Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vegan MoFo V: Another Giveaway Winner & Pumpkin Breakfast

Allrighty, the original winner of the Becoming Vegan giveaway never responded so I have chosen another:

Congratulations, ladystardust! I have sent you an e-mail, so be on the lookout. I look forward to doing another giveaway soon, what fun!

This weekend has been the laziest of lazies... this morning I decided to treat the day like a true Sunday and make a big ole carby breakfast for the boyfriend and me. Behold: dense, spicy pumpkin pancakes, Gimme Lean sausage, and ice cold apple cider.

The predictable food coma followed.

On Saturday, I went to a lunch hosted by my fitness group, CrossFit Akron. The owners were celebrating their one year birthday after having opened their doors in West Akron last October. It was a great time chatting with some of the people I have worked out with many times, having conversations about things other than squats and pull-ups. I mean to write a specific blog about my experiences with CrossFit very soon - it is an incredibly inspiring and challenging part of my life, and very accommodating of my lifestyle.

The Rail just opened up in the swanky west side Summit mall, and with their sign depicting an upside down figure of a cow I was not impressed when I saw that was the choice for the lunch. Yet, upon further inspection of their menu, I found that the offer a homemade veggie burger and hummus wrap, along with fresh toppings. An e-mail and a phone call later I learned that their veggie burger is vegan (although the bun is not) and decided to give it a try. My best guess is that it is rice and tomato paste based and is a little on the spicy side - not bad, although I prefer bean based burgers myself. The "skinny fries" were very nice and filling. If I find myself there again I will try their hummus wrap.

See you around, bloggers!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vegan MoFo: Butternut Mac & Cheese and a Winner!

We have a winner! Of the Becoming Vegan giveaway, that is. It's omgitsbees!

Here's the comment:

"Been struggling to become vegan, and looking for all the help I can get. :) Wanting to do it for a number of reasons, including health and to support animal rights. Making the transition after having had such a heavy meat based diet for most of my life has been very difficult though. D:"

Omgitsbees, please send me your e-mail address so we can correspond! If I don't hear from you by Friday I'll have to select another winner... Congrats!

And what is THIS bowl of magnificent? Why, it's only Oh She Glows' recipe for Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese. I subbed an acorn squash b/c it's what I had laying around - still fantastic. So creamy and comforting... more like an alfredo sauce with a sweet kick. I highly recommend it, even if it is a bit involved with taking the time to peel, chop, & roast the squash.

Looking forward to making even more comfort foods as the seasons progress... see you soon!

P.S. Here's my package swap partner's post about what I sent! You rock, Sam!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vegan MoFo V: Creamy Roasted Tomato Sauce with Artichokes

Hello, all! Can you believe we're almost halfway through the month? MoFo has really taken off this year and I'm enjoying the few times during the week when I am able to browse some blogs, enter giveaways, and drool over everyone's food pics... I hope that, even though the following pics were hastily taken in an artificial lighting setting, you will drool over them anyway. If you knew how orgasmic this dish was, you wouldn't have a problem with that. Oh, wait! You can make some for yourself! TONIGHT.

I whipped this up last weekend when my bestie, Liv, visited. It is yet another attempt to resurrect a dish from the recently deceased Vegiterranean vegan restaurant. (No, I won't shut up about it, I am still VERY SAD.) My all-time favorite pasta dish was their Tuscan Gnocchi... a creamy roasted tomato sauce with artichokes, wild mushrooms, and greens over the most tender potato gnocchi... *sob*. Here's my attempt to replicate their out-of-this-world sauce (serves 2):

Creamy Roasted Tomato Sauce with Artichokes

2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks (variety doesn't matter - I used what I had)
3-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 large onion, cut into strips
2/3 c artichoke hearts (I used fresh, but you can use canned/jarred if you drain the oil)
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c Italian-style Daiya
1 large handful of arugala
2-servings-worth of bowtie pasta

1. Spray a baking pan with olive oil and scatter the tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Spray again with the oil and roast at 400 degrees for approx. 40 minutes, checking and tossing every 10 minutes.
2. Heat up the water for your pasta and whip out a saucepan for the sauce.
3. Give the roasted tomatoes, onions, and garlic a whirl in a food processor with the balsamic vinegar until pretty smooth and transfer to the saucepan (med to med-low heat).
4. While your pasta is cooking, throw the artichokes and Daiya into the sauce and stir until the Daiya is nice and melty. Throw in the arugala and stir until it just wilts.
5. Top your pasta with the sauce and some fresh cracked black pepper and dig in.

If you have wild mushrooms, throw those in the mix for accuracy, but trust me - if you don't have 'em, you won't miss 'em. This sauce is fantastic enough by itself. A very satisfying comfort food-style pasta dish with an Italian twist. Enjoy!

