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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Free Organic Seeds (practically!)

Are you looking to start your garden this year, but feeling strapped for cash?
Look no further! Seeds of Change is offering a great um.. offer. They will send you 25 packets of organic seeds for only $4.99!! How crazy is that?

Pretty crazy, if you ask me. You don't get to actually choose what packets you get, so there's an element of mystery involved.. but I find that kind of exciting!! Considering that most retailers sell organic seeds for at least $2-3 a package, this is a major bargain!

If you'd like to order seeds from them, here is the offer. Allow 2-6 weeks for delivery.

PS: Thanks to Krista for telling me about it!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vegan Girl Scout Cookies! (Thin Mints)

It has come to my attention that perhaps there have not been enough cakes in this wagon lately. To remedy this, I bring you: Vegan Thin Mints Since I cannot claim any creation rights of this recipe, I have linked to Chef Chloe's amazing amazing recipe! You have to trust me because everything she makes is gold. GOLD! Even though I was a little bit skeptical of only adding 3 Tbsp. of soy milk to the recipe, I did it. And it worked. The only thing I did differently was to coat the cookies in chocolate only on the tops (and it actually used a bit less chocolate coating than the recipe says; next time I'd do about 1.5 cups of chocolate chips instead.) So, I made the cookies: Only used a teaspoon of dough each! The recipe made 65 COOKIES. (not including dough bits that I was forced to taste. At gunpoint.) Then I made the chocolate coating. The gunman made me try that too. Then I spread it onto the cookies, and chilled them in the freezer (to be able to eat them faster). I can safely say that this was a completely worthwhile endeavor!
(You could also sandwich them together like that one in the top row, if you are crazy like that. John loves anything that has the word "sandwich" in it, so that's his favorite!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Breakfasts of Champions!

Carb champions, that is!! :) (note: we did not eat both of these foods on the same day, but I did make them on the same day) Exhibit A: Hashbrowns I LOVE hashbrowns. The problem? I don't love piles of oil. I try and try, but my hashbrowns almost always are mushy and not crunchy. Is there a way around this without using half a bottle of oil? Should I try peanut oil? Usually my best defense is to just turn them into baked cottage fries or potato cubes with some onions and spices (which are completely delicious, but not the same as regular hashbrowns.) I have tried rinsing the, wringing out water, salting... Please advise if you have any ideas!! Exhibit B: Granola We love granola around here. This one had cashews, coconut, cinnamon, dried pineapple, and dried apricots. I've learned from the mistakes of my past that it's best to add fruit AFTER you bake it, just so you don't break any teeth! Hope your weekend was just as delicious!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fancy Schmancy Nail Polish!

I discovered this nail polish a few months ago in some magazine, and I thought it was really great. I saved the page, but once I found out how expensive it was (seriously? Close to $20!) I just put it back in the pile of stuff I save but don't do much with. Then I came across it again, and decided that as a part of my goal to be more sparkly, fancy, and interesting-looking... I was going to buy it! So, I did. It's called "Happy Birthday" and it's by Deborah Lippmann. Here are the pros and cons.

Pros: Very sparkly!, 2 different sizes of glitter, looks really cool, people notice and comment on it, easy to fix mistakes with another coat, happiness-inducing level= high

Cons: It took like 6 coats to get it this even, I think it will be some work to take off, like most glitter polishes- it is rough-feeling, color looks best outdoors or in natural light (to see the purple and yellow; otherwise you mostly see silver, red, and blue- which is great if you're patriotic, but not so much if you're... not), edges of your nails don't get covered with glitter, expensive.

I think the next time I try it, I'm going to do something like this, where I layer it with a dark base. Then you can see the individual glitter, and it might be easier to take off.

Overall, I'm really happy that I bought this glitter-mania of a polish, despite all the "cons"! I still think it's awesome!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Leeks and Eggs

