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Apple Pie Crescents

Fall may not have made its official arrival just yet, but around our house, it sure has! Decorations are going up, pumpkin candles are burning and the itch to bake delicious goodies has hit. If you’ve got the urge, too, give these ridiculously easy apple pie crescents a try! They’re super yummy and will give you a quick fix of fabulous fall flavors and aromas.

crescent

What you’ll need:

  • 1 can refrigerated crescent roll dough (check the label for veganness — I used a generic store brand)
  • 1 large apple, cut into 16 wedges
  • 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

To prepare:

  1. Preheat oven according to dough package directions.
  2. Unroll crescents and place 2 wedges of apple on each of the wider ends of the crescent triangles.
  3. Place a small dab of Earth Balance on top of each of the apples.
  4. Mix sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle some along length of the crescents, reserving a bit of the mixture.
  5. Roll up crescents and sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on the top.
  6. Bake as directed (you may need to add a few minutes), until crescents are golden brown.
  7. Allow to cool and enjoy!

crescents

Mmmmm…

Who else is a fall fanatic like me?! What’s your favorite thing about this glorious season?


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Lessons in Balance: A Dog’s Reflections on Life: A Review

Most girls get excited when they get a new purse, new makeup or new shoes.

And then there’s me.

scout book

I get excited for new books.

Especially ones that feature an awesome and adorable pit bull who has a super-cool talent of balancing stuff on his head.

Lessons In Balance: A Dog’s Reflections on Life is a pictoral anecdote about Scout, a rescued pit bull who lives in Ontario with his mom, Jen, and is famous for his balancing abilities.

What started out as a simple blog to share Scout’s uncanny talent with the world, has turned a once neglected, brown pit bull into a spokesperson (er… spokesdog) for animal rescue. And best of all, Scout is a shining ambassador for his breed. Where he lives, BSL (breed-specific legislation) is in effect and he is required to wear a muzzle when he leaves his home even though he has no bite history. He and his mom are fighting hard to try to change the way pit bulls are (mis)understood and ban laws that discriminate against specific dog breeds.

This little book, which is perfect as a coffee table piece, contains a collection of photos of some of Scout’s best-balanced stuff, along with some pretty poignant life advice straight from the horse’s dog’s mouth. It’s wonderful, but I wish there were more pages! 110 pages of Scout just aren’t enough!

Buy this book for yourself, buy this book for your dog-loving friend, just buy this book!! You’ll love it, it’ll bring a smile to your face and Scout and his pals will get a little back from its purchase.

scout baseball

LessonsInBalance_txt.indd

If you want more of Scout, make sure to follow him on all of his social media accounts! He’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Scout is also in the running for The Barkies award, in the category of “Best Dog Website.” Vote to help him take the title!!

Do you know about Scout? Have you read his book?


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Rats!

So, on Friday night, this happened…

3 rats igloo

We adopted three, adorable, little rat girls! Mary, Winifred and Sarah (a little homage to Hocus Pocus!) are now part of our crazy household.

I’d been itching to get a rat for a long, long time and after I saw this, my mind was made up! I had to have one!

I contacted Philly Rat Rescue and got some great advice about what rat ownership is all about. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any available rats that would be suitable for first-time owners like ourselves, but they put me in touch with a private rescuer who had more adoptees available and on Friday night, she brought over seven little ratties for us to meet.

At first, I thought one rat would suffice. But the more research I did, the more I realized that since rats are such social critters, they really need to be around other rats to be happiest… Two rats it would be. So how did we end up with three? Well, it turns out that the seven rats we met on Friday night were a very bonded group. Someone else had already agreed to take four, so if we only took two, that would leave one, poor, lonely rat. And we definitely couldn’t do that. What’s the difference between two rats and three rats, anyway?!…

With a few days of rat ownership under my belt, I can honestly say that they’ve been a little bit more work than I’d expected. We’ve already had to clean their cage and wash their little bed, since there was pee in it. Acutally, it seems that they pee everywhere! So, we’re in the process of litter training right now to see if we can get them to go in only one part of their cage… I’ll let you know how that goes!

