Posts Tagged sandwich

VeganMoFo: Pre-Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is Dave’s favorite holiday, hands down.  His birthday is in early September, and every year just afterward he starts getting excited about Thanksgiving.  So, when I suggested a “Pre-Thanksgiving” meal a few weeks ago, he was all in.  I told him I’d take care of some sides if he did whatever main he wanted to share with our two friends who were joining in.  I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time cooking, so I kind of did Thanksgiving-lite and made up the recipes as I went.

To start, I roasted some seeds that I had scooped out of a pumpkin I ate a few days prior.  These were coated with Earth Balance and spiced with garam masala and curry powder, and roasted until crunchy.  Our guests were pleased with this offering.

I had received some green beans in my CSA delivery that week, so I blanched them first, then added them to a saute of slivered red onion and sliced mushrooms.  I tossed in fresh lemon juice and zest at the end.  I wasn’t sure that mushrooms and lemon would play very nicely together, but I thought the results were tasty.

I also received some Russet potatoes from the CSA, so I decided to twice bake ’em.  For the filling, I sauteed some minced leek and garlic in Earth Balance and then mashed it with the potato innards, some Better Than Cream Cheese, salt and white pepper.  Just before serving, I popped them under the broiler for a few minutes to brown.  Simple and delicious!

It’s not Pre-Thanksgiving without stuffing!  I grocery shopped that morning, and the store only had fresh bread (how dare they!), so I cubed the loaf and toasted it to try to emulate day-old bread.  I sauteed some onion, carrot, celery and diced apple and added dried sage, fennel seed and fresh thyme, then added the mixture to the bread cubes and mixed in some vegetable broth, just to moisten.  The stuffing was covered and baked, and it turned out pretty well.  I over fennel seed-ed it, which was a shame, but the apple was a nice touch which I will probably use again.

My yummy dinner, with my favorite pumpkin beer – Buffalo Bill’s.  Shipyard comes in second.

For whatever reason, Dave chose Cuban sandwiches as the main dish.  Odd considering the theme, but no problem!  I got some veggie ham and turkey and added a vegan cheese slice to mine.  Pressed on the crusty bread with mustard and dill pickles, it was one fine sandwich.

Here’s a close-up of the same sandwich on Ezekiel bread the next day, which was much easier to photograph.

We had lots of stuffing leftover, so I put some in a baked sweet dumpling squash.  Sweet dumplings are now one of my favorite squashes!  They’re just perfect for a single serving.

With Pre-Thanksgiving out of the way, we are now starting to plan for actual Thanksgiving.  Anyone have their menu down already?

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VeganMoFo: Impromptu Trips – Disneyland and Reno

Scene:  late July, at a Saturday afternoon Oakland A’s game.

Dave:  “If I paid for everything, would you guys leave right now to go to Disneyland tomorrow?”

Me:  “Uh, hell yes?”

And that is how we found ourselves heading down I-5 on that Saturday night, already exhausted, with dreams of Disney dancing in our heads.  (Note – I know a lot of people don’t like Disney because they’re an evil corporation and all that, but I like Disney and I’m not apologizing for it.  I even worked at Disney World for a little while and managed not to become disenfranchised by seeing Cinderella taking a smoke break and Chip ‘n Dale walking around with their heads off.)

Dave’s sister lives near LA, so we stayed at her place, going to bed after midnight and getting up bright and early at 6AM.  We were only going to be there for one day, so we wanted to maximize our time at the parks.

This accurately reflects how we felt most of the morning.  We were excited to be there, but boy were we dragging!

I had eaten a banana and a Luna bar for breakfast, so after a few hours I had this Mickey pretzel for fuel.  I felt kinda bad about eating his face.

For lunch, we headed to the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney, which is one of Dave’s favorite places on earth.  I ordered the portobello mushroom sandwiches, which I had confirmed on a previous visit was vegan if you take off the dressing and cheese.  I asked for a side of vinaigrette to add some flavor, and ordered fruit instead of fries, which in retrospect was a bad idea because I really could’ve used more heft to the meal.

Walking around the hotel area looking for a place to stay that night, I ran into Goofy!  Horrible picture of me, but…Goofy!

