Archive for July, 2010

An All American Vegan Holiday!

I’m always looking for a reason to bake cupcakes or whip up a new recipe, so Independence Day must not go unnoticed. Consider this a double whammy of American Vegan goodness that brings some pride to the food that passing our mouths on another American holiday associated with food. At least we can be patriotic and cruelty free, right?

Inspired after my visit to Sweet Freedom Bakery, I couldn’t shake the flavors associated with the Blueberry-Lemon Cupcakes.  So I took to the bible – Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I followed the recipe for a Lemon Cupcake with Lemon Buttercream, and added 3/4 cup of blueberries to the badder after combining all ingredients.

These were AMAZING!  For serious!  I know that I say that all the time, but these were – dare I say – better than the cupcakes I had at the bakery.  So moist and refreshing – all the flavors complimented one another to form PERFECTION!  D ate three, nearly in a row.  He was utterly disappointed when I gave away more than 1/2 of the batch (only makes a dozen) to our neighbors.  These are a true winner and the perfect choice for a summer barbecue dessert.

So a big hit around here is potato salad from the deli.  Unfortunately, it’s both expensive and laden with dairy and egg products.  Today’s mission was an attempt to replicate our favorite potato salad without those elements.  I had to work completely on looks – as I peered into the deli counter to see what ingredients appeared to be present.  I also relied a bit on taste memory, and what I think was essential.  Here’s what we came up with for my Vegan Red-Skin Potato Salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lbs ( about 8 ) red skin potatoes, quartered
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. pickle juice
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 3/4 c. Veganaise
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • ground pepper to taste.

Boil potatoes in salted pot of water until tender to fork but without falling apart (need to keep an eye on this!). Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and set aside to chill in refrigerator. When potatoes are ready, drain and set aside until cool.  When cooled, cut into 1-inch chunks and mix with remaining ingredients.  Chill for 2 hours (or until cold) before serving.  Enjoy!

This is pretty damn good if you ask me!  I love the dill/pickle juice flavor – and I do think the inclusion of both onions are necessary for the right crunch and intensity.  I’m still waiting for D to try this – but I found it delicious and can’t wait to eat it during lunch all week!  D loves it!  He didn’t even pick around any of the onions or dill, just gobbled it all up . Hooray! I served mine up with a veggie burger (topped with guac) and a half-sour pickle. YUM!

Hope you’re having a delicious holiday weekend as well – can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to (and eating)!!

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July 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm 15 comments

Philly [Vegan] Eating

Against my better holiday-traffic judgment, yesterday I drove down to Philly to visit one of my best friends from graduate school.  We road tripped across the country together 2 years ago, so she knows just how food-centric I can be [the entire trip was planned around cupcakeries], and likewise we had a lovely day traveling around the city and stuffing our faces.

Steph & I circa 2008.

We started off with lunch at Mugshots Coffeehouse – we had gone here for coffee and dessert the last time I visited her, and I was secretly hoping we would return.  Their menu is jampacked with organic fare, and I’d say 50% of their menu is vegan – how about that??  Sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, muffins, cakes, cupcakes, cream cheese, etc. – all vegan options.  I had a terrible time choosing what to eat, and ended up having the barista choose for me: The Slammer: Lettuce, tomato, vegan meatballs, and avocado in a wheat wrap. It was different, messy, and delicious.  That’s why there is no photo of this – I stuffed it down faster than I was able to remember to whip out my camera. But I 100% recommend visiting this cafe – and I can say their vanilla soy latte and vegan carrot cake are creamy and flavorful – my non-vegan friend and I had to alternate spoonfuls to keep it “fair”. Yup.  Also bringing this location over the top is their prime location facing Eastern State Penitentiary – D and I will be returning next month to hit up both spots.

Steph and I then traveled across town (literally) to Sweet Freedom Bakery, which specializes in baking allergen-free: so they are vegan (dairy-free & egg-free), gluten-free, corn-free, wheat-free,  peanut-free, and even soy-free! With a list of restrictions that long, I was anxious to see how well they could pull off the goods.

The shop is cute & sweet (with nearly blue everything), and they offer a list of ingredients for each item in front of the display.  It was a hot day yesterday so I went with the Lemon Blueberry cupcake & Steph went for the mint chocolate cookie sandwich.

