Bake and Destroy: The Blog Tour

As much as I would love to hit the road and go cross-country meeting every single person who has already bought my book – and to charm those who haven’t with my, you know, charms n’ stuff – there simply isn’t enough time in the day! If only hologram technology could be used for more than resurrecting Tupac on stage I could be at work, at home playing Minecraft with Teno, meeting you and complaining about Sons of Anarchy on Twitter all at the same time! Alas, I will still keep you posted on my travels, but in the meantime, my book is on tour!

Yeah, my book is having the time of its life, traveling all over the country, visiting all the coolest bloggers that ever blogged. If you’d like to follow along, check out this tour schedule:

If I did go on tour, it would be in the Turtle Van.

If I did go on tour, it would be in the Turtle Van.

9/16: Angela from Canned Time makes You Don’t Know Jack Hash

9/17: Jess from Get Sconed! makes a top-secret recipe

9/18: Annie from Meet the Shannons makes Pistachio Whoopie Pies

9/19: Cakespy makes Nacho Cupcakes

9/20: Twinkie Chan makes Banana Bread French Toast Cupcakes

9/23: Kathy makes a top-secret recipe on Healthy Slow Cooking

9/24: Diane of Veggie Girl makes Crouching Cornbread, Hidden Broccoli

9/25: Jenny from Everyday is a Holiday makes Indian Buffet Pizza

9/26: One of my smoothie recipes gets featured on spabettie

9/27: An Unrefined Vegan makes Falafel Waffles



10/14: Halloween recipes are featured on Just the Food

10/15: Canned Time does it again with Cannibal Corpse Crock Pot

10/16: Vegan Yack Attack tries Pretzel Dogs of the Dead

10/17: Your Vegan Mom makes Cujo Chow

10/18: Vegan Yack Attack presents: Pretzel Dogs of the Dead

10/22: Veggie Girl dares you to make Awful Waffles

10/23: Spa Bettie makes my Vegan Hellfire Brownies

10/24: Chic Vegan makes my Permafrost Pumpkin Pie

10/25: Vedged Out takes on my Cheryl’s Revenge Cookies

Posted in BLOG, More, Recipes, Reviews, Vegan | 3 comments

Food Puncher: Lifeway ProBugs Frozen Kefir

Ok, full disclosure: I work for Lifeway Foods. Teno is, of course, never biased by things like that, but I thought you should know just for the sake or transparency. That being said, we bought these ProBugs Frozen Kefir pops at Whole Foods with real cash money – about $6 for a box of six.

Kefir, for those of you who aren’t hip to Dr. Oz’s jive, is a cultured dairy product – similar to yogurt, but with more probiotic activity. Lifeway makes a wide variety of drinkable kefir – conventional, organic, lowfat, nonfat, whole milk, etc. as well as frozen kefir – which is kind of like fro-yo, but again, more probiotics. Everything is gluten-free, lactose-free, and GMO-free so it’s pretty kid-friendly across the board. Anyway, here’s Teno’s take on these frozen pops, which are 70 calories each:

Note: Teno has trouble opening every package always. But I have found that these are easier to open when they’re really cold, right out of the freezer, than they are after they’ve warmed up a bit.

Posted in BLOG, Food Puncher, More, Reviews | 3 comments

Food Puncher: Fruit Roll-Ups Simply Fruit

Simply FruitTeno and I admit we have a lot of kinks to work out in this whole reviewing stuff process. After posting review-after-review of Pringles potato snacks on YouTube this summer (seriously, watch them, they’re hilarious), and even a few guest spots on The Snackpot, we figured posting regular reviews of healthy kids snacks and recipes for kids would be no big deal. But it’s taken us months to finally get around to doing some actual reviews for Food Puncher, and we’d apologize except that we’re too busy playing Nintendoland.

This week, Teno checked out Fruit Roll-Ups Simply Fruit ($2.99/10 pk). We usually buy him fruit leather from Trader Joe’s but he brings his lunch to school and there’s a lot of pressure on these little dudes to have cool stuff in their lunch bags. Sadly for Trader Joe’s, hippy fruit snacks are not considered cool. Honestly, though, Simply Fruit is pretty decent. It’s 90% juice, no artificial coloring, no HFC, and one roll counts as one serving of fruit. But what does Teno think? Well, if he can get the package open, he’ll tell you…

PS We promise to buy a tripod. 

Do you have a healthy kid’s snack or recipe for kids you want Teno to try? Let us know about it in the comments!

Posted in BLOG, Food Puncher, More, Reviews | Comments Off

Microwave and Destroy

My name is Natalie, and I almost always hate my lunch.

Let me back up… I officially signed with a publisher and you can all expect to see Bake and Destroy: Good Recipes for Bad Vegans on the shelves (virtual shelves and actual shelves) in Spring 2013! You’d think with all the cooking I’m doing as I develop recipes I’d have plenty of leftovers for lunch, but the opposite is true. I’m cooking so much for the book that I just can’t face the kitchen another second in order to actually feed myself. Ironically, as I have been developing delicious, 100% plant-based recipes, I have fallen off the wagon myself, and started eating disgusting lunches containing the lowest form of cheese-like stuff.

