Thursday, December 29, 2011

One more naughty treat before the new year

I've been enjoying family time this week, as both my hubby and son are on Christmas break (Matthew had some leave to use up and Jacob is off from school until the new year). As a result, I decided to make this post short and sweet.

Okay, well maybe the subject isn't short (this raw cupcake is stacked high full of yumminess), but it certainly is sweet.

I like to find room for one last naughty, but nice treat before the new year arrives. It's like one final hurrah before everyone starts their cleanses and such. So, before you embark on your January 2012 regimen, try this scrumptious raw cupcake on for size. It certainly is indulgent, like the cookies from this past end of December post (I bet those cookies would be good in these, too).

Speaking of cookies, this dessert is a way to incorporate whatever raw cookies you have leftover from your holiday festivities (or it can be an excuse to make more). Just as I hid a sandwich cookie inside another cookie for Santa, I formed another favorite treat (a raw chocolate cupcake, of course. BTW, I can't believe Blythe of Blythe Raw Live has been making my recipe and tweeting about it lately. It's such an honor) around it, turning it into a triple threat. Yum!

Then, I topped the whole thing off with some raw whipped icing and another raw sandwich cookie, much like in this other cookie-topped creation (actually, I was really inspired by these featured on the Cupcakes Take the Cake blog; I'm so excited to say I was recently spotted on their blog again, too. Thanks!). Check out the layered goodness inside. Mmmm!

Don't worry; I made sure to share this one with Hayden. Even if it's an end-of-the-year indulgence, it is a bit much to keep to myself. See ya next year! :-)

Friday, December 23, 2011

VegNews inspires Santa's cookie surprise

After years of putting out a variety of yummy raw cookies for Santa, I nearly forgot to come up with one for this Christmas Eve. Yes, I could have quickly whipped up a batch from the cookie recipes of Christmas past (here's 2007, 2008 and 2009) or any of these other raw cookie ideas, but thanks to a VegNews tweet, I made something new.

Check out this amazing Twitter pic of a cookie baked inside a cookie. Since I like making my own raw sandwich cookies (mainly to top these raw cupcakes, like the one pictured above left) and "unbaked" chocolate chip cookie dough cookies (perfect for making the doll cupcake in this past post), I thought I'd try "rawifying" this marvel for Mr. Claus (and my family, too).

Here are my results (I cut them open, so you could see the surprise inside), using the center of my raw Thin Mint recipe (minus the mint) for the sandwich cookies (no need to dehydrate, if you just chill them a bit). They are filled with some raw whipped icing, turned pink/flavored with some finely ground freeze-dried strawberries (Hayden loves them in this raw cupcake), and covered in a raw chocolate chip cookie dough (finely ground oats and cashews sweetened and formed into a dough with the addition of some date paste, pure maple syrup and vanilla; don't forget to add chocolate chips whether they are raw or regular vegan chips - my online friend Averie can take the credit with her cookie dough balls).

I hope Santa will love them as much as we do. Let me know if you make raw cookies inside of cookies, too :-)

Merry early Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I bet Santa would like one of these

Well, I know Mrs. Claus probably would. I believe she's my kind of girl. Something tells me she sometimes fills in for her jolly old hubby when it comes to delivering the presents and sampling the plates full of goodies on Christmas Eve ;-)

My hubby was thoughtful enough to let me sample this yummy treat, which came with his One Lucky Duck order. He wanted it to be fresh when I tasted it, so he gave it to me early (the sample and not whatever he actually ordered from the site; that's still a mystery).

The delicious recipe can be found on pages 287 and 288 of "Living Raw Food" by Sarma Melngailis, if you'd like to make some to leave out for Santa (see him pictured here with Hayden and yours truly. I think she did better this time, compared to her last encounter with St. Nick) at your house, or you can buy them online here.

Speaking of buying online, I wonder what Matthew bought me. Usually, he gets me chocolates and beauty products, like Priti Nail Polish and 100% Pure makeup, from there. I hope he got me a new RMS Beauty uncover, as I'm running out.

