Saturday, January 28, 2012

One Year Anniversary No Meat Mama Giveaway!!!

So, for some reason, I love Valentine's Day. I'm a single (& happy) lady who just loves love. I smile when I see happy couples holding hands and just believe that if you put out love, you get it in return. It's a simple and maybe a little naive concept but in this crazy world, we all need a little blind faith, right?

In that spirit, I am giving away (2) Sweet & Sara Heart Shaped Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Marshmallows! One for you and one for your sweetie! (Or grandma, brother, co-worker, whoever you love!) This a wonderful vegan and ethical company based in Long Island, New York. Here is a blurb from their website:

Sara Sohn has been vegan for 20 years. A few years back, she decided it had been way too long since she’d had one of her favorite childhood snacks: the rice crispy treat. With no culinary background but a lot of determination (and vegan sweets on the mind), Sara began her quest to create a vegetarian and vegan marshmallow, “the Holy Grail of animal-free sweet treats.” Food scientists warned her that her attempts would be futile and that reproducing the properties of gelatin in marshmallows would be impossible. More determined than ever, after ten months of tireless experimentation, Sara finally came up with a recipe for the perfect marshmallow: rich, creamy, mouthwatering, and completely gelatin-free!

The rules!

You must enter by midnight, Wednesday February 1st CST. Leave a comment here telling me what you love/hate about Valentine's Day or on No Meat Mama's Facebook page or on Twitter (but only one comment will apply per person). I will only be shipping within in the US, sorry my lovely foreign readers. Along with your comment, leave your name + e-mail address so I can notify the winner. I will ship the treats out late next week so you get them in time for V Day! Spread this link around, I want to share the love!


No Meat Mama

Saturday, January 21, 2012

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Friday, January 20, 2012


This past Christmas, I received a lot of amazing gifts from my beautiful parents (HI MOM!) like this, this and this (among many other awesome things as well). But I think the present I was most excited for was the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker! I had never made homemade ice cream before and I was so stoked to get it and make this dream come true.

I will back track and say that ice cream has never been my favorite dessert. Sure, I love it but not as much as a cupcake piled high with cream cheese frosting or a warm, buttery chocolate chip cookie. But I live with serious ice cream lovers and it has really grown on me as well, so I wanted to make this dream a reality. So far, I have made three different kinds of ice cream. One was this lemon recipe from Epicurious, espresso from Ina Garten via Food Network and lastly (and the most exciting) was the vegan Coconut Milk ice cream adapted from this recipe. I will briefly review each one and just let you know what I think about the ice cream making process and obviously the best part: eating the ice cream.

First off, I will review the ice cream maker. Since I have no frame of reference, I would say this ice cream maker is pretty bad ass. It is easy to manuever, easy to clean up and is pretty self-explanatory when you open it up. The only thing I would say that is unpleasant about it is the noise. It is REALLY LOUD. For me, I didn't mind so much because I put it on a blanket in my room and shut the door and let it do its thing. But if you have neighbors who already hate you or a baby sleeping, I would not suggest using this machine. Now moving on to the good stuff!

Ice Cream #1: Lemon

So I will start with my least favorite. And I only say least favorite because the other two were SO GOOD that this just happens to be third. It is fantastic ice cream so don't let me putting it in third deter you from making it. I am a lemon fiend so this was fantastic for me. It was so tart but still totally sweet and did not leave you looking for that lemon flavor. The only thing I changed about the recipe is that I used 1 c. of heavy cream instead of all half & half per reviewer's notes. I would say just stick with the recipe like it is. I made the espresso ice cream with all half & half and the texture was pretty stellar. I definitely used 1 c. of sugar because I was afraid to stray in fear of my lemon ice cream being way too tart. So yeah, basically stick with the recipe, that's my words of wisdom.

(I don't have pics of the ice cream, so deal with this cartoon that for some reason made me giggle. Who knew lemons were so funny?)

