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Iron Cupcake Entry!!

So, I’m back from vacation. I took my older kids to Maine for a week, and brought along my gay boyfriend and my mother, in true hag fashion.

Ah, Iron Cupcake. I’ve been thinking about you.

My friend, the Milwaukee Cupcake Queen is hosting a challenge called Iron Cupcake: Earth and I decided to join in on the fun.

The theme for this month is chili peppers. I did quite a bit of searching online for different ideas because nothing was coming to mind that would be interesting and original enough for me. I figured everybody and their uncle would be doing some sort of chocolate and chili powder combination and that’s a little too easy for this gal. Hmm…what should I do? Then I saw it: Jalapeach preserves. A delicously sweet and spicy combination of peaches and jalapenos. Sound gross? I thought so too, but I tasted those preserves and boy are they good. I then thought of corn muffins and remembered how a certain ex-boyfriend of mine used to accompany me to the local Cracker Barrel for breakfast. When they would bring that basket of muffins and biscuits to the table, I would invariably grab for a crumbly corn treat and he would say “No! Don’t eat the muffins! Don’t EVER eat the muffins!” (That story works better if you picture it happening in slow motion, by the way.) I then wondered how a corn muffin would taste with chunks of peaches in it. Add to that a glaze of the Jalapeach preserves. Top it with a smooth cream cheese icing. Garnish it with a circle of jalapeƱo. I thought I was onto something, for sure. I’m calling them Jalapeach Crumble Muffins with Cream Cheese Icing. By the way, they are indeed vegan. Mmmm….

For the muffins:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or AP works just as good, I’ve tried both)

1 cup cornmeal

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup evaporated cane juice (or plain ol’ sugar)

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup plain soy milk

1 tsp cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/3 cup diced fresh peaches (not frozen! too much moisture!! argh!)

Preheat oven to 400 then spray your muffin tin with no-stick. This follows the standard recipe guidelines- let vinegar sit in soy milk for a few minutes to curdle. Mix wet stuff together, mix dry stuff together, mix wet into dry, then mix in peaches. Woot! Divide evenly amongst 12 tins then bake for 20 to 25 minutes depending how hot your oven gets or whatnot. Mine were done enough after just 20 minutes. Let them cool completely before you glaze and frost!!

For the preserves glaze, I simply put about 1/3 cup of the jalapeach into my saucepan and warmed it up on low until it was liquidy. Then I let it cool. Next I took my teaspoon and gently spooned a little onto the top of each muffin using the back of the spoon to spread it around. It smelled soooooo good you guys, I swear!

For the icing I borrowed my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and tweaked it just a hair. Here it is…

For the icing:

1/4 non-hydrogenated margarine, softened

1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp Jalapeach preserves

Cream margarine and cream cheese til light and fluffy then stir in powdered sugar and preserves and mix the crap outta that frosting! I omitted the vanilla from the original recipe and tossed in a spoonful of the Jalapeach because I’m crazy like that , I guess.

I then decided that I had to taste one in order for this to be complete. My assessment: delicious! I’m not just making that up either. I’m not a “call it yummy when it’s nasty” kind of girl. They were a little…different, don’t get me wrong. The jalapeno flavor was not at all overwhelming, which was fine with me. The frosting was fantastic and the sweet glaze went perfectly with the almost-savory muffin. The peaches were bursting with juicy flavor, also. All in all, I think I did a good job on this one.

So, if I win here are the killer prizes the Milwaukee Cupcake Queen will send me: an original piece of artwork by Cakespy, a sweet apron from Jessie Steele, the one and only awesome cupcake courier, and Taste of Home books. Nice! Oh, and here’s a shout out to our other corporate sponsors, Fiesta Products and Hello, Cupcake!

I had a recurring fantasy all week long that goes something like this: Dave Grohl is in town for the Harley celebration. He reads something about the challenge and offers to be a guest judge. He picks my treat as the winner and while my husband is at work decides to hand deliver the prizes to my front door wearing nothing but a leopard thong. Okay, the thong part is gross, I’ll admit it. Dudes who wear thongs are pretty gay, but still. If you know anything about me, you know that the Foo Fighters are my favorite band and I’m disgustingly in love with Davey. Our daughters are only 6 months apart in age and do you KNOW how close I came to naming her Violet? Anyways…

I hope I win. Until then, I’m going to sit here and dream of you-know-who while eating the remaining ten Jalapeach crumble muffins with cream cheese icing…

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Affordable Veganism

First off, my husband has been hard at work making this giant Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba. I wish I could get him to put that much of himself into dishes or laundry, but oh well. A giant robot is the next best thing, right? On to the food…

I’m going to warn you up front that this is a loooooong winded blog but I think you’ll find the info interesting if you stick around to read it all.

