Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Zombie Attack

I know I'm not the only one who is watching the Walking Dead right now.  So far, the 2nd season is phenomenal.  Zombies are such a cultural phenomenon at the moment that I have zombie dreams.  Guess what?  I kick serious zombie butt.

C'est moi kicking arse in my awesome zombie t-shirt

Here's my top 10 fav zombie films and shows:

28 Days Later- Absolutely frightening- the people and the zombies!
Zombieland- Awesomely fun & screamtastic.  
Dawn of the Dead (2004)- This is the movie that got me into zombies.  And I love Sarah Polley.  
Night of the Living Dead (1968)- I still jump up and down during parts.  
The Dollhouse- this show gave me the most zombie nightmares.  I freaking loved it.  
The Walking Dead- I get so nervous while watching this show that I need a stiff drink to get through it.   
Shaun of the Dead- I laughed, I jumped up and down and yelled at the characters.  Good fun.  
Pet Cemetery- Not as good as the book, but still well done.  
Resident Evil: The Afterlife- Milla Jovovich kicks so much arse in this movie.  And it was surprisingly good.  I liked (but fell asleep during) the first Resident Evil.  This is the only other film I've seen out of the lot, but I highly recommend.  
Planet Terror- Rose McGowan and Robert Rodriguez equals awesomeness.  I really regret not seeing the Grindhouse movies (Planet Terror & Death Proof) back to back, because they were probably the best films to come out that year.  I'm a big fan of both and loved McGowan in this.  

Joe looking for zombies

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Michelle's Vegan Mofo Recipe: Lasagna to Cry For

Ironically as I'm typing this blog post about Michelle's healthy lasagna, I'm also getting ready for Halloween.  Halloween is synonymous with junk food for kids under 12 and I've eaten my fair share of snack bars for trick or treaters who never ventured their way down to the end of our dark street.  However, I've found that a hearty, healthy meal is the best defensive move when trying not to overindulge on the sweets.
Michelle, from Healthier Steps, makes gorgeous vegan soaps but also has a very inspiring story about the importance of a clean diet in our every day lives.  For those of you who need a little kick in the butt to get started on a life of healthier eating, read Michelle's story.  Here's Michelle's step-by-step delicious recipe:)

Michelle's Lasagna to Cry For
This delicious lasagna is guaranteed not to stay in the dish very long.
2 26 oz bottled spaghetti sauce
½ onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
½ red bell pepper diced
1 zucchini diced
1 Tbs oil

1 lb x-firm tofu drained and mashed
1 cup frozen spinach thawed
½ cup cashew
1 cup water
2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
½ cup vegan cream cheese
1 Tbs onion
1 tsp salt
1 clove garlic

1 lb lasagna noodle uncooked
2 cups vegan mozzarella cheese, shredded, optional (I used Daiya vegan cheese)
Dried parsley to garnish

Preheat oven 375 degrees. 

In a skillet on medium heat sauté onion, garlic, red bell pepper, and zucchini until tender. 

Stir the veggies into the spaghetti sauce

In another bowl place mashed tofu and spinach. Place water, cashew, cream cheese, onion, garlic, salt and nutritional yeast flakes in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy. Mix into tofu and spinach.

Place a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Cover sauce with uncooked noodles about 4 leaving space for noodles to expand. Cover noodles with tofu mixture, then dribble a thin layer of sauce over the tofu mixture. Next cover with noodles, then tofu mixtures then place a layer of sauce, then a layer of noodles, then sauce. 

You may place the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle dried parsley to garnish. Bake for 45 minutes covered with foil, to make sure noodles are cooked then uncover for 10 minutes. 

When Michelle isn't busy making kick-butt lasagna, she is homeschooling (go Michelle, I used to homeschool too!) her two children and creating soap that looks good enough to eat. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vegan Mofo Recipe: Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

That's right!  This is the second blog post on squash this week.  I've had a plethora of delicious squash in my kitchen waiting to be cooked the last month or so- zucchini, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and my own home-grown pie pumpkins!
Acorn squash is a wonderful stuffing vehicle for savory foods.  I particularly like to stuff them with rice and veggies, but home made bread cubes with vegetables is wonderful as well.

Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash
serves 4

2 acorn squash
2 cups of cooked brown rice
small head of broccoli, destemmed and chopped into small florets
1/2 cup of peas
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 T earth balance margarine
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 15 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. hungarian paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
olive oil spray

Place acorn squash directly on rack in oven set at 350 degrees.  Cook for 20 minutes.  While squash is cooking, saute onions and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes at medium high heat in medium sized saute pan.  Add broccoli and cook, stirring often for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Remove squash from oven and chop off stem (plus an inch of flesh) and slice down the middle- see picture.  Cook until flesh is soft enough to scoop out (but not mushy)- maybe 10-20 more minutes, depending on the size of your acorn squash.  In a bowl, stir together all ingredients except for squash, margarine and olive oil.
When acorn squash is ready to scoop, remove flesh (leaving about 1/4 inch) from shell.  Chop it finely and add to rice mixture with margarine.  Stir well.  Cook about 30 minutes with the oven still set at 350 degrees.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vegan Mofo Recipe: Very Veggie Bloody Mary

Even though Bloody Marys are technically categorized beverages and this is vegan month of food, my husband and I pack ours with enough veggies that this could be considered a mid-afternoon snack.  I also thought this recipe was worthy, as my bloody mary does not contain worcestershire sauce.  Most worcestershire sauces contain anchovies and my recipe is 100% vegan.
The pickled okra is something I picked up while visiting New Orleans.  New Orleans wasn't exactly a vegetarian paradise, but I did enjoy the fried pickles and pickled okra.
Very Veggie Bloody Mary
serves 2

2 cloves pickled garlic
2 martini olives
2 jalapeno stuffed olives
2 garlic stuffed olives
2 cups vegetable juice
3 ounces vodka (optional)
1 1/2 T horseradish
3 tsp. hot sauce (I prefer Tapatio)
2 celery stalks, ends trimmed
2 dilly beans
1 long carrot, peeled and sliced horizontally
2 pickled okra
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
pinch of salt
ice cubes

Pour vegetable juice and vodka (optional) into a medium sized pitcher.  Add horseradish, hot sauce, soy sauce, salt, and pepper and stir well.  Add 1 each of celery, carrot, dilly bean, garlic, okra and each of the olives to a large mason jar or pint class.  I like 3 ice cubes in mine, but my husband prefers two, so add however many you wish.  Finally, pour bloody mixture into the glasses equally, stir with celery stalk, and serve.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vegan Mofo Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Sugar

Last year my husband brought home a pretty fair sized canister of maple sugar.  Beyond shaking some into a batch of beer, it has remained untouched.  I forgot all about the maple sugar until yesterday while baking 3 types of squash, wondering what to do with the butternut.  Miraculously, the maple sugar presented itself to me on the spice shelf, yearning to be given a second chance.
Neither of the guys at my house are big squash eaters, but they gave this a thumbs up.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Sugar
serves 4-6
1 medium sized butternut squash
3 T maple sugar
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 T margarine
olive oil or olive oil spray

Set your oven at 350 degrees.  I put the butternut squash in right away, no reason to pre-heat.  When your squash is just tender enough to slice (will take about 15-20 minutes), remove from oven.  Slice horizontally and place, fleshy side up, on olive oil sprayed cookie sheet.  Spray top of squash with olive oil.
Bake until soft and easily punctured with fork.  Cube squash, while leaving it attached to the skin.  Drizzle with soy sauce and slather with margarine.  Shake maple sugar onto squash and serve!  This would taste fabulous alongside pesto pizza or gnocchi.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kelly's Vegan Mofo Recipe: "Creamy" White Bean and Vegetable Soup is that time of year again!  Although I didn't realize it yet, even though I'm wearing a sweater and thick tights today- 'tis the season for soup.  Kelly from Lean Dog Pottery is here with the recipe.  Now it's up to me to break out the soup pot.  
"Creamy" White Bean and Vegetable Soup

    2 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to saute)
    1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    4 medium carrots, sliced
    3 small celery ribs, sliced
    5 garlic cloves - chopped tiny or put through a garlic press
    8 fresh basil leaves, chopped up (8 tablespoons dried is fine too)
    4 cups vegetable broth
    2 (15-ounce) cans white beans 
    1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
    1 cup kale, chopped
    salt, to taste
    pepper, to taste

1. In a pot over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, then add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and basil; saute until the onion is translucent.
2. Add the broth, beans, and nutritional yeast; increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.
3. Turn off heat and blend with stick blender. If using a regular blender, blend soup then return to pot. (The blended beans is where the "creamy" comes in. I leave some soup unblended to add texture. To use a regular blender, let the soup cool some and then transfer a portion of the soup to the blender. Be careful and don't add to much to the blender because you might get burned from it splashing up!)
4. Add kale and turn back on the heat for 4 minutes. 
5. SERVE! Season with salt and pepper. We loved to dip our garlic bread in this! 
Makes: 3 to 5 servings, Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 30 minutes

You can find Kelly Feaster's unique, colorful and utterly fabulous jewelry in her Etsy shop, Lean Dog.  Kelly makes lovely one-of-a-kind statement rings, pendants, bracelets and cute little stud earrings out of clay and crackled glass.  

