August 31, 2006

Lemon Gem Cupcakes

Today was packed with goodness. I woke up early and biked to the store, came home and made cupcakes, went to see (muthafuckin') Snakes on a (muthafuckin') Plane, had a Veronica Mars marathon with a friend (we've watched through episode 11 of season 1 and she's gleefully hooked!), and then watched Project Runway. Lots of fine entertainment, lots of sitting on my butt and eating cupcakes. Good times.

I decided to give the Lemon Gems from VwaV a whirl, as you can see. I've been eyeing this recipe since I got the book. I love lemony anything. It's easily one of my top 5 favorite flavors. And they didn't disappoint in that respect - they were absolutely packed with lemony goodness. So much so that I ate... four. Yes, four. Shame on me.

The only odd thing about this recipe is that they cupcakes didn't really rise at all. You'd think that they'd be quite lofty, given the proliferation of both lemon juice and baking soda, but that's no so. The batter is really thin, easily the thinnest cake-type batter I've worked with, and I wonder if maybe a bit of extra flour might have helped a bit. It's also possible that they're not supposed to rise much; Isa states in the book that they don't rise above the tops of the cupcake papers. But I filled my cups 2/3 full, just like the recipe said to, and many of mine didn't even come close to hitting the top of the paper - even with the icing on top.

That said, I did get 16 cupcakes instead of 12, so maybe I skimped a bit without realizing it. Overall I'd give this recipe two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Light, refreshing, and delicious. They're definitely daintier than your usual cupcake. And they match my lemon apron perfectly! I'll definitely make them again. I want to try it with oranges next time, or maybe limes.

August 28, 2006

Taco Mac

Today I took the leftover Mac & Nooch and mixed it with some taco-seasoned TVP to make something that is apparently quite similar to Hamburger Helper. So says Adam, anyway, and I'm going to have to take his word for it since I don't actually think I've ever had Hamburger Helper. (Is that the one with the weird talking glove thing?) Regardless, it was damn tasty. Better than I thought it would be, even. It doesn't look like much, though. I hate it when food isn't pretty.

The TVP was just simmed in water with a packet of taco seasoning. Oh, and I sauteed about half an onion and some garlic in there first. I was going to make the chorizo from VwaV, but at the last minute I realized that I'm out of black pepper and chili powder. And coriander seeds! Woe is my spice rack, seriously.

And of course the ever-present broccoli makes an appearance. I do eat other vegetables, I swear. Broccoli is just so easy to throw into things.

August 27, 2006

Tempeh Gravy and Mac & Nooch

Tempeh and White Bean Sausage Gravy from VwaV, mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli. I love this gravy. It's so amazing. I also love mashed potatoes. I kind of forgot how much. Also: new plate! I'd been eyeing these at Target for months, and last time I was there they were on clearance so of course I snapped up the two that were left. I love them. I've just kind of accepted the fact that I can't be happy with matching dishes like a normal person, so from now on I'll be collecting interesting pieces whenever I see them/can afford them.

Ellen's Macaroni and "Cheese" from Get Sconed!. I was a little skeptical about this, because the first nutritional yeasty cheez sauce that I had was that Road's End Mac and Chreese, which tastes like cardboard and sweaty feet. I was hoping this would prove more successful, and of course it did. Next time I'll add more garlic powder and more salt, but overall it was really tasty. And super simple to make, which is always a plus. It was great with some broccoli thrown in, but tomorrow I think I'm going to get a little adventurous with the leftovers.

August 25, 2006

Fauxstess Cupcakes

On Tuesday, Jessiegirl came to Lancaster and we made Fauxstess Cupcakes from VwaV. I think a good time was had by all, but I regret to inform you that it wasn't because of the cupcakes. They're adorable, I'll grant you, but as far as taste is concerned I was underwhelmed. I've heard so many awesome things about them, but in the end they were just cupcakes - and not the best ones I've ever made, either. Just the most time-consuming.

The Good
Black cocoa powder. It's neat. It smells exactly like Ho-Hos and Ding-Dongs and Swiss Rolls, all those dark, chemical-laden Little Debbie snacks. It made the cupcakes pretty nearly black, too. And that was with a .75:1 ratio of black cocoa powder to regular cocoa powder. This stuff is serious. It does not mess around.

The ganache made for a lovely finish. And I now officially love the idea of filled cupcakes.

The Bad

Soymilk powder. I don't know if it was just the kind I used (Better Than Soymilk), but it was not a good addition. I don't care if it's authentic or not. It made everything taste like chalky soymilk powder. Two thumbs down.

Caster sugar. I couldn't find it anywhere. I read that you could run granulated sugar through a food processor and use that in its place, so I did... and it didn't work at all. I should've used powdered sugar. The granulated sugar made the filling all gritty and gross. And it exploded all over the place, which is more tha fault of the bag, but still. Gross.

The bittersweet chocolate ganache wasn't sweet enough for me. The cupcakes aren't super sweet themselves, so I would've preferred a semisweet ganache.

