Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vegan Dessert Recipe Contest

My Life as a Vegan is hosting a Vegan Dessert Recipe Contest (details HERE), so I figured I'd give her a shout-out and tell all you regular readers to get your ass moving and submit some dessert recipes so you can WIN WIN WIN!

The dealine is July 8th, so get a move on, folks!

You can submit your recipes to the following email, but make sure you read the rules before entering:

Mocha in Your Mouth Cupcakes

I made a batch of "Mocha in Your Mouth Cupcakes" for a friend this weekend and, despite an unfortunate mishap (I suddenly realized, after spraying all the cupcake cups and pouring in the batter, that my canola-oil spray for some godforsaken reason has *BUTTER* in it), this was hands down the best cupcake-batter recipe I've made. The frosting was a bit iffier (though it was, in fact, tasty) simply because it ended up being excessively soupy and oozing its way off the cupcakes, despite my best efforts at keeping it congealed by refrigerating them. But the cake itself, holy mother.

And funny thing is, I had my doubts after I mixed together all the ingredients and the batter WAS AS THIN AS WATER. I kid you not. I thought, how in god's name is this gonna bake into cupcakes and not just turn into an absolute mush? But they came out perfect--moist and wonderful.

I fed the non-vegan batch to my non-vegan friends and gave the cupcakes I managed to salvage (the 2nd batch which I didn't spray with the damn non-vegan oil) to my vegan friend, and I got a buttload of compliments on them. Every compliment I received entailed the words "so moist," which is, of course, a good thing when it comes to cake. And most everyone exclaimed that you couldn't tell the difference between these cupcakes and non-vegan ones, one friend actually stated that they tasted store-bought.

So hats off to Alysia Angel and this kick-ass cupcake recipe (you can read more about her and her bakery HERE).

And my apologies for the unflattering picture--this cupcake looks shocked, like someone snapped a picture of it when it was just getting out of the shower and hadn't yet had time to cover itself up with the towel.

Cupcake Batter
  • 2 cups brown sugar

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour

  • 3/4 cup cocoa

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup milk or soy milk

  • 1/2 cup canola oil

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • Espresso beans or chocolate-covered espresso beans for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners. Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Add milk or soy milk, oil, vanilla and vinegar. Mix about 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in boiling water until incorporated. Pour batter into lined tins, filling each three-quarters full. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. Frost and garnish if desired.

Serves 20.

  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, at room temperature

  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  • 1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee, room temperature

Combine all ingredients, and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. (You only actually need about a half-batch of the frosting to frost the 20 cupcakes from the above recipe.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bean and Bourbon Soup

Despite our Weekend o' Bourbon, I realized on Sunday that I still had about half a bottle left. Erf. However, this inspired me as I was cooking a batch of soup on Sunday afternoon, and I decided to spice it up a bit with some of the bourbon. Now, I know that 1 T. of bourbon doesn't sound like a whole helluva lot, especially when you start making this recipe and see what a gigundous batch of soup it makes, but trust me, you will taste it. And it will be good.

Once upon a time, I used to have something against broth. I generally refused to eat soup because of the broth--if you can't CHEW it, then you're not really EATING it, are you? I think not. For the same reason, I never really was a fan of applesauce or mashed potatoes. But thankfully, I've been converted over to the soup-train! Glory allelujah! And now I'm all about the broth!

Point being: I originally intended to make a brothier soup with these ingredients, thinking that some of the ingredients would contribute water to the broth when they cooked. But apparently they didn't contribute as much as I had thought, so this ended up being a much thicker soup than I'd originally hoped. You could probably call it a stew, it's thick enough, but I'ma call it a soup, since it's not got that heavy, meaty, belly-weighted feel to it (though after reading this, I suppose their ain't much difference between the two anyways).

However, if I were to make this again, I'd probably only use half a pound of beans for the recipe, that way I'd have more broth to dip in. If you add the whole pound, you will have lots and lots o' beans and very very little broth; if you add half, you should have lots and lots o' broth and much less beans (which is what I'd opt for if I were you); and if you add a small child or a large teepee, you might not technically have "soup" anymore. So keep that in mind while cooking.

  • 1/2 lb. - 1 lb. of some sort of 16-bean dry beans (I used Goya's 16-bean soup mix) depending on how brothy you want the soup to be, soaked until beans are tender

  • One 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, food processed

  • One 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes

  • 1 sm. can of corn, drained

  • 1 large red pepper, diced

  • 3 jalapenos, deseeded and diced

  • 2 cups vegetable broth

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 t. cocoa powder

  • 1 T. bourbon

  • cayenne pepper, onion powder, and salt & pepper to taste


Simmer all of the above until tender.

Only major tips: Make sure them beans are soaked to the point of being tender before cooking them, as they don't seem to tender up in the actual soup...

Blueberry and Pear Pancakes w/ Baby-Vomit Syrup

Upon realizing Saturday night that I had a plentiful amount of left-over blueberries, I decided that I'd cook something with them for breakfast Sunday morning. I tossed around the idea of making some sort of blueberry french toast with the leftover Peasant bread that E had made, and then I contemplated pancakes, and then I contemplated crepes, which is what I finally settled on.