And by the way: my giveaway for a copy of Becoming Vegan is still taking place. Hurry up and comment for a chance to win!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vegan MoFo V: Giveaway!

My first giveaway, how exciting! At Vida Vegan Con 2011 I was lucky enough to win a copy of Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, R.D., & Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D. I've flipped through it and found that the book is incredibly comprehensive, covering all imaginable aspects of vegan nutrition. Yet, I was really impressed by some chapters on special interests in veganism, such as individuals with eating disorders, those who are overweight or underweight, and vegan athletes.

For someone who would like to learn more about specific nutrition or special populations within veganism or for someone who would like to gift this to a friend who is considering veganism (or that pesky aunt or uncle who keeps asking those timeless, silly, dietary questions...) - I would recommend this book!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post sharing what it is that you appreciate most about becoming vegan. Please comment by Wednesday, October 19th at 10 pm to be eligible and I will announce the winner soon after! Please include your e-mail address.

Update: If you blog about this giveaway and include a link to your post in a separate comment, you can have an extra opportunity to win!

I also have ideas of compiling ANOTHER giveaway soon for vegan treats made by local vegan chefs and bakers. Stay tuned and good luck!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Vegan Mofo V: Vegan Care Package!

Good evening, MoFoz. I am very excited to post about the 2011 vegan care package swap. Organized by the fabulous Lindsay of Cook. Vegan. Lover., this is my third year participating, and the best year yet! (The last two years, neither of my blog partners posted my stuff... *sad face*) My partner this year was Sam of Quantum Vegan - an awesome new favorite blog! After e-discussing some of our favorite types of vegan products we sent out our packages. I received mine on Thursday and have consumed over half of it already! Let's take a look:

Some Road's End Organics shells & "chreese" - fabulous stuff, it really grows on you. Near East lentil-rice pilaf (love this company). And two interesting Indian dishes: Delhi Saag (spinach & mustard greens with ginger and peppers) & Punjabi Chhole (spicy, tomatoey chickpeas, potatoes, & onions). I was looking forward to branching out and trying something new - and I love the convenience factor of all of these foods.

Goodies! Some oat & chocolate "Cowboy" cookies, two kinds of Mary's Gone Crackers crunchy treats (the curry "Sticks & Twigs" are pretty darn good!), two Primal Strips, a moist and lovely granola & cacao bar, and some little gluten free oatmeal cookies.

Sharing my love of tea was definitely the right move: Sam gave me some samples of delectable teas including coconut creme (tried this one today - BOMB), Mexican chocolate, and Irish breakfast. These are sitting in my desk at work, waiting to be assembled into the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. And a sample of chipotle cayenne Parma!, which I have yet to decide how I want to use... *muah ha*

Having craved some mac & cheese like WHOA lately, I first whipped up this boxed delight, adding some cheddar-style Daiya for good measure. This stuff is beyond fantastic. The spices in the sauce mix really add some complexity - a much deeper flavor than Amy's frozen entree. I want about 8 more of these bowls in my face. Now.

On my lazy Sunday I threw some rice in the cooker and heated up both of the Indian dishes - WOW. So fantastic. The punjabi chhole reminded me of chana masala, except it had more layers of flavor - simply superb. The greens were a nice complement and had a nice tart ginger flavor. I still have leftovers, woo.

All in all, this was an awesome exchange. Thank you so much, Sam, for your efforts and stellar picks! Hope you're enjoying your package. :)

And to those who haven't participated in a swap - I highly recommend it. If it's through Lindsay's yearly swap or something you come up with on your own, it's a great way to connect with other vegans and get to taste some local and interesting flavors from across the country (or globe!).

And I haven't forgotten about... an upcoming giveaway!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Vegan MoFo V: Chili, Tempeh Wingz, and a Surprise Gift

I want to start this post with a picture of my latest purchase - a personalized collage of my Vida Vegan Con trip! I used to upload my pics and arrange them as I wished. It cost about $7 and is 8x10 in size. It looks wonderful posted above my desk at work.

Oh, the memories...!

Thursday is typically the only day during the week where I have no after-work commitments (school M&W, fitness classes T&F), and today I took full advantage of it. I sped to the grocery store after work with some ideas floating around of the meals I wanted to create for the upcoming weekend and week.

Here is Katie's recipe of Tempeh Wingz - an absolute staple in my kitchen. I've made this many times before and was very eager to bring this recipe back to life. I used two packages of tempeh and made smaller-sized "wingz" so that I can snack on them during the day when I need a protein punch.

