Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sweets & Treats from my kitchen!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

I'm a bit under the weather at the moment with a monster of a cold. Aches, pains, sore throat, swollen glands, you name it, I've got it! Rather than attempt to write a big long entry, I thought I'd inundate you with sugary goodness, so here are some cakes & cupcakes I've been making in the past few months...

First up is some good old classic chocolate cupcakes! Chocolate cupcake, chocolate frosting, & chocolate sprinkles, for the ultimate chocoholic.

The cake you see is a Peanut Butter Cup cake, which is a chocolate cake with a peanut butter buttercream filling, drenched in chocolate ganache. As you can see, it was a birthday cake & the peanut butter skull is for good measure.

Alex & Kristen had a brunch themed housewarming potluck a while back. I made a brunch item, but I also had extra cake pieces & frosting, so I made 3 types of cake truffles for everyone! I believe there was a chocolate-chocolate, chocolate-peanut butter, & a chocolate coconut. They're very easy to make & were a hit!

German Chocolate is a common request in my household, especially from my husband & father who insist on it every single birthday. While I'm used to making German Chocolate Cakes for people, I decided I needed to make a cupcake version as well. After a few thoughts on how to approach it, I ended up with a Coconut-Pecan "bomb" on top of a chocolate cupcake & drizzled it with chocolate ganache. Works for me!

Finally, a big cupcake tower! How fun is that?! The flavors pictured are Chocolate Snowball, Snickerdoodle, & Orange Dreamsicle, yum!

Okay, this is the LAST time I'll bother you, but voting for the 2009 Veggie Awards by VegNews Magazine ends in just a few days on July 31st! The Urban Housewife is nominated for "Favorite Blog" & you can win fabulous prizes, just by voting! Okay, I'm done!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Potluck Season; currently in full swing!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

It's been a whirlwind start to summer & although San Francisco's temperatures are their typically chilly selves, we're still celebrating with all sorts of food & fun! It seems like my social calendar has an Eat-A-Thon scheduled for just about every weekend until the end of time, but I don't mind, it gives me more to share with others!

A few weeks ago, Ryan, Strummer, & myself headed down to sunny Santa Cruz for a PPK potluck hosted by Amey from Vegan Eats & Treats. The weather was perfect & we stuffed ourselves with savories like Empanadas, Stuffed Mushrooms, homemade Bagels, Broccoli Quiche, Spring Rolls, Macaroni Salad, & more! Avocado Key Lime Pie, Rice Krispie Treats, Coffee Cake, & Banana Pudding made up some of the sweets, plus I made a Chocolate Butterscotch Chip Cookie Cinnamon Swirl Cake Pie with toasted Marshmallow Meringue. Yes, you read that right. Inspired by Jessie at Cakespy, I made a pie crust, chocolate butterscotch chip cookie dough, & cinnamon swirl cake batter, layered & baked them together, then topped it with Julie Hasson's Marshmallow Meringue from Everyday Dish TV. The most fun of this dish was busting out the kitchen torch & toasting the delicious fluffy topping, yum!

City from New Zealand, aka the NZ Cupcake Queen recently made her way through the United States & we were lucky enough to have her here in San Francisco! We had a great time showing her & husband Chris the sights of the city, but we also had to have a proper American cookout (all vegan, of course), as they were here for the 4th of July! We deemed the day the "Sausage Fest", as we had at least 6 types of veggie dogs & sausages to grill up. Erika made adorable Onigiri with Nori faces, while the rest of us seemed to fill the table with sugary confections from cookies to Lemon Bars. Thanks to Dandies Marshmallows, I was able to make a proper Ambrosia Salad, so the Kiwis could taste the classic potluck dish loved & feared by many!

Speaking of sausages, inspiration struck recently & I decided to make Pretzel Dogs! I started with a homemade seitan hot dog recipe, then made soft pretzel dough. After the dogs were steamed, I wrapped them in the pretzel dough, baked them golden, & boy, was this gluten wrapped gluten delish, ha! I made some classic soft pretzels as well, which were also a hit, & I can see these being a repeat offender in our household.

