International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene Magazine – Elephant Cat Toy Pattern!

My family is definitely made up of cat lovers with seven cats between three households. I like to make handmade gifts, so last year I decided to make some little catnip toys as stocking stuffers for the holidays. I made a few different designs, a fish, a mouse, a turtle, and an elephant. After much convincing, I got Zoe to briefly pose with one. The cats really do love playing with these, but they are not as fond of a chunky DSLR aimed in their direction!

Elephant Cat Toy

The little elephants turned out so cute that I decided to submit the pattern to the annual International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine and…it was accepted! The magazine was recently released and is available for purchase on Interweave. The pattern can be found on Page 70.

Elephant Cat Toy

These little elephants are really easy to make and are a perfect gift for anyone with a cat. They only require basic sewing skills, so it’s an easy project even if you’re new to sewing. They’re a great way to use up scraps, and only require minimal materials.

Elephant Cat Toy

The magazine has lots of other cute projects including a Hexagon mini-quilt by Malka Dubrawsky, a knitting needle case by Rosemarie Deboer, a quilted table topper by Erin Daniels, and lots more. This is the first pattern that I’ve had published, and I’m looking forward to developing and submitting more ideas in the future!

And, on another note, I’ll be taking part in the Virtual Vegan Potluck again which is coming up on November 16th. The deadline to sign up as a participant is tomorrow, November 9th. It’s always a lot of fun to see what everyone posts, and it brings the vegan blogging community together. If you want to join in, sign up now!

Vegan Cheese and Broccoli Baked Potatoes

I haven’t made baked potatoes in ages. It seems like most of the usual toppings are dairy or meat based, but there are a lot of vegan options as well. Broccoli and cheddar is a classic flavor combo for baked potato toppings. This is a really yummy and simple vegan version of that classic. Besides baking the potatoes for an hour, this recipe does not take long to make and requires very little prep time.

Vegan Baked Potato

Ingredients:
2 baking potatoes
2 cups of broccoli florets
1/2 cup soy milk
1 cup Daiya Pepperjack Style Shreds
pinch of salt
pinch of garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast
pinch of cornstarch (optional)
Vegan Litelife Smart Bacon

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°. Wash and scrub the potatoes. Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork, so the steam is released as it bakes. You can wrap the potato in aluminum foil, or place it directly in the oven. The potatoes will need to cook for about an hour. You can check them with a fork and pull them out when the middle feels soft enough.
  • While the potato is baking, rinse and chop the broccoli into bite sized florets. Steam them for a couple minutes until just tender.
  • In a sauce pot, combine the soy milk and Daiya cheese over medium heat. Stir until the Daiya melts and combines with the soy milk.
  • Add the salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast to the soy milk and Daiya mixture. If you’d like the sauce to be thicker, add a pinch of cornstarch and mix well. Add the broccoli to the sauce and stir.
  • Pan fry the vegan bacon in a little olive oil until the strips are a little crispy.
  • Cut the potatoes almost in half lengthwise, leaving the two halves still attached. Pour the broccoli cheese sauce over the potatoes. Crumble the vegan bacon strips and sprinkle on top.

Cardamom Cookies

If you’re needing to make a last minute batch of Christmas cookies, I would recommend this recipe! We might make one more since the first batch is already gone. This is one of my dad’s favorite cookie recipes, and now one of mine too. It originally was a recipe from Jeff Smith of The Frugal Gourmet. I didn’t change anything except modifying it to be vegan. These cookies are spicy, sweet, and a little crispy and chewy. If you like cardamom, you will definitely enjoy these. It’s a simple recipe that’s really quick to make, and it’s perfect for Christmas. Hope you’re enjoying the holidays!

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp EnerG Egg Replacer powder
2 Tbsp warm water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter, melted

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cookie pans with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom. We used cardamom in pods, so you have to split the pods open, take the little seeds out and grind the seeds. You can also buy a jar of pre-ground cardamom, but I’ve read that if the seeds are stored outside the pod or ground, they lose their flavor quickly. Grinding it fresh makes the cardamom more potent than already ground cardamom, so we used a little less than 1 tsp in the recipe.
  • In a large bowl, beat the egg replacer powder and water until frothy. Then mix in the sugar and butter.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
  • Place the batter in about 1 Tbsp balls on the cookie sheet. The cookies will spread in the oven, so set them about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. They will continue to get crispy as they cool on the pan, so don’t over bake them.
  • Transfer them to a plate with a spatula to finish cooling.

