Posts Tagged La Dolce Vegan

VeganMoFo: Celebrations

This is my 300th post!  To celebrate, I figured I’d show you some celebration food.

St. Patrick’s Day – corned beef seitan, spinach potato patties, soda bread, a shamrock shake made with avocado and mint, and Guinness Extra Stout.  Guinness Extra Stout distributed in the US is vegan!

Cinco de Mayo – ground “beef” tacos with guacamole, rice and beans.

Valentine’s Day – Chocolate Covered Katie’s Snickerdoodle Blondies cut into cute little heart shapes.

Easter – homemade peanut butter cups.  I was going to make eggs but Michael’s was out of egg-shaped molds, so hearts it was!  The filling was 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter mixed with 2 teaspoons melted Earth Balance and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  The coating was a 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips melted with 1 Tablespoon coconut oil.  The cups had a really good texture, but you could taste the coconut oil a bit, so I’d reduce it next time.

all packed up for shipping

I made the Ultimate Vegan Brownies from veganbaking.net to send to my mom for her birthday.  There are a few steps to the recipe, but it’s so worth it – they are by far the best vegan brownies I’ve ever had.  They’re the perfect mixture of fudgey and cakey and crumbly, and even have the desirable crunchy top.

We went to a San Francisco Giants tailgate for Dave’s cousin’s birthday, so I brought cupcakes – yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting and white and orange sprinkles for the Giants fans.

I’m not a horseracing fan, but Dave and some of our friends are, so we had a little gathering for the Kentucky Derby.  I made Wolffie’s Derby Pie from La Dolce Vegan.  The filling starts as something like a dough, with flour, margarine, sugar and flax seeds, which you then combine with chocolate chips and walnuts.  It’s probably one of the richest things I’ve ever made, and so delicious.

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Vegan Weekends (or, The Post of Many Pictures)

Against my predictions, June was just as crazy for me as May, if not a bit crazier.  Almost every day of every weekend was booked, and then some.  So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to for the last five weekends…

The first weekend of June we had some friends join in on our tailgating for an A’s game and bf and I kind of went all out.  BF has been interested lately in making our own buns for hamburgers, which translates into ME making our own buns for hamburgers.  I had seen some loaves of Easy French Bread from La Dolce Vegan floating around the blog world, so I made some buns using that recipe.

I forgot to add the sesame seeds until after the second rise, and in adding them and trying to make sure they didn’t fall off I basically pressed all the rise out of the buns, so they were a little flatter then I wanted.  They tasted good though, and were definitely sturdy enough to stand up to burgers.

I don’t know what got in to me, but I had a mad desire to make Ramen Slaw, which is a dish commonly found at southern pot lucks and the like.  I found and followed a recipe online, but for the life of me I can’t find it again.  I’ll post up the link when I get home.

Ramen slaw, up close and personal.

Post-almond topping.

Here’s my plate:  veggie burger on homemade bun, grilled corn that I accidentally set on fire (like for real, flaming husks and all) and ramen slaw.  I went back for seconds on the slaw, so good.

It was bf’s cousin’s birthday, so I made dessert too.  I had a hard time deciding but in the end wound up trying the Black Bottom Blondies from My Sweet Vegan.

The look innocent enough from the top…

Bonus chocolate layer!  These were tasty enough, but honestly I didn’t like the texture.  It was kind of gummy and dense.  I’m thinking I may have overbeaten the batter, but the instructions say to beat it!

The next Saturday I was invited to a picnic at Tilden Park to celebrate the marriage of my friends Becca and Steve.  They got married in New York, so this was a nice was for us to get together.  I was completely blanking on a good picnic food to bring, so I asked Becca and she suggested the ranch dressing that she had at my house once.  Easy enough!

The food was good and simple, perfect for a picnic.  First plate:  veggie burger, chips & hummus, veggies & ranch.

Second plate:  fruit salad, pasta salad, tofu and tomatoes and more cucumbers.

Third plate, just because the roasted red peppers and grilled zucchini were done.

Lucky for all of us, Melisser of Sugar Beet Sweets made cupcakes!

