Pre-Thanksgiving (“Fakesgiving”) Meal with Mom

 

After my four month RTW adventure and house/catsitting 3 large loveable kitties for a month in Portland, I’m currently in Southern Oregon, visiting my mom and my little brother.

         I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to spend more than a few nights down here; with so many projects and a very full-time job, I could only eek away a little bit of time to visit for the last decade. But now, I’m back, and while I try to figure out what’s next, I decided to come home to visit for longer than I’ve been able to in years.

Epicurious Vegan

      While I’m here for the week, my mom and I decided to celebrate an early Thanksgiving, or ‘Fakesgiving’ as my little brother named it. She’s vegetarian and I’m vegan, so eating together is always a huge joy to us. She writes a blog called Greenbird, and in honor of her 50th post, she wanted to write a joint blog post with me. I gladly agreed, as I’ve been writing less for my blog than I anticipated since I’ve been back. Job hunting, working on Vida Vegan, and catching up with friends over champagne and tacos takes up a lot of time, OK?

   ***Side note: Speaking of Vida Vegan, now that Jess, Michele and I are all back from our respective travels, we’re hosting an intimate Holiday How-To Party this December. Ticket price is $20 before November 24th, and includes demos of cocktails, mocktails, crafts and savory bites. It’s an entertaining workshop, done in an entertaining way. Admission includes demos, samples, a special take-home gift and limited edible artisan door prizes. Tickets available here.***

 

     For our early Thanksgiving, mom and I just wanted a few dishes, since we both easily go so overboard in excitement. Our ambition dwarves our appetites, every time.

FAKESGIVING | Epicurious Vegan

    After Googling and going through her massive recipe index, we settled on this menu:

 

  • Thanksgiving Stuffing Casserole with Soy Curls, Kale, & Sage (recipe loosely inspired by Veg Web)

  • Mashed Potatoes topped with Crispy Parsnip Ribbons (recipe from Vegetarian Times)

  • Gravy

  • Homemade Bread (recipe inspired by Oregon Live)

  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • Pumpkin Pudding with Salted Caramel Bourbon Sauce

 

I’m going to let mom take it away with her bread post, and then I’ll share my cheater salted caramel bourbon sauce recipe.

 Take it away, mom!

 Fakesgiving-- Epicurious Vegan

 

 

      I had a favorite bread recipe for many years, but it recently disappeared. My daughter remembered seeing a recipe for bread by Grant Butler and looked it up for me. I modified it somewhat. It came out pretty good. Here’s my modified recipe:

  • 2 packages baking yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ cup lukewarm water (It is very important to get the temperature right.)
  • 3 cups flour. You can use a mix of flours.
  • ½ cup oats
Pour the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and the sugar and stir just enough to mix.  Dump in the flour and oats all at once and stir until just mixed. Cover with cloth and put in warm spot until doubled in size—about 2 hours. Place bread dough onto floured surface and flour your hands well. Knead lightly. The recipe say that you do not have to knead the dough, but I like to, so I do it anyway. Skip that step if you don’t.
 
Shape into loaf and put into oiled bread pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until browned on top, and it sounds hollow when you thump it. Remove from oven, and take out of pan and place on rack. Let cool. It’s hard to wait because it smells so good, but it will slice better.

   Thanks, mom! This bread came out just perfect. Golden brown on top, chewy and soft on the inside.

    Making pudding is very basic. You need milk, sugar, a thickener, and flavorings. With this pudding, I used vanilla almond milk, brown sugar, and corn starch.  I didn’t measure anything (SORRY!) but also added in cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg, a titch of ginger, and some Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie vodka, just for fun. (Pumpkin Pie vodka tastes like PUMPKIN PIE. It’s the best.)

   Instead of a coconut whipped cream (my mom hates coconut. Sad but true.), my mom suggested a sauce (genius), so I threw this together.

   Note: this isn’t a real honest-to-goodness candy thermometer-type caramel, hence why I call it cheater caramel sauce. I don’t have the patience for that. It’s something I threw together that turned out really nice, so if you’re lazy or impatient like me, this sauce is for you.

PUMPKIN PUDDING | Epicurious Vegan

This tastes better than it looks, guys. DO YOU BELIEVE ME?

