Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Taste of Lebanon in Terre Haute, IN

Look at this plate of gorgeousness. Those aren't grape leaves from a can, either. All of it, homemade. Where can I find this grub? Not in my hometown of Bloomington. I mean, I'm sure I could, but it wouldn't be this righteous. No, I found this treasure at George's Cafe, in Terre Haute, IN by googling vegetarian restaurants. Nice find. And the prices are so reasonable. There's food for omnivores, but if you want the vegan stuff, just look at the Lebanese section of the menu. This here is George's Plate: grape leaves, hummus, and baba ganoujh. If you request it, he'll give you some chili sauce to throw in there to amp up the heat. Good Lord, I can't stop thinking about this place!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

3 Sisters Cafe, Indianapolis, IN

 Why oh why do I have more shitty photos of BBQ sandwiches? Well, I'm a sucker for them.
This is no ordinary sammie, no. This is the BBQ grains sammich from 3 Sisters Cafe in Indianapolis. They were featured on a Food Network show with lots of meat. I was skeptical, until I saw the menu. I went there recently to have dinner with friends and found they had a huge selection of vegan delights. You can check out their menu right HERE. The chili reminded me of the Hormel stuff in a can, which grosses some people out, but is a huge source of comfort for me. My momma told me once I was made from Hormel chili because that's all she ate when she was pregnant with me.

My only criticism: no vegan desserts. I was so full from dinner, I didn't really care.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Damn Right It's Cookin' Crunk!

About my absence: most people assume when a vegan blogger lays off the blog love, that they've mysteriously developed an inexplicable craving for bacon and cheese and have given a fat middle finger to veg heads everywhere. They create a huge assed entry about how they're not vegan anymore because of an iron deficiency-(bullshit), or were "listening to their bodies" and message boards are on fire with the news.

Sorry, I don't have that drama for you. I've just been busy. Really busy!

I travel a lot now, and I've had adventures finding vegan eats while on the road to Terre Haute, IN and Indianapolis. Found a great Mom and Pop diner in TH that serves Lebanese food. Homemade grape leaves. I'll post on that later. I promise it won't take a month to read about it, either.

Then there's my new love affair with the garlic jalapeno flavored Daiya wedge. You can eat vegan cheese cold! Whuuuut? A vegan cheese that tastes good cold?  GTFOH.Yes.

I started a new job I love, parent two small children, and have had limited time to cook. In the long-long ago, I tested for my buddy Bianca Phillip's bad-ass cookbook "Cookin' Crunk: Eatin' Vegan in the Dirty South." That's when I really  had my game on. I could hardly wait for the book to come out.

Then it did. Got my copy. Let it sit on the shelf. Baaaaaaad Jen.

The photos above are of the pulled BBQ tempeh, caramelized onions&cabbage, and of the Chocolate Fudgy Puddin' Cake. DUDE: THE CAKE HAS A POOL OF HOT CHOCOLATE PUDDING ON THE BOTTOM. Goes perfect with a couple scoops of vanilla vegan ice cream. Yum.

I tested MANY recipes for this book. Stuff like sweet potato bread, coconut pie, country fried tempeh and gravy, country potato soup, and the jaw splitting chicken fried tofu and waffle sandwich. What are you waiting for, Elvis to come back? Just go out and buy the book already. You won't regret it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

With Love from Nayonaise

The folks from Nayonaise, Nasoya Inc. sent me a care package with not one, but TWO jars of their new Nayonaise formula. The first tasted like mayo, and I used it liberally with my favorite go-to sammie: the avocado and bacon bitz special. I take half an avocado, slice, put on toasted bread with a tablespoon of bacon bits and some nayo. It was awesome.

The second jar was of Nayo Whipped, which--I swear to all things holy tastes just like the competitor's product that rhymes with Schmiracle Schmwhip. I plan on using it to veganise a dessert from my childhood: the amazing Miracle Whip cake.  For those of you who are unsure as to how to veganize a recipe, it's easy. Replace non-vegan items like milk, eggs, sugar, etc. with vegan ones like soymilk, ground flax seed, and turbinado. It's not rocket science. In fact, you should probably buy the amazeballs book The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. That book gives you step-by-step instructions on how to take an omnivore dish and make it vegan. If you're a beginner to veganism, it's a really neat how-to guide.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Goodness from American Vegan Kitchen!

