Sunday, January 13, 2019

Yummy Eatz & Cookbooklette Winners!

Healthy Potato Soup from the Oh She Glows App

We've been having a lot of rainy weather and I am loving it so much. The rain helps me feel cozy and makes me feel like I have permission to cuddle up and read and draw and snuggle the pets. It's so nice. It also gives me an excuse to make soup over and over and over again, which is great because that's kinda all I want to do. I love soup so much. 



I made this "Healthy Potato Soup" from the OSG App. I really like that app! I don't use it all that often, but sometimes I just don't want to sift through cookbooks looking for dinner plans, and I like knowing I can always find something healthy and appealing on the app. I almost never eat potatoes, so it was fun to make potato soup. It's got a bunch of fresh spinach in it, which is what turns it so green. I loved the super smooth and velvety texture of this soup, but my favorite part was the crunchy, seasoned "potato croutons" that were made with roasted potato dice. 


(transparency alert: I am re-using an old picture of my favorite borscht recipe!)

I made a huge batch of borscht, which I guess I was too busy eating to photograph, so I am reusing an old picture. This is the *amazing* recipe from an amazing old cookbook called "Voluptuous Vegan." The really miraculous thing is that Mr VE&T had decided that he "doesn't like borscht" for a while now and it has been causing me great emotional grief. It's funny because he loves beets, but claimed not to like borscht. Meanwhile, I love borscht, but am not totally crazy about plain ol cooked beets. ANYHOW, Mr VE&T reluctantly agreed to try my borscht again, and loved it!! HUZZAH. Let there be borscht!!!


Tomato Soup with White Beans and Roasted Garlic, from Veganomicon
This is pretty much a dream lunch for me! 

The next soup I made, at Mr. VE&T's request was the Tomato Soup with White Beans and Roasted Garlic from Veganomicon. Mr VE&T is pretty much obsessed with tomato soup and rice, and I particularly love this recipe because of the addition of the white beans (a bit more body and protein) and the roasted garlic (2 whole heads! maximum umami oomph!). I had some leftover soup for lunch with sauteed kale, a Chickpea Cutlet, some roasted cauliflower, and some kiwis that my friend gave me. Ahhhh. I just love a huge, hearty lunch. 


Stuffed Shells!

I also made a big batch of stuffed shells... one of my all-time favorite foods! Stuffed shells are kinda like lasagna, but feel like less work. I used my own semi-recipe from this old post: I sauteed a couple huge leeks into a wonderful smooth texture, made a batch of tofu ricotta, sauteed/browned some mushrooms with some sherry... then I added a bit of nooch, extra sherry, and miso to the whole shebang. So good! Mr. VE&T said this was my best batch of stuffed shells ever, and I think I agree! 


Eating out at Solaris

We don't eat out very often... I usually prefer cooking at home (or getting take out from our local Thai spot)... but one of my beloved yoga students gave me a tip-off that a local restaurant called Solaris had lots of vegan options on their menu. It was really good! AND they had TWO vegan appetizers (we chose the hummus plate), an appealing vegan entree (edamame cakes with veggies in curry), AND a vegan berry crisp for dessert!! It was so exciting that they even had a dessert! I can't remember the last time I ate out at omni restaurant that offered a vegan dessert. What a fun date night, we would definitely eat here again! 


Chocolate-Covered Caramels

Lest you think I'm just eating soup and kale all day (ha ha ha), I also made some chocolate covered caramels! I used an old recipe that I printed out from the internet ages ago. Do you have a favorite caramel recipe? One of my pals had been struggling to make vegan caramel, so I told her I'd show her what I knew. Making candy is so weird... it requires so much faith and patience! Ours took FOREVER to get to temperature. The caramels came out with a great texture, perfectly gooey. I tried to make mine look beautiful with covered chocolate, but I messed up the tempering... so the chocolate also turned out unattractive. The caramel also gooed through the chocolate... I wonder why this happened this time? 

I know Lagusta of Lagusta's Luscious is coming out with a cookbook soon and I will be ALL OVER that biz. I'm sure she'll be able to give me some good tips for making my caramels more beautiful and perfect. In the meantime, these not-very beautiful caramels are certainly sufficiently delicious! 