Gluten free strawberry shortcake and peanut butter cup.

La la lemon and chocoate chocoalte.  I had a lemon and a pb cup.  Oink oink!  You can’t only have one of Melisser’s cupcakes.

Tilden Park is kind of amazing in an it’s-huge-and-you-will-get-lost kind of way.  There is a great old style carousel, and after lunch a group of us decided to act like children and go on it.  There are all sorts of beautiful, detailed animals.

Deer, zebra and kitty.

Lion, rooster, frog and horse.  There was also a dog and a panda and lord knows what else.  I chose the frog.  Becca didn’t want to ride because of motion sickness, so she tried to snap pictures of us.

My head is on the left above the rooster head.  Good times!

The next day I drove down to Santa Cruz to meet the NorCal PPK crew at Amey’s house for a potluck.  This was a vegan potluck of a magnitude never achieved before, and quite possibly never matched again.  Here’s the table when I got there, and food seemed to flow in continuously afterwards too.

Overflow area:

My contributions were a layered salad bar-style salad with iceberg, red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, red and green bell peppers, carrots, peas, red onions, seitan pepperoni, bacos, sunflower seeds, croutons and choice of ranch or balsamic vinaigrette.

And Fatfree Vegan’s Southern-Style Banana Pudding.  This was a big hit – really delicious and very easy to make.  I used EcoPlanet vanilla cookies because they were all I could find, and it worked well.

Obviously, I had to try a little of everything.  Plate 1:  empanada, mini bagel with herb spread, pirogi with caramelized onions, crackers with walnut miso dip, bread with yellow pepper dip, a spring roll with garlic scapes and mandarins and other crazy stuff, and grilled tofu on baguette with some sort of delicious spread.

Plate 2: pasta salad, salad with ranch, chips and guacamole,

I was stuffed at this point and put off dessert as long as I could stand, but it all looked so good!  Some more non-dessert arrived in the meantime, so that’s why there’s green on my mostly-dessert plate:  brussels sprouts with pistachios, braised peach and fig salad, swedish cinnamon roll, raspberries, key lime pie with white chocolate mousse, rice krispy treat, apple coffee cake and banana pudding.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Melisser made a ridiculous dessert.  If I remember correctly it was pie crust, cookie dough, cake AND meringue.  Here she is torching the meringue.

Inside shot.

Group shot!

There were SEVEN doggies at the potluck (three of which were Amey’s), and surprisingly enough I liked them all!  All the doggie owners tried to wrangle them in for a picture.

Here’s the ever-popular Strummer, sunning herself on Megan’s lap.

Our gracious host Amey with Snoopy the cutie-pie.

And my favorite pittbull, Fiona.

After pigging out we all sat around and chatted for a while, then Megan, Melisser, her husband Ryan and I went to downtown Santa Cruz to walk around and check out some shops, so at least I worked off a FEW calories.  Check out Amey’s blog post here, she has more detailed pictures of most of the food.

The next weekend we went to Vegas!  BF’s sister is graduating from her master’s program and wanted to get together to celebrate so a group of 13 of us went, mostly bf’s family and his sister’s boyfriend’s family.  Whew.  We scored an amazing rate at Paris, and really enjoyed staying there.  It’s a comfortable hotel, and the kind of place you wouldn’t really have to leave the whole weekend if you didn’t want to.

We got in late afternoon on Friday, settled in, and ate at a cafe in Paris that really isn’t worth writing about, except for the fact that I got a whole bottle of wine for $8 when most of their single glasses are more than that.

HERE is what Vegas means to me.

Ronald’s Donuts, my friends.  The donuts are out of this world good, they have soy milk for coffee, and I will happily make myself sick eating their apple fritters.  Here I am, slightly hungover and unshowered, in apple fritter heaven.

We had plans for dinner but needed to have a late lunch somewhere, because one cannot exist on apple fritters alone.  Enter Le Burger Brasserie in Paris.  I took a chance that this place would have something I could eat, and I won!  Upon inquiring of the waiter if their veggie burger had any dairy or eggs, he cringed and said “Yeah, I think it does…it has mushrooms, grains, vegan cheese…Wait!  Vegan cheese has no dairy!” and checked with the kitchen to be completely sure.