I mixed the batter (using the recipe from The Garden of Vegan) and let it sit in the fridge for about 25 minutes. In the meantime, I scooped out half of my container of Tofutti "cream cheese," added 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and a couple tablespoons of soy milk, whipped it all together, and set it aside to drizzle on the crepes. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that something was off with the crepe recipe once I started cooking them. I have never ever ever had problems cooking crepes, and I've cooked them numerous times, but something was just not right. They weren't firming up, I was having a difficult time flipping them, and they were weirdly mushy and gelatinous.

So after three attempts, I cussed to myself and gave up. I decided to just make some pancakes instead, using the blueberry pancake recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. I also realized that I had one very overripe pear awaiting my use, so I set aside enough batter for about two pancakes before throwing the blueberries into the mix. In the reserved pancake batter, I threw the diced up chunks of pear.

Measuring stuff out is sometimes useful--I must remember this, seeing as I put way too many blueberries into the mix and it looked like crazy insane blueberry time in my kitchen. After eating them, E's tongue looked like he had just downed a few shots of pure blue ink, which made me laugh. Thankfully, they still tasted really good. As for the pear pancakes, holy mother of god was the combination of the slightly salty batter and the sweet sweet pears really damn good. However, the pears were too soggy, and they left the pancakes a bit soggy themselves. That and they kept trying to liberate themselves from the pancakes when I flipped them, so if you're gonna go the pear-route, aim for shredding them or just throwing them on top of some plain pancakes.

As you can see from the picture, I ended up topping the pancakes with baby-vomit... er, I mean, the cream-cheesey maple concoction. It was tasty, but nothing to get your panties in a bunch about--it definitely was moreso suited for crepes than pancakes, but ah well.

As always, I recommend the pancake recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance as I use it quite often, and (despite my infinite variations--chocolate chips, arghlghlghlghl) it never fails to please.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I Wanna Love Them! I Really Do!

So, I don't know if it's just me, but I find the Sarah Kramer cookbooks rather hit-or-miss (and lately they've been veering off moreso towards the land of "miss"). I don't mean to be dissing them at all in saying this--I love love love the introductions to the books and the tips given on various MacGyver-esque uses for common household items (like baking soda or vinegar*--these lists are so much fun to read and use), and my cats absolutely adore the tin-foil catnip balls I made them which came from one of the Kramer recipe books. So don't get me wrong.

But all that being said, I rarely find myself actively seeking out recipes from the Garden of Vegan book I have at home, mainly because I've not made anything out of her books that has really bowled me over, though I occasionally do try. Granted, I haven't experimented with tons of the recipes, so I'm sure there are some real winners in there, despite my whining. But I don't know if it's due to the fact that the recipes are submitted to her or what, and though I appreciate the communal nature of collecting up vegan recipes and sharing them around, well, quite frankly, sometimes the recipes are just not cookbook-worthy. No offense intended, but typically, when you're cooking and trying out a recipe for the first time, you want it to be a recipe that'll make the folks you're feeding go, "Holy shit! This is amazing! I can't believe it's vegan!" or something along those lines. And none of the ones I've tried so far do, unfortunately.

The main reason I even bring this up is that this weekend, I had *two* marginal failures from her cookbook: one was the crepes recipe (which I don't think was necessarily the fault of the cookbook, as I think I've used this recipe before with no problems--but they ended up mush this time) and the second was a batch of the 'Herman's No-Bake Cookies' in Garden of Vegan which we whipped up Saturday night since the feller and I had a late-night hankering for something sweet and didn't feel like baking.


Following the recipe in the book, we substituted in the chocolate chips for the raisins, as suggested, but what wasn't noted (and there seems to OFTEN be things that aren't noted) was that perhaps we should fold them in AFTER the rest of the ingredients, seeing as they all ended up melting into the mix in a big chocolatey-mush of a mess. Fine--no big deal though. We figured we'll just have chocolatey-cookies intead of chocolate-chippy cookies, which is still sugarsugarsugarsugar, so it would make us happy anyways. However, the cookies themselves were just plain dull. They were not very sweet at all, and despite the melted chocolate, they weren't very chocolatey. They kinda just tasted like oatmeal that had accidentally fallen into some sugar and chocolate, probably because that's really all they were. And thing is, people often have a preconceived notion of vegan cooking as dull (particularly baking) BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE. And yet, while I understand that recipes like these are aiming to be a quick and simple snack, they kinda reinforce the notion that vegan "baking" ain't tasty "baking."

They aren't horrible cookies by any means. I don't mean to imply that. But they were just... really... nothing special. I ate a bunch, because I was fixing for some sugar, but really, I would've rather consumed a handful of chocolate chips if I hadn't've accidentally melted them all into the cookie mass.

Again, no knocks to Sarah Kramer and all that, as I do enjoy her cookbooks, but I'm starting to think that, with a little bit more discrimination on behalf of what recipes are printed, there'd be a lot more room left for some of the truly fantastic recipes that I'm sure must be hidden in there, somewhere.