COOKBOOKLETTE Giveaway WINNERS!!

Congratulations to abrimmer, Sarra, vegan1, Beth, Joan, Hobbs, Jennifer (one-sonicbite), Liz S, Jacquie, Apricot, and Laurie! You're all winners of my annual Holiday Cookbooklette! 

Vegan1, Joan, and Liz S. - send me your mailing address at ameyfm at yahoo dot com
so I can send you your cookbooklette! 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Festive Holiday Eats & Annual Cookbooklette Giveaway!


Happy Holidays to You!
Happy belated winter-festivity of choice! Happy New Year! 

I've had a full and festive holiday season - cooking up homemade gifts, baking cookies for my yoga students, drawing and writing my holiday cards, drawing my annual cookbooklette (giveaway at teh the end of this post!), packing up packages and standing in line at the post office, decorating the house, hosting a holiday craft party, and lots more! I suppose now it's all winding down, and it's basically time to pack it all back up again! ha ha. 

Christmas Craft Party!
We had our annual Holiday Craft Party - it was so fun. We had a few super fun friends over to eat dinner, decorate gingerbread cookies, make paper snowflakes, and play with pipe cleaners. Good clean fun! 

Hummus Bites // Broccoli Soup // Farinata

For appetizers, I made a big platter of cuke slices with homemade hummus. I sprinkled them with some dukkah and then topped them with a tomato slice. Holiday colors, but healthy and light! 

For dinner, I made one of my favorite soups of all time - the Broccoli Soup with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Creme from the Real Food Daily Cookbook. This soup literally calls for 3 lbs of broccoli. And a huge ton of fresh spinach. It's so good for you, and it's also SO GOOD. It's one of my favorite dinners when I want something really satisfying and emotionally rewarding, but also healthy. Since we were going to be eating lots of cookies, I figured I had better make a dinner that wasn't too much of a gut bomb! ha ha. 

One of my best pals is gluten-free, so I decided to make a big batch of farinata (aka torta di ceci, aka socca). I used the recipe that my friend Nicoletta's mom gave me years ago... and, um, you guys, it was SO GOOD. I *literally* teared up when I took a bite!! Ha ha ha. I don't think I've ever had that reaction to food before, but this stuff is so nostalgic for me, I just love it so much. Here are some posts I've written about it in the past:  cinque cinque sandwiches from Italy, and recreation from home.



Look at all these cookie decorators!! 
I made a ginormous slew of gingerbread cookies, four colors of frosting, got out all the sprinkles, and made other cookies for us to eat while we were hard at work. Ha ha. It was so fun. I just love friendly fun like this - chatting, laughing, goofing around. It was a wonderful evening. If you look at the bottom of the frame, somewhere in the middle, you'll see the weird and hilarious grumpy little cookie man that Mr. VE&T decorated. Ha ha ha. Omg it made me laugh so hard. It was the only cookie he made! He blamed it on all French noir tv show he was watching!


festive supplies:
Fancy little chocolates with sprinkles on them, spice drops, two kinds of gluten free cookies (Snickerdoodles from Oh She Glows, and Ginger Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies from Plant Crush). I made so many gingerbread people, and I made a batch of gluten free gingerbread people too (on the small tray). I always use the recipe for Lower-Fat Gingerbread Men from The Joy of Cooking. It's easy to veganize and it's a really fantastic recipe. I really recommend it! 


Christmas Eve Dinner!

In our family we've always had our big family holiday dinner on Christmas Eve at my parents' house. A few years ago we decided to mix it up and we switched to an Italian-inspired Christmas theme. It's so fun! We all love it. See how my mom makes such a beautiful holiday display on the table? She made some beautiful platters of veggie antipasti - olives, eggplant, fennel, peppers, squash. Man, does she have the magic touch. My aunt Laura made a beautiful salad with pears and nuts and grapes. It was so delicious! I never put fruit in my salads, it was such a fancy touch.


Lasagne!