This was a good, good veggie burger.  The patties are made in-house, and are at least an inch thick and very tasty.  It comes with two topping, but I added one and chose portobello, avocado and caramelized onions.  Seriously, this was one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had and I’d recommend Le Burger Brasserie over the meal I had at Burger Bar easily.

The one caveat about this place is that it’s not cheap.  The burgers don’t come with fries, you have to order them separately.  But I would recommend that you do.

Because their fries are really good, despite the blurry image.  They have steak fries, shoestring fries AND waffle fries and you can get a three fry sampler if you want.

Sometimes when the waiter forgets to ask whether you want an orange or lemon slice with your Widmer and they bring you both, you put them both in.  It’s Vegas, you gotta get a little crazy!

Dinner that night was at The Wynn Buffet, where the lighting apparently does horrible things to my pictures.  Like last time I visited, I didn’t get to check that anything was vegan, but when in doubt went the cautious route.  So don’t take my word for it on this stuff…

Plate 1:  salad with vinaigrette, asparagus and pea salad, strawberries, dried fruit, marinated artichoke, pickles and a little piece of bread.

Plate 2:  pita with hummus and baba ganoush, rice pilaf, curried chickpeas.

Plate 3:  Asian slaw, spicy cucumbers with citrus, sushi, seaweed salad, and the most amazing miso udon which I tried to replicate after the last time I had it but didn’t really come close.

I also had a few bites of sorbet for dessert, but it was nothing picture worthy.  For the life of me I can’t remember where or if we had lunch the next day.  Maybe I just ate a bunch of donuts?

For dinner, we had a date with Hoffbrauhaus, a full-on German-style restaurant like in Beer Fest.  You sit at a long table with other parties, there is a band with an accordion on stage, and the waitresses can carry multiple mugs of beer in one hand.  Look at this perfect pour!

The menu includes two vegetarian entrees, but they’re both laden with cheese or cream, so I asked about a few side dishes and ended up getting three.

Yummy pretzel with sweet mustard.

Cucumber salad, which was good but not worth the $7 it costed.

Red cabbage.  The flavor was good, but they somehow managed to make the cabbage HEAVY.  I couldn’t even finish this small bowl.

I would recommend the Hoffbrauhaus if you’re into that sort of thing, but warn that it is not really within walking distance of the strip.  It may look like it is on a map, but please take a cab!

After dinner we went to Cirque du Soleil Mystere at TI.  It was quite a show, but overall I think I liked La Nouba in Orlando better.  Not that Mystere was bad, it just wasn’t better than La Nouba.  It was also really expensive; our discount tickets were more than I really wanted to pay, but I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity.

That was it for us in Vegas, but on the way out of town we stopped off at Ronald’s again.  I had asked around in the Bay Area to see if anyone wanted donuts brought back and had a large response.  So I bought ten half dozens, which didn’t include the donuts I bought for the ride home, or the donuts that the sweet people at Ronald’s GAVE to me!  Here are the donuts I distributed, with my pepper grinder for size reference (and bonus grease spots).

The next weekend, in addition to going to two baseball games, I baked a donation for the San Francisco Worldwide Vegan Bakesale.

These are Chocolate Chip-Raspberry Blondies from Vegan With A Vengeance, but made with Blackberries instead.  They are super-duper good and I can’t believe I waited this long to try them!  I did have a tricky time getting the blackberry filling to work, it kind of seized up and got stringy.  The recipe calls for tapioca powder and I used tapioca flour because I thought they were the same thing.  Anyone know if they’re the same thing?  I added some extra water to the filling and despite being really sticky, it worked out.

Seeing as SF is not a short trip exactly, and I had a hard time getting going that morning, I was a few hours late for the bakesale.  They had already sold out of a lot of items, but had enough to keep going.

We did really well with foot traffic due to our fantasitc location in front of Ike’s.  Ike’s has pretty much the best sandwiches ever (with extensive vegan options), so of course I had to get one.  I really wanted the Paul Reubens special but they had run out of Tofurkey, so I had a “Not So Sloppy” – meatballs and bbq sauce.

