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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Taco Salad Lunch


I had some leftover refried beans the other day, and it turned into this!

Taco Salad:

1/2 c. brown rice
1/2 c. refried beans
1 small zucchini/ grey squash, cut into ribbons
1 small onion, diced
3 leaves of kale, sliced into ribbons
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 oz-ish cheddar cheese, grated or cut up
sour cream and salsa

Cook the rice, and when it is almost done, add the refried beans.  This is your bottom layer.  In a frying pan, cook the squash and onions until they are brown.  (Add a small amount of water if necessary while cooking.)  Add the kale when it is almost done.  This is your middle layer.  Then add the cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa to taste.


You are done!!

Vegan Thin Mint Cookies



I made these for a friend's birthday party a little while ago, and they were so good!  I tweaked the recipe just a tiny bit, and they are very cakey.  I think that if you want them to be a bit more authentic (i.e. crunchy) you could do the original recipe with all the margarine in it.  (I guess I did it that way before... but this one is a bit healthier!)

Vegan Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies:
adapted from Chloe Coscerelli

1 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. vegan margarine
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp soy, almond, or rice milk (I used that TJ's coconut milk again)
1/2 tsp. pure peppermint extract

In a food processor, blend together the dry ingredients.  Then add in the wet ones, and pulse to combine slowly.  Put the mixture into a bowl, and knead it a bit to get it to come together.  Chill the dough in the refrigerator for an hour.

After it's chilled, remove it from the fridge.  Using a spoon, roll the dough into small balls (it's pretty sticky, so you may just place it onto the cookie sheet in a clump) and put it onto a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet.  Try to flatten out the cookies a bit, if you can.  Preheat the oven to 350*, and when it is ready, bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes.  Let cool completely, then make the chocolate coating.

Chocolate Coating:
If you are going to drizzle the chocolate like I did, this should be a fine amount of topping.  If you want to dip them in it and surround the cookie with chocolate, you will need a fair amount more.  (Double or triple this amount)

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

Put the ingredients into a microwave safe bowl, and heat at full power for 30 seconds at a time, until the chocolate starts to melt.  Stir in between microwaving sessions.  When it is all melted, drizzle over cookies.  Try not to eat every drip that falls off your cookies!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Seattle Tilth Chicken Coop Tour, Part 2

The next house we went to on our tour boasted solar energy, bees, a koi pond, oh yeah, and chickens.


And also the biggest blueberries I've ever seen on a plant! (note hand for scale) :)  I completely attribute this to the honeybees that they keep on the other side of their yard.


Solar panels in Washington? Yes!


Grapes!


Koi pond!  (with a fun little feeder up there in front of that lady's feet.)



Apples!


Chickens!


This was the back of their house, where they had some more berry plants.


The bees were really the coolest part for me.  You could see a few here and there leaving or going to the hives, but other than that, you would have no idea that someone was keeping thousands of bees here.  Zero.  This made it seem much more do-able for me, probably even easier and less of an impact on my yard than having chickens.


They were very into solar energy, even cooking a pot of chili in a solar oven that was over 300*!  I was really impressed.



There was also this freaking gorgeous passion flower vining up an entire wall of their house.  They got a lot of sun for sure!!


Next up was Stacy from Seattle Seedling's house!  I was so excited, since I've been a fan of her blog for over a year now.  It's one of two blogs in existance that I've read the ENTIRE thing; every post, I've read it.  


Her front yard is taken up by a few large beds, edged with wine bottles mostly donated from local businesses.  The main one is her "giving garden", where she donates all of the things grown there to a local food bank.


Front of the house


Secret plant!




She also makes mosaics, which you will see in a big way very soon...


Pollinator pathway and strawberry rain gutter garden



Here is the masterpiece:


She made this over the course of a month one summer, without even a firm idea of how it was going to end up; mostly she was just sure about the tree.



Stacy teaches gardening classes out of her house with her new project, Seattle Urban Farm School.  She also does some mosaic classes from time to time; maybe I'll get to take one this year.  



Lots of beans, and I loved the lavender edging, filled with bumblebees!