Cheater Salted Caramel Bourbon Sauce

serves 2-4

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance

  • ¼ cup brown sugar

  • ½ cup non-dairy milk (I used vanilla almond)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I’m a vanilla enthusiast; you may want to stick with 1 tsp if you’re a normal person)

  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey (I used Jameson’s, but Jim Beam Maple would be THE MOST IDEAL EVER)

  • pinch sea salt

 

Instructions:

Melt vegan butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Add salt and bourbon, stir. When the mixture starts bubbling, add the almond milk and keep stirring to prevent sticking. Let cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding vanilla extract about half way through.  Remove from heat.

 

Drink immediately. Ahem. I mean, pour on top of pumpkin pudding or dessert of your choice.

Read my mom’s Fakesgiving Post (her 50th post!) here! If you leave a comment on her blog, you’ll probably make her day and she’ll do a little dance.

 

I’m not sure what I’m doing for actual Thanksgiving, but I have a feeling it will include the Tofurkey Trot 5K and an entire coconut cream pie.

Out and About in December (OR: Things I Ate & Drank This Month)

 

Hey guys. Me again. Twice in one week? It’s like I’m a real live blogger or something. But with my family stuck in Southern Oregon* due to a huge blizzard, and time off work, I find myself with more free time than usual. So what are we waiting for? Let’s do this!

Some December eats and drinks:

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This is the ‘Merican Waffle from Portobello. I ate this. Well, half of this. I am going to show all 32 years of my life and proudly refrain from making any boob comments. But if you feel the need in the comments, by all means go ahead.

 

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This is a cider sampler from Bushwhackers, an all-cider all-the-time bar in Southeast Portland. Love the concept, but three of these ciders just tasted like homebrews to me. Which, come to think of it, maybe they were. The other two were pleasant—a little sweeter and more filtered. After spilling one of these little guys all over my lap (Just call me graceful), I tried a bottle from Corvallis that tasted like apple cider—there were notes of nutmeg and spice. Super yummy.

 

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One of my favorite things about pho is the big plate of fresh greens that comes out before the broth bowl. Jalapeños, cilantro and lime: these are a few of my favorite things. This was at Pho Dalat on 39th (I mean Caesar Chavez Blvd?) and Hawthorne.

 

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A new-ish Tiki bar in my neighborhood opened recently. This drink was full of crushed ice, booze and fruit juice. Hello, sailor. I don’t usually like ‘Tiki-style” drinks—dark rums and tropical  citrus juices– so most of the drink menu here doesn’t appeal to me, but there were a handful of cocktails with light rum and juices like passion fruit and mango.

 

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The requisite Veggie Grill meal. If it looks like I eat here all the time, it’s because I do. I’ve finally figured out how to order without spending one million dollars and feeling like I want to throw up from eating so much after each visit: Order a small salad (not on the menu, but they’ll do it) and share an entrée (I like to turn their Santa Fe Chicken sandwich into a wrap, because as you know, everything is better in a tortilla. Everything.). Upgrading your side to mac and cheese (with a side of chipotle ranch) isn’t required, but man oh man, it makes every meal even better.

 

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I found a new favorite restaurant!!! It’s called Shandong and it’s in the Hollywood District. They will happily veganize almost the whole menu for you (the appetizers are already pre-made little meat pockets like wontons and stuff and can’t be veganized) (yes, I just said meat pockets). There’s a complimentary pot of hot tea on the table, a remarkably well-cultivated wine and cocktail list, and…HOUSEMADE NOODLES. That your server BRINGS SCISSORS TO CUT THE NOODLES AT YOUR TABLE. And then LEAVES THE SCISSORS with you at your table. Most fun ever. I love interactive meals.

The dry-sautéed green beans were wicked good (there’s a lot, though. Two of us couldn’t finish them.) and my bowl—Judy’s Bowl—came with housemade noodles, spinach, fresh jalapeños, shitake mushrooms, garlic and white wine broth, and I added fried tofu to my bowl. It was huge and delicious, just the way I like my noodle bowls.

 

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I made shape cookies. I do this every year, but this time I used a new recipe. I didn’t like it as much as my original recipe (the cookies weren’t as soft) but they still turned out okay. I mean, when you put frosting on something, it makes even mediocre cookies taste great. I would eat frosting off the floor and then declare it the best floor I ever ate.

 

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Kale Salad. Because what’s better than kale salad? It’s a short list: popcorn, champagne and tacos. Top Four favorites, right there. This Kale Salad was at the Cheese Bar up on SE Belmont, and is naturally vegan: no modifications needed. It was real tasty.