(True story:  On the way to the ESPN Zone, I was singing along to “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, which was playing over the speakers.  Dave and Matt were laughing at me until we passed a middle-aged gentleman (not an employee or a dad) also singing along loudly, and then they laughed even harder.)

Scariest ride EVER.  When I go on the Tower of Terror I don’t scream because I’m having fun, I scream because I think I actually might die.

I became a little ill that evening, possibly from letting my blood sugar get too low and/or exhaustion, so Dave was kind enough to stand in line and get me this Vegetarian Gumbo from the stand next to the Haunted Mansion.  Truth be told, it wasn’t that great, but it was gentle on my tummy and stabilized me enough to go on a few more rides before passing out.  Sorry about the awful photo…

Verdict:  I still love Disneyland, and I’m glad that they have veggie options in the park.  From what I remember, the veggie burgers that you find around the park are vegan (ask for no butter on the bun), and I’ve heard that some ice cream shops have soy ice cream on request.  One day just isn’t enough to do everything!

Onto our last trip to Reno, which falls into the impromptu category because we had decided to go about two days prior.  As I mentioned in my last Reno post, we’ve gotten into the habit of going to Reno every few months, so this will probably be my last Reno post for a while, as there just aren’t that many vegan options there to show you.  Unless I go to Freeman’s again, which obviously would be very exciting.

We left work a little early on Friday to make the four hour drive.  After checking in, we decided on Brew Brothers for dinner.  I asked our waiter if he knew what brand their veggie burger was, or if it was house-made.  He said he didn’t know, and didn’t offer to try to find out.  Come on, guy.  I was highly irritated by this.  If you are a server and you don’t know the answer to a question regarding ingredients, at least offer to try to find out.  Maybe I’ll be nice and say never mind, but probably I am asking for a reason and would actually like to know.  I try not to be an annoying restaurant customer – I had one question, and if the veggie burger turned out not to be vegan, I had a back up plan.

Which was the veggie pizza with no cheese.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was warm and filling and perfectly spicy.

I was feeling a little spunky and indecisive about what I wanted in the beer department, so I ordered the full sampler.  It was $1 for one 4 oz sample, or $7 for all eight 4 oz samples.  That’s 32 ounces of craft beer, people!  And it came in this awesome wheel!  Don’t worry, I didn’t drink it all – I needed help to finish.  Some of their beers are really good, and some are okay but not a stand-out.  Overall, I really like Brew Brothers except for the mean waiter who won’t answer my questions.  (To be fair, we’ve had good service there before, and the waiter wasn’t that mean…but he wasn’t that nice either.)

The next morning the boys went to the buffet, and I slept in and enjoyed this hotel room breakfast.

…and then this happened.  Sports book, football and baseball lines, bloody Mary.  When in Rome…

When I couldn’t stand being inside one minute longer, I stepped onto the street to check out the Great Italian Festival, which just so happened to be going on that weekend.

The concept was pretty neat, actually.  Each booth was for a family or region, and they had big vats of hot pasta sauce.  Most booths had little slices of bread they would scoop some sauce onto for sampling.

Or, you could buy a bowl of spaghetti for them to put the sauce on.  All the sauce samples were free, which I thought was really nice considering how much festival food usually costs.

There was a grape stomping (?) contest, of which I only saw the before and after.  This guy was pitchforking grapes into the buckets in preparation for their stomping.

There were fresh artichokes, but sadly they were all going in that giant pan with sausage.

I did pick up a bellini to try, made with fresh peaches, and it was lovely.  I don’t think I had ever had a bellini before.

There was one vendor that caught my eye, pastamore.  They had a large variety of their vinegars and oils for sampling, and every single one that I tried was outstanding.  They don’t currently sell in any retail shops, but you can find their products on their website.  I bought two of their balsamic vinegars to take home.

Upon coming back inside from the festival, I was in dire need of lunch.  I headed over to the Silver Legacy food court, which has one or two veggie options, and they were closed!  In the middle of the day at 3PM!  What’s the point of a casino food court if they’re closed in the middle of the day on a Saturday???