This weekend a milestone birthday occurred & friends Gina & Adam from the PPK were in town, so of course, an epic celebration with lots of food was in order. Since our friend Nate turned 40, his wife Jen threw the party, which was a surprise for the birthday boy! We had a good potluck assortment with dishes like Quinoa Salad & Pav Bhaji, then also fired up my chocolate fountain with an awesome spread of dippables like fresh fruit, Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, Chocolate Cake Truffles, Pound Cake & pretzels. As if that wasn't enough sweetness, Jen, Jordan, Erika, & I decided to construct the most metal cake around! Chocolate cake & chocolate frosting with oozing strawberry "blood" inside & out, we wrapped the cake in over-the-top marzipan decor & a decapitated groom to honor "40 Years of Brutality"! Not a bad way to celebrate a birthday, eh?!

By the way, voting is winding down for the 2009 Veggie Awards by VegNews Magazine & all votes must be in by July 31st. The Urban Housewife is nominated for "Favorite Blog" & you can win fabulous prizes, just by voting! Get to it already!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Going South; more dining in Los Angeles & beyond!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

It always seems I'm on the go these days & a few weeks ago I found myself on a weekend trip to Southern California to visit family & have another round of tattooing done on my arm. Never one to turn down an opportunity to find delicious vegan dining options, I set out in search of places I hadn't been before, but also visited an old favorite.

A somewhat new dining option in Ventura is Mary's Secret Garden, an all vegan, organic spot, nestled in a former residential space. The vibe is a bit hippie, they have many raw food options, & while we found our dining companions, four omni family members, to be a bit perplexed by the place, everyone was willing to try it out. I started with a salad that wasn't even on the menu! A couple dining at the next table over had a large salad that looked amazing, so I had to ask what it was. It turns out it's a salad that the regulars know about & Mary prepares especially for people "in the know". Well, I'm glad I found out about it, as the salad with kalamata olives, chopped nuts, & a tangy dressing on a bed of heirloom tomatoes topped in nut based cheese was fabulous! Next up were the entrees & I decided to go with the "Rawvolis". Sheets of jicama made up what would typically be pasta & they were filled with more of the delicious housemade nut cheese with a butternut squash sauce, pesto, kalamata olives, & pistachios. Ryan had a burger, Mary style, with a side of raw slaw & was happy with his selection.

For dessert, we split two options, the strawberry shortcake, & a raw apple pie. The strawberry shortcake didn't do it for me, as it was quite dense, likely from the use of whole wheat flour. The nut based ice creams on the other hand were a tasty treat! The raw apple pie was a bit hard to eat, but a lovely, flavorful selection we both enjoyed! I would certainly return to Mary's Secret Garden again, especially as we have family in the area & it's a great dining option!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I headed to the LA Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale to pick up some treats for the family. Of course, I needed savory food as well, so I hit the Hollywood Farmers Market in search of some grub & hit the jackpot! I started out at A Taste of Life & loaded up on all the soul food staples; Mac & Cheese, Pot Roast, Black Eyed Peas, Kale Greens, Cornbread, & some not-so-traditional Lasagna. We loved the sweet, fluffy cornbread, as well as the black eyed peas & we love anything kale related! Next up, I was told to check out Dave's Gourmet Korean Food, a booth with two sweet, smiling girls who were happy to dish out the samples. While the spicy veggies we bought certainly lived up to their name, we fell in love with the smooth & chewy Black Bean & Rice Tempeh! Seriously, delicious soy free Tempeh! Another stop was at Corn Maiden Tamales for a savory Vegetable tamale & a Green Corn with Sweet Yellow Corn tamale for dessert. These hit the spot late at night when our appetites kicked back in!

After enjoying brunch at M Cafe last time, I decided Ryan should try it out as well. Of course, I took the opportunity to meet up with friends again & was joined by Adriana from Anarchy in the Garden, QuarryGirl, Allison from Could It Be Seitan?, & Britt from Sick of Lettuce. After much fanfare, Ryan had to try the Big Macro; one all veggie patty, special sauce, lettuce, (soy) cheese, pickles, onion.. & sprouts, on a whole wheat bun. While I believe he prefers the Bigger Maque at Madeleine Bistro, this still hit the spot, especially with a side of the wonderful Kale in Spicy Peanut Sauce! I opted for a salad trio, with the Broccolini Pepperoncini I tried last time, plus the Scarlet Quinoa, & a Curried Cauliflower salad with lots of tasty vegetables & cashews. I wish San Francisco had a similar place to M Cafe with delicious, healthy fare!

