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“Pick an Appetizer” Contest

In the photo above are Zucchini Cups with Tomato Concasse and Mini Focaccia with Tapenade. I thought you’d like to see photos of some of the appetizers from Party Vegan to help you decide which recipe you want posted on Tuesday. So far it looks like the Chickpea Artichoke Bites are winning, but things could change between now and Monday at midnight when the polls close! 

For this contest, I let Random.org choose the prize! I made a list of cookbooks, vegan product coupons, and product samples — in various combinations and assigned them all a number. Here’s what Random.org chose for this giveaway: a copy of Vegan Unplugged PLUS… 3 Tofutti coupons (for any Tofutti product) PLUS… 2 Naysoya tofu coupons. Wow, what a deal!

Just leave a comment on the previous post listing your favorite Party Vegan appetizer for a chance to win. Winner and winning recipe to be posted on Tuesday!

Now for some more appetizer photos from Party Vegan (these are all tester photos taken by Tami of Vegan Appetite). Here’s the Antipasto Skewers surrounded by Arugula and White Bean Crostini:

 These are Mini Falafel with Spiced Pita Dippers:

 Below are Sundried Tomato and Green Olive Biscotti with Artichoke Tapenade:

These are Pakora Puffs:

This photo shows the Spinach Phyllo Cigars with Walnuts and Figs along with the Polenta Crostini with Eggplant Tapenade:

Baked Potato Skins, anyone?

Last, but certainly not least, Teriyaki Shiitake Sticks:

Cast your vote now!

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Creamy Kabocha Pasta with Chestnuts and Cranberries

Every now and then I come up with a meal on the fly that exceeds my own expectations.  This voluptuous pasta dish did that for me this weekend — and then some.  I can’t even begin to describe the creamy smooth richness of the vibrant sauce, most of the credit for which goes to the inherently delicious flavor of the kabocha squash itself.
As you probably know, I’m like the number one fan of kabocha squash (also known as Hokaido pumpkin).  Its natural sweetness and rich depth of flavor far outshine any other variety of squash anywhere.  If you have a chance to buy one, do yourself a favor and try it.  Once you do, you may have trouble going back to any other kind — I know I do.
Okay, so if this wonderful sauce weren’t enough to make this pasta dish fantastic, the roasted chestnuts and dried cranberries really put it over the top.  In addition to adding texture and flavor, the combination of squash, chestnuts, and cranberries made it a perfect autumn meal.  The pasta just made it even better!
Weekly Mofo Cookbook Giveaway: 
There’s still time to enter!  The contest to win a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice ends tonight at midnight.  If you haven’t entered yet, enter now.  Then check back tomorrow to find out who won. 
Coming Wednesday: a new (and final) Weekly MoFo Cookbook Giveaway!

Vegan on the Cheap — “Double Your Luck” Book Giveaway

In honor of Friday the 13th I’m announcing a special giveaway of my new book, Vegan on the Cheap. Beginning today, you can enter to win a copy of this cookbook not once, but twice. Here’s how to enter:

Entry #1: Simply leave a comment at the end of this post for a chance to win. In your comment, complete this statement: “Vegan equals ____.”

Entry #2: For a second chance to win, share the news about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or on your own blog, then come back and leave a second comment here to let me know about it.

But wait, there’s more!  To increase everyone’s chances of winning even more, I’ll be doing TWO drawings and giving away two copies of Vegan on the Cheap. I guess that means you actually have FOUR chances to win.  The two winners will be announced here on my blog on Thursday, August 19. Feeling lucky? Enter now!

If it’s August, it must be the Veggie Awards!

Yes, it’s that time again: the VegNews Veggie Awards. Time to vote for all your vegan favorites! This year, I’ve been nominated in two categories: “favorite cookbook author” and “favorite VN column: Global Vegan.” You can also cast a “write-in” vote for this blog “Vegan Planet” for favorite veg blog.

As if being nominated wasn’t wonderful enough, this year, a collection of 5 of my cookbooks is being awarded as a prize! There are lots of other great prizes too. All you need to do to enter is fill out at least 50% of the survey. It just takes a couple minutes. Here’s the link.

