Friday, August 30, 2013

Falling into Autumn and Mint Chocolate Muddy Buddies

Falling into Autumn…see what I did there??

America seemed to make a collective decision that it is now Fall. It’s still 100 degrees out, but football is starting and pumpkin beer is happening, so we’ll just call it Fall! Fine by me.

We’ve incorporated Pumpkin Beer into our rotation.

I’ve had piano jazz playing nonstop. Does these mean Fall to anyone else? Must be all the Peanuts I watched growing up.

My Grandmother sent me this Candy Corn car freshener. I’m putting it in my car right after Labor Day!

I’ve started collecting recipes for treats to make. I made a lot of great things last year that I’m excited to revisit. To name a few:
I also just bought ingredients to make my all time favorite Fall treat, Chex Mix. Making it instantly transports me to 55 degree days, brown leaves, cinnamon candles and pumpkin everything. I’m making it for my mother’s 50th birthday party this weekend. I have been working on this party day and night for the last two weeks. It’s been such a whirlwind.

Speaking of pumpkin everything, I found some proof that I’ve always been pumpkin obsessed:

This 50th birthday party has completely taken over my life, and I cannot wait to share the entire occasion on here. The menu is huge, all vegan and delicious, like…Chocolate Mint Muddy Buddies anyone? 

Chocolate Mint Muddy Buddies

  • 4 1/2 cups rice chex 
  • 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips 
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup vegan mint cookie crumbs (about 14-16 cookies worth)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar 

1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the Earth Balance and chocolate chips. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peppermint extract. 
2. Pour the chex in a paper bag. Pour the melted chocolate over the chex, seal the bag and shake shake shake to coat. 
3. Pour the cookie crumbs and powdered sugar over the chocolate coated chex and shake shake shake to coat again. 
4. Pour into a bowl and try not to eat them all. If you get around to storing these, store them in an airtight container.

* If you’re making these for a party, double the recipe! This makes a decently small amount compared to other Muddy Buddy recipes.

Here’s to Fall beer, football, pumpkins, leaves, Charlie Brown, Black Pepper Bergamot and of course, all things Chex.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homemade Vegan Cro-nots

When I first heard about Cronuts I was obviously intrigued. As a fan of eating, I felt like I needed to do something with this concept.

Knowing that the Cronut is made with specially designed dough that is both donut and croissant, I took my favorite soft yeast dough (as seen in my King Cake) and treated it like puff pastry. The result was fascinating and delicious! The puff pastry method creates layers of flakiness that are a pleasure to eat. 

The real Cronut takes three days to make and is fried in Grapeseed oil at a very specific temperature before being filled with cream and topped with sugar and glaze. So while these aren’t the real deal they are rather exquisite. Maybe one day I’ll have time to go full force with the cream filling, but for now I wanted to get a feel for the basic pastry. These are just coated with sugar and a basic glaze. They are perfect. 

Homemade Cro-nots
  • 1 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
  • 1 packet (.25 oz) of active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup hot water (heated to 110 degrees F) 
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Oil for frying
  • granulated sugar for dusting

1. Place your first cup of Earth Balance between layers of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll to a medium sized rectangle that is about an inch thick. Place in the refrigerator to harden.
1. Scald the non-dairy milk. Remove from the heat and stir in the Earth Balance. Set this aside. 
2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the hot water. Let this sit for a about 10 minutes. While the yeast is sitting, whisk together the ground flax seeds and 3 tablespoons of water.
3. When the yeast is bubbly, stir in the milk and Earth Balance, the flax seed/water mixture, sugar and salt. Stir the flour in 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
4. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a cloth and let this rise for 2 hours, until doubled.
5. Roll the dough to a large rectangle at 1/4″ thick. Place the refrigerated Earth Balance in the center of the dough and fold the excess dough over the Earth Balance to cover it. Turn the dough seam down and roll into a rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick. Fold the dough into thirds (like a letter), making sure the edges line up. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. If your fridge doesn’t get cold enough, you can put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
6. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it into another rectangle making sure the longest edge of the rectangle is towards you. Fold it into thirds again from left to right. Place back in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times.
8. Roll the dough out to 1″ – 1.5″ thick. Cut out your shapes(I used the standard donut shape) and place them in the fridge for 30 minutes. While the cronuts are chilling place a cooling rack over a paper bag or paper towels on your counter.
10. Heat your oil over medium heat to 350-360 degrees. Fry the cro-nots until they are deep golden brown. Remove them from the oil and drain them on the cooling rack. Be very careful removing them, as they are flaky and come apart very easily.
10. After the pastries have cooled, roll them in sugar and top with your favorite glaze. Eat right away! Refrigerating overnight is not even almost recommended. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