So friggin’ good!  And if you order a vegan sandwich they give you a vegan lollipop.

The bakesale was a HUGE success.  Between the two days and locations they raised $3,000 dollars.  Three thousand!  The proceeds were split between Animal Place and East Bay Animal Advocates.  I feel proud to have been a small part of such a great event.  Thanks to Melisser and Laura for organizing!

That brings us to this past weekend, which was the Fourth of July.  We kept it small and just went to a friend’s house to grill, hang out and play board games.  I decided to make a fancy grilled portobello sandwich, and started by marinating some big mushrooms according to this recipe.

During the veggie grilling session (after the grill had been cleaned of any remaining meats) we cooked the portobellos along with pattypan squash and corn.

I served the mushrooms on storebought ciabatta with lettuce, caramelized onions and avocado-horseradish sauce.  Delightful!  The portobellos weren’t the best I’ve ever made, but I think that had more to do with me cooking them over high heat for a few minutes too long than it did with the recipe.

In keeping with my one year tradition of making a red, white and blue dessert, I put together a trifle.  The layers are lemon pound cake from Veganomicon, strawberries, blueberries and coconut whipped cream.  I was going to do a simple silken tofu whipped cream but couldn’t find silken tofu anywhere, so I bought two cans of coconut milk, remembering that I had read somewhere that you could whip it into cream.  I followed the technique of this recipe, using all the cream from the tops of both cans (about 1 1/2 cups), 6 Tbs powdered sugar, 4 Tbs soy milk powder, 1 tsp almond extract, and a pinch of salt.  It did whip up and turned out nicely.

While I was carefully layering the trifle, bf asked me “Why are you arranging it so carefully if you’re just going to cover it up?”.  Well, this is why:

Trifle’s are supposed to look pretty from the side!

And from the top.  It tasted really good too.  There were lots of flavors going on between the vanilla and lemon in the pound cake, the coconut and almond in the cream and the berries, but it came together well and the pound cake had the perfect squishy consistency.

Lastly, here is how Jake likes to spend his time while I’m out galavanting and running around.

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Another Saturday & Laptop Lunches

Another weekend, another excuse to invite everyone to our house for football and the fight.  I’m exhausted, so I’m gonna keep this one as short as possible.

Our guests included two vegan friends (yay!) so I made sure to offer plenty.

Veggie tray with homemade ranch.

Fiesta Macaroni (except not) Bean Salad, one of my favorites from La Dolce Vegan.  This was vegan AND gluten-free and nobody suspected a thing.

Cheater Baked Beans from VCON.  I like to add a bit of sugar, hot sauce and liquid smoke or worcestershire.

All of these dishes were a little routine since I wanted them to be “omni-friendly”, but here was the real winner:  Ricki’s Portobello Steaks.  I grilled the mushrooms after marinating, sauteed some sliced red onion, added the remaining marinade and thickened with cornstarch because I’m impatient.  While the reduced marinade was strongly flavored, it was delicious and I’m glad I took the extra step.

These mushrooms were huge!

Here’s my plate, with some sauce on the mushroom.

I was going to make butterscotch blondies for dessert but I ran out of time, so instead I give you two bonuses…beer and cat.

Here we have Stone Vertical Epic Ale, Anchor 2008 Christmas Ale and Piraat Ale.  The Stone and the Piraat were belgians, and while they were good I don’t remember any specifics other than their high alcohol content.  Belgians aren’t really my thing.  The Anchor was really good.  I highly recommend it, especially since it’s seasonal and you won’t be able to get it for very long.  I mean, look at the bottle!  It was so pretty that I felt bad opening it.

Here’s a shot of Mr. Jake on Saturday in a sun spot.  I thought the shadows of the blinds and his stripes made a really nice pattern.  And he actually stayed still long enough for me to get a good number of shots!

On to last week’s Laptop Lunches.

11-10 pizza & salad w/ carrot, celery & goddess dressing

Tuesday was a holiday!


11-12 cauliflower-millet mash, roasted fall veggies, celery sticks & almond butter, grapes

I took this lunch Thursday but we ended up going out, so I ate it Friday.


