Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Month of Birthday Freebies!

It seems that July is a month-long birthday celebration for Pilgrim, and to celebrate with the world, she's posting free downloads all month. Click here! If you download all of her goodies, you should have all the supplies you need for a party of your own. Especially if you throw in some cupcakes, cake, more cupcakes, and a stand to hold 'em. Oh, and maybe make some cinnamon rolls or pancakes for any overnight guests, anticipated or not.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Etsy Love - Mixing Bowls

Who doesn't love a pretty bowl? They're useful for cookies, cupcakes, and, when you're feeling virtuous, fresh fruit. I have a weakness for pretty pottery, so putting this collection together let me indulge a little. This nice turquoise bowl up top is made by one of my local Etsians. Someday I'll get myself to the Vista farmers' market and introduce myself.

Next is this cute little spouted bowl, which it's creator touts as perfect for whisking eggs. It even comes with a whisk. I think it would be good for the liquid portion of cake batter before it becomes cake batter.This bowl's interior color captured my attention immediately! I love how unassuming the outside comes across but the inside just wows.This spouted bowl has a handle for extra handiness. I love the glaze layers, and, I think, for anyone worried about the weight of the bowl, the handle should help alleviate that fear.

Finally, a spring green vegetarian bowl lets everyone know where you stand. It could also be useful for serving mixed veggie/not dishes at a dinner party to allow people to tell what's what.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Red Wine Pasta with Broccoli

As a result of my recent reorganization, I re-found this recipe in my files. I'd made it once before, years ago, with a friend, and I remembered it being delicious. Sure enough, it was! I love when I remember correctly! Normally, when I make dishes from another recipe, I change ingredients and prep enough to consider it mine, but this time, I changed nothing (aside from pasta shape), and the directions are perfect. Gourmet magazine was always pretty great about that. So, please view the recipe here.

Once you get going, things move pretty quickly. Definitely a 30-minutes or less dish. Official Taster and I had it as our main dish, but you could also enjoy it as a side. Simply skip the cheese, and you've got a dairy free/vegan delight.

One note: Be sure to modify the recipe to minimize excess. It does not reheat well. I blame the broccoli.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vegan & Gluten Free Apricot Blackberry Crisp

I hear that it's hot. It may have been mentioned once or twice by family, friends, and the news. However, it is far from hot here in supposedly-sunny Southern California. All week it's been cool, cloudy, and even a little rainy. In fact - and some of you will have trouble believing this - I was wearing corduroys and fleece this week. For real. Multiple days. The result? I keep craving warm comfort food even though it's July and I'm sure most of you out there aren't in the mood for warm food. Or using an oven.

So, I apologize. This delicious crisp uses the oven, but you can turn it on and go away for a while, so maybe it's not so bad? In any case, I think it's worth it. Fresh fruit crisps are one of my favorite desserts. Some of them may even beat out some chocolate recipes. Part of the appeal, I believe, comes from their limited make-ability, like gingerbread or s'mores. These crisps are really only best when the fruit is at it's peak. When you've just picked it up at the farmers' market because you just couldn't resist. When each fruit is equally fragrant and flawless. When you can't possibly eat the 3 pounds of apricots you brought home.
Some of you may remember the Apple, Blackberry, & Strawberry Crisp I wrote about in April. That was a vegan recipe, but I've upped the ante and created a vegan and gluten free crisp! For this one, I used the same Sorghum Blend (mix of sorghum flour, potato or corn starch, and tapioca powder) I used in the Patriotic Cupcakes. If you made a full batch for those, you should have enough left that you don't need to mix up more. Don't need to worry about gluten? Just use an equal amount of all-purpose flour instead. Likewise, regular rolled oats work fine. Certified gluten-free oats are important to people with Celiac disease because regular oats can be contaminated with gluten from the fields, processing plant, etc. Finally, I think this is delicious as written. Official Taster thinks it's a little tart. So maybe add a bit more sugar if your taste buds swing that way.

Vegan & Gluten Free Apricot Blackberry Crisp
2 lbs ripe apricots, quartered and pitted (about 12)
8 whole almonds
1 C packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
6 oz blackberries (1 clamshell)
1/2 C Sorghum blend
1/2 tsp nutmeg
6 Tbsp chilled vegan butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 C gluten-free rolled oats

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the apricots in a baking dish. I used a 9" glass dish.
2. In a food processor, grind the almonds with 1/4 C brown sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon for about 30 seconds, or until it's a fine mixture. Scrape this sugar mix over the apricots and toss. Scatter berries across the top.
3. Combine sorghum blend, nutmeg, remaining 1 tsp cinnamon, and butter in a food processor, with several on-off pulses or only until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. Add the oats and pulse a few more times to break them up.
4. Spread topping over fruit. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown

Saturday, July 10, 2010

And the winner is....

Faby! She loves the mint oreos!

Thanks so much to everyone for entering! As a consolation prize, if you order something from my Etsy store, I'll give you a 10% discount on your entire order (excluding shipping). Just remind me you were part of the giveaway in the message to seller section at checkout. One caveat, though - wait until it's cooler! That way you can be sure your treats will arrive in tip top condition. I'll honor this discount code until September 30, 2010.

