Sunday, December 26, 2010

Have a Happy and Wonderful New Year!!

Well, Christmas has passed! WHEW! I'll admit it's always a big relief- gifts are sent, my baking load is over, and no more stress (which I know I create and put way too much on myself) of trying to do everything like some sort of wonderwoman christmas elf creature. heh heh... i'd insert an image here, but I doubt anything of the sort has an illustration! hmmmm, this works!

Christmas passing also means the Earth Balance Bake-Off is coming to an end!

Tonight is the cutoff for the last submission in the cake category, and then next week the winners will be announced! There will be 8 winners, two in each category, who will each win a $400 Whole Foods Gift Card and a 12 month supply of Earth Balance! I'd be pretty damn psyched if I won, but if not, this contest was so fun and really sparked my idea to do a cookbook. It's been so fun to have a weekly challenge for the last month. Each week digging in and thinking of something new I've never made before.... I have to say, I made some damn tasty creations this month! Still, keep yer fingers crossed that I win! :D

I'm really going to try and stick to doing one recipe a week in 2011. Hopefully by the end of the year I will have at least 50 new recipes I've created, tested and photographed under my belt (already have 4 from this month!). If that is accomplished, there's no reason I can't press on and publish a cookbook! It's very exciting indeed.

I'm really excited for this coming year, as I already have many plans I'm hoping to carry out. A friend is in the midst of helping me design a website, cookbook plan is in action, more personal cheffing, and who knows what else will happen. I just have a great feeling for this coming year :)

I will end this posting with my recipe submission of this week- Pumpkin cupcakes with spiced buttercream and candied pecans. You can see my recipe here.

Until next time,

A joyful new year to you all, and thanks for reading the beginning of my blog in 2010! Cheers to a most fruitful, abundant and sweet 2011 for us all!

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Raising the bar

I'll admit it's hard to sit down and type out a blog while the holidays are steadily approaching and I have a laundry list of gifts to create and bake, but I have a newly developed plan with this blog I tell you! I must remain dedicated, even if it appears no one is reading.... I guess it's more just discipline for myself anyway, isn't it? It's just fun to share and feel supported I guess... Anyway, this whole Earth Balance Bake-off, mixed with many other ideas swirling in my dreamy head, has created a new idea!

I, Mickey Walker, want to publish my very own cookbook! (squeal!) Well, rather, a Bakebook of sorts :) I've kinda been wanting to make a dessert book for years, but never really seriously thought about it, until now. It seems to me that anyone can publish a book, no matter how great or how bad they are! So, my friends, on that note, I'm going to take a stab at it and see what lies ahead down the twisty, unknown, ambiguous road! I trust it fully and I'm very excited about the new venture, amongst all of my other ventures....
I just hope that road ahead looks something like this.....

not this.....

Onto other news, this weeks bake-off challenge was the oh so loved, dessert bar. Again, where to begin???? Brownies, blondies, cheesecake bars, 7 layer, pumpkin spice this and oat crumble that.... Somewhere in my pondering I thought of doing some kind of pecan bar. Definitely holiday friendly and so incredibly delicious, they're bound to turn out lovely and a great contender. I ended up doing a crunchy shortbread cookie bottom topped with a caramel mixed with crushed pecans, then topped with a layer of melted dark chocolate. Ohmygodtheyweresogood! I was VERY pleased with the outcome, needless to say....
You can find the link to them here if you'd like to see/try out the recipe. If you do, please let me know what you think! Here's a few pics of the process.....

shortbread dough, before and after pressing, then poking to vent

toasting the pecans, then the finished pan of goodness

the lovely end result, so perty!

Tomorrow is my baking day for the cookie challenge, I'm still not sure what to make.....maybe it'll come to me in my dreams tonight! mmmmm, cookie dreams......

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Handheld heaven

Holiday Greetings!

This week was another exciting one in the baking world, as Earth Balance has kicked off their month long Bake-Off! Four weeks, with four categories of baked goods, and all must feature the lovely butteriest of vegan spreads- Earth Balance. What's the prize..... a $400 Whole Foods gift card and a year supply of Earth Balance, thats what! It sure fired up my oven!
I really hope I win :)
So the first weeks theme was the humble pie.