And if you know where they are, please let me know in my comments, as I am really trying to give these cookbooks the benefit of the doubt.

*I do have to tell you though--you may wanna be careful with the tip on using baking soda to clean your coffee-maker because I tried it one day, and it broke the machine beyond repair--it just leaks all over the place now, and we even tried taking it apart to fix it... Needless to say, I was not pleased.

Mint Café

For some reason, every stinking restaurant that moves into the corner-space on Coventry and Hampshire closes up within a few months--Soul Vegetarian, the Indian food place that was there for such a short time that I can't even remember its name. And now a new Thai place has moved in, and I'm praying to god for its longevity after having eaten there this weekend.

I don't usually post restaurant reviews here (mainly because there's databases out there where you can track down notable veggie restaurants for most major cities), but as with my Virginia Beach mentionables, the restaurant we visited this weekend hasn't yet made it into any of these databases, and it most certainly deserves a shout-out.

Mint Café

1791 Coventry Rd.
Cleveland Hts., OH 44118

Menu: HERE

The menu is not 100% vegan (or vegetarian for that matter), but they do have a very large pool of vegetarian foods available. And what pleased me most upon looking at their menu is that they state right at the bottom that all of their food is cooked in 100% vegetable oil. So no worries about lard. No worries about butter. No worries about ghee. The only thing you have to make sure of is that there isn't fish in their sauce, which of course isn't the case with the curries (which I'm pretty certain are almost all made with coconut milk as well).

Not only are they helpful with regard to that, but our waiter (upon inquiring as to whether I was vegan after I asked a few questions) happily pointed out that they were very much open to adjusting other dishes so that they could be either vegetarian or vegan, whether it mean leaving out the meat or switching the sauce from a fish-sauce to a vegan soy-sauce of some sort. Such friendly adaptability is of course always music to a vegan's ear, so I was very pleased to hear this, especially when he recommended some typically meat-laden dishes that they could easily veganize for me.

In the end, we settled on some dishes that were already vegan:

As appetizers, we got the edamame (japanese soy bean) as well as the tofu triangles (which had a *fantastic* dipping sauce--arghlghlghlghl).

For the main course, E got the Panang Curry with tofu and vegetables (which included red & green peppers, straw mushrooms, green bean, eggplant, and kaffir lime leaves, all in a spicy curry sauce). His had quite a bit of kick to it and was very tasty.

I got the Masaman Curry with tofu and vegetables (which included red & green peppers, onion, sweet potatoes, carrot, and roasted peanuts, all in a sweet and delicate curry sauce). Every single vegetable was cooked perfectly--the red and green peppers hadn't been overcooked and still were crisp and fresh, and the sweet potatoes were cooked to that perfect melt-in-your-mouth consistency. And the sauce was the real kicker--wonderfully sweet and mindblowingly chock full of flavors. I was impressed.

We ate it all and yet didn't feel grossly stuffed--everything was nice and light.

*And* they even have a supposedly vegan dessert (which does not appear to be on the linked menu below, for some reason) which if I remember correctly was some sort of lychee nut thing on ice... It sounded interesting, of course, but we were too full to eat anything more at that point. *And* finally, they have bubble tea, which after a bit of research and some verification through a vegan friend, is also apparently vegan (as long as you make sure it doesn't have milk in the mix).

The restaurant is also cute and decorated very charmingly on the inside--a nice blend that's not too fancy but not overly-casual either. The food is relatively inexpensive, given the quality and quantity. And the staff was very helpful and friendly.

So if you're in Cleveland, get your butt over to Coventry and check it out. Too many restaurants have come and gone, and THIS ONE NEEDS TO STAY, DAMMIT!

Orange-Bourbon Shishkabobs w/ Tofurkey Kielbasa, Blueberry and Wild-Rice Salad, and Mint Juleps, to Boot!

As mentioned earlier in the week, Saturday night I had plans to party it up Mark-Twain-style, and so we busted out the barbecue, the mint juleps, and the Mark Twain and had ourselves a sweltering, church-going, plantation kind of night! Why, you ask? Well, mostly just because I wanted to try out this Orange-Bourbon Marinade recipe I'd stumbled across and wanted to use for shishkabobs, which meant buying some bourbon, which in turn meant finding uses for bourbon, which in turn meant finally trying a damn mint julep, which in turn meant (of course) reading some Mark Twain.

Saturday afternoon, I whipped up this extremely simple (but flavorful) marinade and tossed some baby 'bellas, onion chunks, and diced up tofu into it to marinate throughout the afternoon and into the evening. I also boiled up some red baby potatoes so that we could throw them on the skewers as well and they wouldn't take excessively-long to grill.


Extra-firm tofu, chunks of onions, and baby 'bellas, all marinated in the Orange-Bourbon Marinade
One red-pepper, chunked
One green-pepper, chunked
5 red baby potatoes (pre-cooked and sliced in two)

Orange-Bourbon Marinade: RECIPE

E also found himself with a hankering for kielbasa that afternoon, so he picked up some Tofurkey kielbasa for us to grill up as well, along with a homemade batch of peasant-bread that he'd made the night before.