I don't know what it is about leeks that makes me prefer them for breakfast, in some kind of an eggy fashion. It started with this amazing leek/goat cheese quiche that someone made for me years ago; then it progressed to a (lower calorie!) crustless quiche that I used to make; and now? It's just leeks and eggs for part of a weekend breakfast. I'm kind of weird about eggs. I have to be in the mood to eat them, and if I'm not, they totally gross me out. Even some baked goods (like madelines); if I can taste or smell the egg, I won't eat it. That's probably why most things I bake are vegan- that and I feel like it's healthier, and easier to keep flaxseeds around than eggs that might go bad. But, I digress! Onward and upward to breakfast! 1 large leek 1-2 eggs, depending on how much you'd like to eat 1 tsp. Italian seasoning 3-4 Tbsp. cream cheese (this is a new addition- one I really like, but is not John's favorite. I'd tried it a couple of times in eggs/omelets, and while it seems kind of strange, it's actually very good!) cooking spray Chop up your leek and wash it really well. You can use a lot of the green part too; I usually just toss an outer leaf or two, and chop it up to about an inch from the end. Some people only eat the white part- but the green tastes just as good, and isn't wasteful! Add to a frying pan coated with cooking spray. Cook for a few minutes, adding water if it starts to brown. In a small bowl, beat up the eggs with the seasoning and cream cheese. The cream cheese will stay in clumps, but try to make them smaller.
Cook, and flip. Serve with English muffins, or maybe some facon or soysage. (what I call fake meat products)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My trip to the Dark Side..

I have a confession to make: as a general rule, I hate Wal-Mart. This is probably not a shock to most people. Most people hate Wal-Mart. I hate that they don't let their workers unionize. They tend to ghetto-ize communities. Their prices really aren't that low. But, my parents LOVE them. It's because of WM that those ugly (but environmentally friendly) CFL lights are actually affordable. (because they ordered so many, it caused manufacturing plants to make them in higher quantities and for cheaper amounts of money than they were before.) And they have really gotten organic food to a much wider audience than the average yuppie Whole Foods-goer. So, I can tolerate them a little bit more. After all that, I went to Wal-Mart with my mom on Saturday, and found OUTRAGEOUS GARDENING BARGAINS. Don't believe me?

Shallots? $1.50 for 5. (Last year I spent at least 5 times that) Rhubarb? $3 for 2 roots. (Last year? $12 for 3)
20 cents? Are you freaking kidding me?

$1.00? For herbs?

And the really crazy.... $1.50 for ORGANIC SEEDS? I went a little bit nuts. So, am I a hardcore convert? No way. But will I venture there once or twice a year for gardening supplies? I might be persuaded...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Springtime Burritos!

I'm so happy it's finally Spring!!! Last night, we made these burritos in honor of Asparagus Season getting underway (although mine have yet to come up...). My mom used to make this when I was a kid, but with chicken. Now that I have an aweseme chicken substitute, I can make it again! Quorn and guacamole ingredients What you need: 1 head broccoli, chopped 1 bunch of asparagus, ends snapped, and chop the rest (about 1 pound) 1 bell pepper, diced into big pieces 1 onion, diced 1 bag of Quorn "chicken" mexican spices (I used a mix, but you could do: 2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. chile powder, 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder together) 1/4- 1/2 c. water
Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray. Add the onions and peppers, and saute over medium high heat. Turn it down after the onions are mostly translucent, and add the broccoli and asparagus. Sprinkle some seasonings on top, and add the water when it starts to stick. Mix. Cook. When the broccoli is mostly cooked, add the quorn and some more seasonings to taste.

Serve in a large flour tortilla, with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

Dear Sunset Magazine,

I find your current renewal slogan pretty obnoxious. My subscription expires in 2 MONTHS.

I've been getting renewal notices since about issue #4 of subscribing. I love your magazine, and I will renew it, but are you so strapped for cash that you have to send me like 6 renewal notices?

Maybe if you saved a few of those trees, you could affort to freak out a little less. Sincerely,
Yes, I'm totally sending them this. Ridiculous!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Once upon a time...

I made some pineapple upside down cupcakes.

They were delish!

I was just thinking about them today, and that I should make them again.

If you are so inclined, you can read it here, back in ye olde times of this blog! (oh, and don't mind my pyjama bottoms up there!) You can also see my old tiny kitchen in my old condo. Proof that you don't need a lot of space to create something wonderful. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cupcake Commercial....

Today, I am a walking advertisement for this place.

When we first started planning our wedding, I was going with an entirely different cupcakery; but these guys have totally won me over. I stopped by one day to get a few cupcakes to try, as an at-home-and-easy impromptu cake tasting party. After wiping the crumbs off of my "official" testing paper, we came up with a rating system from ***** to "yes!". Yeah, I'm not sure what that means either.

