Saturday, January 8, 2011

Snow day.

We had our second snow storm of the season yesterday.  The kids had the day off from school.  Fridays and Mondays are always the best days for a snow day, don't you think.  I was able to finish up some label art for one of this years Valentines Day candles.  I can't wait to share this one. I expect to have pictures here early this week and the candles in the shop by mid week.  I'll also be added extra large pocket mirrors to the shop this week.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year 2011, and other holiday stuff.

Happy 2011 Everybody!

If you ask me the best thing about 2010 is that it came on quick and left ever quicker! Well there's that and the fact that  Melisser Elliott included me and Tattooed Geek in her super awesome book The Vegan Girl's Guide To Life.  Ooh, and that the powers that be  at The Style Network brought us the hot mess that is Jerseylicious.

Now on to Christmas.  The best Christmas present was delivered on December 23, Mike had his follow up body scan and was given a clean bill of health - he's completely cancer free!  We expected as much but it was still great to hear.  We kept Christmas very low key this year, but we did try a few new recipes that I wanted to share.  
I made Kittee's Buckeye Balls,  What drew me to this recipe was how quick and easy they seemed to make. It's true, they were  really easy and took just a few  minutes to prepare.  Buckeye Balls are more of  candy than a cookie - but who cares, they were delicious.  Every one of us gave Kittee's Buckeye Balls two thumbs up.
Nanny (my mother in law) came for Christmas baring jars and jars of fresh marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, olives, sun dried tomatoes with garlic and a ton of Eggplant Caponata (sometimes called Eggplant appetizer). Eggplant Caponata is a thick Italian eggplant stew/spread. It's naturally vegan and is perfect served at room temperature with lots of crusty bread.  My kids go wild for it.  You can find it canned or jarred in the Italian sections of most grocery stores.  However it's much cheaper to make your own.  Caponata is the perfect addition to  Antipasto platters (especially vegan ones.)

Eggplant Caponata
(recipe originally found in Fresh From The Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
1 celery rib, minced
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
1 medium-sized red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup black olives, drained pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

1.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.   Add the onion and celery, cover, and cook until softened.Add the eggplant, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant begins to soften, about 5 more minutes.

2. Transfer the mixture to a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.  season with salt and pepper. cover and cook on low until the vegetables are soft but still hold some shape. (in the slow cooker about 6 hours.)

3. When the vegetables are cooked, stir in the olives, capers and parsley.  Taste, adjust seasonings. Transfer the caponata to a bowl and let cool.  Serve at room temperature. If not serving right away cover and refrigerate until needed.

I've made this recipe without a slow cooker. I cooked it all in one large pot, instead of transferring the sauteed onion, celery and eggplant to a slow cooker just lower the temperature to medium and continue the recipe as listed.  Stir often.  Caponata is much better the next day. I recommend always preparing it a  day in advance

Nanny also very graciously occupied the kids with gingerbread baking and decorating while Mike and I slipped away for some last minute Christmas shopping.
Mike planned Christmas dinner Cajun style. He made a vegan jambalaya, gumbo and (my favorite) Cajun Seitan.  As it turns out I'm not a gumbo person, and maybe not a jambalaya person either. I am definitely a Cajun seitan person though. 

All of our Christmas decorations are getting packed up as I type. Usually it makes me sad to stuff our wooden soldiers into their plastic sarcophagus  for another year.  Not so much this time though.  Maybe I'm still in a food induced stupor, but this time I'm glad to be packing in all the holiday hoopla.  I'd rather focus on the new year ahead of us.