Sunday, July 18, 2010

Long Time No Post

I know, I know- it's been too long. The end of the school year and this summer have been crazy (getting ready to fill out college applications in the fall!) so I really haven't been cooking or baking a whole lot. Plus, it's been a super hot summer (90 degrees most days) so spending time in the kitchen, unfortunately, doesn't sound too fun. Most of my meals have consisted of cereal, smoothies, fresh juices, or raw veggies and hummus, not that I'm complaining- I'm just eating whatever I feel like. I'll try to document a few of my more memorable meals later, but for now it's all about the cake!

A friend of mine was throwing a surprise party for another friend of ours and asked me to make a vegan gluten-free cake, so of course I was more than happy to do so :) I made a triple batch of the gluten free chocolate cupcake recipe from VCTOTW for two 8'' pans and a double batch of the fluffy vegan buttercream. The cake was by far my best yet. The cakes rose beautifully and were moist, but sturdy, the crumb coat stayed put, and I was able to frost the cake fairly smoothly. I wanted to do a few more decorations, but ran out of time and frosting. Not a big deal, though, because everyone loved the cake. I hadn't baked a cake in so long (probably because I don't want cakes hanging around my house all summer long) and this reminded me how much I love to bake and decorate cakes.

Hope everyone is enjoying their summers! While I probably won't be posting regularly, I will try to post again at least once or twice before the summer is over.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I'm going to keep this as short as possible since I'm exhausted and should be working on my US research paper. My mom, sister, and I went to NYC (the first time for all of us) over President's Day weekend and had a blast!!! It was pretty chilly (warmer than Chicago, though), but the city was so exciting and we were never bored. The food there is pretty awesome, too.

We didn't get up early enough to take the ferry over to Elis Island, but at least we got to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance.

We stayed in Times Square, which was cool during the day, but breath-taking at night. I slept surprisingly well with all of the honking outside our hotel room.

Friday night, we explored Times Square and one store that amazed me was this HUGE Toys R Us that was three stories and had a ferris wheel inside of it! I may be 17, but I still got super excited :)

I would have loved to see Central Park during the summer, but it was still pretty in the winter. Grey, but pretty. We, of course, had to see Strawberry Fields.

Saturday was my favorite day of the trip. After a long day of shopping all over Soho, we stopped by Candle Cafe on the way home so I could pick up dinner to eat before we all went out to a restaurant by our hotel where my mother and sister ate. I got the Ginger Miso Stir-Fry with a side of sauteed veggies with tahini sauce. While I couldn't get a good picture of my meal, the food was delicious and satisfying since I was exhausted from shopping! However, I must say that dessert was even better than dinner. One place I had to go to in NYC was Lula's Sweet Apothecary. I got a two scoop sundae (my first sundae in years) with coffee and chocolate fudge swirl ice cream and rainbow sprinkles. It was amazing and I would go back to NYC just for this ice cream. Gosh, it was good. My mom was so cute and loved the way the store looked and took tons of pictures of it.

Sunday, we saw the Lion King on Broadway, which was awesome even though my family and I saw it a few years ago in Chicago. We then went to a wonderful dinner at Blossom. Since they had a prix fix menu for Valentine's day, I wasn't able to try anything from their regular menu, but the meal was still delicious. For my appetizer I ordered the chestnut soup which was fantastic and I had to stop myself from finishing the huge bowl of it to save room for dinner. My entree was the pistachio-dusted tofu and I fell in love with it! There was some flavor in the sauce that was so great, I'm not sure what it was, but it was delicious. We each ordered a different dessert and, unfortunately, none of them were very good. Nothing was bad, but just disappointing.

This was such an amazing trip and I'm so thankful that I was able to visit NYC because I've been waiting to for a long time. Now I can't wait to go back!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Happy New Year, everyone! For me, this marks the official end to the holiday season and I'm glad to say that I survived and enjoyed it all! Christmas was great- got a ton of new clothes and CD's. We just had a small group of family members over and had a nice, quiet evening. For dinner, I made some ratatouille (loosely based off the same recipe used in this post) and a pumpkin swirl cheesecake for dessert (based off the recipe from Fat Free Vegan, but I used 1 1/2 times the ingredients for the filling, and less tofu and more vegan cream cheese) topped with candied pecans and it was a hit! My sis especially loved the cheesecake and the two of use finished it off in about three days :)

Hope 2010 is a great year for everyone and brings even more joy than 2009!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Belated Thanksgiving Post

I feel like Thanksgiving sort of snuck up on me this year, but that was no problem since I didn't have to cook anything for my dinner! I knew I wanted to order a vegan carryout dinner from the Chicago Diner and went with the raw meal since it was gluten-free, as well.

