Monthly Archives: October 2014

Happy Haunting ~ Drinks, Eats and Decor

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Tonight is HALLOWEEN and we’re getting all set up here for the big night. Our neighborhood attracts lots of little ghouls, by which I mean almost 200 trick-or-treaters. It’s kind of an occasion and we love to make special snacks and drinks. After all, there needs to be something besides candy, right?

Below, we invite you to join us and try Pumpkin Hummus, the Pom Positive shot, the Blood-Thirsty Werewolf cocktail, Coffin Crunchers and Vampire Apple Bites. After Halloween, check out our idea to upcycle your leftover broken decor pieces and used spooky cobwebs into fresh wreaths for next Halloween.

Enjoy – and HAPPY HAUNTING!pumpkinh_dhbg_lr

Pumpkin Hummus

This simple recipe comes together in about three minutes! Just add crackers for instant Halloween snacking.

1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (not pie mix)

1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 or 3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp. fresh rosemary (woody stems removed)

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. white pepper

2 tsp. cumin

pinch nutmeg

pinch cayenne (optional)

salt, to taste

fresh parsley, to garnish

crackers or fresh veggies, to serve

 

Add garlic and fresh rosemary to a food processor or high speed blender with lemon juice. Process until garlic and rosemary are finely minced. Add pumpkin, rinsed/drained chickpeas, paprika, white pepper, cumin, nutmeg, cayenne and salt. Pulse until all ingredients form a smooth dip. Serve immediately or chill. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley and serve with crackers or fresh veggies for dipping. Also makes a yummy spread for sandwiches and wraps.

 

WoldDrink_lrBlood-Thirsty Werewolf Cocktail

Yes, this drink asks for some special ingredients but we promise, they’re worth the effort. The William Wolf Pecan Bourbon is incredible! Many major grocery chains carry San Pellirgino and to find the specific spirits, be sure to check their websites for retailers.

1 1/2 oz. William Wolf Pecan Bourbon

1/2 oz. ginger liqueor (we used Koval)

2 0z. club soda

2 oz. San Pelligrino Blood Orange soda

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Combine bourbon, ginger liqueor, club soda and blood orange soda in a glass. Stir and pour into a second glass full of ice. Serve immediately with a sliver of lemon.

 

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Pom Positive Shot

This shot-style drink is bright and refreshing. It goes down very smoothly, so beware!

 

1 oz. vodka (we used Rain Organic)

1/2 oz. pomegranate liquor (like Pama)

1 1/2 oz. pomegranate blueberry juice (we used Pom Wonderful)

1/2 oz. San Pellegrino Limonata soda (or use club soda and a splash of lemon)

 Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake and pour into a shot glass. Crunchers_dhbg_lr

Coffin Crunchers & Black-as-Night Dip

 Making a themed Halloween snack is always a festive touch. This recipe is cross-posted to Sister Eden ~ tortillas are baked into crispy coffin cruncher crackers and served in black bean dip flavored with avocado, fresh lime, salsa and spices. From start to finish, it takes about 20 minutes, so there’s still plenty of time to put finishing touches on your Halloween costume. Check out the recipe at this link. applebite_dhbg_lrVampire Apple Bites

Need a spooky activity for your little gobins? Try making these fun Vampire Apple Bites. With a small ingredient list, the apple “mouths” come together quickly using your favorite nut or seed butters, some jam “blood” and teeth made from almond silvers. Easy to adjust for any nut butter – peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed, soy nut or macadamia nut butters all work. Ahem… so does chocolate nut butter! The instructions for this fun, easy snack are cross-posted at Sister Eden’s blog. Won’t you drop in for a bite?  Hee hee – I had to say it!

 

Nov. 1: Upcycled Halloween Cobwebs and Skeleton Parts

 So what happens tomorrow  morning? It’s November 1st and you;ve got gobs and gobs of leftover cobweb. On our end, we actually save it and use it again, year after year. Yes, there are some leaves in there, but it’s fine to keep. Plus, you know that stuff will never, ever decompose. If you’re crafty, though, steal our idea and give an old wreath, like the tired Christmas wreath on the left a facelift. We used the same flowers, a little paint, hot glue and stray ribbon and decorations to upcycle a wreath and cobwebs into a fun new decoration. More details from this project are on the Sister Eden blog.

