Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blessed Easter to you!

A blessed and FROSTY Easter to you all. 
He is risen!

We had the most interesting frost this morning... every strand of dune grass was  covered with the tiniest crystals of frost. Beautiful! 

Lots of work to do on the beach once it all dries out! 

Snow drops are not ruined by frost.

Walking on water?? No, it's just frozen.... 
Cabby made a new friend today! 
Easter dinner, made by my hubby: Chicken Cordon Blue, green beans, carrots, salad. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Chilled Double Chocolate Torte

Look at this glorious dessert! It tasted as incredible as it looks, believe me; we scarfed it down in about two days. The mousse topping was so creamy and ridiculously chocolaty.  This was actually a ‘practice’ dessert for my St. Patrick’s Day party. (You may recall that I served small finger sized desserts instead of something fancy.)

Cabby says, "May the luck of the Irish be with you." Of course, that was after she got into the Baileys  Irish Cream.... no comment.

Confession: I was afraid to serve this because it’s…. shhh….  don’t tell…. Vegan.  No eggs, no cream, no cream cheese, no butter. But there is a super secret ingredient. Read on, dear blog friend, to discover my delicious secret.

Another confession: I am kinda kicking myself for chickening out and not making this for my party…. Oh, well, next time! 

On the near horizon is a fantastic vegan luncheon, and this frozen beauty just might make it to the menu.

To see the recipe click over to Oh She Glows and follow the directions to a 'T' :) ....and here's a hint about the secret ingredient:

Crazy, right? 

And speaking of things that make my heart go 'thump'.... I saw the first robin of the year today! 
Won't be long now!

And more heart thumping than a robin, there was a mature bald eagle eating his lunch on our ice earlier this week. Lucky me!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday and a Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

One last ice fisherman.... will winter ever end? 

What a busy day! #saturdaysarethebest    We spent the day working in the house, barely making it out of our PJs and that felt so, so good! The kitchen is spotless. The bathrooms are gleaming. Dinner is on the stove (Spiced Potatoes with Lentils and Barley). Deck furniture is out of storage even though there is still some snow on the ground. #westmichigan.

And the most impressive announcement….. the laundry is all done!!! My hubby spent the day in the basement with basketball blaring on the TV #goblue AND #goMSU and he patiently washed, dried and folded every thread of clothing. I am blessed. (Not that the laundry is done, but because my guy loves our family and home that much – thanks, babe!) #besthusbandonearth

I did run a quick errand to the grocery store looking for red lentils, but no luck. I want to make a coconut curry red lentil soup just like the one I had at Seva Restaurant in  Ann Arbor a few weeks ago…spicy, sweet, creamy, hearty. #iliveinasmalltown

Speaking of great food, I made these little lovelies for my party last week, and as much as I want to share the recipe….. I must admit that I have lost it. (the recipe, not my mind) #gettingoverwhelmedwithclutter. Luckily, you can google “Lemon Tassies” and choose whichever recipe suits your fancy. They were excellent!

I also made my famous Bourbon Brownies. #cantgowrongwithboozeydesserts , but the best dessert on the tray were the chocolate chip cookies from The Joy of Vegan Baking. #donttellmyfriendstheywerevegan. Dawn, over at Vegan Fazool, suggested the recipe to me and I send her zillions of thanks! #killerrecipe It’s better than ANY other chocolate chip cookie recipe. #idareyoutotryitt

Chocolate Chip Cookies (from The Joy of Vegan Baking, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)

Here’s what you need:
4 ½ t Ener-G Egg Replacer (equivalent of 3 eggs)
6 T water
1 C non-hydrogenated, nondairy butter, softened (Earth Balance brand is the BEST)
¾ C granulated sugar
¾ C light brown sugar
2 t vanilla extract (use the good stuff, you are worth it!)
2 ¼  C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1-2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C chopped nuts (pecans are the BEST)

Here’s what you do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Whip the egg replacer until it’s thick and creamy. (Colleen suggests using a food processor, but I did it by hand.) Set it aside.

Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla. Add the egg replacer and mix thoroughly.

Combine the flour, soda, salt and gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. When it’s almost all combined, add the chips and nuts.

Bake for 8-10  minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool.

(printable recipe)

Friday, March 22, 2013

An Eggless Easter?

Can it be done? An eggless Easter? I think so….at least in my home this year, we are going eggless. This graphic about egg consumption comes from the Nasoya website. Pretty interesting, don’t you think?