 

And from my Instagram feed:

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Champagne at home with the roomie during our gift exchange date

 

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Vegan sausage and cheese filled mini croissants with potato and kale scramble, at home

 

kale salad

Kale Salad at work

 

ravioli

Butternut squash ravioli with browned butter and sage sauce and toasted hazelnuts, at home

 

….And, I just heard from my mom; she and my little brother are on their way up! They made it through the snow and I will get to celebrate Christmas with my family after all. Yay! Watoosie! Happy Holidays!!

2012 Recipe Recap


 

Oh hey guys!

I started this epic post of my year-in-review, month-by-month, with gads of pictures, and got to April before I was like, geez louise, this is soooooooooo much information! Everyone will be nodding off by May.  I tried to throw in some things that didn’t make it on to the blog, like my trip to South Korea, but it got so involved and bam. done with that idea. So instead, we’ll go for a smaller, more manageable theme of 2012: my favorite recipes that I created and posted.

 

In no particular order (oh, I mean in chronological order):

Dijon Dill Pasta Salad

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This pasta salad is the best pasta salad. If you like food that’s really delicious. I made this a handful of times this spring, and have been thinking about it again. The combination of dill and lots of veggies and Wayfare’s sweet and salty bacon bits blends together to create the perfect flavor and texture combination.

 

Vegan No-Bake Birthday Cake Balls

mini cake balls

Oh, hello, little beauties. These treats are not really what you could classify as ‘healthy’ but they are no-bake and gluten-free and contain nuts and are sweetened with dates, so for a little indulgence, they’re healthy-ish. They’re so fun to make and take only a couple of minutes. Once made, keep refrigerated and pop out for a little bite of birthday bliss.

 

Vegan & Gluten-Free Dance Magic Bars

magic bars

With a nut-based crust and coconut milk-based sweetened condensed milk, these magic bars are seriously—really and truly—100% magical. I’m not kidding you guys. Just eat one and you’ll know what I’m talking about. These give you POWERS, man. Or maybe it’s just the sugar high from the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and sweet and creamy milk layer.

 

Summer Kale Salad

kale salad

Kale salads are the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees…they really float my boat and blow my skirt up, if you know what I mean. And this one—with tangy cranberries, sweet strawberries and omega 3-rich hemp hearts was one of my favorites of the many many many many kale salads I had this year.

 

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

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Spaghetti Squash, and the people that eat it, use to confuse me. But now I’m happily a believer. In addition to being adorable and fun to make, these really do taste like spaghetti (when you top it with traditional red sauce and Italian herbs).

 

Halloween Cupcakes with Marzipan Fingers and Pumpkins

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This recipe for chocolate cupcakes goes way back to an index card in my mom’s kitchen, which I think she got from her mom—it’s a recipe from the Depression era when most families couldn’t afford eggs and dairy (Hmmmm. Was this before they were subsidized? Was the Depression era a reason WHY the dairy and egg industry became subsidized? Something to file in my ‘Things to Google’ task list.). This chocolate cupcake (or cake) recipe is very simple and made from a handful of common pantry ingredients. The frosting is also a recipe from my baking days in high school, just veganized. The marzipan pumpkins, fingers and skulls came about through a process of Googling and trial-and-error (and stained orange & red hands).

This recipe is Halloween-specific, but the cupcakes can be made any time, and you can do whatever your heart desires with marzipan (santa hats! easter eggs! spring flowers! american flags! champagne bottles! OMG Champagne Bottles!).

 

I’m still planning to do a bunch of Christmas baking this year—chex mix and muddy buddies (oh hey! I can use Earth Balance coconut peanut butter this year!) and cookies and truffles and the usual goodies. Just praying (in my agnostic way. So, hoping.) that my family can fight their way through the blizzard in Southern Oregon and make it up in time for Christmas (anyone know any good red-nosed reindeers?) to join in.

Vegan Halloween Cupcakes with Marzipan Pumpkins and Severed Fingers

 

I love baking for the holidays. Nothing gets me going more than playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen. Going through old blog posts, I came across my Halloween Cupcakes recipe from 2008. Marzipan Pumpkins! It’s been forever since I made them, but I recall it being relatively easy, if a bit time consuming.

I decided to give it anther crack recently.

 

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Yep, still easy, still a bit time-consuming. But totally worth it.

The entire project took around 3 hours, but I had enough time to cook soup in my slow cooker and periodically check Facebook for breaking news about kitties and the election.

