Month: May 2011

Tofutti Makes Life Worth Living

I just had a Tofutti Yours Truly cone tonight and my life is changed. I love Marry Me bars (and the peanut butter version, whatever happened to those? I haven’t seen them in years) and Cuties are a decent little treat , but this is the best pre-packaged frozen dessert I’ve had.

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Chocolaty coating!
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Creamy vanilla ice cream inside!
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And the cone is filled with chocolate at the bottom! I was too busy eating it to take a picture, but trust me, it’s there.

Nashville – Day 3

April & I went out for a two mile run on Monday morning (2.17 to be exact). It is the farthest she’s ever run! It was an out & back route, so after we ran to the turn around point, we walked back. A good hot weather workout.

It was another hot day, so we opted for an inside activity and we went to see Hangover 2. Not a great movie. A few funny moments and some beautiful scenery of Thailand, but, overall, it’s kind of depressing and disturbing.

Things got much better after the movie when we went to PM. Homemade style veggie burgers with mushrooms and a sweet chili sauce and a side of sweet potato fries!

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PM marks it’s vegetarian (V) and vegan (V*) dishes. The burger is listed as vegetarian because it comes with wasabi mayo. Without the mayo, the dish is vegan. The burger was great and the sweet potato fries with Sriracha sauce were fantastic. A good ending to a great weekend.

Nashville – Day 2

I started the day with a 4 mile hilly run with 83 degree and sunny weather. So hot. This day was sure to be a scorcher. We had brunch at Fido’s. I went there the last time I was in town and had the bagel with hummus, which was good. It has a bunch of egg dishes on one side of its menu, but you can sub tofu for $1. I ordered the village burrito with tofu, no cheese or sour cream (to which the cashier said: “okay, vegan.” I love cities!). To drink, I had a soy latte. I haven’t eaten it yet, because I was too full, but I bought a vegan cookie – spicy hot chocolate. Sounds good.

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After brunch, we walked around and browsed through the little shops. We spent a lot of time in the bookstore. I bought a Neal Barnard cook book. I need another healthy one to go with Appetite for Reduction.

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Next we went to the Parthenon. Yes, the Parthenon. There is a full size replica of the Parthenon in Nashville. It is quite impressive. Unfortunately, it was closed, so we couldn’t go inside to see the statue of Athena, but the outside is spectacular.

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We were thirsty after walking around in the sun, so we went to the Hermitage House, Nashville’s fancy five-star hotel. H & April got martinis, but they came with blue cheese stuffed olives (awesome idea: cashew cheese stuffed olives! I’m trying that soon). I ordered a pear martini, which was refreshing.

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Before we left, we checked out the men’s restroom. It’s green and black art deco and even has green toilet seats.

For our final stop, we went to Diana’s Sweet Shoppe, an old timey ice cream shop from Michigan that was bought up and moved to Nashville. There was no vegan ice cream, or even sorbet, so I ordered a lemonade. However, when I saw H’s milkshake and April’s ice cream, I went to the front and bought some fancy Nashville chocolate from Olive and Sinclair. I picked up three flavors because I couldn’t decide. I tried the salt and pepper bar. The pepper is subtle. It was very good.

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We went back to April’s to get cleaned up for dinner and headed out to Virago for sushi. There are no veggie rolls on the menu, but the server said they can make almost anything. I said just surprise me with two rolls (but not with mayo, because I’m vegan). There was a fair selection of veggie options on the appetizer and small plates page of the menu. We ordered the super special edamame with a spicy flavoring and soy glaze. The edamame was also a little charred. It was really good.

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After dinner, we went across the street to Whiskey Kitchen for a drink. We sat outside; it was such a great night. I love warm summer nights. CMT was filming some dating show inside, so look for me in the background.

Nashville – Day 1

Saturday’s agenda: Tennessee renaissance fair and honky tonkin’

I’m not sure how to describe the Ren Fair. People really get into costumes even if it’s not from the time period or area of the world Ren Fair celebrates. Or maybe there were belly dancers who wore tiny Victorian top hats with feathers in 15th Century Italy. I wasn’t there. There was also a lot of fantasy costumes – painted fairies and people with creepy elf ears.

We got some traditional renaissance food – a salted pretzel and fresh squeezed lemonade and got in the ridiculously long line to see the castle that the founder of the Tennessee Renaissance society lives in.

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This is allegedly a sword from the crusades that was once in the presence a Richard the Lionhearted.

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Back at the fair, we walked around, saw an awful comedy show and a jousting tournament.

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The jousting was pretty impressive. These horses were huge and most of the guys were older. It was extremely hot and they were in full armor. After the tournament, we headed back to April’s house for a nap, so we’d be well rested for the honky tonks.

For dinner we went to Taco Mamacita, which has a separate vegan menu!

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I ordered a salad with the vegan jerk taco (good, but a little too sweet with the plantain) and the freaking vegan taco (just as delicious as it is fun to order). Of course, we had to start with guacamole and margaritas.

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O’Hare Airport

So I spend a lot of time here. That’s partly a good thing, because it means I’m going to fun places, but it’s O’Hare, where 99.9% of all flights are delayed, so that means a lot of waiting. We’re sitting here now because our flight to Nashville is delayed. The last two times we’ve flown, it’s been out of Terminal 1, and we’ve eaten at Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill. I order the mushroom tortas without cheese. They don’t put butter on it and the garlic mojo sauce is dairy free.

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The guacamole is great, but the chips are super salty.

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The margaritas are strong. The deal-maker and the deal-breaker are both good. Not recommended for flight departing after midnight.