I hope you’ll vote for me so Gary can be proud of his mom!

Another chance to win….
Be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of Vegan on the Cheap. (See the previous post to enter). The winner will be announced on Sunday, 8/8!

Gary Picks a Winner

Well it wasn’t easy. First I had to convince Gary that choosing a contest winner was more important than his nap.

To make the drawing as fair and random as possible I printed out all the comments and cut them into strips. I placed them upside-down (so Gary couldn’t read them) — although he managed to flip over a few anyway!

Gary examined them carefully (as you can see in the photo below), the winning criteria being whichever slip of paper he actually bit into. The first clear bite-hole would result in the winning entry (kind of like a “hanging chad”). And yes, we have a winner: congratulations to: katiejo !!! (katiejo: please e-mail me with your mailing address and I’ll get a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice out to you right away.)

And to Jane’s new rescued kitten William: despite my efforts to have Gary remain unbiased, he did read a few of the comments and after reading yours he has persuaded me to send you a cookbook, too. So, we have a second winner: Jane – please e-mail me your contact info, too, and keep taking care of all those kitties!

Seitan for Satays and an Easy Peanut Sauce

I had one of those “aha” moments the other day while contemplating making seitan satays for dinner. Instead of marinating the seitan to infuse it with satay flavors, this time I decided to put the satay flavors directly into the seitan mixture.
To do this, I made a small batch of shortcut seitan —the kind everyone is making these days using gluten flour instead of the traditional (and time-consuming) method made with whole-wheat flour that involves lots of washing and rinsing and kneading. To the basic ratio that is nearly equal parts dry ingredients to wet ingredients (but just a smidge less wet ingredients), I included peanut butter, soy sauce, and garlic powder right in the seitan mixture to give it a rich satay flavor without marinating. I then stretched the seitan into a rectangle and baked it for about 20 minutes. After cooling, I was able to cut it into thin slices and thread it onto skewers. The satays were then arranged on a baking sheet, dabbed with a little spicy peanut sauce and drizzled with a little oil. I then broiled them for a couple minutes, but you could grill them if you prefer.

I served them with my favorite quick-and-easy peanut sauce (the recipe is below), and the satays were everything I’d hope for. I made extra peanut sauce to use later in the week, probably tossed with some noodles and veggies.

Announcement: The Humane Society International (HSI) recently added a section to their website to promote veg food choices, and I’m pleased to announce that they decided to use recipes from my book Vegan Fire & Spice for their launch. Here’s the link for the recipes — many of them have photos, too.

Reminder: The deadline for the Creative Couscous Cake Contest is coming up fast. Don’t miss your chance to win and be immortalized on these pages! It’s simple — just grab a box of couscous and think of your favorite dessert flavors…you may be surprised what you come up with!

Easy Peanut Sauce for Satays and More
Start with this basic recipe and then taste to customize it to your liking: add more water for a thinner sauce, a bit more vinegar or tamari for a more salty/pungent flavor, a pinch more sugar if you like it sweeter, and so on.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or other soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian garlic-chile sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup water

In a bowl, combine the peanut butter, vinegar, tamari, chile sauce, ginger, and sugar, stirring to blend well. Slowly add the water, stirring, to make a thick sauce. Set aside.
Makes about 1 1/4 cup

Top 10 Recipes on Vegan.com

Erik Marcus over at Vegan.com has accomplished an astonishing feat with a feature article called Vegan.Com Top 10 Recipes of 2008. In it, he has managed to compile a favorite recipe from the authors of 10 recent popular vegan cookbooks, along with a photo of each recipe and commentary by each of the authors. I’m honored to be included in this stellar group with my recipe for Indonesian Coconut Rice from Vegan Fire and Spice. Check out the article and see if your favorite books (and recipes) made the cut.

REMINDER: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your entry in the “Creative Couscous Cake Contest” – the contest closes on May 10. These couscous cakes are so easy to make, there’s no reason not to enter! (BTW, if you have more than one amazing idea, there’s no limit on how many entries you can enter…)