Showing posts with label contest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label contest. Show all posts

Saturday, May 17, 2014

vegan finger foods :: giveaway!

press sample

Apologies for my absence from the Interwebs. Poor F-stop spent the last 5 weeks in the hospital and is now recovering at home – much more fun than healing in a hospital. Thank you all for your kind wishes. Keep sending them!

Since F-stop, work and sanity-saving running have been my focus over the past few weeks, I haven't had much of an appetite until recently, nor have I done much cooking. My gradual reentry into the Blogosphere will consist mainly of giveaways, reviews and a few straggler recipes as time permits. Thanks for your patience.

Today, I am thrilled to be giving away a free copy of Vegan Finger Foods: More Than 100 Crowd-Pleasing Recipes for Bite-Size Eats Everyone Will Love co-authored by my lovely amigas Tami Noyes and Celine Steen. Although finger foods have long been the norm in the Middle East [think mezze], China [think dim sum] and in Spain [think tapas], they are super popular in the US right now and have become a fun and profitable restaurant theme. America may finally be falling out of love with supersize portions, thank goodness.

When you think about it, the first bite you take of any given dish is the most pleasurable. That's why I adore finger foods. You get to experience the intensity of flavor without the resulting fullness. This plant-based book is designed mainly for parties, but since I love "mini" foods, I see myself making many of these vegan snacks all for myself. Here are a few recipes that caught my eye and that I've bookmarked to make once I have more time and appetite:
  • Corn Fritters with Tomato-Thyme Gravy
  • Kale-Cucumber Cups
  • Mini Lemon Cupcakes
  • Black Forest Jars
Tami and Celine are giving away a copy of their cookbook, US residents only please. Complete the Rafflecopter below. I'll announce the winner next week. Good luck!
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Saturday, November 30, 2013

om-nom-nom vegan cookies :: overdue review and giveaway

Press Sample for Review

Om-Nom-Nom Vegan Cookies
Awhile back, the nice folks at Om-Nom-Nom Cookies sent me 6 vegan treats to sample. They are also offering a giveaway: one mix-and-match pack for one lucky US reader. [Details below.] They sent me 6 varieties to sample:

  • Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal: Very chewy and comforting; I would have liked just a tad more cranberry flavor. 
  • Orange Zested Chocolate Chip: Sophisticated, delicate take on the classic chocolate chipper
  • Spicy Mexican Snickerdoodle: The hint of spice gave the chocolate a fun kick. Nicely balanced.
  • Chocolate Snickerdoodle: This was my favorite – rich, dense and crumbly. Grandma would approve. Perfect with coffee.
  • Chocolate Chip: Reminds me of the chocolate chippers you would find at a bake sale. Homemade taste shines through.
  • Ultimate Peanut Butter: Perfectly respectable and very peanut buttery. I'm generally not PB cookie fan, but that didn't stop me from eating it. Enough said.

  • How cute is the OmNomNom Cookies label?
    The adorbz company name is fitting: when you munch on these cookies, you are instantly transformed into a cookie monster and can't help but start making "om-nom-nom-nom" sounds. How cute is the label? Simple, clean and homespun.

    OmNomNom Cookies label: straightfoward, plant-based ingredients
    As you can see, their ingredient list is awesomely straightforward: what you see is what you get – and what you taste. I love that these treats are made with simple, pantry ingredients. And that's how they taste: like cookies made with love by your grandma – and not by a machine. Plus, as you know from my previous rants, I hate when companies deceivingly split nutrition information into portions so minuscule that only a microbe could reach satiety in order to try to fool consumers. So kudos to OmNom for their honesty: the nutrition information is listed for 1 cookie, which is what any normal human being would consume.

    OmNom cookies are available online at and at select locations in Florida, California, Colorado and New York.

