Sunday, April 8, 2012

easter 2012!

To all those celebrating today, a very Happy Easter to you!
- A lovely weekend at home with the family
- Dying Easter eggs in the beautiful, sunny weather
- My last minute centerpiece turning out really cute, actually! (And luckily)
- Catching up with my cousins at the "kid's table"
- AMAZING food, including the infamous hash brown casserole *drooool* and my very first attempt at a "honey baked" Quorn loaf (which I swear, will be GREAT next year)
- Getting to play on my dad's fancy work ipad- thus, the great photo collage, above
- And just enjoying a day full of beautiful weather, wonderful family, and delicious food

- Gaining, like, 10 pounds in one weekend.... but let's be honest. It was totally worth it.

Happy Easter everyone! I hope it was a good one for you too♥

Thursday, April 5, 2012

chopped eating

Most times when I refuse to go to the grocery store, I feel like I'm eating all my meals on the Food Network show Chopped. Erin. You have 30 minutes to make yourself a dinner with mustard, rice noodles, tempeh bacon, and chickpeas. Go!
Well this has definitely been one of those weeks for me. Since I'm going home to my parents' house for Easter, why would I buy groceries, when I know there will be a truck-load of left-overs for me to devour next week? Considering I haven't done a real grocery shop in weeks, these past few days have yielded some "creative" meals, and I just wanted to share some of them with you.

1. Bagels (which I found in the break room for free)
2. Kashi frozen waffles (that have been in the freezer forever)
- some toppings include jam, cream cheese, and cream cheese with honey and Granny Smith Apples. I know cream cheese with honey sounds random, but it was the best creative find I've had all week :)

1. Leftovers from the weekend like some hangover chinese food and a veggie sandwich that sat in my boyfriend's car for way too long
2. Freezer food! When eating cheap, this is the time to rediscover those frozen burritos, frozen crock pot meals, and big batches of soup from winter

1. Homemade enchiladas with homemade sauce (which I posted about here)
2. Stir fry is always a great option for using up all the odd parts of vegetables, and rice noodles pretty much last forever in the cupboard
3. Polenta with chickpeas, almonds, and tomatoes?
4. Penne pasta with corn, peas, boca crumbles, chickpeas, and marinera?

Moral of the story, is that even when you're short on food, you can still put together some great meals. Success of the week? Cream cheese and honey! Omg who knew it was such a great combination? Also, this week's failure? Chickpeas. Just because they're perfect in a large number of dishes, does not mean they belong in all of them. The last 2 dinners of mine were quite strange- good flavor, hearty and filling, but the chickpeas were the black sheep for sure.

I've had a lot of fun mixing, matching, and getting adventurous in the kitchen this week, but I must say, I am so ready to have a couple of very excellent meals with my mom and dad this weekend! What about you? Ever get crazy with your cooking and end up with EPIC successes and/or failures? That's what cooking's all about! That's why I love it ♥

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

homemade enchilada sauce

Enchilada sauce is one of those things that I never anticipated making. Ever. I have no idea what kind of spices go in it, and I like the canned El Paso stuff just fine, so why would I ever try to make it myself? Well, an ever-shrinking budget and a very expensive speeding ticket have me looking through my cupboards like I'm on Chopped, and who woulda thunk that I had all the ingredients for homemade enchilada sauce just hanging out at home? It was easy, seriously tasty, and probably one of the best things I've made in quite a while!

Homemade enchilada sauce adapted from
Stuff you need: 1. 2 Tablespoons Butter or margarine 2. 3 Tablespoons flour 3. 1 cup tomato sauce 4. 1 cup+ water 5. 2 Tablespoons chili powder 6. a shake of garlic powder 7. something spicy :)

Start by melting your butter in a warm skillet, and then stirring it together with the flour to make a roux kind of thing. Next, stir in your tomato sauce and 1 cup water. I'd start with 1 cup, and then you can add more later depending on how thick you'd like your sauce.

Finally, add in the chili powder, garlic powder, some salt, and something spicy to give it a little kick. Cayenne or diced jalapeƱo would both be nice. I used red pepper flakes, since that's what I had on hand, it worked just fine.