Smokey Tempeh with Quinoa and Peanut Sauce

One of my friends introduced me to the Spicy Tempeh with peanut sauce and quinoa at JivamukTea Cafe. It was really yummy, so I decided to try creating my own version. I didn’t make it spicy, and I added some veggies, but otherwise it’s pretty similar to the original. This is a healthy meal that is satisfying to eat. I will definitely be making it again.  It’s easily customizable. If you’re not a fan of tempeh, try switching it out for tofu or another substitute that you like, and use your favorite veggies.

I’m on a quest to try new grains. I’ve had quinoa before, but this was my first time making it at home. It will definitely become a more regular staple. Does anyone have any suggestions of other grains to try and good recipes that use those grains? Or other tasty quinoa recipes?

Smokey Tempeh with quinoa, peanut sauce, and steamed spinach and zucchini

Smokey Tempeh with quinoa, peanut sauce, steamed spinach and zucchini

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
1 zucchini
1 bag of fresh spinach
1 package of Lite Life Smokey Tempeh Strips

Sauce Ingredients:

6 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 tsp agave
dash of dry ground ginger (you could use fresh, but I didn’t have any on hand)
dash of ground black pepper
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
4 cloves of garlic – minced or pressed

Directions:

  • Run the quinoa under water for a minute in a fine mesh strainer. Drain, and then place it in a sauce pan over medium heat. Dry and toast the quinoa for a few minutes. Add 2 cups of veggie broth and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and cook the quinoa for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, almost all of the liquid should be absorbed. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then fluff the quinoa with a fork before serving.
  • While your quinoa is cooking, chop the zucchini and rinse the spinach. Steam both until just tender. The zucchini will take longer than the spinach so I steamed that first and the spinach second.
  • Mix your sauce ingredients, except the garlic, until combined. In a saucepan, saute the garlic until lightly browned. Add the peanut sauce and stir. Heat on medium heat until the sauce is hot.
  • Cut the tempeh strips into bite sized pieces and saute in a little oil.
  • Once everything is finished cooking, place a layer of quinoa in a bowl. Add zucchini and spinach on top. Sprinkle on the tempeh and drizzle peanut sauce on top.

Black Pepper Tofu/Tempeh – Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

My sister sent me a recipe for Black Pepper Tofu, and I tried making it for dinner this week. The recipe originally came from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. She also has a cooking blog called 101 Cookbooks. Not everything she makes is vegan, but she has a long list of vegan and vegetarian recipes in her archives. I’m looking forward to browsing through them and trying out some more of her recipes.

The original recipe calls for using Tempeh, but my sister and I used tofu instead. I think seitan would also be a nice substitute. It came out well and was even better the next day once all the flavors combined and soaked into the tofu overnight. Thanks to my sister for sending the recipe!

This meal isn’t going to win most photogenic (at least not the way I made it) but it was tasty!

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp extra-virgin coconut oil (vegetable or sesame oil would also work)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
15 small cloves garlic, smashed
1 Tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
3 Tbsp shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup natural cane sugar (I used a little less)
2 Tbsp water, plus more if needed
8 oz tofu, sliced pencil-thick, (or tempeh/seitan)
12 oz cauliflower, very finely chopped
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash of rice wine vinegar – optional

Directions:

  • In a large skillet over low heat, combine the coconut oil, shallots, red pepper flakes, garlic and ginger. Cook slowly, taking care not to brown the ingredients and stir occasionally, until the garlic cloves are soft throughout, about 15 minutes.
  • While the garlic is cooking, whisk together the shoyu, sugar and water in a small bowl.
  • Increase the temperature under the skillet to medium-high and add the tofu. Gently stir to get the tofu coated. Add the shoyu mixture and stir again to coat. Cook for a minute or two, then add the cauliflower. Stir and cover. Cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Uncover, dial up the heat even more, and cook until the cauliflower and tofu starts to brown a bit. If you need to add a bit more water to the pan, carefully do so, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the black pepper. Taste, add more pepper if you like, and serve immediately.
  • I made lomein noodles and spooned the tofu on top. Then I drizzled rice vinegar and soy sauce on top to soak down into the noodles. The rice vinegar was my own addition, but I like the sour balance to the sweet sauce. You could also serve this with rice or on it’s own.

