Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Eco-friendly Edible Christmas Gift: The How-to


This year, like many years previous, I decided to make - or really, bake most of my Christmas gifts for family and friends.  This year however, I was determined to waste as little as possible and make Eco-friendly gifts.

Here's my attempt at it and tutorial for you to try it too!

What you'll need:


1. A variety of home-make baked goods, like cookies (like I have here) or even chocolate and candy works.  I made all vegan pecan chocolate cookies, oatmeal cranberry cookies and snicker doodles.

2. Newspapers - I prefer to use the comic and puzzles section; entertainment or sports sections also work well, depending on who the gift is for that person might enjoy the sports or entertainment news - anything with big bright photos also works and is decorative.

3. Eco-friendly, biodegradable plates - I found a great brand at Loblaws, they're really starting to get some good "green" products in.


Step 1: Mix and arrange the cookies on one plate.  Cover cookies with another plate.


Step 2: Tape the plates together to hold in place ... looks like a saucer!


Step 3: Choose the newspaper you would like to use - the Saturday newspaper comic section works the best.


Step 4: Proceed to wrap the cookie saucer. I basically started on one side, folding neatly and continued around the plate. 


Step 5: The newspaper will create a hexagon shape around the saucer and you will likely need to cut off the excess paper when you get close to the end.

As pretty as the wrapping and comics look I thought it would be a good idea to top off each cookie saucer with a hand-made card that can also be reusable, made with left over scraps of coloured paper.
Here's the how-to:


Supplies can include: various scraps of coloured paper, scissors, pencil, various cookie cutters, glue, coloured pens or paints, old magnets, and coloured string or yarn.



Step 1: I used a cookie cutter to draw out a star shaped tag for my gift.  Trace and cut.


Step 2: Add some glitter, sparkle and shine to your card, whatever you like!


Step 3: Once you've pimped up your card, time to add a string loop to the card so it can be reused as a decorative Christmas piece.  Another great option, glue a piece of magnet on the back, it's a fridge magnet! The best source are those free magnets you get from business offices, fairs, dentist or veterinary offices - get a stack and cut them up.


Step 4: In this case I added a gold piece of string through one of the corners of the star - good to hang on the tree.


  
Another great option: old Christmas cards! In this case, I took old Christmas cards that I had been collecting since (believe it or not) grade 5 and using a round cookie cutter I cut-out the pictures from them.  You can then add a magnet or a string and use them to decorate your gifts.


A completed package will look something like this.



I made a few this past week for friends.
Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vegan Quiche & Haircuts

Recently made, recently devoured, recently loved! ...

Spinach Quiche
Original recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes book

For the crust:
2 cups light spelt flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp creamy natural cashew butter
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp agave nectar (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

For the Filling:
1 lb (455g) firm or extra-firm silken tofu
2 tbsp nondairy butter
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp spelt flour
2 tbsp ground pecans
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried minced onion
2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Make the crust: Combine all the flour, cashew butter and salt together in a food processor.  Add the agave, if using, and the milk, a little at a time, until dough forms.

3. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible and fit to the pie plate.  Prick the crust with a fork to prevent air bubbles.  Set aside

4. Make the filling: Combine all ingredients - except the spinach - together in a food processor.  Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally.

5. Add the spinach to the mix, pulse just a few times to combine.  Pour the filling into the pie crust.

7. Bake for 40 minutes or until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the filling is set.  Let stand for 10 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Yields: 6 servings

A recent even in my life that I'd like to share in hopes to inspire others to do the same.  I'd been growing my hair just over four years now, always with the thought that I would one day donate it to cancer.  The day came a few weeks ago.
This is the before shot - hair in length from my neck down about 14 inches total and cutting it, could not come soon enough!

The cut!

I'll admit, I was very nervous, didn't know how I would look with short hair again, kept having horrible flashbacks of my boyish haircut days and on my face, it's not a good look! At least not back then it wasn't but I had no idea how I would look today with short hair.

So turns out, I looked okay :)  The haircut, no big deal in the end and I knew it was for a good cause.


So why measure, cut off and bread my hair?

There are many organizations out there that accept hair donations to make wings for people with cancer, like women and children specifically.  I choose to donate my hair through Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program.  To learn more about them or how you can donate, follow the link.

In the end I not only felt great about donating my hair, even after four years of growing very attached to it, I felt amazing with my fresh new look and haircut, plus it always helps to have a boyfriend who can't stop starring at you because you look even hotter now then you did before lol (love ya Mike).  I only hope that my donation can help make a difference to some amazing woman out there.

Cheers!

 

Please visit my blog next week, I will review how you can make easy Eco-friendly Christmas gifts for friends and family this year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birthday Dinner: Surprise, it's Vegan!

I love being part of my big family dinners especially now that I can contribute my experimental vegan dishes - well not so much experimental as they are brand new to me and to my family.  As I slowly plow through my many vegan recipes and cookbook I share with you two recent recipes.  One I loved and have already made twice and the other I liked but for the amount of work that was put into it, I will likely never make again!


Quinoa Pilaf
(Original recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes)

Cooked quinoa with shredded carrots, slivered almonds, chopped dates, olive oil, lemon juice with spices like cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, and salt, with a bit of shredded ginger root for an intense spicy flavour. I have it served here with a small side of roasted carrots and sweet potatoes.




Mediterranean Spring Rolls 
(Original recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes) ... Stuffed with tofu, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and spices - really pretty simple stuffing, very annoyingly difficult herb doug!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Girl's Mini Weekend Vacation

I really love having family over for a weekend.  I rarely have company for an overnight stay so it was a nice treat - a good excuse for them and myself to relax, which is exactly what my sister, niece and I did a couple of weekends ago in Toronto.
Sorry sis, just had to post this one, it's too funny! Love your face and Bela looks beautiful.


