Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2nd Annual Swap 'til You Drop!


I  recently hosted a very successful second annual 'Swap til you drop' party! 

swap /sw├Ąp/
Verb:  Take part in an exchange of. 
Noun:  An act of exchanging one thing for another.

Swap parties are a fantastic way to share or exchange your unwanted items with your friends.  It's like shopping without actually spending money and one of the best parts, you get a chance to catch up on your Spring cleaning.  After everyone gets a chance to "shop" I get the fun task of packing all the extras up and donating them to good will.  Okay, it's really not the most fun but it's for a great cause so I don't mind doing it.

And what would a swap party be without some healthy finger foods and snacks...


Simple, bite-size sandwiches including  cucumber hummus on whole wheat (above) and caramelized onion,  sun-dried tomato with vegan mayo on whole wheat (below).


The delicious onions used for this sandwich came from Evergreen Farmer's Market.


Stuffed baked mushrooms, stuffed with cooked quinoa, caramelized onion, sun-dried tomato, salt and pepper and Daiya cheese.


To sooth and replenish the palette, mint and lemon infused chilled water.


And for dessert, sweet vanilla raspberry cupcakes with raspberry vegan butter cream.


There was so much stuff left over, I think the girls barely made a dent but I was happy that everyone had a great time.

Want to host your own swap party? Here are a few tips based on my own experience:

  1. Keep the number of guests small, between 6-10, you would be surprised with how much even a small group of girls will bring with them.
  2. Keep food light and simple.
  3. Most swap parties use some form of "currency" like poker chips, pennies or playing cards for "shopping" but with my friends, everyone is so easy-going and just happy to get rid of their stuff that we don't usually need this form or currency once the shopping gets going.
  4. It is important however, to have a system at the start.  I had everyone choose a number out of a hat, the highest number got to "shop" first, getting first pick at one item.  Then the next guest followed, picking only one item, then the next, etc. etc.  Once every person gets a chance to pick their one item then it's a free-for-all!
  5. Don't be too finicky about where things go.  I always have system when I start - housewares in the kitchen, clothing and accessories in the living room, etc. - but before you know it there is so much stuff that you just have to put it somewhere, anywhere!  In the end everything gets pretty mixed up anyway.
  6. Remember to have fun! Take time to chat with friends and catch up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pleurotus Ostreatus ... Oyster Mushrooms

These are some wonderfully delicious oyster mushrooms I picked up from the market last week. They may not look too appetizing just yet but this simple to do recipe will have you wanting more.  So, why are oyster mushrooms amazing? Well, for one, they are very healthy and full of nutrients.  They are low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol.

They are a great source of protein,vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, and Zinc.  Much like portobello mushrooms, oyster mushrooms are wonderful hearty and nutrient dense substitute to animal food products. They are an excellent source of  dietary fiber, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium and copper - which I assume are all things good for you!


Oven-baked Oyster Mushrooms
1. Preheat oven to 350 C.

2. Chop a bunch of oyster mushrooms in to bite-size pieces.  Be sure to keep them on the larger size because they will shrink when cooking.

3. Toss them in about 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. You can eyeball this part because the amount of oil used will depend on the amount of mushrooms used.


4. Spread mushrooms out on a parchment paper covered pan and sprinkle sea salt over top.

5. Bake at 350 C for about 10-12 minutes then with a spatula, mix them up so that they evenly cook. Cook for another 4-5 minutes.



6. Remove from the oven, wait a minute or so and enjoy!

You can almost enjoy the oyster mushrooms as soon as you take them out of the oven because they will lose heat quickly.  So if you like them hot, eat them right away.  They should have a crispy texture with a salty or savoury taste.

If you have a great mushroom recipe to share I would love to hear it. Please leave a comment or two.  Cheers!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Broccoli Kale Soup with Freshly Baked Bread


A lovely soup for a lovely weekend.  It's only just the beginning, but it already feels like Spring is here.  So, in hopes that Winter is truly gone (at least for this season), here's one last comfort food farewell.  Creamy Broccoli & Kale soup, now one of my new favourites which I found on For the Love of Food Blog, is a wonderfully healthy and comforting meal in a bowl.



Check out the Blog for the recipe.

And what better way to enjoy a comforting bowl of soup then with some warm, freshly baked dinner rolls.  I have never personally been great at baking bread, especially when using dry active yeast, but like anything else worth making it takes time and practice.  I am ecstatic that I found this dinner roll recipe on OvenmittsI loved it so much, I baked two batches. I think this just may be the end of my bread buying days.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cookbooks, Websites and Pie, Oh My!

photo source

When I was a kid one of my favourite pastimes was to browse through books, all kinds of books; at the book store or library, it didn't matter I just loved looking through them and usually took a good chunk home with me.  I loved it so much that I even volunteered at a library in grade school and University.

So it only makes sense that today, a new favourite pastime of mine is to browse websites – in particular, food, craft or do-it-yourself websites and blogs.  I love stumbling upon new recipes, DIY projects and other bloggers who share the same passions as I do.

It is through many of these websites that I get a lot of my baking, meal and home project ideas. Let's focus on meal ideas for now. These days, with the Internet at our fingertips one can never really fall short of great meal ideas to prepare at home, especially since there are so many people out there willing to share their ideas, myself included. However, it isn't always easy to find the time to actually prepare a good home meal, but with everything we are learning today about food production and processing, it is well worth the extra time!

To help get you started on finding some great recipe here are a few books that I have come to know and love, that have helped (and continue to help) me on my home cooking journey.  But first, you need a grocery list.  Click here for shopping list items.


My Cookbook List

For sweet treats and baking: 

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan Cookies invade your Cookie Jar, Vegan Pie in the Sky, and Raw for Dessert 

And for everything else:

Veganomicon, Vegan Brunch, 500 Vegan Recipes, La Dolce Vegan!, The Kind Diet, The Thrive Diet, Fresh at Home, and Ripe from Around Here.

Now, these are just books that I have either owned or have used the recipes from but there are thousands of fantastic cook books out there for you to find.  So, find one you love and stick to it for while or try your public library to test out some recipes first before you purchase. And please, do share any great book suggestions you may have with me, I love to hear them!

My Website List (some)


Know any great websites of your own? Leave a comment and share the link.

And now, from one of my favourite sweet cook books, Vegan Pie in the Sky ...
Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake

mm mm banana and chocolate ...

 Step 1: Blend

 Step 2: Pour

 Step 3: Bake

Step 4: Devour!

Enjoy!
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