True Blood Season Finale!

Posted by Nina on Sep 12, 2011

I’m not going to go into any spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the show yet without any warning.. so you will be safe to read this post up until you see the spoiler caption!

I’ve found out that my friend Megan is also a fan of the show and since she lives right down the street we got together to watch the finale together and I made vampy treats!! I made vampire bite cookies and bloody fangs.. and what else would I serve for drinks but iced sweet tea! It was by far one of the best times I’ve ever had just watching tv! Megan’s hubby surprised us with a plate of jalapeno poppers 🙂 and we’ve pretty much agreed that we have to do this next season, for sure!!



Vampire Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
approx 1/2 cup red jam (raspberry/strawberry)

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and extracts.
Add flour and salt to the bowl and mix them into the butter-sugar mixture at low speed until dough is just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Divide dough in half and keep the portion you are not using in the refrigerator.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 2-inch rounds.
Place rounds on a baking sheet, put a teaspoon of jam on each of them and cover with another round of dough. Press edges down lightly, pinching the edges onto the cookie sheet. Use a toothpick and poke two small holes (like a vampire bite) in the top of each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set.
Cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dip a toothpick in some extra red jam and re-insert in the “bite” holes you made before baking to emphasize them, if not already red. Draw a blood trick down from one of the bites with the jam, if desired.
Cookies are best the day they are made.

Makes 2 dozen.


First of all.. how … crazy was that ending?!!? I did NOT see Steve Newlin becoming a vampire! I remember him being missing in the books but it’s been so long I don’t remember if he was turned there or not, or perhaps I just haven’t read that far! The concrete in Alcide’s construction site.. well.. you know what that means right?? Russell is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and Tara!! OMG! In the book when Sookie kills Debbie, Eric is still not himself and he helps her clean up and hide the body… but Eric has his full senses now so, I’m not sure how that’s going to play out.. but Tara?!!?!? I did not see Jesus dying like that, especially so soon…

JUST before Rene’ made his appearance in the show Megan turns to me and says “do you think we’ve seen the last of that guy, the one that was with Arlene in the beginning?” and I said “I have no idea.. the show strays so far from the books sometimes.. anything is possible!” and then BOOM! There he was! I knew Nan was going to get staked some time this season.. I just knew it. They didn’t do much for character development for her in the show and what they did do, everyone pretty much found her vile so I didn’t see much use for her. The wolf in the end… do you think its Marcus? or the guy that Sam beat up in the garage? and I have a love/hate relationship with Mrs. Fortenberry… I can’t stand how vile she is but I kind of like the crazy old bat! I think I would miss her.. I loved in the end she showed up to Tommy’s funeral.. I was kinda hoping he’d come back with the walking dead even for just a few mins.. sometimes I really liked Tommy and other times I hated him…

Just… WOW! Is it time for next season yet!?!?!?!

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Mountain Dew Jelly

Posted by Nina on Dec 14, 2010

My BFF came over and we decided to make some pretty unusual jellies! We ended up following 2 web recipes for lime and mountain dew jelly and she took home a few jars of some awesome pumpkin butter. The only problem with web recipes is you never know if they will gel or if they have been tested and I suspect ours had not because they did not gel. I knew I should have brought Agar!

There is a difference between regular pectin and liquid pectin (and you probably want liquid with this type of recipe!).. but neither worked for us even when we doubled the dose! I took my jelly home, added agar and viola! If you continue to cook down to concentrate the flavor of the mountain dew it will discolor the jelly.. anyway, on to the recipe!

Mountain Dew Jelly
3 1/4 cups Mountain Dew soda
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 package Sure Jell pectin or aprox. 1tsp Agar powder
NOTE: I recommend adding the agar 1/4tsp at a time until desired thickness is reached. Keep in mind that it thickens slightly as it cools. Adding too much Agar will result in being able to slice with a knife, a little goes a long way!

Read the directions for jelly on the Sure Jell box.
Get your canning implements ready, and make sure your jars are prepped and clean.
In a large pot, combine the Mt. Dew and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
Allow to boil for 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Follow the Sure Jell directions for making jelly.. or add the agar and boil 1-3mins and remove from heat.
Pour the jelly into clean, prepared jars and follow your favorite canning method.

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Raw Little Piggy Bento

Posted by Nina on Aug 10, 2010

bentoraw I know that it has been a while since I have done a bento blog post.. so here you go!

I am following a pretty strict diet lately, no bread carbs 4 days per week with a limited calorie in take.. when you’re a Vegan and you don’t get carbs…. what exactly do you eat?! I’ve been playing around with some raw foods this week and so far I am really liking them. I also like that most recipes I am finding are smaller servings which is great because I am the only one in my house who eats this way!