To top all that off, I picked up some no-cook fresh ears of corn at the market on Friday--I love this corn way the hell up... It is so gloriously sweet and tender that you can eat it right off the cob without ever needing to cook it. If you haven't tried it, you must.

And finally, I whipped up a batch of Blueberry and Wild-Rice Salad that I'd also been eyeing all week, and damn was it good. The most complicated part about the recipe was the dressing, but it was well-worth the grating effort. The only adjustments I made (or would make in the future) were that I used a variety of dried fruit (since I didn't wanna spend $6+ on buying a bag of apricots and a bag of cranberries) and in the future, I would probably cut the amount of oil in the dressing in half (if not more) as it was much greasier than it needed to be, especially for a fruit and rice salad. But seriously, well-worth the time and effort as it was wonderfully flavorful and summery-tasting.

Blueberry and Wild-Rice Salad: RECIPE

And of course, the night wouldn't've been complete without some homemade mint juleps... Man alive, these babies were strong--I'd imagine there's a helluva lot of drunken southern ladies sitting out on their porches, fanning themselves desperately on a nightly-basis if these really are the cat's pajamas down south. =)

INGREDIENTS (For one mint julep):

3 oz Jim Beam bourbon
5+ sprigs of fresh mint
1 t. sugar

Mix and try to make it through to that last sip, as it is the best one.

All in all it was a very spirited and fun evening, and I'd definitely recommend both recipes for grilling out with friends or family. I'd've said all that in a mock-southern drawl, but you'd just end up making fun of me. =)

OBLIGATORY READING: "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cornmeal and "Ham" Griddlecakes with a Side of "Better than Bacon"

I wrote a big, long, laugh-your-ass off brilliant, amazing write-up on the cornmeal and "ham" griddlecakes and "Better than Bacon" I made on Sunday, but then the damn computer here crashed on my last sentence, and I lost it all. Why, God, why?!?!

So use your imagination today, and picture this as the funniest, wittiest, most brilliant thing you've ever read, even though it probably will not be.

And in case your imagination sucks, continue reading, and I will instead attempt to hypnotize you into thinking it.

When I snap my fingers, you will think that
this is the most brilliant thing you've ever read!
This is the most brilliant thing you've ever read!
This is the most brilliant thing you've ever read!
This is the most brilliant thing you've ever read!
This is the most brilliant thing you've ever read!

Uh, yeah.

So back to the food. I hadn't cooked breakfast for me or the feller in a while, so when I stumbled across both these recipes and realized I had all the ingredients at home already (except for the "ham"), I figured why the hell not.

At first I was suspicious of the Better than Bacon. I mean, how can tofu taste like bacon really? But I sliced it as thin as I could--I tried the cheese-slicer idea first which would've been brilliant if it had taken into account that most tofu is super-pock-marked and lumpy and bumpy so it's damn near impossible to get one continuous thin slice off the side without it falling apart, so eventually I gave up and just used a knife--and then dumped it into the fridge to marinate for a couple of days. When I removed it, it didn't look much different than when I put it in--it still looked pretty much as pasty-ass as a white-boy with a farmer's tan. But then I fried the shit out of it (and with fat-free oil-spray!!) and holy mother of god! We were both amazed at how much it tasted like bacon (god bless you, hickory smoke liquid!).

Seriously, if you can figure out a way to cut that tofu up into paper-thin slices, it actually fries up ridiculously crisp and crunchy. The few pieces that we thinned down enough were startlingly comparable with bacon in both their consistency and crunchiness. (And with only a smidgen of the calories!) Even the thicker slices (while not crunchifying quite so well) were really damn yummy. I was very-much impressed, especially given the simplicity of ingredients in the recipe.

"Better than Bacon": RECIPE

As for the cornmeal and "ham" griddlecakes, I decided from the get-go that I wasn't gonna use silken tofu for the recipe because I had no clue what I'd end up using the excess for, so I figured there was a pretty good chance it'd end up going to waste. So instead I substituted in Ener-G Egg Replacer for one egg. I also had my doubts about these pancakes as well, given that the batter was super-fricking thin, even after I let it sit for 10 minutes. But lo and behold, this was probably the easiest batter I've cooked with, when it came to flipping and cooking evenly and all that. And they were pretty damn hearty--the end result tasted like what you'd get if cornbread and a fake-pig were walking jollily down the road together when *slam* they got run over by a big ol' semi and were squashed into flattened mock-roadkill pancakes. Cornbready goodness in the shape of pancakes with little itty bitty fake hammy-goodness thrown in--that be my point. Again: simple and tasty.

Cornmeal and "Ham" Griddlecakes: RECIPE

All in all, both recipes are pretty damn easy, and I definitely recommend them both, particularly the "Better than Bacon" seeing as we both couldn't stop oohing and aahing over it all breakfast. Ever so pretty!