I have been working on a feature for this blog titled- you guessed it- affordable veganism. My point is to simply let others know that you do NOT have to spend two hundred dollars a week at your local health food store in order to make this lifestyle choice.

Your first purchase as a vegan will undoubtedly be about four or five cookbooks, like mine was. I have some that I can suggest, but I would also like to suggest others that I do not have, but have researched and my sources tell me they are fabulous. Vegan Planet is awesome and has recipes for stuff like tofu sour cream and little things that you don’t want to have to spend all your money on. Veganomicon is kind of like the bible in that I reference it about 9 times a day and I am always quoting it. It has a few casseroles and one pot dishes that you can switch up a bit to suit your tastes, and they aren’t horribly expensive to make. Eat, Drink and Be Vegan is good, but some of the recipes can get a little pricey or weird. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World is great for sweet treats but you’re going to have to buy things like non-hydrogentated shortening and vegan margarine to make the frostings. The good news is, you only need a quarter cup of each so they will last you a while, but sticker shock may keep you away from them. Don’t let it. Oh, and Smart Balance makes a vegan margarine that is sold at your local chain. Good times!!!

Ah, unfrosted poptarts. The lazy vegan’s best friend for about a month until you get sick of the same three flavors.They are always on sale at my Jewel for like five dollars for three boxes.

My Jewel also carries it’s own line of organic crap so yay me. This soy milk pictured was $2.50 per half gallon. It sounds like a lot when cow’s milk is three bucks for a whole gallon but whatever. It’s cheaper than Silk. Also, this oatmeal (vegan) pictured is two for three dollars right now, so stock up.

I would go on Amazon.com for your cook books. While normally I would suggest giving your money to the authors of these books, we are doing this on a budget, right? And the point is to not exploit, harm, or kill any living being because of the food we eat so we’re not going to worry too much about lining the authors pockets at this point. Although, I guess technically they are living beings as well, but let’s not go there right now. However, if you can afford it, go right ahead. You only make it possible for them to write more wonderful cook books in the future so it is definitely good karma, or feng shui, or whatever.

In the front of most of these books is a “pantry” section where they tell you what you should always keep on hand. Some of the staples include coconut milk, canned pumpkin, etc as well as things you’ll REALLY need like canned tomatoes, beans, pasta, etc. I’m here to tell you scrap the coconut milk and canned pumpkin for now.

One of the cheapest, easiest things I make at least four nights a week is simply this- pasta, veggies, and beans. If tofu was on sale that week, i toss it in there, too. Of course, make sure your pasta is vegan, some of them use eggs. Go to your produce section and buy whatever is on sale this week- zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, escarole, tomatoes, eggplant (although, this can be a little tricky to cook with if you aren’t experienced in cooking), broccoli, carrots, green beans, etc. You can even be super cheap and go to the freezer section and buy frozen. It doesn’t really matter. This also works when certain things are not in season.

Next, go to your canned goods aisle and buy canned, chopped tomatoes. They come in all flavors now including olive oil with oregano, basil, garlic, and/or parsley, so half the work is done for you. Then you scootch down a few feet and pick out cannellini beans or garbanzos or navies and presto. Dinner is done for a couple days. This makes a huge pot of goodies. This picture above is of some spices and herbs that my Jewel carries for a dollar a bottle. They taste just as good as McCormick only without the price that makes you feel like your being violated in some way. Only thing is, it’s back by the dog food. I know, right?? And this giant bottle of pre-chopped garlic was like five bucks when i bought it a few months back. When I’m cooking for other people, I use the real peel and chop stuff, but when it’s just us…there you go. Anthony Bourdain says if you are too cheap and lazy to buy and chop your own garlic then you don’t deserve to eat it, but I disagree. I still love him, though.

Last week at my local Jewel, this hummus was buy one get one free. I bought a box of wheat thins (also on sale AND vegan) and baby carrots and my snack time was taken care of. This seasoned tofu was BOGO, too. The Italian stuff I’m using for tonight’s pasta dish. The Asian stuff went for yesterdays lunch with broccoli and carrots and white rice.

It’s all about looking through your paper and finding what’s on sale and making it work for you. Pre-sliced apples were buy one get one free also. I would never buy those things otherwise.