Luckily, I’ve been to the area enough times now that I know what my other options are, because I was getting hangry.  I headed back outside and across the street to the taqueria.

Okay, so burritos don’t photograph very well, but my god do I love burritos the size of my head!

Dave and I celebrating 10:10 10/10/10.

I also celebrated winning my first sports parlay!  I turned $10 into $90.  Or rather, I recouped the money I had lost playing craps and buying vinegar.

Since I had eaten such a late, large lunch, I wasn’t hungry again till it was basically time to retire.  I went to the food court again, and AGAIN it was closed!  How is a casino food court to make any money if they’re closed at 3PM and midnight on a Saturday?  I don’t get it.

Instead, I went to Cafe Sedona, which I don’t really care for but is open 24 hours, so they win.  The only real option was the veggie burger.  The fries were pretty good and the burger came with sprouts, so it was decent for midnight eats with limited options.

We checked out relatively early the next morning and decided to take the long way home, since neither Matt nor I had ever been to Lake Tahoe.  We weren’t in a hurry, so we stopped for brunch at the Black Bear Diner.  They have a few vegetarian menu items but nothing that’s vegan without being modified, and they are happy to accept special requests.  In spite of my limited options, I really do like the Black Bear Diner.

I wasn’t in the mood for another veggie burger AT ALL since I’d just had one 10 hours prior, but it was the best full-meal option, so I went for it.  I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised when my plate arrived!  For vegan diner food in a non-vegan diner, it was good stuff.

It was a long drive to Tahoe.  A very long and sometimes scary, mountainous drive.  The first view of the lake was worth it though.

We descended to the city of Lake Tahoe, and drove around about half the lake.  Tahoe is a lovely area with plenty to see and do, and we definitely want to go back and spend some time there on one of our next trips.

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Big Kahuna Grill-Off

For the second summer in a row, our friends Matt and Amber hosted a grilling competition in their back yard.  We formed teams and entered dishes into the categories above to be judged and ranked.  The friendly competition is obviously very meat-centric, so last year I just hung out and helped the judges, since they had to be quarantined from the competitors.  This year though, I figured “Why not enter something just for fun?”.  So, I did.

I entertained the idea of entering a few categories, but for simplicity’s sake, and since three of us were sharing only two grills, I went with a sandwich.  I marinated a portobello in champagne vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce and maple syrup then grilled it.  I served the mushroom on toasted herb focaccia with lettuce and homemade red pepper aioli.  The sandwich was VERY tangy, but that’s how I like it, so I was pleased with how it turned out.  I didn’t place in the top three, but I snuck a peak at the judge’s scores afterwards and saw that I came in fourth out of six entries!  The judges were all meat-eating dudes, so I was pretty happy that I at least didn’t come in last.

Despite trying to keep our area tidy, it resembled an explosion toward the end of the day.  The boys entered at least one item in every category, and with turn-in times only 45 minutes apart, it was a little hectic.

Here’s Dave grilling pineapple for his al pastor tacos.  Both he and our teammate Tom won a prize or two, including a Judge’s Favorite each.  It was a fun day, and I’m looking forward to participating again next year!

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August CSA’s, and Getting Dave to Eat Tofu

8/12/10 CSA:  cauliflower, cucumber, bell peppers, plums, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, pears, patty pan squash, basil and a cantaloupe

Most of these veggies went into a salad that wasn’t worth mentioning, but some of them went into this.

I turned a standard tagine recipe into a stew by adding more broth and some millet.  Also included were cauliflower, carrot, chickpeas, tomatoes, peas and dried apricot.  This turned out pretty well, but the flavor was a little watered down, so I guess I didn’t compensate for the extra ingredients by adding enough spices.

8/26/10 CSA:  lemon cucumber, jalapenos, fennel, lettuce

lots of tomatoes, pears, apples, peaches and a cantaloupe

Some of these veggies went into a delicious Mexican-inspired meal which I will post about, just as soon as I get those recipes written up!

One Friday afternoon we came home from work, both ravenous.  I didn’t have anything planned for dinner and wanted to throw something together quickly, and asked Dave if he wanted to have what I was having for dinner.  When Dave is hungry and has no food in the house, it’s easy to get him to eat almost anything.

