Monday, September 3, 2012

I'm Back!

I know it's been a while since my last post. Life has been plenty crazy, but that doesn't mean I'm not cooking. It just took too much effort for me to both cook and then blog about it afterward. :) However, I did want to share a great new recipe I tried last week, and then the simple, but lovely dinner I had tonight. 

I borrowed a copy of Chloe's Kitchen from the library, and knew after flipping through the pages that the Falafel Sliders with Avocado Hummus was something I needed to try ASAP. There are three steps to this recipe: the falafel sliders, the avocado hummus, and the tahini sauce. I opted not to make the tahini sauce, just out of sheer laziness. Next time I'll try it as well. Even with the sauce, however, these sliders were a resounding success!
The creamy avocado hummus and slightly spicy chickpea burgers complemented each other perfectly. I served this with some kale chips. Such a great dinner. I will definitely make this again and again.

Tonight, I decided to opt out of Labor Day picnic grilling festivities and make something I've been craving for a while now: fried peanut butter sandwiches. Elvis' favorite, only with fresh raspberries instead of bananas, whole grain bread instead of white, and a mixture of natural almond butter from East End Co-op and the Peanut Butter Co's White Chocolate peanut butter.
I almost never have sandwiches, period, so this was a great treat.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What I Ate This Week

Leftover chickpea tacos with liberal amounts of red and green salsa (the taco shells were crumbled on the bottom).

Remember that slow cooker pasta sauce I mentioned in my last post? Here's a picture of it in the crockpot:
 Eggplant, fresh and canned tomatoes, green peppers, and onion.

And here the portion I took to work for lunch:
Delicious! Maybe it was all the fresh basil, but the sauce was surprisingly sweet.

I went nostalgic a few nights later with English muffin pizza. This is what my little brother used to cook for dinner, when my mother and I came home late from work/school. I used salsa instead of traditional pizza sauce. I love how well that Daiya melts ... 
And finally. I did a really weird thing and bought the newest Rachel Ray magazine. It dawned on me that there were a lot of recipes I could veganize. A few that were already accidentally vegan. So I picked up a container of fake chicken salad from Whole Foods, took all the necessary ingredients (two ears of sweet fresh corn, chives, tomatoes) from the fridge and showed J the recipe ... and when I came back from running, dinner was ready!
Faux Chicken Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes, with some of that leftover kale.

My mother's coming to town tonight, and we're going to the new Korean restaurant specializing in tacos. I hear there's a vegan taco on the menu ... (cue evil laugh) one step closer to tasting ALL the vegan tacos in Pittsburgh!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cooking Marathon

Today, I briefly returned to my roots and cooked three separate things. This hasn't happened in over three months, people! It may be the hot weather -- a really hot kitchen always motivates me to cook. Don't ask me the logic behind that. 

I went for my normal jog in the morning, and then got to work whipping up a batch of Banana Biscuits from Vegan Diner. I had one overripe banana sitting around, so it seemed like the perfect thing to bake. Now, I'd never had banana biscuits before in my life, but these were superb. They're described in the cookbook as being a cross between a biscuit and a scone, and that's exactly what I found.
My afternoon plans fell through (and I even had a contingency plan!), so I pretty much struck out socially this weekend. Ah, I did go to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops with a bunch of people on Friday night. Anyway, no plans meant a trip to the grocery store and the Co-op, with plenty of time to stop by the library for an armful of cookbooks. 

My slow cooker is busy percolating the Slow Cooker Summer Pasta Sauce from I'll post pictures of the finished pasta sauce once it's done. I also veganized a recipe from a neat cookbook called Soul Food: Recipes and Reflections from African-American Churchs, by Joyce White. 

The Mixed Greens recipe was a cinch to veganize, since the only meat product it called for was chicken broth. Super simple to sub vegetable broth. I also used kale instead of mustard greens, just because the other greens at the grocery store were wilty-looking. 

