Banana Bon Bombs

Here’s a fun and frozen end-of-summer tropical bomb-building recipe. The only tricky ingredient is coconut butter, but once you’ve located that, building the bombs is easy!

BANANA BON BOMBS

Bananas

Coconut Butter

100% Cocoa Powder

Nuts, chopped

Dried Fruit, chopped

Agave Syrup

You’ll also need a small bowl, fork, butter knife, cutting board, wax paper, and a freezer.

Line the cutting board with wax paper. Peel some bananas, (compost the peels) and on the lined board, slice each into 16 discs. (Cut the bananas in half, then cut each half in half again, etc.) Sprinkle some of the nut and fruit pieces onto the tops of half of the slices, leaving the other slices bare. Add a couple drops of agave syrup to the tops of the nut-fruit slices (the stickiness will help hold the bombs together). Gently press each bare slice onto a nut-fruit slice (use caution, as the bombs will be live at this point).

Put the bomb-topped board in the freezer for at least 1 hour (freezing helps them to not explode prematurely). In the meantime, fill the small bowl with coconut butter, and fork-mix in enough cocoa powder to make it brown. You’re not going for dark brown here- medium brown is good.

Retrieve the bomb-topped board and coat each bomb with the cocoafied coconut butter. (This will be messy. Scoop and gently press the coating onto all sides, and work quickly, as the bananas will get mushy as they melt.) Put the bombs back on the board as you go. The coating should react with the coldness and form a hard candy shell. If this happens, the bombs are activated, and ready to pop into your mouth. If they’re still a bit sticky, or if you’re not ready to detonate them, just put them back in the freezer.

Note: These bombs, when left out, eventually do melt from the inside out. So store leftovers in the freezer.

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Happy end of summer!

Concoct Some Easter Cocktails

Candy Arctic Kiss Cocktail AKA Easter Arctic Kiss Cocktail*

This is a plan-ahead recipe. It’s still easy, but read through first to get the idea. First, make sure you have your ingredients and utensils:

1 bag of Starburst (vegan) Jelly Beans (make sure the bag has different colors of jelly beans)

1 bottle of Vodka

1 bottle of Champagne

1 Lemon

1 Lime

1 Orange

Ice

Glass Jars with Lids

Measuring Cup

Strainer

Knife

Cocktail Shaker (or just use one of the glass jars and the strainer)

Next, infuse your vodka:

Pick what colors of cocktails you would like. (I chose yellow, pink, orange, and green.) For each color, put 1/4 cup single-color jelly beans and 1/2 cup vodka in a glass jar. If all of one color is a bit less than 1/4 cup, just use what you have. Let the beans and spirits work their magic for a day or two . .  Then jar by jar, strain the jelly beans out of the vodka, keeping the liquids separate. If you’re unsqueamish, eat the gooey jelly bean remnants. (I composted mine.)

Finally, mix your cocktails per serving:

2 ounces jelly bean-infused vodka

3 ounces champagne

1 lemon or lime or orange disc as a garnish (mix and match colors)

ice

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Put the vodka and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake.

Add the champagne.

Strain into a glass.

Garnish with a disc.

Before drinking, squeeze the disc into the cocktail. Or if you’re civilized, simply float the disc on the cocktail.

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*Recipe adapted from SheKnows.com.

Cocoa Truffles Recipe

If you’ve put off making your Halloween candy run, check out my list of vegan supermarket candy and cookies (and prepare yourself for the coming zombie invasion while you’re at it). But if you’re already sick of the junky sweet stuff, but still want to indulge in something yummy for Halloween, try these Chocolate Salty Balls* Cocoa Truffles. They’re chocolatey, but not overly sweet. Plus they’re easy to make and super-duper nutritious!

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Vegan, No-Bake Cocoa Truffles 

1/2 cup chopped Almonds

one 15-oz can Black Beans, drained

2/3 cup canned mashed Pumpkin

1/3 cup chopped Cranberries

1/2 cup toasted Wheat Germ

1/4 cup ground Flaxseed

1/2 cup unsweetened Cocoa powder

8 – 12 packets Stevia-blend powder packets (8 for less sweet, 12 for more sweet)

2 tsp Vanilla extract

*optional- pinch of Sea Salt

Mix all ingredients, except almonds, by hand or in a food processor (Mixture will be too thick for a regular blender.) Blend until uniform. Roll into balls. Roll balls in almonds. Chill. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days, or in freezer up to 1 month.