Since this is a food blog after all I share with you dinner: pizza!  Not just any pizza though, a pizza split down the middle and quartered on one side.  This is what happens when you have three people, one vegan, one kid and different food preferences.

My niece was simple - sauce, cheese, pepperoni, zucchini and green onion.  My sister's side and mine were similar with just a meat difference; hers prosciutto and mine, vegan "chicken" - mmm, good.


 Lunch the next day, a nice stir-fry over rice, loaded with warm veggies and dressing.


Downtown, at Yonge and Dundas Square for the Lighting Ceremony, Circus Orange, mall wondering, and hot cocoa.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

When the Moon Hits Your Eye ...

Like a big pizza pie ... party! Having friends over for make-your-own pizza night, some beers and board games, who could ask for anything better on a cool November night.

I am breaking my rule in showing off my cupcake pizza here - that is, a sweet, candy and chocolate filled pizza made out of vegan vanilla cupcakes.

 

The cupcakes are vegan but most of the toppings are not, the icing is white fluffy icing (which technically is vegan but also store-bought so who knows); covered in white chocolate "cheese", green licorice "peppers," red fondant "pepperoni" and  toffee pieces as "bacon bits."

As for the pizzas themselves ... the base choices were: potato, wheat pita or white dough with many more topping options to go around.


Two potato pizzas: (left) pesto, spinach, spices and vegan "chicken"; (right) BBQ sauce, black olives, carrot, sundried tomato and spices.


Sonya's personal pizza: white dough, cheese, green onion, black olives, sundried tomato and prosciutto.


Sasa and Karin brought their own amaizng pizza, looked and smelled amazing - very cheesy and meaty - I didn't eat any.


More potato pizzas!


Mike's left over pizza ... pepperoni and bread crumbs gallore.

A few toppings here sprawled out on the table with  labels and all - everyone loved the setup.  The walls were covered with pictures of famous people eating pizza, the living area a pizza buffet and the sitting area for eating and games.

Anyone craving pizza now?

Cheers!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stuffed.


'Tis the season to be stuffing - stockings, vegetables, turkey, ourselves!  So today's blog is devoted to the recent vegetables I stuffed and then stuffed myself and Mike with and it was good.


Stuffed Acorn Squash
This lovely acorn squash (probably one of my favourites) is filled with red pepper, onion, nutritional yeast, olive oil, cumin, salt, cayenne and bread crumbs - simple but effective and super tasty!

Be sure to coat the squash with a bit of olive oil too, to bring out more flavour and to keep everything from sticking together.

For my butternut squash I scrapped out more of the inside (a tough job, good arm workout) because the hollow part is very small as you can see in the top-most photo.  I wanted more room to add more vegetables.

Stuffed Butternut Squash
I filled this baby with chopped green pepper, yellow pepper, zucchini, carrot, onion, broccoli, add nutritional yeast, almond butter, olive oil, cumin and cayenne (my favourite spice combo), salt, and topped with bread crumbs.


Stuffed Eggplant
Same idea, different vegetable.  I scooped out most of the inside of this massive eggplant to fill with zucchini, carrots, pepper, onion, bits of left over butternut squash, broccoli, and added almond butter, olive oil, nutritional yeast, cumin, cayenne, salt, and of course bread crumbs on top it all off.

I baked most of these at 350F for about 45-55 minutes depending on the size of the vegetable.  The butternut squash will take the longest.

What else can we stuff?

I recently bought two massive green peppers, perfect for stuffing and can't wait to do so, which I think will be tonight.  Found this great vegan recipe on a website called Sweet Salty Spicy that I think I'll try.

Please share your comments, questions, suggestions with me - would love to hear your thoughts!

Cheers!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kathryn's Vegan Breakfast

A vegan breakfast with all the fixings for a yummy tempeh burrito including, shredded carrot, beans, tomato, peppers, salsa, avocado and nutritional yeast, all wrapped in Ezekiel organic sprouted wholegrain tortillas.  A friend made this for me and it was amazing! The "ground" tempeh could almost pass for real meat only it tastes better then the real thing.
Wrap all ready to devour!

She fried the tempeh with mushrooms and onions and it was delicious!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spooky Good Hallow e'en

I love Hallow e'en! For as long as I can remember I have always loved it and everything about it, so this year my partner and I decided to host a big party in our small bachelor mid-Toronto apartment.  It was interesting cramming 20+ people in there but none-the-less everyone had a great time!
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The spread included: Flat bread cut out into Hallow e'en shapes and toasted with guacamole, salsa and red pepper dip; roasted pumpkin seeds, black berries, red grapes, black olives, rosemary and basil crisp crackers...
... popchips with red pepper dip, red grapes ... 

... apples and roasted mini seasoned potatoes. For dessert, decadent Mexican hot chocolate vegan cupcakes of course with drizzled caramel sauce on top.  There was much more food included, as guests came they brought some good food for all to share.

I also made red sangria and "screwed up" drivers (seen here, a combo of black vodka + orange juice).  I got the idea from none other but Martha Stewart.  I simply added black dye to the vodka I used, poured orange juice in the glass first and then slowly added the vodka so that it would sit on top - very cool and creepy effect.
No corner of the apartment was left untouched!

Thanks to the inspiring ideas from Martha Stewart's Halloween books I put together quite a few fun and spooky decorations for the place including, a spider nest and webs everywhere, white sheets over all the furniture, hanging black and cheesecloth drapes, alien heads in the hallway, spider toothpicks, candles, bloody frames and much more.

You know it's a good party when someone burns their hair, two fires are started and a glass bottle breaks.  Good times.

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