There's garlic, jalapeno peppers, and cider in this, which gives the kale a deep, spicy flavor. I'm planning on making this one again!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Loving Hut Buffet

So I attended my first Meetup event. For you folks who don't know what a Meetup is, it's where people with similar interests get together and hang out. That's the basic premise. I was excited to find a vegan Meetup in the Pittsburgh area, and equally excited that it was going to be held at Loving Hut. 

Sadly, I didn't meet anyone new! J and I were seated in a booth by ourselves. I looked around to see where the Meetup group could possibly be hiding, but there were no large crowd of people, or a sign. 29 people were signed up to attend, according to the website. I'm not brave enough to walk up to random people and say, "Hey, are you with the Meetup?"

At least the food was great. I've never been to one of Loving Hut's monthly buffet, and I have to say that it was excellent. Look at all the grub!

I had to try everything! Well, almost everything. There was a broccoli soup and pineapple fried rice I didn't get to taste. That's because I had to make room for ...
Tasty baked goods! Two hours later, I'm still stuffed. Note to self: I don't really have to try all the sweets available at a buffet.

Well, I'll give the Meetup another try, hopefully in a less confusing/isolating setting. I'm looking forward to meeting you, Pittsburgh vegans!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Southern Style, Vegan Style

Every once in a while I get a craving for mac and "cheese." Non-vegan, there was a dish I'd make with three kinds of cheese and bacon. Yeah, I know, it kind of sounds like a heart-attack waiting to happy. Now that I'm dairy and meat free, I either make my own or pick up a box of Amy's frozen mac and "cheese." 

But there's something really trashy and nostalgic about making it from a box. Which is why I picked up a box of this at the East End Co-op. 

Fifteen minutes and a half a cup of rice milk later, I ended up with this:
So I didn't end up with very much mac and "cheese." But that's okay, because I steamed some kale, sauteed mushrooms and garlic, then tossed everything together. 
Yum, this ended up being delicious! Next time I might fry up some tofu or seitan to make this a true Southern extravaganza.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I Should Rename This Blog

and call it Wendi's exploration of all vegan hot dog and taco joints in Pittsburgh. That's a bit of a mouthful though, eh?

I was reading Pittsburgh Vegetarian's blog last night, and she mentioned having an amazing veggie dog at Joe's Doghouse.  Coincidentally, I needed to visit the very street the hot dog cart is parked on for a scary visit to Sephora. So I stopped on the way back and grabbed myself a veggie dog with all the works. This meant diced tomatoes, lots of mustard, and spicy giardiniera. All on a whole-wheat bun.
It was beyond delicious! I especially appreciated how the veggie dog was split lengthwise and grilled. It then became the perfect compartment for keeping the tomato/mustard goodness in place. 

Another perk was that my visit to Sephora was the least scary one yet. Two of the makeup specialists came up to me to compliment me on my robot earring. And then an older woman in line told me she "loved my hairdo." I don't know what was going on, but it was better than the surly experiences I've had in the past.

Back at home, the cats were doing an unexpected twin routine. 
Let me tell you, this never happens. My cats usually can't stand to be within two feet of each other. 
Look at their identically pissed-off expressions after I took the first picture! Too cute.

Monday, May 21, 2012

French Bread Pizza

This was so ridiculously easy to make, I don't know I never thought of it before. French bread baked in the oven with pizza sauce, Daiya, fake pepperoni, black olives, and a sprinkling of Italian seasoning. The pepperoni didn't get crisp, but it still tasted good. 

I was looking at my vegan peeps' blogs earlier. It amazes me how talented everyone is, whipping up homemade empanadas and pita bread, dehydrating cool raw foods, making magic happen with tofu. Maybe sometime soon I'll do something fantastic too. I do have a copy of the The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur that I have yet to crack open. Hmm.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Casa Rasta

Recently, Pittsburgh has exploded into the realm of tacos. Sure, we had Mexican restaurants galore. But now I can count at least six places that specialize in tacos.

Casa Rasta is one of these of these newcomers. It's a tiny but very cute restaurant located in a little suburb outside of Pittsburgh. On the weekends, if the traffic isn't bad, it takes maybe fifteen minutes to get there from my apartment. Which is a good thing, because I foresee a lot more Casa Rasta lunches in my future. 