I’ve also given them baths (yes, it is as complicated as it sounds!) because they were a little stinky when they came to us. They were rescued from a horrible situation over the summer and I think some of the issues we’re experiencing now are just residual effects of the deplorable conditions they came from and I’m confident that as time goes by, things will get a lot easier for us and for them! I’m also hoping that they come out of their shells a bit more. They’re definitely interested in us, but still seem a little frightened. I guess those baths really didn’t help that issue…

Mary, Winifred and Sarah are quick and wiggly little girls and are pretty hard to photograph unless they’re sleeping, so I haven’t been able to snap a whole lot of pictures yet, but here are a few:

rat 2

rat 3

rats 3

rats 4

rats 5

rats 6

rats 7

rats 8

Adorable, right?!

I’m happy to have the chance to give these little ladies a chance at a better life and am exited to see what rat ownership has in store for us!

Who else has pet rats? Have any advice to offer?


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Friday Faves: Esther The Wonder Pig

This is Esther and she’s changing the world!

beets by esther

People are beginning to view their food differently — more specifically, they’re looking at the meat on their plates in a new light. It’s called the “Esther Effect” and it’s all because of this pig and her two human dads.

Because, seriously, what’s cuter than a pig with beets strapped to her head? Nothing!! And look at those little teeth!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why in the world a pig would have beets strapped to her head, it’s because that’s all part of Esther’s charm and hilarity. She’s become accustomed to life as a celebri-pig and will let her dads do just about anything to her. Her photos are always accompanied by a witty line or two, which make her just completely irresistible. Here’s the caption that came along with the beet photo:

esther with caption

Good one, right?!

Every single photo of Esther brings a smile to my face. It’s impossible to resist her adorable face and her sheer joy and zest for life make my heart sing. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for your daily dose of piggy cuteness and I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

So how did Esther end up a house-pig, turned internet sensation?

Here’s her story.

Believing that their newly-acquired “mini-pig” would never grow beyond 70 lbs., Esther‘s owners, Steve and Derek, were in for the surprise of their lives when their house pet hit the 70 lb. mark, then just kept growing. She is now a full-sized “commercial” pig (the kind that bacon, pork, ham, etc. come from) and lives peacefully alongside her canine and feline housemates. After her dads started a Facebook page for her, Esther became a global phenomenon and, in the process, has become an ambassador for farmed animals everywhere. She’s made vegans out of her former meat-eating dads and has convinced countless other people who have fallen in love with this precious porcine to do the same. It’s the Esther Effect in action!

esther in pond

esther mud face

esther window

Esther’s family has recently purchased land to build a farmed animal sanctuary in Ontario, Canada. It will be called “Esther’s Sanctuary” and will serve as a safe haven for animals just like Esther — animals who were fortunate enough to escape their fates of ending up as someone’s dinner. The sanctuary will welcome visitors from all over the world and will continue to spread the messages of kindness and compassion for all beings.

What can you do to support Esther and her work? First of all, make a contribution to the sanctuary project, if you can. It’s an enormous undertaking, but one that is vitally needed in our world. And second, consider taking meat off your plate. Each bite of meat you eat was an animal. A living, breathing, feeling being. An Esther. Think about it!

Thank you, Esther, for brightening my days and for bringing awareness to the plight of farmed animals everywhere!!


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Cookbook Whore

I horde collect cookbooks like other women horde collect shoes or handbags. I’m one of those people that just HAS TO HAVE IT (that shiny, new pair of shoes, that stunning handbag, or in my case, that cookbook), but then “it” sits, untouched, in the closet (or on the bookshelf).

Here’s my collection (less one or two titles that I am loaning to others at the moment). And these are only the vegetarian/vegan ones! I have at least 10 others on my shelf that are carry-overs from our pre-veg days.:

cookbooks edited

I almost always read a cookbook cover-to-cover, as soon as I get it, but then, it goes on my bookshelf, unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon. You see, my cooking philosophy is a little different than most others’. I feel that you don’t always need to follow the rules, when it comes to cooking, nor should you. Cooking should be creative and fun and spur-of-the-moment. For me, that’s when the magic of cooking really happens — when you sort of make things up as you go along. I read cookbooks to get ideas for new ingredient pairings and for preparation techniques, rather than to actually prepare the recipes, as written. On the rare occasion when I actually do follow a recipe from one of my cookbooks, I tend to modify it to my liking or based on what I have on hand at the moment, anyway, and that’s the way I like to work in the kitchen — making each recipe my own.

Out of the 19 titles listed above, I can honestly say that eight have only been opened once (probably for that first reading). Perhaps it’s time for me to dust a few off and check ‘em out, for a refresher!

Anyone else collect cookbooks the way I do? How many do you own? Which are your faves and which do I absolutely have to add to my stash collection?