RMS Beauty is one of my favorite makeup lines. It is all-natural, organic and raw (not entirely vegan, but it is "bee-gan"). You can imagine my excitement when I saw it available on the Saffron Rouge website.

I recently won a e-gift card to Saffron Rouge from Jessica of Plenty of Thyme (thanks! Love that site name). Although I used it to buy some Yarok shampoo and conditioner (it's vegan, cruelty-free, natural, etc.), I did select an RMS Beauty product (as well as this natural hair powder) from the free sample list at check out.

I used the Lulu Organics hair powder (dry shampoo) yesterday, as I wasn't going anywhere special. It was nice to give my hair a rest from the usual shampooing. I was also able to salvage my style from the prior day (my soft curls survived a good night's sleep; no bed head here), and freshen the roots with the hair powder.

I also tested out the RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek sample in Muse. I already have Modest (a youthful, bright pop of pink), Promise (perfect for a natural, yet slightly darker hue than my lip color; also works well as a base color) and Rapture (a deep red for a night out with my hubby and/or holiday party), so I knew I'd like the product itself; I just wanted to see the color in person and take it for a test drive (it's so difficult to get a real feel for the shade when viewed online).

Muse is a very light nude color that practically blends in with my skin tone when applied to my hand (I do have a medium skin tone). Therefore, I opted not to post a pic of a sample swatch. However, it looks amazing on my lips. It's pale and shimmery. I can see myself wearing it as a basic everyday shade or paired with a more dramatic smoky eye for night.

I'd also have fun wearing today's DIY jewelry project out on the town. It's my version of these Urban Lace bracelets I've had my eye on for a while. My hubby prefers that I don't buy myself things like this leading up to Christmas, so I decided to make my own with what I have on hand.

The original (which I recommend you purchase if you like it and have the means to do so) is eco-friendly and made out of recycled bicycle inner tubes collected from local bike shops. It would look perfect with my recycled tire purse from this post.

My version of the bracelet is made out of a scrap of shiny black material, laminated on one side with contact paper. The attached contact paper both creates a similar texture to the tire bracelet and keeps the fabric from fraying in the next steps.

I used sharp scissors to randomly cut out teardrop shapes, creating a horizontal pattern in the size I wanted my bracelet to be. Then, I cut the edges in a scallop pattern to compliment the teardrops. The results were quite similar to the original bracelet.

Rather than adding snaps to the ends to hold the bracelet together, I sewed on pieces of a bra extender that I found in my sewing box. I don't know when or why I bought it, but it worked perfectly (and it's adjustable, too).

Other options for closures could be ribbon ties, buttons or velcro. Oh how I searched the house for some velcro, but I guess I was out. At least the hooks were simple to sew on and easy to latch when putting on the finished product.

What do you think? It's just right for wearing while watching the finale of "Project Accessory" tonight. Fingers (and arms) crossed that Nina wins (check out her gorgeous creations for sale here; I really like the necklaces on the site's home page) :-)

In case you missed it, check out these related past posts:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A cupcake for the occasion

Hi everyone. Sorry about the not-so photogenic and even less professional video demo of today's yummy raw vegan cupcake. That's just what happens when you try to do something spontaneously within the chaos of the holiday season. The countdown to Christmas is on, and I'm lacking in opportunities to get this post done.

Usually, I post some raw treats for the occasion, like my cookies for Santa in 2007, 2008 and 2009 (somehow I skipped last year, but these cookies almost ended up posted in 2010). I have even posted a few raw vegan holiday cupcakes over the years (I'll refresh your memory with some pics/links at the bottom of today's post).

After my buddy Bitt requested to see some more raw cupcakes in the comment section of our OpenSky contest plea
(until she posted that, I thought I had started to bore all of you with them), I began to crave one myself. Then, I missed National Cupcake Day (I think I saw someone tweeting about it), but was honored to see my e-book listed as a recommendation on Lori and Michelle's Pure2Raw site.

I've mentioned those talented twins in an interview/review of their scrumptious products (you know they're good when I use the word "scrumptious," which is my favorite word of all), as well as in a recipe post inspired by them (and Brendan Brazier, too). I was inspired yet again, while coming up with the flavor of today's cupcake.

