9/29/11

Spice in the Kitchen: How to Roast Butternut Squash

I had to cut the top of this squash off because it was über huge.
It's that time of the year! Gourds take center stage at the dinner table and cooking them is, well, easy as pie! Butternut squash has such a mild, buttery flavor and works adapts well to both savories and sweets and is quite easy to roast.

Spice in the Kitchen: How to Roast Butternut Squash

Preheat oven to 400. Wash the outside of your squash. With a sharp knife, split the squash open lengthwise. Scoop seeds and any orange strings out with a spoon, discard. If you are making a savory prep, drizzle the open side of each half with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you are going to use your squash for pie, go easy on the salt and leave out the pepper.


Line a baking pan (one with sides is key!) with parchment paper (this really helps clean up the caramelized juices once the squash is done baking). Place the squash open side down in the pan and place your preheated oven.


The squash needs to bake for about 40-50 minutes depending on it's size. It is done when the shell gets brown and bubbly and you can easily pierce the skin with a knife or fork. You can now scoop out the pulp and it's ready for soups, butternut squash mash (add butter or butter substitute, brown sugar and cinnamon), pie, muffins or breads. If you have extra, freeze it for later use.

9/28/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Vegan Alfredo Sauce & Roasted Potatoes

It's fall and that means it's roasting time! I made rosemary roasted potatoes for dinner (cube peeled potatoes, coat with olive oil, toss in crushed rosemary, sea salt and a few red pepper flakes, lay on single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet, put the whole shebang in a 400 degree oven and bake until golden and pierceable by a fork) and decided they needed a dipping sauce. Since rosemary potatoes are very Italian, I decided they needed something alfredoey! I found this recipe for vegan alfredo on veg web and since I love cashew based sauces, I knew it would be awesome. It was! I did not use starchy water so don't sweat it if you don't have pasta water. If you make it ahead of time, the sauce thickens in the fridge anyway. I served it over a bowl of the roasted potatoes with some steamed broccoli. Such a nice, simple fall dinner. This sauce is certainly going to become a staple in our house!

9/27/11

Spice in the Kitchen: It's Fall! Pumpkin Muffins


I whipped these muffins up with the kids, and, shhh!: It's made from a mix! The pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe's is super moist and adapts easily to the use of egg replacers. To make it more muffin like, I added 1 packet of instant maple oatmeal (could have used two!) and 1/2 cup each of raisins and frozen cranberries. Just follow the package directions for baking muffins instead of the quick bread. Chai and pumpkin muffins! Get excited for fall!

Note: The mix does not contain dairy, but not sure if the sugar is acceptable for vegans.

9/26/11

Blog Lust: Moments of Being

Yes, we took this picture in the elevator of Anthropologie. Yes, we got caught.
Here's my friend Kara. She's super honest, writes poetry, likes grrrrly music and is really into clothes. Check out the photo shoot I did for her over at her blog, Moments of Being. Yeah, the jumping one. We both laughed so hard we peed when we saw it.

Scissors Craft: Indian Folk Art

On Saturday, the family and I attended the "Parade of Chariots" festival sponsored by Philadelphia's Radha Krishna temple. The parade reenacts a famous festival in Puri, Orissa, India called Ratha Yatra where the much beloved local deity of Jagannatha is brought out of the temple in a grand parade on a hand-pulled, several-story-high chariot.  Much smaller versions of the parade are held throughout the world and this weekend was Philadelphia's turn!

(Etymological factoid: Ever heard of the word juggernaut? Its roots are in the name of Jagannatha!)



One of my favorite things to do at festivals is to visit the vendor booths! In a sea of polyester kurtas, there were a few vendors selling genuine handicrafts from India. I almost passed this amazing bag up, dismissing it as a hippy accessory. But, you know what, I'm not going to let hippies ruin it for me! Look at how beautiful that style of embroidery is! I have to find out what the technique is called; it's almost like a quilting style with applied fabric. If anyone knows, please let me know. I think this may actually become a decorative interior piece since I would be so paranoid that the white cloth would be ruined if I actually used it. It looks pretty spectacular hanging on one of the walls in my bedroom.

Beautiful Indian folk dancers sporting gorgeous outfits. This style of dance is called Bharata Natyam and is a featured presentation at the annual festival. I love watching all the little girls sitting at the edge of the stage, observing the dancers with rapt attention.