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b. good: A Review

b good marlton

Last Sunday, we found ourselves a bit unexpectedly at the Promenade at Sagemore in Marlton. Ant needed a new battery for his iPhone and the Apple store in that shopping center was the closest one that could take us. While we were waiting, we moseyed around for a bit (I bought a new and completely necessary kitchen gadget at Sur la Table!) and decided to grab a bite to eat at b. good, since the menu posted in the window seemed to show some pretty good veg options.

As soon as we walked through the doors, I knew we’d made a great choice! We were greeted by friendly staff, but the very first things I noticed were the beautiful fruit and veggie assortment behind the prep counter and the cool, farm-y vibe of the place.

We placed our orders and had a look around. b. good’s motto, “Food made by people, not factories,” is a theme that plays out in the restaurant’s decor. A giant map in the center of the dining area points out where b. good’s ingredients come from and stories and photos on the walls tell the stories of the farmers and families that provide those ingredients.

b. good map

b. good farmer stories

 

The menu, while not huge, offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and includes seasonal specials, as well. I opted for the veggie burger, prepared “West Side” style — with avocado, fresh salsa, cilantro, chipotle puree and lime. For a side, I chose the crisp veggies — sauteed broccolini, kale, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms. Ant ordered the “Adopted Luke” veggie burger, which was topped with mushrooms, caramelized onions, smoked swiss and BBQ sauce. He got fries for a side. There was a cool, self-serve natural soda and lemonade station with lots of interesting options. I chose the beet lemonade, which was just as delicious as it was beautiful!

b. good lemonade

When our food came out, we remarked at how beautiful it looked! And when we went in for the first bite, we both were surprised by how very fresh everything tasted.

b. good food

b. good burger

b. good veggies

We enjoyed every bit of our meal and I felt really good after finishing up. I was full, but not stuffed and it was a good full — like a packed-full of-veggie-goodness-and-nutrients full.

b. good only recently opened up in Marlton and I’ve heard buzz that there are plans to open one up in Philly as well. Currently, there are other locations in Maine, Massachussetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. I hope the Marlton location is successful, because we definitely want to eat there again. I was eyeing up another patron’s quinoa bowl as we were leaving and it looked scrumptious!

Overall, our experience at b. good was excellent. Great food, friendly service and fair prices. My only wish is that they’d add more organic ingredients to their menu offering. I saw the “o” word show up a few times on the menu descriptions, but it’d be awesome if they went mostly or all organic!

Have you ever eaten at b. good? What did you think?


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Cornmeal-Crusted Tempeh with Watermelon Salsa

Yesterday marked the first day of September and the first day of VeganMoFo — the glorious, month-long celebration of all things vegan food-related! While I’m kind of kicking myself for not signing up as an official participant, I’m not letting that stop me from spreading the word about how wonderful cruelty-free cooking and eating can be. So, for the next month, if you see more food-related posts, you’ll know why!

watermelon salsa

I’m a big fan of contrasting flavors — salty and sweet, spicy and cool, robust and mild — and this is sort of how this recipe was born. It’s a new twist on an old classic and one that’s super versatile, depending on what you have on hand and what sort of flavor profile you’d like to achieve.

You can pair this watermelon salsa with whatever you’d like — eat it with chips, toss it into a salad, sit it atop some grilled tofu, or just dig in with a spoon — whatever floats your boat. I decided to try it on some cornmeal-crusted tempeh and I thought it turned out pretty awesome, so that’s the other half the recipe I’m sharing today.

Here’s what you’ll need to make the salsa:

  • 2 cups diced watermelon (I used both red and yellow for more color!), with juice reserved
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. agave
  • juice of 1/2 lime

To prepare:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Using a spoon, give the salsa a few good presses to help release some more of the watermelon juice.
  3. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Here’s what you’ll need for the tempeh:

  • 2 8-oz. blocks tempeh
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. oil, for frying

To prepare:

  1. Cut tempeh into slabs of desired size. I started with 2 rectangular blocks, cut each in half to make 4 squares, then halved each square, to make 8 thinner squares.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Dip slabs of tempeh into water, then into the cornmeal mixture.
  4. Transfer coated slabs to a hot frying pan and fry in oil until golden brown.
  5. Cool cooked tempeh on paper towels to remove excess oil, then plate, top with salsa and serve. I added a drizzle of sriracha on top for some extra oomph!

Makes 4 servings.

Are you a big fan of watermelon? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

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