For our main course, we have lasagna! Is there anything more festive than lasagna?? One of my all-time most favorite foods. My brother's wife made a non-vegan lasagna, which shan't be mentioned again. I made TWO vegan lasagnas, using my own recipe (link here) - the smaller one is a vegan "SOS-free" lasagna, which means it has no oil and no salt (and no sugar). My aunt and her partner are vegan and they also eat a SOS-free diet. It's not much work to make an extra lasagna for them while I'm making my own, and I want them to feel included in the lasagna-fest!! 



My Christmas Dinner! 


Buccellati!

For dessert, I asked my Italian friend Sara for some traditional Italian Christmas dessert ideas, and one of her suggestions was these cookies called "Buccellati" (also called "Cucciddati"). She sent me a recipe in Italian, which I scanned and then also ran through Google Translate just to make sure. One of the ingredients in the batter that I was confused about was "ammonia" - baking ammonia!! I quickly ordered some on Amazon. What a crazy ingredient. I read about it online. Apparently ammonia was a common leavener before the invention of baking powder. It can only be used in doughs that aren't very moist, because it needs to evaporate during baking. But, while it bakes, it expands and makes little air pockets, resulting in an incredibly light and crispy cookie. 

It was quite a gutsy move to make such an adventurous dessert for the very first time for everyone's Christmas! ha ha. 


ta-da!

But I'm delighted to say that they turned out AMAZING. We all loved them! I'll definitely make them again! There are many different variations on the filling - I made the one filling in the recipe that my friend sent me, and I used a filling that my friend My Zoetrope generously shared with me from her grandmother! Looking around online, I see that there are infinite variations of filling for these cookies, but they all have dried figs, raisins, nuts of some sort, spices, maybe some orange zest, maybe some alcohol... but you can really do it to your own liking. 

The cookies are meant to have icing and sprinkles, but for a more sophisticated look (and to use what I already had on hand), I used sparkling sugar for the cookies that didn't have chocolate in the filling, and demerra sugar for the cookies that did have chocolate in them. We still have a few of these cookies left over and to our amazement, they still taste just as good this many days later. I chalk it all up to that secret ingredient of ammonia in the dough! 

If you're interested, I could share the recipe I used in a future post. But you'll have to track down some ammonia! Let me know. 


Christmas Morning Waffle Breakfast!

the gang's all here!

On Christmas morning, we all gathered at my parents's house again for a waffle breakfast. I made a double batch of the raised waffles from Vegan Brunch (our family favorite!), and my mom made a huge batch of Field Roast breakfast sausages. There ended up being some non-vegan offerings on the table too, but it was a very vegan friendly affair, and I feel lucky to have such a cool family to roll with the vegan punches! 


a few Christmas pics of our sweet little gang enjoying the holidays. 


Tasty Christmas Gifties! 

One of my pals stopped by on Christmas Eve and brought me this beautiful platter of vegan cookies!!! Isn't this amazing!?? I don't think I've ever in all my life had someone make me a big festive platter of vegan cookies like this before. I got so emotional. There were so many great cookies - peanut butter, ginger, fudge, wedding cookies, a fruity oat bar, and some chocolate coconut tasty biz. Plus fancy teas and little chocolates. Isn't it glorious!?


Over at the PPK, we had a holiday swap and I got one of my favorite swap pals from Munich. She and I were swap partners for a similar exchange several years ago, so we already knew that we were both committed to sending some seriously abundant packages. I asked for fun Euro Snacks, and BOY did she deliver!!! This vast supply of sweeties and savories should keep me going for quite a while!! ha ha. 


Homemade truffles
Swoon! Several of my students brought me delicious treats for gifts, and I wish I had taken more pictures. What a lucky teacher! But I did snap a picture of these amazing homemade truffles. Holy bonkers these were delicious!! I am so impressed. 



*** COOKBOOKLETTE GIVEAWAY! ***
  

This year's edition of my annual holiday cookbooklette features several of my favorite recipes that I discovered this year (and a few old favorites too!). I'd like to give out 10 copies to you all, my trusted and loyal blog readers. I'm especially impressed if you've actually read all through this long post, and if you've even bothered to check my blog after I unintentionally took such a long break!!

10 winners! Open to anyone, anywhere, in the whole world! To enter just leave a nice comment on this post - tell me about your holidays, a winter tradition you enjoy, or what you're looking forward to in the new year... (and PLEASE leave your email if your blogger account isn't linked, so I can tell you if you've won!). Good luck! 