Ugly picture, tasty sandwich.  I thawed a block of tofu that had been living in the freezer for lord knows how long, and baked it with a smoky maple sauce.  Topped with a really nice tomato and crisp lettuce, and served on wheat toast with Vegenaise.  Who could say no?

I had some rice left over from Chinese takeout which was begging to be made into fried rice, so I threw it in the wok with all the veggies I had – onion, garlic, carrot, celery, tons of cabbage, edamame and broccoli.  This was light on rice and heavy on cabbage, and if I remember correctly Dave had some of it too.

Lastly, some braised mustard greens that I made to accompany some beanie weenies.  I bought the greens in a pre-washed and -chopped package from Trader Joe’s, which made ’em that much quicker to prepare.  I started by cooking onion and garlic slowly to develop the flavor, then added the greens, a chopped tomato and a thin layer of veggie broth.  And, if I know myself at all, there was probably a bit of liquid smoke.  The greens turned out really well, and I could’ve easily eaten the entire pan at once!

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July CSA’s – Pizza, Almondine, Beety Potatoes & Delicious Italian Food

I’m considering participating in VeganMoFo this year.  (If you don’t know what VeganMoFo is, check out Kittee’s post here.)  While some people save up pictures and posts to meet their self-set VeganMoFo post quota, I would like to catch up to at least fairly recent so I’m not blogging about food I ate three months ago!  It’s harder to remember the details of all these dishes, but I will do my best…

7/1/10 CSA:  cauliflower, gypsy peppers, green beans, zucchini, basil and lettuce

peaches, tomatoes, grapes, carrots and a watermelon

Taco salad!  Lettuce, tomatoes, roasted corn, cilantro, a quick ranch dressing made from Trader Joe’s reduced-fat mayo (which explains the weird color and sheen), and to be honest, I don’t remember what the taco part on top was.  I think it might have been sauteed peppers, mushrooms, onions, spices and other stuff – Whatever it was, I remember it being good!

Zucchini pizza on a brown rice tortilla with basil and Daiya mozzarella.

Tofu Almondine with Lemony Green Beans, adapted from Clean Eating Magazine’s Chicken Almondine recipe.  I also had some dry-roasted cauliflower on the side.  The flavor of the tofu and green beans was really good, but it was kind of dry.  I felt some sort of sauce would have brought it together.

7/15/10 CSA:  grapes, lettuce, beets, purple basil, corn and a lemon cucumber

peaches, tomatoes, plums, an onion, a cantaloupe and carrots

I wanted to eat the corn raw, and I remembered that when I was in England I tried corn mixed with tuna salad and actually really liked it.  So, I made some chickpea tuna salad, mixed in the corn, and rolled it up in a Flat Out with lettuce.  Those are Food Should Taste Good chips in the background.  I love their chips!  They’re so good that I don’t buy them very often, because I’ll eat the whole bag much too fast.

I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided that I would make beet-stuffed potatoes.  I baked the potatoes and beets, sauteed some minced leeks, scooped out the potatoes then mashed the insides with the beets, the leeks, some parsley and probably some sort of vinegar, knowing me.  They turned out a little dry, but tasted really good, and turned everything red!

Clean-out-the-fridge Roasted Veggies:  sweet potato, onion, portobello, tomato, swiss chard and possibly some other things.  I roasted everything except the chard, then tossed the hot veggies with the greens to wilt them slightly.

7/29/10 CSA:  watermelon, lettuce, cucumbers & corn.  I don’t know why they keep sending me watermelons!  I don’t like ’em!

tomatoes, an onion, nectarines, grapefruit and grapes

Salad:  lettuce, corn, black beans, lime-marinated cucumbers, salsa & pepitas.  Super tasty and light!

Caponata over gluten free pasta.  I used this recipe for the caponata.  The raisins and red wine vinegar and capers made this TOTALLY delicious.  The eggplant seemed a little undercooked, but that might have been because I reduced the oil called for a little.  I would definitely make this again.

To go with the caponata and add some protein, I made mashed white beans, I think using this recipe.  They were easy and tasty, with a very satisfying mouthfeel.