I saved the best for last. Here's my daughter holding her new crocheted Jagannatha doll! How cool is that? This was made by a cow sanctuary farm in Port Royal, PA called Gita Nagari. Throughout the years, this small farm has taken in many cows that would have been normally sent for slaughter after their "usefulness" had been drained at a commercial farm. The cows are lovingly taken care of and are able to freely roam the farm's many acres. You can adopt a cow at Gita Nagari to help the farm with their care. More information here.

9/25/11

Spice in the Kitchen: The Rajah's Chai Cashew Blondies

A friend of mine raved about Post Punk Kitchen's peanut butter blondie recipe. We got to talking about how you could make them grain free and how you could even substitute the peanut butter for almond butter. This got me thinking... what about cashew butter? And since cashews are widely used in Indian sweets, how about adding some chai spice to it? Yes! I created these for an Indian festival that was held yesterday in Philadelphia, but too bad the blondies decided to stay home! I realized I forgot to bring them as soon as we found a parking spot! In any case, these blondies are a perfect fall treat to accompany your afternoon cup of tea!

For the recipe, use PPK's peanut butter blondie recipe with the following substitutions:
  • Replace peanut butter with cashew butter. (I made my own using this recipe.)
  • Add 1 TB ginger powder, 1 TB cardamom powder, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves
  • Flour (Adjust accordingly; my cashew butter was not as thick as a store bought peanut butter, so I had to add about 1/4 cup of flour. If you read Isa's directions, it states that the dough should be kneadable. If your dough seems more like a batter, add more flour.)
  • Replace the peanuts on top with chopped cashews.


Shop the Props!
Peacock Plate: Anthroplogie

9/23/11

Baking with Children (Pssst! There's Math Involved!)


My two little ones enthusiastically helped me bake pumpkin/craberry/raisin muffins this evening and I had a super AHA! Montessori breakthrough/realization/epiphany. Baking with kids is such a great opportunity to acquire applied math skills! We had a fraction breakthrough with my five-year-old using measurement cups; she was so excited. Plus, learning math is way more fun when you have a Moomin apron to do it in! Thanks Kaisa!

9/22/11

Super Random: The Office, Cucumber Wantons, Pinterest & Etc.

Follow me on Pinterest!

What I see when I sit on the couch in our living room. 
So  nice to have an illustration major as your babysitter. Collab between her and the kids. Big bat by my 5 YO.

Trader Joe's vegan cucumber wantons, baked not fried. Would be super good on top of an Asian cabbage salad.

Flea market find: Swedish Christmas linens!

Bake sale! Too bad nothing vegan, but I still love them! 
Calligraphy at flea market by a former White House calligrapher, Deb Cowherd.
Congrats Andy on being the new regional manager! The Office is back! Yay for fall!

9/21/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Asian Style Quinoa w/ Tofu & Green Beans

Thanks for the bowl, Kara!

IM between me and Mr. Scissors:

me: What should have for dinner?
him: Can we go light, like steamed veggies?
me: Sure, but we have no vegetables. I really need to go shopping.
him: Should I pick something up on the way home?
me: Let see what we have frozen...
me: Ah! Got it! Going to make some quinoa with green beans. Possibly tofu. Something Asian-y.
him: Sounds good!

Asian Style Quinoa w/ Tofu & Green Beans Recipe (vegan)
serves 3-4

Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce (or gf tamari)
  • 1 TB grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or hing)
  • 3 cups frozen green beans (I used Trader Joe's French green beans.)
  • Baked, marinated tofu (I used TJ's baked tofu.)
Tamari Almond Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup tamari almonds (They sell them at Trader Joe's)
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB peanut butter
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Directions
  1. Boil water, quinoa, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and Chinese 5 spice. When it reaches a roiling boil, reduce heat and simmer until all water is absorbed. About 15-20 minutes.
  2. In the last 10 minutes of the quinoa cooking add green beans on top. Stir in when the quinoa is fully cooked.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, make sauce by combining all ingredients in a small food processor until smooth. If mixture is thick, add water.
  4. Fry baked tofu in slices. Set aside.
  5. When quinoa and beans are done, salt if necessary.
  6. Serve individually in bowls by topping quinoa with tofu and sauce.

