Posts Tagged brunch

New Stuff

It seems like I’ve got a lot of new stuff going on lately.  I’ve also received some new stuff and bought some new stuff.  Stuff!

Firstly, I started the Natural Chef program at Bauman College last week.  Although I haven’t actually cooked anything yet, I’ve been enjoying it a lot.  Our sanitation and knife skills classes are this week, and after that we can get into the kitchen.

Yesterday after class I headed into San Francisco to check out Economy Restaurant Fixtures for some supplies.  They have just about everything you could need to start or run a restaurant, right down to salt and pepper shakers or menu covers.  It was kind of funny to see it all lined up on shelves.

Apron, chef’s pants, knife roll, paring knife and knife covers.  I’ll look so official!  I also picked up some small stuff for home cooking – ramekins, a fine wire mesh strainer and large piping tips.

It was recommended to purchase a recipe management program, and I went with Living Cookbook after reading lots of reviews on Amazon.  So far I’m very happy with the software, and am working on importing all of my collected loose recipes.  One of the great features is having nutrition information for each recipe, like you can see at the end of this post.

I found myself with just a bit of extra money last month, so I bought some e-books that were on my wish list for a long time.

Sneak Peak and Pudge-Free Holidays by Lindsay of Happy Herbivore, and Impossible Pies and Lunchbox Bites by Hannah of Bittersweet.  I haven’t made anything from any of them yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

I also ordered Swell zine from A-K of Swell Vegan, and bought The Joy of Vegan Baking as a total splurge at Rainbow Grocery yesterday.  Haven’t even looked through either yet!

I don’t get over to Rainbow very often, but I happened to be in SF yesterday so I made sure to swing by to stock up on Teese and other such specialties.  I wasn’t looking for creamer, but I saw this coconut milk creamer by So Delicious and figured I’d give it a try.  I normally use Silk or Trader Joe’s brand soy creamer, but I’m not in love with either.  I tried the coconut creamer this morning and the verdict isn’t quite in yet, but I think I’m going to like it.  The flavor is pretty natural, with a little hint of coconut, and I only had to use about a Tablespoon, as opposed to the soy creamers which it seems I need to use more than one serving to achieve my preferred creaminess.  I haven’t seen this coconut creamer on my side of the bay yet, so I’m hoping that Berkeley Bowl or Whole Foods will pick it up soon.

A while back, my mom asked if I wanted anything from Pampered Chef because she was going to a Pampered Chef party.  I said there was nothing I needed, but made a few small suggestions.  A few weeks later she sent me a big box full of stuff!  It included a garlic peeler, garlic slicer, bamboo cooking tools, a stoneware baking sheet, chow chow relish, rice chips, glazed pecans and Southern Living magazine.  It also included a cookbook published by my parent’s church, chock-full of good old southern recipes.  My mom is the best!

Ever since hearing about the wonder of Kala Namak (black salt) on the internets and reading about it in Vegan Brunch, I’ve been looking everywhere for it.  For anyone who doesn’t know about black salt, it has a sulfuric aroma and flavor, which helps to simulate egginess.  I finally decided to just order it on the internet, and did so at Salt Works.  This 9.5 oz jar was only $7.95, and they offered free shipping in September, so I think I scored a pretty good deal.  This jar will last me a long time…

…making dishes like this!  This is the tofu omelet from Vegan Brunch.  I made the mushroom filling with white and shiitake mushrooms because the store was out of cremini, and substituted chard for the spinach because it’s what I had.  I also added some shredded cheddar Teese inside and on top, and broiled the omelet for a few minutes at the end to melt the Teese.  In the back is a roasted sweet potato hash with ketchup.  I had high hopes for these omelets after reading rave reviews, and they lived up to them.  It’s not exactly like a real omelet, but I think it’s the best simulation you could make without actual eggs.

This isn’t new, per say, but it’s new for this year.  I caught a glimpse of Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale and had to have it!  It’s my favorite pumpkin beer, although Shipyard Pumpkinhead is really good too.  Gotta get it while it’s available.

And finally, a first for me:  I won a blog contest!  Alisa over at One Frugal Foodie hosted a contest to get rid of some cookbooks she didn’t need, and I won a copy of Nonna’s Italian Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan.  Score!

That’s it for today.  Between going to school and working full time, I’m unfortunately not going to be able to post as often as usual, which wasn’t that often anyway.  I’ll probably have some interesting things to share from school – I have to make some recipes at home and write up reports for homework.  Either way, I’ll try to keep posting at least a few times a month.

