Sunday, September 9, 2012

Strawberry Ladybugs! Great for Valentines

Brace yourself for the post with the most pictures eva'! It will hog up all your bandwidth! It will break the interwebs! The planet will implode! Took it too far?

Love Bugs!

The Strawberry Love Bugs are back! Remember the ones I made in 2009? These are pretty much the same, except that I printed out their little signs instead of making them by hand.

Which one are you teaming up with?

Which one are you teaming up with for Vegantine's Day? I *heart* You or Love Stinks? If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you probably know that I always like to throw in a Mr. Grumpy Pants along with the happy faces, you know, for balance. Wanna make some? First you're going to need to wash and pat dry about a pound of strawberries...

Mmmm... strawberries

Then you're going to need about two ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips. I melt mine in the microwave at half power, stirring every 45 seconds. If you're a proper double-boiler person, then go for it. Dip the tips of the strawberries in the melted chocolate...


I use bamboo picks to dip them, but you can use regular toothpicks too. Place the strawberries upside down inside a small ramekin or other fairly shallow container...

Letting the chocolate set

A bouquet of bugs-to-be!
Purdy strawberry bouquets!

Refrigerate the strawberries while you make the antennae. The antennae are totally optional, and I'm not going to lie to you, they can be a pain in the gluteus maximus. If you want to make them, check if your melted chocolate needs a few more seconds in the microwave to soften it up. Mine did. Then transfer it to a small ziploc and cut a small tip off one of the corners. You can print out my antennae pattern if you would like to use it, then tape it to a chopping board and tape a piece of wax paper on top of the pattern paper. When you're ready, use your chocolate-loaded ziploc bag to trace the little swirly antennae. If you have no idea how to do that, check out my chocolate spider-legs video that might paint a clearer picture.

Making antennae

Place the chopping board in the freezer and let's make some buggy dots! Use the same ziploc to drop little dots all over the tops of the strawberries, except for the heads, of course.


This next step is also optional, but I like to flatten the chocolate dots with a hot (dry!) knife.

Hot knife

Totally optional, and maybe even unnecessary. But I like them better flat...

Flattened dots

Now it's time to draw some eyes and mouth on'em. I used melted vegan white chocolate chips, but you can also make them with a very stiff powdered sugar and water icing. Use another ziploc to pipe the melted chocolate/sugar icing and draw their little faces. Mr. Grumpy Pants needs a pair of grumpy eyebrows.

Eyes and mouths - white chocolate

Now pipe a little drop of the semi-sweet chocolate in the center (or not!) of each eye. Or you can dip a toothpick into the melted chocolate and then "poke" the center of each eye. Also, this would be a good time to attach the antennae. Use a generous drop of melted chocolate as glue, on top of their heads, and then quickly attach the antennae. If your hands are too hot and the antennae melt in your hands, you can always use some kitchen-only tweezers to grab them.

Eyes - chocolate dots

Now they need their signs! You can make your own or you can print mine out if you want. I *heart* You signs are here, and Love Stinks signs are here. Your choice! Just cut out the signs and tape a toothpick to the back of each sign.


Insert the signs to the top/back of each Love Bug and you're done!

All signed up

At this point I realized that the leaves were looking a little dry and ugleh, so I trimmed them...

An army of Love Bugs! Ruuuunnnn!

The bunny hop? The buggy hop?
A nice little row of bugs, coming to steal your heart!

I *heart* U on a cupcake! :)
They also make cute cupcake toppers!

Love Stinks on a cupcake!
Even Mr. Grumpy Pants!
For more great ideas click here

Vegan Jack O Squash

Vegan Jack-o-Squash Recipe
Halloween is almost here and it's time to get our creepy on! My favorite way to celebrate the spooky season is with lots of themed foods. Desserts are easy to figure out, especially with all the candy that comes along with Halloween, but there's no reason why savory foods can't be as fun as the sweet goodies! These easy to carve and very festive Jack-O'-Lantern acorn squashes are filled with nutritious quinoa and a hint of eeevil!
Quinoa Stuffed Mini Jack-O'-Lanterns or Halloweegan Peppers

Prepare the squashes:
  • 2 gold acorn squashes
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
If you're going to bake them in a conventional oven, preheat it to 375ºF.

Slice off the bottom tip of the squashes to create a flat base. Cut off the tops and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Save the tops for later!

Use a pencil to draw the faces on the squashes, and use a small serrated knife to carve out the faces. Luckily, carving a small acorn squash is easier than carving a big pumpkin!

Brush a little olive oil all over the inside of the squashes and lightly sprinkle them with salt and black pepper. At this point you can choose to bake them in a conventional oven for an hour or until soft, or you can cook them in the microwave like I did. Place the squashes in a microwave safe bowl, add about 1/2 cup of water and microwave for 5 to 8 minutes or until soft.

