Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christkindmarket Chicago

During a recent visit to Chicago, I stopped by the Christkindmarket, a traditional German Christmas market. 

It features authentic German food, drinks and items, including many imported straight from Germany. 

I visited on a Sunday in early December, and while it was packed, I could easily walk around, and enjoyed looking at so many German-made items, like these coo-coo clocks, which if I didn't already have my grandmother's, I would have totally bought for my home. 

One thing you must do when visiting the market is enjoy traditional German food and drinks. As soon as you come upon the market, you see pretty much everyone with these adorable little mugs. 

After quickly asking around, I found the booth selling these, filled with warrm spice wine. Do not let the lines for this, which were pretty long, and confusing, deter you. It moves fast, and for about $6, you can take the mug home with you, which is prefect for a quick hot chocolate before before. 

If you are a meat-eater, the market will be a paradise for you, as it is filled with all the German favorites. As a vegetarian, I headerd right for the pretzel stand. It was everything you want in a pretzel. Again, don'lt let the line deter you. It moves fast, and the pretzels are hot. I ate half and saved the other half for later, and it tasted just as good. 

If you are in the area, it is definately worth a stop! 

Successful Kitchen Shopping: Penzeys Spices, Macy's and Boscovs

I am not really a "stuff" person. I would much rather spend $500 on a weekend trip to Florida, than on a purse, or kitchen accessories. 

In some cases this is a good thing, and in other cases, it's not so good. Case in point, I have had my house for 5 years now. Durinng that time, I have used the same single-set of cookware, which I am defining as pots and pans, for that whole time. Last year, I very, very, very, very badly burnt the dutch oven that came with that set. When I went to make pea soup a few weeks ago, I had not one appropriate pot to use, and had to create a work-around. 

Well, thanks to some fabulous holiday prices at Macy's yesterday, that was finally solved. Scored an over $100 10-piece cookware set for just under $40, and a steamer/pot, as well as an 8-quart pot, both for more than 50 percent off. 

I was super excited! 

During the same trip, Boscov's also had some great deals. I scored these table cloths -- the red perfect for christmas and the blue, perfect for the winter season -- for $9.99, and 60 percent off holiday drying mats. I picked these patterns for the drying matts, because living in the Adirondacks, it really could work year-round. If you don't have a drying mat, get one ASAP. They are perfect when you have extra dishes to dry, especially when company is over. 

Boscov's was also running a special on several items, like this As Seen On TV product. Buy $20 worth of items and get this for $1. It seemed interesting. We'll see if it lives up to the hype. 

Speaking of Boscov's, I am obsessed with reindeer, and when I saw this shower curtin before Thanksgiving, I was in love. It finally went on sale and it may just stay up year-round. 

Last, but not least, a new year, means a fresh start, so why not start with some fresh herbs! I love that there is a Penzeys in the mall in Albany. My friend Vikki turned me on to their spices a few yerars ago, and I have to say they have some fabulous blends. Thier Florida pepper blend sprinkled on salad is my favorite. Well, $30 later, I will be going into 2015 with some fresh, and new-to-me spices. I can'lt wait to make some nerw creations!

My kitchen is shaping up nicely for what I hope to be a fun 2015! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My First Vegan Cuts Box

You guys! I got my first box from Vegan Cuts today!

Thats just some of the items in my box. I was super excited when I saw the marshmallows from Chicago Vegan Foods, because I was craving them for my vegan hot chocolate. 

And, I recently read about Parma, but couldn't find it anywhere and didn't want to buy a whole thing if in case I didnt like it. This little trial packet is perfect! 

Before I get too carried away, let me back up a little, to CyberMonday, exactly. I had been hearing about Vegan Cuts, but have always been leery of the box subscription services. But, the idea of being about to try new products I may not be able to find locally, kept being more appealing. So, when they ran their CyberMonday deal, i decided to try it for six months. 

Although it is just my first one, I think I am going to like it. So far, my favorite "new to me" item are these non-GMO hard candies that are flavored with fruits and colored with vegetables. They are made by Torie & Howard. I have already looked up where I can buy them locally. 

Have you ever done a subscription box? I would love to hear about your favorite one. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries

This vegan, gluten-free dish was a huge hit at Thanskgiving, with both plant and meat-eaters. So popular in fact, that there was almost nothing leftover. 

I made it the day before and then let it sit in the fidge overnight until the next evening. This allowed all the flavors to really soak in. To reheat it, I put it in the oven on 400 for abourt 15 minutes. 

The harder cider and maple syrup helps balance out the bitterness of the cranberries, making all the flavors complement each other. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries 
By Michelle Maskaly, The Adirondack Chick 

2 cups cranberries 
1 pound Brussels Sprouts 
2 medium to large sweet potatoes 
1/2 cup maple syrup 
1/4 cup olive oil 
2 cups hard apple cider 
Sea salt 
Cracked pepper 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Cut the bottoms off the Brussels sprouts and then slice in half. Chop the sweet potatoes into small chunks. 

In a large bowl, mix together the Brussels sprouts, cranberries, sweet potatoes, olive oil, maple syrup and hard cider. Add sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. 