Speaking of the upcoming month, it’s time for VeganMoFo!  I won’t be able to participate this year, but for a full list of participants check out Kittee’s post.  I will certainly be perusing the list and hopefully discovering some new blogs.

Bonus Jake pictures!

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Vegan in Reno

Ever since bf & I moved out here we’ve been talking about jaunting off to Reno for a weekend.  Reno was described to me as an older, mini-sized Vegas.  The drive from here to Reno is about five hours shorter than to Vegas.  And everything is cheaper than Vegas too.

As any good travelling vegan does, I searched for “Reno Vegan” before we went, looking for any sign of food that I would be able to eat.  Things didn’t look so good, and the verdict is that Reno is MUCH less vegan-friendly than Vegas.  It’s to be expected though.  I did find stuff to eat and come back alive, albeit a little bit poorer.

We left at 8AM on Saturday and got to Reno just before noon.  Our hotel check-in wasn’t until 3, so we started off with some video poker and walked around a bit.  We got a pretty good deal at Silver Legacy hotel, which is a good location because it’s connected to both Eldorado and Circus Circus.  No need to go outside, which was nice because it was really cold.  When we started to get hungry we headed to The Brew Brothers in Eldorado.  I figured I could at least get the old standby of fries and a salad, as well as a beer.

We started with beers – I the Wild Card Wheat and bf the Pale Ale.

The beers were tasty, very fresh and high quality.

There was the ubiquitous veggie pizza on the menu, so I asked about the crust and found out that it’s vegan.  Cheeseless pizza for me.

It was a good pizza.  Nothing super outstanding, but it filled me up for quite a while.

We spent the afternoon napping, watching sports, walking around and…playing more video poker.  We wanted to play black jack, but we couldn’t find a table with a low minimum and decent payout.

For dinner we headed to the buffet at Eldorado.  You can’t go to a casino without eating at the buffet.  At least that’s my rule.  There wasn’t nearly as much for me to choose from as the times we buffeted in Vegas.  (Yes, I just used buffet as a verb.)  But I found some good enough food.

First plate:  salad with spinach, lettuce, mushrooms, chickpeas and vinaigrette, pasta salad, quinoa tabouleh and a roll.  The salad bar itself was pretty pathetic – I was hoping for at least broccoli or carrots or something.  I was impressed with the quinoa tabouleh though.  It wasn’t the best tabouleh or quinoa I’ve ever had, but the fact that they had quinoa at all was great.

Second plate:  green beans and carrots, steamed white rice, squash, beets, and a cold antipasti mixture that I did NOT eat because what I thought was red onion or something turned out to be meat.  I hated to waste it, but I was also upset with the fact that the buffet seemed to put meat in EVERYTHING!

(There was a third plate with a bit more pasta salad and chickpeas.  Gotta get my money’s worth!)

Dessert:  fruit.  There was a case of ice cream, some of which may have been sorbet, but there was a line and I didn’t feel like asking.

We went to bed relatively early (we’re getting old) and checked out early the next day to go see The Peppermill and Atlantis, which are not within walking distance from downtown.  I was hungry, and after looking at multiple menus for anything I could eat other than an eight dollar fruit cup, I ate the granola bar and banana I had brought just incase.  I didn’t want to eat them – I wanted to eat out, cause that’s a fun part of vacation for me.  But I was getting cranky and needed food in my belly.

On the way out of town we passed by The Black Bear Diner and decided to stop so that bf could get a good breakfast.  I figured I could at least get coffee and OJ.  After perusing the menu and noting that they welcome special requests, I decided to try and order.  The waitress confirmed that their country potatoes could be made with just oil (no butter), so I ordered potatoes and a fruit cup.

The potatoes were good, made with fresh peppers and onions, and while the fruit wasn’t perfectly ripe, it was definitely good enough.  I left full and much more satisfied than before.  I thought The Black Bear Diner was really cute, the kind of place you’d find in Tennessee, which made me all nostalgic.  There was even a person going around the restaurant in a full on black bear outfit, sneaking up on people and being nice to kids.  Should’ve taken a picture.

So, if you’re looking for glitz and food options, go to Vegas.  If you’re looking for a quick, cheaper getaway, go to Reno.  Although, I will say that the drive back home took about three hours longer than the drive there.  It snowed the night we stayed, and the only road back was covered in snow and ice.  We were forced to buy chains for my tires, which is something I had never dealt with before.  People went nuts.  People seriously don’t know how to deal with snow and having to put on chains.  Not that I did either, but I like to believe that I act sane under stress.