I was extremely wary about how tasty these were going to be – especially since I’ve had some terrible gluten-free cupcakes in the past.  These were phenomenal, and I give it to you straight – especially with cupcakes.  Really, so so moist and flavorful.  The lemon and blueberry balanced and I cannot for the life of me figure out how they were able to maintain all elements of a cupcake without so many “traditional” ingredients.  These ladies are masterminds!  The cookie sandwich was also out of control delicious – also very moist (but with a good crunch) and a fluffy sweet filling.  I can’t recommend this spot enough – especially if you have a lot of allergies.  After explaining my delight in enjoying these treats, an old woman inside (a “regular”) proclaimed she has celiac’s and this bakeshop is her lifeline!  Props to Sweet Freedom, we were happy chicas!

We walked back across town, shopped, people-watched, and then decided we could use one last food trip before I hit the road again.  We hit up The Belgian Cafe, also in her neighborhood. She piqued my interest when she said she brought her dad here and he fell in love with their vegan chicken wings. I’m in! I sipped on a Dogfish Festinal Peche – perfectly light for my developing beer palate.  We split the Vegan Spring Rolls (marinated tempeh and fresh vegetables with sour cherry compote)  & Stuffed Tofu (tofu marinated in Spaten Optimator, stuffed with dried cherries, cashews, cilantro, & garlic and  served on a bed of sesame spinach).

While the spring rolls were good – they were nothing different than any other I’ve had before.  The stuffed tofu, however, is worth mentioning.  It was delicious – I can’t even describe the flavors because they were too busy dancing in my mouth for me to break down.  They totally hit it home with this dish and you can absolutely consider me a fan of this establishment. They offer various other vegan options on the breakfast/sandwich/entree menus, we just ordered off the appetizers. Also – if you are a beer person, their list is pages long with a nice selection on tap.

Overall, after a day of walking and eating I was pretty wiped.  I had a fantastic start to my long weekend, and today was spent watching Europe dominate the World Cup quarter-finals and doing a little baking. How has your weekend been so far?

July 3, 2010 at 5:15 pm 10 comments

Mediterranean Feta Pasta

First and foremost – thanks for the hair support friends.  I know that post was way off topic, however it really rocked my boat to have my hair all skunky brewster and I needed to be able to share some of that energy with the world.  After the hair fiasco culminated, I continued the June pantry cleanse with another simple yet tasty meal. I dub this Mediterranean Feta Pasta [for fools].  this is really that simple and tasty.

Ingredients

  • 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 18oz can of cannellini beans, drained/rinsed
  • 10oz box chopped frozen spinach [let that 15-20 minutes]
  • 1/2 box penne
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 block crumbled soy feta [tomato garlic] – or more if you so desire!

Cook pasta in boiling water per box directions. Meanwhile, saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat until golden/fragrant.  Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, and beans and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Add spinach and cook another 5-10 minutes, raising heat to medium, until most excess liquid reduced. Stir in feta, then mix in pasta.  Enjoy!

The meal was so quick to throw together and so delicious!  I especially love the chunks of tomatoes and the feta combo – it’s a different take on a traditional basil-centric summer pasta that is often consumed around here these days, and far more decadent thanks to the feta. D even said it was “really good” – he also felt the need to add “it would be better without the beans”.  I know you all disagree, as do I!  You can barely even tell there are beans in the dish quite frankly. Mind over matter D, even if you do have spidey sense for beans.

This recipe made a ton of pasta, even using only half a box.  I tried so hard to push off leftovers on my friends last night, but to no avail.  No one eats leftovers around here, such spoiled brats!  So tonight we are eating leftovers, and D can sulk about it all he wants unless he wants to pull dinner together.

On a personal note, I’d like to add that for the second time in my adult-life I’ve left the dentist without cavities!  Mind you, both visits occurred within the past 365 days, however prior to that I was glutton for punishment and feared the almighty dentist like the boogey man. I’ve learned that flossing and a sonic-care tooth brush can keep the dentist away the same way that an apple can for the doctor.  This is a moderate adult accomplishment for me. Hooray!

July 1, 2010 at 1:32 pm 3 comments

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