baking contest.

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Ingredients

Eggnog Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup Earth Balance Soynog
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Spiked Eggnog Frosting
1/4 cup Earth Balance Shortening
1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Earth Balance Soynog
1 tablespoon rum
12 cinnamon sticks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer, cream together 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery stick and sugar (brown & white). Add soynog and vanilla extract.
  4. In two batches, add flour to butter mixture until just combined.
  5. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean
  6. For the frosting: In an electric mixer, combine shortening and buttery sticks until fluffy. Add two cups of confectioners sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of soynog. Add remaining confectioners sugar, remaining soynog and rum. Mix on high for several minute until light and fluffy.
  7. When cupcakes are completely cooled, pipe frosting and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
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Suburban Chicago Veggie Meetup – Holiday edition

Christmas cake pops!

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The cake pops are chocolate cake from Sticky Finger Sweets mixed with icing and covered in chocolate – semi-sweet and white. For the white chocolate, I made the recipe from Bittersweet, and I doubled it, but it still didn’t make that much. I only had enough white chocolate for 8 cake pops! This worked much better than the disastrous snowmen cake pops of 2010. I will buy cocoa butter in bulk and make a huge batch of white chocolate the next time I make colored cake pops.

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Lunch

The menu included spinach artichoke dip, hummus, black bean salsa, lentil salad, tabbouleh, spinach artichoke dip quiche*, and a seitan roast.
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The quiche recipe is from Save the Kales.

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Desserts
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*I have been to three potlucks at Kathy & Collin’s house and every time there is a similar dish. The first time I brought scalloped potatoes and someone else made scalloped potatoes; last time I made lasagna and there was another lasagna. This time I made a spinach artichoke dip quiche and there was spinach artichoke dip.

Molly and her Mohawk in a Christmas dress.

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Vegan Christmas Gift Guide 2012

Looking for that perfect gift for your favorite vegan? Here are my suggestions for a very merry Christmas.

1. Cruelty-free shoes
Jeffrey Campbell has done a vegan-friendly and sustainable collaboration with Convert, some of which are available on Ebay, if you don’t like near Berkeley.

Wrapped flats in blue & metallic silver and metallic gold

Wrapped blue & metallic silver

Wrapped metallic gold

Red Heels, sadly not available in my size.

Gray Wedge

Olsen Haus is another great eco-friendly line of vegan shoes
Galactic Gray Wedge

Spirit heel in black, green and blue

Olsen Haus is offering 40% off all shoes with code PURELOVETOYOU. Valid through 12/16.

And finally, the Stella McCartney glitter pump, which I hope is not available in size 6 anymore because H bought the last one.

2. A Gunas Bag
Emma Mini in green

It is comes in a black satchel, which I also love, but it’s only available for pre-order.

Gunas is offering 30% off all bags through 12/30 with code FRIFAM30.

3. A Tofu Xpress – I have wanted one of these forever. I hate using lots of paper towels to drain tofu and towels don’t absorb as well.

4. Vaute Couture accessories and sweatshirts

Crochet bamboo headband

Swirl Cable Hat

Friends series tanks and sweatshirts

5. Eco-friendly socks to go with your vegan shoes: RockNSocks from Vshoen

6. Environmentally conscious & conflict-free diamond earrings from Diamond Nexus Labs

7. Sweatshop-free running clothes
Recycled Track Jacket and v-neck tee

Neck warmer and headband
Capris and tights

8. Vegan Leather Clothes

Peplum top and pencil skirt

9. Feather-free puffers

10. Vegan Cuts Snack box subscription

Vegan Cuts has lots of discounted vegan products from body care items to food to fashion. And they have their own gift guide.

11. Urban Decay makeup

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And I’ve bought some Corn for Popping

So it’s nowhere near cold enough to snow, but we have a wreath and a decorated tree, so we’re ready for Christmas.

We went back to Anthony’s Tree Farm to get our tree. In the past we have always stuck it in the back of my old Oldsmobile, but there was no way I was putting a sappy tree in the backseat of my new Prius. So we took Hsiong’s Mini and tied it to the roof.

Our tree

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Ready to go home!

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I went a little overboard with cookies this year. I made gingerbread and sugar cutout cookies. Over six dozen if you include the Band of Outsiders cookies. Angels, candy canes, stockings, bells, candles, stars, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, women & houses, reindeer, ornaments, snowmen, mittens, and the lamp from a Christmas Story (a movie I don’t even like that much, but it’s a funny cookie and the cookie cutter was free).

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We decorated the tree Monday night and celebrated with hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.

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Neiman Marcus + Target

I started my Christmas shopping at Target & Neiman Marcus last weekend and, of course, I bought some stuff for the house. The quality level of the Neiman Marcus + Target collection is better than the typical Target designer collection, but the prices are a little higher, too.

I bought the Band of Outsiders cookie cutter set and used some of my Christmas sugar cookie dough to make the quirky cookies.
Cookie Cutters

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I also bought the Altuzarra cocktail shaker & glasses and the Tracy Reese dessert plates.

Shaker & glasses Dessert plates

The clothes were somewhat of a disappointment. I do like that the Target designer lines use cheaper material because that means it’s usually not silk or wool. But the women’s clothes were not very impressive – they looked cheap and were expensive. There were only two items that I really liked and the one jacket was actually 100% wool, so I didn’t buy it. The other was the Proenza Schouler sweatshirt. I ordered it online and then tried it on at the Target store. The sizing is pretty accurate. I wanted a roomier fit and the small was perfect.
Sweatshirt

The Oscar de la Renta bag, which was one of the few non-leather accessories, looks great online, but very cheap in person. The Tory Burch lunch accessories are cute. The Jason Wu ornaments are also very nice, but eek, $50 for 3 Christmas tree ornaments?! Overall, it’s a pretty decent collection.

Santa Run

This weekend I ran the Kiwanis Santa Run for Kids, a 5K through Crystal Lake in a full on Santa suit.

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The sea of Santas

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Me, Anne & Lauren in the start corral

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I even took a picture during the race.

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I am done racing for the year, so I just did this race for fun. Anne and I ran together and we obviously started in the wrong place. It took us almost 30 seconds to cross the start line, which in a race that is not chip-timed is huge. Once we crossed the start time, it was more of a slow jog than a run until we were able to break through the slower runners. Our poor start position might have cost us a minute of time.

I did not wear the pants, because it was so warm and they were huge. Plus, I wanted another excuse to wear my sparkly green skirt.

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