I wanted to take pictures of the snow covered mountains, which were actually beautiful, but I felt it more important to let bf concentrate on driving.  Here’s one I snagged when we stopped for a bathroom break.

The good news is that we’re planning another trip to Vegas.  I will have Ronald’s Donuts again.  Oh yes, I will.

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Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve and Day.  Mine was excellent  (were excellent?).  I first set out to attend “Peewee’s Veg Adventure”, a Peewee Herman themed potluck that was the brainchild of the Bay Area PPKers.  We planned the menu in advance, and every dish had a Peewee related name.  Awesome!

My contributions were “Footlongs for Mickey”…

(recipe from Vegan Lunchbox)

…and “Simone’s French Toast Bites”.

(VWAV Fronch Toast)

“Snack Time Popcorn”

“Peewee’s Peepshow Hashbrowns” (gross!)

“King of Stuffed Mushrooms” and “Jambi-laya”

“Fire in the Playhouse Bread with Cheesy White Bean Dip”

The cheesy white bean dip was kind of amazing.  I’m told the recipe is in Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

“Connect the Dots Quinoa” and Cowvin Cookies from Sticky Fingers Bakery in the back.  Melisser won the cookies in some contest I think.

“Dinosaur Family Kale” and “Cowboy Curtis’ Cookie Sandwiches”

“Bowtie Pasta Salad” and “Pterri’s BBQ Not Wings”

“Globey’s International Speculoos Brownies” and “Ant Farm on a Log”

“Chairy Pie”

My plate – I didn’t get an individual picture of the “Copper Penny Salad”, and I forgot to get some of the bowtie pasta the first time through.  I definitely went back for seconds though.

Dessert plate

To finish up, a “Whacky Tapi-oca Pudding Shooter”.

I unfortunately had to leave the party before midnight to come back to my house and co-host.  There are more pictures from the Peewee party in this thread.

I definitely wanted a hearty brunch when I finally woke up on New Year’s Day, so I made tofu scramble with onions, peppers and mushrooms.  I made toast from the ends of the loaf I used to make the french toast bites, and topped it with leftover strawberry sauce.

For the past couple years I’ve wanted to eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, but until now I hadn’t made it happen.  According to Wikipedia, “Black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day in the Southern United States and in some other parts of the U.S…The traditional meal also features collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money.”  This time I was determined to have my black eyed peas!

The black eyed peas were sauteed with peppers, onions and garlic.  I cooked the brown rice in my rice cooker with tomatoes and cajun seasoning, and brightened it up with a splash of lemon juice at the end.  For the collards I used the Sauteed Collard Greens recipe from VCON.  This is basically how I like to cook my greens, but following the recipe I think they came out a bit tastier.  Especially because of the four cloves of garlic.  Instead of the stock I used water mixed with chicken broth seasoning, worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2009!

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VeganMoFo: Sticking With The Plan

It’s been four days since I started focusing more on eating healthily, and I think I’m doing…okay.  I did really well Friday, including doing a 45 minute pilates video.  Saturday I only walked for 25 minutes or so, and ate pretty well except for some bbq chips.  Weekend are always hard for me, we usually have people over and barbeque and hang out, and there’s usually a bag of chips out.  In comparison with Sunday though, Saturday was great.  We went to a sports bar to watch the Raiders game at 1, so I found myself stuck and hungry, and the only thing there that I could eat was french fries.  So that was my lunch.  And dinner ended up being blue corn chips with salsa, and a whole wheat hamburger bun by itself.  I don’t think I ate too much necessarily, but the quality of food was pretty bad.  But it happens, and I’m back on track today.

As an aide for the plan, I spent some time compiling a list of recipes that either fall within my guidelines or can be adjusted to.  I’m posting them below mostly for my reference, but also as a tool for anyone else who might be looking for the same kinds of recipes.  I started in on the list over the weekend.

A few weeks ago Megetarianmade the VegNews Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and upon searching just now I see that Jessy just tried it too.  For anyone who hasn’t seen the recipe, you can find it here.  The sauce is made from blended potato, carrot and shallot.  I knew it was going to be plenty good, but had a hard time refraining from throwing a bunch of nutritional yeast in it.  I did make a few changes – I used brown rice veggie spirals pasta (in the attempt to vary my grains), and instead of blending margarine with the breadcrumb topping, I left the breadcrumbs plain then sprayed on some olive oil when the dish was assembled.  Oh, and I added steamed broccoli.