Each one of the canned goods I have pictured was right around a dollar. I am somewhat health conscious so I make sure my kids and I all get our veggies in, as well as our fruits, and mass amounts of protein in bean form, usually.

I do recommend picking out one or two of the meals from one of your books so that you can keep your family NOT bored with your food. I could eat the pasta stuff all year long with all the different combos of veggies and beans and it wouldn’t bother me. My kids, however, are a little more fickle. They get that from their dad.

This stuff is leek and bean cassolet with biscuits from Veganomicon. Next we have matzo ball soup from Vegan With a Vengeance. Tasty, but a pain in the ass to make. Then we have cholent, also from Veganomicon. My kids loved this stuff!!!

Next week, I’m going to make something a little more pricey. It has sun dried tomatoes, brussel sprouts, and some other stuff. Oh, and seitan, which i made myself last week and ate with my pasta but discovered that having a gluten intolerance means that eating

something made from gluten is a bad idea. Duh. Eating the pasta is bad enough but that only gives me minimal amounts of pain and torture. So, I’m going to use tempeh from now on.

And here’s one last picture of my little peanut. You know, doctors do everything they can in the emergency room to save lives so that they can say just that- “We did everything we could possibly do.” I don’t have much of a chance to make a difference in the world so I’m going to do it in a way so that I can say to my children some day, “I did everything I could possibly do.”

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Superb cupcakes and supreme casserole!

I am really getting into this whole mostly-vegan thing. And now that my husband and daughter have offered to be my taste testers for my dessert business, i can really go for it, with an exception here or there, of course.

I can’t help but wonder- am I a bad almost-vegan if i decide not to go completely militant and stop purchasing all the things that keep dairy farms in business? This is something that is probably going to keep me awake at night. Time to renew that scripp for Ambien! How far should i take this whole thing? I want to do more than just consume, which i feel most of this country does, but I don’t know how to go about really making a mark that people will notice. Hopefully it comes to me in a dream, because I’m not getting any inspiration while fully lucid. I think one of the points is that we stop purchasing from places who are the main source of injury to animals and I’m all about that.

Anyway, on to the food! I made the most wonderful casserole called “leek and bean cassolet with biscuits” or something like that, I’m too tired to go look. It was awesome! I loved it! the only thing I will do different next time is only one cup of leeks instead of two, and then i will add zucchini into the first sautee portion of the cooking process. I love zucchini. Leeks, not so much. They weren’t horrible, i just like other veggies more than them. Sorry leeks! We can still be friends, though, right? Aww…don’t be mad. Oh, and the biscuits were a little doughy, but I didn’t mind it at all. They were still biscuits and even though my tummy hurt later because they were made with flour, I’ll have to experiment with different flours for biscuits because i can’t stand running into the bathroom like a three year old yelling “outta my way! I gotta drop a bomb!”

These were the best cupcakes ever. I made them from the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. They are the banana ones. I had to sub out the rice milk for soy, so i just did what they did in every other recipe that called for soy milk, i let it curdle with a little bit of cider vinegar. Still amazing!!! I topped them with the fabulous peanut butter buttercream. Peanut butter and banana!! Do you love it? Well, screw you then! I love it, i guess that’s all that REALLY matters. I would post the recipe here, but I’m pretty sure these ladies who wrote the book would like you to purchase it. Although, they are pretty punk rock, so maybe they’re all about sticking it to the man. Who knows, really. You should buy the book anyway, it’s like a dollar on Amazon and way worth it. Or, you could just write me and I’ll send you the damn recipe, cheapo.

Oh, i also made some chocolate soy milk ice cream in my new ice cream maker.Not the creamiest stuff ever, but passable, and it made me happy that there was no cholesterol in it, and a giant tub of it has 16 grams of fat as opposed to the 16 grams of fat in one quarter of a cup of dairy ice cream. I just really need to experiment with flavors because it was kind of boring. And rock fricking hard.

I originally went to the store looking for the ice cream maker attachment that goes with my Kitchen-aid but apparently i need a 6 quart, and mines only a 5 quart. Tear…. So i got my next in line, the Cuisinart!! I read the reviews about everything i buy which keeps me from a buying a lot more stuff that what i already do, just so you know. It’s a nice little machine, i highly recommend it.

Until next time…viva la vegan!

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Adventures in Vegan Cooking! And other stuff!