You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.
You will eat it, and you will like it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Hit-the-Pan Salsa" Pasta

This is one of my favorite recipes that E has modified from my Really Big Pasta Book. Sadly, the book lists the orange juice as optional. But I assure you, the key to the sauce *is* the orange juice itself--it's what adds all the oomph and sparkle to the pasta, so definitely make sure you use it!

Barring the blanching and peeling of the tomatoes, the recipe is a fairly simple one, and yet it's quite lively and flavorful, boasting a sweet juiciness from the orange juice which in turn arm-wrestles with the spicy zing of not one but THREE jalapenos (the original recipe--which called for one jalapeno--was for wusses!).

Definitely a perfect summer-recipe.


1 lb. Spinach /Plain fettucine noodles
3 T olive oil
5 roma (plum) tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
4 scallions slices
3 jalapenos, seeded and sliced
Juice of one orange
2 T. parsley chopped
Salt and pepper to taste.


Toss cooked noodles in 1 T of the oil. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for about 45 seconds and then toss into ice-cold water. Remove skins. Chop tomato flesh. Stirfry garlic, onions, and jalapenos for one minute, add the rest of the ingredients for a minute or so, and then add in the noodles. Actual cooking time is no more than a few minutes.

Oh, and PS. That big hunk of bread in the background? Homemade vegan french bread baked to perfection by E in the bread-maker I bought him for X-mas.

*Modified from Jeni Wright's Pasta

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Last Thursday night, upon realizing that I was sorely lacking in the food department at my apartment, I decided I'd whip up some chocolate-chip pancakes for dinner. While flipping through Vegan with a Vengeance for their standard pancake recipe, I happened across the recipe for Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes and thought, holy crap! Why just have chocolate-chip pancakes when you could have chocolate-chocolate chip pancakes?!?

So I whipped these babies up.

I actually was a bit leery of the recipe initially after whipping everything together because the batter was rather bitter and unsweet for pancakes. And then when I went to grill them up, they cooked super-fricking fast on the stove, looking almost burnt within a matter of seconds (presumably from all the chocolate in them--chocolate burns quickly as I'm sure you know). So they didn't end up looking very attractive--the fact that they were a dark brown anyways from the chocolate just made them look even MORE burnt when they were all done.

But damn were they good. Ugly perhaps, but I definitely recommend the recipe. And throw some fresh bananas on top of that shit, and you will think you just won the lottery or something.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Things to Do With That Damnable Left-Over Pesto

  • Make vegan pesto-mayonnaise and glop it on all your sammiches until you have a heart attack (a la the Tofu and Pesto-Mayo Sammiches I posted about a short time back).

  • Throw it on some nice warm elbow macaroni noodles and then dice up some nice crisp and cool roma tomatoes and toss them on top. Consume.

  • Make some Pesto Pasta Salad and go on a road trip somewhere. If you eat it at home in front of the television or somewhere else lame like that, I WILL BE FORCED TO DESTROY YOU.

  • Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Guilt is never a good thing...

    Unless it comes in the form of free vegan food from a very nice cafeteria chef who once very accidentally fed you meat and still feels so bad about it that he continues to frequently offer you free vegetarian (and now vegan) food when you happen to be over there.

    Woot woot to his surprise couscous salad this afternoon (couscous, mandarin oranges, onions, mushrooms, peppers, olive oil, and... celery, I think?)!

    Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Virginia Beach

      The Heritage Cafe

      314 Laskin Road, VA Beach

      This is kind of a little hippy-esque, new-agey, health food kinda restaurant just a short walk from the beach. It is an eat-in place, but don't expect pomp and circumstance: they mostly just have little coffee-shop-like tables scattered about, and they serve the food to you on a cafeteria tray. However, they have a large amount of vegan items on their menu and seem happy and willing enough to make adjustments for you if requested. And their food was good and not terribly expensive.

      There is also a health-food store attached, as well as a Books & Gifts Center that was fun to roam around in. *AND* they even offer massages up in back--I got one a handful of years back and enjoyed it quite a bit.

      WHAT I ATE: The portabella mushroom sandwich with balsamic marinated portabella, roasted red pepper, hummus, tomato, and red onion on a whole wheat bun with a side of vegan broccoli slaw *AND* an a la carte side of Teriyaki Tofu.

      WHAT E ATE: The Chipotle Black Bean Burger with lettuce, tomato, red onion, shredded carrots, veganaise, & yellow mustard on an Ezekiel bun with a side of vegan potato salad and a House Salad.

      Sakura Japanese Restaurant

      2973 Shore Dr Ste 111, VA Beach

      Sakura offers up your standard Japanese fare, including 5 or 6 vegetarian rolls. The food is very good, the atmosphere is cute and cozy, and the people are nice.

      WHAT WE BOTH ATE: A bowl of miso soup, a house salad with ginger dressing, two inari sushi rolls per person, one roll of avocado and cucumber sushi, and one roll of Garden Vegetable sushi (which was stuffed with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cucumber--sounds weirder than it was; ended up being quite good actually), all for under $20.