The texture was right on, but if I make it again I will definitely add nutritional yeast and maybe another thing or two to pump up the “cheesy” factor.  As is it seems like more of a saucy casserole than a mac ‘n’ cheese.  The recipe says it makes six servings which is probably a good size for a side dish.  It definitely only made four full-meal servings for us.

For grilling Saturday night I made Jerk-Spiced Portobello Steaks from Vegan Planet.  I wasn’t sure how well the rub technique would work.  I was worried the spice mix wouldn’t really stick, but it definitely stuck well enough.  These “steaks” were sweet, spicy, mushroomy, and downright great.  Served on a whole wheat bun with lettuce and grilled peppers – red, green and jalapeno.

We bought a whole bag of potatoes, so Sunday morning I tried my hand at hash browns.  Hash browns are hard to do right.  I think maybe I’m afraid to use as much oil as good hash browns would require.  They didn’t look very nice at all, but they tasted good enough.

And now, the longest list of mostly healthy vegan recipes anyone could ever need, in no particular order.

Squash Spice Bread – VT (Vegetarian Times) Oct 07 pg 82
Sunset Sweet Potato Biscuits – VT Oct 07 pg 66
GF Tempeh Stroganoff – VT Oct 07 pg 78
Vegan Moussaka – VT Nov/Dec 07 pg 64
Eastern European Red Lentil Soup – VT Nov/Dec 07 pg 81
Slow Cooker Vegetable Vindaloo – VT Nov/Dec 07 pg 37
Banana Buckwheat Pancakes – VT Jan 07 pg 77
Seitan Meatballs with Winter Tomato Sauce – VT Jan 07 pg 74
Oven Baked Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms – VT Nov/Dec 06 pg 35
Three Sisters Casserole – VT Nov/Dec 06 pg 61
Spicy Tofu Bento Bowl – VT Nov/Dec 06 pg 84
Crispy Breakfast Bars – VT Oct 05 pg 77
Corn & Quinoa Chowder – VT Nov/Dec 05 pg 28
Marinated Kale & Cabbage Salad – VN (VegNews) Jan/Feb 08 pg 58
Creamy Golden Potato-Squash Soup – VN Nov/Dec 06 pg 67
Cheddary Cheese Soup – VV (Vegan Vittles) pg 83
Chickpeas A La King – VV pg 119
Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf – VV pg 126
Unrolled Cabbage Rolls – VV pg 127
Miso Soup with Edamame – YRR (Yellow Rose Recipes) pg 48
Cajun Spiced Tofu – YRR pg 158
Hot & Sour Soup – LDV (La Dolce Vegan) pg 104
Beauty & the Beet Borscht – LDV pg 116
“Chicken” & Rice Soup for the Soul – LDV pg 121
Winter Vegetable Bisque – VP (Vegan Planet) pg 85
Savory Amaranth Porridge – VP pg 221
Adzuki Beans & Winter Squash Saute – VP pg 277
White Bean Cassoulet – VP pg 290
Tofu Vindaloo – VP pg 312
The Ultimate Veggie Burgers – VP pg 462
Indian Split Pea & Vegetable Cake – VV (Versatile Vegetarian) pg 46
Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage with Peanuts – VV pg 46
Thai Salad with Tofu – VV pg 97
Falafel Sandwiches – VV pg 112
Chili sin Carne al Mole – VWAV (Vegan with a Vengeance) pg 68
Black Bean, Mushroom & Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers – VWAV pg 83
Black-Eyed Pea & Quinoa Croquettes with Mushroom Sauce – VWAV pg 88
Chickpea Broccoli Casserole – VWAV pg 96
Orange-Glazed Beets – VWAV pg 117
Ethiopian Seitan & Peppers – VWAV pg 167
Chickpea Mash Stew – EV (The Everyday Vegan) pg 84
Spicy Thai Stew – EV pg 88
Mushroom Pecan Burgers – EV pg 114
Creamy Potato Leek Bake – EV pg 124
Baked Herbed Spaghetti Squash – EV pg 146
Apple Swirl Loaf – EV pg 163
Cinnamon Cornmeal Muffins – EV pg 166
Simple Whole Wheat Pancakes – PP (The Peaceful Palate) pg 22
Oatmeal Waffles – PP pg 25
Antipasto Salad – PP pg 60
Green Velvet Soup – PP pg 72
Winter Squash & Hominy Stew – PP pg 83
Pilau – PP pg 97
Chinese Bulgur – PP pg 101
Pasta Primavera – PP pg 108
Cabbage Rolls – PP pg 123
Mjeddrah – PP pg 124
Tofu Croquettes – PP pg 126
Neat Loaf – PP pg 128
Yellow Split Pea Dal – PP pg 131
Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes – VCON (Veganomicon) pg 60
Creole Stuffed Peppers – VCON pg 61
Lower-Fat Cauliflower Hummus – VCON pg 68
Snobby Joes – VCON pg 98
Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf – VCON pg 115
Mexican Millet – VCON pg 118
Mediterranean-Style Baked Lima Beans – VCON pg 121
Seitan Cutlets – VCON pg 132
Double Pea Soup with Roasted Red Peppers – VCON pg 140
Baked Potato & Greens Soup – VCON pg 146
Tempeh Shepherdess Pie – VCON p 167
Spaghetti Squash Mexicana with Tropical Avocado Salsa Fresca – VCON pg 178
Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale & Sun-Dried Tomatoes, VCON pg 182
Pumpkin Saag – VCON pg 184
Spaghetti & Beanballs – VCON pg 189
Almond-Quinoa Muffins – VCON pg 227
Applesauce-Oat Bran Muffins – VCON pg 229