Spotted: Knitting Graffiti, Reykjavík, Icleand

Photo by Ida McCall.
The fabulous Ida McCall spotted this yarn bombed bike on vacation in Iceland. I love the treatment of the crank and the fuzzy yarn elements!

9/20/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Tacos! Tacos! Tacos!

Ok, I know... this picture is horrible! The afternoon sun is already gone by 6:30ish now so no non-flash photos of dinners until the spring! Guess I have to cook dinner in the morning to get nicely lit shots.

Tip: Make taco holders out of aluminum foil and fill with your veg meat or beans before you put in the oven to toast. The taco shells don't break when you eat them and the cheese or teese melts perfectly on the hot filling!
Everyone loves taco night! So much fun to assemble and eat and when made vegetarian, are actually pretty healthy! With beans or, my favorite, Boca crumbles, even meat eaters love veg tacos!

I was looking at the back of a taco seasoning packet to get ideas and realized that most taco seasoning is pretty gross and lots have milk powder or non-veg things in them. This seasoning can be made in bulk so you have it on hand for the next time you fancy a taco!

Vegan and Healthy (and Lower Sodium!) Taco Seasoning Recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 1 TB paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder (or hing)
  • 1 TB cumin powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • couple dashes of black pepper
  • 1-3 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to your desired level of spiciness)
  • 1 tsp salt (or leave out completely)

Directions
  • Combine all in a ingredients in a bowl. Even better, if you have one, grind the ingredients in a small food processor. Store in an airtight container.
  • To use: In a frying pan, heat 1-2 TB of oil in a pan, and saute 2 TB of the mix, add a bag of Boca crumbles or rinsed beans, saute and then add 8 ounces of tomato sauce and 4 ounces of water and stir. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Stuff taco shells, bake at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes and add your favorite taco toppings!

9/19/11

Icelandic, Finnish, Norwegian, Austrian & British Gifts!

I can't wait to make a veg version of the  famous Icelandic hot dogs with that cute mustard!

Vintage Norwegian plate.
Icelandic volcanic and birch facial mask.

Vintage Austrian pin cushion. 
Vintage British salt and pepper shakers.
Mr. Scissors just came back from Iceland and brought home quite the booty of gifts for me and the kids. Chocolates and licorice from various countries, Icelandic volcanic facial masks, Austrian pin cushions, vintage Norwegian plates... oh my! And! My lovely Finnish friends, the Lekas, who also attended the same conference, showered us with presents as well! Marimekko fabric, pot holders, tote bag and the "Surru: Make Your Own Marrimekko" book. Double oh my! Super takk and kiitos, Mr. Scissors and Mr. and Mrs. Leka!

9/18/11

Score: Vintage Painting

Wheeling two kids in a stroller by myself through a flea market is not my idea of fun, but when a local church hosted their annual sale, I put on a brave face and took the two kiddos to check out the goods. I almost passed on this piece, but when the vendor made me a deal too good to refuse ($3!), I had to buy it. I'm so happy I did. It brings such a nice warmth to our dining room.

9/15/11

Scissors Craft: The Shared Book Project: Part Deux

The new cover. Colorized B&W photo found at flea market. Framed in chinese newspaper.
Cover detail. I thought these two were girls, but now I think they are boys! Still cute anyhow. Still sassy!
I love this picture! Another flea market find.

I saw a "painting" at Pier One and thought, I could do that. Well, I did, from memory, sorta. Mixed media collage.

Detail of flower. 
I cut these letters out freehand. 

The Manual Alphabet card. Famous scam. Card found on the street in NYC.

Classic chandan wrapper.
My friend Kara and I have been working on a shared book project. This is my second installment.

Cure for a Bad Mood

So happy my daughter happened to look at the window and spot the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen. Bad mood gone.

9/14/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Missoni for Target Madness Brownies!

Overstuffed vegan brownies on top of a, yes, sold out Missoni plate. 
I don't know what happened. After I dropped my kids off at school, I went to Target to return something and before I knew it, I was leaving with a cart full of Missoni stuff I didn't know I needed. Ok, not really, but I did take part in the madness and bought this plate. No big whoop.

