Yes to Carrots!

Thanks to the seedsman in my family this Christmas I was introduced to some new products that I have fallen in love with. I’m a queen of label reading and I like to buy products that are as natural as possible! That’s what I strive for anyways. So, Yes To has won me over. I love their products and their facination with veggies!  Plus they started a non-profit seed fund for under-served communities!

Their products actually contain veggie extracts… for example the second ingredient in Yes to Carrots “C a Softer You” lotion is carrot juice! Mix that up with some of the other ingredients like avocado oil, melon extract, orange extract, pumpkin juice and sweet potato extract it sounds almost like it could be a liquid diet! After all, what’s good for the inside has to be good for the outside!

Check out a new favorite in my stash the Yes To! products!

 

Sasha’s Mittens

I just finished the binding on this Christmas gift. Whew! Nice to have that last gift finished… and just in the nick of time.

Earlier in the fall I was flipping through an early 90s quilting magazine and was inspired to try my hand at quilting a gift for one of the loved ones on my list… I had done some piecing in the past, but never an entire project. So, through some trial and much (much) error this pattern, which I named “Sasha’s Mittens,” emerged from my chaotic craft studio. 🙂

The fabric is scrap dress material from Silver Dollar City’s seamstress shop for employees. A couple years back Jere and I set up an heirloom squash display during their fall festival. To my great delight it was at the same time as their big sale in the costume department (for employees and visiting craftsmen only). Upon walking in the door of the shop what to my wondering eyes should appear but a giant box filled with beautiful fabric and at a ridiculous price! So, I suppose you could say I upcycled this fabric into my table runner Christmas gift. 🙂

Cookie Snapshots

Cardamom Spice Cookies

Pinwheels

Oatmeal Cranberry

Vegan Coconut Macaroons

After searching the web I ran across this recipe. With a little improvising I came up with the following vegan alternative…

Coconut Macaroons
1 pkg. (11 oz) Sweetened Angel Flake Coconut
2/3 cup  sugar
6 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp.  salt
6 Tbsp. EnerG egg replacer
1/2 c. water
1 tsp.  vanilla extract (The almond flavoring was hiding out somewhere in the back of the cupboard.)

Grease your baking sheets and flour them. Mix all of the above ingredients together. (You’ll probably have to get your hands in there.)
Then shape into round balls and place on your baking sheet.
Bake at 325F. for about 20 minutes. Keep your eyes on them from time to time.  Let cool slightly before removing to wire rack.
Now the original recipe calls for dipping these tasty treats into some chocolate which is a heavenly way of finishing them off. However, I needed my semi-sweet chocolate for fudge and so decided to leave the macaroons as they were.
Enjoy!

Revisiting Familiar Flavors

For the last two days I have been elbow deep in cookie dough. As a child it was a big deal for me to make cookies each year… the more the merrier.

After marrying Jere and eating vegan it has been interesting improvising all the old faithful holiday recipes. Baking without milk, eggs, butter and cream seemed hopeless at first… that is until I found some handy alternatives (soy milk, egg replacer and earth balance margarine). They are my secret weapons in the cupboard! So far this year I’ve made 6 different kinds of christmas cookies  (cranberry oatmeal, pinwheels, sugar cookie cutouts, spiced cardamom cookies, chocolate snowcaps and coconut macaroons!)  and even some chocolate fudge. They still have to stand trial with all the employees, relatives and friends… but as far as I’m concerned, they taste just like some of the cookies I remember!

Handmade Holidays

doll-folk-center

During the hoildays I always go on a craft binge. My mind starts spinning with all the goodies I can personalize and create for my loved ones. The holidays seem to sap my time away, so this year I’ve decided to start earlier and try to give at least one handmade item to each person on my list. I try to stock pile goodies throughout the year that our vendors sell or that I find in my travels that are handmade or vintage. It saves $’s and makes for a unique gift.

With that said, if I can’t make it handmade, then I want to at least try to buy it handmade. I absolutely love etsy.com.  It is so inspiring. I love to check out their daily showcase. Since I don’t drink coffee in the morning, I use their site to wake up my creative energy! 🙂

Any projects you’re working on for under the tree, I’d love to hear about it.

The Chicago Diner: Totally Worth the Drive!

chicago-skyline

Beautiful Navy Pier in Chicago

To do list:
1. Make Chicago Diner Seitan (Gluten Meat Substitute)
2. Finish Christmas Gift for — —-.
3. A ton of stuff to get done for the magazine
4. A thousand things that have slipped my mind at the moment …

One of my all time favorite cookbooks comes from one of my all time favorite restaurants. The Chicago Diner is tucked away on one of Chicago’s busy streets. Being a country girl, I white-knuckled my first ride into that city. However, it has won me over! There is nothing like eating a piece of one of the many desserts that The Chicago Diner is famous for while listening to the never-ending echos of horns honking and enjoying a rooftop view of the city skyline at night.

The diner proudly boasts being, “Meat Free Since 1983” and with their mouth-watering menu, who cares if meat isn’t included! For those of us who can only stand the city for a weekend the wonderful founder of the diner has graciously printed a cookbook to satisfy our cravings. The Cocoa Mousse cake is to die for and they’ve shared their secrets in the cookbook… no hidden ingredients! I also love their seitan. Yum! Their reuben sandwich is one of my favorites.

The Chicago Diner Cookbook by Chef Jo A. Kaucher is a must have for vegans and those transitioning into a more vegetarian lifestyle! Check out their website: http://www.veggiediner.com and be tempted!

So, now that my mouth is watering… maybe I should run and grab those cocoa mousse cupcakes out of the freezer?