Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Halloween Dessert

For a few weeks I've been brainstorming about a perfect dessert for Halloween. I knew I wanted something chocolate. I was originally leaning towards a chocolate orange cupcake with orange frosting to keep with the colors of Halloween. But then I thought about not only keeping with the colors, but also with the flavors of fall. I came up with a chocolate cupcake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting. In all honesty, these are probably the second best cupcakes I've ever made; second to my birthday tiramisu cupcakes. The recipe for the cake comes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The recipe can be found here online. The chocolate cake itself is incredibly moist and delicious. It's even better with my pumpkin cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (or Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese), softened
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Red and yellow food coloring (optional)
Cream together ingredients. If you want a more orange hue, add about 3 drops of red and one drop of yellow food coloring. Spread on cupcakes. This is enough frosting for 12 cupcakes. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Central Florida Veg Fest!

For me, one Veg Fest isn't enough. That's why on Saturday I ventured over to Orlando for the Central Florida Veg Fest. The weather was beautiful, mid 80's and breezy. And there was so. much. food. CF Veg Fest seemed to be about twice as big as the Tampa Veg Fest. This was both a good and bad thing as there were plenty of options but my stomach (and wallet) wasn't quite big enough for me to try everything. But there was one thing I absolutely knew I wanted to eat; that was a vegan chili dog. There were not one but two booths serving vegan chili dogs. I went with the first place I saw. For $3 I could get a vegan hot dog with two toppings; I went with 3 bean chili and vegan cheeze sauce. They also had a little toppings bar so I added diced onion and vegan bacon bits. This dog was really delicious but it had one major downfall: not enough chili. I would have to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Now I only had one bite of the second vegan chili dog but I feel that this one bite was enough for a proper rating. From the picture you can tell the second dog had plenty of chili. In fact, some chili fell off and was later eaten with the best utensils: fingers. This dog was sooooo good. It was $4, but a lot bigger than dog #1, and again, a lot more chili. I'm giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The only thing keeping this dog from the top rating is it's lack of vegan cheese. But overall, I would have eaten 3 of these if my stomach was big enough.

I also enjoyed some pretty incredible Indian food as well. I eat Indian at least once a month, so I almost didn't go with Indian because I wanted to do something different. But when I saw that it was a mere $5 for this huge plate of food I couldn't turn away. The plate had a samosa (fried pastry with potatoes and peas), stewed chickpeas, rice, and jalebi (a very sweet fried dough).

And as if I hadn't already eaten enough I cooled down with some iced coffee. It was only $2 and I had the choice between almond milk and soy creamer and was able to use agave nectar to sweeten it. I'm not a coffee expert, but this one was incredibly good. I went with almond milk and a little bit of agave. Creamy, sweet, cold, and simply delicious.

Overall, I had an awesome time at the Central Florida Veg Fest. There were lots of great organizations as well as lots of great food. I will definitely make a point to visit again next year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hawaiian Beans and Rices

Lately I've been on an eating healthy and losing weight quest, not that you'd be able to tell from those cookies...Anyway, I also spend a lot of time looking at other blogs for inspiration now that I no longer have cable, and most importantly, Food Network. I stumbled across a really great blog, No Meat Athlete. The No Meat Athlete has some really great recipes for beans and rice; a cheap, easy, complete protein meal. There are several variations on a theme but the one that spoke to me was the Hawaiian Beans and Rice. I love pineapple in my savory food and I also have a new found love for cabbage. So with a few tweaks, here's my version.

Hawaiian Beans and Rice:
  • 1 cup chickpeas, dried or 1 can
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 small can pineapple tidbits
  • 1 small can sliced pineapple (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
If using dried beans, soak overnight and cook until tender. To save time, feel free to use a can of chickpeas. Cook rice according to package directions. While rice is cooking, heat a large saute pan and coat with the olive oil. Saute onions, cabbage, and garlic for about 15 minutes, until tender. Stir in chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in pineapple tidbits with the juice, extra juice from sliced pineapples if using, soy sauce, paprika, ginger, and hot sauce. Salt and pepper again, to taste. Keep warm.

*Optional Step* In a small saute pan, lay out pineapple rings. Caramelize both sides, about 2-5 minutes per side. On a plate, place rice, then beans, then pineapple rings.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CSN Product Review AND Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

A few posts ago I mentioned CSN Stores approached me with the opportunity to do a product review from one of the great stores. I chose the Ciculon 25th Anniversary 3 Piece Rectangular Bakeware Set. The set includes two baking sheets and a cooling rack. Below are a side by side comparison of my old baking sheet and my new ones. Do I really need to explain why I'm already in love?

I figured the best way to test out my new baking sheets would be with cookies. As it's getting close to feeling like fall in nice and sunny Florida I've also been having some serious pumpkin cravings. I searched around on the internet for some pumpkin cookie recipes. The pumpkin oatmeal cookies from The Post Punk Kitchen seemed to fit my basic requirements; they had pumpkin and I already had all the ingredients on hand. Winner! You can find their recipe right here. I pretty much followed the recipe. I only made two changes/substitutions: 1) I used half all purpose and half whole wheat flour and 2) I didn't have molasses, so I substituted equal parts brown sugar. I also included the optional ground flax seed.

The cookies were fabulous and my new baking sheets are absolutely wonderful. They are truly nonstick; they were so easy to clean. And I love having a cooling rack. Notice that I placed a paper towel under the cooling rack for easy clean up. I would really like to thank CSN Stores again for the wonderful opportunity. I love my new baking sheets! More cookies will be coming out of my oven in the near future.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tampa Bay's First Ever Veg Fest!

This past Saturday Tampa had it's first ever Veg Fest! I took the day off from work and was super psyched. I was not disappointed. First off, the weather was beautiful. It was possibly the first day it did not hit at least 90 degrees in about five months.

This is a view of most of the booths. There were tons of businesses, charities, organizations, and my favorite, free food! Typical me, I scarfed down every piece of food and not until I was finished did I think "Oh, I should take a picture." But I'll fill you in on some of the delicious treats I had. Gardein was there giving out free tacos with their beef tips, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. The Gardein taco was quite possibly my favorite thing I had all day. It was simply fabulous. I also sampled some sausages from Field Roast; I sampled the Italian and the Smoked Apple Sage. Both were delicious, but if I had to choose a favorite I'd go with the Italian.

While the free goodies were very tasty, I was pretty hungry so I also bought lunch. There were several local Tampa veggie friendly businesses there; I went with the Taco Bus. I had a Butternut Squash taco with Hibiscus Lemonade. Oh. My. God. Generally, I'm pretty partial to the vegan chorizo made by the Taco Bus, but really, I am now converted to the squash. It was sweet and tender and so so so good. The lemonade was also really good. For dessert, I had vegan pumpkin ice cream from Three 2 Oh. The ice cream was delicious; it tasted like a frozen pumpkin pie filling. And though I didn't have one, my friends had some vegan cupcakes and I'm pretty sure they enjoyed them, as I didn't see a crumb left.

All in all, I had an awesome time at Veg Fest. Between the weather, the food, and the company it made for a pretty perfect day. I really hope this becomes an annual event in the Tampa Bay area. Maybe I can even get a booth next year selling some homemade Blake Bakes goodies. And one final picture, just because they're so adorable; my boyfriend and Oliver (contender for the title of Cutest Dog Ever).