I remember Lori and Michelle making Candy Cane Macaroons on their site quite some time ago, using chopped goji berries for the red specks in the minty cookies. Since I was thinking about making a holiday version of my Rawified Pillsbury Halloween Cupcake (I recently saw the box cake mix in the store), I just knew goji berries and mint would work perfectly. Thanks girls.

You can see Hayden and I quickly demonstrate how to make this cupcake (the very same one in the photos), before heading out the door to a family Christmas celebration a.k.a. "Hootenanny." My mom's side of the family thought it would be fun to have everyone play an instrument and sing Christmas songs together this year. It really was a "hoot." Ha ha :-)

Here are some photos from the event:

Everyone in attendance

Some of the guitar players (two of them are in this band)

A kid trio and guitarist

Kiddie silliness (Colin stops time)

Me and my Hay Hay

Hay Hay and April the hero (in reference to this post)

The pomegranate spinach salad I brought

Anyway, back to the video. Hayden and I made our best attempts to film it ourselves while Matthew and Jacob were still getting ready. You can hear Jacob run down the stairs and distract Hayden from behind the camera. All that movement kept shifting the camera, too (it's like a ghost kept moving it), and made me loose my train of thought. Thank goodness I can still post the recipe here for you.

Speaking of the recipe, I highly advise gently melting down the raw cocoa butter (at a very low heat; I usually just stir grated raw cocoa butter in a warm ramekin until melted, much like in our warm chocolate post) prior to adding it to the blender with the other frosting ingredients. Since I was in a rush, I skipped that step, putting the grated cocoa butter directly into the blender and resulting in a grittier end product. Keep that in mind when following the recipe below:

Raw Vegan Holiday "Sprinklemint" Cupcake
*Makes one cupcake for those times you just want what everyone else is having. Feel free to make a larger batch if needed.
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. date paste
  • touch of vanilla
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chopped goji berries
  • White Chocolate Mint Green Frosting (see below)
  • more coconut flakes, fresh mint leaves and chopped goji berries for decorating
Add cashews and coconut flakes to a mini food processor or blender and grind into a flour-like consistency. In a small bowl, combine the cashew and coconut flours, sea salt, chopped mint and goji berries. Stir with a whisk or use an electric mixer.

Next, add the date paste and a touch of vanilla. Whisk/mix to combine. The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire). Form it into a cupcake shape.

Frost the top of the cupcake with White Chocolate Mint Green Frosting (see recipe below), and decorate it with a sprinkling of coconut, fresh mint leaves and chopped goji berries. As always, enjoy!

White Chocolate
Mint Green Frosting

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/8 cup gently melted cocoa butter
  • 1/8 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/8-1/4 cup coconut milk or nutmilk (use a little at a time to reach the desired texture)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp. spirulina
  • dash of sea salt
In a high speed blender, blend all of the ingredients until smooth, making sure to scrape down the sides of the blender jar, as needed. Allow to set in the refrigerator, so it thickens into a spreadable frosting.

*This frosting also tastes great atop a chocolate mint cupcake, like this one. Yum!


And, as promised, here's a look back at the raw cupcakes of Christmas past :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Making a metallic masterpiece

I can't wait for tonight's episode of "Project Accessory." If you read my Zippy Upcycling post, you already know my favorites on the show (Nina Cortes and Christina Caruso), and I'm excited to report they are both still on it.

Nina, the one I've had my fingers crossed for from the start, nearly won the last challenge (if she had, her necklace and clutch would have been manufactured as part of Kenneth Cole's accessory line). Inspired by her amazing chain necklace (which can be seen on page 5 of 6 in this link), I put together a more simplified version to wear around here (to holiday parties and such, rather than on the show's more glamorous runway).

At the top of this post, you can see what I used to make mine: just a simple copper chain with black details, a section of thinner copper/black chains, copper loops and a clasp, as well as metallic embroidery floss in both silver and white gold.

First, I attached a loop and a clasp to one end of the chain, using a 3-in-1 jewelry making tool. Then, I decided how long I wanted the necklace to be and attached another loop at that point.