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Don’t have any old cobwebs, but you do have a bunch of broken skeletons pieces? We did, too. So we bent a few branches into a second wreath, painted the “parts” an updated gold color, and hot-glued the various skeleton limbs into a frightening new wreath.

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We wish you a safe and happy Halloween!

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Sloppy Goblins

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Halloween is BIG around here. This is our house!!! No joke – it’s not a scene from some new movie with Clark Griswald about Halloween Vacation – we live here. A few autumns ago the local paper featured our decorations as “most spooky” and all the neighborhood kids look forward to our haunted house each fall. The Dirty Hippie takes particular pride in our frightening decor and tries to rearrange the lights, tombstones and ghosts for maximum impact.

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But why should the front yard have all the fun? We’re ready to decorate our food, too!

Creepy critters at Halloween are welcome additions to the table and when you play with your food, you end up with meals like Sloppy Goblins. We kept it simple with toppings, but you could add fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce or spinach, vegan cheese shreds, and vegan mayo or mustard, too. If you family doesn’t like too much spice, just dial down the jalapeño and/or chili powder. Aside from the decorating, the star of this meal is Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles. It makes the dinner hearty and filling – perfect for before trick-or-treat and parties! Or, heck – these would be a big hit at a Halloween party, too!

Makes six small or four large sandwiches; if you’re gluten free, choose GF rolls and fries.

 

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 Sloppy Goblins

36 to 40 frozen straight fries of choice (we used Ore Ida)

1/2 cup chopped red and or green bell peppers

1/4 cup finely grated carrots

1 tsp. canola oil

1 bag Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles, thawed

1 15-oz. can tomato sauce

1 Tbl. canned jalapeños (such as Old El Paso or Ortega)

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chili powder

1 Tbl. dried oregano

1 Tbl. vegan Worcestershire sauce  (we used Annie’s brand)

2 Tbl. tomato paste

few dashes of liquid smoke (we used Colgin)

salt and pepper, to taste

4 large or 6 small sandwich rolls (toasted or right out of the bag, your choice)

8 to 12 olives with pimento middles, to garnish (based on number of sandwiches)

2 or 6 pickle spears, to garnish  (based on number of sandwiches)

toothpicks, to garnish

 

Bake fries in oven on a baking sheet according to manufacture’s directions. Make sure they are nice and crispy.

In a large pan, saute chopped bell pepper and carrots with canola oil about 2 to 3 minutes to soften. Add Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles, tomato sauce, jalapeños, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, vegan Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and salt/pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until veggies are cooked through and Beyond Meat is warmed through. The sauce should be thick and fragrant.

Spoon sloppy mix onto bun bottoms and add tops. Use toothpicks to fasten olive “eyes” on top of rolls. Insert 6 cooked fries in to each sandwich for “legs.”  To make fangs, slice each pickle spear lengthwise and cut all pickles across, so that each pickle spear is in four pickles. Use these pickle pieces to make “fangs.”

Eat ’em quick, before the Sloppy Goblins eat you!!

ExpoFinds: Ener-C Drink Mix

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When you roam the aisles of the Natural Products Expo East, there are hundreds of supplements vying for your attention. The small unassuming stand for Ener-C was lucky – they had a position on an end. So everyone got to see them and we’re glad about that, because their vitamin drink powders were wonderful!

First, don’t get confused, this is not the same company that makes Emergen-C. This is a small company, privately owned in Canada. Ener-C drinks mixes have B vitamins and potassium give you that non-caffeinated boost of energy without a crash.  B vitamins enable your body to generate energy naturally. And of course, as the name implies, there is 1000 mg of vitamin C as a mineral ascorbate mix that was designed for maximum absorption. Ener-C’s combination of vitamin C , Zinc , and vitamins A and E help maintain and build your immune system.

 

EnerC_lrWe noticed two things that made Ener-C stand out right away ~ first, it dissolved really well into water, which made it go down with no funny aftertaste or big glob of unmixed powder. That’s a big plus, but even more, it didn’t both either of our stomachs. With other vitamin powders, including Emergen-C, I often find they make me rush to the bathroom. But Ener-C went down and through my system smoothly. They were fizzy, but it wasn’t too much, because they didn’t make us feel burpy or gassy (without being too gross – sorry!).