That same crazy day, Mr. Scissors left for Iceland for a design conference. Before he jetted off, I made him a batch of fudge cookies for our BFF Finnish friends who were also going to the conference. There was a small bit of the unused dough left in the fridge, so I decide to bake it as brownies. Holy gooey fudey-ness!

Vegan Cherry, Pecan, White and Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies Recipe

Ingredients
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • scant 1/2 cup vegan yogurt (Chocolate if you can find it!)
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup tart dried cherries

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 300. Yes, 300.
  2. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. Give it a light spray with oil.
  3. Melt the 6 ounces of chocolate.
  4. Beat the margarine and sugar until well combined. Add yogurt, cornstarch and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Beat in cooled, melted chocolate.
  5. Sift together dry ingredients.
  6. Add dry to wet until just combined.
  7. Fold in chips, pecans and cherries.
  8. Press mixture into pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes. It may look ever so slightly underdone, but it's done. Let it cool and then place in fridge for about a 1/2 hour to set the chocolate. Slice and serve.

9/13/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Potato Skillet Pizza

A vegetarian (and easily gluten-free, vegan) skillet pizza, pre-cheese, pre-oven.
Post-cheese, post-broiling!


Food and recipes have not been the first thing on my mind lately. Getting the kids ready for school, packing lunches, containing the mess that is my house have been. Man, I haven't even been grocery shopping! Last night, I had potatoes but I wanted to make something more exciting than baked potatoes! I scoured the freezer for frozen veggies and the fridge for pasta sauce and canned veggies. What I came up with was pretty freaking yum-may!

You'll need a cast iron pan for this. If you don't have one, a deep, thick bottom pan would probably work. Instead of putting it in the oven, just reduced the heat to low after you top the potatoes with veggies (and cheese) and cover it until the veggies are cooked and the cheese is melted. Or try baking the whole thing in a casserole dish. Just parboil the potatoes first, bake at 350 or so for 1/2 hour, then sprinkle the cheese on and bake for another 10 minutes, with a few under the broiler.


Potato Skillet Pizza Recipe (vegan and gluten-free options)
serves 2-4; prep time about 30 minutes with baking

Ingredients

  • At least 4 potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin (1/8-1/4") rounds
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • Pizza appropriate veggies/toppings (I used: yellow squash, spinach, peppers, olives, vegan meatballs and banana peppers)
  • Pasta sauce
  • Cheese (use vegan if making vegan)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 450.
  • On your stovetop, warm your pan and coat with olive oil, place potatoes, overlapping, in a ring around the pan. Continue until the pan is completely covered with potatoes. Fry on medium heat until the potatoes are browned on the bottom and almost completely cooked. Sprinkle with salt. Take off heat.
  • Top potatoes with one layer of veggies and then cover with about 1 cup of pasta sauce. Continue layering with the rest of your veggies/toppings and any vegan meat substitutes. Top with cheese.
  • Place your cast iron pan directly in the oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Finish under broiler to brown the cheese. 
  • Let cool momentarily and serve with a salad.

9/12/11

Around the House: Sagaform Retro Canisters

I love these "Retro" pattern canisters designed by Lotta Odelius and produced by Sagaform. I picked them up at my favorite gift shop in Rehoboth Beach, Bella Luna, for a steal. The little duck is a vintage Danish piece that I won at a recent auction in a lot with some other small Scandinavian goodies. It's actually a bottle opener! How cute!

9/11/11

Scissors Craft: Sewn Paper Pennant Flag Banner Greeting Card

Snail mail. A slowly dying art. People don't even send birthday and Christmas cards anymore. How sad. Specially since there's nothing more exciting than getting a letter in the mail and even better when it is cute and handmade! End the texting/Facebook messaging madness and send someone a little bit of old-fashioned happiness with this easy paper craft!

Scissors and Spice's Sewn Paper Pennant Flag Greeting Card Tutorial
Time involved: About 30 minutes


Materials Needed
  • 1 Plain card (or a piece of card stock folded into a card or a single sided piece--your choice)
  • 1 sheet of card stock (I used a Wausau Papers Cardstock pack from Michael's).
  • various sheets of printed paper (origami paper works great or you can use plain paper)
  • pinking sheers (any fancy shape cutting scissor is nice)
  • scissor
  • glue
  • a thin Sharpie (Sharpie pens work great for the fine detail you will need to achieve.)
  • a hole puncher (one that punches out shapes is a nice touch)
  • sewing machine/thread (If you don't have a sewing machine, no sweat. Just skip that part of the instructions. The card will still be cute.)

