Archive for the 'Cool Stuff' Category

Graham Cracker Gingerbread House

Graham Cracker Gingerbread House

As I’m not much of a baker, I always feel a bit left out of all the baking and cookie making going on at this time of year. I don’t want to be a Grinch nor do I want to subject innocent, unsuspecting people to my novice baking. Thankfully, there’s no baking involved in making a graham cracker gingerbread house.

While most store-bought graham crackers contain honey, Nabisco Original Graham Crackers (in the red box) are vegan. For the frosting glue, you can use caramelized sugar or vegan royal icing. I went with the royal icing, that stuff works just like cement.

Graham Cracker Gingerbread House Step 1

Using a sharp serrated knife, gently saw off the top corners of two graham cracker sheets for the gable sides. Saw two more sheets in half for the square sides and roof. Have plenty of extra graham crackers handy in case of breakage.

Graham Cracker Gingerbread House Step 2

Pipe icing onto the bottom and side of a square piece. Place on a piece of cardboard or an upside-down paper plate. Use a small jar to prop it up while gluing down the next piece. Pipe icing onto the bottom of a gable piece and attach to the square piece.

Remove the small jar and attach the other sides with icing. Make sure the gable pieces are directly across from each other.

Graham Cracker Gingerbread House Step 3

For the roof shingles, split a mini oreo, and scrape off the filling. Attach it with icing to a square graham cracker. Repeat in a tile patten and let the pieces dry before attaching to the rest of the house with icing.

To make a door, cut a sheet in half and then in half again and attach with icing. Add other assorted decorative candy as desired. I used a strip of seaweed for the walkway and sprinkled shredded coconut around for the snow. Lastly, dust with powdered sugar over the top of the house for an extra festive look.

Vegan Royal Icing
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Stir together the sugar and water until smooth. Add the corn syrup and stir until the icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more syrup. To use, fill a resealable plastic bag and snip off a tiny bit of a corner.

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I’m Minecraft-y

Fresh Strawberries

Lately, I’ve been on a fresh strawberries binge. Ever since Tomatero Organic Farm started selling their strawberries at the farmer’s markets. They usually have a few different varieties available, you can sample them all to see which one you like the best.

So with all of this strawberry eating, a collection of green baskets and paper boxes started piling up in the kitchen. That’s how I got the idea to turn the lovely 3-pack of strawberries above into the below Minecraft Creeper piñata.

Minecraft is a video game that builds up and breaks down blocks in various 3-D worlds. And in it are creatures called Creeper and Enderman. I don’t really get it but my niece and nephew are obsess with the game and those are their favorite characters. I made the piñatas for their birthdays.

Minecraft Creeper Piñata

First, eat the strawberries. Recycle the green baskets with one of your local farmer’s market vendor. Save the white paper carton. Repeat. Now you have two paper cartons, this will become the body of the piñata.

I also found a 4-inch square box for the head and a couple of small rectangular boxes for the feet lying around that just happens to be the right proportions for the Creeper.

Minecraft Creeper Piñata

Fit the two strawberry cartons together. Since the ends flare out, just cut and tape to get the whole thing to fit together well. The square head will go over one end. Glue and/or tape the two feet boxes to the other end so that the body rests a little bit on each for support. As I didn’t intend for the piñata to be smashed, I made it sturdier so it would last longer as a decoration/centerpiece.

Instead of painting an undercoat, I wrapped the whole thing in a layer of green streamer paper (crepe paper) using a glue stick. A glue stick was easier and less messy than white glue which caused wet spots in heavy-handed areas which never really went away (it dried darker in those areas).

I was able to plan ahead and only worked on it a little bit each day as free time permitted, so there was plenty of time for drying in between.

Minecraft Creeper Piñata

Measure out a length of streamer paper long enough to wrap around a foot with a little extra for overlap. Fold the length in half and cut fringes in it. Without unfolding, glue the fringed streamer paper around the foot starting at the bottom. Glue the next row of fringed strips slightly overlapping the first row. Keep adding rows until you get to the top edge, then cover the flat portion. Do the same for the other foot, then the body and lastly the head.

I did the head and body separately and attached the head at the very end with velcro. On the head, glue black construction paper cut out in the shape of Creeper’s face onto one side. Drill two small holes in the top of the head and put through a plastic loop before attaching to the body. I like to fluff up the fringes a bit to give it that “devil may care” look.

Mindcraft Enderman Piñata

I also made an Enderman piñata using the same method but with streamer arms and legs. That’s it, all done. I already had everything except the streamer paper making it a fun, cheap, and green project for the summer.

This post contains Amazon links, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on any of the links and make a purchase of anything.

Happy Pi Pie Day

Mini Raw Mixed Berries Cheesecake

Seeing as I’m just as bad in math as I am in baking, the only way to really celebrate Pi Day (3/14) is to make the easiest kind of pie, no-bake Mini Raw Mixed Berries Cheesecake.

Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake

Deliciously easy as well is the Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake from Vegan Pie in the Sky and that one is baked. And yes, I like to make my pies mini. It’s sorta like built-in portion control.

Patxi's Chicago Pizza Palo Alto Review

Prefer something more savory and don’t want to cook? Patxi’s Chicago Pizza got you covered with a vegan deep dish pie with a whole wheat crust, fresh spinach, garlic, red onion and Daiya cheese.

California Pizza Kitchen Review

Or California Pizza Kitchen. The pizza I usually ordered used to be called Vegetarian with Japanese Eggplant, now it’s named California Veggie. But it’s basically the same – baby broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, corn, and red onion. Get it with no cheese on their crispy thin crust.

Any way you slice it, this is my kind of math. Happy Pi Day!

This post contains an Amazon link, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on the link and make a purchase of anything.

Bye-bye Reader

If you’re like me and get your blog feeds on Google Reader, time is about to run out. As of July 1st, Reader is going bye-bye. Also like me, you probably procrastinated switching over to something else since first hearing the sad news months ago.

My excuse: I thought it would be a chore to find a new service and re-subscribe to all those blogs again. It’s actually pretty easy to make the transfer with these options as they just grab the feeds from Reader and import them for you. Bam, you’re done, no more excuses.
Feedly
Bloglovin’

A more image oriented option and with all the scrumptious photos on food blogs, it’s very nice:
Pulse

Free Vegan Cookbooks, Free Cupcakes, Oh My!

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While browsing for new books to read on a Kindle, I somehow ended up looking at cookbooks. Imagine my surprise to see some going for the princely sum of $0.00. Yeah, it’s the electronic version, but hey, it’s free.

And they’re weren’t all the “I-never-heard-of-this-cookbook-before” kind either. Vegan Junk Food is one I’ve been meaning to pick up. As of this posting though, it’s back to its regular price. I don’t know how often or when the prices change.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can borrow for free from your Kindle right now, Vegan Desserts and The Everything Vegan Cookbook to name just a couple. And it’s not just cookbooks, there’s free e-books in lots of categories.

Since the screen on the Kindle isn’t all that big, I downloaded the e-cookbook to my computer. So you don’t even need a actual Kindle, just download the Kindle program or the Kindle app for mobile devices. The directions are right there on the product page.

As for the free cupcakes, Sprinkles is giving them away between 12pm and 2pm on May 2nd, 13th, 18th and June 17th and 26th as part of a promotion for the movie People Like Us. Just whisper “People Like Us” for a free cupcake of your choice.

Normally, I like to personally vet everything before posting but I didn’t have time to go today. I have reviewed their Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes before and I’m looking forward to stopping by on one of the other dates. For more information, check out the People Like Us Facebook page.

This post contains Amazon links, I get a few coins tossed my way if you click on any of the links and make a purchase of anything.

Another Fork in the Trail Giveaway Winner

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The winner of the Another Fork in the Trail cookbook is number 15.

Congratulations to dana! Please email me your mailing address and let me know if you would like a signed postcard to use as a bookmark from the author, Laurie Ann March.

Thank you everyone for playing!

An Angry Bird Apple A Day

An Angry Bird Apple A Day

I’m sure you’ve seen Angry Birds by now. Some of them are red with a very angry expression on their face. They’re slingshotted at green pigs, who apparently, stole the Birds’ eggs.

One of them showed up in my kitchen. I told the little bird, “I ain’t got your eggs. I never had your eggs; I’m no green pig.” I offered a snack of fruits and nuts but the bird disappeared without a word.

The next day, there was another red Angry Bird. “Look, it’s like I told the other one, there’s no eggs here.” And the bird was gone, just like that. I’m unsure how long this is going to go on but I wouldn’t be surprised if a green pig showed up at some point.

An Angry Bird Apple A Day
More of a method than a recipe

For the body, pick out a small to medium size apple that has a nice, deep red color. I used an organic Jonathan apple from the local farmers market. With a very sharp knife, score an arc across the lower half to create the white belly. Use the knife to peel off the skin.

Make a small cut where the outside corner of the eye would go, to break the skin. Using a stainless steel 1/4 measuring teaspoon, scoop out what would be the eye. Make the other eye the same way.

Make a few cuts at the top of the apple being careful not to actually cut the pieces off. Lift up the pieces for the feathers on top of the head.

The eyebrows are strips cut from a piece of nori. The pupils for the eyes are hole punched from the same sheet of nori. The juice from the cut apple will hold the pieces of nori in place.

The beak is a slice of carrot, cut a “V” in the side and attach with one end of a toothpick. If serving to small kids, remember to take out the toothpick for them.

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Vegan Desserts Giveaway Winner

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The winner of the Vegan Desserts cookbook is number 32.

Congratulations to Karmalily! Please email me your mailing address and I’ll get the book right out to you.

A big thanks to everyone for playing!

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