11-14 wheat wrap w/ hummus, grilled eggplant & zucchini, lettuce,
tomato & pickle, cucumbers w/ tahini dip, kiwi

That’s it for last week, and it for now.  Bianca from Vegan Crunk tagged me for a meme that I was going to do tonight, but for whatever reason I’m too tired to think about anything, much less seven whole interesting things about myself.

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Still Cleaning Out My Kitchen

Actually, I’m starting with one thing that didn’t help purge my kitchen, but it sure did taste good.  A couple years ago I made a chocolate cake for my birthday, a wacky cake recipe from La Dolce Vegan.  My friend Laura liked it a lot, so since her birthday was Friday I made her a cake of her own.

I knew I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time to decorate and was feeling festive, so I went with sprinkles.  Yay!  I had to buy a whole bottle and certainly don’t need leftover sprinkles, so I mixed most of the bottle into the cake, for a funfetti-type-thing.  It worked well!  Here’s the insides.

A funny thing happened while cutting the cake.  A friend of Laura’s from nursing school came into the kitchen.  Laura offered her cake (there was another cake there too) and she said no thanks.  Then Laura was like “this one’s vegan” and her friend said “Oh!  Yeah!” and took a slice.  I wanted to ask if it was opposite day.  That kind of thing doesn’t happen!  Turns out she’s vegetarian and therefore interested in vegan baked goods.

On Saturday I had a Buy My Stuff Open House, kind of like an indoor yardsale for friends only.  I had promised refreshments but didn’t feel like preparing anything (crazy!) so I took the opportunity to thaw some freezer foods.

Leftover cake with oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate-chocolate chip-walnut cookies, both from the freezer.

Smoky salsa from the freezer, store bought guac (gasp), blue corn chips and oat bran pretzels.  The oat bran pretzels are really good.

Sunday night my parents came into town and took us out to dinner at Emiliano’s, a Pan-Latin restaurant downtown.  I wish I had taken my camera, because the food there is really good.  I had gazpacho and black beans over spanish rice, and shared two tapas with my mom – escalivada (grilled veggies & pita chips, cheese on the side for mom) and amarillos.  I also had a basil mojito, which was at once odd and delicious.

Last night I made a meal I had been meaning to make since I bought green beans at the farmers market last week, but had to keep putting it off, and I’m glad I waited because my parents brought me a bunch of tomatoes from my dad’s garden.

As good as these tomatoes are, I’m just not a raw tomato person except for a slice in a sandwich here and there.  Even the cherry tomatoes – some people eat them like candy.  Me, not so much.  Anywho, a thick slice of tomato on top of this chickpea cutlet parmesan gave it that extra special something.  Served with spelt spaghetti marinara and balsamic roasted green beans.

Freezer – chickpea cutlets, marinara
Pantry – spelt spaghetti, breadcrumbs, almond parmesan
Farmers Market – green beans
Free! – dad’s tomatoes

Overall three meals of this cost $2.  That’s some good math.

In the spirit of using more tomatoes and freezer foods, tonight I had a take on succotash and onion rings.  I love onion rings, but they’re so bad for you!  Probably why they were still in the freezer.

The succotash is lima beans, edamame and corn (all from the freezer), EB, quartered cherry tomatoes, garlic and onion powder, basil, dill, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper and braggs.  Topped with hot sauce.

By my math, this meal was free!  And there are leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  Sweet.

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Annual Baseball Pilgrimage

Every summer a group of us take a road trip down to Tampa to watch the Rays (formerly the Devil Rays) play a couple weekend games.  We chose Memorial Day weekend so that we could recuperate on Monday, as one definitely requires a full day of rest afterwards.  This is my fourth year going, and every year the celebrations grow a little larger and a little wilder.  You can tailgate at Tropicana Field, so we show up a couple hours early and do it up right.

As most of my friends are quite content to eat hot dogs, burgers, and chicken wings all day long, I made quite a bit of food to take along and share.

