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Happy Halloween + Winner of Quick-Fix Vegan!

Today is a big day. It’s the last day of Vegan MoFo. It’s time to announce the winner of Quick-Fix Vegan in my latest giveaway. And it’s Halloween~and you know what that means: another edible Jack O’Lantern!

This time, the Jack O’ Lantern was made by topping a bowl of black bean chili with some mashed sweet potatoes. Easy to do and so much fun to eat. If you’ve never had sweet potatoes with a spicy-hot chili, you won’t believe how good it is. I put extra chipotles in this chili so it is super-spicy. And the creamy sweet potatoes are the perfect way to tame that heat.

When I was making the chili, I reserved about a half cup of the cooked black beans so I’d have them to make Jack’s face. After placing the beans for the facial features, I had some beans left, so I arranged them on top of the chili, around the edge of the sweet potatoes to help the Jack O’Lantern pop a bit. Jack’s little green stem is a piece of Italian pole bean.  Almost too cute to eat, huh?

Okay, so here’s the announcement you’ve all been waiting for. The winner of a copy of my new cookbook Quick-Fix Vegan — chosen at random via — is comment # 41 by Panda With Cookie!! Congrats, Panda with Cookie! Please e-mail me with your mailing address and I’ll get Quick-Fix Vegan in the mail to you.

As another Vegan MoFo comes to a close, I’m happy to know that some new subscribers found their way to my blog. From what I hear, some people read the MoFo posts in alphabetical order, so maybe next year I’ll change my blog name from “Vegan Planet” to “AA Aardvark.” What do you think?

Have a safe Halloween everyone, and please, if you have any outdoor kitties, please bring them inside. 

Here’s a closing shot of my favorite baby cardinal that lives in our butterfly bush.  Her name is Wallflower:

Party Vegan Winner!

A big thanks to everyone who entered the Party Vegan giveaway — for a grand total of 123 comments!

As you know there can only be one winner and I’m glad I can pass along that difficult task to the trusty random number generator. The winner is: Panda with Cookie — congrats!! (Please send me your mailing address and I’ll get a copy of Party Vegan in the mail to you right away.)

Thanks again to everyone who entered for all your great comments. It was fun to celebrate LeBefana with you all.

Almost forgot…can’t leave without posting a food photo!  The lovely photo below was taken by recipe tester and food photographer Lori Maffei.  It’s the Maple-Pecan Baked Pears from my upcoming book.

Chickpea-Artichoke Bites with Rosemary Aioli

It wasn’t even close.  The chickpea-artichoke bites were officially chosen as the favorite appetizer recipe in Party Vegan, hands down.  No recounts needed, no hanging chads.  Just a big thank you to everyone who participated in this impromptu poll, in spite of being super-busy with the holdays coming up.
As promised, here’s the recipe for the winning appetizer.  I made these this morning so I could take a photo and ended up using marinated artichoke hearts instead of canned or frozen, because that’s all I had in the house.  Guess what?  I like them even better this way! And I made them about half the size for “one-bite” bites — so this recipe now makes twice as many as the recipe in the book.  So even if you already have Party Vegan, you might want to try this version to compare.  

I hope everyone enjoys this recipe, and for those whose favorite didn’t win — you can find all the recipes in Party Vegan — which, I’m excited to say, was chosen as a “top last-minute gift” on

The chickpea-artichokes bites weren’t the only winner. has chosen a winner from among everyone who voted.  And the winner is:  Vicki!  Congrats, Vicki!  Send me your mailing address and I’ll get a copy of Vegan Unplugged and five (count em, five) product coupons in the mail to you. Thanks to all who entered.  I wiish you all a wonderful holiday season!  Now here’s on more photo of our winning recipe — and the recipe itself.

Chickpea-Artichoke Bites with Rosemary Aioli
These sophisticated nibbles are easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. The accompanying aioli adds luscious layers of extra flavor. This is adapted from Party Vegan by Robin Robertson © 2010, John Wiley and Sons. The original version makes fewer and slightly larger “bites” requiring a longer baking time. This version uses marinated artichokes (instead of canned or frozen) for a more tangy flavor and uses a bit more parsley to make them festive looking.

1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, well drained
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, mashed
1/2 cup diced cooked potato (see note)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Rosemary Aioli (recipe follows)

Lightly oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Finely chop the artichokes or pulse them in a food processor until finely chopped. If using a food processor, add the chickpeas and pulse to break up.  Otherwise, mash the chickpeas in a bowl and add the artichokes and mash together. Add the potato, parsley, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chickpea flour, and baking powder. Mix well to combine. If the mixture is too dry, add 1/2 teaspoon (or more) olive oil or lemon juice.
Pinch off a small amount of the mixture and use your hands to roll it into a 1/2- to 3/4-inch ball. Place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.
Bake for about 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Arrange on a platter with a small bowl of aioli and serve warm.
Makes 24 puffs

Note: If you don’t have cooked potato on hand you can quickly “bake” one in the microwave (then peel and dice) or steam the diced potato pieces over boiling water until tender.

