Friday, May 30, 2014

Hmmm I've Got Nothing.

So I checked around for inspiration. I may have been sleepy because I was drawn to noises. The rain storms were a bit intense. But here you go, 10 Hours of forest sounds.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Serials and Scenario ~ Product Review...Lightlife Smart Dogs...

Sometimes "junk" just calls your name and you have to answer right? One of the only meat products I actually liked back in the day when I was a meat eater was a beef hot dog. I could pretend that a beef hot dog was purer and somehow nobler. Because we all know and refuse to think about what's really in a $.99 package of hot dogs. 

I didn't really crave them very often. But if there was a picnic or a BBQ I'd hope someone went the classy route and supplied beef hot dogs for the gourmets in the bunch. 

A few weeks ago while wandering through Natural Grocers I discovered they had a markdown section. What the Wha?  Bargains on vegan foods or organic veggies/fruit? Oh yeah. So now I hit the spots every time and nosh on $2.00 bags of organic peppers, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and 1/2 price non-dairy items that are at the end of shelf life. Happy. Makes me very happy. 
So I found a package of vegan hot dogs. I wouldn't have purchased because sometimes faux meat is just kind of a cruel sleight of hand. But back two years ago when & and I went to Portland for VegFest we were given a sample of a chunk of hot dog in a bun and were able to put toppings on it and scarf it down. The dang thing was great. But was this sale package the same brand? At 1/2 price I was willing to risk it. I brought the little hummers home and popped them in the freezer for the right occasion. 

Last night was that occasion. 

I pulled them out because we had white processed non-food buns. (Why does uber processed sometimes just taste so good?) And I had a hankering. And I also had to rearrange some stuff in the freezer because things had gotten out of control. I won't tell you the details...but let's just say I need to check my freezer before going to Trader Joe's. There are apparently items there that convince me that they NEED to go home with me on EVERY trip.  But I digress....

My cast iron griddle has a smooth side and a grill side (is that proper? Would it be corrugated? Because that's what it feels like it should be...whatever, we will call it grill -- it leaves little bumpy sear marks on whatever you cook on it.) So I grilled them up. And slapped them on the buns and squirted mine with mustard and spooned on dill relish (organic, of course, ha ha). This is my perfect hot dog scenario. 

And. It was stinking delicious! Seriously. Rob looked at the little flesh colored, striped tubes on the griddle and raised an eyebrow. "Vegan hot dogs." I said. He picked one up and gingerly took a bite. (without any frills and toppers) He chewed. And put them on his plate. And ate them. 

Can I recommend these? Seriously, yes. You have an itch to scratch and only a hot dog will do? ... I don't think you'll be disappointed. On a side note, I took a picture of the back of the package. They aren't as trashy as one would think. Non-GMO soy, 13 grams of protein and 100 calories.  

Thanks Lightlife. Me likey Smart Dogs

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Serials and Scenarios ~ Archetype Coffee Reviewed

I love that Omaha is getting more and more trendy and bringing some of the best from other locales into the area. 

The newest coffee shop in town is absolutely a blast from Seattle. Two years after visiting, I still miss the plethora of coffee shop choices and fine brews we got to experience while there. Now, the Omaha metro area is offering quite a few choices, each with it's own unique strengths and personality. 

Archetype Coffee (the link is to their FB page) just opened last week. 

They offer an urban and sleek atmosphere and beans from small coffee roasters. 

The menu is clean and sleek as well, and we enjoyed an excellent pour over. 

Though I didn't try an oat milk latte, that's for next time, I'm excited that they offer different non-dairy milk choices. They didn't have baked goods or treats other than fresh fruit the day we visited, so don't plan on being able to get goodies. Though if you check the Facebook page before going you might get the lowdown. I noticed that they did mention having a bakery that was going to supply something or other. 

If you are in the "Blackstone District" just West of Midtown (40th and Farnam area) and you want a great cup of coffee, give them a try.