Here's a treat for you: Seitan Katsu with Tonkatsu sauce from American Vegan Kitchen. This is the perfect meal if you're craving crunchy and savory! Any of you craving chicken out there but don't want to fall back on your vegan diet? This should do the trick. You get all that southern fried goodness and none of the murder to our feathered friends!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

An American Vegan Kitchen Fave!

When I hear people whine about missing out on dessert as a vegan, I want to shove a pie in their face. This VEGAN pie. This is the Crispy Bottom Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Fudge Sauce from my favorite go-to vegan cookbook, American Vegan Kitchen. WARNING: this is a super decadent, peanut buttery, and fudgey nosh. You might have to sign up for diabetes supplies after eating a slice.

Just buy the book already. Amazon gave it five stars, and you know the internet does not lie. IMO, this book has the best selection of dishes for the newly vegan to fully enjoy the transition from meaty to meatless. With recipes like Sweet Garlicky Ribz, Fried Avocados, and Greektown Gyros, you'd think you were eating stuff from one of them there restaurant places that has a bunch of stuff hangin' on the walls. When I was on vacation, I made a bunch of stuff from this book and felt like I was eating out every day.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

While at the Cottage

 This was my daily view from the lake house where I spent my 40th birthday vacation! You can't see it, but there's a hot tub out on the deck. I spent a lot of time there when I wasn't in the kitchen.
 I made my infamous seitanic wingz. All you do is grab some seitan, lightly flour it, bake it up for a bit. I did 350 for ten minutes on each side. Once out of the oven, coat it with some wing sauce. It's not that hard and you have the fabulous flavor without any of the poultry or icky bones.
 I served it along with some fresh veggies and ranch style dip. I use beans as the base of the dip, and flavor it with ranch style seasonings. Think of it as ranchy, hummusy goodness.
For one night, we got rid of the kids and had some adult time together. I made this for dinner: The Jimwich from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes. It's pan seared seitan served with bbq sauteed onions and FRIED PICKLES. It was SO GOOD.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Squeaky Clean with Local Vegan Soap!

For my birthday, my super spouse got me a bar of Nature's Proportions Spiced Pumpkin Loaf Bar. Melanie Pool makes her own laundry and bar soaps and such and you can find her Pinterest page here!

Not all of her soaps are vegan, but this bar was as well as many others. Smelling distinctly of pumpkin pie, I kind of wanted to eat my face after washing with it.

Here's a link to her Etsy page, in case you're curious. I give the vegan bars two turn tables and a microphone.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me! Party at The Owlery

 I celebrated my 40th birthday at Bloomington's finest vegetarian restaurant--The Owlery. 9 of us sat around a table and noshed on our favorite eats and shared a monster chocolate birthday cake! Imagine going to a restaurant where the entire dessert case is loaded with only vegan delights. I thought I had died and gone to Chocolate Heaven.
I had the poutine.  What's that? It's a Canadian delight: gravy fries covered in cheese. At The Owlery, the default setting for most dishes are vegan, and if you want dairy cheese, you have to order it that way. Pretty cool, eh?

We also went on a mini-getaway to a cabin in the woods and I made some dishes from American Vegan Kitchen and Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day. I'll post on that later.

Monday, February 4, 2013

More Praises for "Hearty Vegan"

 I decided to dust off my growing cookbook collection and get to gettin' with the cookin' if you know what I mean. I opened up Hearty Vegan: Meals for Monster Appetites by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. The pictures had me drooling. Yowza! I picked a few dishes based on ingredients I had at home, made a shopping list for what I didn't have, and was off to work.

The first picture is of the Cheesy Chili Bake. I had a few cups of chili that was looking lonely and wanted to do something creative. This was a great move on my part. This ain't your momma's chili mac-- the shit was fabulous, the stuff of ultimate comfort food. Then again, that's Hearty Vegan in a nutshell for you-- ALL the recipes are for mouthwatering, homestyle, and rib sticking delights. The chili bake has a cheesy sauce inside the bake and another one on top for twice the cheese goodness. This is a must make for anyone craving cheese. I topped the casserole with some french fried onions for flair.

Breakfast, anyone?

Brrrr, it's cold outside! How about a Pot O' Lentil Stew?

I made all of this and that's just the tip of the iceberg for this cookbook! The instructions are easy to follow, the pictures are drop dead gorgeous, and the recipes are inspiring. I mean, don't you want to make your own vegan peanut butter cups? How's about waldorf salad wraps? And what in the hell are Irish nachos? You'll have to buy the book to find out. 

