MOO Who?

As an ardent and rather stubborn DIY-er, it can be difficult to hand over the reins of a project to someone else. That’s why I was reluctant to accept an offer from MOO.com to lend a hand with printing. Why did I buy that bulky, large format professional photo printer anyway, and didn’t they only produce business cards? Au contraire, although best known for their brilliantly colored, multi-photo business cards, it turns out they also produce equally stunning stickers of all shapes and sizes, not to mention the greeting cards, too. The endless possibilities presented by a pack of completely customizable stickers was the spark that started my creative fire.

With Vegan a la Mode due literally any day now, I began to think towards future book signings, and how I wished I could have a greater reach in my two-state “tour.” Book plates could solve all of that! A simple sticker that could be mailed in a standard envelope, no muss, no fuss, for those abroad who might want a signature. Rather than slap together something reasonably decent, this was a job for MOO, plus the adorable illustrations of the ultra-talented Michelle Cavigliano.

Have happy ice cream scoops ever looked better on sticky paper? I think not. The color quality and sharpness is impeccable; What came in the mail less than a week after placing my order was a flawless replica of my original submission. (There’s just a bit of glare in the photo, not a printing issue at the bottom of the sticker.) Certainly better than I could have done alone, and about 100 times easier.

In celebration of my third cookbook‘s imminent release, I want to start by giving away 5 of these adorable book plate stickers, signed, to anyone who pre-ordered or won’t be able to see me in person- Or just loves the design (I don’t blame you; Michelle totally exceeded my expectations on the cute factor.) In addition, MOO.com was so generous as to offer both a pack of 50 Business Cards AND 50 Retangular Labels to 3 more lucky readers! That’s 8 chances to win right there. All you have to do is leave me a comment and specify if you want to be in the running for both a book plate and the printing prize packs from MOO, or just one. If you want your own MOO.com business cards and stickers, tell me about what you would have printed on them. Make sure you fill out a valid email address in the appropriate box, and please, only one comment per person.. This contest will be open to entries until June 5th at midnight EST.

UPDATE: The random number generator has spoken, and the winners of the MOO.com prize packs are…

Amanda and Jessica K!

And the lucky five getting signed book plates are…

Jill, Kelly C, Sarah, veganamericanprincess, and Aya!

Congrats everyone! Keep an eye on your email, and expect a message about your winnings from either me or MOO shortly.

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The Drunken Grape

It’s reasonable to expect a scorching summer ahead, at the rate the temperature is rising already. When was the last time you could even dream of donning shorts and flip flops come mid-April? It may be a sign of worse things to come, but right now, this sudden taste of the tropics is a welcome wake-up call from winter. Best of all, it’s now perfectly reasonable to bust out that ice cream maker and get churning, no further excuses necessary.

Rum raisin would have to be on the short list of classic parlor flavors, an essential scoop that must make every menu worth its salt. Sure, raisins can be a polarizing ingredient in desserts, but when soaked in spirits and thoroughly intoxicated on a heady mix of rum and sugar, what’s not to love? A mere replication of this tried-and-true formula wasn’t enough to satiate my appetite for experiment though, and my mind turned to other candies and successful raisin dessert mash-ups.

Ultimately an amalgamation of both the classic rum raisin ice cream and yogurt-covered raisins, the resulting marriage of tart, sweet, and slightly boozy makes me wonder why no one makes the traditional candies infused with spirits in the first place. Do yourself a favor and lose the the waxy coatings in favor of a smooth and creamy coat of thickened vegan yogurt- You’ll end up with not only a healthier treat, but a much more satisfying and grown-up option as well. This particular recipe may have been cut from the final line up in Vegan a la Mode, but there’s yet another rendition on this drunken raisin dessert, with a more chocolaty twist…

Rum Raisin Frozen Yogurt

3 Cups (1 24-Ounce Container) Plain Soy or Coconut Yogurt
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2/3 Cup Raisins
3 Tablespoons Dark Rum
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth and fill with soy yogurt. Wrap the edges of the cheesecloth over the yogurt until fully covered, and place strainer or colander over a pot deep enough to catch the liquid and keep the yogurt from sitting in the moisture. Cover pot with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours. You should end up with about 2 1/2 cups of thick yogurt.

In a medium bowl, combine the strained yogurt, sugar, raisins, rum, vanilla, and salt. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Yes, this one does take a good measure of patience, but allowing the flavors to meld and develop before churning will create a more complex and harmonious final product. Plus, by effectively soaking the raisins for a good couple of hours, this will prevent them from turning into rock-hard icicles once they hit the freezer.

The following morning (don’t worry, there’s no shame in admitting you wanted to sneak a scoop for breakfast!) freeze mixture in an ice cream machine based on the manufacturer’s instructions. For a soft-serve consistency, serve immediately after freezing. For a firmer consistency more like standard ice cream, pack into an airtight container and let chill in the freezer for at least 4 hours.

Makes About 1 Quart

Printable Recipe

Leftovers

The dust is finally beginning to settle after the final grueling round of edits for Vegan a la Mode, and I can breathe more easily once again. It may actually be done. Such a crazy thought, to consider that my third cookbook is on it’s way, possibly being printed as we speak. It sure didn’t happen overnight though; like most of my grand concepts, this one has been churning for a couple years now, before I even knew I wanted to do a book devoted solely to frozen treats. The gentle hum of the ice cream maker was my siren song, and I couldn’t stop dreaming up creamy concoctions even if I tried. It was a natural segue to turn those recipes into a book, where they could all live happily together. But like any process that drags on through months and months, evolving with the changing seasons and weathering different patterns of inspiration, there had to be some difficult cuts to make at the end of the line. As per usual, I had too many ideas, too many words, and not nearly enough pages to stretch my writerly legs.

Perfectly tasty ice creams had to be set aside to make the book work as a whole, and this Maple Nut Royale was one of them. Sandwiched between a maple-pecan number and a handful of other peanut-based confections, it simply made sense to pare back. It took the news with grace, but I could tell it was quite disappointed it wouldn’t see the pages of a published book after all. Leftover but still perfectly good, this creamy, nutty ice cream seemed like the perfect little teaser to share here instead. One of the earlier recipes I churned up, circa 2009, the photo may not be my best work, but I like to think that the deliciousness still shows all the same.

Maple-Nut Royale Ice Cream

3/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
2/3 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk*
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Toasted Pecans

*Almond milk is recommended to further the nutty theme, but any sort of non-dairy beverage, other than rice milk, will do.

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the pecans, in a medium saucepan until smooth. You can bring things together more easily in a blender, but it should smooth out with a sturdy whisk and just a bit of elbow grease, too. Set the saucepan over medium heat on the stove, and continue to whisk gently, scraping the bottom and sides as you go, to prevent the mixture from sticking and burning.

Cook until the liquid comes to a boil and has thickened significantly; bubbles should break slowly but regularly on the surface. Turn off the heat, and let cool to room temperature before chilling thoroughly in the fridge. Allow at least 2 – 3 hours for the mixture to come down to a cooler temperature.

Once chilled, churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In the final 5 minutes of churning, add in the chopped pecans, and allow the moving paddle to incorporate them into the soft ice cream. Transfer to an air-tight container, and stash in the freezer for at least 3 hours to further harden before scooping and serving.

Makes About 1 Quart

Printable Recipe