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    Sunday, October 27, 2013

    sambazon freshies review and giveaway

    press sample

    I first fell in love the with the chocolate-berry flavor of acai bery when I first visited Brazil many moons ago. Here in the US, it's a sorta' pretentious superfood. There, it's a humble but delectable staple, sold at every corner juice bar and in little cups by vendors on the beach. I like it best mixed with bananas, but it's also popular served with granola. Given my taste for acai, I was thrilled when the nice folks at Sambazon asked me to review their new acai juice blends – Freshies

    I have long been a fan of Sambazon's straight, frozen acai which I use as described above with bananas. I also love it in a smoothie, with almond or cashew milk and a bit of raw cocoa powder. They sent me this cool acai bowl and cookbook. Now onto the reviews....

    Even though they sent me four vouchers, sadly, I was only able to find 2 flavors at my local Whole Foods: Blended Breakfast and Energy Mocha Java. Each "serving" has about 180 calories, but each bottle has 1.3 servings. I really wish food companies would just give us nutrition counts for bottles or containers or reasonable portions – and stop confusing consumers with these odd serving sizes.

    Each Freshie serving contained 7 grams of protein which is decent for a fruit juice but did not contain any impressive vitamin percentages. Unfortunately, sugar was also high on the ingredient list. Although I liked both flavors, especially the Mocha Java [Chocolate + coffee + acai?! Win, win, win. Yes, please.], I found both a tad too sweet for me. Still. I could see how others would like them, and since they are made from whole foods and pronounceable ingredients, they are a hell of a lot better for you than soda. I found them to be very filling.

    I taste-tested these back in summer and used some of the leftover juice to make little ice pops. It was the perfect application. These Freshies would also make fabulous smoothie bases. Good additions would include baby spinach, bananas, and maybe a shot or two of your favorite nut milk.

    Want to win free VIP vouchers for free Sambazon Freshies and give them a try? Enter below! [US only, please] 
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    Sunday, October 06, 2013

    fante's signing recap and cake boss pan winner

    I've been doing a slew of signings and demos for my new pie cookbook, Pies and Tarts with HeartThis weekend, I'll be doing a signing and demo at Paris Vegan Day. [Check out shots from my 2011 demo here.] Two weeks ago, I was at Williams-Sonoma in Philly. Last weekend, I was at my favorite cook shop ever, Fante's, in Philadelphia's Italian Market. I brought this Pumpkin Pie for customers to taste. I'd say 99% of the store customers who tasted it were omnivores, and everyone loved it. In fact, I did a little experiment and didn't tell them it was vegan until after they tried it. [Meniacle laughter] You can find the recipe in my book and an older version here

    I bought many of the supplies photographed in my book at Fante'. If you are ever in Philly and you love cooking, you NEED to stop here. They have everything and they are the sweetest people ever. It's so awesome to see a family run business that's so successful in this era of box shop overload. 

    Here I am with Nina from Fante's, a phabulous Philly phoodie. She and her colleagues made me feel so at home.

    Fante's is a chef's – and baker's– dream. This is but one tiny shelf in their humongous, well-equipped baking section. If you want it, they have it. And they probably have 10 different kinds.

     It's jam-packed with toys for chefs of all levels...

    This was my view from the signing table. They had arranged an entire wall of pie-baking supplies next to me, and every time I had a spare second, I kept glancing at that wall, daydreaming ... Above the wall is a collage of autographed head shots of celebrities who who have shopped there: Emeril LaGasse, Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianich, etc.

    Of course, I could not go home without indulging in a culinary haul. I bought this cute little elephant pitcher, a similar cat pitcher, large-grain caster sugar for baking, canelé molds and 2 sugar skull molds; I'm going to try out Kittee's recipe when I get back from Paris.

    It was such a great weekend. F-stop and I went out to dinner later that evening, and this is what we came across as we walked to the restaurant. Halloween is coming.

    Cake Boss Load Pan winner
    Now, without further ado, the winner of the Cake Boss loaf pan is....drumroll....The Peace Patch. Email me your address so we can send out your pan.

