suncatcher.

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It has been brutally cold here in Chicago for the past few days. We’ve been snowed in and hit with record low temperatures. I thought making this little sun catcher would help bring some color to this dreary winter. It was pretty fun to make for milo, since he got to use his very own scissors and do essentially most of the work. I love the little burst of color it brings to my cold, snowy window.

You will need:

tissue paper of various colors
scissors
Embroidery hoop (we used a 6 inch hoop)clear contact paper
suction cup hanger

Measure two sheets of contact paper to be about 1 1/2 inches bigger than your embroidery hoop. Cut out various shapes of the tissue paper. Peel away one of the sheets of contact paper and apply the shapes to the sticky side. When finished, peel away the other piece of contact paper and place sticky sides together to protect the tissue paper pieces. Place within the embroidery hoop and use a suction cup hook to hang in the window.

muesli.

muesliThis is kind of like making your own cereal! Its similar to oatmeal, but its not warmed up. I really enjoyed it, and it was a nice departure from my normal breakfast routine. I can think of numerous ways to customize this and make all kinds of versions of it. You can serve it with almond milk, or on top of yogurt. I ate mine with some almond milk and chopped dried figs and apples. Yum!

Recipe adapted from Real Simple magazine.

3 cups rolled oats 1/2 cup roasted pistachios
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup seasame seeds
2 tspn pure vanilla extract
1/2 tspn ground ginger
sprinkle of sea salt

1/4 cup toasted coconut chips ( i used dang coconut chips)
dried figs
apples
almond milk or yogurt (for serving)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the top ingredients together in a bowl and toss around until evenly coated. Bake on a rimmed cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Stir and rotate one time, half way through baking.  When cool, add the toasted coconut chips. Store in airtight container. serve with almond milk or yogurt, and top with diced apples and dried figs.

showoff bag.

showoffBag

I love made by rae patterns. They are always so cute, and the patterns are well priced and very easy to understand. I made the washi dress this summer, and I still can’t believe I made a dress – THAT I CAN WEAR!

I love this bag! The pattern is only $8. It was pretty easy to make – and only has three pattern pieces, so the prep time is even pretty fast. I love how this bag came out, and I definitely want to make more! The possibilities seem endless! I see a few more of these in my future for sure!

double decker chocolate chip peanut butter rice krispie treats.

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Try saying that ten times fast!

I made these for our christmas eve lunch, so I knew I had to step up my rice krispie treat game.  These are peanut butter rice krispies at the bottom, a layer of cut – up justin’s peanut butter cups, then a layer of cocoa-krispie treats topped with mini chocolate chips. All held together by dandies. hubba hubba.

Ingredients:

Peanut Butter Layer
2 and 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
2 Tbsp earth balance
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 package of dandies marshmallows
2 2-packs of justin’s peanut butter cups

Chocolate Layer
2 and 1/2 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
the other half of the dandies marshmallows
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Line a 11×7 (or use a 9×13 pan and just dont fill all the way b/c who has a 11×7 pan??) baking pan with aluminum foil/parchment paper.  Generously spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
To make the peanut butter layer, melt the earth balance and peanut butter in a large saucepan over low to medium heat.  Add the marshmallows and constantly stir until they are completely melted.  Mixture will be thick.  Remove from heat and add in Rice Krispie cereal. Mix together well.  Press mixture into prepared baking pan.  I used a spatula sprayed with nonstick spray to make the sticky mixture easier to press down.  Top peanut butter layer with chopped up peanut butter cups.  Set baking pan aside.
To make the chocolate layer, melt the earth balance in the same large saucepan over low to medium heat.  Add the marshmallows and constantly stir until they are completely melted.  Remove from heat and add in Cocoa Krispies cereal.  Mix together well.  Press mixture on top of the peanut butter layer.  Press chocolate chips on top of chocolate layer and allow to set for at least 30 minutes.  Cut into squares.

gingerbread cake with cookie butter frosting.

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I have been wanting to make this cake since I saw it posted here. I thought it would be perfect for the holidays, but the timing didn’t work out. I ended up making it for book club and it got devoured. Its a perfect little snack cake – not too sweet – and topped with melted cookie butter. (aka biscoff spread, trader joes speculoos cookie butter).

makes 1- 8×8-inch cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup earth balance, melted and cooled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Egg replacer for two eggs
3/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup cookie butter spread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8-inch square baking pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, baking powder, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together melted earth balance, sugar, egg replacer, and molasses.  Whisk until smooth and well combined.  Add the hot water and vanilla and stir to incorporate.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Pour into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 2o minutes before frosting.

When cake has cooled, but is still just warm to the touch, gently spread with cookie butter.  Be gentle, as to not tear the cake.  The cookie butter will begin to melt against the warm cake as it is spread.

Place cake in the fridge to set the cookie butter for about 30 minutes before serving.

indoor smores.

SMORES smores2

You want smores this winter but don’t have a campfire to make it happen? Fear no more! I have come to save the day!

  1. Preheat your oven to 450.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, add some chocolate chips. (about a cup or so). Cut your marshmallows (i used dandies) in half and top the chocolate chips with them.
  3. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until the marshmallows turn golden brown.
  4. Scoop with graham crackers.

crochet dog sweater.

