Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Birthday Celebration

Even though my birthday was a few weeks ago, the pleasant memories linger and I would like to share them with you. Being a sophisticated, 26 year old grown-up it was decided to go to a local winery for some unwinding, imbibing, and noshing. The Winery at Wolf Creek has served as a setting for many of my friends' birthdays this year; what better way to celebrate than to be surrounded with good conversation and great wine? I was joined by some work companions, an old pal, my bestest of besties, her brother and his fiancee. We had a lovely feast to accompany our intentionally chilled selections (it was 92 degrees, if I remember correctly), would you like to hear about it?

It wouldn't be a proper wine-centered celebration without a cheese plate, no? I sliced up some of the new, delicate, savory, undeniably delicious Daiya wedges to serve with crackers. Here you see the Havarti Garlic Jalapeno Style and the Cheddar Style wedges. Both are to die for, especially the Havarti. My omni co-worker said she probably would not have noticed it was non-dairy if I hadn't told her! These disappeared quickly.

I also sliced up some crudites and whipped up a quick herbed bean dip: cannellini beans plus an assortment of Italian herbs and some olive oil. The crispness of the veggies as well as their water content was appreciated on such a scorcher of a day!

My bestest brought some incredibly tasty GF sweet potato muffins which her mother had made - these were so fantastic! Moist, flavorful, crumbly, hearty... just perfect.

And how special did I feel when I received the offer (from the bestest) to make ANY cupcake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World that my little heart (tummy) desired?! So, so special, I tell you. I requested my favorite combination of flavors: mint + chocolate. Also made were the margarita cupcakes! Um, tequila and cupcakes, together as one? Be still, my heart. As always, vegan cupcakes rocked my socks off.

And look, candles!

The day following my birthday included a trip with my mama up to Melt Bar & Grilled, a local grilled cheese restaurant which has all kinds of special selections for vegans. Their monthly special, the Firecracker Chicken, offered a vegan version: baked tofu coated in hot Cajun spices, avocado slices, pineapple slices, and Italian-style Daiya. It was pretty good! Not my favorite of their many different creations, but my taste buds were quite happy.

A wonderful celebration was had and another year clicked by on the ole odometer. How have you preferred celebrating birthdays, lately?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Excitement!

First, I must SQUEE about having purchased my early bird registration for the 2013 Vida Vegan Bloggers Conference! Registration opened at the top of the hour and the early bird tix are almost gone. Am I surprised? No! The first con was such a great success (see my account here, here, and here) that no wonder there was such a frenzied scramble for folks to secure their spots. I can't wait to see everybody again, as well as all of the new attendees!

Surely this was an exciting moment during the extra hot'n'humid summer we've been experiencing, but there's been much more! A vegan pal of mine hosted a Memorial Day bonfire/potluck and I was tickled to find a huge assortment of delicious vegan treats. Here's my first plate (yes, I had much, much more...): Gardein chick'n scallopini, spicy sesame soba salad, mandarin and spinach pasta salad, and fresh fruit with a sweet cream cheese dollop. Fantastic!

You'd go back for seconds, too, right?

The most moist, delectable, moan-inspiring, fluffy vegan cake I've ever had - brought to you by local West Side Bakery, which mostly sells nonvegan treats, but makes specialty orders for cruelty-free desserts and always has vegan selections on hand.

Imagine my surprise when I located Gardein's new barbecue riblets at my local grocery? I was psyched to try them out, yet somewhat disappointed when I saw what I got for my money: these things are tiny! Tiny. And, although they taste pretty good, they're not much in comparison to Morningstar's brand of riblets. Sigh. Can't win 'em all!

Ahh, summer... :)