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    Monday, September 30, 2013

    easy cashew kisses and red apple lipstick winner

    Kinder, gentler candy kisses
    After years of dreaming, scrutinizing, researching, comparing and contrasting, about 2 months ago, I finally broke down and bought a cherry red VitamixI am in love with it and have already put it to good use. I plan on doing a more thorough Vitamix post and review later on, but for now I'd like to share a quickie recipe that I accidentally discovered – Cashew Butter Kisses.
    As you probably already know, you can make nut butter in the Vitamix. This turns out to be a huge money saver, especially when it comes to more costly nut butters. For example, cashew butteraverages about $12 a jar in my neck of the woods right now, but I can make almost 2 jars of cashew butter for about $8 based on the cost of bulk raw cashews. Besides tasting better, when you make your own nut butters, you have control over added sugar and consistency, and you can add in ingredients to make gourmet nut butters. Which brings me to this serendipitous photo recipe for Cashew Kisses.

    Cashew butter, pressed into the mold, ready for the 'fridge
    My first batch of homemade cashew butter was a tad on the thick side [easily remedied with a few drops of oil]. Before thinning, on a whim, I pressed some of the thick cashew butter into my candy kiss mold, popped it into the fridge and in a few hours, I had tasty Cashew Kisses to snack on. Healthier and tastier than store-bought candy. No foil required.

    Contest winner
    Thanks to everyone for entering the Red Apple Lipstick Giveaway The lucky winner is ....drumroll.... Tanya! Congratulations, girl! Email me your address so we can send out your prize.

    Watch for more giveaways in the future. I have a couple of good ones coming up.

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    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    spice bread recipe, cake boss cake pan review and giveaway

    The chilly September mornings and evenings put me in the mood for warming spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Good thing the nice folks from Cake Boss [of TV show fame] sent me one of their new loaf pans to review. I revisited the recipe for Rue Des Rossiers Spice Bread from my second cookbook [scroll down for the recipe] using So Delicious Cashew Milk and was on my way to testing it out.

    The Low Down
    In short, I love this pan and can't find anything bad to say about it. First, I love the little handles on this load pan. They make it easier to pull from the hot oven. The little red "Cake Boss" logos are more than just decoration; they actually give you some traction so you don't drop your new baked good. And it's sturdy… not thin, but nice and substantial. I was happy to see that my spice cake baked perfectly – edges were just slightly crisp and insides were perfectly even.  But the real test came when it was time to see if the bread would stick....

    The suspense was awful...

    Tada! Nothing to worry about. Easiest. Bake-flip. Ever. 

    And check this out: hardly any residue. A quick swipe with some dish soap, and the pan was clean.

    Where to buy You can find the full line of Cake Boss bake ware at Michael'sAlso, you might want to stop by your local Michael's  this Saturday, September 28 to try their "I love to Bake" Cake Roulette game for another chance to win these fabulous bakeware products.

    Win a Cake Boss Load Pan To enter to win the loaf pan I reviewed, just leave a comment and tell us the first thing you'll bake if you win it. US readers only, please. I'll announce the winner next week – don't forget to leave a contact method. Good luck. Until then, try my vegan, autumnal spice bread recipe...

    Rue Des Rosiers Pain D’Epice
    This quick bread traditionally shows up in bakeries throughout France in the weeks before Christmas, but to me, it seems more like a Hannukah sweet, which is why I’ve named it after the Rue Des Rosiers (a popular street in one of Paris’ Jewish neighborhoods). I love this spice bread for breakfast, slathered with Earth Balance and marmalade, along with a cup of hot, mulled tea or cider.
    • 1 ½ cup almond or soy milk
    • 2/3 cup agave nectar
    • ¼ cup molasses
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 2 cups flour
    • ¼ cup soy flour
    • 1 T baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ¾ tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp ground ginger
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • ¼ tsp cloves
    Makes 1 large or 4 mini loaves

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan or 4 mini loaf pans
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
    3. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined. Do not overstir.
    4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. (Bake 20-24 minutes for mini loaves.)

    Add ½ cup of any of the following, or a combination:
    • Dried cranberries
    • Raisins
    • Chopped dates
    • Chopped, dried figs
    • Toasted walnuts, pacans or almonds
    • Candied ginger
    • Chocolate or carob chips
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    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    red apple gluten-free vegan lipsticks :: review and giveaway

    I reviewed these Red Apple lipsticks. From top to bottom: Beach Peach lipstick, Honeybadger lip gloss, Dancing Princess lip gloss, Nude lip liner pen, and Strawberry Fields lipstick

    I am not a beauty blogger, but I love playing one on the Internet every once in awhile. Awhile back – eons ago, my bad – the très nice folks at Red Apple Lipstick sent me a care package of their gluten-free, cruelty-free, vegan lipsticks to review.  They asked me to choose 5 products.