No-Knead Rebel Bread

They say baking is a science and while there’s definitely truth to that, I don’t think it’s gospel. Especially when making bread. 

When no-knead bread came to light I was delighted to discover that it worked beautifully. I very rarely knead daily bread anymore. There’s just no…wait for it…..knead to(!)

This no-knead recipe is “Rebel Bread” because it breaks baking rules. Not only is there no kneading, but the measurements tend to vary depending on who’s making it and the moisture in the air. But don’t be scared of the inconsistency. At the end of the process you’re going to have yummy homemade bread.

No Knead Rebel Bread – 1 large loaf
Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

  • 3/4 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt
  • 3 – 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
1. Add the yeast, salt and 3 cups of flour to a large bowl.
2. Stir in the water until just combined. You should have a very wet dough. If the mixture is too wet (as in soupy) add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. If it’s too dry (as in not very wet), add warm water a teaspoon at a time until it comes together as a wet dough. The wetness of the dough really depends on altitude, weather, etc. It’s not a big deal though, just go with it!
3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 3-5 hours. You can bake it as soon as three hours after sitting. If you haven’t made it after five hours of sitting, you’ll need to store it. Do this by placing the dough in a large tupperware with the lid kept slightly open. Keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

To Bake:
1. Preheat your oven to 450. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a light sprinkling of cornmeal. Fill a small cake pan with some water and set a aside.
2. Sprinkle some flour onto a clean counter top. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough and pull it out from the bowl onto the floured counter top. Cover the dough with another sprinkle of flour and shape it into a ball. Place the ball of dough onto your baking sheet and let it sit for 30 minutes.
2. With a cerated knife, cut a shallow X into the top of the ball. 
4. Put the dough and the baking pan of water into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The top of the bread should be golden. If it’s not golden bake for another 5 minutes or so.
5. Let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it. It’s going to seem like an impossible task, but cutting into bread before it’s cool will result in gumminess.

You’ll notice vague words like “some” and “or so” in this recipe. It’s ok. Use intuition and faith and at the end of the process you’re going to have delicious homemade bread.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tomato Soup from The Winnie the Pooh Cookbook

While wandering around Powell’s Books in Portland I saw that they have an entire section dedicated to Disney cookbooks. I was so excited because for years I’ve been looking for The Winnie the Pooh Cookbook. Not only did they have the updated version, but also a copy of the out of print original. They were both under $10, but I opted for the updated version. The recipes in the original are a little too 70s weird for me.

The first recipe I made was the Tomato Soup. It was creamy, comforting, flavorful and so simple. A great introduction to the book. You never know with novelty cookbooks, but so far this one is great.

Tomato Soup
Adapted from The Winnie the Pooh Cookbook
  • 4 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened nut milk
  • 1/2 cup water (optional)
1. In a medium-large pot combine the tomatoes, scallions, herbs, salt, pepper and the 1/2 cup water if the tomatoes aren’t juicy. Simmer for 30 minutes then remove it from the heat.
2. Heat up the milk in a large pot, but do not boil.
3. With a stick blender, puree the tomato soup. Slowly strain the tomato soup into the milk. Stir the soup in the strainer really thoroughly to get as much liquid out as possible. 
4. Serve.