So much to post about today and i think i will start with this hilarious cross-stitch i got from a gal named City in New Zealand. Yes, that’s me in the picture. Ain’t i cute? Her site is on my blogroll where it says ‘city the nz cupcake queen.’ I think it should also say “city the nz cross-stitch queen’ cuz this thing is awesome. I have already pissed off my husband by not just owning it, but proudly displaying it in my kitchen where his uber-religious family members can see it. His brother-who is in a locally popular screaming hardcore band- says to me, “What kind of crowd are you running with these days? Geez…” I reply with “the usual. But it’s funny right? Cuz I’m a suburban housefrau but i worship satan. Come on, that’s funny, dammit!” Well, i think so.

City also features knuckle tattoo cross-stitches that read ‘cupcake’ and star wars.’ Cupcakes rule! Star wars, well, i guess thats an acquired taste but anyway. She sells her stuff on Etsy, which is where i picked mine up. you can go here to look at her shit.

Next, as i have said in my previous post, i am going mostly vegan. Why not all the way? Because I have to taste frostings and stuff, made with butter and a tiny bit of cream, to make sure they don’t taste like poo before someone pays money to eat them. When my hubby is home, he is usually my guinea pig but since he works nights, and a lot of my baking gets done at night, what do i do? I call myself vegetarian with a serious bend towards the darker side.

I went to our local health food store and holy mother of god are they expensive. But i want to support local business so i do it anyway. Plus, the place is owned by two of the coolest broads ever, and quite militant about eating vegan. Usually that turns me the hell away from vegans (and another reason why i hesitate to call myself that) but she says it with a smile and that just makes it all better.

I stocked up on some of the stuff i need to get a good start (oh, how i wish the whole foods wasn’t an hour away, sniff) but i have to go back for other stuff. My pal Kristen wants me to experiment with gluten-free crap so i’m going to buy about four different kinds of flour, probably to the tune of about $30. That’s okay though. When i open Joliet’s first cupcake shop/bulk spice store, i want to know what the hell i’m doing, you know?

Forgot to mention- this was my lunch for the past few days. I roasted some asparagus by rolling it in about a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and throwing it in the over at 400 for 15 minutes. When those tips turn black, you’re done. then i did about the same thing to the cauliflower, only i added garlic and oregano. It took about half an hour. Again, when some of the tips turned black, i took it out. i let it cool and then tossed it into the food processor until it was a coarse meal. Frigging awesome! Heaven (if i believed in it) on a platter!!! This is actually quite economical, too. All you need is a head of cauliflower and a bundle of asparagus. Next, i made some delicious pan fried tempeh to go with it. Just slice into strips, put it in a pan with veggie broth, cook until the broth goes away and it starts to get more browned, then put in some tamari(or soy sauce, whatever, really) and liquid smoke. i ate this for lunch for four days!

A super healthy meal and completely cruelty free. Unless you count the smell that’s all up in my house and my husband saying stuff like “making me smell that crap is mean.” He doesn’t count though, right? I’m only supposed to be nice to animals? ok, cool.

So my next experiment was with Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. the babes who wrote this book have an amazing blog that you can view here. I made the chocolate ones and i didn’t even bother making frosting. Seriously- they did not last that long in my house. they were loved by all. I think i may use this recipe for all my chocolate cupcakes in the future. the were the most moist, most flavorful, and garnered me the most compliments, which is really what i’m after.

As you can see i used my silicon baking cups for these. When I’m baking for my family, why waste paper? They are a pain in the arse to clean up, so spray a little no-stick in there to help you out. Although they will still be hard to clean. So whats worse? Wasting paper or wasting water? I have no idea anymore. Sigh…

I also made these fabulous vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, vegan of course. you know, it’s times like this when i think that vanilla might be the new chocolate.

Yes, i did use a bunch of different liners for these, i know. I had a few of each different ones left over. A couple from easter, a couple from valentines day. What’s a girl to do? Who cares, just use the damn things. All people really want is what’s on the inside.

I brought these to my usual sunday night hang out when i don’t have to go bring jerkoffs food at the restaurant i work at. I wait anxiously until the baby is in bed and the teenagers are out of the shower and ready for bed. Then i get the hell outta there for some much needed adult time. The gang and i usually hang out at Britt’s house and watch Family Guy reruns.( ps- i hate the everloving crap outta that show but because i want out of my house so bad, i watch it, pretend to get it, then fake laugh.) Anyways, my friends wolfed these suckers down like they were never going to eat again. When i said, “They’re vegan!” only one person knew what that meant. Wow. Why do i hang out with these people again? They don’t even like chocolate. I know! I think it’s mostly for geographical convenience. Just kidding.