Overall Rating
I'd give them 3 stars. It might go up to a 4 or even a 5 with some changes, but as written? I just wasn't bowled over. Except by the pile of dishes I had to do afterward.

Design Hiccups

So obviously there's a new look happening around here. It's giving me some trouble. It looked perfect when I previewed it, but then when I published it, everything moved up despite various paddings/margins. So I checked it in Shiira and Safari and everything is in the right place - except for the title image, which mysteriously doesn't show up at all. It's pissing me off and I need to fix it, but I can't for the life of me get things to stick where they're supposed to.

I've been working on this for like 3 1/2 hours. I'm going to bed. But rest assured that sometime tomorrow everything should (hopefully) get straightened out. Any ideas as to how I could go about that would be much appreciated, if any of you guys are into this sort of thing.

Edited: Or maybe it's working. I can't tell. It's being really spastic. Anyway, I'll have a real post tomorrow regardless.

August 21, 2006

Moroccan Red Lentil-Bean Stew and Shark Cookies

Moroccan Red Lentil-Bean Stew from Cooking at the Pacific Outpost. I was hoping this would be similar to the moroccan lentil soup that Panera Bread often has as a season soup in the fall; it wasn't, really. It was still good, though. I halved the fennel seed, because I'm not fond of the flavor - next time I'll leave them out entirely. I could still taste it, faintly, and it bothered me. Adam liked it quite a lot, though, and it was good with homemade bread.

And an outtake, in which Miss Scarlet attempts to lick the Earth Balance off my bread. She likes EB. And nutritional yeast (especially on Tings). She's pretty vegan-friendly, as far as cats go.

And some shark cookies that I made for a friend's random shark-themed party tonight. It's the soft cut-out cookie recipe that I posted about a while back, just in shark shapes. They were a big hit.

August 16, 2006

VwaV Breakfast Veggie Chorizo

I made this a few days ago - it was my first time using TVP. I've always been kind of skeptical about the stuff, because it seems ground meat-esque and I've never liked ground meat substitutes (or actual ground meat, for the most part). But this recipe was really good. I'll definitely make it again. I mostly ate it on sandwiches (like this one), because I have some (homemade) bread to use up.

August 11, 2006

Wonder Twin Powers Activate!

So today I hopped into my crappy car and rode down to York to meet Jessiegirl. We'd been talking about getting together for a while, so when everything fell into place schedule-wise I knew I had to jump at the opportunity. We went to Sonnewald's, a natural food store with a kick ass bulk section, and then just hung out and talked for a few hours. She's amazing and I'm SO glad I got to meet her. Seriously, we clicked right away. We're very much alike, in the best ways. Her daughter is adorable and the rest of her family is awesome. Plus I had a kitten sit on my neck! I don't think things could've gone better, honestly.

It was so awesome to be able to wander through a grocery store with someone who actually enjoys wandering through grocery stores as much as I do. Seriously. I don't have any friends like that. This is a major find. Plus she's planning to move to Lancaster eventually, which would rock not only my world but the rest of the planet in this solar system as well.

We're going to get together again soon (I hope), possibly for a Fauxstess Cupcake adventure. I'm excited. I'm also going to make her watch Veronica Mars, because I take my TV seriously and I must spread the love.

New food purchases: whole wheat couscous, a long grain and wild rice mix, quinoa, raw cashews, a mint carob rice cake, a peanut butter carob rice cake, a chocolate chocolate chip cookie that was adequate at best, and 3 mangos.

August 07, 2006

Cookies, Soup, Stir-Fry, and Bread (x2)

What is this?! That's right, it's a bread machine. We found it at Salvation Army for $13; it was missing its paddle, so add on another $10 to replace it and I still got a bread machine for under $30. Not bad. In front of it are the Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vive le Vegan! Otherwise known as the best cookies ever. I made a double batch, one for a friend's birthday and one for us to eat. They only lasted about a day and a half here at the apartment; my friend ate all of his during the party. I hate boys and their super fast metabolisms.

This is the first bread I made with the machine. I obviously didn't bake it in there, just mixing and kneading with it instead. I took it out to shape and rise before baking. My bread is always very flat. It's really annoying. I think I deflate it when I try to make the slashes.

The second loaf of bread from the machine. Oven-baked again. Flat again. I used a brand new exacto blade to make the slashes, and the first two were fine, but then I got cocky and made two more... and then it deflated. Is that my problem, oh experienced bread bakers? Why does my bread always go flat? And it's definitely not my yeast, because it rises wonderfully. I used Nic's recipe for Rustic Country Bread, except I halved everything and used agave nectar in place of honey. Flatness aside, it's a tasty loaf. Nice crust.

Curried Split Pea Soup from Vegan with a Vengeance, with fresh bread on the side. This stuff is awesome. I'm glad I made the whole recipe - lots of leftovers!

Aaaand another stir-fry. Second verse, same as the first. This one has peanut sauce on it, though. I've been eating so many of these lately.