One of Kelly's lovely holiday ornaments!

Thanks for sharing your recipe, Kelly!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pennie's Vegan Mofo Recipe: Vegan Pumpkin Dip

It is nearly the end of October and I haven't yet cut open one of my very first homegrown pumpkins to make pumpkin pie- or any pumpkin dish, for that matter.  Hopefully Pennie, from Pennie Mill Jewelry, will motivate me with her lovely pumpkin dip recipe.

Vegan Pumpkin Dip 
This is such a delicious, easy recipe.  Try not to get caught up in the measurements, especially with the sweet ingredients.   Play around with the ingredients and make it to your taste.  I like mine a little less sweet and heavy on the spices!
4 ounces room temp. Tofutti, Better Than Cream Cheese
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup canned or cooked pumpkin 
(not pumpkin pie filling) plain pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Whip Tofutti better than cream cheese, sugar, agave until creamy, add everything else and whip together until mixed.  Taste, adjust sweetness, spices, chill for at least an hour.  Serve with apple slices, graham crackers or anything else you like.  Enjoy!
When Pennie isn't busy in the kitchen trying to figure out how I can best use my pumpkins, she is hard at work making gorgeous, cruelty-free jewelry.  

This is a great gift idea in the spirit of Vegan Mofo:)

“I guess you could say that I am lifestyle driven, crafting with compassion, simplicity and beauty. I enjoy creating purposely minimal, uncomplicated, meaningful designs that are fresh looking and comfortable to wear." -Pennie Mills
You can find work by Pennie here or here in her Etsy shop

Gigi's Vegan Mofo Recipe: Tofu Nuggets

I'm not the only one blogging up a storm for Vegan Mofo this month.  Veganville's Gigi (you know, the vegan whoopie pie goddess) has been a busier bee than me.  I highly recommend checking out her blog- click here for more delicious recipes.  Here is Gigi's take on You Won't Believe It's Vegan's tofu dish.  

Tofu Nuggets 
adapted from You Won't Believe It's Vegan

1 block firm tofu drained and pressed and cut into cubes
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 T soy sauce or tamari
1/2 C nooch
2  T 21 Salute

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and coat with 1 T of olive oil.
Place the cubes in  a medium bowl and port the oil and soy sauce over it and toss it. Sprinkle with dry ingredients and toss again. Spread the cubes on the parchment bake 25 minutes turning once half way through baking time.
These are great in a sandwich, a salad, over grains.  If you want wish to serve them as a main course in a meal, they are great with slaw, polenta fries and/or sweet potato fries. 

Before you go, I wanted to plug Gigi a bit because I adore her baked goods.  Gigi doesn't just bake cupcakes, she also makes cupcakes, cookies and the chocolate scrumptiousness that is called Sam Sam Loaf (my friend Jill's fav).  Thanks for sharing, Gigi!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stasya's Vegan Mofo Recipe: Watercress Soup

Vegan Mofo has been so much fun!  I've been cruising everyone's vegan blogs and I have been so impressed and inspired by all of the lovely recipes and compassion out there.  Stasya from The Stitch and Fold has been generous enough to let us borrow one of her delicious Watercress Soup with us.  

As watercress can be difficult to find in many parts of the US (Stasya is from England), Stasya has also used white button mushrooms instead and offered them as a substitute.  
Watercress soup 
a supermarket packet of watercress – chop it all up and reserve some for garnishing
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
2 boiling potatoes, chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock
a little olive oil
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
Freshly-cracked black pepper
Heat up the olive oil in a pot. Fry the onion till it starts to soften. Add the potato, vegetable stock and watercress. Add the thyme and bay leaf.  Put on a medium simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are done (prick with a fork – if it goes through smoothly, it is done).  Remove the potato, onion and watercress from the pot using a slotted spoon and put into a blender. Add a few ladlefuls of the vegetable stock. Remove the bay leaf from the pan.
Blend until smooth.  Pour the resulting puree back into the soup, using a spatula if necessary.
Garnish with the remaining watercress, add freshly-cracked black pepper to taste and serve hot.  Serves 2-3 and keeps well in refrigerator for about 3 days.  
For those of you who aren't familiar with Stasya or her shop The Stitch and Fold, she makes lovely amigurumi and origami.  Here is one of her latest designs- just in time for the holiday season:)  She will be adding more items- so keep your eyes peeled.  
Stasya and her brother borrowed a book on origami when they were children and has continued to teach herself.  At school she loved creating little animals, boxes and flowers from scrap bits of paper- a passion that still remains (she is 22, for the record). As a result of practice from her school days, she has become quite good at making tiny origami models.  