I know, you’re thinking how can a vitamin drink be different – but it IS and you’ll know it right away, just like we did.

Ener-C comes in five flavors: Lemon Lime, Cranberry, Orange, Tangerine-Grapefriut and Raspberry. They are available at a variety of locations across the US and Canada, just check their retailers’ page. You can also request a FREE SAMPLE from their website, which is awesome! Here’s to your health ~ 🙂

Easy Bird Feeders

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As it gets colder, our outdoor friends are looking for food and could use a little love from you, if you are so inclined!

Experts are still out on whether or not wild birds and critters like squirrels and rabbits need/benefit from supplemental feeding from people in cities and suburbs. But my own personal feeling is that since there’s not much to forage in the way of seeds, nuts, fruits, bugs over the winter, that maybe my wild friends could use a little extra chow. And it’s always fun to feed them, since we get to see them visit the feeders, and we can admire their beauty and cuteness.

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On the Sister Eden blog, we recently posted directions on how to make lots of different kinds of feeders. Above, the pine cone with peanut butter and seeds is the simplest way to go. Chances are, you have everything in your kitchen already to make a feeder like this.

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Paper roll feeders are also really easy to make and just about anyone can put one of these together, so it’s a great project for small children. You need three items: a cardboard paper roll (toilet paper, paper towels, gift wrap); peanut butter (or nut butter of choice); birdseed.

Peanut butter jar and soda bottle feeders are only slightly bigger projects. They require the container, something to make a perch from (dowel, stick, wooden spoon, etc.), a wine cork and twine – as well as bird seed.  Both also require a knife to cute holes, so it’s better for older children or adults. These projects can be easily made into bird house, as well – just a few different adjusments and you can make shelter for small birds for the the winter.

 

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twoliter_lrBe sure to visit our longer cross-post on Sister Eden for full instructions to make these easy, inexpensive, upcycled bird feeders for your outside friends this winter! Also, be sure to check the links on the post, so you can see what kind of seeds birds and wildlife in your region like best.

ExpoFinds: Emmy’s Organics Macaroons

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During our annual trip every summer to the Ithaca/Watkins Glen area, we always look forward to eating some Emmy’s Organics Macaroons. We usually pick them up at the Green Star Natural Foods Co-op. These little treats come in lots of flavors: Chai Spice, Chocolate Chili, Chocolate Orange, Coconut Vanilla, Dark Cacao, Lemon Ginger, Mint Chip, Mocha, Coconut Vanilla Chocolate Dipped, Dark Cacao Chocolate Dipped, and Chocolate Chip.

It’s tough to pick a favorite – it really depends on our moods and what we’re eating them with. If you have a hot cup of tea, Lemon Ginger, Chai Spice and Coconut Vanilla are perfect. But if you love chocolate like the Dirty Hippie, you’ve got the hook-up with Chocolate Chili, Chocolate Orange,  Dark Cacao, Mocha and Chocolate Chip.

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We have no problem at all sitting down to eat and finishing two or three bags in one sitting. Emmy’s macaroons are delicious: flavorful and tender; sweet but not too sweet; wholesome but without tasting like health food. Yup – we look forward to Emmy’s macaroons every summer – so imagine how excited we were to see Emmy’s Organics with a huge display at EXPO – there were piles of her delicious macaroons (all are raw, vegan and gluten-free)! But there was so much more ~ superfood cerealschocolate sauce and fudge, as well as mini-macaroons and chocolate-dipped macaroons. The line from Emmy’s has really grown!

The company is named after co-founder Ian’s mom, Emmy. It was in Emmy’s kitchen that Ian and Samantha(the other co-founder) started cooking together after they met in 2008. This adorable 20-something couple both shared a passion for raw food, healthy eating and natural wellness. When they made Ian’s macaroon recipe together one night, they knew by the next morning they wanted to go into business and sell their coconut treats.

We’re so glad they did!!  Cuz these macaroons are darn delicious!! Emmy’s Organic Macaroons are already available at locations all over the country. Just use the store locator online to find a retailer near you. All of the products are also available online via Emmy’s website.