I was going to slice the zucchini into long, thin strips and use it as the “noodles” in a lasagna, but I was feeling really lazy the night I planned to make it, so I sliced it into half-moons instead and threw the lasagna together as a free-form casserole.  Still just as tasty.  Also in there was tofu ricotta, spinach, jarred sauce and Daiya mozzarella.  This post makes me feel like I eat a lot of Daiya since I’ve mentioned it twice, but I’m pretty sure the cheese here was leftover from the pizza above.

This isn’t CSA-related, but I wanted to share it because it was really good – Tofu Migas for breakfast.  I’ve never had real migas but have read several descriptions, so I figured I could wing it.  I scrambled the tofu with Mexican spices then added salsa, tortilla strips and some green onion.  I would definitely make something like this again if I had an extra tortilla laying around.

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CSA’s & Laptop Lunches

Geez, it’s been a long time since I posted my foods!  I’ll try to keep my rambling and descriptions short, since I’ve got a lot of pictures!

8-27 CSA:  corn, rosemary, pears, zucchini, cucumber & lavender

onions, figs, tomatoes, beets, squash & honeydew melon

When I got this CSA box, I was actually growing tired of snacking on fresh figs.  Gasp!  I’m spoiled, I know.  I decided to make a poached fig salad, based on a recipe I found online that I can’t find again now!  Which is a shame, cause it was really good.  The fresh figs were poached in a whole bottle of port, then the wine was reduced down to a syrup.  There was also a simple vinaigrette, pisatchios, shallots and faux feta cheese.  The poached figs were STRONG, but good.  I also had some herbed pumpkin seed crackers.

I had taken note of the Teriyaki Quinoa recipe in Eat, Drink & Be Vegan during my August cleanse but didn’t get a chance to try it then.  I’m glad I tried it afterwards, because I love it!  It’s so simple – just cook the quinoa and mix it with the sauce.  I served the quinoa with stir-fried veggies (seasoned only with tamari and ume plum vinegar), and instead of sprinkling with sesame seeds as the recipe called for, I used some sesame gomasio that I had bought for no specific reason.

Quinoa close-up!  Looks like…quinoa…

I had a huge heirloom tomato sitting around doing absolutely no good, and I decided I wanted to slice it up for a grilled cheese sandwich.  There’s a big hole in the middle cause the tomato had a big, tough core that had to be cut out.

I wanted to make bread machine bread for my sandwich and…FAIL.  I modified a multigrain bread machine recipe that I found online and it really didn’t rise at all.  It was edible but incredibly dense.  I don’t know if the recipe was bad or if it was the fact that I used the time delay feature and the ingredients sat there for hours before the machine started mixing.

The cheese in the sandwich is the Gooey Grilled Cheese from The Uncheese Cookbook, which I love.  I also love pickles on grilled cheese.  On the side was broccoli and cucumber with goddess dressing, and oven-baked beet chips.

I had corn and squashes left over from the CSA box, and thought they would make nice side dishes for black-eyed-pea gravy and biscuits.  I have no idea where I got the gravy idea from, but it worked out.

For the biscuits, I used Happy Herbivore’s Whole Wheat Low Fat Biscuit recipe, and they turned out quite well!  I rolled mine out and cut them into circles with a glass though, rather than just dropping them like the recipe calls for.  That way you get the flaky sides, and they’re easy to cut in half.

Gravy close-up!  The gravy turned out okay, but it was a little too acidic and the onions weren’t cooked enough, so I need to work on it a bit before I have an official recipe.  For the creamed corn, I just cooked some corn kernels till tender, blended up some of them in the food processor, added it back to the pan with some soy milk and cooked a bit just to thicken.  The squash and zucchini were sauteed with probably a pinch too much red pepper flakes.

9-10 CSA:  lettuce, thyme, zucchini, swiss chard & grapes

tomatoes, plums, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, garlic & oranges

There’s nothing particularly special about this salad, except that it was topped with Annie’s French Dressing, which I had never seen before and like a lot.

