Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I'm never usually very interested in any of the award shows, and could really care less who has how many Grammys or Oscars. I never usually agree with most of the results anyway. But, when I found out that Ellen DeGeneres was hosting the Oscars this year, I couldn't be more excited to watch them. We are always looking for an excuse to have a party, and what better reason than to celebrate than with an Ellen Hosting the Oscars party? Formal attire was required, but it had to be the funkiest, most godawful thing you could drag out. The food was Mexican themed, and this led to me next cupcake adventure: Mucho Margarita Cupcakes! We also had some vegan tamales, which we get from Whole Foods. They are made here in Houston, completely vegan, and are super delicious. Of course we also had all of the side fixin's- chips and salsa, bean dip, and margaritas and wine.

Mucho yummy!

We decided that since we were dressed up and looking gorgeous, and celebrating, we would take a picture and leave a space in the middle for Ellen. We are going to send it to her and ask her to photoshop herself in so that she will be celebrating with us. As you can tell, we were really enjoying the wine and margaritas.


I have been feeling a little under the weather recently. I don't know if it is lack of sleep, or if the colds that have been traveling around are catching up to me. I take pride in the fact that since going vegan I have not been sick once, which means this is the first winter I have successfully avoided the flu. I have just been taking it easy, and eating comforting foods. The most comforting thing of all has been the Purely Decadent Turtle Trails ice cream. I hope I feel better and have a burst of energy in the morning so I can start jogging again.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Make ups and confessions

So, to make up for the lack of (homemade) food posts, this post will be pretty much focused toward food. The pictures don't look that pretty, because the lighting in my place is pretty bad. But, I can guarantee you that the food tasted great. That's just how it goes sometimes, isn't it? Well, here we go.

With all kinds of leftovers in my fridge, and a few odd dried goods hanging out, taking up room in my one shelf pantry, I decided to make some Shepherds Pie. I have never made a true shepherds pie before, and never a vegan one, so I didn't have an exact recipe to follow. Figuring that making a Shepherds Pie pretty much involves just throwing random stuff together in a pot, then putting potatoes on top was the extent of it, that's what I did. So, I took my wilting carrots, 1/2 an onion, and a few stray mushrooms and sauteed them in olive oil with some herbs de Provence, mustard seeds and minced garlic. I added some cornstarch to thicken it up for a gravy-like consistency. Then I threw in some lentils and vegetable stock and let it simmer a little while. After thinly slicing my red potatoes, I poured the lentil/vegetable mixture into a casserole dish and layed then potato slices on top. I topped it off with paprika and stuck in in the oven and let it bake until the house smelled delicious.

For dinner, I served it with some Amaranth-studded kale. I love smelling up the house, because my roommates come in and tell me what a great cook I am, even though they have never tasted my food. One of these days I will have everyone for dinner.

For quite a while, I have been craving rice pudding, specifically with chocolate. After reading through the Teany Book, which I picked up at Half Price, I got a great idea for a yummy pudding, which it's leftover components could be used for dinner the next night. So, I made a Jasmine tea rice, with some forbidden rice. This involves simply boiling jasmine tea leaves in water, straining, and then pouring the rice in and cooking as normal. It imparts a lovely flavor, and would be much better in a more delicate rice, but I just love forbidden rice. If you have never tried it, I highly recommend searching it out. After the rice was done, I combined some coconut milk, Sucanat, 1 chopped date, and cinnamon, then put the rice in and let it boil. After it sat for a little while and absorbed the liquid, I dished some up, and then put a nice big square of dark chocolate in the middle.

The chocolate melted really nicely and gave the dish a perfect creamyness, along with the coconut milk. It is really filling, what with all the rice, so if your like me and you can't help but going back for another "taste", then you will end up going to bed with a really full tummy. For that, I think it will make a great breakfast, since I am working on giving up oatmeal.