Instructions
  1. Decide if you will be using a folded card or a single sided card and the saying you will be using.
  2. Take a single sided piece of cardstock and cut it to about 1/4-1/2" smaller than the front of your card with your pinking shears or your fancy craft scissors. The final size is up to you.
  3. Cut small triangles from the printed paper; one for each letter. Eyeball their size according to the size of 1) how long your greeting will be and 2) the size of your card. An easy way to do this is to cut strips of the paper, stack them on top of one another and cut your triangles form the various patterns all at once.
  4. Arrange your triangles on the piece of cardstock that was cut with the fancy scissors. Give them a nice arch, just like a how a pennant banner would hang. Now, you can either get all precise and measure and mark where each flag will go, our you can be like me and eyeball their placement.
  5. Glue just the very top of each flag to the cardstock.
  6. If you have a sewing machine, run your stitch across the top of the flags. Leave a string hanging from either side of the ends for a nice effect. (You can try glueing a piece of embroidery thread across the top if you don't have a sewing machine for a similar effect.)
  7. Glue the cardstock to the front of your card. Again, you can measure or eyeball it.
  8. Punch contrasting cardstock for each letter of your greeting. Letter each piece with the extra fine Sharpie and then glue each letter to their appropriate pennant (In the order of the spelling of your word, right? Right!).
  9. Voilà! Look at your cute card! You sure are going to make someone's day when you send it them! You're such a great friend!

9/9/11

Restaurant Review: Annie's Banannies | Rehoboth Beach, DE

Nights at the beach mean... ice cream!

Banana Cream Pie (With Peanuts!)

Whoo-hoo! So nice to be thought of!

Don't try this on your at home juicer; you really need an powerful industrial juicer like this one.

Great menu options and healthy toppings.
When my husband and I were honeymooning in Miami, we ate several times at a small vegan cafe that had several raw options. Now, this was 11 years ago when the internet-usage was still fairly new (we didn't have a connection in our apartment back then!), raw wasn't really a trend and searching for vegan/veg places was not as easy as it is now. So, I had no idea that people ate exclusively raw. Anyway, I have no idea why I am telling you this, I guess just to tell you how old I am. :)

So, back to the cafe, they had vegan banana ice cream on the menu. We tried it. We loved it. It looked like soft serve with a sprinkling of chocolate chips on it. So creamy. So sweet. The owner asked us how we liked it. We loved it. He then told us it was only banana. What? Yes, a frozen banana put through a juicer. He then told us how by eating a vegan, raw diet he was able to cure himself of diabetes and a host of other health problems. Wow. We were impressed. Immediately when we returned home, we tried it with our juicer. Immediately, our new wedding present kitchen gadget was broken. Ooops!

Now, 11 years later, we are celebrating our anniversary at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and in steps Annie's Banannies. When you are at the beach, you are obliged to get Thrasher's Fries (vegan), ice cream (not vegan) and Grotto's pizza (yuck and yuck and no-thank-you). So, for the ice cream portion, we decided to go healthy and get Annie's Bananies.

Annie's uses frozen bananas extruded through an industrial juicer and tops the frozen concoction with various toppings. It's vegan and non-fat! Just banana so you don't have to feel guilty about indulging. The one pictured above had chocolate sauce and whip cream making it non-vegan, but there are lots of vegan toppings. I'm kicking myself for not trying the peanut butter/salty peanut topping. If you are at the beach, give your waist a break and try Annie's!

Annie's Banannies
9 1st St S
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
(302) 260-9875
http://www.anniesbanannies.net/


Tip! How to make raw vegan banana ice cream at home: Even if you don't have an industrial juicer at home, you can still make frozen banana ice cream. Peel ripe bananas, chop them and place in a plastic bag or container. Freeze. Put frozen pieces in a good food processor (don't try it in a bobo cheapo one). Whip until creamy. Scoop out and top with your favorite toppings, like chocolate chips, peanut butter, strawberry sauce, etc.