Oh – Samantha also keeps a blog we love – try her recipe for Mini Pumpkin Pies with Chai Spice Macaroons, or adorable Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwiches.

ExpoFinds: Ollois Dairy-Free Homeopathy

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Homeopathy is a system of medicine where in like-cures-likeand has been in practice around the world for almost two centuries. For a variety of reasons, homeopathy is considered controversial, however, my personal experiences with homeopathy have been really positive. My only personal complaint about homeopathic remedies is that they are in lactose tablets – which means dairy and non-vegan.

But now, Ollois, a French company, is now making dairy-free homeopathic remedies in sugar pellets instead of lactose pellets. (These are tiny, by the way, it’s not like eating a piece of candy – so you don’t have to be concerned about too much sugar.)

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Photo from Ollois Website

Ollois currently makes 45 vegan-friendly, dairy-free remedies for digestive upset, pain, skin troubles, stress, sleep disorders, ear/nose/throat, women’s issues and cold/flu maladies. You can log on and use Ollois’ chart to determine which remedy might be best for you. However, that said, we have had best success using homeopathy under the supervision of a trained homeopathic practicioner. In the Baltimore area, I trust Dr. Emily Telfair – she has taken great care of me over the years and is very sensitive to vegans. So if you want to work with Ollois rememdies, try to find a great practioner like her that will be aware of specific vegan needs.

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Photo from Ollois Website

 

We found Ollois homeopathic remedies at the Natural Products Expo East. We haven’t needed to try any yet – thankfully – but when we get to try them, we will post an update. It’s very exciting though, to find vegan homeopathy!! Thanks Ollois!!!

 

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Logo from Ollois Website

ExpoFinds: Color Garden Natural Food Colors

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Because I am over the age of 7, usually the idea of adding artificial food colors to anything I plan to consume makes my skin crawl. Sure, when I was younger, bright blue seemed a good color for cupcakes and I loved “green grass” on top of my farm-themed birthday cake as a child. But now I steer clear of things with “red number whatever” and when I want to make a festive dish that asks for food colors, I usually just skip it. Anyone who has eaten one of my holiday cakes had it covered in plain vanilla or chocolate icing. Yep, no red or green… until I wandered into the Color Garden at EXPO.

Color Garden is 100% plant based, non-GMO, gluten-free, allergen free food colors. Based in California, Color Garden is poised to bring the fun back to baking, with natural colors that can be used right out of the box for royal icings, buttercream, sanding sugar, candy coatings, cocktails and more.

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Because these food colors are natural, they do not stain. No need to stress when little girls smear bright red frosting all over their shirts – the color will easily wash out. And if you decide to taste colors straight out of the box, your purple tongue will disappear after a single teeth brushing.  Color Garden natural food colors avert complications some children  (and adults!) experience when they eat too much artificial color. No more worry about sensitivities to FD&C Red 40 or FD&C Yellow 5! That means no temper tantrums or asthma attacks from fake dyes.

What we really liked about Color Garden is the huge range available. Plus we didn’t need to mix the colors ourselves. There are other natural food color systems on the market, and I tried them once, but was turned off at the extra step (and very non-precise instructions!) on making various colors.  A lot of those looked muddy to me. With Color Garden, the bright natural colors are mixed for you and ready to use. Whew – a lot easier for novice decorators like me!

If you want to buy Color Garden food colors, you can currently get them online from their retail page. They have regular color sets, as well as holiday sets for Halloween, Christmas and Spring.

ExpoFinds: Metropolitan Breadcrumbs

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Bread crumbs are one of those little things that it can be easy to take for granted. Until you go to buy some and you have – literally – no options. Being vegan eliminates a large number of grocery store brands, many of which contain milk. Then, I have this pesky sesame allergy – swooooop – there goes everything in the entire Progresso line. Want those crumbs gluten free as well? Forget it! We came up with nada and were in the habit of making our own crumbs from breakfast cereals in our blender.

Then at EXPO, we met the nice fellows from Metropolitan Gourmet. Based in New Jersey, these guys are making vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, nut-free bread crumbs. And they’re delicious!!!