That's about the only food I have worth talking about right now. I made a quick curry tonight with some leftover Chick'n strips, frozen veggies, coconut milk and curry powder. It wasn't very blog worthy, taste or picture wise. I think it lacked too many spices, such as coriander and mustard seeds. So, I will not speak of it and get the failure out of my head..until tomorrow night when I eat it for dinner. Oh yeah, I do want to talk about something that never fails me, that I could eat absolutely every day. It is my favorite snack and it so simple. It takes the deliciousness of apples and peanut butter one step further, and makes it irresistible. All I do is mix the peanut butter with some soy yogurt, and sometimes some cinnamon and agave nectar, then slice the apples up and have it all with a nice piece of dark chocolate. I would choose this over cake any day.
And now, a confession. I have started jogging. It is something I have been wanting to do for some time now, but have never actually started. I always thought it wasn't for me, and I would constantly find some excuse, like "I don't have good shoes, and I'm too poor to buy any", "I don't want to injure my knees", or "Houston weather is not predictable enough to make a habit out of it". I threw all of these excuses out of the window after I broke down and paid a whopping $50 for some good shoes, and went on my first jog. It was so exhilarating, and I knew I wanted to keep it up. So, it's my second week and I am enjoying it. I am trying to work up to 3 times a week, alternating between walking and running. I went this morning, and I was able to run a whole minute straight without feeling like my heart was going to pop out of my chest. I am hopping to continue with it, and eventually work my way up to be able to participate in the marathon in January. I would only do the half marathon, which is 13 miles, but that would be a great accomplishment for me. So, wish me luck!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bowled over

Another trip to the farmers markets this weekend produced some good finds. We got there a little later than expected and most of the vendors were beginning to pack up their goods, but that always means nice sales. So, I picked up some greens 4 for $1. Two bunches of kale and 2 bunches of some other green I have never used will hold me over for the week. At the Midtown market Houston Food Bank had a table to distrubute literature on voluteer opportunities as well as a new event coming up called Empty Bowls 2007.
People from all over have donated bowls on behalf of Houston Food Banks effort to help feed the hungry. With a $25 donation, you receive one of the bowls filled with soup when you attend the event. I was very disappointed that I would be out of town the weekend of the event (in San Antonio to see R.E.N.T!) so the volunteer at the table allowed me to make my donation in advance and I got to take one of the bowls home with me

I didn't have many to chose from but this was my favorite. Isn't it gorgeous?

We also got to see some beautiful baby goats at the Bayou City Market. The local goat farm which they came from was trying to get fosters and donations to help take care of them. Although they sold products such as soap made from the milk of the goats, they seemed to take very good care of them. Regardless, I couldn't bring myself to give them money, since I do not agree with using, producing, or selling items that come from animals. I thought the kids were mighty cute anyway. This one was bundled up nice and cozy in a lawn chair, allowing everyone to pet him

No food for this post. I had a great meal for Valentines Day that my friend made for us, but it was so good that I didn't take the time to take pictures. The three course meal included Tomato-Artichoke soup from Artfully Vegan. The recipe was one that the author used to make when he worked for Mother's Cafe in Austin, Tx- one of my favorite places to eat when I am there. He also made a vegan Leek Quiche from this months Vegetarian Times, it was nice and savory and I really like the leek and sun-dried tomato combination. Then, for dessert we had a Chocolate Cake with peanut butter cups and chocolate icing. Since I am trying to cut out gluten from my diet to see if some of the problems I am having are linked to gluten intolerance, he made it from rice flour for me. It was a little gritty and crumbly, but with all of the chocolate and peanut butter we hardly noticed. I hope everyone else had a great V-Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Down by the bayou

My weekend was well spent having a blast in New Orleans. A friend and I have been wanting to visit ever since the hurricane to spend some money and help boost the economy, so for her brithday that's what we did. We had a great time drinking, and eating, and partying, and did I mention drinking? I urge you to get your booty movin' down South. Although this hardly covers half of it (I forgot to get a picture of our hot pink B&B), here are a couple of photos to entice you

Street performers are the best (and cheapest) entertainment. They all have a great, unique sound. This is a band that was playing on a park bench in Jackson Square.

