dark chocolate marshmallow ice cream (vegan)

I used to joke with my husband that the only reason I wanted to get married was so I could put a kitchenaid mixer on our registry.  Of course that wasn’t true but it was the first thing I registered for.  The second item I added to our registry was the kitchen-aid ice cream attachment.  I’ve used it more times than I can count this summer.

Vegan ice cream tends to be on the expensive side and there is never enough in those tiny pint containers.  Making your own ice cream solves both problems – it’s cost effective and each batch makes about three pints.

Dark Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream (vegan)

3 1/4 cups non-dairy milk ( I used 2 cups coconut and 1 1/2 cup almond) *
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vodka
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 2.5 ounce package of Sweet & Sarah mini marshmallows (or 2.5 ounces of your favorite vegan marshmallows)

*Fat is important for ice cream.  The higher fat content your non-dairy milk has, the creamier your ice cream will be.  At my small local grocery store, I’ve found of the non-dairy offerings, coconut milk has the highest fat at 5 grams per serving.  Almond milk is around 2.5 grams and soy milk is only 2 grams.  I usually do not use all coconut milk because I don’t want my ice cream to taste like coconut (unless I’m making coconut ice cream…) so I find a rough 1:2 ratio of almond milk to coconut milk works nicely.  Feel free to experiment.

Combine 3 cups of non-dairy milk with the sugar, instant coffee granules, and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk milk until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Then whisk the cornstarch into the 1/4 cup non-dairy milk left over and add mixture to the saucepan.

Continue stirring the mixture in the saucepan until the milk thickens.  Be careful, the milk can boil over quite quickly if you turn your back to it!  Once thickened, pour the hot milk mixture into a large mixing bowl.  Add the chocolate chips, vodka, and canola oil and whisk until the chocolate has completely melted.

Allow to chill completely in your fridge before using your ice cream maker – I usually try to wait at least 6 hours for the best results (and often, overnight). Follow the directions for your ice cream maker, stirring in the marshmallows right before you put it into the freezer.

Note: the vodka inhibits freezing and keeps the ice cream a bit softer.  You don’t have to use it but I think it’s better if you do.

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on our walls

I finally hung this vintage type case drawer we bought a few years ago at the Hell’s Kitchen flea market.  It’s been hung a bit precariously but I’m just happy to see it everyday.

Tchotchkes include an empty whisky bottle AK was given by a friendly cashier on his 21st birthday, vintage wooden thread spools, champagne corks from our honeymoon, and New York City buildings from Muji.

oatmeal cranberry granola

We’ve been on a yogurt kick for a while and I finally got fed up with buying overpriced, overly sweet granola from Whole Foods.  It turns out, granola is really easy to make – so easy in fact, that I’m kicking myself right now that I didn’t think to make it sooner.  Not to mention that when you make it from scratch you can add exactly what you like – in my case, dried cranberries, walnuts, and almonds, and keep out what you don’t – honey and coconut.

While this was baking my apartment smelled like oatmeal cranberry cookies which was pretty great.  I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t thought to make cookies until I tasted this stuff.  I ate mine with plain soy yogurt and a little pure vanilla extract mixed in.  This granola is on the sweater side so if you plan to add this to a sweetened yogurt I might dial back some of the brown sugar.

Oatmeal Cranberry Granola
adapted from Alton Brown

3 1/2 cups rolled oats*
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup bran flakes
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave syrup (or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.

Combine the oats, nuts, bran and brown sugar in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl combine the canola oil and agave syrup and whisk together.  Pour the liquid mixture onto the oat mixture and stir until the oats look coated.

Spread out onto two cookie sheets and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes stirring the granola every 20 minutes or so to ensure even browning.  Let cool and transfer to a large bowl.  Add the cranberries and mix until evenly distributed.