I love the little quirky touch of the beaker that holds another 1/3 cup of coffee. And the covered outdoor seating. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Serials and Scenarios ~ Kitchen Table, Omaha Nebraska Restaurant Review ~

 I've eaten at Omaha's Kitchen Table a handful of times since it opened over a year ago. I have not been disappointed, ever. Twice I've gone to Vegan Omaha meet-ups where the entire restaurant was filled with vegans and the food was amazing... a Mexican themed food night and an Italian food night both with delectable courses with interesting and tasty twists on the classics. 

Twice, I've gone as just a random diner who wanted something delicious for dinner. (:  ) ) The latest visit was this week where I noshed on a three bean roasted red pepper burger with a side of local, fresh asparagus. In a word. Yum. The burger was delicious and the texture was perfect. 

I love the atmosphere of the restaurant, very trendy yet comfortably rustic. The kitchen is open providing the perfect smells and sounds that make the diner feel at home away from home. All guests should be able to find something perfect on the menu as they cater to all sorts of eaters who love local and fresh. 

Everything I've tasted has been very much about the taste and clearly the kitchen team loves food and preparing it for others. Plan on dropping about $15+ a person. Though they do have a happy hour that looks like it could be a bargain.  

Go to the website to see the professional and decent pictures of the joint, details about times, and to drool over the locally sourced gourmet offerings they provide. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Til the Cows Come Home

I'm sure you've heard that phrase before. Well. I got to experience it. 

Near the organic farm where we do a gig here and there is an organic cow set-up. Being a little sad about the fact that these "little" guys are raised for meat, I hesitated when I was invited to go on a walk through the cow pasture. 

I've seen some horrible scenes of cows up to their knees in mud in Texas feedlots, but this in not the case here. They have acres and acres of green grass, alfalfa and tasty weeds. There were about a dozen nursing babies hanging with moms scattered throughout. 

Our walk was a long one and the cows gave us lots of room.  But then came a desire for change from Pasture A to Pasture B, or coming home time. 

We had the opportunity to wait and watch until they all made the transition. We chose to, anyway. Had we kept to our agenda they would've scattered and gotten stressed. No one wants to see a stressed cow, right? So we just watched the very organized move. 

There are guard cows.  Seriously. Four mature females stood watch while we entered the pasture. And when it was time to move from one large section to another they started the process, guided the others and waited until the last cow was where it was supposed to be. Then and only then did we get the green light to pass.  

Another interesting fact: cows have nurseries. We didn't see one, but an adult or two watches several calves while the other mothers get breaks. 

A pretty cool experience that makes me glad I don't eat em, that's for sure. And glad that there are places that treat their animals with kindness during their lives. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Vegan Muddy Buddies/Puppy Chow Cereal Treats

 Sometimes I forget how easy it is to veganize some things. Puppy Chow aka chocolate peanut butter sugar dusted pillows of deliciousness were an easy go to recipe back in the day. Nostalgia reared it's head last week when I was working on some vegan chex mix savory mixes. I still had cereal, and a little voice requested puppy chow (so she's 27 and it was clearly a grown female voice, but that's beside the point). 

Here's what I did. And the result? Ahhh. sugar dusted chocolate peanut butter pillows of deliciousness! 

4 Cups of cereal of choice, like Chex. I used half rice/half corn. 
1/4 Cup peanut butter (I used natural chunky, just peanuts and salt)
1/2 Cup vegan chocolate chips
1 TBSP oil (I used coconut oil but Earth Balance margarine or equivalent should work)
2/3 Cup vegan powdered sugar. (You can make your own if you have the patience and a high speed blender...)

Melt peanut butter, chocolate chips and oil. Mix well. Dump in cereal and stir until coated. 

