Month: February 2013

Downton Dandy

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Last night was the season 3 finale of Downton Abbey in the US, so I attempted to create the castle out of peanut butter rice krispies treats (the peanut butter gives it a more authentic color).  It took 4 bags of Dandies marshmallows, a stick and a half of margarine, 2 cups of peanut butter and a value size box of Rice Crispy’s

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Chicago Vegan Foods is having a contest for fanciest Dandies marshmallow creation. Hopefully they will announce a winner, because the last time I entered their contest no winner was announced.

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***SEASON 7 SPOILER ALERT***
Downton Abbey is bombed by Germans. Oh, no! Matthew resurrects from the dead to single-handedly defeat the Nazis.

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Earth Balance’s New Treats

Earth Balance has recently come out with four new snacks: three popcorn treats and cheddar cheese puffs.

Peanut Butter Popps: The peanut butter popcorn is amazing; it took great restraint not to eat the whole bag in one sitting.  However, I could do without the bustle of oats. It doesn’t taste bad, but it pales in comparison to the popcorn. I’m going to try to recreate the peanut butter popcorn and leave out the bustling oats.
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White cheddar cheese puffs are also pretty tasty.  The cheesy flavor is believable.

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We had these for lunch today with Amy’s Sonoma burger, which is one of my favorite packaged burgers (the other being Trader Joes’s masala burger).

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OCD Sweets + Teal Cat Project

Happy Valentine’s Day. I am not a big fan of this holiday, but I am a huge fan of chocolate.  This year a great candy company and a fantastic charity paired up for Valentine’s day to bring a fabulous box a treats.

The Teal Cat Project takes old cat tchotchkes, paints them teal and sells them to raise funds for cat rescue organizations that practice trap, neuter, and release.

Obsessive Confection Disorder is a vegan California-based candy company specializing in caramel.

The box contained 2 Rose Petal Caramels With Gold Leaf, 2 Mel’s Way Candy Bars wrapped in teal foil (like Milky Ways!), 2 Love Bomb Lollies (salted caramel dipped in chocolate), and 4 Love Nips which are: lavender mint shortbread Meowmies with chocolate whiskers AND vanilla beans shortbread hearts dipped in chocolate. Delicious!

Also pictured is my teal cat.

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The Sweetest Reward

H wanted to bring in doughnuts to thank the staff for perfect December numbers. I was like, no, you’re married to a wannabe baker; you’ll bring cupcakes.

Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting
Chocolate cake with mocha frosting
Chocolate seltzer cupcakes with chocolate ganache, banana frosting and caramelized bananas (a Cupcake Wars winning recipe)

Unfortunately, H takes a somewhat hilly, pothole-filled road to get to one of the hospitals.  We learned that ganache is not as steady of a surface as cake and caramelized bananas can be a little heavy; by the time got to the hospital, some of the frosting was sliding off the side.  If I do make these again, I will wait to add the frosting and bananas until I get to the site.

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Mardi Gras 2013

To celebrate Mardi Gras this year, I made red beans and rice and tempeh étouffée. The red beans and rice was from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin; it was easy and pretty tasty. Apparently, quasi-vegan talk show host Ellen DeGeneres really likes it and she is from New Orleans, so I considered that a good endorsement.  My only complaint was the sausage; it’s not my favorite way to eat Field Roast sausages. I’d rather have more beans. Fortunately, the étouffée came out well, because the roux was labor intensive. I veganized a fancy Saveur crawfish étouffée recipe. Not a diet dish even if I cut down the margarine (12 tablespoons of butter!). I subbed two packages of tempeh, steamed and soaked in a broth all day (the broth was salty, so I cut out the salt in the recipe), margarine and vegan chick’n broth for the three non-vegan ingredients.

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Sadly no king cake this year, but I did make Mardi Gras sugar cookies.

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Year of the Small Dragon

Happy New Year! It’s the year of the snake.

Menu
Tahini Noodles from Vegan Yum Yum
Sweet Chili Lime Tofu from Vegan Yum Yum
Steamed Eggplant
Baby Bok Choy with black bean and garlic chili sauce
Spring Rolls with peanut sauce
Vegetable dumplings from the Fresh Market
Traditional Chinese Sugar Cookies

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Snake sugar cookies from Sticky Finger Sweets!

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I’m not going to lie; these are a little creepy to eat.

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Amy’s Vegan Margherita Pizza

I’ve tried a bunch of great vegan products recently, so expect the next week to have more product placements than an episode of Project Runway.

First up, Amy’s Vegan Margherita Pizza with Daiya cheese. I’ve been wanting to try this forever.

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Amy’s pizza were on sale at Whole Foods last week and I wish I stocked up. I like Daiya, but in moderation and this pizza has just the right amount. There’s enough of that cheesy taste without the overwhelming sensation that you are eating fake cheese. The sauce is delicious and the crust is nice and crispy.

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Superbowl Sunday: San Fransciso v. Baltimore

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There was a lot of talk about the Harbaugh brothers before the game, but there was another family rivalry surrounding Superbowl XLVII. My sister and brother-in-law live in San Fransisco, so of course they were rooting for the 49ers. H lived in Baltimore for four years where he became a huge fan* of the Ravens. Hopefully our next family gathering won’t be too awkward.

I brought a Hostess Cupcake-inspired football cake to the Superbowl party we attended: chocolate cake from Sticky Fingers Sweets with cream filling, chocolate ganache and royal icing from Vegan with a Vengeance’s Fauxtess cupcakes.

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*and by “huge fan” I mean, he was aware of the existence of an NFL team in his city.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant

To celebrate Groundhog’s Day, the most romantic day of the year, H and I went to Cooper’s Hawk in South Barrington. This place is always packed and we had to be back home fairly early, so we got there before 5:00 and still had to wait almost an hour. During our wait, we did a wine tasting at one of the bars.

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I contacted Cooper’s Hawk to find out what vegan options they have and I received a great response.

Good Morning Kristen,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Vegan options on our menu. In speaking with our Executive Chef, he makes the following suggestions. Please be mindful that these are options from our regular menu and will require that you request modifications as described.

  • Plain Ol’House Salad:

o Modification: Order without croutons as they have butter

o Request House or Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • Baby Greens Salad:

o Modification: Order without cheese

o Request House or Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • Napa Chopped Salad:

o Modification: Order without cheese or chicken

o Request House or Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • Mediterranean Chopped Salad:

o Modification: Order without cheese

o Request House or Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • Portabella Sandwhich:

o Modification: Order without mayo.

  • Black Bean Burger:

o Modification: Order without mayo.

  • Asian Slaw:

o Modification: Order without wontons as they are fried and may be exposed to other non-vegan foods [Ed. Note: !!! I  am shocked that they thought of this]

I was a little surprised about the veggie burger, so I confirmed with the waitress that the burger did not include eggs. I saw another sandwich that had avocado, so I swapped out the mayo for avocados.

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Both the burger and the Asian slaw were good. I don’t know about wait-for-an-hour good, but not a bad restaurant to go if you are with a group of omnis. There’s a decent selection of  items and they are very friendly about special requests.