It was so much food!! In the little carryout tray (I think it's so cute) was a raw nut loaf, shiitake gravy, mashed cauliflower, some sort of wild rice salad, cranberry relish, and a sweet potato salad with pineapple and goji berries. I brought this meal along with the raw cheesecake (not sure about the flavor but it appeared to be chocolate and cinnamon) and left the corn soup and salad for lunch the next day. The meal itself was pretty good. The cauliflower and loaf were a little heavy on the garlic for my taste, but still enjoyable. The sweet potato salad was great- not very traditional, but good. It goes without saying that the cheesecake was great (it always is), but I've gotta say that my favorite part of the meal was the corn soup that I had for lunch the next day! It was full of fresh, sweet corn kernels, onion, bell pepper, and cilantro. Gosh, it was good. I hope they offer this soup at the restaurant throughout the year because I can't wait to have it again!

I hope every had a great holiday (or weekend if you didn't celebrate Thanksgiving). Mine was definitely interesting, but my weekend was fabulous (I had to pry myself from my room to go shopping as I read 4 books over the weekend totaling about 2200 pages, which is huge for me since I never read!) I only have 3 weeks of school until Winter Break (yay!!) and 4 weeks worth of class until finals (ugh...), so I'll be having a bunch of time off school in the next couple months to make some interesting meals to share with you all!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Made it to 17 :)

As I mentioned in my Halloween post, November 1st was a special day for me (not just because it's World Vegan Day)- my 17th birthday! I'm sorry it took me so long to post this, but life has been so hectic (in a good way) and still is, so I'll keep this post short.

To celebrate my birthday, my family and I went out to dinner at the Chicago Diner, which was enjoyable as always, but the real treat was waiting for me at home :)

My parents had ordered a birthday cake along with some cupcakes from Bleeding Heart Bakery! The cupcakes were 3 chocolate with chocolate frosting, 3 chocolate with vanilla frosting, 3 chocolate with peanut butter frosting (all vegan), and 3 red velvet (non-vegan). My family snacked on those throughout the day, but I really couldn't wait to try my birthday cake after dinner: a curry cake with chocolate ganache (my mom picked it out knowing that I love to try "weird" things). I know, it sounds sooooooo bizarre, but it was actually delicious! My mom and I both agreed that the first bite was a little weird since most people don't expect to taste curry when they eat a cake, but the more we ate, the more we loved it! The ganache was the perfect frosting for this cake and I couldn't help but go back for a second slice :)

I got some great gifts (clothes, tights, makeup- the usual), but one that was extremely special was my dad's gift to me: a juicer! I mentioned that I wanted one back in the summer, but they are so expensive that I didn't bring it up again because I never expected to get one. Well, my dad spent some time reading reviews and got me a really great juicer! I wanted to try it out right away, so I just made my first juice with some stuff around the house: grapefruit, ginger, oranges, and apples. It mad a TON of juice (I saved some for later) and was so refreshing. The juicer itself is really easy to clean and does a great job of getting every last bit of juice out.

I feel like my birthday gets better and better every year and I'm so thankful that my family made it so special :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy Halloween. My day has been great so far (Halloween being my favorite holiday and all), but I really can't wait until tomorrow! (you'll see why later....)

Once again, enjoy your holiday!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Enchiladas and Pudding- Both with Chocolate?

My latest culinary adventure all began when I went out to dinner with my parents to a local Mexican restaurant. While I enjoyed some jicama slices with guacamole and my mom ate her pumpkin tamales, my dad's dinner was something that I didn't expect him to order. He told me that his favorite dish at that restaurant is enchiladas with mole sauce and I immediately wanted to make my own vegan mole sauce to try it. After all, if my dad likes it, it couldn't be that bad, right? I remembered bookmarking the mole sauce recipe in Vcon when I first got the book, so the next day I looked at the recipe, went to the store to pick up anything I needed, and set out to make enchiladas with mole sauce! The enchiladas were a variation on my basic recipe- corn tortillas filled with beans (pinto beans in this case), corn, diced bell peppers, carrots, onions, zucchini, and spices. What made these enchiladas special was, of course, the sauce. Let me just say it: I am officially in love with this mole sauce! My dad tried some and liked it so much (which is the "seal of approval" since he is a mole fan) that he asked me to make some (non-vegan) cheese enchiladas for him with the extra sauce for dinner. When I make enchiladas for the rest of my family, I will probably have to use the traditional red sauce since only my dad and I like mole, but there's no doubt that I will make some special enchiladas for my father and I.