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VeganMoFo: Comfort Food

Comfort food takes many forms.  There are the comfort foods that have that texture, the one that makes you feel warm and squishy inside, like mashed potatoes and gravy or mac ‘n cheese.  Recreations of childhood favorites are also comforting.  I guess ultimately, most all food is comfort food in some way.

It’s been chilly around these parts, more chilly than I’m accustomed too, and I’ve been craving comfort food.  For some ice cream is probably comfort food, but for me it has to be warm.  Here are the comfort foods I’ve eaten this weekend.

The first meal started with these maple walnuts, which I raved about in this post.  They’re a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, and crunchier than any other walnuts I’ve ever had.

I just knew these would be fabulous with sweet potatoes.  I was looking for them at Trader Joe’s and came across their baby sweet potatoes and yams, and they were so cute I had to buy them.  My initial plan was to bake or roast them and sprinkle the walnuts on top, with brussels sprouts on the side, but when the comfort food craving hit I changed the dish for the better.

I boiled the sweet potatoes and yams then mashed them with rice milk, a bit of earth balance, coriander, salt and white pepper, and a dash of nutmeg.  I shredded and sauteed the brussels then folded them in, and topped it all off with the chopped walnuts.  The contrast between the crunchy nuts and the mashed veggies and the hearty flavor were so satisfying.  And overall it was a very healthy dish.  I like my comfort, but I also watch the calorie content.

Yesterday afternoon bf brought a borrowed grill to the house, and we reinstated the weekly tradition of grilling and watching football.  We decided on burgers for ease, and off to the store I went.  I’m not very familiar with the grocery stores in the area yet, and no matter where I searched, I could not find an egg-and-dairy-free-veggie burger.  They had all sorts of Morningstar Farms products, but MF doesn’t seem to have received the memo that it’s notcool to put eggs in everything yet.  Frustrated, I went back to the “specialty” refrigerated area where they keep tofu and veggie dogs.  I knew there weren’t any veggie burgers there, but on second look I noticed tubes of Gimme Lean, both sausage and beef style.  So the store kind of redeemed itself.  With no burger patty making experience, I had bf form a patty for me before he moved onto his beef burgers.  The patties were a little too sticky, and I was afraid they’d fall apart on the grill, so I put each one in a foil packet with a teeny bit of oil, and it worked perfectly.  With all the fixins and a quick coleslaw, this was one fine burger platter.  The only thing that could’ve possibly made it better would be a slice of soy cheese to melt on top.

This morning we made brunch in between football watching sessions.  College and NFL seems to take up just about the whole weekend!  I went with the standby tofu scramble, and VWAV Fronch Toast.

The tofu scramble was pretty standard.  I cooked the mushrooms, peppers and onions first so bf could have some for his omelet, then added in the tofu, cooked for a while and shook on some turmeric and a load ot nutritional yeast.  Then I took a tip from Vegan Dad’s recent post on tofu scramble, and added in a couple splashes of rice milk to keep it all moist.  I never thought about adding liquid, but it does keep it nice and moist, and perhaps a little more “eggy”.  Salt and pepper, and then upon taste testing it was a little flat.  It was good, but this was the point where I might add a little lemon juice or vinegar to a different kind of recipe, for that acidic lift.  Inspiration hit, and I added a few squirts of yellow mustard.  Perfection!  That little tang made all the difference.

