A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Soup!

This is a very good bean soup that I invented for my birthday last weekend. It's made in a slow cooker and is SO VERY EASY, I almost don't want to give away the recipe. But, I will. Seriously, the hardest part is measuring out the spices!

Slow Cooker Bean and Tomato Soup:

3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed (cannelini or great northern beans)
1 can stewed tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup onions (optional)
1 vegi bouillion cube
6-8 cups water
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker, and set on high for 4 hours or so.

About half an hour before serving, mash up the beans a bit, with a potato masher. (The first time I made this, I used less water, and really it was a bit better. It may have cooked longer too.)
Serve with pepper, if you like, but it really doesn't need any more salt. Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Theo Chocolate and Making Butterfly Wings

We went on a tour of the Theo chocolate factory in Fremont yesterday, and it was awesome! For $6, you get to try every kind of chocolate that they make, and see the whole production. I was most impressed by the quality of everything that they do; they care about free trade and organic products, and they're even coming out with chocolate bars that directly support Jane Goodall's research in Tanzania. (and will be the first chocolate producer IN THE WORLD to source cacao beans from there.) Just amazing (and delicious!) My favorite of the fancy chocolates we tried was a fig/fennel combination, so I got this bar for my sister...
And this was my favorite bar (you can tell I already started on it...) Visit: www.theochocolate.com for more info, or to call them and reserve a place on your own tour!

Up next, I'm working on preparing some fancy cupcakes for my cupcake workshops in late March/early-to-mid April. I tried making some butterfly wings with candy melts this weekend, not to much success. Today's were much better!

You draw out the shape first on paper, then put it under some wax paper. Melt the chocolate candy melts inside a ziploc plastic bag, about 20 seconds at a time. (Leave the top open, so heat can escape) Snip the corner, and pipe the outside of the wing. Then fill the middle with the colored melted candy.

Swirl it around a bit, and make a design with a toothpick. Add a few sprinkles.

Magical! I'll post some more pictures once I actually put them on cupcakes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Website SOON!

Just wanted to pop in and say... the redesign is going really well! I'm getting very excited about the new site and it should be up and running VERY SOON! (like in the next week, hopefully!) Cherry blossoms are blossoming, birds are singing, code is coding... I couldn't be happier!Well, maybe a little happier: Just kidding!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quite Possibly, the World's Best French Toast

I started making French toast this way a few years ago when I first discovered this delicious cinnamon bread at Top Foods (aka: Haggen Grocery up north). It reminded me of the amazing French style breads that they make in Japan; all swirled up with jam and other amazing things inside... Anyway, eggs sometimes gross me out, and so I found this vegan version in (where else?) Vegan with a Vengeance. Here is my adaptation:

Cinnamon French Toast from Heaven:

1/2 loaf cinnamon swirl bread
1 cup soy milk (I use vanilla)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 cup chickpea flour (I've also used regular flour, but Isa swears by chickpea flour. I've now found it as a more mainstream brand, so feel free to try it!)

Mix the soy milk, flour, cornstarch, and spices into a shallow pie pan. It's ok if there are some lumps.
Then place a piece of bread, one at a time in the mixture. Let it sit for a minute or two to soak up some of the liquid. Flip it over so the other side gets some too.
Heat a medium-sized frying pan to um... medium heat. Spray with nonstick spray, or add a tsp. or so of cooking oil. Add the bread one slice at a time.
Squish it a bit to make sure that the inside is cooking. Then flip it over and cook the other side!

Serve with maple syrup, and bananas!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Pirate-y Peanut Butter Cupcakes!!

For my birthday this year, we decided to throw a pink pirate party! (Complete with bring your own cupcakes) I wasn't sure if too many people would actually bring some, so I decided to at least make one batch; and went with peanut butter ones. MMmmm...

Here it is! (You can do it as cupcakes, or as a layer cake too!)