In the meantime, make the quinoa stuffing:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about five minutes or until soft. Stir in the mushrooms and saute two more minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute for just about 30 seconds.

Add the parsley salt, black pepper, quinoa, and vegetable broth. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft and fluffy. If the quinoa is still crunchy you can add more broth and simmer it for a few more minutes.

Spoon the quinoa stuffing into the acorn squashes and cover them with the reserved squash tops. Reheat the finished dish, if necessary, and serve.

For Tiny Appetites: You can make those mini pumpkins instead of the bigger acorn squashes. You can stuff 6 to 8 mini pumpkins with this recipe, depending on their size.

Halloweegan Peppers: You can also stuff a carved orange bell pepper. Carve, stuff, and bake in a covered casserole dish at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes.
Vegan Jack-o-Squash Recipe
Yields 2 servings

For more awesome Vegan here!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tortilla Crisps

Our 4-ingredient recipe for crunchy Tortilla Crisps will make you a hero to your kids. It's okay if you snack on them too...'cause they're a bit healthier and beat any bagged snack by a mile!     
What You'll Need:
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. In a shallow dish, combine sugar and cinnamon; mix well and set aside.
  3. Place 2 tortillas on a cutting board and use your favorite cookie cutter shapes to cut shapes from the tortillas. Spray both sides of the tortilla pieces with cooking spray and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Place on prepared baking sheets.
  4. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Allow to cool then store in an airtight container.
  • Applesauce makes a great "dip" for these chips!

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

Your Halloween party is sure to shape up to be the talk of the neighborhood when you serve our adorable Pumpkin Cheese Ball to your ghoulish guests. This pumpkin-shaped party appetizer will have everyone wanting to "haunt" you down for your recipe.

Serves: 10
Chilling Time: 20 min
What You'll Need:
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely crushed cheese-flavored crackers
  • 2 gherkin pickles, for garnish
  1. In a medium bowl, combine Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, dry mustard, pepper sauce, and scallions; mix until well combined. Cover and chill for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Form cheese mixture into the shape of a pumpkin. Place cracker crumbs in a shallow dish. Roll cheese ball in crumbs, covering entire surface. Place on serving plate.
  3. Place one pickle on top to form pumpkin stem. Slice remaining pickle to decorate face (see photo). Serve immediately, or cover and chill.
Serve with your favorite crackers or thin slices of French bread.

Onion Strings

This crunchy 5-ingredient recipe for easy homemade Onion Strings will make you feel like a restaurant chef. Whether you make 'em for tasty nibbling or as a main dish topper, they're always a hit.

Serves: 3
Cooking Time:7 min
What You'll Need:
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  1. Separate onion slices into rings.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper; mix well.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Place onion rings in flour; coat well then carefully place in hot oil.
  4. Fry onions 6 to 8 minutes, until golden. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate, and serve immediately.
These Onion Strings are yummy as is, but you can sprinkle them with salt before serving, if you'd like.

Homemade Philly Soft Pretzels

Bake up a batch of your very own Soft Pretzels, just like the ones street vendors in Philadelphia and other big cities sell! Put out some mustard for dipping and enjoy the tasty experience!

Serves: 4
Baking Time:15 min
What You'll Need:
  • 1 pound frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon (coarse) salt (see Note)
  1. Coat 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cut dough into four equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 24-inch rope; form into a pretzel shape and place on baking sheets.
  3. In a small bowl, beat together egg white and water; brush over top of each pretzel. Sprinkle evenly with kosher salt. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Remove plastic wrap and bake pretzels 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.
For a little variety, top these with minced onion or garlic salt instead of coarse salt.

DID YOU KNOW…that more than half of the 400 million pounds of pretzels made annually in the United States are produced in Pennsylvania?

Fruit Roll Sushi

East meets West when Mr. Food takes armchair travelers to the Far East, where sushi reigns! His fun-filled kid-friendly dessert sushi will please the youngster and the young at heart!

Serves: 30
Preparation Time:10 min
What You'll Need:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 marshmallows
  • 2 cups crispy toasted rice cereal
  • 4 (4-1/2-inch) square fruit roll-ups (1/2 ounce each)
  • 6 assorted licorice or fruit twist sticks, cut in half crosswise
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in cereal until completely coated.
  2. On a flat surface, unroll fruit roll-ups. Spread equal amounts of cereal mixture over each roll-up, covering entire surface and packing mixture flat.
  3. Place 3 different-colored licorice or fruit twists in center of each and roll tightly into a log, sealing where edges meet. Squeeze rolls gently to secure. Trim ends and slice with a serrated knife into 1/2-inch pieces. Serve, or store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Tip: To give your snacks the most variety and color, use different-colored and -flavored fruit roll-ups and licorice or fruit twist sticks. And if you can't find different-colored licorice, you can even use gummy worms.