Next up? The final part of the ST tour, at the Goat Justice League! (You know we had to see that one, based on the name alone.) 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Maple Pecan Scone Waffles

I did it!  I combined my never-ending love for waffles, with the best scone recipe in the history of ever.  Oh yeah, and made it somewhat healthy.  (Healthier than the scones anyway)  Enjoy!

Maple Pecan Scone Waffles:

1 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour
1 c. oatmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (no imitation corn syrup, yo)
1 1/2 c. soy milk (I used TJ's coconut milk)
1/2 c. applesauce
3 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 c. pecans

Toast the pecans, either in a toaster oven for about 8 minutes at 350*, or on the stove in a small frying pan.  When they are darker and smell delicious, they are done.  Don't burn them!

In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, except for the butter.  When it is stirred together pretty well, add the butter.  Bust out your hand blender (or a regular blender) and blend it all together.  (*This is a new secret trick that I have discovered, to make your waffles more fluffy and less apt to stick to the waffle iron.  It also makes it all the same consistency with the oaty bits.  Do not skip this step!*)  Lastly, fold in the toasted pecans.

Finally, make the streudel topping:
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
about 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
less than 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 dashes of cinnamon

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon.  Drizzle in the maple syrup, and stir with a fork.  Then add some oil.  After it's mostly incorporated, mix it with your hands.  Add more syrup or oil as needed, until it gives you some big crumbs. Taste if necessary.  (It might be necessary.) 


Heat up your waffle iron, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour in about 2 1/2 ladles' worth of batter, then dot the top with the struedel.  Close the top and bake until it dings.

Ding!

Add some syrup, and enjoy the crunchy caramelized bits.  John has dubbed these the best waffles in the world (i.e. Aliens would keep us alive just to make them, if they were invading us, and would otherwise get rid of the Earth.).  That's pretty high praise. :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seattle Tilth Chicken Coop Tour, Part 1

We managed to get to 5 stops on the tour this year (and then stopped for lunch at Portage Bay.. so good!).  Hopefully next year we will see more!
This was the first Hobbit-y house that we went to; so pretty!


They had both chickens and ducks, and maybe a couple of guinea hens?  They were smaller, and hard to tell what they were!  The ducks had their own pen, connected to a covered pool to swim in.  

 There was also a gorgeous garden in their front yard..

 Giant beans, tomatoes, and onions.  The onions were taller than me!  (I guess that's how tall they need to get  in order to have real-sized onions; mine never do it.)


The bees sure liked them.



 The next stop on the tour had little stuffed pigs to guide us to the backyard.


And what a yard it was!  They had separate nooks for different things; a kids' play area, 


jealousy-causing attached greenhouse,


 (inside the greenhouse; it smelled like Disneyland to me.) :)


a lounging area,



and then the garden area surrounding their chicken coop.  (This house was called "The Eggplant", one of our favorite stops on the tour.)


They used some kind of cutting (maybe green bamboo?) to make the stakes that their labels were on.  


The coop took them about 40 hours to put together, and had a window box outside for the chickens to admire.  


 The chickens just started laying that week, about a month earlier than expected!  This coop was really built for safety, but also for aesthetics.  I especially liked how they put pavers around the whole outside, so anything trying to dig under it wouldn't get very far.  


The coop window is directly across from the family's living room window, so they can just hang out inside and watch the chickens if they wanted.  


Stay tuned for my other three stops on the tour!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coming soon....

I have a slew of posts percolating in my mind, but not enough spare time to write them out yet.  :(  But... coming up soon:

- Seattle Tilth's chicken coop tour, including goats, bees, gardens, chickens, ducks, and the biggest blueberries to exist in nature!

-Quick and delicious lunch ideas!

-Lemony Potato Salad!

-Things that are growing (and not) in the garden! (i.e. Why isn't my kale growing this year?  Answer: I don't know.)

-New cute dresses and skirts that I've made lately!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Zizi loves her new mushroom pool.







 Stay cool, and have a happy 4th of July!
Love, Crafty Cakewagon, Zizi, and Lulu