      Bombay Paradise

      4000 Virginia Beach Blvd., Loehmann's Plaza Shopping Center, VA Beach

      MENU: Here

      We stumbled across this restaurant while paging around in our hotel's little restaurant booklet--it had a listing for VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN ENTREES, so we knew that we'd probably have success there, and this was most definitely my favorite restaurant of the trip. It started off with a bit of confusion when the server had the terms "vegetarian" and "vegan" mixed up and was telling me all the vegetarian things (with cheese cubes and stuff) were vegan, until we realized he had the two terms reversed and solved the problem. After that, we realized they carried a windfall of vegan food--at least 5 vegan appetizers, at least 1 or 2 soups, at least 5 entrees, and they were even willing to cook the bread for us without the normal butter they use so that it would be vegan as well. The place is gorgeous inside--very intricately decorated with fantastic tablecloths and lighting. And yet, the prices were not unreasonable--entrees were $9.99 and included basmati rice, and there were coupons in the VA Beach tourist booklets for $3 off any two $10+ entrees. The food was *fan-fricking-tastic* (the rasam--spicy Indian soup--was out of this world), the atmosphere was very relaxed and yet sophisticated, and the people were so very nice, helpful, and friendly--about 4 different people came up at various times to ask us how the food was (including what I assumed was the cook himself), they were super-helpful in figuring out which foods were vegan, and like 5 different people waved at us in unison as we were leaving.

      WHAT WE BOTH ATE: Vegetable samosas, rasam soup, stuffed Parathas (bread stuffed with garlic--cooked without butter, just for us), and Aloo Gobi (curried potatoes and cauliflower)

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Road-Trip Noshes

    So as I mentioned, I was in VA Beach this past weekend, which meant no cooking. However, I did manage to whip up a few goodies for the car-ride down. I had some pesto, cilantro, celery, and a jalapeno that were near the end of their lives, so I decided to utilize them so they didn't rot in the fridge over the weekend and made the following.

    Pesto Pasta Salad

    Macaroni Noodles
    Pesto (preferably homemade)
    Vegenaise (or some other vegan mayo)
    Diced celery
    Dried cranberries

    Coat the noodles in a mix of pesto and mayo to taste. (If you make the pesto yourself, you may wanna just cut back on the amount of oil you use so your mouth doesn't feel like an oil-slick after you finish chowing down.) Then toss in the remaining ingredients, also to taste, and EAT IT ALL WHILE SITTING NEAR PORT-A-POTTIES AT A REST STOP WHILE A BIRD LANDS ON YOUR TABLE JUST INCHES AWAY AND TRIES TO STEAL SOME OF YOUR FOOD!

    Black Bean Dip

    1 small can black beans, drained (liquid reserved)
    1/2 of remaining liquid
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 large handful of cilantro
    Juice from 1/2 of a lime
    1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

    Throw all of the above into a food processor and BLEND THAT SHIT UP! This was a yummy recipe, but not nearly as spicy as I would've liked it to be (despite it being a fairly large jalapeno), so I'd recommend throwing in some cayenne pepper as well. Unless you're a wuss. You're not a wuss, are you? Huh, wuss?

    Eat while driving through Pennsylvania or Maryland with a nice bag of Fritos Scoops. Well, not the BAG itself, but the Fritos inside. Otherwise that would probably taste like crap.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Mexican Martinis

    I was out of town this weekend, so I didn't manage to cook tons. Which means I'll be posting some back-logged recipes this week. However, I *do* have some road-trip recipes, as I whipped up a few things to gnosh on for the car-ride. *AND* I have some brief restaurant write-ups that I'm gonna post here for VA Beach vegan-friendly restaurants that have been sadly over-looked by all the vegan restaurant databases out there. So stay tuned for those. But until then...

    I guess this isn't really a recipe so much as it is some random tips and suggestions. On Sunday, my intent had been to try making some sort of mexican sushi (a black bean mixture wrapped in spanish rice and cilantro and cut up into little sushi chunks), but alas, my worst fears were realized when the rice wouldn't stick. I know that certain rices are stickier than others (like sushi rice, for example), but I'd been hoping I'd luck out and somehow my mixture of ingredients would be sticky enough. But no such luck. The rice rolled, stuck together for a few seconds, and then when I went to cut or pick it up, rice all over the place. MEH! Stupid rice!

    So instead, to soothe my soul, I just decided to at least take the ingredients and make them look pretty somehow--so voila, mexican martinis.

    Things always taste prettier if they look prettier. That's my tip of the day.

    I could've just thrown my rice and beans and cilantro and salsa into a bowl and chowed down, but instead, I thought, what the hell--I'll layer them in a martini glass and then I won't feel quite so bad about f-ing up the mexican sushi. And its prettiness did make me smile.

    I think this would be a nice alternative to the standard 7-layerish party dip that folks make, if you're having a small gathering. Layer those ingredients into a martini glass and let folks feel all hipstery and cool as they walk around and chow on mexican goods out of a pretty glass.

