7th Annual Halloween Movie Marathon & S’mores bars

s'mores-1I may get my blogging credentials* revoked as I did not take any photos during this year’s Halloween Movie Marathon. It was year seven and we switched it up a little by starting the fest in the morning rather than at night. Since the marathon has been officially running for 24 hours for the past few years, we thought this would make it less about endurance and more about just having a fun time. We also stuck to mostly classic films and included some that were not as scary. It was a great time.

I made the usual treats: caramel popcorn, sugar cookies and spinach artichoke dip. Shawn set up a hot dog bar as always. We kicked things off with fresh bagels and cream cheese for the morning crowd. There was late night cashew mac and cheese. At one point, our friend, Scott, showed up with two seitan meats jesus pizzas from Pizzanista. There was so much food we couldn’t eat it all. I had made jackfruit carnitas for burritos but we never got to making them. There were secret donuts that we were all too stuffed to eat.

The one specialty thing I made on a whim were mini s’mores bars. Someone asked that I post the recipe so I will do my best, considering I just winged the whole thing. They were awesome though and really easy. For me, the perfect candy treat. Recipe below!

And of course, for posterity, our playlist for this event:

1. The Worst Witch
2. The Wicker Man
3. Psycho
4. Blue Velvet
5. An American Werewolf in London
6. The Lost Boys
7. Rosemary’s Baby
8. The Orphanage
9. The Quiet Ones
10. Poltergeist
11. The Exorcist
12. The Brood
13. Halloween

Mini S’mores Bars

1 bag vegan chocolate chips
about 1/2 cup Dandies mini marshmallows
5 or 6 Speculoos cookies
chocolate mold – I used a chocolate cup mold, but you could probably just spoon these onto aluminum foil and be ok

Break up the speculoos cookies into small pieces and crumbs, making sure they’re small enough to fit into your mold, but not all powder. If you can’t find the Dandies minis, you can cut up some larger mallows into pieces. They’ll get really sticky, so rolling them in powdered sugar will make them easier to handle.

Melt most of the chocolate chips in a double boiler on medium low heat (or in a bowl over a pot if you don’t have a double boiler like me), setting a small amount aside for tempering. Once the chips have melted, remove from heat and stir in the remaining chips until they are also melted.

Mix in your marshmallows and cookies. Measurements above are approximate so you might want to do this a little at a time so that there the mixture is still sort of drippy and mostly chocolate. Spoon the chocolate into your mold and let cool in the fridge for 1/2 an hour to an hour. Pop out of the mold and store in a cool place, or refrigerate. Try not to eat them all at once, even though you’ll probably want to.

*as if there were such a ridiculous thing

farm sanctuary

farm sanctuary 8farm sanctuary 1farm sanctuary 2farm sanctuary 3farm sanctuary 12farm sanctuary 10farm sanctuary 4farm sanctuary 7farm sanctuary 6farm sanctuary 5A few weeks ago we headed up to Farm Sanctuary Animal Acres to hang out with some of the rescued farm animals there. It was cool to give belly rubs to some enormous pigs and pet some massive cows. All the animals were super friendly. One of the goats just wanted to follow me around. I seriously love goats. There was baby lamb that had just come to the rescue who was just getting used to people and the other animals. She was very curious and bahhed at all the visitors. I could probably spend all day with these animals given the chance. I was glad to hear many of the animals stories of how they came to the rescue even though they were often sad. It’s crazy to think that the animals they have are only just a tiny fraction of the animals that are tortured and slaughtered every day in factory farms. I’m glad there are organizations like Farm Sanctuary that are doing something to help these animals that are thought of merely commodities rather than living beings.

gingerbread houses and people

gingerbread house 227It’s almost time for winter vacation! Having finished all my holiday gifts and shopping already, we found ourselves with a spectacularly unplanned weekend. We invited some friends over for gingerbread decorating and a little bit of celebrating the winter solstice.

gingerbread house 228I’m always a fan of cookie making, especially in the cold winter months. (Perhaps it’s time I revisited some of my cookie recipes from years past.) For these gingerbread people I used the recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Shawn made some awesome monster gingerbread people. There were also some more unsavory characters.

gingerbread house 230It was my first time constructing a gingerbread house and it was a little lopsided. I spent awhile holding the roof on only to find it slowly sliding moments later. I still think it’s pretty cute though. Maybe next year I’ll try something a little more elaborate. I used a pattern from this recipe book.

gingerbread house 229It was a fun evening as we decorated and ate lots of candy and talked late into the night. The days will be getting longer now as we slowly march towards spring again. Another year is almost over.

Thanksgiving 2013

crossroads thanksgiving 232We had a double Thanksgiving this year. It’s not uncommon. We kicked things off with the special Thanksgiving meal at Crossroads. We’d never been before and were excited to try it for the first time.

We arrived as they opened and there was already a line out the door. Inside, the the restaurant had a really nice atmosphere, unlike any of the other vegan restaurants in Los Angeles. It really felt like a special occasion. They also had a fancy bar and I wanted to try all their special edition mixed drinks.

crossroads thanksgiving 228 The meal started with a cream of celery and parsnip soup which was delicious.

crossroads thanksgiving 229Along side the soup, we were served sweet potato biscuits. These were perhaps my favorite item of the meal. They were moist and delicately herb seasoned.

crossroads thanksgiving 230The next course was an arugula salad with shaved persimmon and pomegranate vinaigrette. I am a big fan of arugula, so I was quite pleased with this simple, sweet salad.

crossroads thanksgiving 231The main course was a rosemary hazelnut scaloppini with stuffing, mashed potatoes, porcini gravy and maple mustard glazed brussels sprouts. The scaloppini was quite good, with a unique flavor. I quite liked the hazelnut. I’ll admit that I think I prefer something with a more traditional style like previous thanksgivings. I ended up taking home a bit of this dish and everything was even better the next day topped with extra gravy.

crossroads thanksgiving 233There were two dessert options, the pumpkin tart and the apple cobbler. I ate mostly the cobbler. It had a nice crispy top that I enjoyed with the ice cream.

It was a really nice meal and I look forward to revisiting Crossroads on another occasion. As I mentioned, I really liked the atmosphere and I’m excited that there’s now a more upscale vegan spot not too far from us.

Afterward we headed home and started cooking for Thanksgiving number two. Shawn made his family recipe stuffing and biscuits and gravy, to great success. I made seitan en croute, maple glazed carrots and green bean casserole. Jenn brought over a ton of food: mashed potatoes, golden gravy, marshmallow topped sweet potatoes and baked mac & cheese. It was indeed a feast.

Despite the double meal, I managed not to overeat terribly and really just enjoyed spending the day with family and friends.

pumpkin bread

pumpkin bread 227 After having a non-stop schedule for the past few months it was nice to have a free day where I could spend some time in the kitchen. We got a little pumpkin in our last CSA box and I had wanted to make something special with it. It seemed like a great chance to make something fully from scratch, instead of using canned pumpkin which is so readily available. It wasn’t difficult at all to bake the pumpkin before making it into puree, it just took a little extra time. I used this recipe for pumpkin bread, halved and without the walnuts. It was perfectly moist and spicy.

Can you tell the difference between the canned pumpkin and the fresh pumpkin in the end? I’m not sure. It’s still nice to know it was simple if I ever want to nix canned foods in general. Plus I made a little video of the process, which made the whole thing a little more fun.