For our official tasting next weekend, they are letting us choose 10 DIFFERENT CUPCAKES to try. They don't pick them, we do! And... we can pick a time. This may not seem like a big deal, but some bakeries have preset days/times and if you can't make it then... too bad for you. These guys? Are awesome.
And have I mentioned the interior of the shop? It's pink and green, which I love. They have a vintage-style refrigerator that I am very jealous of, and the decor is way cute. Totally puts them over the edge of cuteness.
And the frostings. OMG THE FROSTING! I consider myself to be a pretty damn good baker; but this stuff is surreal. (I'm sure it's healthy too... right?) They even sell it by the cup, if you just wanted to, I don't know, eat it straight up? It's that good.
So, yes. I'm sold! And the next time you're in Crossroads in Bellevue, you should totally stop in because they are amazing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yummy Veggie Stir-fry!

Do you need some veggies? Maybe even something green? Then today is your lucky day! (Sorry, the words "green" and "lucky" are as close as you'll get to a St. Patrick's Day mention from me.) Stir-fry Is Easy: 2 large carrots, sliced 3 ribs celery, chopped 1 onion, diced 1 head broccoli, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 bell pepper, cut into small strips 1/2 block extra firm tofu, cubed 1/2 c. snap peas, strings removed bean sprouts- a few handfuls cooked brown rice, 3/4 cup to 1 cup/person Sauce: 1/2 c. orange juice 1 Tbsp. soy sauce 1/2 tsp. ground ginger 1 tsp. sesame oil Sesame seeds to garnish In a large pan, spray some cooking spray. Turn the heat onto medium high, then add the onions, garlic, celery, and peppers. Stir around. Add the broccoli, about 1/4 cup of water and the carrots, then let cook for 10 minutes or so. When the carrots are slightly softened, add the tofu and the peas. Cover with the sauce, and cook for 5 more minutes. Right before serving, add the bean sprouts, and stir to warm them. Serve with more sesame seeds.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Easy Quiltmaking?

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical that this could be done. I've never before in my life thought that I would ever want to even attempt a quilt. Then this book came along:

I got it just a couple of days ago, and now I'm kind of obsessed with it. This book actually lays out the steps for making a quilt in a managable way. They show you the tools you'll need, and 12 different patterns to try, at different skill levels. I find myself looking through my stockpile of fabric saying, "Hmm... that could work!" I imagine making a quilt filled with cute fabrics showing all the things I love (teapots, boston terriers, cupcakes, pirates, etc..)

First I think I'll try something a bit easier though; I have 2 fabrics I uncovered last night, and I'm going to see how they might look together with some "neutrals" thrown in. (to me, I think a "neutral" might translate into just a plain color, with no pattern. At least for this one anyway!)
This is definitely going to be a slow process- no instant gratification felting here; but I think it could totally be worth it. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Edibles Panel at NWFGS

One of the seminars I went to at the Flower/Garden show a few weeks ago was a panel on edibles. There was quite a bit of information, mostly specific for our climate, so I am here to share!
One of the first things they talked about was our weather- and how hard it is for hot weather crops to grow here (at least early in the season). So, it was advised that we wait until late May/early June to plant the following in the ground:



This kind of breaks my heart since I love to grow these things, but they don't always work out so well. (In fact, I may have entirely given up on eggplant; maybe I'll try one more time.) You can look for a cold-weather version of these plants (like ones named "arctic" or "snow" or things like that.) or put them in a cold frame, so that might help the process along a bit. I would NEVER start any of them from seed; unless you were doing this early inside under a grow light. I think if you tried it outside, starting in May, you would be very disappointed.
Another tip from the panel was to grow a lot of greens. In our area, we can grow greens year-round; swiss chard, kale, bok choy, lettuce, spinach, arugula, and mache (early in the season):
(This is mache, also called lamb's lettuce.)
Peas grow well here, so well that you can actually cut off the ends of the vines (they'll grow back) and eat them. I've never done this, but I might try it this year!