At the end of each recipe they have excerpts from Pooh books. Tomato Soup’s excerpt:
“It’s snowing still”, said Eeyore gloomily
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” and Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.” – The House at Pooh Corner

Monday, August 5, 2013

Portland 2.0

We did so much in Portland that it’s almost exhausting to write about. Almost. After breakfast at Sweetpea we stepped into Herbivore Clothing and Food Fight! Grocery, but we couldn’t shop for very long because we were late for a lunch date on Hawthorne. We decided to just revisit Stark later in the day.
We hit up one of the many trailer parks for lunch. At PBJ’s Grilled I ordered the Spicy Thai with peanut butter, sriracha, basil, curry and orange marmalade. It’s normally made on Challah bread, but they made it on vegan bread for me. Everyone in Portland is knowledgable about what is acceptable for a vegan diet – even the food carts! This sandwich was really really good and I will definitely remake it to the best of my abilities.
From there we did a lot shopping on Hawthorne. We hit up record stores, local art stores, gift shops, boutiques and vintage shops. We somehow managed to work up an appetite so we settled into a bistro like table at McMenamins where we got some local beer and a basket of fries. The beer was great and so different from what we get down here. However the real shining item at the table was The Ketchup. Neither of us are crazy ketchup lovers, but this stuff was practically drinkable. It will forever be referred to as The Ketchup and is one of the few things I will admit that Portland does better than Austin.

When we were sufficiently stuffed we started our trek back to Stark. During our walk we met a cat. He was pure black fluff and sleeping in the greenest garden. He loved my husband and ignored me which is rude. But whatever, they bonded.

We stepped into Food Fight again to pick up a bottle of The Ketchup and proceeded to Herbivore. We got a new belt and skinny wallet for my husband, a robot necklace for me and a little purse for my niece. I’ve had great experiences with Herbivore in the past so it was nice to finally visit the store front.
Just up the street from the vegan shops we noticed Enso Urban Winery. Oregon wines are fantastic so we had to stop in. The establishment was beautiful (the open bistro feel of Portland bars and restaurants was a refreshing surprise), and the wine was delicious of course. People don’t often think about Oregon for wine, but they do some really special things up there.

It was getting late so we headed back to the hotel. All in all we walked roughly 7 miles in the morning/afternoon. Not bad! We felt great and were really excited about dinner at Natural Selection. But that will have to wait until Portland 3.0.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Portland 1.0

Last week I mentioned a trip to Portland, but I didn’t mention the circumstances. As much as I’ve always wanted to visit Portland, I probably wouldn’t have gone this year had I not been generously sent there by Earth Balance. I entered these Open-Faced White Cheddar Biscuits with Apples and Pecans into Made Just Right’s Spring to Life recipe contest and they awarded them the grand prize! The grand prize was an all expenses paid trip to Portland, OR and a year supply of Earth Balance products. Huge, right?!

We just returned from our trip and it was really fantastic. Aside from it being a magical trip in the first place, it was also our 4th wedding anniversary. I don’t know if it was just the sparkle in our eyes, but Portland seemed to be a very romantic place.

We opted out of renting a car, preferring public transportation and our feet to get around. We really wanted to get a feel for the city and this was a great way to do that. We stayed in the gorgeous Vintage Plaza Hotel downtown so we were in a really convenient spot to hit a lot of cool things. 

The first thing we did was walk a few blocks to legendary Powell’s Books and got some great finds. I was able to snag some Difficult to Find In Person Winnie the Pooh cookbooks, some books on Nixon I’ve stupidly never read and The Annotated Peter Pan to add to my collection. From there we ate dinner at Sizzle Pie and checked out Voodoo Doughnuts. Honestly, I think Red Rabbit Bakery’s raised donuts are better. I did love Voodoo’s cake doughnuts though! After doughnuts, we finished off the night with some delicious Oregon pints at Bailey’s Tap Room. Of course there are no pictures of any of this.

The next morning we got up and headed to Sweetpea Baking Company. On the way there we ran into some wild animals:

And crossed a bridge:

At Sweetpea my husband and I got some breakfast. A fantastic Salted Bagel and sencha for him and giant Cinnamon Coffee Cake and Stumptown coffee for me. I picked up a bag of Stumptown to take home!
From there we did lots and lots, but this post is crazy long so I’ll add more details in the next one! Or for even more details than I included here, check out Vegan Travel: Live from Portland Part 1 on Made Just Right.

I can’t tell you how honored I feel for this whole thing. Earth Balance is one of my favorite companies and it really is surreal to have been chosen by them in a recipe contest. To me they are recipe wizards, and I feel really grateful and blessed!