I have been a chocolate pudding addict lately! I have been making a batch of this recipe (reducing the coffee to 1/2 t.) every week for the past two months or so. Imagine my excitement when I found the new Soyatoo rice whip at my local Whole Foods. I couldn't help but buy it to enjoy with my pudding! Though it is very pricey, I prefer the rice whip to the original soy whip. It doesn't taste beany like the soy whip does and tastes so authentic- like a mixture of Cool Whip and dairy whipped cream. Another bonus is that this doesn't melt as quickly as the soy version. I'll be buying this now instead of the Soyatoo soy whip, but it will have to remain a rare purchase since it's so gosh darn expensive.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kombucha- Totally Bizarre but Awesome

Last month I finally gave unto my curiosity and bought a Trilogy (ginger, raspberry and lemon) Kombucha tea at Whole Foods. When I first opened the bottle, it fizzed everywhere (as the cashier warned me)! After that, some of the slimy goops of the bacteria that causes the fermentation floated to the top so, bracing myself, I slurped them up. It was so cool, they just melted in my mouth! The drink itself tasted strongly of ginger, probably more so than I would have liked, so it definitely resembled a slightly vinegar-y ginger ale. My mom tried some and said it tastes like wine, which I know nothing of, so maybe it does. Either way, I have been wanting to try so many more flavors of Kombucha tea, but I'm so stingy that I have a hard time paying $3.50 for one- sad, I know.

Anyways, fast forward to today when I see this giveaway on the Confessions of a Sham blog- perfect! If you are at all curious about Kombucha tea, go ahead and enter to give it a try- you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

All Breakfast, All the Time!

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day (maybe even beating out dessert) and I'm disappointed that I haven't posted about it more on this blog! I guess first thing in the morning I just want to eat and forget to photograph anything. However, I've had a few breakfasts over the past month or so that I think are post-worthy, so here they are:

I was feeling a little fed up with the lack of variety of gluten-free, vegan cereal available, so I decided to make my own! I started with this recipe for Nutty Bran Flakes, but made a few changes. I used rice bran, substituted brown rice flour for the whole wheat flour, used maple syrup instead of sugar, hemp milk instead of dairy milk, and added a pinch of xanthan gum. Though rolling out the dough and baking it until it was super crispy was a little time consuming (not much, though), this cereal turned out wonderfully and I have already made this again several times with some variations. Once I experiment a little more, I might just share some of those variations....

The Fronch Toast recipe from Vcon has been one that I've had my eye on since I bought the book almost two years ago, and I'm ashamed that it took me this long to try it. I used this gluten-free bread since it's slightly sweet and I thought it'd be sturdy enough to hold up soaking in the french toast batter, but I think it may have been a little too dense. The batter didn't really get absorbed by the bread, but the Fronch Toast was still delicious. I will definitely make this again with some homemade gluten-free bread (I've been searching for the perfect recipe and trying a few out, but that's another post!).

I believe this trend may have been started by Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter, but forgive me if I'm mistaken. Either way, I'm loving my oats in a nut butter jar! I go through nut butter so quickly that I get to enjoy this about once every 3 weeks or so, and it's such a treat. The one you see above is gluten-free oats cooked with water and hemp milk. I then stirred in some flaxseeds, mashed banana, and maple syrup. Served in an almost empty PB jar and topped with sliced bananas, this is such a hearty, creamy, and nutty breakfast!

Another new way I've tried oatmeal is as oatgurt (once again, thanks to Heather). I just blended gluten-free oats with a tiny bit of water, poured them into a bowl, covered it with a towel, and let it ferment for about 24 hrs, stirring often (I didn't want it too tart). I've tried this oatgurt both warm and cold (as you see above with soymilk, apples, cinnamon, pecans and pumpkin butter) and I much prefer it warm because the tanginess mellows out a little bit once the oatgurt is heated. However, my oatgurt didn't absorb any flavors I added to it like regular yogurt does. I think this is a nice change from regular oatmeal, but I just don't see myself making this too often. I think I was expecting it to either be just like oatmeal or just like yogurt, and it wasn't quite either, so maybe it's just that my expectations were off. That being said, I do suggest that you try oatgurt at some point because it's so darn good for you and the sourdough-tasting crust that forms on top alone is worth making this for!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Finally! No more mush for food!

I'm so sorry it's been almost a month since my last post! I had my impacted wisdom teeth taken out a few weeks ago and it's taken me awhile to fully recover. For the first few days, my jaw was so stiff that it was hard for me to even fit a spoon in my mouth and I could barely get out of bed. Thankfully, I'm all better now and back to eating real food!

One dish I managed to whip up when I found the energy was a noodle-less lasagna. To do so, I sliced some zucchini about 1/4 inch thick, coated them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them until cooked through. There's no real recipe, but the lasagna itself consisted of layers of marinara sauce (I just used a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes that I added some dried oregano and basil to), zucchini slices, and cashew ricotta from Vcon (seriously addicting stuff- I can't wait to make it again!). I sprinkled some Parma! on before baking, which made a really nice, nutty crust. While this lasagna didn't set up as nicely as one with noodles might have since the zucchini didn't absorb the liquid from the sauce, the flavor of this dish was great and the leftovers got even getter. I even tried freezing the last few servings and they were still delicious. This was definitely a nice change for the summer from a carb-heavy lasagna and I can't wait to find new dishes to make using the cashew ricotta.

In other news, I bought some of the new Larabars that everyone has been blogging/talking about and hope to review them in a future post (that is, if I can manage to take any pictures of them before a gobble 'em up!)