This is one of the best bowls of beans and rice I have had. Truely authentic Louisiana flavor. We got it from a place called the Gumbo Shop. They have a large variety of gumbo, and other traditional Louisiana fare to choose from. This was the only vegetarian option they offered, but it was all I needed.

We decided to go the weekend before the big Mardi Gras, so it wasn't too crowded. Luckily, we were there for a parade that is growing in popularity, the Barkus Parade. It is a parade just for dogs, which people bring from all over. The King and Queen of the parade feature two rescue dogs, and all of the proceeds go to worthy animal welfare groups. The bottom picture is our favorite pick.

Shake that sweet stuff, baby!

Although New Orleans has been through devistating times, they still have a great spirit and hospitality that can't be beat. The rebuilding process is still occuring, and will probably be for some time now, and things may never quite be the same as they once were. But, through the changes, they have emerged as still one of the coolest and most fun cities to have a good time in.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Farmer's Market Finds and Cupcakes

This weekend, we decided to make the (now much shorter) trip to the farmer's markets in and around Houston. Our original destination was Midtown Farmers Market, but from there we went to Central City Co-op and the Bayou City Farmers Market.
I didn't get much because I had ordered a share from Central City the past Wednesday, but I was pleased with my finds
I couldn't pass up this beautiful bottle of First Blush vinegar, infused with strawberry, orange, hibiscus, vanilla, and almond flavors. I have made it into a simple salad dressing so far, and I can't wait to do more with it. They have so many other flavors, and for $5 a bottle, I will have to try more. I also picked up 1/2# of kumquats, and a few blood oranges, all locally grown! Woohoo!

Not only was this weekend Superbowl Sunday, it was Prince-playing-halftime-Superbowl Sunday. It was also a friends room warming party since she moved in to another friends spare room. So, we all got together to watch Prince, party, and-what else-eat! I made another delicious batch of cupcakes from VCTOTW. It was a hard decision, but I chose the Mint Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Icing and Chocolate Ganache, topped with a couple chocolate "beans". I made sure to take a picture this time.

Can't you just taste the deliciousness?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tea time

I'm sitting at one of my favorite tea houses in Houston- Te House of Tea. Since my wireless isn't working, I'm taking this time to update and catch up. I had to share an amazing tea I am trying. They call it Russian Imperial. It is a black tea, with scents of rose, which is served with jam that you mix in with the tea in a cute little glass. Delicious!
The last two weeks have kept me occupied with the wonders and woes of moving. It is my first time living on my own. Working my first full time job, at a stake house no less (ironic, I know), has been a little trying. But, one must pay the bills. I have been living on salads for lunch, often convincing the chefs to whip me up some assorted veggie with no butter/cheese/bacon topping. Once I get settled in I will start cooking again. But, for now I rely on quick fixes, take out, and travelling to my friends house to use his well-stocked kitchengalore. This past weekend we had a much needed beer and pizza party. Since visiting Brussels and trying Kriek (black cherry beer) I fell in love and have been dreaming of having more. To my delight, Spec's carrys not only Kriek, but also Peche (peach), Frambosse (raspberry), and another brand of Strawberry. We felt obligated to test them.Kriek is still my favorite, but Frambosse is a close second
Along with the beer we made two kinds of homemade pizza. One was a favorite we discovered a few months ago on a whim- tapenade, tomato sauce, dollops of tofu-basil ricotta, sauteed mushrooms and onions, and extra basil. The other was a total experiment- tofu-spinach mixture, topped with garlic roasted cauliflower, edamame, and drizzled with lemon chutney.The first was definately our favorite, but the cauliflower-edamame was an interesting mix, and the lemon chutney gave it a nice kick. It was great together on a spinach salad the next day. And one can never go wrong with basil-tofu ricotta.

I hope to get back to cooking soon. But, until then it is take out from the vegan chinese restaurant down the street. Oh yeah, did I mention I live smack in the middle of Chinatown? It's awesome!