I'll be covering more vegan cookbooks in future entries to ignite the spark within you all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Tale of Two Soups and My Opinion on Farts.

 Brrrr! It's cold outside! Time to warm up with soup. Today we have a tale of two soups. The one above is a tasty red lentil vegetable soup complete with a giant dumpling. The spice blend used is my new favorite: Mediterranean. For X-Mas, my kids got me this big container of the stuff and I've been using it for soups, vegetables, and veggie burgers! It's a mixture of cumin, coriander, oregano, rosemary, salt, and a pinch of cinnamon! The dumpling is the rug that ties the room together. For an elastic second, I forgot that it is just 7 degrees outside my door!
The second soup is a vegan ham n' bean soup that I found on VegWeb. My spouse wanted to try it, so we did. We used pintos instead of the recommended black eyed peas, and had fantastic results. When I was little, I was a bean with bacon soup junkie, and this reminded me of that commercial canned soup from so long ago! If you're craving a smoky, salty, bacon-y, and beany soup, this is for you. To answer the question, "Will this make me fart?" The answer is "Yes, duh." If you're gonna go vegan, expect some gas. After all, you're eating a lot of beans! I'd still take a room full of morally superior vegan farts any day over the stench of one omnivore fart.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Product Review: 2 New Flavors from Lilly's Hummus!

I know, you're probably sick of me being an advertisement for Lilly's Hummus.  I'll tell you something, once you take a bite, you'll be converted--this shit is insanely good, and I'm not one to buy store bought hummus. I sent them a tweet asking for coupons and guess what I got? Not one, not two, but THREE containers of hummus: my favorite smoked jalapeno, and TWO NEW FLAVORS! Cracked pepper hummus is a delightful schmear with cracked peppery goodness that goes perfect with anything. The spice blend reminded me of the spices found in fried chicken breading--this would be the thing to eat if you were missing fried chicken. The black bean is a zippy spread that would tie together any southwest inspired sammich. I think I'm going to try making a pasta bake or burger with that one.

They also sent me a slick Lilly's Hummus T-shirt which I will wear with pride. PRIDE! Another fabulous reason to love Portland, OR.

Lilly's also sent me some kitchen magnets and a couple recipe cards and suggested the following ideas for hummus!

  • Schmear for a bagel. Duh. We all know this.
  • Use as a binder for a veggie burger- I never thought of this and will be experimenting in the kitchen with this soon!
  • Salad dressing- I've seen bloggers talk about using this as a salad topping. You just thin with a vinaigrette or juice, toss into salad, and enjoy!
  • Vegan Pasta sauce- Why haven't I thought of this? 
  • French Fry Dip- of course I'll dip those taters in some Lilly's!
In addition to thanking Lilly's for this care package, I wanted to take a moment to thank my local food bank for having this hummus for me to try in the first place. You can find out more about Mother Hubbard's Cupboard by clicking on this link. Please consider donating. $1 buys 7# of food! So never underestimate what a difference a small donation can make. I donate what and when I can, because without this valuable resource, me and my family would be eating a lot of pb&j, which isn't a bad thing--it just gets boring for every meal. This food pantry helps a lot of people, and many patrons are those who are in the "in between" set--those who can't qualify for public assistance, but still cannot afford nutritious food after paying for basic expenses like housing and utilities. That's us! The other thing that is different about this food bank is that the patrons can shop and choose the food they take home rather than get set packages of food to use. There isn't a lot of paperwork to fill out and it is all based on the honor system. They offer cooking and gardening classes, something I've never heard of other food banks doing. I've written an article about me using the food bank and how it inspired me to start writing That Pain in the Ass Vegan.

Thanks so much to Lilly's and Mother Hubbard's Cupboard!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Easy Vegan Brownies

Have no fear, you can haz brownies even when vegan! AND you don't have to be any kind of a culinary genius to do it. Most commercial cake and brownie mixes are vegan by default (check your labels for milk and egg ingredients), you just need to find an egg substitute. For this batch, I used So Delicious brand coconut milk yogurt-(vanilla flavored). I used the yogurt as the egg and for the beautiful cream cheese swirl! It was really easy: just subbed yogurt for egg  in the batter and dolloped the yogurt on top of brownie batter once in the pan. Using a butter knife, I swirled the yogurt into the batter and it baked and set beautifully. Cream cheese brownies in a jiffy! You could probably use any kind of non-dairy vanilla flavored yogurt, but I chose So Delicious out of sheer preference.