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While you’re chilling your balls, check out my entry in my “Crypt Dwellers” flash fiction challenge– if you dare (inspired by a true story)!

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Halloween / Zombie Survival Guide

photo by David Shankbone

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you survived the REAL, FINAL APOCALYPSE as predicted by Harold Camping. (Turns out Camping isn’t much of a math person.) Now you probably think you can enjoy Halloween without the nagging worry of undead, unraptured zombies stalking and infecting you. (As for me- I knew I would survive the non-apocalypse, because I’m already one of the undead.) But before you get too comfortable, I gotta tell you zombies are real . .

For any late-comers to my blog, take a gander at my 3-part story: I got the zombie spores in me.  Then the zombie spores turned me into a zombie. Did you know zombies can re-generate limbs? Yep. Lucky for me, or I wouldn’t be typing this now. And those already familiar with the above trilogy would do well to re-familiarize yourselves, because . .

If you still think my tales are safely in the sci-fi section . .

Think again.

And with all the catastrophic climate change, nuclear radiation, pesticides, and herbicides causing mutations in the already genetically engineered spores accidentally / on purposely released into the open fields, human zombie spores are just around the corner.

STILL don’t believe me? Then believe the USA government’s official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s real. All we can do is prepare ourselves for the inevitable zombie apocalypse and the resulting mob cruelty and mass disrespect.

And console ourselves with candy.

To stock up on good karma, here’s a list of the most cow-kind, most chicken-respectful (vegan)* cookies and candy** on the USA market, alphabetized by brand:

A

Airheads Taffy

Anna’s Almond Cinnamon Thins

Anna’s Ginger Thins

B

Back to Nature California Lemon Cookies

Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Big League Chew Gum

Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy

Brach’s Orange Slices

Brach’s Root Beer Barrels

Brach’s Star Brites

Bremner Wafers

C

Charms lollipops

Chew-ets Peanut Chews (Original)

Chick-o-Sticks

Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar

Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar

Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar

Cracker Jacks

Cry Babies

D

Dem Bones

Dots

Dum Dums

E

Entenmann’s Fudge Delights Fudge & Mint Cookies

Everest Gum

F

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Oatmeal Macaroon)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)

Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)

Ferrara Wafer Swirls With Chocolate

Fireballs

Food Lion Animal Cookies

Food Lion Ginger Snaps

Food Lion Oatmeal Cookies

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Assorted)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Creme)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Chocolate Fudge)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Double Creme-O’s)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Duplex)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Mini Chocolate & Vanilla Cremes)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)

Food Lion Sandwich Cookies (Vanilla)

Food Lion Sugar Cookies

Fruit By the Foot

G

Ghirardelli Twilight Delight Intense Dark

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Mix

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (Original)

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Sandwich Cremes

H

Hubba Bubba Bubblegum

Hubba Bubba Gum

Hunt’s Snack Pack Gel Snacks

J

Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)

Jujubees

Jujyfruits

K

Keebler Vienna Fingers

Kool-Aid Gels

Kozy Shack Jammin’ Gels

L

Lance Choc-O Cookies

Lance Peanut Bar

Lance Sugar Wafers (Strawberry Creme)

Lance Sugar Wafers (Vanilla Creme)

Lance Van-O Lunch Cookies

Landgarten Pumpkin Seed Snack – Dark Chocolate

Lemonheads

M

Mamba

Mary Janes (Regular and Peanut Butter Kisses)

Mike and Ike

Mrs. Freshley’s Oatmeal Crème-filled Cookies

Murray Butter Cookies

Murray Cinnamon Grahams

Murray Coconut Bars

Murray Southern Kitchen Iced Oatmeal Cookies

N

Nabisco Double Delight Mint’n Creme Oreos

Nabisco Ginger Snaps

Nabisco Halloween Oreos

Nabisco Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Nabisco Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies

Nabisco Oatmeal Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Chocolate Ice Cream Cones

Nabisco Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Thin Crisps

Nabisco Spiced Cinnamon Cookies

Nabisco Teddy Grahams (Chocolate and Cinnamon)

Nabisco Uh-oh Oreos, Spring Oreos, Chocolate Creme Oreos

Nature’s Path Deep Chocolate Cookies

Nature’s Path Ginger Spice Cookies

Nature’s Path Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Nestle Double Chocolate Thin Mints

Now and Later

Nutter Butter Bites

P

Panda Licorice

Pure De-Lite Coconut Bars

S

Safeway Fudge Mint Fudge Covered Mint Cookies

Skittles’ Mints

Smarties (U.S. version only)

SunSpire Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds

Sour Patch Kids

Super Bubble

Swedish Fish

SweeTarts (regular)

T

Twizzlers

V

VeganSweets marshmallows

Velamints Mints

W

Whole Foods Organic Chocolate Truffles

Z

Zotz

*List complied from PETA and PETAKIDS.

**May contain trace amount of animal-sourced ingredients.

Hopefully I’ve provided you with the resources and information you need to make it through Halloween alive . . or at least undead, thanks to a sugar OD . .

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And here’s a creepy, campy, rockabilly bonus video for those who skimmed through to the bitter . . or rather, sugary end.

Have a Happy Halloween (while you can)!

Strange Face Illusion & 3 Fall Recipes

Here’s a spooky illusion that can also be a writing prompt:

You need a room lit only by a dim lamp (25W bulb) that is placed behind you while you gaze into a large mirror placed about one and one half feet in front of you.

Sit still, and without moving your eyes, gaze at your reflected face in the mirror. Usually after less than a minute, you will begin to perceive the Strange Face Illusion.

What you see could be the basis of a poem, or story, or add fuel to your imagination and spill out later. Let it churn and simmer and stew . .

I tried this on Halloween night. Here’s what happened . .

I propped a full-length mirror against a piece of furniture and looked at my reflection. My cat Stubby saw that I had rearranged part of his kingdom, and began the required sniff inspection. He jumped onto the furniture supporting my mirror. I continued to stare into the mirror. Then Stubby leapt onto the top edge of the mirror and immediately sprang off when he realized the edge was less than one paw’s-width wide. The mirror almost crashed down on me and I needed a couple minutes to recover.

It took about a minute before I noticed the bottom of my nose was glowing in the mirror. At that point my face didn’t look overtly strange, just my nose. It was hard to keep from focusing on my nose, and every time I accidentally focused on it, the illusion disappeared. Then I figured out the light behind me was highlighting and shadowing my face in an odd way in the first place, and my mind was simply exaggerating these differences in my relaxed state.

To keep from focusing on my nose, I let my vision blur a bit. Then I had 2 noses. I blinked and I had 3 eyes, 1 nose, and 2 mouths. I blinked again and I had 1 eye and 2 noses and no mouth. Another blink and my mouth appeared along with a couple extra eyes.

I was letting my vision blur too much. So I gazed at my forehead. My face started to change, but each time that happened I couldn’t help but snap back into clear focus, and the illusion would disappear. In those brief instances, my face didn’t exactly look like my own, but it did look anthropoidal. Similar to this guy, but without the fur.

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Onto the recipes:

Fungal, Vegetal Stew (very spooky)

For this recipe you will need a large cauldron, unless you want to scale the recipe to a more manageable volume. You do the math- I’m more of a word person. If you’re more of a word person too, find a mathematician, or someone who can do fractions. As a last resort, guesstimate- the edibility of this stew is not dependent on precise ratios.

4 starchy Potatoes

Bog Water (may substitute Non-Bog Water)

1 large Yellow Onion

Several bunches of mixed Mushrooms

2 handfuls of chopped Broccoli

2 handfuls of chopped Cauliflower

1 sheet dried, shredded Laver

1 scant, flat palmful of Sage powder

1 scant, flat palmful of Garlic powder

1 scant, flat palmful of cracked Black Peppercorns

1 tablespoon Sea Salt

scant pinch of Zombie Dust (except where illegal)

Olive Oil

1 – 2 black cat sneezes (depending on force of sneeze) [can substitute other colors] {this ingredient is optional}

Catnip (optional)

 Locate cat(s). Bribe with catnip as needed. Set aside.