Here is the ingredient list: Water, Brown Rice Flour, White Rice Flour, Sugar, Salt, Corn Free Baking Powder. And they also have an “Italian-style” bread crumb, which contains: Water, Brown Rice Flour, White Rice Flour, Sugar, Salt, Corn-free Baking Powder, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Oregano, Parlsey, White Pepper.
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When we spotted this table at the EXPO, I think I actually gasped out loud. Bread crumbs are one of those small ingredients that it is so simple to overlook – until you can’t find any at the store you can eat! I cannot even tell you how many times I have avoided making recipes because I just didn’t have time or inclination to make bread crumbs first. Metropolitan Gourmet is set to change all that. Now I can toss a handful into recipes, carefree!

Metropolitan Gourmet bread crumbs are made in a gluten-free dedicated facility from freshly baked bread. These folks take allergies seriously and are also corn-free and soy-free. The crumbs work in any recipe that calls for bread crumbs. Literally!!!!! We have tried them once since EXPO and are looking forward to doing more with them soon – perhaps developing a recipe of our own to really show the crumbs off in a vegan dish. Metropolitan has recipes online, but none are vegan. They do have a green bean recipe that could easily convert to vegan by eliminating the cheese, so you can try that if you like. 🙂

So cooks, you can now rejoice, knowing there are vegan-friendly, USA made, gluten free and TASTY bread crumbs available! Currently, you can buy these crumbs online from Metropolitan. While no retailers are listed at the moment, I anticipated with NO other competition in the market, these bread crumbs will likely be at stores soon. At least, I hope so!

Pumpkin Beer Soup

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What’s that? You want MORE pumpkin-fall-yumminess? Sure, we can deliver that. How about thick, rich, soul-warming Pumpkin Beer Soup?

We’re all about embracing pumpkins and beer – especially pumpkin-flavored beer – and thus we’re excited to share our recipe for Pumpkin Beer Soup, which is cross-posted on the Sister Eden blog.

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Now, if you don’t happen to have autumnal pumpkin beer on hand, use any amber beer you want, or even gluten-free beer (Green’s and Dogfish Head both make great gluten-free beers!).  We don’t recommend  dark beers for this recipe, as they can get bitter with cooking.

This recipe is vegan and great for serving a crowd. It’s creamy, warm and comforting, with the perfect hint of autumn in each spoonful! We have served it after going through haunted houses, at bonfires in mugs, and even at an engagement party we hosted for friends! Be sure to visit Sister Eden’s page and get our recipe.

ExpoFinds: Virginia’s First Tea Farm

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Tea is like the elixir of life around here. It is not unusual for me to consume 6 to 10 cups of tea every-single-day. No joke. My only moment of guilt with my green tea is that it travels sssoooooo far to get to me here in Baltimore. Until recently, I thought tea only grew in China and India. Turns out, tea also grows in the USA.

Virginia’s First Tea Farm was founded on the belief that nature’s way is the best way. Their tea is grown in Virginia! Seriously, I was amazed to find this out! I can get locally grown TEA? And in addition to matcha drinking tea, they also make personal care and cleaning products that harness the power of green tea.

These cleansers are effective, restorative, and kind to our bodies and the planet. Green tea’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties make it an ideal ingredient in household cleansers, while its antioxidants and anti-inflammatories enrich skin and hair with unique nourishment and vitality.

We got to try the Green Tea Castille Soap for face & body, as well as the Peppermint Shampoo-and-Conditioner All-in-one and their Grapefruit Shampoo-and-Conditioner All-in-one. The soap lathers up beautifully without being to drying or filmy. And the shampoo left our hair curly and soft. Love it!!!

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 Virginia’s First Tea Farm products are American-made, all-natural, fully vegan and never tested on animals.  You can buy them online and feel great about it – they are natural, hard-working and grown in the USA – as well as vegan and cruelty-free.

Did we mention, they also make black tea soap, almond soap, dish detergent and laundry detergent?? Yep, Virginia’s First Tea Farm is not wasting any time – their awesome teas and tea products are out there and ready to save the world – one sip (or scrub) at a time! Glad we found this company at EXPO – we are going to be regular customers!!