With the abundance of tomatoes in this CSA box, I thought I ought to try my hand at making gazpacho.  I’d had gazpacho before a number of times but never made it.  Turns out it’s ridiculously easy to make!  The blender does most of the work.  I followed the recipe from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons and it was perfect.

On the side is a slice of Bianca’s awesome Whole Wheat Beer Bread.  I grew up eating beer bread, and this totally hit the spot.  I added FYH cheddar and some rosemary just cause I could.  I also totally screwed up and mis-read the recipe.  I thought the bread only baked for 30 minutes, so I pulled it out then, let it cool, and was totally surprised that my first slice was completely raw in the middle!  Then I re-read the recipe – doh!  It bakes for 55 minutes.  The slice on my plate up there went in the toaster oven just to finish, which is why it looks funny, and the rest of the loaf went back in the oven.  Read your recipes all the way through, people!

9-24 CSA:  swiss chard, lettuce, cucumber & more lettuce

beets, tomatoes, red onions, grapes & peppers.  I also got a galia melon but it didn’t find its way into the picture.

Another sandwich, this time on store-bought sprouted bread.  I had an avocado ready to use, and thought it would go perfectly with the CSA tomato and lettuce in a great sandwich.  I was thinking along the lines of a BLT, so I sauteed tempeh then glazed it with soy sauce, maple syrup and liquid smoke.  Delicious!  The sandwich also had red onion jam, spicy mustard and a slice of vegan cheese.  Those nuclear chips in the front there are Buffalo Chips from Food Should Taste Good.  They didn’t really taste buffalo-y, but they were tangy and spicy and good.  If you haven’t tried Food Should Taste Good chips yet, do so!  They feel so much lighter than other chips, and their flavors are fun and imaginative.

10-8 CSA:  arugula, lettuce, acorn squash, more lettuce & baby bok choy

plums, potatoes, apples, oranges, tomatoes, onions, peppers & beets

I haven’t done anything with last week’s CSA box yet, but…there it is.

Laptop lunches!  I don’t have the time these days to neatly pack everything every night, but I do when I can.

9-8 pasta salad, steamed carrots, beanie weenies, cauliflower

9-10 biscuit & black-eyed pea gravy, creamed corn, spicy sauteed squash

9-15 cheddar-rosemary beer bread, gazpacho, baked beans, grapes

9-17 sesame noodles, sauteed cabbage, grapes

9-28 peppers lavender tofu, scalloped zucchini,
slow roasted tomatoes, grapes

10-1 multigrain sesame-beet pilaf, spicy daikon slaw, gf corn muffin, grapes

Bonus Jake.

And armless Jake.

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W.I.P. Wednesday

A quick post (in stark contrast to yesterday’s massive gigantoid post) to show you a few recipes I’m working on.  Works in progress, if you will.

I got a bunch of little peppers in a CSA delivery and decided I wanted to make a take on pepper steak.  Never mind that I’m not sure I’ve ever had pepper steak in my life, that’s what the internet is for!  Although most pepper steak recipes are Chinese and that wasn’t what I wanted at all, so I made up what I consider an Americanized version of pepper steak, with tempeh instead of meat.

The flavors were really good, but the doneness of the veggies and tempeh was a little off, so I’m hopefully going to make this again tonight and get it right.  I really like this dish.

Not a WIP, but to go along with the pepper steak I made some soup from corn and squash that needed to be used up.

I cubed four pattypan squashes, simmered them in a thin layer of water just until tender, put half the squash and water in the food processor with half the kernels from three ears of corn and blended, added the mixture back in with the squash and remaining corn kernels, heated through and served with paprika, basil and green onions.  Simple and satisfying, it tasted like Summer.

I also received a whole bunch of zucchini in a recent CSA box, and for whatever reason I decided I wanted to bake it in a casserole, scalloped potato-style.

The flavor was fantastic, but the technique not so much.  Next time I can get my hands on a bunch of zucchini you can be sure I will attempt this again, because I think it will turn out really well!

To go along with the zucchini and use some pretty purple basil, I made a pressed basil-tomato-mozzarella sandwich.  The mozzarella is Follow Your Heart brand.

So yummy!  I’m really getting into summer produce lately.  Bring on the squash!