Moose Turns Twenty-One

Okay, I wasn’t planning on a new post tonight, and I’m struggling on how to make this one relate to being vegan, but it’s too surprising of a visual to pass up. I’ll go with moose are animals and we’re compassionate towards animals, so we should be compassionate towards this moose. This moose in particular eats apples. Vegans eat apples. So far so good. But eating fermented apples and somehow “slipping and falling” up into a tree, getting stuck, having to be rescued by fire-fighters and then falling down passed out drunk not to wake up until the next day and then stumbling around the yard? That is epic moose. Epic…and blogworthy. And just in case you’re wondering, the moose was not harmed, just a little embarrassed. Poor little guy.

Photo from CNN World – click here to read the article.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Tofutti’s Yours Truly Cones are one of my favorite vegan junk foods. They’re basically the vegan version of a Drumstick. The standard cone of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and cookie crumbles is so tasty, but I thought it would be fun to try making other flavors using homemade ice cream.

I started with mint chocolate chip ice cream, using a basic recipe from Wheeler del Toro’s book “The Vegan Scoop” and modifying it a bit. If you don’t have “The Vegan Scoop” I would really recommend it. The author has a vegan ice cream shop in Boston called Wheeler’s Frozen Desert Co. Unfortunately, it was closed when I was in Boston, so I didn’t get to try any ice cream. He also has a brand of vegan ice cream called Wheeler’s Black Label Vegan Ice Cream that is distributed in Boston and some parts of New England.

All you really need to make vegan ice cream are a few basic ingredients and an ice cream maker. You can get a decent one for $30-$40. You have to freeze the bowl for the ice cream maker overnight before you make the ice cream, and the cream mixture has to cool for a few hours before you mix it in the maker. Despite the wait time, it’s actually really easy to get good results.

“The Vegan Scoop” breaks down the basic ingredients and methods for creating a simple vegan ice cream base using soy, almond, coconut, and other milks. It has some really great recipes in it. Here’s the Mint Chocolate Chip recipe the way I modified it:

Note: This makes for some seriously minty ice cream. I actually used 1 1/2 tablespoons of mint extract, but cut it back to 1 tablespoon in this recipe. It’s really good, but very strongly minty with the extract and fresh mint combined.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup of soymilk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder
  • 2 cups of soy creamer
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 ounces of fresh mint leaves (or a handful of sprigs if picking your own)
  • 1 tablespoons of peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine 1/4 cup of soymilk with arrowroot powder and mix well. Set aside for later.
  2. In a blender, mix 3/4 cups of soymilk with fresh mint leaves and blend until smooth.
  3. In a saucepan mix soy creamer, soymilk and mint mixture, and sugar.
  4. Warm mixture slowly over low heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the arrowroot cream, vanilla, and mint extract. The arrowroot will cause the mixture to thicken.
  5. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 to 3 hours until it is fully chilled.
  6. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker following the maker’s directions. The bowl for the maker usually has to be left in the freezer overnight before churning. Add the chocolate chips in the last few minutes of churning.

After making the ice cream, I let it firm up in the freezer for a little while. Then I scooped some into cones trying to round out the tops. The ice cream was still a little soft, so I put the cones with ice cream back in the fridge to firm up a little more.

Then I melted chocolate in a double boiler and put the melted chocolate in a martini glass for dipping. Here’s where things got a little tricky. The ice cream started to melt into the chocolate instead of the chocolate sticking to the ice cream. I spooned the chocolate over the top of the cones instead and this seemed to work. Once they were coated I put them back in the freezer to firm up again. The results were very tasty, but the chocolate was a bit too thick. They also weren’t very pretty, as you can see.

In hindsight, I would try a few things differently. I would let the ice cream firm up even longer before dipping it in the chocolate. I think it needs to be really solid, so it doesn’t melt as fast. I also would try mixing a little bit of vegan butter in with the chocolate. I’ve read that adding some butter makes the chocolate flow better and the layer of chocolate thinner on the ice cream. It would also be fun to dip them in sprinkles, nuts, cookie crumbs, etc. after dipping in chocolate to make them a little prettier.

Overall this was a really tasty experiment. The mint ice cream was definitely a success even if the chocolate dipping needs some tweaking. Ideally, I would serve the mint ice cream in a small scoop with a fresh mint sprig. It would make a great dessert after dinner on a hot summer evening. The strong minty flavor is best in small savored portions.