Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vegan Rice Pudding

My beautiful friend Miss Jenn Glenn celebrated her birthday this week. Upon request, I made her some rice pudding. Because cake is totally overrated. We also got accidentally drunk by drinking a bottle of cheap wine between the two of us at a delicious Thai BYOB, but that's a whole 'nother tale.

Yes this rice pudding is brown. Get over it, it's delicious.
This recipe is flexible. And lazy. I "developed" this recipe myself late one night when I had leftover rice, a ridiculous craving for rice pudding, and could not wait for anything to bake. And it's a perfect vegan version of a comfort classic. Just add sweatpants.

You can change the amount easily for whatever amount of rice you have on hand. Keep the ratio of rice to milk the same, and adjust the sugar and spices to taste. Grab a friend or significant other so you don't eat it all in one sitting.
Vegan Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked rice
2 cups soy milk (rice milk will work as well)
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on your taste)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp soy creamer

In a medium saucepan, combine rice, milk, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together. Bring to a boil, and let boil for a minute or two, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer until thick. While simmering, add soy creamer and stir to combine. This will continue to thicken as it cools. This tastes best when allowed to cool completely, but I completely understand if you try to eat it off the stove. Pour some extra creamer on it to help cool it down. Makes approximately 3 cups.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Guys, what happened to August? Is September really next week? I feel like I feel into a black whole of baking and lost an entire month. Sheesh! 

Oh well. I've been looking forward to sweaters and pumpkins and apples since those heat waves in July, so perhaps it's for the best. Chilly air means more pies are in my future, and that means your future's looking good too. 
I haven't given you guys a recipe for ahwile. I have a recipe for vegan rice pudding that I want to share with you. But I'm having some technical difficulties uploading photos. This is probably a good time to show you some of the things I've been doing to keep me so busy this month. Let's start with the filming I did with It's a Cupcake for Unique Eats
Mona from It's a Cupcake does savory cupcakes. With things like chicken and salmon. I know, it sounds weird. But people love them. She's got some vegetarian ones with hummus and the like. Hopefully I'll work with her to develop a vegan savory base so that vegans won't be left out of the world of savory cupcakes. If that's the kind of thing you think you'd be into. 
Unique Eats came to showcase her savory cupcakes. I made some vegan sweet cupcakes that got a minute or two in the spotlight. I think my hands might have made a cameo while sprinkling the mango cupcakes! Hollywood, look out...
On the vegan menu: Mango Madness Cupcake- Mango cupcake with homemade mango jam filling and a lime buttercream. 
Also vegan: Chocolate Cherry Cupcake- Chocolate cupcake infused with Monk's Blend tea, filled with cherry syrup and topped with vanilla buttercream and a cherry. 
My dear friend and former roommate Abbie dropped off some paintings for the walls. Stellar stuff. Especially if you're into robots and ninjas. (And honestly, if you're not into those things, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.)
Thankfully the production crew were really nice. The space is small, and their stuff was big, so we were in close quarters. It was really fun watching how shows like Unique Eats are made. Also, with their ridiculously expensive cameras, everything looks beautiful. Even the saddest looking cupcake looks like a starlet on their monitors. 
They said the show should be airing in November or December. You know I'll be sure to keep you updated on the air date. And till then, stop by Unitea in the University City area of Philadelphia (on S 44th St near Spruce), to try some of It's a Cupcake's offerings. You may also find some of my delicious vegan treats on the menu!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quick! Get Your 15 Minutes of Fame!

Do live or work in Philadelphia? Are you free around Noon this Thursday, August 19th? Then I know exactly what you should be doing. You should come to Unitea in University City. Why? Because Unique Eats, a show on the new Cooking Channel, will be filming a segment on Mona from It's A Cupcake and her savory cupcakes that day. Mona asked me to help out, so I'll be there, baking, getting filmed, and hopefully becoming famous. And you should TOTALLY jump on this train now. Just sayin'. 
It's A Cupcake just started working with Unitea, and will soon have cupcakes available everyday. On Thursday, we will be giving away free cupcakes to the first 100 people that stop by. Unitea also has one of the most amazing tea selections I've ever seen, and the owner Kashif really knows how to brew it up! Come on your lunch break, get a cupcake, and tell the Cooking Channel how amazing you think it is. Make your Grandma and Aunt Betty proud when they see your shining, frosting covered face on their TV sets. 

Ok, ok, you want more details. As far as I know, the store will be open at Noon, and the crew will be filming for a couple of hours. If you want free cupcakes, get there early. If you can't make it early, we'll still have cupcakes for sale all day! There's going to be a variety of cupcakes available: sweet, savory, vegan and non-vegan. My famous vegan mango-lime cupcakes will be available, and ask anyone who attended the GREATEST WEDDING EVER, and they'll tell you that they are scandalously delicious. 
Don't miss out on this, people. It's going to be awesome. Tell a friend, or two, or three. We want to pack the place with a line around the corner full of hungry people excited for mind-meltingly good cupcakes. Let's make it happen!

Thursday, August 19 2010, Noon
Unique Eats filming at
265 S 44th St (near 44th and Spruce)
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Battling the Universe

Guys, I can't believe I made it. This past week was a constant battle with the Universe, which seemed hell-bent on dragging me down. I put up a pretty good fight, but at last check it was Colleen: 15, Universe: 20.  Let's talk about the highlights. 

I tried to go to the beach for a 2 day mini-vacation. I got a flat tire on the way. On the Garden State Parkway, you can't use your own road-side assistance (which is free), you have to call the state police, wait for them to send someone out, and then pay them. Are you kidding me? 