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Tonight we were in Terminal 3, so I had to stop by CIBO Express. I read on Marty’s Flying Vegan Review that it serves food from Soul Vegetarian East. Sure enough, there were all my old Hyde Park neighborhood favorites. I got the buffalo wings and kale. The tofu buffalo wings had a kick. I think both of these dishes would have been better hot, but it’s still awesome to find vegan food at an airport.

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Of course, the hardest thing about being vegan is finding suitable water. Fortunately, I found vegan water at CIBO. And it’s gluten free!

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Gardein Crispy Mandarin Orange Chick’n

At my last trip to Whole Foods, I picked up a bag of Gardein Crispy Mandarin Orange Chick’n. It is quick, easy and tasty, but I will make some adjustments next time. I’d make my own sauce, because there is only enough sauce to cover the chick’n. The broccoli and rice were dry. Also, I’d buy two bags, because there wasn’t enough for leftovers.

For dessert, we had chocolate covered strawberries. Organic strawberries were on sale at Jewel yesterday, so I decided to use up the chocolate that’s been sitting in my fridge since the peanut butter balls. The chocolate had remnants of the peanut butter balls, which was actually very good. Makes me want a peanut butter ball.

Fettuccine with Spinach and Mushrooms

This Vegetarian Times dish was just okay. If you like your pasta with a lot of sauce, like I do, this recipe is not for you. The taste is very subtle. I did a little modification. I used red pepper not harissa and I didn’t have any chickpeas, so I used tofu. I pressed a block of tofu, cut it into small cubes, and pan fried it with a little oil. Then I added tomato sauce, a couple splashes of red wine and garlic sauce and let it simmer. When the broth mixture was having problems evaporating, I added broth to the tofu mixture. For not having a plan at all, it came out pretty well.

Martha Stewart Monday: Tortilla Pie

For tonight’s Martha Stewart Monday I made Tortilla Pie.  This was a very successful veganization.  Instead of ground beef , I used one package of Upton Natural’s ground beef-style seitan and a can of black beans.

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I also used Vegan Gourmet’s Monterey Jack cheese alternative. It melts! (If by “melt” you mean “gets a little soft.”)

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The result – yum! Some of the reviewers complained that it was bland. (That’s a ridiculous complaint. You should taste the food you prepare and adjust the spice level accordingly.  Recipes are guidelines, not strict rules). I decided to add a little extra cumin and a couple dashes of chipotle chili powder. It was the perfect amount of spice. H said that he hoped I remember what meals he really likes. I don’t; I only remember what I like (VegNews Mac & Cheese!). So, I created a new tag for his favorite dishes to keep track.

Splish Splash Half-Marathon

This morning was the Splish Splash half-marathon in Gurnee. My friend Anne and I signed up a couple weeks ago when I received notice of a 50% off deal from Schwaggle. How can you pass up a $27 half-marathon (even if you ran a marathon three weeks ago)? We decided just to do it for fun, rather than race it, but both of us felt good this morning and we went out faster than “fun run” pace. Unfortunately, it got really hot and humid around mile 11 and our pace slowed significantly. I also dropped 2 of my 4 clif shot bloks on the ground!

There was a post race Luau. Of course, it was meat-centered, but they had a lovely display of fruit, a couple salads and stir-fry veggies. I also had a margarita. It was an odd meal for 10:00 in the morning, but when you’ve been up since 4:30, it’s somehow okay.

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Anne and I both came in third in our groups. We stuck around for the awards ceremony and got our special medals (which say nothing about placing in an age group). It wasn’t a very competitive race, but it was still fun to place in an age group.

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The finisher medal is on the left with the blue ribbon and you’ll just have to take my word that the medal on the right is for third place.

After the race, we drove back to McHenry, so I stopped by Meijer and Nature’s Cornicupia. I was craving a TLT (tempeh bacon, lettuce & tomato sandwich), so I bought some tempeh at Meijer and found reduced-fat vegenaise at Nature’s Cornicupia.

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For dinner tonight, we had pizza and wine. I cheated and bought crust at the grocery store. H likes thin crust but I’m not very good at making it. I made a Middle Eastern inspired pizza with Za’atar, olives, red onions, pine nuts and tomatoes.  I also made a pesto and potato pizza inspired by this recipe from my sister’s blog.  Instead of cheese, I used chopped spinach. I sprinkled soy parmesan on both.

Green Garlic & Asparagus Risotto

I barely made it to the Woodstock Farmers market today, but fortunately I did because I got to see these little guys.

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How adorable are they? I want a baby goat!

At the farmers market I bought asparagus, green garlic, spinach, rhubarb, a loaf of french bread and a green apple eggplant plant.

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For dinner tonight I made a risotto with the green garlic and asparagus. I just used what I had in my kitchen because I didn’t want to go grocery shopping. I have to go to McHenry tomorrow, so I plan on shopping at the more diverse Meijer and the organic grocery store.

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 green garlic stalk, chopped
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons margarine
  • 1/4 cup soy Parmesan topping
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • handful of cilantro or parsley
  • 1 can of beans (I used chickpeas, but fava beans would have been better)
  • fresh ground pepper

Toast rice over low heat, stirring constantly.

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Remove rice and sweat green garlic for a couple minutes.
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Add white wine and reduce.
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Add 1 cup of vegetable broth at a time stirring consistently.
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With the last cup of broth, add the asparagus.
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Finish with margarine, beans, lemon juice and zest, soy parmesan and cilantro.

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