Monday, November 12, 2018

World's Most Coziest Slipper-Shoes: Graham Shoes by Jambu

OH HELLO.

Oh my goodness. These shoes were like love at first sight... love at first wear? I have been wanting something like this for so long! These are the vegan Graham shoes from Jambu Footwear. They're meant to be wearable as proper outdoor shoes, but they are also perfectly awesome for around-the-house slippers. Let me tell you all about my new beloved cozy-cozy shoes:

These are slipper-style shoes with a very cute knit fabric on the outside. As you can see, there are faux suede straps across the tops. The top strap is adjustable, to some degree, but I haven't felt any need to mess with it since I took my shoes out of the box. Inside, the shoes are lined with fleece-y fuzz. These shoes are like a magical hybrid of your favorite flip-flops, Ugg boots, and comfy house slippers. The insoles are made with lovely memory foam and feel super comfortable to wear... and then the outer soles are really rugged and substantial. 



I seriously cannot stop wearing these shoes. We've been having some funny autumn weather - with very chilly mornings and evenings, and hot afternoons. I don't usually love chilly weather, but now I am super happy when it's cool enough for me to wear my favorite little cozies. I teach in the morning a few days a week, and I love popping these Graham shoes on as I rush out the door. I'm almost always pushing it a little, schedule-wise, and I love having such a warm, cute, and comfy shoe that I can just slip on and dash out. Sometimes I even bring along my flip flops in case the sun comes out while I'm teaching! ha ha. I'd rather be prepared and have toasty feet when it's cool than suffer through the chill with my flip flops on! 


happy feet! 


Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go! 

These shoes are so comfortable to wear. Even though they feel like slippers on the inside, they act like proper shoes on the outside. They feel great for errands and dog walks - and they're so cute to boot! I always get compliments on them when I'm out and about wearing them. I think all those people are just jealous that their feet aren't as cozy as mine! 

The Graham shoes come in 4 different colors: blue (like mine), grey, brown, and black. On the black ones, the fleece lining is also black. I ordered these in a size 9, and the fit is snug. I think that's partly because of the fleece lining. I like the way mine fit, but if you're between sizes, or if you want to be able to wear socks with your shoes, I think you might want to go up a half-size. 


hometown hygge

Although I wear these all the time when I'm off to teach and do errands... I also wear them all the time around the house. I wear them when I'm cozying up on the sofa with Snoopy, when I'm cooking in the kitchen, when I'm working on my blog (like right now!!), when I'm doing my yoga studies... They are just the ultimate around-the-house shoes. They will keep your feet so happy!! 


 
your feet will be so cozy that they will need their very own cup of hot cocoa and big bowl of soup. 

*** COUPON CODE for you! ***
Use the coupon code VEGANEATS18 for 20% off any purchase from Jambu.com 

I think most of you know by now that I am a brand ambassador for Jambu's line of vegan shoes for women. Jambu makes a huge range of vegan styles - from winter boots to stylish boots to sandals and sneakers. (Remember that not all of their shoes are vegan though, so be sure to stick to the vegan shoes section of their site). 


Here are the other styles I've reviewed this fall: 



Monday, November 05, 2018

Yoga Retreat Eats!

Last month, I headed up to Graeagle, CA to lead a 3-day yoga retreat. It was my second year teaching up there, and I already have plans to go back again next fall. Graeagle is a wonderful little community about 1 hour north of Truckee... and it is just so beautiful. It's about a 6 hour drive from where I live, so it's a nice little road trip. I got a good early start so I wouldn't be stressed - and BEST of all, I had company because my mom came with me! My mom has been coming to my yoga classes for many years, and this was her first time coming to one of my retreat. We had such a great time together, like we pretty much always do. :) Plus, it was her birthday weekend! 

Momsie and Me Yoga! 


One of our road snacks: Biena Chickpeas!

Biena sent me a bunch of their chickpeas to try - and they arrived right before we left for our trip. I really love these guys - they are definitely the best store-bought roasted chickpeas I've ever had. They're perfectly seasoned, crunchy but not too dry or too starchy. Yum! 