Some other suggestions were:
- Do a harvesting schedule: plant more seeds of the same variety several days or a week apart. Then you can eat them over several weeks, instead of having everything be ripe at the same time.
- For warm crops (like those above) wait until the soil warms up before mulching around them; it will trap the heat better. Also, leave room around the stem, so the mulch isn't touching the plant itself.
- Have a seed party! Get together with your friends to choose seeds, buy them together, then divvy them up when they arrive. (How fun would that be?!)
Graham Kerr (who was very charming) gave us a recipe for the best thing he'd ever made using homegrown produce: Steam 1 lb. of carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes. (I'm guessing 1 lb. each) Blend the vegetables with a can of evaporated skim milk (10 oz.) and blend it for 4 minutes. (He had a phone call and forgot he'd left it running.) Pour it over pasta or cauliflower, then bake it for 30 minutes; then broil the top with some parmesan on it.
Another panel member was Joe Lamp'l who hosts a show on the DIY network. At some point, he got pitched the idea to create a garden for a family of 4 that only cost $25... and he did it. Here is the first installment of it. (You can find the rest on youtube.)
Questions? Thoughts? I will do my best to answer them!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Raw 70's Truffles

Do you remember when you were a kid and you made some sort of raw peanut butter ball thing that was delicious? I do. I think it had some crazy things in it like dry milk powder and carob, but be happy... those are not in this treat!! I got the idea because my best friend Minda made something like this last week with her daughter, and called them Crazy Bird Snacks. I added a bit of chocolate, and things that I had in my kitchen, and am calling them Raw Truffles. :) What you need:

1 c. oats (oops... forgot that for the picture!) 2 Tbsp. chocolate chips (you could leave this out if you want it to be slightly healthier) 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder 6 Tbsp. honey 5 Tbsp. peanut butter 1 tsp. vanilla extract 2 Tbsp. flax seeds 3 Tbsp. sunflower seeds 3 dates, pitted

Put the first three ingredients in a large-bowled food processor, in the order listed. Blend. Then add the peanut butter, honey, flax, and vanilla. Mix again. Then add the dates and blend. Add the sunflower seeds last, and just mix it a little bit. This should make a playdough-like consistency. Using a tablespoon, measure out the dough and roll it into a ball. Put them on parchment while rolling. Store in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

For me, this made 27 balls, and according to Sparkpeople, they are about 61 calories each. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Chicken" Pot Pie

I have been meaning to share this with you.... it is, quite possibly, the closest to a "chicken" pot pie I have ever made. Yes, it is pretty healthy. No, it is not vegan (but it is close!). Yes, IT IS FREAKING DELICIOUS! To start, I took ideas from both the healthiest cookbook in my house, and probably the one voted "most likely to give you cardiac arrest". Observe:


And not so much. But, it totally worked! So much so, that when I went to take a picture for y'all... it was already gone. (see below)

It was that good.
What you need:
Filling: (adapted from cookbook #1 up there)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dry sage
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
4 c. veggie broth
1 tsp. thyme
2 c. water, mixed with 3 Tbsp. flour
3/4 c. frozen peas
1 package "quorn" chicken pieces (this is my new favorite veggie "meat")
In a large stockpot, cook the onions and garlic in the oil until the onions become translucent. Add the butter, mushrooms, celery, and carrots. Add the veggie broth and spices, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the carrots start to soften. (While this is cooking, throw together the crust below, and put in the freezer.) Add the flour/water mixture, and stir. Allow to thicken for 5-10 minutes, then add the quorn and the peas. Remove from heat.
Crust: (adapted from Pioneer Woman)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. vegetable shortening (or margarine, I think I did a mixture)
1/2 an egg (this is only slightly tricky... because I halved the recipe. Just crack and beat up an egg in a small bowl, and throw away half of it)
2 1/2 Tbsp (or 2 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp.) cold water
1 1/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the shortening and cut in with a pastry cutter (or two butter knives) until it looks like small pebbles. PW says that this should take 3 or 4 minutes. Add the 1/2 an egg, the water, and the vinegar. Stir it together until it's just combined, then put it into a large plastic ziploc bag. Get most of the dough down into a bottom corner. Then, slowly, roll it with a rolling pin, until it fills most of the bag. When it is about the same thickness, put it into the freezer for 10 minutes or so.
After the crust has firmed up a bit, take it out of the freezer. Take your baking pan, spray it with cooking spray, then fill it with the um... filling. Open the bag and carefully cut down the side of it. Peel off the bag, and drape the crust over the baking pan. If it doesn't fit, just do your best. Bake at 400* for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What to plant now

According to Year-Round Edibles, here are some things that can be planted now; in a cold frame, cloche, or under row cover (how I started my lettuce last year). Once the ground reaches 45*, lettuce can be put in straight up. So, we have:

Lettuce and other greens

Fava beans and peas (esp. snow peas)

Beets! These are my favorite variety, called chioggia. They look like candy! Beets especially need some cover at this time in the season, but they can still grow. Good luck!