    My other tip is one regarding black beans. I eat a TON of black beans--usually a can or two a week. I love them. I usually just toss some tvp and seasoning in with them and then top 'em with salsa and maybe some fritos for crunch. But for this recipe, I fiddled with them a bit and came up with the most zingy and fantastic (and fricking simple) black bean recipe ever.

    Basically you just need a can of drained black beans, a deseeded and diced jalapeno, some diced canned tomatoes, and some spices. And that's fricking it! Toss the jalapeno and about 2/3 C. of diced canned tomatoes (1/2 actual tomatoes, 1/2 some of that reserved liquid stuff floating around in the can) into a pot and let simmer for a bit. Once they start to sizzle, toss in your black beans and a bit of garlic powder (I would've just used minced garlic, but I was out) and a tad bit of season salt. And holy mother of god, is it flavorful. You wouldn't expect it to be, given that it's so simply. But num num nummbly num.

    Oh, and if you were just dying to know what exactly was *in* the mexican martini, here's the ingredients. And yes, that is a damn hair in the picture. But here be the source of the hair, so you can understand why I can't possibly be TOO angry about it:




    And here be the Mexican Martini components:

    A layer of pureed Fritos
    A layer of homemade Mexican rice (invent your own recipe)
    A layer of the black beans I mentioned above
    A layer of cilantro

    Top with a fat glob of salsa and/or guacamole and/or any other fantastical stuff that might be tasty.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Chocolate Mousse Parfaits

    This was mmm mmm good and surely chockfull of trazillions of calories. Mmmmm. Calories. Arghlghlghlghl.


    1. Get some sort of vegan Oreos* and throw a bunch of them into your food processer and hit that button until they're smashed to bits. Empty into a bowl.

    2. Throw a cube of firm silken tofu into your food processer. Blend it until it's sufficiently whipped. Add 1 T. of maple syrup. Melt 1 & 1/4 C. of semi-sweet chocolate chips on your stove (or fancy shmancy double-boiler). Add the melted chocolate to the food processer along with 1/3 C. soy milk and blend until everything's mixed together really well.

    3. Throw ANOTHER cube of tofu (this time silken soft) into your food processer. Blend. Add the following ingredients for Tofu Whipped Cream. Blend some more. Taste. Try not to hork when you realize it tastes pungently tofu-esque and has a consistency that is absolutely nothing like whipped cream. Try to combat that by adding some Oreos. Realize it now just tastes like Oreo tofu. Add a T. of cocoa powder and find it tasting at least SOMEwhat edible for a dessert recipe, despite looking not even as attractive as the mutated, genetic defect, one-eyed, incestuous cousin of whipped cream. Remind yourself that perhaps you should recommend that your readers just skip this step as it adds nothing really to the dessert. Skip this step, readers, skip this step.

    4. Get out two wine glasses. Throw some Oreo cookie crumbles into the bottom of each. Top with Hershey's chocolate syrup (also vegan). Top *that* with your chocolate mousse from Step 2. More Oreo crumbles. (The muck from Step 3 which, while not turning out to taste too badly didn't add anything to the recipe, so feel free to skip.) More chocolate mousse. More Oreo crumbles. More chocolate syrup. And a little poof of the very last bit of the mousse prettily on top. Garnish with a single Oreo.

    Makes enough for 2 large servings.

    We ate these for breakfast Sunday morning--yes, we are gross, but we were too stuffed to eat them the night before, so it was our only opportunity--and E said that they were definitely one of his top 2 favorite dessert recipes I've made. So there.

    *Sidenote: I did some vegan Oreos research, of course, before going out and purchasing any. Seems there's a lot of discrepancy on the 'net about whether or not the original Oreos are vegan (there are some original oreos that have whey in them--I ran into a vending machine pack that did--and there's some that don't). Nabisco was not much more help:

    Hi L____,

    Thank you for visiting

    We make changes to our product formulas on a regular basis. Ingredient lists can become outdated very quickly, so, we don't maintain them.

    We do have an online tool that lists the label information on some of our products. Just visit and then click on the product information tab.

    Please remember that the best source of information for you is the ingredient statement on the product that you have purchased.

    If you haven't done so already, please add our site to your favorites and visit us again soon!

    Kim McMiller
    Assoc Director, GCR Consumer Services

    However, using my masterful skills of deduction, and comparing the ingredients on the packages of both the Nabisco Chocolate Creme Oreos (which Peta and VegCooking have listed as vegan:
    HERE), I realized that there were no differences between the two. Logical deduction: if the Nabisco Chocolate Creme Oreos are vegan and the Nabisco Original Oreos (at *my* grocery store at least) share the same ingredients, then the Nabisco Original Oreos at *my* grocery store must be vegan. So that's what I used. But do keep your eye on the ingredient list on *your* Oreo packages because they *do* slip whey in there on occasion for some reason, which makes me wonder what else they might slip in unbeknownst to the rest of us if you don't keep your eye out. And as far as I know, none of this is applicable in England (and/or just generally overseas perhaps) because their Oreos--from everything I've read on the 'net--more often than not are *not* vegan. Crazy Brits! =)

    Saturday, June 03, 2006

    Monthly Reader-Question

    I'm entertaining the thought of posting a monthly reader-question in my sidebar--so go buckwild! (Until I get bored with it or seasick from the rocking text!)