I am trying to stick with the motto “eat the rainbow” too so I can make sure I am getting all the nutrition I need. The large bento contains spicy cashew broccoli stir-“fry” from this recipe.. the smaller cup contains 1/2 of a protein bar.. and in the cup just plain ice water! I am not eating raw all the time, just to clear that up! I am just using raw recipes to help balance my diet.

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500 Vegan Recipes: Seitan en Croute

Posted by Nina on Nov 8, 2009


What could be more delicious than a seitan loaf? A seitan loaf encased in flaky, buttery, pastry, that’s what! Don’t be surprised if this month is largely dedicated to 500 Vegan Recipes! It’s one of my newest cookbooks and I really can’t put it down! Let me start by telling you that this is the best seitan recipe I have ever tasted! Yes, ever!

Celine told me that this is one of Joni’s recipes and she was kind enough to share the recipe on her blog! So, what does that mean? It means that YOU can try this recipe before you buy the book! and I am pretty sure, if you try this recipe, you WILL buy the book! Yes, it’s that good!

Quote from Joni’s Blog

The Recipe:

2 cups (288 g) vital wheat gluten flour
1 cup (120 g) whole wheat flour
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup (235 ml) beef flavored vegetable broth (or plain veggie broth)
1/2 cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce or tamari
3 tablespoons (50 g) tomato paste
1 tablespoon (45 g) prepared stone ground mustard
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 sheets vegan frozen puff pastry

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).
Have ready a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat such as Silpat.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together, gluten flour, wheat flour, nutritional yeast, parsley, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper.
In a separate bowl, mix together broth, oil, soy sauce, tomato paste, mustard, and liquid smoke.
Add wet to dry and knead together until well incorporated and until moist dough forms.
Let rest 20 minutes.
Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions.
Form into a loaf (similar to a meat loaf shape) and place in the center of the baking sheet.
Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Increase the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5).
Cover the loaf entirely with one of the pastry sheets, tucking the edges underneath the loaf.
Slice the other sheet into 10 even strips for weaving. Weave the strips, on the diagonal across the top of the loaf. Tuck loose ends under the loaf.
Sprinkle a little paprika and parsley on top for color.
Return to the oven and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until pastry is fluffy and golden brown.

Yield: 1 loaf (about 8 servings)

Go take a peek at her blog, her photos are much better than mine!

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Impressive Pumpkin!

Posted by Nina on Oct 23, 2009

My great grandmother made the world’s best applesauce.. as a kid she would send us home with big quart jars full of it because I loved it so much. I remember the first time I tried store bought applesauce.. I hated it.. I complained that the taste and texture was all wrong and the color didn’t look like Mama’s either.

Sergey and I got a big crockpot when we got married and I had never really used it so I called my Grandma and began asking her about Great Mama’s recipe. The trouble of it was, she did it all by taste and she cooked it all in a huge cauldron in the driveway all day.. so there is no real recipe! I started with her ingredients and fresh from the orchard apples and proceeded to make about 8 pints of applesauce that tasted exactly like hers!

While we were buying apples I noticed on the shelf they had jams and jellies and one of them struck my eye… Pumpkin Butter. What is this!? I nearly screamed. I LOVE pumpkin and I had never heard of this before! So I browsed the list of ingredients and decided I could make this myself! So we headed to the pumpkin patch and picked out a very nice, 35lb pumpkin. I was under the impression that pumpkin would cook down like apples do — pumpkin does not.. it cooks down a little but thickens up the longer it cooks…

I took it home, found a recipe I liked (see below) and used fresh spices and cooked the pumpkin. I made pumpkin seeds for my husband and 12 pints and 4 cupcake jars full of fresh homemade pumpkin butter! It’s amazing stuff!! Oh, the photo above? My husband hates to be in photos but I made him pose with the pumpkin to show off its impressive size!

Pumpkin Butter Recipe

1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree, or homemade
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.

2. Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

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Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich

Posted by Nina on Oct 13, 2009

Lately I had been wanting a tuna salad sandwich.. I can’t even tell you when the last time I had one because I was never a tuna fish fan even when I ate fish.. I am not that fond of the ‘sea’ flavor but none the less, I wanted some! I asked around for a good faux-tuna recipe and a friend has provided me with another that sounds amazing! I will be trying that next! This one was pretty easy and only required the purchase of 1 ingredient (the kelp powder), the rest I had in my pantry. I think you could probably substitute the kelp powder for nori if you run it through your food processor to make it a fine powder.

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/3 cup minced celery
2.5 T. minced dill pickle (more or less to taste)
1/2 T. nutritional yeast
1 green onion, chopped
1 t. soy sauce
1/2 t. kelp powder
pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, mash the chick-peas coarsely with a fork. Mix in the remaining ingredients. That’s it!