In a large zipper bag dump the powdered sugar. Then dump the cereal mixture over the sugar and close bag and begin shaking until all the cereal is coated. Serve. Enjoy the nostalgia. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Vegan Lemon Pasta Carbonara

You've seen the one pan pasta dish, right? The one all over Pinterest? Where you dump all the ingredients for a pasta meal into a pan and cook away? I've been experimenting. This was pretty tasty. I'm going to try adding olives and more lemon juice (replacing equal amounts of water) next time.  

Lemon Pasta Carbonara

8 oz pasta (I used rice spaghetti and broke it in half)
1/2-3/4 cups onion (diced)
1 pepper diced (I used half of a green and half of an orange pepper)
6 slices of vegan bacon (I used Upton's strips)
1 Cup vegetable broth
2 Cups water
1/2 Cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste) 
2 teaspoons of lemon/garlic pepper blend (or 1 tsp of dried or fried garlic, 1/2 tsp of pepper, 1/2 tsp of lemon peel)
2 tsp oil (I used garlic infused grape seed oil)

Chop bacon into small pieces, toss in frying pan. Add onion and peppers and fry until bacon is cooked and veggies are browning and translucent. Add the additional ingredients. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, stir frequently until pasta is cooked and the liquid has turned into a sauce. About 9 minutes. Serve. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Ronald's Donuts ~ Las Vegas ~ Review

Doughnuts aren't vegan. Nope, those Krispy Kreme "Hot Now" little suckers just aren't. Two years ago, my daughter & and I went to Seattle and enjoyed Mighty O's and Portland treated us to Voodoo. Since then, nada. Until last week in Vegas. 
One of our traveling companions had checked with Isa and John for the must go places in Vegas. They both said Wynn and Ronald's Donuts. 

Wynn was on our list. We ate there last year and the setting and decor is terrific, and vegan food, amazing. And that was true for this visit, too.

But I digress, we're talking doughnuts, here. So, armed with a google search of Ronald's and a taxi we loaded up and headed out for vegan doughnuts. 

And when the taxi pulled up to a strip mall at the edge of China town, we were a little "hmmm." 

We walked into a 70's dinerish doughnut shop with the classic full glass case of donuts, lots of formica and paneling. A smiling man greeted us. And two gentlemen chatted and noshed doughnuts in one of the booths. We all wondered...the question bubbles were hovering over our heads...hmmm, is this the shop? Did we spell it wrong? 

Lindsey walked toward the counter. "Uhhh, which ones are vegan?" 

Mr. Donut smiled wider. "This rack, this rack and some down here." 

"So all of these are vegan, right here?" Lindsey asked. He smiled and nodded. 

We ordered. Three of us are vegan, two others are not. We each ordered several. (Won't say how many and we did share... even with a lovely British man who was walking down the street with us while we carried our bounty.) Suffice it to say that we ordered on Thursday, used the glass casserole dishes in the condo for freshness sake, and finished them on Sunday. 

Like children in a candy store, we debated, dreamed and ordered. Hopefully we didn't leave behind drool marks. 

Juggling cups of cold, creamy almond milk and our doughnut smorgasbord  we sat down at one of the formica booths. There was a moment of awed silence as each pulled a doughnut out of the boxes and sunk our teeth into them. Oh mercy. Every. One. Of. Them.  Amazing. Sweet, tender, puffy sugar bombs of airy magic. The non-vegans were just as much in love. And I'm pretty sure the regulars who came and went weren't there because the doughnuts aren't made with animal products. 

Nope, they seemed oblivious to the contents, just looking for their sugar fix. We may or may not have ruined our lunches and might have crashed into sugar comas later that day. But. Seriously. If you are vegan, or love delicious doughnuts and find yourself in Vegas. Ronald's Donuts. Nuff said. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Berry Coconut Cupcakes and Frosting ~ So Delicious

 I'm entering this recipe into the So Delicious Spring Fling Recipe Contest
Berry Coconut Cup Cakes (makes 18)

1 egg substitute (1 TBSP ground chia or egg replacer)
1/2 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 Cup So Delicious coconut milk (at room temperature)
1/4 Cup jam (I used organic strawberry all fruit)
1/2 Cup of coconut oil (melted)
1 1/4 Cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 Cup flour
Put milk and egg replacer powder together in a bowl and set aside. Cream coconut oil and sugar together. Add salt and baking powder, mix until incorporated. Pour half the milk and the extracts in and mix. Pour in half the flour and mix well, add the rest of the milk, stir then the additional flour and mix for two more minutes.