    This month's question (obviously):

    What are your top two favorite vegan recipes of all time?

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    White Wine Portabellas Over Garlic Angel-hair (w/ a Side of Grilled Asparagus)

    What's THIS crap, Lindyloo? It's just mushrooms on a bed of plain pasta? Why even waste our time posting it? My two-year old could whip this up, both hands tied behind her back and blindfolded!

    Oh no, my vegan friends. This ain't just mushrooms and noodles. That's what I thought as well when I first saw it. It's actually a mindblowing fireworks-explosion of flavor packed into an extremely non-assuming and deceptive package.

    I cannot take credit for this dish, as it was my feller's weekend to cook, but I wanted to post it here nonetheless as it was a surprisingly good recipe, despite seeming simple and basic enough that it couldn't *possibly* be chock-full of exciting flavors. But I was wrong wrong wrong.

    And with the encroaching summer months, this is the perfect recipe to set aside for those swelteringly hot days because a) it'll only take you 1/2 an hour to cook, b) it just requires use of a stovetop and no oven, and c) it's very light and delicately flavorful, not super-rich and heavy at all.

    Perhaps I should tone down my enthusiasm just a TINY bit so you don't come back to me saying, "What the hell, you crazy bitch--it *wasn't* all that after all!" But seriously, for the simplicity of this recipe, it packs a lot of flavor in--you've gotta love dem portabellas.

    The Noodles:

    1 lb angel-hair, cooked al dente in salted water
    2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 T. olive oil

    Drain but do not rinse pasta. In a pan saute the garlic in the olive oil. Once the garlic has browned slightly, add to the noodles and stir until all noodles are coated. Cover and set aside.

    The Shrooms:

    12-oz of portabella mushrooms (two 6-oz packages)
    2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 t. olive oil
    1-2 C. dry white vegan wine (E used Yellow Tail Chardonnay but recommends a Frey Wine* if you have a bit more cash to burn)

    Saute garlic in the olive oil. Once the garlic has browned, add two packages of sliced portabella caps. Add 1-2 cups of vegan dry white wine and simmer the mushrooms until just limp but not mushy--salt and pepper to taste.

    To serve:

    Place noodles on a plate and put 5 or 6 mushroom slices on top of the noodles. Voila!

    Grilled asparagus:

    1 lb. asparagus, cleaned and snapped
    1-2 t. olive oil

    Place both on a grill over medium heat. Shake your favorite spices over the asparagus as it grills. Turn once, after about 2-3 minutes. Cook until the asparagus turns bright green. Do not cook too long or it will be limp.

    *For some reason their website is not working. Here is a site for organic wines though:

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Orangey Black-Bean Stuffed Shells

    From cooking last week, I had left-over pasta shells and a left-over mix of black beans and red kidney beans. Plus, I had about four oranges, mainly because I'd gotten some for fresh orange zest for cookie repeats last week *AND* apparently I have to nab at least two of any fruit that's given out for free at work, even if I don't like it. Which means, I came home with *two more* oranges that I needed to do something with.

    So, given that and the fact that I've been on a temperature-craze lately (i.e. I've been enjoying experimenting with a mix of hot and cold ingredients in preparation for the summer months), I decided to try utilizing all three ingredients and whipping them up into something ravishing. Which was not, in fact, the end result. But at least it was edible and didn't give me food poisoning. Woot woot.

    Directions (with complete lack of specificity--I was hungry, and I made this back on Thursday without jotting anything down, so I am sorry to say I remember not a thing today):

    Dice up a few roma tomatoes, a bit of basil, and a clove or two of garlic (a la the pesto stuffed shells)--drizzle a wee bit of olive oil over them, mix, and let sit.

    Throw a good size portion of drained canned black beans and red kidney beans into a pot (somewhere around 2 cups). Dice up a few tablespoons of green onions and add to the pot. Juice one orange and throw the juice in with the black beans. Add some cayenne, coriander, and garlic to taste. Let simmer at very low heat.

    In the meantime, peel and cut up another orange into small bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

    Microwave (or cook) up some pasta shells while you wait.

    Once your beans are cooked through but not TOO mushy, remove them from the stove and add in the orange-chunks. Stir. Throw your tomatoes onto a plate. Scoop out your bean mixture and stuff your shells with it. Toss on top of your tomato mix, and chow down.

    This will make you about 1-2 servings worth of dinner.

    I wasn't super-bowled over by the end-results, so I am not listing it as a recipe in the sidebar until I further perfect the recipe. I *definitely* think it would taste much better over a bed of some sort of rice--the flavors seemed to be masked a bit by the noodles, and when I ate some of the bean mix just on the side without the noodles, I enjoyed it much more. So put that advice in your pipe and smoke it.

    I am also not yet sure that I've been converted to mixing any sort of fruit (other than mangos) in with black beans, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, so if you have any fruity black-bean recipes you recommend, BRING IT ON!