*I used about 2 cups of rolled oats and 1 and 1/2 cups of quick cooking oats because that’s all I had on hand.  The granola came out great but I wouldn’t use any more than 1 and 1/2 cups of quick cooking oats in this recipe.

agate necklace

School has started again.  It’s tough to find time for creative pursuits when your brain is packed with organic chemistry notes and your biggest concern is “did AK remember to get me a subway sandwich for dinner?”  Everything is closed when I finally get home and I’ll be damned if I’m cooking anything at 10:45pm.  Last weekend I visited my parents and stopped into a few craft stores.  This agate slice caught my eye.  I attached it to a simple ring and slid it onto a long chain I already owned.  Voila, a new, simple necklace.

cabbage soup

Cabbage soup is one of those perfect cold weather recipes.  Since New York has been experiencing what feels like sub-zero temps and the snowiest winter I’ve ever seen (more tonight!) I figured it’s the perfect time for soup.  Also, this has sauerkraut in it.  Could it get any better?  This lady with a fraction of German blood in her thinks not.  Eat this tonight with some crusty bread and warm yourself up.

Cabbage soup (vegan)
Adapted from NYMag

6 cups vegetable broth
5 cups water
2 tablespoons Earth Balance
4 allspice berries
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon marjoram
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup sauerkraut + 4 tablespoons juice
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, minced
3 celery stalks, minced
4 heaping cups cabbage, shredded (I chopped mine into 1/4″ ribbons)
1 can of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Place the sauerkraut in a large stockpot with the vegetable broth, water, earth balance, allspice, bay leaves, marjoram, and garlic.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the potato and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, and cabbage and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the white beans and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the sauerkraut juice and season with salt and pepper.

Notes: I think this would be great with a can of Mock duck or seitan, shredded or chopped into small pieces.  It would make a great substitute for the pork the original recipe calls for if you are so faux-meat inclined (I am, I just didn’t have any).

Serves 6-8

a tale of two blankets

If you’re going to bring a baby into this world, the least I can do is knit you a blanket.  At least if I’m related to you.  AK’s sister and my brother both had children this year, about a month apart. This meant lots of knitting for me.  As per my usual procrastination, I started both blankets far later than I should have and was rushing at the end to finish.

Baby 1’s blanket was my first foray into crochet.  Everyone always tells me that crochet is faster than knitting so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.  I chose an easy pattern, the Baby Ripple Afghan (free on the Lion Brand website) and went to it.  I guess I am just not a very fast crochet-er because I felt like this one took forever.  And while as a beginner I was smart to choose a simple pattern, I was also incredibly bored after about 10 rows.  I powered through (barely) and got this to Baby 1 shortly after he was born.  I would have liked to made it just a bit longer but I just didn’t have the time.

With Baby 2’s blanket I stuck with knitting, something I’m much more comfortable with.  I wanted a pattern that would be easy enough to memorize but interesting enough not to get bored.  I found it in the Sweetheart Baby Blanket from the Easy Knit Baby Blankets Collection 2.  Is this not the cutest baby blanket pattern you’ve ever seen?  The other two patterns in the collection are pretty as well so I can definitely see myself making them for future babies and getting my money’s worth.  I love this blanket so much.  I finished knitting it the morning of the baby shower (post baby), hence the rushed photo session on my grandmother’s kitchen table.

I made both blankets out of Lion Brand’s Baby’s First.  I am obsessed with this yarn.  It is perfect baby yarn – 55% Acrylic and 45% Cotton, wonderfully smooshy and soft, and so lovely to knit with (and knits up quick!).  It’s one of my favorite vegan yarns.  I wish they made it in more “non-baby” colors because I’d probably use it for every future knitting project.

vegan spinach artichoke dip

There are about a million spinach artichoke dips out there on the world wide web.  I came across some covered in cheese, some with puree’d white beans to cut a bit of the fat, and most (obviously) were not vegan.  Now I’m not saying this recipe is healthy by any means but it is my favorite thing to bring to parties because most people don’t realize it’s vegan.  This year I took it to a work party where I was the sole vegan and the bowl was practically licked clean.