First we have Joanna’s Beer Brats (the March 16th entry, currently at the top).  The recipe says that she made 10, and for whatever reason I decided to make them really big, and ended up with 8.  These guys were HUGE.  I selected a few bun-sized dogs for the road trip, and put the rest in the freezer.  A few of them were so large I’ll definitely have to chop them up small in order to use them in anything.  These were really tasty.  The texture is distinctively seitan-y, but the flavor as far as I can tell is dead on.  Very similar to Tofurkey’sBeer Brats which I really like, but about a million times cheaper.  Here they are posing with the beer from whence they came.  Next time I’ll use a nicer beer, this is just what I had in the fridge.

brats

I made a big batch of my favorite pasta salad, Wolfie’s Fiesta Pasta Salad from La Dolce Vegan.  The dressing on this stuff is unreal.  The original recipe is a little heavy on the pasta and light on the veggies for my taste, so I added extra peppers, peas and blanched broccoli.  And I used mini bowties instead of macaroni, just because they’re cute.

pasta salad

I also made a “fixings salad”.  The recipe is from the Food Network site, but I can’t seem to find it now.  I’ll post a link later if it’s still there.  All that’s in it is lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, olive oil and red wine vinegar, to go on burgers and sandwiches.  I thought it was a really cute idea, and nice since we wouldn’t have to cart all those things individually, but it didn’t go over too well.  It could be my friends just aren’t fixings kinds of people, or that the lettuce had wilted by the time we ate it (it tasted fine though), or that their burgers were mounded so high with mushrooms, bacon and cheese that there just wasn’t room.  Either way, I liked it and may make it again sometime for a cookout.  Just don’t mix it till right before you want to eat it!

fixings salad

Here we have VCON Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Walnuts Cookies.  These got rave reviews.  They’re delicious and stay soft for days, and the recipe makes a ton so I’m still working on leftovers and have a stash in the freezer.  I can see myself making many variations on these in the future.

cookies

I wanted to take something for breakfast other than a Luna bar, so before we left Saturday I made FatFree Vegan’s Banana Coffee Cake.  I wanted to make it soy-free so soy-intolerant Janeen could partake, so I had to adapt the recipe.  My first instinct for soy yogurt replacement was mashed banana, but as the recipe already contained two bananas I was wary.  I asked Susan of FFV and she replied “you can never have enough banana”, and I tend to agree.  Because I’m a little insane, I made two variations.

coffee cake

For the first I subbed mashed banana for the soy yogurt and added 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

coffee cake

The other variation was peanut butter, because peanut butter and banana is the best.  I subbed 1/2 cup pb for the soy yogurt, flax and water, and added an extra 1/4 cup rice milk to keep the wet mixture at the right consistency.  I also added 1/4 cup peanuts since my pb was creamy, but I would definitely prefer to use crunchy pb in the future, as the peanuts got a little soft once baked inside the cake.  You can see the layer of bananas nicely in this one.

coffee cake

I forgot to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the banana layer both times.  It would’ve been nice there in the middle, but the cakes were fine without.  My favorite was the peanut butter kind, although it was a bit more dense and crumbly.  I think everyone else gravitated towards the chocolate chip variation.  15 seconds in the microwave was the perfect fix to warm it back up after sitting overnight.

coffee cake

So yeah, I did all this the night before and the morning that we left.  I packed it all up to go in the cooler…

tailgating food

…and THEN we finally left.  The amount of food and drink (read:  beer) that we took for nine people was a little insane.  It filled up five coolers.  We got through most of it before the weekend was over though.

After the 2 1/2 hour drive, we were happy to find a nice spot in the shade.  Here is what I would look like if I regularly wore things like “hats” and “sunglasses”.  And I even remembered to put sunscreen on the first day!

tailgating

It was HOT that afternoon!  The forecast was for scattered thunderstorms and we brought a big tent just incase, but of course because we were prepared there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight.