For the Fronch Toast I thought I was all set.  I had bread and rice milk, and I always have a fully stocked pantry.  Except having just moved, my pantry is not all there, and I discovered halfway through I didn’t have any cornstarch.  So I subbed 1 Tbs tapioca flour and 1 Tbs Ener-G egg replacer and crossed my fingers, and it worked!  Maybe even better than cornstarch has worked for me in the past.

And finally, since we’re talking about comfort, here is how Jake the cat has spent this afternoon.  I love how cats make themselves into a ball when they sleep.

Then the light became just too much for him.

Well, I’m all caught up with posting food I’ve made.  I’ll probably be eating leftovers for the next few meals, so I’ll have to come up with some interesting topics to write about for VeganMoFo.

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Dining Out @ The Top & 43rd St Deli, Cupsidedowncakes

My friend Jackie was in town last Thursday for her birthday and she wanted to go to The Top for dinner, which was A-OK with me.  The Top has a few vegan dinner options, cool atmosphere, generally friendly service, and good beer selection.  What gets me about their menu is that it could easily be much more vegan friendly with just a few tweaks.  For instance, all of the sauces that come with entrees and pastas are cream sauces.  I feel like if they’d offer one or two non-cream based sauces it would open up the menu to tons of options.  Oddly enough, there are more clearly marked vegan options on their Sunday brunch menu than their normal menu.  They have the BEST vegan biscuits and gravy on Sundays.

We started with Sweet Potato Fries.  They come with a dipping sauce that is not vegan, but I’m just fine with ketchup.

sweet potato fries

For this particular dinner, I went with the Caesar Salad, which is no longer marked vegan on the menu for some reason.  The waiter reassured me that it still is.  I add spicy blackened tofu, which they put on the salad while it’s still very hot so it wilts some of the lettuce nicely.  The dressing, while not as great as the caesar recipe in VCON, is quite good and gives you really lovely garlic breath.

caesar salad

Jackie likes vegan cupcakes, and I had two over-ripe bananas, so I took the opportunity to try my first recipe from My Sweet Vegan, the Bananas Foster Cake.  The recipe calls for five bananas and makes two 9-inch cakes, so I halved it and subbed applesauce for my missing half banana.  This was enough batter for eight cupcakes, but I think I overfilled them because instead of poofing up like a cupcake should, they got kind of a flat muffin-top.

bananas foster cupcake

Really this wasn’t a problem at all, but I was feeling inventive, so I turned ’em upside down and trimmed off the tops with a cookie cutter that just happened to be the perfect size.  I ate the trimmings and soaked rum into the “bottoms” of the cakes.

bananas foster cupake

The only real issue I ran into was the frosting.  The recipe tells you to microwave brown sugar with water to make caramel, then mix it into a buttercream frosting.  The first time I microwaved the mixture I let it stand too long and it re-solidified – my fault.  The second attempt, I let it stand for just a minute or two then mixed it in, but immediately the sugar solidified into clumps and the frosting started to melt.  The clumps prevented me from piping the frosting, so in the end I just blobbed in on top.

bananas foster cupcake

So that’s the story of how I invented Cupsidedowncakes.  I may overfill cupcakes again in the near future to see if I can recreate it, because they’re pretty cute and fun to eat this way.  And the verdict on the Bananas Foster Cake recipe is that it’s frickin’ delicious and ridiculously moist.  I would highly recommend giving it a try, although I’m not sure what to do about the frosting dilemma.  Here is the birthday girl enjoying one.

jackie cupcake

Saturday morning we wanted breakfast, and I’m so glad we’ve discovered 43rd St Deli, even if it was a little late in the game.  Now, the trick is, there are three locations in town.  I had heard these myths of vegan breakfast specialties, but never believed because I had gone to two locations not to find much more than a veggie scramble.  Finally I realized it was only at one location where I could find the vegan label on the menu, and it happened to be the one nearest to us (the one on 13th St).  We have been many times now, and the food is always good.  I’ve had their biscuits and gravy, which they do with mushrooms, roasted peppers and savory flavors, the french toast, pan-seared oatmeal cakes with balsamic reduction, and the huge strawberry pancakes, which have strawberry slices baked right in.  All of the vegan dishes are on the Specials menu, and they do change, although I think the biscuits and gravy is kind of permanent.