Alongside these tasty morsels is an arugala salad with sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic glaze, and a touch of garlic powder. This is meant to mimic the out-of-this-world side salad offered at the late & great VegiTerranean. I am still very much in mourning of this landmark closing. It saddens me deeply that I will never again get to taste their oven-roasted tomatoes in their masterpiece salad...

Simmering away as I prepared the wingz was my favorite hearty dish: sweet potato chili! The recipe is very simple and quick, from the old blog Veg Is Sexy (oh, how I miss you!). The link now takes you to a Kiev escort service, hahaha... so don't go there. It's basically sauteed onion and tri-color peppers, 2 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, a can of black beans and a can of pinto beans, a packet of vegetarian chili seasoning, and 2 large sweet potatoes (microwave for 10 minutes and then peel and chop). Super-fantastic and will feed you for a week! Bonus points: Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale.

I'll leave you with a pic of the surprise gift my boyfriend hid for me in plain sight (but which took me a few hours to notice, ha): a lovely bracelet with translucent green beads and a "vegan" charm. It is absolutely perfect! He knows me so well. :) Represent!

Stay tuned for a GIVEAWAY, muthafuckas!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vegan MoFo V: Spicy PDX Bowl of Goodness

As promised, I bring you my interpretation/recreation of the fabulous Eastern Bowl, as made famous (according to my tastebuds) by the Bye and Bye vegan bar in Portland. As referenced in my final VVC post, this is the establishment which hosted my last night in the land of vegan magic. I partied down with some new friends, but only after chowing down on this wonderful combination of spice and hearty ingredients, along with my cocktail (which, alas, I did not recreate).

IMPORTANT: I only advocate creating this dish if you live 50+ miles from PDX. Otherwise, get your asses over to the Bye and Bye pronto, bitches!

Spicy PDX Bowl of Goodness
1 package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut up into small cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg's aminos
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp red chili flakes
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa
3 cups steamed broccoli
3 tbsp unsalted peanut butter
2-3 tbsp Vegenaise
1 tbsp sriracha (or to taste!)
1/4 c nooch (nutritional yeast)

1. Mix the soy sauce, liquid smoke, chili flakes, and maple syrup together. Pour into baking dish and coat tofu cubes. Let marinade for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Bake the cubes in a 400 degree preheated oven (either in the dish or on a baking sheet) in 10-15 minute increments, turning and checking for a nice baked, chewy consistency.
3. Meanwhile, cook the brown rice and steam the broccoli.
4. Microwave the peanut butter for a few seconds to soften it (if necessary) and add the Vegenaise and sriracha. Refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Coat the baked tofu cubes in the nutritional yeast.
6. Combine the brown rice, broccoli, yeasted tofu cubes in a bowl and top with the sauce! (Makes about 3 servings).

Oh, and toasted sesame seeds don't hurt! Om nom nom.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vegan MoFo V: A Sexy Party w/ Even Sexier Appetizers...

Good day to all! My apologies for missing the first day of MoFo... My post will inform that slip-up, I promise. To be honest, bloggers: I've had a shitty day. Being in grad school sucks the big one and my motivation is draining, quickly. I know that I will not be able to blog every day, and most likely will not hit my goal of 5x/wk either, but bear with me. I do have some awesome stuff to blog about, so let's get to it!

Friday night I hosted a Pure Romance party! My bestie, Liv, is a consultant and is really taking off. I had a small group of my lady-friends over and we had an absolute blast. Here's what I made for munchies:

Black Bean Hummus
1 can of black beans, some liquid reserved
1 massive spoonful of tahini
1/2 jalepeno, diced
garlic powder, paprika to taste
Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until perfect consistency is reached (add bean liquid a little at a time)

Raspberry Agave Mustard Dip
1/2 cup of raspberries (thaw if frozen, and drain most of the liquid)
3/4 cup of dijon mustard
2-3 T of agave nectar
Blend in a food processor until just right (taste test required!)

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Dip
1/2 c dark chocolate peanut butter (or plain PB w/ melted chocolate chips)
3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk
Heat up peanut butter with a few splashes of the almond milk. Stir rapidly and continue folding in more almond milk until a thick, yet creamy, consistency is reached.

Add about 5 bottles of vino to this picture and you have a full picture of our night!

In other news: I discovered some unsettling news today, which put me into an even pissier mood than my homework did. Remember the all-vegan restaurant, VegiTerranean, which I wrote about in my last blog post, and countless more? Well, they closed their doors today without warning. That's it, gone, finished. Chrissie Hynde, the owner, released a statement which implicated the economy as the reason they closed, but I have my doubts. And I'll leave it at that. Such a shame to see a restaurant go under which served such amazing food. And now Akron is again a vegan wasteland.

Would someone like to be my pro bono vegan personal chef? Just until these classes are over in a few weeks... I'm now accepting applications! :D