Fill cupcake liners 1/2-2/3 full. 

Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes or until knife comes out clean. If you want vanilla, use 1 Cup of So Delicious and no jam.

Berry Frosting
3 TBSP berry jam
3 TBSP Earth Balance or coconut oil
1/2 tsp of vanilla
2 Cups powdered sugar

If too thick add just a splash of coconut milk, if still too wet add a little more powdered sugar.

When the cupcakes are cool frost each cupcake.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Few Words for the Weekend in Vegas...

We, my daughter & and I, went to Vegas for an Arbonne conference. Can I recommend Vegas to the average bear? Let's just say that it's not my favorite city.  If you don't smoke and don't drink and don't gamble, I don't know that it's a great choice for vacations. One of the doctors I work for took his family a few months ago and they did museums and shows and had a blast. He has video of his teens having an indoor sky diving fun time. 

But all that costs some serious green. And I spent my serious green on the ticket and the hotel. So. I didn't fully experience Vegas unleashed. But, like I said, I'm not sure I want to experience Vegas unleashed. 

This year we stayed at the Wyndam Grand Desert as it was right across the street from the MGM conference center. Next year we will do that again. The rooms had full kitchens and the pool areas were open 24 hours. We spent a lot of time hanging out at the pool and that was glorious. 

The conference was amazing. I am going to build my business. I have to. Arbonne cares about it's people and the world. I'm so impressed with the heart of the company. And I don't know that I've seen more beautiful people in my life. Seriously, Arbonne stuff works. The men and women there are users of our line and their skin, hair and confidence is a powerful testimony of how well these pure, safe and beneficial products work. Newly released is a combo weight loss system that has a metabolism booster with green coffee bean extract and a plant based appetite control component. My batch is in the mail. The testimonials from the guinea pigs who tried the products are impressive. There is a sleep spray that helps with insomnia and for those who just have sleep issues. 

While they introduced the new products they released millions of petals from the cat walks above. And then little foam happy face frisbees. So fun to have all of that rain down on us. 

During conference breaks we ventured out a bit. Took a half walk/half taxi ride to the Wynn Casino. Wynn has a vegan chef influence so many vegan options are available in their restaurants. After our walk we were pretty hungry so we split a vegan spinach artichoke dip, a "tuna" sandwich and the "hamburger"-chocolate shake-french fry meal we fell in love with last year.  Loved, loved, loved. And none of us took a single picture. The first morning we were there we took a taxi to Ronald's Donuts which had been highly recommended. I'll be doing a review this week, so more later. But I must say. WOW. 

Then. The trip home. 

We hit turbulence. I'm not horribly prone to motion sickness. But. Turbulence is not enjoyable at all. My daughter, &, was really having difficulty with it. Then it got worse. Omaha was having really bad weather. We flew through some clouds with lightning. The pilot said we were going to try to skirt the storms. We began descending and seemed like we might land. But suddenly the descent felt a little more like leveling out, then climbing. Not a good sign. Ten minutes later he announced that we would be taking a detour to Des Moines. Uh. Most of us didn't know Des Moines had an airport. Des Moines wasn't expecting us. A skeleton crew was all that was there. We landed, deplaned and spent an hour waiting for news. A plane heading to Chicago joined us, too. 

There was a lot of activity including a spontaneous volleyball practice. 