I was pleased to see a new special that I suspected was vegan, and upon the waitresses confirmation I ordered Tempeh Hominy Hash.  We are fortunate to have locally made tempeh that many restaurants in town serve.  This hash also included onion, shredded potato, mushrooms and spinach.

tempeh hominy hash

The flavor needed to be perked up just a tad, and it was perfect with some Tabasco.  This dish came with choice of one side, but instead of potatoes I subbed their Nutritional Yeast Encrusted Tofu.  This tofu look unassuming, but it’s so incredibly good.  I don’t know how they do it.  I get this tofu every time, no matter what else I’m getting or that it’s normally way too much food.

nooch encrusted tofu

It also came with choice of bread.  I asked for “whatever’s vegan” and she brought me a biscuit.  I didn’t realize their biscuits were so huge when I’d had them covered in gravy.

biscuit

Now that I’ve discussed all this great Gainesville food, I have an announcement:  I’m moving!  To California!  In a month!  BF and I are driving cross-country and hopefully ending up somewhere in the East Bay, near San Francisco.  So for the next month you may have to bear with me while I eat my way through the pantry and freezer, and probably have less time took cook.  I’ll try my best to keep it interesting.

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Potluck Brunch & Laptop Lunches

Janeen invited many lady friends over for a potluck brunch yesterday.  Yeah, I just had brunch with her last weekend but I guess she needed more lady company.  You can never have too much lady company, or too many mimosas in said company’s presence.  Well, I take that back.  You could certainly have too many mimosas.  We generally run out of champagne before we enter the danger zone.

Janeen suggested ideas of things to bring for those less potluck-obsessed than I, and of course quiche was on the list.  I’ve made good vegan quiche before from some random recipe I have filed away, but I set my sights on this quiche from the PPK blog, with the little bits of broccoli.  I had visions of my tofu quiche being way better than any eggy quiche that might dare to show up.  Of course, nobody else did quiche, but those who tried mine were complimentary.

quiche

I was momentarily worried it wouldn’t set up properly, and tempted to throw in a tablespoon of cornstarch just for guarantee, but then I remembered that pretty much all of Isa’s recipes are great and that I could trust her.  After baking it was still soft inside, but it definitely did set the way it should.

I also wanted to make something sweet, and settled on Double Chocolate Muffins from La Dolce Vegan.  I made them minis so we could go back for seconds and not feel bad.  These turned out well, although in this case I’m not sure where the line is between muffin and cupcake.

muffins

After not packing any lunches last week, I realized I never posted them from the week before!  So here they be.

6-16- lunch

6-16 orange “beef”, rice pilaf w/ tomatoes, grilled eggplant, zucchini & squash,
chipotle bbq kettle chips, fig bar

6-17 lunch

6-17 cottage cheez w/ half a pear, shredded carrot, squash & zucchini w/ balsamic vinaigrette, broccoli & green pepper w/ goddess dressing, gluten-free crackers, mambas candy

6-19 lunch

6-19 green-wa, roasted okra & tomatoes, mashed avocado, gluten-free crackers, fig bar

6-20 lunch

6-20 green-wa w/ green pepper, roasted okra & tomatoes, cottage cheez w/
diced pear, canteloupe balls

We did get to play wiffleball, but not till yesterday, and I hit a walk-off home run against bf’s pitching, so let’s not talk about it anymore.  I have restaurant foods to post, and will try to do so later tonight when I am at home where the pictures are.

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Whirlwind Weekend

Greetings.  I had a great food and friends weekend, and I wanted to write this post Monday morning, but I woke up with a terrible sore throat.  Soon it became the kind of sickness that completely knocks you out, and by nighttime I had a fever.  Yesterday I went to the doctor and found out I have strep throat so I filled her prescriptions, took the pills, and again was knocked out.  Last night I was far too lethargic and nauseous to type anything, so here I am Wednesday morning, pre-med ingestion, to write out this post that’s been hanging over my head then resign myself to another day of boredom and nausea.