Stasya hasn't figured out if it is a coincidence or not, but her other passion is a different Japanese art- creating amigurumi (crochetted toys). She loves the cuteness of amigurumi and learned crochet from her mum so she could make her own cute things :-)
"I love nature, I love small things and I love cuteness so these qualities/concepts tend to be reflected in my shop items." -Stasya
This Amigurumi European Robin Bird is adorable!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

13 Days of Halloween Sale!

While watching the season 2 premiere of The Walking Dead I realized that Halloween is right around the corner!  To be precise, it is a mere 13 days away- exactly how long the sale lasts.  Let's celebrate the coming of one of the most awesome holidays with a little Etsy sale.  Right now until Halloween, everything tagged halloween in Blackbird and Peacock is 25% percent off:)

This is one of my newest creations that I made just in time for Halloween.  I recently purchased a wire binding machine, stack cutter, vintage hardcover books, and eco-friendly paper and am having a blast making earth friendly journals.  

Another new item- made for Halloween and Zombie lovin' fools.  

Vegan Mofo recipe: Mellow Yellow Dal w/ mustard and cumin seeds

Dal has to be one of the world's most versatile and foolproof foods.  Cook lentils in water, add spices, chopped veggies, salt, stock or bouillon, and there you go- dal.  This dal is lovely to serve this time of year, because it's color reflects the yellowing leaves outside and it warms the throat and belly.  I added a little hot sauce to the top of mine to go with the chips.  When I eat this alongside Indian food, I prefer it with naan and keep the hot sauce out.  

Mellow Yellow Dal w/ mustard seeds
serves 6-8

1 1/2 cups split yellow mung beans (moong dal)
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
5 cups water
2 tsp. better than bouillon, vegetable flavor 
1/2 tsp sea salt, or more to taste
3 diced carrots
1 minced onion
1 minced celery stalk
5 tbs olive or canola oil
1 T cumin seeds
1 T mustard seeds
2 T chopped fresh ginger
1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped
1 T lemon juice
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)

Cook yellow split beans, celery and carrots with water and bouillon over med-high heat until boiling, then cook over low heat, partially covered, for an hour or until the yellow split beans are soft.  ++If you can't find a good quality vegetable bouillon use 5 1/4 cups water and 1 tsp. soy sauce instead.++ If you prefer a soupier dal, add a 1/2 cup more water.  Remove from heat and beat the dal with a whisk or heavy spoon until the dal thickens (about 2 minutes).  
In a small cast iron skillet (or small frying pan) heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot.  Immediately add mustard and cumin seeds and cook for 15 seconds, then add minced onion.  Cook for 5 minutes or until onions are soft and gently browned.  Stir in ginger and chilies and cook for 1 or 2 minutes before removing from heat.  
While dal is still hot, add spice onion mixture and stir in lemon juice and smoked paprika (optional).  Garnish with fresh cilantro.  This reheats and freezes well and also tastes good at room temperature.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vegan Mofo recipe: Saag Paneer

Alright, so by nature saag paneer is obviously made with paneer- otherwise known as Indian cheese.  For years I've been substituting lightly fried tofu- which tastes delicious.  This original recipe can be found in Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking.  Her cookbook is an all-time favorite of mine.

Vegan Saag Paneer
adapted from Julie Sahni

serves 6-8

about 1 lb. tofu (firm, refrigerated in water)
16 oz. gently cooked spinach (I use a mixture of fresh and frozen, but either is fine)
1 packed cup of gently cooked chopped chard or kale, stems removed
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded
7 T olive oil 
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 T grated fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
2 jalapenos, minced (deseeded)
1/2 c water (or more as needed)
1 tsp. salt
2 medium sized red bell peppers (cored, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips)
2 tsp. garam masala

Puree spinach, chard, & green pepper in food processor or emersion blender.  Should be fine and velvety.  Drain tofu and gently press with tea towel.  Dice tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat 4 T oil in large, heavy nonstick pan over medium heat and add tofu.  Cook tofu until it is a light golden brown on most sides.   
In 1 T oil cook onion until gently browned (about 15-20 minutes), then add ginger and fry for 2 more minutes.  Add turmeric and jalapenos, stir for a few seconds and set aside.  Cook spinach puree with 1/2 cup water, salt, sweet peppers, 1 T oil on medium heat.  Add onion and spices and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.  Add tofu and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.  Stir in garam masala.  When ready to serve, stir in 1 T oil to glaze and mellow the sauce.  

I serve this with a simple basmati (or jasmine) rice pilaf.  Cook basmati rice and add thinly sliced dried vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, etc.) or gently cooked grated rice and peas.  Some wild rice added tastes lovely too.