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Vegan Planet: Ultimate Shepherd’s Pie

Posted by Nina on Jun 8, 2009

I’m often asked “how can you stand to give up meat since it adds so much flavor to food rather than just life on rabbit food?” and the truth is.. I never eat bland, boring food. Vegetarian living is much more than just salads and tofu. You can make every recipe vegetarian if not vegan, you just need to know a few basics and tweak the recipe to taste and viola! you have a fantastic animal friendly recipe.

The newest addition to my home has been Vegan Planet. Words cannot even begin to express how much I love this book. I have now made 4 or 5 recipes and all were absolutely fantastic. I was blown away by how easy, healthy, and amazing these recipes were. I am super calorie/fat conscious and these recipes fall within my dinner guidelines and all were satisfying. I never left the table hungry nor was I starving just an hour or two later. Portions are decently sized, the food is sooooo delicious, and I never made a single thing so far that I wouldn’t serve to a meat eater in fear that they would choke and snub the dish. I’d proudly serve each and every single dish.. in fact, I plan to.

The most recent for me was the Ultimate Shepherd’s Pie. I used my own recipe for the mashed potatoes and added only a single green pepper and then just prepared the recipe as is. AMAZING. My recipe ended up bing 418 calories, 11g of fat, 17g of fiber, and 16g of protein per serving. I was thrilled when I ran to Robin’s website and found that she listed the recipe!! so I can share it with you!

Ultimate Shepherd’s Pie

Since leftover mashed potatoes are often the inspiration for making a Shepherd’s Pie, I thought that the ultimate version should feature filling ingredients that are readily available and easy to use — hence the use of veggie burgers. Simply thaw them long enough so that you can chop them and they work like a charm, adding great taste and texture, enhanced by the ground walnuts. If you prefer, chopped seitan or tempeh may be used instead of the veggie burgers, just be sure to sauté them first in a little olive oil. Use the extra-rich “Mashed Potatoes and Company” on page 204, or your favorite mashed potato recipe.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup Basic Vegetable Stock (page 000)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 3 vegetarian burgers, thawed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup ground walnuts
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir in the tomato paste, tamari, vegetable stock, thyme, marjoram, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and simmer to thicken slightly, about 1 minute.

3. Spoon the filling mixture into a lightly oiled 2-quart baking dish. Stir in the chopped burgers, the peas, and the walnuts. Taste to adjust seasonings.

4. Spread the mashed potatoes over top. Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with the remaining oil. Bake until hot and bubbly and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Serves 4

If you only own one Vegetarian/Vegan cookbook.. this one should be the one.

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Cute Strawberry Bento

Posted by Nina on May 31, 2009

Top: Belgian setian stew with dark beer from Vegan Planet
Bottom: Pasta
Side: Fresh strawberries
Cup: Spices

WW: 13pts.

Recipe here!

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Chocolate Cake with Black Berry Butter Cream Frosting

Posted by Nina on May 23, 2009


Chocolate Cake Batter

Prep: 20 min. Add an additional 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract if you do not have almond extract.

Yield: Makes about 6 cups

* 2 cups sugar
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 3 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
* 2 cups cake flour
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup buttermilk


1. Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.

2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; add to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at medium-low speed just until blended after each addition. Beat 1/3 cup hot water into batter just until smooth. (Batter will be thick.) Use immediately.

Blackberry Butter Cream Frosting

Prep: 10 min. If you love lots of frosting, double the recipe. This recipe goes with Basic Layer Cake, Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups


* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 (16-oz.) package plus 1 cup powdered sugar


1. Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition.

Note: Be sure to wash and thoroughly dry blackberries before adding to frosting. If you do not want seeds, be sure to puree the blackberries and pour through a small strainer to catch the seeds.

Recipes & Photo from: Southern Living

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vegan jello that you can mold!

Posted by Nina on Apr 22, 2009

For a long time I have been looking for a fool proof, great tasting jello recipe that is Vegan. No folks, regular jello is derived from the collagen inside animals bones.. which means it’s neither Vegetarian or Vegan. Well, there are plenty of Vegan jello recipes floating around on the internet but none of them have given me the texture that I was looking for… until now.

Vegan Jello Recipe:

  • 2c juice
  • 2tsp Agar

Bring 1/2 juice to a boil on stove over medium heat. Add agar as it begins to boil and stir until melted/blended. Remove from heat and add remaining juice and blend well. Transfer to dish or jello mold and chill until firm.

Note: I found the 2/2 equivalent to be a bit too firm for my taste making a very gelaitanized result (think a little thicker than canned cranberry sauce) so next time I intend to use much less agar.

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