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter at room temp
1 1/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter (I use chunky)
1 c. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350*. Stir dry ingredients together. In another bowl beat (in order) butter, sugar, eggs one at a time, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix into flour mixture and milk. Bake at 350 for 25-30 mins. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pan.
Now, for the full experience, you really need the frosting too. :)
Frosting:
3/4 c. unsalted butter at room temp
1 1/4 cps confectioners' sugar (I actually used a bit more here, probably 1 3/4 cups total)
2 tbls milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cp creamy peanut butter (again, me with the crunchy)
When cupcakes have cooled, frost with frosting. If you have to wait until the next day, refrigerate the frosting, but let it get to room temperature (or microwave for just a few seconds) to get it to be spreadable again.
Us, at the end of the party.
Me and "Redbeard" Redbeard. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spring?

Why, yes. Yes, it is!
Future blueberries!
Future (mystery) plums!
and mystery bulbs I did not plant. :)


Crocus!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pink Pirates!

Just had to share this awesome Etsy shop, where I got some printables for my b-day next weekend. First I was looking at the pirate ones.. and then I saw PINK PIRATES! Could anything be more perfect?

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=37207952

Their name is Paper and Cake, and their shop is very cool. Just saying!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chandeleur and Crepes!

Yesterday was the French holiday of Chandeleur. The holiday itself is a feast to celebrate Candlemas, but it's also called "La Fete de la Lumiere". It is a day when just about everyone makes and eats crepes, so this week in class, we are making some. They are delicious!
(and really easy to make)

Crepes: (makes about 15 big ones)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 ½ cups milk
4 eggs
¼ tsp. salt
Butter for pan

Measure out the flour and place in a large bowl. Add the salt, and mix together. Make a well in the middle of the flour (an empty space) and add the milk and the eggs. Mix until well incorporated.
Heat a frying pan to medium heat, and melt some butter into it. (about 1 tsp.)
Ladle in some of the crêpe batter, and turn the pan to coat the bottom of the pan. It should be a very thin layer of batter. When the crêpe is cooking, the edges will look as though they are drying out.
When you are able to pick up the edge, flip the crêpe over to cook the other side.
Remove from pan and serve with your choice of fillings.
And fold into fourths.
Some popular crêpe fillings: Butter, jam, and powdered sugar; Nutella and banana; Cheese and smoked salmon or ham.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Alicia Silverstone

I got this book last week after my sister recommended it over the holidays, and I can't put it down. It's fantastic! I really had relatively low expectations, being that she's an actress and all; but the book is really great. The first part is about how different foods affect your body, and why it's better to avoid some things. (disclaimer: this is a vegan cookbook, but it's really not preachy) Then there are two recipe sections; regular vegan, and what she calls a "superhero" diet, that's basically macrobiotics. I've been interested in macrobiotics on and off, but mostly I get turned off when they say to not eat tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplant. Alicia's approach is that everything that is a step towards healthier eating, is obviously better; but not to try to do everything all at once. It's ok to make small changes and see how you feel.

There are also some amazing dessert recipes in here; and I'm totally going to make these peanut butter cups for Valentine's Day. (although she also talks about how white sugar is evil, and I'm tempted to agree with her most of the time.) So if you see this book, you should totally check it out!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Minestrone!

Minestrone is one of my go-to soups; I make it a lot! Here's what you need:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
14 oz can of stewed tomatoes
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can of white beans (cannellini)
1 zucchini, diced
8 cups vegetable broth
½ cup carrots, chopped
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
¼ tsp. sage
1 bay leaf
1 cup cabbage, shredded (or you can use spinach instead)
1/2 cup small pasta (we used stars, because they're cute!)


Chop up all of the vegetables. Use child labor if possible: :)
In a large pot, pour the olive oil, garlic, and onions. Cook over medium high heat until translucent. Add the remaining vegetables and vegetable broth. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the pasta and spices. Cook an additional 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and the vegetables are soft. Serve with grated parmesan cheese, or fresh basil. (if not using dried)
Remove bay leaf before eating!
Mmmm....