#2 Ice Cream: Espresso

So, I have severe problems with Ina Garten but that woman makes a damn fine ice cream. Or at least her underlings do and she just shows us how to do it on TV. The only thing I changed here was not adding in the chocolate covered espresso beans, which I'm sure is fantastic but would have been overkill in my eyes. And like, I didn't want to spend the money on them (let's be totally honest here). This had such a wonderful coffee flavor without being "too much" of a good thing. It smells weird once you cook it and strain it and let it sit in the fridge. I'm not sure why it smelled weird but I went with it anyway and it ended up being my favorite ice cream of them all. This one went the fastest. And since I still have half & half in my fridge, I will probably be making this again. (Ooooh, and another gift I received via Amazon gift card was instant espresso powder by Ferrara, so good.)

(Another photo that is not mine from Sugar Crafter)

#3: Vegan Coconut Milk Ice Cream

So yeah, the vegan ice cream is an elusive she-goddess. I know there are tons of awesome vegan ice creams out there (So Delicious, Tofutti, etc.) but I just haven't been really keen on any of them. As someone who still eats dairy, I guess I was looking for something that mimics the real thing. I realize how ridiculous that is but this Coconut Milk Ice Cream was like a godsend to me. So to start, I used one low-fat and one full-fat can of coconut milk. It's what I had on hand and it worked great. I left the banana out because I wanted pure coconut flavor and instead of arrowroot powder, I used cornstarch. And I wanted a "tropical" element (because we need it in Chicago in January) to my ice cream so I added fresh pineapple. I put it in a strainer for about an hour to drain the juices and then patted it dry with a paper towel. Okay, so everything went swimmingly when I made the base but note to everyone if you make this: DO NOT ADD IN THE PINEAPPLE UNTIL AFTER THE ICE CREAM IS DONE CHURNING. I stupidly put it in the canister with the coconut milk base and it froze up (from the residual water in the pineapple) after about 25 minutes. It churned enough where I could just put it in a container and freeze it and was still wonderful but learn from my mistake. Put your add-ins at the end, not the beginning. Despite that mistake, albeit a delicious one, this ice cream was off the charts. It had that silky mouth feel you get from dairy desserts and a wonderful subtle coconut flavor. I think next time I might throw in some toasted coconut at the end as well. So much better than store bought!

(Photo courtesy of The Whinery 2.0)

Whew! That's a lot of words. Thank you reading this all if you got through it. I know this may not pertain to all but it is worth checking out a cheapo ice cream maker to make these recipes. If you have recipe suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Beyond the espresso recipe again, I'd love to try a strawberry cheesecake or peach melba. Yum. Enjoy! And keep warm!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

African Sweet Potato Stew 5/5 Spoons

I thought this recipe was gone forever. After moving this past March, I figured I would never find this beautiful, delicious recipe ever again. The other day I was searching for a purse and a piece of paper fluttered to the ground. It was crumpled and dirty and I thought to myself, "God, I'm a slob." BUT NO! I was smart and kept this recipe (even if it was a dumb place). I think I found this recipe in a vegan newsletter somewhere sometime in my life but the details are kind of sketchy. It doesn't matter, I found the recipe again! I've seriously tried to find it online but it was all for naught. Now I do have some sweet soup making skills but I couldn't remember everything that was included in this magical stew. It has been found and now I can share it with all of you!

2 T. olive oil
1 red onion, diced small
2-3 garlic cloves, diced small
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
Handful of celery leaves, chopped
1 jalapeno, cored and seeded, diced small
2 small zucchini, diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
5 c. water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 t. oregano
1/2 t. dried ginger (1 t. if you are using fresh)
1 t. cumin
1/2 c. quinoa
1/2 c. peanut butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste

Heat your olive oil on medium heat in a dutch oven or heavy soup pot and throw in the onion, garlic, celery and red pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until the veggies are soft and a tad golden. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the last three (PB, S&P and pepper flakes). Bring soup to a boil and lower the temp to a simmer and cover. Cook about 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Stir in peanut butter, salt & pepper and pepper flakes and simmer for another 5 minutes until the peanut butter is melted into the soup. Serve with some crusty bread and enjoy!

(That's how I feel about sweet potatoes too.)

So I have no pictures of this stew but TRUST ME. I dare say that this is my favorite soup. I do not take soup lightly, so I really think you should believe me on this one. Quinoa is amazing and a complete protein so it is great for us veg heads.