You know, it was really hard to decide what the heck to make! There's MILLIONS of recipes out there in the world and I just didn't know what to choose. Then I started thinking of something individual, like mini pie-lettes, and then thought of HAND PIES! As I said in my recipe I submitted, they're like the cupcake of pies! So cute, and all your own! No messy pie cutting, slicing and trying to get the perfect slice outta the pan..... just grab with yer lil mitt, devour and enjoy. So I got to work! I had some apples and cherries on hand, so that was my filling. I added a lil almond extract and slivered almonds, and they were divine! The crust came out better than it ever has before, it was so golden and flaky it was incredible. I finally nailed the perfect pie crust!
If you are interested in trying your hand at these fine hand pies, here's a link to the recipe I submitted.

cross yer fingers i win!!

There will be many more delicious postings if I have $400 to spend at Whole Foods!
This weeks bake-off challenge.... BARS! hmmm....... what to do, what to do.... When I figure it out, I'll let you all know!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wooo! Hello friends, busy week since thanksgiving, it's good to be back on here and sharing the goodness!
Most exciting news of the last week was that Whole Soy & Co. started their "vegan chef of the week" feature, and (ahem) yours truly was featured this week!

It's a short blurb, interview and a couple recipes I created with their delicious yogurt. I'm pretty excited about it :) You can see it here. Thank you Whole Soy!! If you haven't tried their amazing soy-gurts yet, it would be well worth your time as they are the best! I buy it all the time.

Back to a week ago, I cooked up a few delicious items I'd like to share from thanksgiving. Remember this delightful creature? haha, last time to see her for another year!!

I attended a fun dinner at a friends house and brought some of my own food to share with the group. Cranberry/apple/orange sauce, roasted squash purée, my all time favorite STUFFING, onion gravy, pumpkin (rather squash) pie and onion & sage biscuits! Whew! It was a great day of kitchen creations. I just wung (?) winged, wanged... all of the recipes, but I hope to put some of them up. It's always hard to document as I'm cooking, but I'm getting better at it, I promise! Here's some food porn of that day....

Squeezing fresh oj for the crans, and cookin em down in a pot

Scrumptious, homemade crunchy croutons for the stuffing, and the later components

Roasted assortment of squashes for the pie and for the side dish

My favorite lil old fashioned hand blender that works so darn well, making pie crust

I was blessed to have been given my great-grandpa's very own rolling pin from the late 1800s, it weighs a ton and doesn't mess around, it's one solid piece of wood!
I wish I could've known him and his baking.

Lovely lil spiced squash pie

My brilliant lil sage plant about to be used for biscuits

Finished biscuits! mmmmm! I used a mini muffin pan so they're adorable and you can eat 6 of 'em and not feel quilty ;-)

My newest creation, Mick-muffins :) Leftover biscuits with gimme lean vegan sausage and gravy. (yes, this was indeed effin delicious!)

That's all for my thanksgiving recap, and here's a lil picture of Moi captured amonst the cooking frenzy :) Au revoir!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude

Greeting VEGAN Thanksgiving that is!

I had a few orders to fill this Thanksgiving week (yay!) and was busy in the kitchen. A gal who almost had wedding cupcakes from me (wedding got cancelled sadly) ordered holiday cuppers from me. She got some vanilla bean cups with vanilla buttercream frosting, and pumpkin spiced cups with cinnamon orange buttercream, topped with a spiced maple candied pecan. Another woman I've met in the San Diego vegan community ordered an apple streusal cake. What a fun week!

Here's some pictures of the dearies and their process.....

My favorite vintage Bakerex Crownware cupcake pans and my coveted jar of vanilla beans....

the spice gang and their friend Mr. Microplaner

Here are millions of vanilla specks infusing the batter! This is one of my top favorite smells right here btw. Also, Big Red in action :)

The finished cuppers in their boxes ready to be eaten!

The cutest lil loaf of apple streusal cake.

Well, happy thanksgiving everyone! I will surely be cookin up a lil storm tomorrow, so I'll fill you in on the goodies. Until then, enjoy the holiday and remember to share your gratitude with those around you!

"Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel." ~Author Unknown