For my tailgate meal before the game I had one of the brats on a bun with sauerkraut and mustard, my pasta salad, and another pasta salad Janeen made.  Hers had artichokes, roasted tomatoes, olives and cilantro and was delicious, as always.  She’s got me rethinking my stance on olives, just a little bit.  I also had too many chips, a couple beers, and probably a cookie or two.

tailgating

Here’s the view of Tropicana Field from our area.  This place is large and white and you can see it from very far away.  A lot of people don’t like going to games here because it’s enclosed and all artificial turf, but I like it just fine, mostly because it’s climate controlled.

tropicana firled

It was “70′s Night” at the Saturday game, which involved handing out blue afro wigs to the first 10,000 fans and an after-game show by The Commodores, which we didn’t end up staying for.  It also involved ridiculously photoshopped pictures of all the players.

baseball

baseball

The Rays (along with the rest of the world) are going green!  Any car with four or more people parks for free (which we did with two cars), and look at this cup our beers came in.

baseball cup

Although I don’t think that sentence is gramatically correct…

We stayed at our friend Nate’s parents’ lovely house in Tampa.  They live on a lake, have a pool, and don’t seem to mind if Nate’s friends come in and trash their house while they’re away on vacation.  We’re good kiddies though, we cleaned up before we left.  Saturday night we watched BJ Penn win his UFC fight, and the party lasted long into the night.  I layed down in this hammock for a couple minutes before I realized I had better get to bed, lest I spend the whole night in the hammock.

hammock

Here’s the view I had the next morning while I enjoyed my coffee cake.

lake

My eats at the Sunday tailgate, along with the requisite chips and beer, was a veggie burger with grilled mushrooms and onions, and a marinated portobello, both topped with the fixings salad.

tailgating

I also may have drank some champagne straight from the bottle with the aforementioned Janeen.  Well, we didn’t have any cups and it was the classy thing to do.

tailgating

There is a tank of live rays inside the stadium, so Sunday we went to see them first thing.  You can pet them, and you can even pay a few dollars to feed them, but none of us wanted our hands anywhere near there mouths.  Sea creatures and I don’t get along in a phobia type of way, so petting their wings was quite enough of a thrill for me.  These guys were hard to catch in a good picture, they’re fast!

rays

We had some debate about whether they like being in the tank and having people pet them all day.  They zoom right up to the side of the tank and let you pet them with no problems, although they might just be hoping for food each time.

rays

Courtesy of Adrian, a picture of me taking a picture of the rays.  Adrian’s camera has some neat-o function that singles out colors or something.

rays

Hope you enjoyed reliving my weekend through pictures.  Tonight it’s back to exercise and healthy eating.

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Fancy Ladies’ Brunch

I enjoy having people over for a meal, but I always overdo it.  I know I do, and I still do everytime.  I like to impress though…so I try.

I invited my lady friends to come for a brunch.  I wanted it to be a little fancy and a little springy since it’s already pretty warm here in Florida.  I spent the week before planning and cleaning, and the whole day before and morning of cooking.  Here’s what I came up with.

(One of my friends is allergic to soy, and one has celiac, so I wanted to label each dish so that they would know what they could eat.  Hence the “gf” and “sf” on the cards.)

PPK Coffee Cake – http://www.theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=123

Fresh Fruit Salad with Agave-Lime Dressing – http://www.greatpartyrecipes.com/fruit-salad-recipe.html

(I subbed agave nectar for the honey called for, equal amount.)

Mini “Muffins That Taste Like Donuts” from Vegan Vittles, made gluten free, and Mini Orange Poppyseed Muffins, also gluten free – http://www.meatlessmonday.com/site/PageServer?pagename=recipe_more_070219

Mini  Bran Muffins from La Dolca Vegan

VWAV Herb Roasted Potatoes with Homemade Ketchup

Fatfree Vegan’s Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches – http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/12/mini-crustless-tofu-quiches.html

(I omitted the green pepper and added a box of thawed frozen spinach to the blender.)

Julie Hasson’s Spicy Italian Sausages, made breakfast link size – http://www.everydaydish.tv/Recipe%20Pages/Spicy_Italian_Vegetarian_Sausage.html

VCON Blueberry Corn Pancakes, made gluten free.

VWAV Ginger Pear Waffles (successful first waffle attempt!)

Roasted Asparagus Bundles – http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_33069,00.html

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Juice Bar.  There was also coffee.  And two more bottles of champagne.

The spread.

My (first) plate.

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