With Teno reviewing snacks over on The Snackpot these days, I figured I’d throw my hat into the packaged goods review game as well. So here are some reviews of the frozen meals I’ve been living off of lately. I bought all of these myself, no PR folks involved, so my opinions are 100% genuine. By the way, I know that these are all gross and bad for me. I’ve shamed myself plenty, believe me.

Amy’s Cheese Enchiladas – The folks at Amy’s describe this entree as a “blend of cheeses, accented by olives and peppers.” I think “accented” was a very clever choice of words to describe a dish that is, essentially, two pieces of beige construction paper swimming in cheese-flavored oil. There isn’t a ton of flavor other than salt and oil and guess what? They consider ONE package to be TWO servings, so each one of these I mildly tolerated at lunchtime contained 28g of fat and 480 calories. Gnarly.

candle cafe vegan frozen entreeCandle Cafe Tofu Spinach Ravoli – “Wait, wait, wait,” I said to Tony the other day in the freezer section at Whole Foods. “Is this the same as Candle 79? I fuckin’ love that place!” Sure enough, these frozen entrees come from the Candle Cafe kitchens in NYC, where I enjoyed a delicious vegan feast not too long ago with my lady Melisser, author of A Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life. I admit I was scared, but I was shocked and amazed to find myself actually enjoying my lunch for once. Of course these retail for about $6 each, which is more than a freshly-made sandwich at Potbelly runs me… but it’s worth it to sit at my desk reading Cracked during lunch instead of being out among other humans.

Morning Star Farms Sweet n’ Sour Chick’n – I was so stoked to see Morningstar Farms get into the frozen entree game. I’ve been an office drone since 2008 and one of my major skill sets is eating stuff out of the microwave. When I was a newbie lazy vegetarian all I ate was Morning Star Farms stuff so as a lazy vegetarian lunch-eater, these entrees seemed heaven-sent. The lasagna is pretty good, but I make lasagna at home quite a bit so I bought the Sweet n’ Sour Chick’n a couple of times. The portion is really small, and there are only 4-5 chick’n nuggets in each one. The breading is soggy, and the sauce is more sweet than sour. Pretty gross, all in all.

Kashi vegetarian frozen entreeKashi Mayan Harvest Bake – The whole time I was eating this I kept pulling the box out of the garbage to re-read what was in it. “Plantains with roasted sweet potato, black beans and kale. Spicy ancho sauce with pumpkin seed garnish served over Kashi seven whole grain polenta, plus amaranth.” I admit, it was…weird. But I would eat it again. I also appreciate that one serving = one entire entree so I don’t have to do math to know that I just ate 340 calories and 9g of fat. Kashi stuff tends to have a good amount of protein and fiber, too, so I actually stay full when I eat it.

Amy’s Vegetable Parmesan Bowl – I speak in hyperbole, which is unfortunate because it means I have to go out of my way to describe things I hate when truly I hate them. I fucking hate this entree. I ate it this week and I’m still angry about it. Let me describe it to you. It’s a black, plastic tray half-filled with miscellaneous mushy vegetable-type squish sitting in a puddle of warm water, topped with greasy cheese. I don’t know what the vegetables were, because they tasted like wet thing and clinical depression. But hey, it was only 260 calories so at least I’ll be hungry again in 5 minutes!

Amy’s Mexican Casserole Bowl – Oh Amy’s, I’m not being very nice to you, am I? Let’s talk about one of your entrees I do continue to eat because I love it so. Mexican Casserole, and all its 16g of delicious fat is a staple in my disgusting, microwaved lunch diet. I’ll be honest – I’m just in it for the masa. Yes, I could eat a tamale if masa is all I want, but they don’t have vegetarian tamales in the freezer section at Target, and that’s usually where I am when I realize I didn’t bring anything for lunch. So I microwave this bowl of corn, cheese and beans and try to eat it all before my co-workers notice how gross I am.

Basically SWAD Foods Makes – At the end of the day, I know the truth about all this microwaved garbage I eat for lunch, It’s unhealthy, because it’s full of fats and salt to make it taste OK, and it doesn’t really taste OK because it’s made in the microwave and prone to mushiness. It’s the price I’m willing to pay to not have to wake up 15 minutes earlier in the morning to make myself lunch. Also, I kind of hate sandwiches, which are the official food of lunchtime. So what’s a girl to do?

Thankfully, there is SWAD. I get these packets for $1-2/each at my local Indian grocery store, and I’ve seen them in most major grocery stores. Zap a packet for 2 minutes and pour it over rice for a lunch that actually tastes like something, and has enough lentils and chickpeas and whatnot to keep you full until 4pm granola bar time. If you’ve never had paneer cheese, you might not want SWAD to be your first exposure, but I can vouch for all the cheeseless vegetarian dishes.