What are some of your lost and found recipes? Or favorite quinoa recipes? I'd love to know! And I'm still working on my one year anniversary giveaway, so keep reading. I will be reviewing something sweet next time you see me!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Vegan Hungarian Goulash 4/5 Spoons

I've never had goulash before. In fact, I don't think I ever once thought about it. My roommate told me she loves goulash but she had only had a meat-filled version and I was willing to try and make her a cruelty-free version. So since I had no frame of reference, I like to think this turned out pretty well. It wasn't my favorite thing in the world but it was hearty, delicious and made everyone in this apartment full and happy.

(Photo courtesy of Saveur)

Here are my notes:

-- I think I only used one onion, two onions kind of seemed insane considering the size of the ones I can find at the grocery store.
-- Instead of beef, I used Gardein's Beefless Tips. I think this was my favorite part. I actually fried them in a shallow pan separately and just added them over the goulash when I was about to eat. Since we aren't using animal parts that need to be cooked down for a long time to release their fat and make them tender (ew), this really cuts down on the cooking time. Make sure to fry these nice and crispy because then they really stand up to the potatoes and other strong flavors.
-- Paprika is what makes goulash well.... goulash. I was so freaked out to use 1/4 c. of any spice but it works, trust me. It imparts a spicy intense flavor that is not too overwhelming. Make sure to get Hungarian paprika too, I think it really makes the difference. Often times you can just find it at your grocery store and it's not crazy expensive, so go for it!
-- As for an Italian frying pepper, I used a Cubanelle. I think you can use whatever mild pepper you can find at your local store.

I served this goulash over a heaping pile of pasta but I've seen it being served over rice or mashed potatoes as well. Since there were already potatoes in it, I figured pasta would be a good addition. I really enjoyed this dish and probably will make it again (mostly because I have a bag of Hungarian paprika to use, ha). I have no idea if this authentic in any way but it sure was delicious. A lovely vegan friend of mine has a recipe for a Goulash with mushrooms instead of a beef substitute. I look forward to trying that as well, check out the link.

So, blogging in 2012 is feeling pretty good. I can't wait to continue reviewing awesome recipes for you all and I swear the giveaway will be coming up soon!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Caramel Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and a Salted Caramel Topper 5/5 Spoons

Look at that name, what a mouthful!

So I made these gorgeous cupcakes for a New Year's Eve party and I think they turned out quite professional looking if I do say so myself. Although it's never my intention to be "professional" per se but I like knowing I can make a beautiful product that appeals to the eye.... and the stomach.

The cupcakes orgininally were part of a Salted Caramel Trio and I only used the cupcake and caramel topping component in my dessert. The cupcakes were really moist and delicious and full of that dark, caramel-y brown sugar that I love. As for the Chocolate Buttercream frosting, I kind of tweaked this recipe a bit to make it less sweet (the way I like it). Here are my notes:


-- Um, I honestly don't think I changed anything here. I would say to up the salt component a tad more but beyond that, I loved these.


-- My recipe plays off of this one but I cut the cocoa down to 1/2 c., the sugar down to 1 1/2 c. and use a thicker milk. Honestly this last time my butter was too soft so I had to bump the sugar up to 2 c., so just be careful about that. And this is a really good vegan frosting, just so you know.

As for the Salted Caramel topper (see link above), that was probably my favorite part. I was so freaked out I was doing the caramel wrong but it just look a little while for it to get going. Once caramel starts, it stops for no man. Keep an eye on it. Once it starts to get just a tad golden brown, PULL IT OFF THE STOVE. There is so much residual heat in your pan that it will keep cooking until it is perfectly set. I didn't do the fancy parchment paper over the rolling pin thing. I just took a piece of greased parchment paper and drizzled the caramel all over with a spoon. Make sure to salt (or sugar) the candy before it completely sets or it will all fall off. It was so much fun to make candy and I look forward to doing it much more.

So overall, amazing recipe. It really only has one more component than a regular ol' cupcake but that extra 10 minutes is so worth it.

And I promised to have a giveaway for my 1 year anniversary but lo and behold, I have none. I am working on figuring out what I want to give away, so be patient and keep reading! Happy New Year folks!

Check out my recipe at Sweet as Sugar Cookies along tons of other delicious recipes as well! Just click above. : )