Rosemary Aioli
1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, run through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Salt, to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth and well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Makes about 1/3 cup

Party Vegan + Contest Winner

It seems only fitting that my final post of Vegan Mofo features my book, Party Vegan. After all, this past month of bloggers getting together in cyberspace to swap photos, stories, and delicious vegan recipes was like the ultimate vegan party!  In keeping with the Party Vegan theme, I want to share more of the great Party Vegan tester photos taken by Tami at Vegan Appetite when she tested these recipes for the book.
Here’s one of my favorites — the Father’s Day Cookout Menu — that’s Spicy-Smoky BBQ Ribz, Grilled Vegetable Skewers, and Foil-Roasted Corn and Potatoes:

Next up is a photo of the Curried Pakora Puffs from the Indian Feast menu:

Below is the Wild Mushroom Ragu over Polenta from the “Italian with a Twist” dinner party menu:

Finally, check out these adorable Fresh Berry Tartlets from the “Just Desserts” chapter:

Now on to the Cookbook Contest Winner: I hope you all enjoyed reading all the comments about how everyone likes to “Party Vegan” — I know I did. Lots of really great ideas! But as you know, ther can only be one contest winner (at a time, anyway!) Chosen randomly by that great computerized oracle at, the winner of a copy of Party Vegan is: Carla — who likes to party vegan by “bring desserts to share.” Congrats, Carla! Please e-mail me with your address and I’ll get a book right out to you.
I want to thank all of you who participated in my special giveaways and to those of you who only recently discovered my blog during Vegan MoFo, I hope you’ll keep coming back for more recipes, photos, contests, and general food musings (with the occasional cat photo for good measure).

Pan-Seared Picatta Portobellos with Brown Rice Potato Cake + Cookbook Contest Winner!

I said it before and I’ll say it again — I love leftovers.  Some of my favorite meals came into existence by using up a bit of this and that.  Take this dinner of pan-seared portobello mushrooms, spinach, and brown rice potato cake.  It was the result of needing to use up a few stray items in the fridge before going shopping. The spinach and mushrooms were delicious, but the real star of the meal turned out to be the happy marriage of leftover mashed potatoes and cooked brown rice.
When mixed with some seasonings and sauteed, the brown rice and potatoes transformed into a third entity with a wonderful texture and flavor that provided an ideal companion for the mushrooms and spinach all complemented by a tangy lemon-caper sauce.

Now, for this week’s Special Vegan Mofo Cookbook Giveaway:  The winner of a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice (chosen randomly by the random number generator on is:  Candy Beans! Congratulations! (E-mail me with your address and I’ll get the book in the mail to you.) 
Everyone else:  Check back tomorrow for the 4th and final cookbook giveaway during Vegan Mofo.

Roasted Vegetables in a Kabocha Bowl + Contest Winner!

In my house, a delicious kabocha squash usually gets stuffed and served as a main dish, but this time it got sidetracked as a receptable for roasted vegetables.  Here’s how it happened:  
When I make a stuffed kabocha, I partially roast it before stuffing it with a grain or bread-based stuffing and then finish it in the oven.  So the other day when I was roasting a pan of vegetables to accompany my Almost One-Dish Thanksgiving Dinner, I put a kabocha in the oven, too.  I guess I don’t need to tell you what happened next — I was compelled to pile the vegetables into the squash “bowl.” 
The combination of vibrant vegetables and squash together looks so gorgeous on the table, it’s guaranteed to steal the show on Thanksgiving (or anytime).   It’s kind of like a vegetable cornucopia, but with a kabocha squash standing in for the cornucopia.   
In case you’re wondering what some of those roasted veggies are, here’s the run-down:  purple yam, Brussels sprouts, chestnuts, baby white potatoes, carrots, scallions, and pitted Chinese dates.  (Note to self:  Next time, skip the Chinese dates — they don’t have much flavor and they’re kinda hard.)
Looking for more great ideas for Thanksgiving?  Tips and recipes from Party Vegan are popping up all over! Check out my Thanksgiving tips in this VegNews article.   And visit the Daily Meal for some of my Thanksgiving recipes including Chestnut Bisque, Porcini Stuffed Seitan with Wild Mushroom Sauce and Pecan Pumpkin Pie.
Now it’s time to announce the winner of my special Weekly Vegan Mofo Cookbook Giveaway. This week, smiled upon: Monique aka Mo! Congratulations! You’re the winner of a copy of Vegan Unplugged: A Pantry Cuisine Cookbook and Emergency Preparedness Guide. Mo: send me an e-mail with your address and I’ll get it right out to you! (Everyone else: A new giveaway starts tomorrow!)
Unscientific Poll Results: A quick glance through all 115 comments from this last contest reveals that chickpeas win by a landslide as the favorite pantry ingredient!

Tea Time … and a Contest Winner!

I’ve been wanting to make “bubble tea” at home for a year now, but could never find those large-diameter straws big enough for the tapioca pearls – I finally found them in an Asian grocery in Charlottesville, VA.

My first foray into using the tapioca pearls was to add them to this Thai iced tea. So pretty and delicious, and those chewy tapioca pearls coming up through the straw are such a treat. Who knew drinking tea could be this much fun?

Cookbook Giveaway Contest Winner
First a big thank you to all who entered the cookbook giveaway by sharing your favorite summer foods. Lots of great food picks, including many votes for the super-popular tomatoes, watermelon, corn, and berries. Now on to the random-pick winner…

The winner of a copy of American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes is: Rose. Congratulations! (Rose: Just send me an e-mail with your mailing address and I’ll get a copy of this terrific book right off to you.)

Thanks again to everyone who participated. It was fun to see all of your yummy summer food choices — I love them all!