When I was in high school, if I spent a Friday night alone I would get really depressed.  Now I find I’m perfectly content to spend an entire Friday night at home cooking, and that is what I did on Friday.  I knew Saturday I was going to have no free time, so I cooked and prepped everything Friday night.  I also made pesto pizza for dinner using farmers market basil and tomatoes and VWAV pizza crust from the freezer.

pesto pizza

Upon taking the crust out of the freezer, I was reminded how awesome I am, because I had included this note to myself on how to bake it, so I wouldn’t have to look it up again.

pizza note

The pesto recipe and tofu ricotta were also from VWAV.  I put the red onion on sparingly, but afterwords wished I had put more on, because it was really yummy.

pesto pizza

Janeen had invited me to brunch Saturday morning, so I got up and finished up the food to take to her place.  I made what I’m calling Monkey Rolls – banana-chocolate-walnut cinnamon rolls.  I made the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from the Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk zine, subbing mashed banana for the pumpkin and adding chocolate chips and chopped toasted walnuts to the filling.  I also subbed canola oil for the margarine in both the rolls and the filling, as Janeen is allergic to soy.  I was most nervous about that substitution, but they turned out great.

monkey rolls

I had intentions of icing them with both vanilla and chocolate and almost skipped the chocolate part for lack of time, but I’m glad I went with both because I think the chocolate icing was the part that really took them over the top.

monkey rolls

I also made what I envisioned to be baked black bean & sweet potato taquitos.  Friday night I made the fillings, which were Refried Black Beans from Yellow Rose Recipes, and a sweet potato mash with lime juice, cilantro and minced chipotles.  Saturday morning I made my first homemade wheat tortillas from this recipe.  I made 12 tortillas instead of the 8 the recipe calls for, to make them smaller.

tortillas

They turned out really well for a first attempt, but they weren’t as pliable as I had hoped.  I wrapped each one around some of the black beans and sweet potato, secured them with a toothpick, and baked for about 15 minutes.  Right around the time I was trying to finish photgraphing and pack up for Janeen’s house, a crazy storm started rolling in and took all my light.  So I skeedaddled to Janeen’s just in time to beat the rain and took the rest of the photos by flash, and candlelight because Janeen is romantic like that.

taquitos

So the taquitos didn’t wrap up as I had hoped, but they tasted really good.  I served them with a quick guacamole and homemade enchilada sauce.  I like the enchilada sauce you can buy at the store (Old El Paso?) but felt like trying homemade.  I figured it couldn’t be too difficult.  I was skeptical about just how much a roux would do for an enchilada sauce, but it really did the trick.  The sauce had a silky mouthfeel that couldn’t have been acheived by just mixing ingredients together.  The only change I made was to add 2 tsp of sugar.  I like a sweet sauce.

Janeen made some excellent potatoes, cooked with a bruschetta mix and mushrooms.  These were really good.

She also put together a pretty fruit plate.

fruit plate

Here’s our candlelit spread.

brunch spread

We had planned a bike ride after brunch, but since it was storming we stayed in and ate like piggies.

brunch

Afterwards we went to watch bf’s band play at an afternoon benefit show, then retired to his house for a bbq.  I came home in between to clean up, and by the time I got there this was the spread on the coffee table.  Normally we’ll have out a bag or two of chips, but apparently that day we were partying like there were 20 of us even though there were only really 8.

chips

And for further exhibit of “how we roll”, here is the top shelf of the beer fridge.  Yes, there are two fridges and one is just for beer.

beer

For the bbq I made Apricot BBQ Sauce from VCon.  I was skeptical about how good this could be with no vinegar and such a small amount of tomato, but this is really good.  Make it now while apricots are in season!

apricot bbq sauce

I used this sauce to baste FatFree Vegan’s Barbecued Seitan Ribz.  So good.

ribz

I also made squash pickles.  You may recall that I first made them a while back, and wasn’t quite happy with the seasoning.  This time I got it right.  Nobody else seems to like these as much as I do, but I do like them.  So if you like squash and pickles, give them a try.

squash pickles

Squash Pickles

2 yellow squash and 1 zucchini, or 4 yellow squash, sliced
1 c vinegar (1/2 c apple cider, 1/2 c white)
1 c sugar
heaping tsp kosher salt
2 c water or enough to cover squash
medium to large shallot, very thinly sliced
1 tsp pickling spice
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp mustard seed
2 tsp celery seed

Put all ingredients in a non-reactive container and stir. Refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

For crisper pickles, salt the squash slices and let sit in a colander for a half hour. Rinse before adding to other ingredients.

My plate, with some grilled asparagus.

bbq

That’s it for now.  I have friends visiting this weekend and am concentrating on getting well before then.  And maybe going back to work, since that’s how I get paid.

Comments (26)

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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