This also happens to be the month my license and inspection expire. Between the new tire, renewing my license, inspection and repairs for inspection, my car is costing me an obscene amount of money this month. Enough to make me want to trade it in for a bike and a Septa pass. 
I eventually made it to Sea Isle City, and got to chill out on the beach with sand between my toes. Also, in case you were wondering, 9 AM at the Jersey Shore is much more peaceful than 2:30 PM.
My birthday came on Friday, and I spent the whole day baking and shopping for display materials for my friend's wedding. The Universe really pulled out all the stops that day. The biggest challange was losing 3 dozen cupcakes and 3 hours of my day to wonky oven heat and batter gone awry, amongst other annoyances.

What the Universe didn't know is that I have awesome friends and a wonderful boyfriend. Ken had taken a couple of days off and was sweet and helpful and determined to make my birthday special. My closest and dearest friend Jackie came to visit, and didn't complain once while zesting, glazing or washing dishes. Without these two loves of my life, I don't know how I would have done it all. My heroes! I also got lots of love and birthday wishes by call, text, tweet and facebook. Thanks to everyone who sent their love, it was so very needed and appreciated!

Know what else helped me get through? Old episodes of Soul Train and Afro-Sheen commercials from the 70's. After hitting the 18-hour working mark, Ken, Jackie and I took a break and found some old episodes On Demand that worked like magic to ease my weary soul.
Saturday morning saw more baking, glazing and decorating, and finally the wedding was Saturday night. And let me tell you, it was THE GREATEST WEDDING EVER. I'll tell you all about it soon, but here's a quick preview of the cupcakes.

A Low-sugar option. Vanilla agave cupcakes with fresh strawberries.
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes. Lemon cupcake with fresh strawberry frosting.
And a Mango-lime Cupcake. Mango cupcake with mango jam filling and lime buttercream.
On Sunday we woke at a ridiculously late hour, and finally got around to celebrating my birthday. I wanted to keep it simple, and we went to the Philadelphia Magic Gardens on South Street to putz around and look at the beautiful chaos. 
If you've never been, it's a cool way to waste an hour or so. Also a cheap date idea!
We grabbed some delicious (but expensive) microbrews at the Foodery, met with some friends for all-you-can-eat dim sum at New Harmony Vegetarian, and finished the night with a coconut flavored soda from the Franklin Fountain. Overall, a pretty swell day. 

So, in the battle of Colleen vs. the Universe last week, the Universe totally had the upperhand: flat tires, ridiculous mechanic bills, ruined cupcakes and and other baking disasters. The good news is that my life usually balances out in the end, so I'm hoping it's only uphill from here for the rest of this week. A girl can dream!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Birthdays and Weddings!

It's August! Which happens to be my favorite month! Because my birthday is on Friday! Hooray for another year older and wiser! Exclamation points!

I'm just going to be honest with all of you: I'm a total princess for my birthday. I generally celebrate for around a week, but usually at least an entire weekend. This year things are going to be a little different. I'm making the desserts for my friend's wedding this coming Saturday, and my birthday is the day before. That means I'll be spending the day in the kitchen baking, and frosting, and washing dishes, and all kinds of prep work.
Not that I mind. I'm so honored and thrilled that Doc and Nicole entrusted me with the desserts for their WEDDING, and I couldn't be happier to give them the gift of tasty treats! It also helps that my nearest and dearest friend Jackie will be coming to visit on Friday to keep me company and act as sous chef. Ken says he has some things planned for the following week, and maybe if we're not all too hung over on Sunday, I can gather some friends for some celebrating. (Brunch? Dinner and Drinks? Another Picnicing club meeting? PRIVATE ROOM KARAOKE? Please discuss...)
It also doesn't hurt that this party is probably going to be the greatest wedding anyone has ever known. The two love birds already eloped in California a few months ago, so this is just a big party for everyone to celebrate. It's happening in a theater/gallery. With live soul music. There will be pretzels and a keg of beer. Dinner is being catered by a TACO TRUCK. And to finish, a dessert table with grapefruit, key lime and lemon shortbreads, and cupcakes with flavors like mango and lime. Equal parts casual, classy, and awesome. I've never been more excited for a wedding in my life!
Now, back to my birthday. Because I know some of you are thinking, "I just don't know what to get her!" (Mom, I'm looking right at you). There's some things on my wishlist I hope I get. Here's some kitchen-related highlights:
  1. Ice Cream Maker- Um, I don't think I need to explain why I'd want this, but just in case, here's 3 reasons: vegan ice cream, vegan gelato and vegan sorbet. I hear that kitchen aid has an attachment, but I'm really partial to this Cuisinart. Also, if I get an ice cream maker, everybody wins!
  2. The Vegan Scoop- I'll need some vegan ice cream recipes to go with that new ice cream maker!
  3. This Necklace- WANT. I can has? Also, this one's pretty darn cute too!
  4. Vegan White chocolate chips- They're so elusive. Can they be purchased in Philly? I haven't found them yet. And I've been wary of purchasing anything chocolate online in the summertime.
  5. Good quality Extracts- Vanilla, Almond, Strawberry, Coffee, I'll take whatever! 
  6. Vanilla bean paste- I've heard rumors about this stuff. I think I need to investigate further. 
  7. Tofu Press- Seriously, do you know how much easier this would make my life? 
Since I spend most of my time in the kitchen these days, it only makes sense that these are the kind of birthday gifts I'm drooling over. I'm also kind of hoping I get "fancy birthday" dinner from Ken, either at Horizons or Blue Sage, but I'd settle for New Harmony Vegetarian in Chinatown too. Also, I'm not really a fan of cake, so if someone could make me a birthday pie, that'd be great. Thanks!

For now, I'm off to get crackin' on those cookies. But I'm curious: what's your favorite way to spend your birthday?