 

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I used my basic chocolate cake and vanilla icing recipes, but you can use whatever your favorites are. Regardless of the recipes you use, these fun little marzipan guys are festive ways to thematize your cupcakes for Halloween.

 

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SO GROSS, right?! I love it.

Marzipan is an edible almond and sugar paste that is extremely malleable (just don’t let it dry out) and naturally vegan.

Nut allergy enthusiasts, stay away from ze Marzipan!

Everyone else, dig in!

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I’m rewriting and reposting my recipes here because I wrote the 2008 post on Blogspot and the transition to WordPress does not make for an aesthetically pleasing read. Plus, I tweaked a few things, most notably the cooking time on the cupcakes.

 

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups natural vegan sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 cups cool water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl. With a spoon, make three separate indentations in dry mixture; 1 small, 1 medium, and 1 large.

3. Pour oil into large indentation, vinegar into medium, and vanilla extract into small.

4. Pour the water evenly over the dry ingredients with the indentations and mix (do not overbeat).

5. Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, fill each portion almost to the top and pour in wrappers or oiled tins.

6. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

You may want to adjust cooking time depending on the baking pan you are using.

 

P1090978 <—I found cute wrappers!

 

Cupcakes should be moist and springy when done.

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Take them out of the tins to cool. You don’t want to ice cupcakes when they’re even remotely warm.It’ll melt the icing into goo.

 

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While cupcakes are cooling, make your icing.

 

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Quick Vegan Vanilla Icing

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
  • 3 1/2-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons soy creamer (my favorite is Wildwood, but So Delicious creamer works well too)

In a large bowl, add powdered sugar slowly to room temperature Earth Balance. With beaters, beat until smooth. Add soy or coconut creamer until mixed in, followed by vanilla extract.

Use powdered sugar or soy creamer to adjust consistency. Icing should be creamy and easily spreadable.

 

Now for the fun!!

 

Marzipan Halloween Pumpkins, Severed Fingers and Skulls

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Using one tube marzipan, divide into 2 balls.

The first one will be for your pumpkins and stems. Save the second for your severed fingers and skulls.

1/2 a tube of Marzipan makes 10 pumpkins of varying size.

Use 1 part red to 2 parts yellow for a nice bright orange.

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The gels don’t stain your hands nearly as much as the more traditional food colorings, so I just get in there and roll it around, immediately washing my hands after.

By the by, wax paper will save your life with this project.

Pulling smaller pieces apart, roll each into a ball.

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Make an indentation with your pinky finger into the top of each ball.

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Now, for the next part you’ll want to use a toothpick dipped in oil to prevent sticking.

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From the top of the indentation, slowly drag the toothpick down to the bottom of the ball.

 

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Repeat equal distances apart until it starts looking pumpkiny.

Repeat with rest of balls.

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For the stems, take a small portion and roll into a log.

Add one line of green food coloring and work into marzipan.

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Roll into the size you want your stems to be.

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Use a sharp knife to cut into pieces, and stick each stem into the indentation you made.

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Now step back and look at the adorableness you have created.

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For the fingers, I followed this tutorial.

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I used my own fingers as models to get the knuckles and finger wrinkles accurate.

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To make the knuckles and the finger lines, use a toothpick dipped in oil.

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The red gel really looks gross, so I didn’t need to do much; I just dipped the finger ends in a pool of gel and cackled quietly to myself.

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There is just enough Marzipan left to do about 3 more pieces, so by this time if you’re feeling Marzipanned out, you may want something easy. Like skulls.

 

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Using a ratio of 3 blue to 1 red, work the color in and then roll them into balls.

 

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Then simply flatten them, pinch the middles in, and using a toothpick, carve out the eyes and make a Día de los Muertos-type smile.

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All together now:

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For the icing, separate into 3 small bowls. Leave one pure and unadulterated and white. With the other two, make any color you like. I chose green for grass and orange for Halloweeeeeeeeen.

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Choose whatever suits your needs, and go to town. Here are a few examples of what I did:

 

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And for the grand finale pictures, please note the pig cutting board used as my backdrop. Because, really, how cute!

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Done!

The cupcake and icing recipes are very simple, and the Marzipan decorations are sure to liven up any Halloween gathering you attend. I would say these are great treats to bring to people who need to be convinced that vegan baked goods taste just as good or better than traditional dairy-based treats, but most people by now should know that. I mean, it’s 2012. Don’t they watch Ellen?