Vegan Blogger Potluck

This past Saturday Shawn and I were invited to a Los Angeles vegan blogger potluck organized by Your Vegan Mom and Hugger Food. Although I’d been to a number of the blogs present, I hadn’t met any of the bloggers in real life. It made me quite nervous to make food for a bunch of strangers, let alone a group of vegans who write about food on the internet!I decided to make mini-paninis filled with portobellos, spinach and white bean spread. I sauteed the portobellos in wine and olive oil with a sprig of fresh rosemary for about half an hour till they were soft.
The white bean spread was a bit of an experiment. I looked over some recipes but didn’t really bother to follow any of them. I also didn’t bother to write down what I actually did but here’s the basic idea.

1 can white beans, drained
4 large cloves of roasted garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until fairly smooth.

To assemble the paninis:

Cut a baguette style loaf of french bread into 1/2 inch slices. Spread one half of each panini with vegenaise and the other with the white bean spread. Put the sauteed mushrooms and spinach on one half of the bread and then the other half on top. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and follow the directions for your panini maker. You could also toast these and I’m sure they would come out quite well.

The potluck was really quite fun. Everyone was super nice and it was great to hear the scoop about different vegan places around town. More importantly, the food was great. It’s not often that you get to go to a party and just enjoy all the food.

Before I ate anything, I got to enjoy some lovely pear and ginger cocktails crafted by Your Vegan Mom. They were a touch sweet but definitely not sugary, which I believe is ideal for a fruit based cocktail. Yum!

Foodeater of To Live and Eat in LA brought some Thai appetizers made fresh. Some of the descriptions of these were quite comical, but everyone seemed to love them. I had some of one of the rice rolls filled with banana and beans which was delicious.

I made a small sampling plate of some of the dippable fare. Here you can see the potato-parsnip latkes with applesauce from Hugger Food, pate with toast from Liz at Yo Soy, vegan Doritos with spinach dip from Quarrygirl and baked ravioli with marinara from Lex at Vegan-LA.

Jenn from Veganize It, Don’t Criticize It made a brisket that was really rather good as well. She of course also brought some of her notorious twinkies filled with jelly.

Kevin from the The Vegan Collection brought cinnamon rolls. I’ve been dying to make some for a couple of weeks now, but haven’t had the time so I was quite pleased to have these. There were even more delicious desserts, such as Quarrygirl’s chocolate chip cheesecake and Hugger Food’s twice spiced ginger cookies.
I really had such a great time going this event and cannot wait till there is another. It was so nice to meet everyone and munch on all the treats.
It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks with the holidays coming up so this may be the last post for awhile (hopefully not the last of the year). I have a number of projects in the works but they’ll have to wait to be revealed as they will ruin some gift surprises. Till then…

Sick Day

We make a lot of pizza here. Generally speaking, we buy dough from Trader Joe’s as it’s delicious and easy to work with. While Shawn is a veteran pizza maker, I’ve never made dough myself. A new test for my mixer and it’s dough hook!

Making the dough was super easy even though I was impatient to let it rise. It ended up being just a touch larger than our pizza stone so I had a little extra to play with. Just enough for one breadstick. I seasoned it with basil, nutritional yeast and garlic powder and put it in with the pizza.

The pizza turned out a touch crispier than the usual pizzas. It was so easy and relatively quick I definitely foresee more homemade crusts in the future.

I also finished the never ending hat project today. A few months ago I got some great organic cotton yarn to make a hat for Shawn. See, he only wears orange hats. I set out to make a hat with a simple cable stitch. It turned out to be too big. So I tried to make a simpler double knit hat that would be more like one he already had. Without a pattern though, this was a much more difficult task than I anticipated. The version you see above is the fifth incarnation of the hat. Finally it turned out right!

Thanksgiving and more

This Thanksgiving was all about stuffing. Shawn and I made probably about 20 servings worth of stuffing which has lasted us for days. We both spent the whole day in the kitchen with our various projects. Despite the potato peel disaster of 2008 everything turned out really well.Instead of Tofurky, I made a version of the Seitan Roulade from Vegan Yum Yum. I filled it with apple cranberry stuffing (more stuffing!) that made it taste even better a day later. The fruit flavors seeped into the seitan after being refrigerated. Although it probably would have been prettier cut into smaller pieces, it was kind of fun to eat “caterpillars” for Thanksgiving.

Shawn made a monster batch of mashed potatoes that further tested the abilities of the new mixer. Of course they turned out smooth and delicious. I also made my first apple pie. I made the crust from scratch, which was slightly terrifying. Unfortunately I decided to bake it in our small oven (yes we have two) and ended up with a slightly burnt top crust. It still tasted really good, the filling was the perfect consistency and sweetness, and the bottom crust was not bad at all, but it wasn’t quite photo material. I can’t wait to try another.


I also got a new cupcake courier, and a good deal on it no less. I love this thing. I previously had a smaller carrier that carried 24 cupcakes but was always irritated that half the holders were too shallow and the other half were too deep. The new one holds 36 cupcakes securely for travel. It’s great. So here it is on it’s first delivery filled with red velvet, pumpkin spice and vanilla/chocolate cupcakes (from the top).

Hope everyone else had a great turkey-free Thanksgiving.

peanut butter cups

photo by Shawn Bannon

While I’ve mastered many vegan goodies, there are a lot of candies that I miss. It wasn’t until I made these peanut butter cups and a batch of peppermint patties did I remember what I’d been missing. It had been over three years since I had either and man were they delicious. I would say for sure that the peanut butter cups were even better than the non-vegan kind. With dark chocolate and rich flavored peanut butter that melted in your mouth. Absolutely amazing. They were extremely easy and fun to make as well. I particularly enjoyed painting the insides of the mini-cupcake cups with chocolate. I had to wait patiently for the picture, as it was taken on film but turned out as good as the treats themselves. Can’t wait to make more.

Happy 25!


So if you hadn’t guessed already. My (not-so) little surprise is a stand mixer! I’m ecstatic! I finally decided it was time to just fork over the money for it and get the one I really wanted. It’s a great addition to the kitchen and I know it will be great to make larger batches of things which I hope will be in my future.

My first baking experiment was my own birthday cake. A lot of people thought it was against the rules for me to make my own cake but I couldn’t think of anywhere that I could get a better cake. We broke in the mixer with mashed potatoes but this was the first dessert to get made.

I also treated myself to some new cake pans and a cake stand. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve made a cake, let alone a double layer one, so it was definitely a learning experience. With cupcakes, if one turns out funny there are still 11 good ones. With a cake you just have one chance. Mainly I learned the correct proportions of frosting and such that I’ll need for the next cake I make.
The plan was a double layer vanilla cake with vanilla frosting in the middle and a chocolate ganache icing. I used to have a really good recipe for vanilla cake but apparently lost it so had to do a bit of improvising. Ultimately everything turned out really well but did cause me a bit of distress in the making.
I made quite a chocolate mess covering it but I new it would taste great even if it wasn’t the prettiest cake ever. Still need a couple more decorating tools, but mainly practice. It really did turn out delicious though. Shawn says it tasted like a giant gourmet hostess cake. Yum!

In the end it was almost all gobbled up by the end of the night with only one lonely piece left. I had a great birthday, absolutely the best yet!