Below is a screen shot from when I used the random number generator to pick the winner.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

There seems to be some confusion...

So, as you may know, there's a cookie giveaway going on, on this very blog, right now. I'm excited to see people are entering the contest and becoming fans on facebook and followers. However, in order for those actions to count as entries, you need to comment on the giveaway blog posting telling me you've become a fan.

For instance, say you are already a fan on facebook. Here's what you need to do:

FIRST leave a comment and say what looks yummy in the store. That enters you in the contest. To get bonus entries, you can leave a SECOND comment saying you are are a fan. Then leave a THIRD if you tell your friends about it on FB. Follow the blog? Leave another comment & so on for all the bonus opportunities. Each comment is an entry. Make sense?

A couple people have already left multiple comments/entries, so look at those, too. Let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Weekly Menu Free Download

Today I'm linking you over to Ollibird for a free download! This graphic is perfect for you to print out and place inside a picture frame, kind of like this fun craft. Then you just hang it in your kitchen (or anywhere else you'd prefer) and write on the glass like a whiteboard. Wipe it off at the end of the week to plan again! She's also got a couple links to other downloads she sells on Etsy.

I'm thinking this might also make a great gift for newlyweds or as a housewarming present. You just have to pick a nice looking frame, and maybe wrap it in a pretty kitchen towel. Cute and useful!

This home is not great at weekly menu planning, but it's something I would like to be able to say I do. Do you plan your dinner menus a week at a time? Have you found that it helps with shopping, meal variety and creativity, or trying new recipes? Let us know!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Recipe Organization

I recently switched the way I organized my recipes, but I'm wondering what other ways you use. For many years, I used folders in which I could stash my growing collection of newspaper clippings, print outs, magazine pages, and index cards. These happily multi-colored folders were divided into broad categories, which made filing relatively easy, but the finding and using of recipes didn't work as well. I got into the habit of finding a few go-to recipes in each category that I would use several times. Those would remain near the front of a folder and therefore accessible. I wanted to be able to be easily inspired by all of my recipes for dessert or salad or bread.
So I took the plunge and completely changed my recipe organizing tactics, and, so far, I'm really happy about it. I completely emptied the folders and then re-organized the recipes into more specialized categories. For instance, "Desserts" got divided into
  • cookies
  • bars
  • meringues
  • brulee, custard, pudding
  • candies
  • cake
  • crisp, crumble, pie
  • desserts and fruit (a catchall for the rest- crepes, baklava, various sorbets, hot chocolate, etc)
Then I put everything into plastic sleeves, *borrowed* a binder Official Tester no longer used, put everything in the order I wanted it to be in, and then used dividers to separate the sections. Finally, I used some cute paper to label the binder and make it look prettier on my bookshelf. Voila! A new and improved recipe collection! I really like the ease of browsing, and if I want to use a recipe, I simply take the whole page out of the binder and the plastic sleeve protects the information inside from my sometimes overenthusiastic mixing.

What about you? How do you organize? Are you a collector of clippings, even, or do you just use cookbooks? Has anyone found a great computer program we should know about? Share your thoughts below!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

I hope everyone is having a happy and safe 4th of July! I know this is a repost, but I wanted to remind all of you of these cupcakes if you're trying to come up with something to make. If you want to use a box mix of some sort, just fill them and decorate them and no one will know they're from a box :) Read the original post here.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cookie Giveaway!!

Today is Giveaway Day! Why today? Because exactly 6 months ago, I published my very first blog post. So to celebrate the fact that I've stuck with it, and because people (besides my parents) read it, I thought I'd give one of you lovely people one dozen Light and Fresh Lemon Mint Cookies! I know a couple of you voted for VeganOs, but I think I'll save those for another giveaway. The Lemon Mint Cookies are super summery.

So, the details:
  • To enter, visit my Etsy shop and look around. When you're done, add a comment to this blog post telling me what your favorite item is. Make sure to include an Etsy or Facebook username for me to contact you OR, if you don't have one, leave your email address. (Be sure to leave it in the emailaddress {at} whatever dot com format to protect your privacy a bit.)
  • One winner will be chosen by a random number generator. I will ship 12 Lemon Mint Cookies anywhere in the continental US. The giveaway will remain open for entry until next Friday - July 9, 2010 - at 11:59pm Pacific Time.
  • Sorry, Mom and Dad, you can't win. Neither can Official Tester. Everyone ELSE gets to enter once; if you want to qualify for additional entries, read on.
Bonus Entries are totally optional but increase your odds of winning free cookies. You can pick and choose which ones you do. If you're already a follower, fan, or heart my shop, you qualify for those bonus entries:
  • Peruse this blog and let us know what your favorite post is. Just one!
  • Become a fan on Facebook
  • Follow this blog
  • Heart my shop
  • Spread the word! Get up to 3 bonus entries for promoting/sharing this giveaway on your blog or website, through facebook, twitter, etc.
Good Luck! I'll announce the winner next weekend!
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