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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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Massive Post of Catch-Upedness

I wanted to get a post up two Fridays ago before I left for Florida, but that did not happen.  Then when I got back it did not happen.  So I feel way behind, and to remedy this situation I’m gonna throw a whole bunch of stuff together right here.  I went to Florida to attend a wedding and visit family and friends.  I was in total vacation mode and didn’t take very many pictures, but those that I did will get their own post soon.

A few weekends ago some vegan friends and I headed up through the Berkeley hills to have a picnic and check out the Lawrence Hall of Science.  Unfortunately, it had rained off and on all weekend and there was nary a dry picnic spot to be found.  So, we did what any sensible people would do and picnicked in my car.

I brought caramelized leek hummus…

…and veggies for dipping.

Becca & Steve brought a sandwich spread, recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan but I don’t know what it’s called.  It had avocado and tomato and tempeh and it was smoky and good.  Becca also made potato salad with Bacos.  Yummy!

I brought gluten-free strawberry shortcake, but was so eager to eat it during the car picnic that I forgot to take a picture.  So here’s a picture of my serving again after dinner that night, and a recipe!  (I sliced the berries here, but am changing the recipe to call for quartering them cause I thought the slices didn’t hold their texture well enough.)  I’m not gonna lie and tell you that you wouldn’t know they’re gluten free, but I think they hold together relatively well and have a nice texture.  I sadly didn’t have any vegan whipped cream to put on top!

Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake

To make the recipe non-gluten-free just substitute 1 3/4 all-purpose flour for the g-f baking mix, brown rice flour and xantham gum.  The lemon zest, rosemary and black pepper can be optional if you don’t want those flavors in your dessert, but I think they give it a special something.

1 lb strawberries (2 pints)
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c balsamic vinegar

1 c gluten-free baking mix
3/4 c brown rice flour
3/4 tsp xantham gum
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c shortening
6 Tbs soy creamer
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Hull and quarter the strawberries. Place in a bowl and add sugar and balsamic vinegar. Stir gently to combine, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the g-f baking mix, brown rice flour, xantham gum, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and mix. Cut the shortening into pieces and add to the flour mixture. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the soy creamer, lemon juice, lemon zest, rosemary and black pepper and stir just until combined.

Turn the dough out onto a surface lightly floured with the g-f baking mix. Using floured hands, knead the dough gently about 10 times. Pat the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness. Use a floured round cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut out rounds. Transfer the rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat out any remaining dough and repeat. Bake the shortcakes for 15-18 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown.

To serve, gently split each shortcake with your fingers or a fork. Spoon some strawberries onto the bottom, replace the top, and top with more strawberries. Spoon extra juice over the shortcake. Serve with vegan whipped cream.

Serves 6.

For dinner that night we grilled.

I tried the new tempehtations from Lightlife, classic bbq flavor.  I was a little wary of eating them plain, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Very tasty!  I’m not sure I’ll be buying them very often because they’re a bit pricey, but if you’re into tasty convenience food then I would definitely recommend them.

Alongside the tempeh are your regular ol’ mushrooms and asparagus, and in the back is…

…an avocado-ranch twice baked potato.  The avocado makes the filling super-creamy without adding any other fats or faux dairy.  BF said the filling was too creamy, but to that I say “whatevs”.  This was a recipe for a contest, so if I don’t get a positive response I will definitely pass it on.

We went to a San Francisco Giants baseball game on Sunday and got to tailgate across the bay!  I made a grain and veggie salad that nobody else seemed too excited about, but that just meant more leftovers for me.

This one had whole wheat orzo, TJ’s harvest grain blend, red bell pepper, cucumber, corn, shredded carrot, fresh dill, rosemary and a dressing of vegennaise, lemon juice and sugar.  I think that was it.  I meant to add a shallot and toasted pine nuts and totally forgot, but it turned out nice without.

We went with skewers again for the main event.  Mine had peppers, onions, zucchini, marinated mushrooms and Tofurkey Italian sausage pieces.

This was my dinner last night:  roasted potato and fava bean salad with miso-mustard dressing.  In the front are sauteed Chinese broccoli and carrots.  This was really good, but it could use a few tweaks before I write up the recipe.  I love fresh fava beans!