I centered the section of smaller chains, and using two small copper loops, hooked the two ends of the section to the middle of the necklace.

It looked pretty cute like this, but to really jazz it up and make it my own, I added silver and white gold embroidery floss to the mix to mimic the multi-colored metallic chains in Nina's creation, in a less expensive and understated manner (I figured I could always remove them later, if I ever want to go back to the more basic version of this necklace).

I cut the embroidery floss into strands that, when folded in half, would still be slightly longer than the small chains. I attached them one piece at a time by threading the loop on the folded end through a chunky link in the center of the necklace, and then guiding the two end pieces through that loop/pulling them snug into place (I alternated the silver with the white gold for more dimension, filling in the entire area behind the small chains).

To secure the latched pieces of embroidery floss, I tied a small knot at the base of the loop. Then, I frayed the ends (actually, metallic embroidery floss seems to naturally unravel itself) for a fuller effect.

Lastly, I trimmed the floss pieces with a pair of shears to mimic the angled shape of the small chains. What do you think of the finished product? I liked it so much that I wore it out that night (and for the next few days and nights, too).

For dramatic effect, I left the whole length of the chunky copper chain intact, so it would hang down my back, similar to how Nina added long multi-strands along the back of her creation (I wish I could find a photo of the back of hers).

Unfortunately, this is my real mommy world, and the length of the chain didn't quite suit my lifestyle (I think Hayden wanted to use it as a leash; maybe I'm better off with a mommy necklace like this one or this one, currently on OpenSky - don't forget about the contest we're participating in right now, which has been extended until the end of next month).

In the end, I cut off the excess chain, satisfied with the focal piece in the front, rather than the extreme length in the back.

I'm still happy with the results. It's always fun to make your own versions of what you see in the magazines and on t.v. I wonder what will inspire me in tonight's episode :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A sticky, yet sweet situation

This weekend was a busy one (I even posted on Saturday about Hayden's favorite beverage; click here if you missed it), full of Christmas parties, last-minute shopping, birthday celebrations and even a visit by Santa (I'll get to that one in a minute).

Somehow Hayden and I found a moment to make these sweet cookies, and they sure are sweet like candy. They're the perfect way to introduce someone to hemp hearts.

The kind people at Manitoba Harvest (I think I may have mispronounced the name in our video) were nice enough to send us a bag of their hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds), so we just had to show our appreciation with a simple recipe. Usually, I'd add them to smoothies, raw puddings, salads, raw cupcakes, etc., but since it is the holidays, we decided to sweeten them up a tad more like a cookie.

For some reason, I immediately thought of those sesame seed cookies that are basically a bunch of sesame seeds "glued" together by a caramel/toffee-like substance. The cookies pictured in this link were the closest I could find to what I remembered; maybe I'm just confusing them with a candy.

Anyway, since hemp seeds somewhat resemble sesame seeds, I decided to treat them similarly, adding about 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of pure maple syrup (enough to stick, but not to drip) to 1/2 cup of the hemp hearts. I enhanced the flavor with a sprinkling of sea salt and 1/2 tsp. of vanilla.

Then, Hayden and I stirred the mixture up and dropped spoonfuls of it onto a dehydrator sheet. We smoothed them out into 10 little rounds, using a spoon I had greased with coconut oil.

These were "unbaked" in our dehydrator at 105 degrees for 8 hours before flipping and continuing to "unbake" for another 6 to 8 hours. *Note: Be very careful flipping these, as they are VERY sticky. I'd advise using a flat knife or spatula that's been greased with coconut oil to help remove them from the teflex sheet or parchment.

Hayden and I did a quick taste test video after returning from our visit to Santa. She flipped out the moment he came in the door. Jacob didn't want to go see him without her, so we stood next to them.

Here's a pic of Hayden screaming, Jacob enjoying the moment and Santa handing Hayden an orange
(so cool that he handed out oranges, instead of candy). Santa had some trouble hearing Jacob's requests over Hayden's strong lungs, but I'm sure he knows what he wants ;-)

I can't believe how much Jacob has grown up (below are some photos I've posted of him on my site over the years). He just turned 9 years old today.

Happy birthday Jacob!