Dice onion and carmelize in generous oil in a skillet over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.

Dice potatoes, put in cauldron, and add enough water to cover. Add laver, salt, and dust, and simmer on low.

In the meantime, dump the onions into the cauldron. Put the mushrooms into the oiled skillet and add enough water to cover half-way. Carmelize the mushrooms, covered, until uniformly soft, then add them to the cauldron.

 Dump broccoli and cauliflower into the cauldron.

Simmer uncovered at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add sage, garlic, and pepper, and stir thoroughly.

Ladle into bowls.

Float catnip on soup, cats will put face over soup bowl, and steam will induce sneezing (in theory).

I experimented with a couple Pumpkin desserts.

My good clean food-loving friend Liam posted a link to this Pueblo Pumpkin Candy recipe on his blog. Thanks, Liam!

I’ve adapted it here:

Pueblo Pumpkin Candy

(This recipe is from the Native American Pueblo Indians. Traditionally, the strips of pumpkin were soaked in water and wood ashes.)

1 Pumpkin (2 – 3 pounds)
1 ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
2 ½ cups Turbinado Sugar
½ cup Water

Water for soaking and simmering

Ice

Optional Ingredients-

juice and zest of 1 Lemon

3 – 4 sprigs fresh Cilantro

extra Turbinado Sugar

Peel and seed  pumpkin (save the seeds for the next recipe). Cut pumpkin flesh into rough palm-sized pieces. Stir baking soda into water and add pumpkin pieces. Let sit overnight, at least 12 hours.

Drain and rinse pumpkin pieces. Bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully drop pieces into pot. Simmer until just tender, but not soft, about 4 minutes.

(When I got to this point in my go at the recipe it looked like my pumpkin pieces were going to dissolve into mush. I persisted anyway, and after the simmering, separated the intact chunks from the floaty bits. I strained and saved the bits to make pumpkin pie.)

Remove from heat and drain. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Carefully drop pieces into ice water. When ice has melted, drain.

Combine sugar with ½ cup water, the (optional) lemon juice and zest, and the (optional) cilantro in a saucepan. Heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Slow-boil, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Add pumpkin, cover pot, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Spread candy on the covered sheet and dry overnight, at least 10 hours.

(optional) Roll candy in additional sugar.

 Eat. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Seed “Brittle”

roughly 2 cups oven-dried unshelled Pumpkin Seeds:

Put fresh pumpkin seeds in a bowl, and cover with drinkable cold salty water. Let soak overnight. Drain the seeds, spread them on a baking sheet, and bake at 250°F until they are crisp and slightly golden, about 1 and 1/2 hours. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container to preserve crispness.

 1 cup Turbinado Sugar

1/2 cup Maple Syrup

1/4 cup Water

1 teaspoon Blackstrap Molasses

1 pinch Cayenne powder

1 pinch Cinnamon powder

1 pinch Sea Salt

2 tablespoons Vegan Margarine (such as Earth Balance)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

candy thermometer

Line a baking sheet with parchment, and place in oven. Heat oven to 300°F.

Put dried pumpkin seeds, cayenne, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine.

In a medium saucepan, mix sugar, syrup, salt, and water. Clip thermometer onto side of saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Stir while boiling until mixture reaches 300-310°F.

(I didn’t bring the mixture all the way to 300 when I tried this recipe. Maybe that’s why my “brittle” was not exactly brittle. I had the burner turned all the way up and the temperature plateaued under 250. It still came out good enough to give to my mother-in-law for her birthday, which happens to be on Halloween. Spooky!)

Stir in seed mixture.

Melt margarine.

Remove from heat, stir in melted margarine and soda, and pour onto heated, lined pan.

Gently tilt pan as needed to spread candy. Cool completely.

Break into pieces. Eat. Store leftovers in an airtight container.