And now, some laptop lunches.

4-24 roasted sweet potatoes, chana palak masala, whole wheat orzo, kiwi

4-28 waffles, tofu scramble, veggie sausage patty, maple syrup, fruit salad

4-29 carrots, gherkins, cinnamon-raisin toast, tofu scramble, strawberries

4-30 grit cake, succotash, mango-habanero sauce, pickles,
blueberries, sour gummies

5-1 spaghetti casserole, lettuce, corn, radish & carrot, goddess dressing, prunes, dried apricots & dark mint chocolate

5-4 avocado-ranch twice baked potato, grilled mushrooms & asparagus, bbq tempeh, g-f shortcake with strawberry-balsamic juice in the small container

5-7 pizza with red pepper flakes, dill pickle cashews, orange wedges

5-8 roasted zucchini & carrots with dill, soy nuggets with bbq sauce, chex, sauteed chard, sweet potato-pecan-chocolate chip muffin, prunes

That’s it for tonight!  Coming up will be recipes for my salad stirfry and chard risotto, and how-I-gained-5-pounds-during-6-days-in-Florida.

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Fennel Experiments

When I signed up for my CSA, I knew I’d be getting fennel.  I was a bit nervous about this, because fennel is one of the few vegetables I had never tasted, and all I knew about it was that it smelled and tasted like black licorice.  And I hate black licorice.  The CSA has an option to not receive any item you don’t like, but I figured I’d give fennel a chance before I took it off my list.  And I’m glad I did, cause I think I kinda like it.

I don’t remember where I got the idea to put fennel in a quiche, but I do know I read that roasted fennel does not taste like licorice, so I knew that was the way to go for my first try.  I based my quiche off of this broccoli quiche from The PPK.  For some reason I thought it would be okay to use silken tofu (it was not) and so my first try kinda fell apart.  It tasted fantastic though, so I knew I had to get it right.

Okay, so it didn’t exactly hold together this time either.  I have a hard time waiting for it to cool!  I promise it does stay together after time in the fridge, so I guess maybe I’d recommend chiling it for a few hours or overnight to ensure quiche stay-togetherness. 

I think this would also taste fantastic with summer vegetables – yellow squash, eggplant, red bell pepper, dill and maybe even fresh corn.

Quiche art:

Roasted Veggie Tofu Quiche

1 prepared 9-inch pie crust
1/2 fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 c unsalted cashews
1 lb extra-firm tofu
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp kosher salt
black pepper
1/2 of a 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbs chopped fennel frond

If your pie crust is frozen, take it out of the freezer to thaw.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the fennel bulb, onion, carrot and garlic in an aluminum foil lined pan. Drizzle the oil over the veggies and stir to coat. Roast the veggies in the oven for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Take the veggies out of the oven and lower the temperature to 350F.

While the veggies are cooling, process the cashews in a food processor into fine crumbs. Drain the water from the tofu, and crumble it into the food processor. Add the mustard and process until mostly smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula.

Transfer the tofu mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (thyme through fennel frond) and mix until well combined. Use the spatula to pour the mixture into the pie crust, and smooth out the top. Bake for 40 minutes, and let cool to room temperature before serving.

This should probably serve 8, but I manage to eat it in 5 or 6 servings max.

With the halves left over from my first quiche (fennel, onion and canned tomatoes) I made a quick sauteed pasta sauce to go with whole wheat fettuccine, and topped it with sesame parmesan and (not quite toasted enough) butternut seeds.

Making this reinforced the fact that adding some pasta cooking water back to the pasta really does help with sauciness.

In an internet search for fennel recipes, I came across one for fennel-tuna sandwiches.  This recipe called only for the fennel fronds, and I had plenty of those left, so I made the Chickpea “Tuna” Salad from Vegan Deli and added lots of chopped fennel frond.  I also added some nori for fishiness.  The result was very tasty!  Perfect on a sandwich with lots of lettuce.  Although for some reason I could NOT get a decent picture of this meal.

Verdict:  Fennel is A-OK.  Give it a chance!

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