When everything is incorporated together, let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes, and that's it! Your sauce is ready for whatever cooking adventures you have in mind.
It looks like the real thing, right? I used tonight's sauce for a big batch of kidney bean, green onion, and vegan cheese enchiladas, topped with a little avocado and some chopped greens. It was absolutely delicious!
I love everything about this. The flavor was great, it was surprisingly easy to make, and, let's be honest, anything made from scratch is going to be way better than the stuff in the can. Homemade enchilada sauce for the win! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

hunger games party

If you're crazy obsessed with the Hunger Games like I am, I bet you saw the movie this weekend too! A big group of us got tickets almost a month ago, and ever since then, we've all been counting down the days until the big premiere. This weekend finally came around, and I was so excited, I just had to decorate the house for the occasion :)
I made a couple of triangle banners- one to hang in the kitchen/bar area, and one to put in the dining room. I downloaded a Hunger Games type at dafont, and printed out "May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor" to post in both rooms as well.

I also got super crafty, and made a set of wine charms! I used the same Hunger Games font to type out all the main characters' names on top of the mockingjay seal. I then printed, and cut them out, attached them to a little cardboard, and wrapped them around our wine glasses with floral wire. They turned out great, and they were really fun to have too!
We drank wine, ate pizza, and got to the movie just in time! I must say, I was really impressed with the adaptation! A phenomenal book, and a great movie too. Yes, the book was better, but isn't it always? The actors were great, the violence was tasteful, and the parts that differed from the book, I didn't mind at all. I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.

Great movie. Fun night. I can't wait to do it all over again for the next installment! :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

peanut butter oatmeal puppy treats

I've said it before, and I'll say it again- the best gifts are food gifts. A million dollars would probably trump that, but until it happens, I'm going to stick with food. I know I love receiving tasty treats, so I thought, why wouldn't our furry friends like the same thing? A few weekends ago I got the chance to see some of my best friends and my parents in the same few days, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bake up some goodies for all my favorite pups.

I surfed around the web looking for a good recipe, and I finally decided on this one at Jun-blog, because it looked easy, and had just a handful of good, quality ingredients. I added a little more peanut butter and swapped out chicken broth for veggie stock, but otherwise, the dough came together quickly, it made about 3 dozen little star shaped treats, and I'm told all the dogs that got them loved them! :)
Here's Ichabod and one of his playmates patiently waiting for a peanut butter oatmeal treat! Aren't they adorable?My bashful border collie, Maggie also enjoyed hers, even though she looks moderately terrified. She tends to hate children, hoola hoops, and cameras.
Unfortunately, I can't personally attest to the deliciousness of these treats, but as long as the puppies are happy, I'm happy too. Sounds like this recipe is a success. I can't wait to spoil all my favorite dogs again next time!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

st. patrick's day fun

For everyone nursing their green beer headaches today, I hope you all had a very happy St. Patrick's Day! I know I sure did :)
I made some some cupcakes to take over to my friend Dave's house for his annual St. Patrick's Day party, and I'm really happy with how they turned out- vanilla cake batter dyed green, topped with white cream cheese frosting, green sprinkles, and a festive topper. Aren't they cute?

I made the toppers myself with some stickers, cardstock, and toothpicks, and I absolutely love them. The cupcakes were cute on their own, but the festive pick was what really made them extra special. I can't wait to make more for my next round of goodies!
Here's a big cheers to a successful St. Patrick's Day. I hope it was fun for you too. Erin Go Braugh! ♥

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

eggless tofu salad

There are a handful of things that I am completely obsessed with. Besides the SyFy channel and blog lurking, I think I'd definitely have to put egg salad on that list too. Nothing's better than a happy-chicken egg hard boiled to perfection, mixed with a little Vegenaise and devoured between 2 slices of toast with some spicy brown mustard. Yum!

Well, I've been really intrigued with the idea of an entirely vegan egg salad, and finally for lunch today, I decided to try it out with a block of firm tofu that desperately needed to be eaten. Being an egg salad purist, I was pretty skeptical, but wow! It was DELICIOUS!

Stuff you need: 1. Firm tofu 2. Vegenaise 3. Salt & pepper 4. Diced onion, shredded carrot or anything else you like in your egg salad

Start by squeezing the tofu like you normally would. While the tofu is getting pressed, chop up your onion, carrot, and/or anything else you'd like to include. When the tofu is ready, crumble it into a bowl and mix it together with a big dollop of Vegenaise, some salt, pepper, and all your tasty extras. I just used a little bit of onion, since that's what I had on hand.

When all the ingredients are properly combined, that's it! Dig in! You could eat it on a bed of greens, between 2 slices of toast with some kale and mustard, or if you can't wait a minute longer, just stand there in the kitchen and eat it right there on the spot :)
I can't tell you how excited and pleased I am with this recipe! I was fully prepared for this to turn out soggy and bland, but it was surprisingly great! Hard boiled eggs have a moderately neutral flavor, so replacing it with tofu wasn't really that crazy after all. This lunch was a total success. I may be an egg salad fanatic, but I think this tofu version is just as good!