If you want to take a peek at some beautiful eggless Easter ideas, check out the most recent post on This Vegan Life......  let your inner 'Martha' free!  Me - I will probably just do plastic eggs and fill them with candy :) That works.

On another note, you may recall my recent dilemma regarding the menu at my St. Patrick's Day party? I decided to go with the classic Irish fare - glazed corned beef, boiled cabbage, roasted carrots and twiced baked potatoes.

I also made some great little desserts. Recipes to come....Those Lemon Tassies were excellent!!

Bonus from the leftovers? Corned beef hash for my son and Halushka for me and Tim. Jealous?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Macaroni 'n' Cheese - VegNews

“This is the best mac ‘n’ cheese on the planet. End of story.” (VegNews, October 2008)

 I agree! This one is going in my permanent rotation of easy weeknight dinners.  My 17 year old son scarfed it down like crazy and even complimented me on it! (SHOCK!!) Seriously, I NEVER in a million years thought I would prefer a classic like macaroni and cheese without a shred of cheese in sight. Crazy. Compare this recipe with an old favorite of mine (here) and just see the difference! Ridiculous, right? 

Here’s what you need:
8 ounces macaroni
3 slices bread, torn in pieces (original recipe called for 4 slices, but I preferred 3)
2 T + 1/3 C non-dairy, non-hydrogenated butter (Earth Balance brand is super)
2 T shallots, peeled and chopped
1 C red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
¼ C carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 C onion, peeled and chopped
1 C water
¼ C raw cashews
1 t sea salt
¼ t garlic, minced
¼ t Dijon mustard
1 T lemon juice
¼ t black pepper
1/8 t cayenne pepper
¼ t paprika

Here’s what you do:
Cook the macaroni according to directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor make the bread crumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 T of butter. Set aside. (One comment here: these homemade breadcrumbs took this mac ‘n’ cheese way, way into the stratosphere of comfort – don’t skimp)

In a sauce pan add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onions, and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until veg is really, really soft.

In a blender process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 C non-dairy butter, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika. Add the softened veg and all the cooking liquid. Process until it is perfectly smooth.

Mix the sauce and pasta. Place in 9 X 9 ish size baking dish. Sprinkle the buttery breadcrumbs over. Bake 350 for about 30 minutes or until it’s nice and brown and bubbly.

 One Year Ago : Coconut Pancakes (really, really good!)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Personal Dilemma

I am currently reading Michal Pollan’s excellent book “Omnivore’s Dilemma.” In the book, Pollan strives to answer the seemingly simple question, “What should we eat for dinner?” The first section of the book deals with the incredible amount of acres of corn being grown here in the US and where it all ends up. The majority goes to huge, industrialized feeding lots and to factory-feed animals. The surplus corn finds its way to almost every other food product on the grocery shelves in the form of sugar. (We do love us some sweet food!)

The early pages also lay out the closely intertwined relationship between the corn farmers and the USDA. Pollan highlights the balance between how much corn is grown and how it is being subsidized by the government. He also explains the issue of fossil fuels used in the fertilization and transportation of our food.

The second section of the book has been about the fascinating relationship between grass and animals and us, the consumers. The focus here is on what ‘organic’ means to the average joe, trying to put something healthy on the table. It’s not difficult to realize that most ‘organic’ has become a part of the American industrialized food machine. But, not all. Pollan introduces us to some awesome farmers who, through the science of old fashioned farming, have successfully carved out a place for ‘clean’ food in this world. No pesticides. No antibiotics. No fertilizers. No fossil fuels.  Just sun, grass, animals and us. Amazing.

So, what are we supposed to eat for dinner? Well, I haven’t finished the book yet, and I don’t know what a regular person like me is supposed to do about the ‘omnivore’s dilemma’; I can only answer for myself.

And this brings me to my own personal and very real dilemma! What should I serve at my upcoming dinner party????? I am almost in a panic. 12 people expect to eat something remarkable in 8 short days, right here in my house!

I was all set to go totally vegan: Homemade Hummus, Miso Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Peppers, Grilled Portabellas, Big Salad (with the most delicious cashew dressing I have ever tasted), Roasted Tomatoes…. and a killer vegan Chilled Double Chocolate Torte.
….but then, I chickened out and began leaning toward the classic St. Patrick’s Day menu: Glazed Corned Beef, Twiced Baked Potatoes, Roasted Carrots and Braised Cabbage….maybe with a Triple Layer Mocha Chocolate Cake (also killer!)

Your thoughts?