    L to R: Strawberry Fields, Beach Peach, Dancing Princess, Honeybadger and Nude. For reference: I have pale, late 40s skin with a faint runner's tan. 
    Luckily, I do not have gluten issues, but I am aware that we consume way too much. And when it comes to cosmetics, I know that what I am applying onto my body inevitably ends up in my body. I love that, while Red Apple Lipsticks are saturated with gorgeous, all-natural colors,  they are also free of gluten, parabens, animal products, artificial coloring and all sorts of other mainstream nastiness. Plus, since most Red Apple lipstick colors are earthy, they offer a rainbow of shades to complement a range of complexions – from ghostly white like me, to darker, deeper skin tones. So all this said, there's lots to love about this indy brand, whether you have gluten issues or not. Here's the lowdown on what I tried, complete with "selfies" showing color swatches. [True confession: It's utterly horrifying to see yourself in photos past the age of 25; I post them in the name of anti vivisection!]
    Nude lip liner with Honeybadger lip gloss
    Lip liner in Nude: This classic neutral shade will complement most complexions and lipstick shades. I like the fact that it features a little twist-up feature. [In my infinite laziness, I hate sharpening cosmetic pencils.] The texture was a tad dry, but this also seemed to contribute to a very long wear time – as in hours, even after eating and drinking. I do wish the thickish, blunt point were a bit more precise – would make lining easier. But I am ordering another one anyway because this color goes with everything, and I like the twist-up point. So there you go...

    Mint to Be Lip Gloss in Honeybadger: Another warm, neutral shade that will complement just about any skin tone, from ghostly white girls like me, to darker black skin. Its minty flavor tingles and soothes when you apply it, hence the name. I wore this for a dinner out with F-stop last night with the Nude liner.

    Red, red, I like red. Strawberry Lips Lipstick. Sammy Hagar would definitely approve.
    Lipstick in Strawberry Lips: Through my late 20s, entire 30s and early 40s, I wore strictly red and earthy lipsticks. Now that I am 2 years from 50 [Really?!? Say it ain't so. I feel about 30.], I find that darker shades make my skin look sallow, causing me to look older. This said, I was on the fence about this shade in the container. But it turned out to be a keeper – transparent enough to look natural but dark enough to give my lips and skin a bit a pop. It's on the re-order list, since I only got a wee sample of this one.

    Lip gloss in Dancing Princess
    Lip gloss in Dancing Princess: This was the surprise of the bunch, a subtle, warm rose gloss punctuated by oodles of microscopic glitter that catch the light and make your lips appear plumper. I wore this to my demo and cookbook signing today at Williams-Sonoma. For girlie-girls ages 14-114.

    Beach Peach lipstick with Nude lip liner
    Lipstick in Beach Peach: This peachy-keen, pale orange toned shade looks fabulous on both pale and tanned skin, plus it's quite sheer and comfortable to wear.  I love shimmery shades like this in the tube but thought it would get lost on my pale skin once applied. But I was surprised to find that it's gorgeous on – a definite keeper for spring and summer. I am packing this away for my next winter island getaway.
    • The good: I adore these lip products and will be ordering again soon. I like what they stand for – no animal ingredients or testing, from themselves or their suppliers. Also love what they include and most of all, what they do not include. The price is right. They offer a range of colors for every complexion. And they offer a 100% money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. Can you say "customer service?!"
    • The not-so-good: My only issue was the dryness of the lip liner and lack of a precise point. But hey, given all the good points, I can live with it. I''ll take a blunt, slightly dry but gorgeous-and-long-wearing, cruelty- and gluten-free vegan lip liner over a precise, evil animal-tested cosmetic any day. Duh.
    CONTEST: The patient sweethearts at Red Apple Lipstick have offered to give away one Honeybadger lip gloss and one Dancing Princess lip gloss to one lucky, US reader. All you need to do is leave a comment with your favorite shade of Red Apple lipstick, either shown in this post on on their web site. Extra brownie points for following Red Apple Lipstick on Facebook and/or UrbanVegan on Facebook. I'll announce the winner next week.