<—-Anyways, buy this book, you will NOT regret it. I’m still working on my Veganomicon, picking out recipes, buying ingredients. Oh hey, no one told me this, but seitan is apparently made from the very stuff that makes my insides feel like a mosh pit. Gluten! Argh! (ha! i went all pirate on ya!) I do indeed still eat the cupcakes that i make with flour, yes. I will pay for it all night with frequent trips to bathroom and a can of Febreze air effects close by, but sometimes, it’s worth it.

YOU try being a vegan with a wheat intolerance! It blows big time! Luckily, i love love love tempeh. Still trying to figure out baking tofu, also. Wish me luck! More to come kids, enjoy!!

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Just Desserts going vegan?

Nah…but I am going to dabble. Okay, here’s the deal.

Over a year ago my daughter decided she was done eating things that were once alive. She was surfing the web one day and came across the infamous PETA video of minks being skinned alive so that J-Lo may wear their precious fur. She was inconsolable. She said it made her feel guilty, and honestly, like she wanted to throw up all the meat she ever ate in her life. I supported her and tried to make things that i could easily set aside a portion of before i threw the meat into. You know, spaghetti, stir fry, that type of thing. I ended up buying her pre-made vegetarian stuff that while tasty, was not nearly as healthy as it should have been. She informed me that she wanted to do it the healthy way so i told her to go look at my cookbooks, since i have an arsenal of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks from my days as a person who once gave a crap about the environment.

That was so long ago, almost 8 years since i gave it up. Like all new vegetarians, i armed myself with the PETA starter kit-complete with stickers and a list of things that would be different if people would stop eating meat- and a brand new attitude about the sanctity of life. I was ready to be a good vegetarian, to have a plant-based, peace loving life.

I was shot down by about every single stinking person i came into contact with. I got laughed at, called names, had burger patties thrown at me. Yes, these were actual adults stooping to this level of childishness. I worked in a restaurant and no one there had any patience for a person like me. I was basically against everything they stood for, i suppose. I started to question the aforementioned sanctity of life thinking, “if i shanked one of these jagoffs, would anyone notice? Really?”

Anyhow, I was a vegetarian for quite a few years. I went vegan for about 8 months but I became skeletal because of my work schedule as well as my finances. I was too busy to make things and too broke to buy things pre-made. There was just nothing i could eat so i started eating cheese again and after about a month’s worth of shakes from Steak and Shake, i gained all my lovely weight back. Hooray!

I then met my now husband. He thought it was ‘cute’ that i didn’t eat meat so he tried to have meatless frozen dinners for when i would come to visit. Mmmm. Yummy. Not! When we moved in together, we settled into those sickeningly domestic roles of “I’ll cook and clean, you mow and take out the garbage.” It got too difficult to make two separate meals so i gave in and started eating flesh again. Fast forward almost 8 years and I’m ready to make my move against meat.

As you may have read in an earlier post, my hubby and i started the Nutri-system diet and i have chosen the vegetarian option as a precursor. I have many reasons for doing this. One of them is that my toddler won’t touch meat no matter how i cook it. She chews it, then spits it out. Another reason is my middle child pretty much goes with the flow and as long as there’s food, she’ll eat it. Myself, well, I’ve always been lactose intolerant so cheese hurts, as does a milkshake. I’m wheat intolerant, too, but that one i’ll deal with accordingly. I think the main reason is that whole environmental thing. Going green. You can’t avoid it anymore. Even celebrities are like “i like meat and all, but if it helps get Obama elected, I’ll stop” or whatever lame reasoning those creeps have. I don’t even care anymore, as long as people start doing something. Anything, really. I even called my garbage company and asked for two more recycle bins because i know i can throw more stuff in there and NOT in the local landfill.

I’m listening to my beautiful, wonderful Edward Norton narrate and host a program on channel eleven that i am DVRing to watch later. He’s talking about our country going to shit. Depressing. He said “it’s not enough to do just one thing anymore, we have to do more, but if only one thing is what you’re willing to do, then stop with those little plastic grocery bags. Many countries have banned them already. Why not us, also?” I love him.

Vegan is definitely the ultimate goal, or at least mostly vegan so i bought an arsenal of books online tonight, all of which i have posted in my blog for you to look at and then go purchase for yourselves.

Here’s a link to cupcakes made by my friend Natalie. They are vegan cookies and creme and i think she did a nice looking job, don’t you? you should tell her so. Chicks love compliments. And presents.

Vegan Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

So this will conclude my post on hopefully going vegan. My only issue will be dealing with all the extra gas from all those delicious veggies. I’m gonna have to buy up some stock in beano. Ahem.



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