Lunch on the Road!
I got us each a Veggie Hummus Wrap from a cafe near our house (Gayle's Bakery, for any Santa Cruz locals!) I love these wraps, they're one of my go-to options when I need a quick lunch that feels nourishing and healthy. It was a perfect road trip lunch because it was easy to eat in the car - chock full of veggies, and super delicious! Also, see how beautiful the countryside is up there??? 

Before we left for the weekend, I did a load of cooking - in fact, I cooked up pretty much all our food for the whole weekend. Graeagle does have some cute restaurants, but there's not a lot in the way of vegan options. Plus, when I'm teaching all weekend at a retreat, it's really nice to just go back to my little place and eat and be quiet - rather than having to hustle around to a restaurant. Here's what I made: 


Tofu Scramble with Kale and Sweet Potatoes
(from Vegan Brunch)

This is one of my favorite tofu scrams of all time! I made a huge batch - enough for breakfast every day for my mom and me. It's a super hearty and filling. This is the backyard at the cute little spot where we were staying. 


Potato-Kale Enchiladas
(from Veganomicon)

For our lunches, I made a large batch of these Potato-Kale Enchiladas, one of my favorite recipes of all time! I'm not sure what went wrong, but for some reason this batch of enchies was so dry! I think part of the problem may have been that I didn't use the proper type of potato... Another problem was that the microwave at our little apartment was hilariously insufficient and we had to microwave our enchies for at least 9-10 minutes to make them hot! ha ha ha. By Sunday, we realized that it was helpful to add some water while we were heating them up. We also went to the little local market and successfully located some guacamole, which was a major help! Don't let my bad experience discourage you though, this really is a great recipe, I promise! 


Red Lentil Dhal

I love this recipe SO much! It was absolutely perfect for our dinners - hearty and warming and satisfying. If you are looking for a good dhal recipe, look no further! This has been one of my favorites for so many years. Despite having to microwave it for one hundred and thirty-five minutes, it really was delicious! 

I also made COOKIES! I always like to make treats for my yoga students when I teach retreats or workshops. For this year, I wanted to make some cookies that had good autumn flavors - so I made Ginger Cookies (from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar) and I made a batch of "Grandaddies" - an amaretto cookie recipe that I made in honor of my grandpa. I love to share the joy of vegan treats with other people! Plus, we had to have a special treat for my mom's birthday!!
(photo by Emily!)


doin' backbends... thinking about cookies!
as you do.


On Saturday night, we had a really great group dinner. My friend Emily, who was hosting our retreat at her beautiful studio (Trails Within), organized the dinner and had it catered by some friends of hers. We gathered at the vacation rental that one of our group had rented, which was a totally great spot. The couple who cooked for us did an absolutely amazing job making us a very special vegan dinner: roasted pumpkin halves filled with a delicious quinoa stuffing, topped with sweetened pecans. With a side salad of a very autumnal kale salad. Then we even had a lovely apple crisp for dessert. The whole thing was really delicious and was cooked and served with so much love and affection. Their adorable little son even acted as our little waiter, and it was so sweet. The plates were made with 100% compostable palm leaves, and they even wrapped our plates with tinfoil if we had leftovers. It was such a wonderful evening and a delicious meal! 


Here are a few pictures from our adventure:

My mom and me looking out over Long Lake! On Sunday, after our last practice together, Emily led us on a group hike, which was really fun! This area is filled with open spaces, mountains, rivers, and lakes... it's just so much beauty in every direction! 


I saw some very special wild creatures: crawdads and kokanee salmon! If you look closely at the bottom left corner of the picture on the left, you'll see a pretty little red crawdad who was cruising along on the floor of the river. So sweet! There were actually about 6-7 of them, and I got so excited. I hadn't seen a crawdad since I was a little girl! 

And in the picture on the right, you can see some salmon swimming upstream to spawn. This was so special and meaningful for me. I think salmon spawning is just so emotional and amazing. How do they know what to do?? My friend Emily took me on a hike where we could see these salmon and it was so great! 


Giant pinecones from a Sugar Pine, golden autumn light, trails for hiking, wandering rivers, and more trees than you can imagine!! What a beautiful place and what a beautiful weekend with such a wonderful group of people!