    Good luck, kids. And remember: No way for me to contact you, no prize.

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    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    review and giveaway :: chloe's vegan desserts

    Gooey, chocolate goodness and so easy to make.
    Time for a way-overdue review and giveaway. The nice folks at Simon and Schuster sent me Chloe Coscarelli's Chloe's Vegan Desserts way back in February, and I'm just getting to it now. ***hangs head in shame*** I am extremely backed up on reviews, so in the coming weeks, I'm going to make a concerted effort to try to catch up. That means lots of giveaways for you lucky readers, so check back often.

    Back to Chloe's Vegan Desserts ... for those of you who have been living on another planet, Chloe is famous for winning TV's "Cupcake Wars" by wowing zee fussy judges with her Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Candied Orange Peel.

    Let me cut to the chase: This is an adorable, unpretentious cookbook featuring 100+ easy, plant-based dessert recipes, from cupcakes and cakes to puddings, cookies and milkshakes. The photography is mouthwatering, and so are the "Giada-esque" glam shots of the lovely Chloe and her impossibly white teeth. Paging through the book, I tagged about 25 recipes I wanted to try. I ended up making three, all with fabulous results. Read on and see how they turned out, then enter to win a free copy of Chloe's Vegan Desserts

    Rum Raisin Rice Pudding made with arborio rice
    Chloe's Rum Raisin Rice Pudding was ridiculously easy and was – no lie – the best rice pudding I've ever made. She uses arborio rice, which cooks up extra creamy, along with a shot of caramelly dark rum. The recipe said it made 10 servings. Maybe it's the effect of marathon training on my appetite, but but realistically speaking, I would call it 5 servings. [Who eats 1/4 cup of rice pudding, especially when it's this good?] I think I'll add a bit of lemon or orange zest next time, to tease out the flavors even more.

    Hot Fudge on the Bottom Cake
    Chloe's Hot Fudge on the Bottom Cake makes this book worth buying, even if it's the only recipe you make; you will bake this easy-peasy, magical gem again and again. It's reminiscent of a 'chocolate lava" cake, with gooey, pudding like yumminess oozing from the bottom [To see what it looks like sliced, see first photo in post]. I am not the world's biggest chocolate fan, but this recipe won me over. I liked that it was decadent without being so heavy that you needed to nap after enjoying a slice.

    Yes, I'm crunched out. I made Chloe's Granola.
    The Homemade Granola was easy, delicious and yielded a gleefully large batch. If you are a cereal-and-milk person, you will adore this. I'm not a huge cereal and [non-dairy] milk kind of girl, so I ended up snacking on this granola by the handful and also sprinkled it atop my vanilla coconut yogurt.

    My quick-n-dirty assessment of Chloe's Vegan Desserts:

    The good: Easy, delectable vegan recipes. Good for both seasoned and newbie vegan cooks. Uses vegan pantry staples. Gorgeous photos. Positive, uplifting tone. Very approachable.

    The not-so-good: Honestly, there's not much to not like about this little number. My only real issue with the book were the way a few of the ice-cream recipes were written. They were not really "ice cream" recipes as much as they were "gussy up your ice cream" recipes, aka "Semi-Homemade." And I'm not a fan of Semi-Homemade. For example, the Coconut Sorbet with Cashew Brittle calls for a pint of coconut sorbet, and the Praline Ice Cream calls for a quart of vanilla non-dairy ice cream.  I wanted to know how to make the Coconut Sorbet! But given all the other positives, this is a minor transgression.

    To win your very own copy of Chloe's Vegan Desserts leave a comment with your favorite vegan dessert. And don't forget to leave some sort of contact info either an email or blog, otherwise you will be disqualified. Extra "vegan brownie" [yuk-yuk] points for following me and/or Chloe on Twitter. US readers only please. I'll announce the winner next week. Good luck!

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