So that’s my confession about how disguising I am Monday-Friday between the hours of 12pm and 1pm. Actually typing that out might have influenced me to work on more entrees for my book so I have something to eat that I don’t have to be ashamed of. What do you guys eat for lunch? Anything I should be eating?

Posted in BLOG, More, Product Reviews, Reviews | 2 comments

Boston Hardcore Pie – Happy Birthday CM Punk!

Can you believe I made this graphic all by myself?

The other day (October 26, to be exact,) was my friend Phil’s birthday. Most of the world knows him has the lovable jerk CM Punk, harasser of bosses and The Best in the World. I know him as the lovable jerk who is notoriously difficult to birthday shop for. I think gift-wise I did pretty OK this year, but the cake is always the hardest part.

See, CM Punk hates frosting. It’s a debate we’ve had going since we met years ago. When he was making his way through the indie circuit I’d usually make him an angel food cake with fresh fruit, and real cake for everyone else we lived with. The last few years I made him cookies. But this year I happened to get my hands on a copy of Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero right before the big day and decided to try my hand at a vegan Boston cream cake pie. It’s frosting-free, but with a layer of vanilla custard and another layer of ganache it’s definitely no angel food cake. Plus, Punk’s always been open-minded about eating vegan food so I knew he’d try it.

I got permission from Terry Hope Romero, who calls her kitchen The CM Punk Kitchen (Post-Punk Kitchen joke…) to share the recipe with you guys – so give it a try! It was a challenge for sure, but that’s what makes pie-baking so fun. Take a deep breath and read ALL the instructions before you get started.

Boston Hardcore Pie

Vanilla Cookie Crust

  • 1 & 3/4 cups finely ground vegan vanilla wafers (I used Back to Nature)
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 4 Tbs melted margarine (I use melted coconut oil, or you could use canola oil)
  • 1 Tbs plain non-dairy milk (I used almond)

Cake Layer

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup plain soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

At least he liked the shirt I gave him.

Vanilla Creme Layer

  • 6oz silken tofu, drained (Use Edenic if you can find it!)
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp agar powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 Tbs margarine
Then you:
  1. First, make the cake. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and spray your 9″ pie pan with baking spray.
  2. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and form a well in the center. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the soy milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to stir together until just mixed.
  3. Transfer the batter to the pie dish and bake 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. It might look shiny, but that’s OK. Cool the cake in the pie plate on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  4. Invert the cake. Place a large dinner plate over the cake, wearing oven mitts, grab the pie pan and dish, and flip it over. You might need to tap the bottom of the pan to get the cake out onto the plate. Cover the warm cake with plastic wrap and set it aside.
  5. Wash and dry the pie pan and spray it with more baking spray.
  6. Make the cookie crust. In a mixing bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and sugar. Drizzle in the melted margarine (or oil) and use a spoon to mix, moistening the crumbs. Drizzle in the soy milk and stir again. The dough should be crumbly.
  7. Press the crust into the pie pan, pressing it into the sides first and working your way down. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  8. Make the cream filling. In a blender, combine the tofu, salt, vanilla extract, lemon juice and almond extract. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides. Set this aside for a moment.
  9. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the soy milk and the agar powder. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sugar.
  10. In a measuring cup, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk and the cornstarch. Slowly pour this into the simmering soy milk mixture and stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut oil and stir until melted.
  11. Scrape the cooked mixture into the blender with the tofu. Puree until everything is very smooth. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula occasionally. Immediately pour hot cream into the baked pie shell. Tap the pie pan a few times to bring any air bubbles to the surface. Chill the pie for 10 minutes to set the filling.
  12. When the filling feels firmer to the touch, unwrap the inverted cake layer and carefully slide it onto the pie so it’s centered on top of the filling.
  13. Prepare the ganache. In a small saucepan, bring the soy milk to a rapid simmer for 1 minute over medium heat. Turn off the flame and use a rubber spatula to stir in the chocolate chips and margarine. Continue to stir until the chips are melted and the texture is very smooth. Pour the ganache onto the center of the cake and use a spatula to spread it over the top.
  14. Return the cake to the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours before serving, overnight is best.
OK now I will admit that I used Merckens candy wafers to make the varsity X’s, and those aren’t vegan. But neither is CM Punk so I didn’t think he’d mind. If you wanted to do the same, you might be able to use vegan white chocolate.  I just printed out some X’s, covered the print-out with waxed paper, and piped the melted candy by tracing the design. I let those set up, plucked them off the waxed paper and placed them on the ganache.
I was super impressed with this recipe, tasting everything along the way I thought it came out awesome. What did CM Punk think? Well, he never said… which could be good or bad. But I’m stoked on this book. Maybe he’ll make me a pie from it for my birthday.

Posted in BLOG, Reviews, Vegan | 6 comments