DOGSWEATER

Stella got her first hoodie a few weeks ago and she really liked it. Shes smaller than we thought she would be, and pitties seem to love to be warm, so I got her one and she seems to really enjoy it.  She hasn’t been too much of a fan of all this snow and cold weather we have been getting – so to help get her through this winter, I thought I would take a stab at making her a sweater with some yarn I had laying around (which is why its so pink!) It definitely needs some work, but this was a pretty easy pattern to follow. I may take another stab at it, but she seems to like it, and it keeps her warm in these chilly temperatures.

Here is the link to the pattern I used. My favorite part is that she refers to the dog as “doggie.”

I’m thinking of trying to take a stab at another one this weekend….We’ll see how that goes.

mac and cheese with roasted brussel sprouts and seitan bacon.

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It has been COLD here in Chicago. Record breaking low temperatures mean all I want is comfort food. Earlier in the week I made nachos for dinner, last night I made my favorite vegan mac and cheese recipe, but took it to a whole new level.  I posted this photo on instagram and everyone was going crazy, so I promised to post the recipe. This is hands down, my favorite, go-to vegan mac and cheese recipe. I’ve made it tons of times – its really easy and fast and I always have the ingredients on hand. It’s also pretty speedy, which makes for easy weeknight meals!

Original recipe can be found in Vegan Diner, but below is my modification.
(P.S. This is one of my favorite cookbooks! I’ve made lots of things from it, and they are all comforting, delicious and simple to make. If you are contemplating this book, bite the bullet and own it, because its totally worth it.)

1 bag of noodles fit for making mac and cheese (elbows, shells, fusili, etc)
1/2 cup raw cashews
6 T Nutritional Yeast
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 T cornstarch
2 T flour
2 tspn granulated garlic
1 1/2 tspn onion powder
1 1/4 tspn smoked paprika
Dash of sea salt
Bit of black pepper ( to your liking)

Brussel Sprouts
olive oil
Seitan bacon (Uptons is my favorite!)
more salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Slice up your brussel sprouts and coat with 1-2 T olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

Get your water for the pasta ready to boil. When your water is boiling, add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions.

While that’s happening, dump all of the sauce ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until the cashews are smooth. If you dont have a vitamix, or something similar, make sure to soak your cashews for a few hours, or preferably overnight.

Add the cheese sauce to a sauce pan over medium heat and whisk every so often until it starts to thicken. When its thick, lower the heat to low until your pasta is ready.

Make sure to fry up your bacon and cut into bits too!

When everything is ready, strain your pasta and put back into the pot. Dump your cheese sauce in and mix it in really well, adding some more crushed black pepper. Throw your brussel sprouts in there and your cut up bacon and enjoy!

jerusalem potluck and a hummus recipe.

potluck

Shortly after the holidays, I had a small potluck where I asked everyone to cook from the Jerasulem cookbook. Last year, around this time, my husband visited Jerusalem with his mom, and shortly afterwards she gifted me with this cookbook. All I have been hearing about for the last year is how amazing the food was when they were there. If it tasted anything like the food in this cookbook looked, then I don’t doubt it!  I made one salad earlier in the year from this book and it was out of this world good.

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So I organized the recipes that I found were vegan, or could easily be made vegan and I invited a few friends and we had a great feast! We had:
Tabouleh
Cauliflower salad with mint and pomegranate
Beet, walnut and leek salad
Swiss chard with wheat berries
Butternut squash with Red onion, tahini and Zatar
Mejedera
Burnt eggplant dip
shakshuka (not vegan, but my husband’s favorite dish and was dying to make this)
hummus

I picked up fresh baked pita bread, baklava and halva from our local middle eastern grocer, and we had a great dinner. Everything was really really delicious, but I think my favorite was suprisingly the tabouleh. It was definitely different than the tabouleh I’m generally used to – this one had pomegranate seeds in it! I definitely recommend this cookbook!

Now, this is a little off track but I made some hummus for the potluck, but I didn’t make the one from the cook book. I know, makes no sense. However, the hummus I made got lots of rave reviews from my guests, so I thought I would share the recipe here:

  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup  tahini
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • Dash of ground paprika for serving
Mix all the ingredients together in a food processor or vitamix blender. Top with a few dashes of the paprika and a little more olive oil if you wish.
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crochet scrappy hat.

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hatThis is a pretty easy hat to make for a kiddo – using scrap yarn. You can use any combination of colors – I used a 6mm hook and red heart yarn.

I followed this pattern, only my hat came out more rounded, than triangular. ( I think i missed the chain twos at the end when i was going around…ooops!), but in the end I came up with something that still works, and used up some of scrap yarn while at it!

I started with making the band first, using a ribbing stitch until it was 18 inches long.

IMG_4300Then I crocheted half double crochets all around, switching colors after each row, until it was time to decrease.
IMG_4302I decreased my stitches, as the pattern told me to until I got to the point that my hat was too tight to flip in and out and I made a big pom pom to put at the top.