Finally, after the hungry hoards had eaten everything they could find before the Pizza Hut and snack/book/trinket store locked up, we were given the news we'd be going back to Omaha. We got back on, fired up the engines and took off into the storm that had been in Omaha and was heading toward us. Let's just say that by the time we went way into Kansas and circled back to Omaha and landed, poor & was clutching her barf bag and doing lamaze style breathing. She never gave up the contents of her stomach but I believe that hour and a half was the longest of her life. 

Terra firma has never been more fabulous. 

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Picture Paints a Whole Lot of Words.

Kansas City restaurant outside wall. Don't know what it's called but every time we've gone to Cafe Gratitude this little happy tot greets us. How can it not be great? She thinks it is. 

Sad Sushi. Ha Ha. My friend Lindsey snapped a picture of this guy before she snarfed him down. It shouldn't make me happy but it does. Sad Sushi. Ha Ha. 
Uhhhh. Not sure what this horrible contraption is. We saw it at an antique store and paused just long enough to take a picture. The string? Dental floss. "Hey kid, floss your teeth or I'll haunt your dreams!" Maybe the purpose was to tie the string on a loose tooth and throw the cast iron clown head over the railing thus removing the tooth. (Again, dream haunting for those who disobeyed.) The purpose can't be sweet, whimsical or happy. Right? Shudder.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ "Tuna" Ring

Tuna Ring

1 can of young green Jackfruit in brine
1 TBSP of seaweed of choice
1 Cup of water

Dump these three things in a pan and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Remove the chunks of jackfruit into a bowl and shred/chop into tuna looking bits. (I removed the chunks of jackfruit and left the seaweed behind since I don't love super fishy taste and this was just the right amount of sea flavor since the jackfruit absorbed the taste while simmering.)

Add 1/2 of vegan cream cheese container. (4 oz)
1/2 TBSP dill pickle relish
1/2 TBSP sweet pickle relish (or 1 TBSP of whichever you have)
1 TBSP finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 TBSP nutritional yeast

Mix all together very well

Crescent rolls (1 can, make sure it's vegan) You could also use your favorite pizza dough and make this a pocket or calzone. 

To make a crescent roll ring separate the 8 triangles of dough. Lay each of the  longest pointiest ends over the rim of a large pie plate or round baker. The shorter two point ends will over lap and there will be a hole in the center. It's going to look kind of like a stick drawing of a sun. Press the overlapped edges in the pan together. 

Scoop the "tuna" mixture onto the flat inner circle of dough. Then take each outside point and pull it over the mixture and tuck it slightly under the inner ring of dough. 

Bake at the temperature called for on the can (or in your pizza dough recipe) Bake approximately 6 minutes longer to make sure everything is cooked through. 


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Salted Caramel Apple Fritter

Salted Caramel Apple Fritter

Makes 8

1 package of vegan crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350 (or temperature on the package)
Lightly grease a muffin tin. 

Take each crescent roll triangle and place the triangle into the muffin tin. Press and stretch/break off tips as needed to make the entire muffin tin filled so it looks like a little pie. Bake these for 10 minutes (or until golden.)  Remove from oven. These won't be flat and pie shaped any more, but no worries. You could also do this with pie crust or phyllo dough. 

While the crusts cool make the Salted Caramel Apple Filling/topping.

2 Apples diced (I seeded them but did not peel them.) 
1/3 Cup sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4 Cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 Cup chopped pecans (or walnuts or dried cranberries)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 TBSP cornstarch (or arrowroot)
1 TBSP water

Toss diced apples into a saucepan, add syrup and sugar and begin simmering. Simmer about 10 minutes until apples begin to tenderize and release the juice and sugar melts. Add the salt and pecans and stir well. While simmering, in another cup or bowl mix the vanilla in the TBSP of water and add cornstarch, stirring until the cornstarch dissolves. Then pour the cornstarch mixture into the simmering apples. Stir well and simmer for an additional 7 or so minutes until the mixture thickens and reduces into a caramel. 

Scoop mixture into the crescent cups.