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip
Adapted from Alton Brown

8 ounces vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I’ve also used 1/4 c mayo and 1/4 c sour cream with good results)
1/3 cup vegan mozzarella cheese (I use Daiya)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Tabasco sauce to taste
1 cup thawed and drained frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts (frozen or canned)

Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mozzarella cheese in a bowl and microwave for one minute.  Add the red pepper flakes, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and tabasco sauce and whisk to combine.  Stir in the chopped spinach and artichokes.  Serve hot – I’ve refrigerated this all day and then popped it into the microwave before serving or I’ve heated it in an oven if one is available.

I usually serve this dip with sliced baguette but you could use any chip, cracker, pita, bread, vegetable you like most.  You could even smear it on some toast and eat it for lunch.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  Not that I would know.

dining room curtains

Can this be called a dining room?  I could never decide.  We have a galley kitchen and this little room (in our open floor-plan apartment) is right off it.  It seems strange to call it a kitchen table as it’s not technically in the kitchen.  Dining room table it is.

Please excuse the dark photo.  It’s hard to take a picture of white curtains on an incredibly sunny day.

So.  My tiny dining room needed curtains.  I had bought some white cotton eyelet about three years ago with the intention of making super simple curtains for this window.  THREE YEARS LATER, they are finally done!

Coincidentally, the day I decided to finally tackle this project I saw this post on design*sponge about sewing simple curtains.  Curtains are not terribly difficult but having this tutorial on my screen gave me a little more confidence so I recommend checking it out if you’re thinking of taking on a similar project.  I didn’t follow the instructions completely (my bottom hem is only about 3 inches) but it was helpful.

I’m really pleased with how they turned out!  I think I will have a hard time ever buying curtains again now that I know how easy they are to make.

I bought the rick-rack from a trim shop in the garment district.  Love the rick-rack.

snowy day chickpea salad

I took a snow day on Friday because it looked like this outside my apartment:

Remembering a chickpea salad post I saw on a fun little blog I stumbled upon, I decided to make an “actual lunch” instead of our usual peanut and butter jelly sandwiches or leftovers we eat during the work week.  No real recipe here, just throw in what you like.  This is what I used:

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 a medium red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 T parsley minced
1/4 cup walnuts chopped
+ as much vegan mayo as it takes to get to the consistency you like!

Mash the chickpeas with a fork or a potato masher and mix everything else in.

I think for real snow-day-appreciation, you must eat soup.  I recently found a jarred tomato soup that didn’t contain cream and decided to give that a try.  I realize that making tomato soup is also pretty easy but my blender/food processor bit the dust  and I’m still trying to figure out what to replace it with.  RIP blender.

Unsurprisingly, it tasted a lot like a jarred marina sauce.  Not a bad marinara, just not exactly what I was looking for in a soup.  I added some soymilk to make it creamier and then some cornstarch to thicken it back up.  It worked pretty well.

We ate our sandwiches on toasted whole wheat bread with pickles (of course) and some baby spinach leaves.  Pretzels and a mug of tomato soup were a welcome accompaniment.

cheap laundry part II

Want to know another cheap laundry tip?

I used to use dryer sheets (like I think most people do) to ensure my clothing and sheets come out static free – until I realized that most dryer sheets contain animal products.  The stuff that makes your clothing not-so-clingy is usually tallow.  And while I’m sure there are dryer sheets out there that don’t contain a ton of chemicals and perfumes and even the animal ingredients, it still doesn’t change the fact they are expensive and that you have to keeeeep buying them.

Instead, I started using this:

Two or three balls of rolled up aluminum foil.  And it really works!  My clothing comes out static-free, without funky perfumes.  After a load or two the foil balls do shrink up a bit but I keep using them until they look really ragged and start falling apart.  Or, my cats steal them and chase them under the dresser.  The balls last a long time though, and clearly, I buy cheap aluminum foil.