After another 6 hour session of tattooing with Hannah Aitchison, I was ready for some serious eating. Enter Purgatory Pizza! We met up with the brains behind To Live and Eat In LA, plus other friends Natalie, Michael, & Scott, so we could throw down on 3 pizzas! We had an Olive, Garlic, & Pineapple with the new vegan cheese Daiya on top, another Daiya topped pie with Field Roast Italian Sausage & Olives, & an "Armagarden" with Teese. The Daiya is VERY creamy & sticks to the roof of your mouth, something I wasn't ready for! I think I may prefer the Cheddar style as something to use in quesadillas, but I may have to get my hands on some & start experimenting to really find out! Teese is always a good melty standby, so of course that pie was tasty as well. Once again, Los Angeles proves it has a ton of great vegan options for people with palates of any sort!

In other news, I wrote a piece on Vegan Activism for CrazySexyLife.com. Please go check it out for great ways to get started in helping out the animals who need us!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cookie Contest Winner, 2009 Veggie Awards, & a Cornbread Burger Bun recipe!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

A week has passed & many entries for the Bountiful Vegan Intention Cookie giveaway have come in. The answers have ranged from the funny, "my cookie name would be Wesley Snipes", to the more serious, "..I would be Ahimsa (non-violence), as that is my guiding principle.", to the downright delicious, "I'd be a sustainability cookie! It would be a renewable cookie that you never finished"! I had a great time reading all the answers! Thank you for the entries, but the moment of truth is here! The randomly selected winner is...karaxcupcake who said, "I'd be an Ants in the Pants cookie. Would most likely contain caffeine.". Congratulations Kara! Please email me melisser AT theurbanhousewife.com to claim your prize!

In other news, voting for the 2009 Veggie Awards by VegNews Magazine is here! I am honored to say I have been nominated for "Favorite Blog" alongside some excellent bloggers, & of course, there are many deserving people who were not nominated. VegNews ups the ante with the voting by making it so you can win awesome prizes by completing at least 50% of the survey. I found it easy to vote with friends like Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Terry Hope Romero, Chicago Soydairy, & more being nominated, but even if you just want to vote for little old me on page 5 of the survey, I won't be mad at ya!

It's been awhile since I've posted a recipe, but inspiration struck a few weeks ago & I thought I would share it with you. We love cornbread & homemade burger buns around here, so why not combine the two & make a Cornbread Burger Bun? This is definitely a cross between a fluffy burger bun & cornbread, so don't go expecting it to be a rounded version of traditional cornbread. While I used a stand mixer, all steps can be done by hand as well.

Cornbread Buns
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp Earth Balance, melted (oil also works, but changes the flavor slightly)
2 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 cup corn, fresh or frozen
2 tbsp coarse cornmeal (optional)

Combine the water & yeast, gently stir, & set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the yeast forms a foamy layer on top of the water.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1/2 cup of the whole wheat pastry flour & 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.

Add the yeast mixture & mix with the dough hook attachment on low speed until combined.

Add the salt, cornmeal, melted Earth Balance, agave nectar, & corn, continue mixing on medium-low speed until combined.

With the mixer running, add the remaining 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour & 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour. Continue mixing until you have a slightly sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of bowl.

Let the mixer knead the dough for about 1 minute, then transfer the dough to a large bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then with a dish towel & leave it to rise in a warm place until it has doubled (about 2 hours).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat & sprinkle with coarse cornmeal, if using.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface & knead for a few seconds, then divide the dough into 6 balls to make the rolls.

Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel & leave them to rise a second time for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until they puff up noticeably.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake for 20 to 25, switching the positions of the baking sheets halfway through.

Remove the buns from oven when rolls are golden on top, browned on the bottom & sound hollow when tapped on the base.

Let them cool on a wire rack for a bit, then slice them open & enjoy!

These would be great with homemade veggie burgers, but we kept the Southern theme going & filled them with black eyed peas & tender Collards Greens with tomatoes! While the recipe may seem time consuming, it's a very hands off process & a great Sunday afternoon project. The recipe yields 6, but could easily be doubled, as they freeze well! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!