Pour the mixture into a large greased baking dish, and bake for 45-60 minutes, ideally stirring it every 15-20 minutes. 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Cafe Vero in Lake George

This place is adorable! 

First, a little background. Cafe Vero used to be located in the village. It was a small storefront with a counter where you would order and tables in the back. It was a great place to grab a cup of coffee, pastry or breakfast sandwich to go. I never really stayed and ate. 

Now, they have relocated to the former OTB location on Canada Street near the Adirondack Brewery. You can either go to the counter and grab somerthing or, there is an area where you can sit and get table serve. 

It was packed when we went there for Sunday breakfast. 

Their breakfast menu has a variety of options including a giant breakfast burrito that I got without the meat, cheese and egg. 

But, don't worry, they also have favorites like regular and cinnamon raisin French toast, various egg breakfast options and more. 

If you are looking for something sweet, their pastries, like this cinnamon roll, are made by their in-house baker. 

When it comes to coffee, they are obvious experts. I had a decaf cappuccino with soy milk. 

They have a little outside patio, which I am hoping willbe dog-friendly, because it would be great to be able to take the pups for a walk and then stop there for breakfast in coffee on Saturday mornings. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creamy Vegan, Gluten-Free Mac'n Cheese

You guys! I make a variety of vegan and gluten-free mac'n cheese recipes, but this one is by far the fastest, and the one that most tastes like my "regular" mac'n cheese. And, actually my favorite. 

Here is a little secret, it is because it is almost the same recipe as the "regular" mac'n cheese I used to make, but with all vegan and gluten-free ingredients! 

I like to use shells most of the time, but feel free to use elbow macaroni.

One key here is the "butter" and flour mixture. I have an electric stove and it is sometimes hard to turn down the heat when making something that sensitive. Be super careful to not let it burn. If it does, dump it out and start over. 

Also, another important piece to this recipe is mixing cheese in really well. What I have learned is that you have to be patient, but quick. I wisk the cheese very fast and continue to do so until it is all melted.

Again, pay attention to your heat, this step is where you get all your creamy goodness. So, take your time and don't rush the process by turning the heat up too fast, thinking it will make the cheese melt faster. 

Trust me, it may take a few times of making this, but comes out fabulous when done correctly. It took me several times to get the heat exactly right. I also think the actual brand of ingredients make a difference with this recipe, too, as I have made it with several different types of brands, and it comes best when using the ones I list below. Note, that I am in no way sponsored by or have been given any of these products. I just happen to like the way this particular dish tastes with these particular brands, compared to others that I have used for this recipe. 

Vegan, Gluten-Free Mac'n Cheese
by Michelle Maskaly, The Adirondack Chick 

8 ounces gluten-free pasta (shells, or elbows)
3 cups Blue Diamond Almond Milk Beverage 
1 package Diaya Cheddar Style Shreds 
4 tablespoons Earth Balance soy-free spread 
4 tablespoons King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour
Nutritional yeast 
fresh cracked pepper 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot cook the macaroni for 2 minutes less than what it calls for on the package. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. 

In the same pot melt the Earth Balance. Add in the flour and whisk until a paste like substance starts to form. Be very careful not to burn it.

Add in the nut milk and whisk for about a minute till it gets warm. Then, add in the cheddar and whisk until it is melted and there is a creamy consistency. While doing this, whisk in about three tablespoons of nutritional yeast. 

Once you have reached the creamy, desired consistency, stir in the macaroni using using a wooden spoon. Pour into a greased baking pan. Sprinkle the top with a bit more nutritional yeast and fresh cracked pepper. 

Cook uncovered in the oven for about 25 minutes.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Vegan Gluten-Free Brussels Sprout Ricotta Pizza

Lately, I am super obsessed with Brussels Sprouts. I think it is because when I grow them, they are not ready until between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the Fall makes me crave them. 

In many recipes, like this one, the pre-packaged, shredded Brussels from Trader Joe's comes in handy. If you don't have pre-shredded ones, you can just shred them yourself. I love the crispiness from the smaller pieces of Brussels Sprouts.

This is also another recipe that really depends on your taste and how large your pizza crust it. So, adjust everything based on that. For example, I only used about three slices of red onion. You may want to use more or less. If you are making a larger pizza, you may use more than the two cups I used. 

Play around and have fun with it! 

Vegan Gluten-Free Brussels Sprouts and Ricotta Pizza
by Michelle Maskaly, The Adirondack Chick 

Your favorite gluten-free, vegan pizza crust 
vegan ricotta
2 cups shredded Brussels Sprouts 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
4 small cloves of garlic sliced very thin
red onion sliced very thin
sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
hot pepper flakes

Preheat the oven according to the pizza crust directions. 

In a bowl combine the shredded brussels sprouts, oilve oil, salt, pepper and red pepper. Miss and set aside.

Spread a generous amount of the ricotta across the the pizza crust. Top with the garlic slices and red onion. 

Give the brussels sprouts one last mix and then pour it evenly across the pizza. 

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is crispy and teh brussels sprouts are browned.


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