They had two veg options on their menu: Raja (roasted veggies) and Soyrizo (fake chorizo). I tried both of them, one as a soft taco, the other as a torta. 

The folks who work at Casa Rasta are very friendly and accommodating. The woman taking our order asked if I consumed dairy or not, because they typically add a thin layer of sour cream to the Rajas.

First off, let me just say: the freshest corn tortillas ever. Pittsburgh has a great Mexican grocery store that sells fresh corn and flour tortillas, but these tasted even fresher. All the ingredients were super fresh. And take a look at how pretty the food was!

If I had to choose a favorite, I'd go with the Soyrizo taco. But honestly, both of them were fantastic. 

And here's a picture of me, looking pensive before tasting the first bite. Of course, I was all smiles afterward. 

So yeah, I'll definitely be heading back to Casa Rasta on a regular basis!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lazy Girl Photo Pastiche

Okay, so basically I'm giving the impression that all I've been eating these past couple of weeks have been veggie dogs and more veggie dogs. Which isn't entirely true ... 

Oh, and did anyone out there go to their local comic book stores for Free Comic Book Day? I have to say that I was kind of disappointed in the selection. But of course, I'm complaining about free comic books here. So maybe I'll just be quiet now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chickpea Tacos

So I was at Trader Joe's this weekend, and there was a giant display of their organic taco shells, along with a handwritten sign suggesting either ground beef or chickpeas for a filling. That got me to thinking ... I do love chickpeas ... and I do love tacos.
I sauteed the chickpeas with onions, tomatoes, black olives, and a generic taco seasoning. Topped with yummy queso, and then green salsa (not pictured). This is the perfect weeknight dinner, because it literally took fifteen minutes to make.

Earlier this week, I also heated up a lovely Field Roast and roasted asparagus and baby potatoes.

I have staunch omnivore house guests this weekend, so we may have to resort to restaurant eats. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stir Fry and (Finally) A Few Comics

So, I managed to cook a few dishes this week. Tonight we had a stir fry. No recipe needed. I used a Thai satay peanut sauce and asparagus, fresh green beans, mushrooms, straw mushrooms, baby corn, green pepper and onion. A liberal teaspoon of sriracha rounded out the flavor. 
 I also tried a new dish. Cannellini Kale Soup is from Get it Ripe, and it was quick, easy, and delicious. The cannellini beans give this soup a smooth, hearty texture. Can I just say again how much I heart kale?
Now onto comics! I finally read Batwoman #6 by J.H. Williams III/Amy Reeder and Animal Man #7 by Jeff Lemire/Travel Foreman. 
I have to say that both issues were disappointing. There was a great scene in Animal Man where Cliff attempts to impress girls by telling him who his father is. The girls don't believe him, at least until Buddy swoops in, quite literally. Otherwise, nothing really stood out in either comic. There was a lot of flashback sequencing in Batwoman that made the events hard to follow. I can only assume that everything gets clearer in #7, which I forgot to pick up from the comic book store last night! I did get the next issue of Animal Man, so expect a review soon. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Food Collage

A vegan mostess from Dozen Bake Shop. Eaten on an inappropriate Christmas Mickey Mouse plate! Yes, I do know that it is Easter.
Broccoli with Food for Lovers' original queso. So far, this is my favorite vegan "cheese" dip.
 Homemade veggie enchilada with liberal amounts of Daiya.

Oh, and I finally caught up on some of my comic book reading. I'm so behind, I don't think the guys at Phantom of the Attic will recognize me anymore. More on that next time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm On a Roll

I cooked again tonight! I know, someone should give me an award. :) Today I tried the Bangkok Street Cart Noodles from the latest issue of VegNews (April 2012). I made some substitutions -- I couldn't find rice noodles at Giant Eagle, and didn't have time to go to an Asian grocery store, so just used some udon noodles in the pantry. I also totally forgot to buy peanuts. 

It was still very good. Next time I'll try it with the rice noodles. You can't see them very well, but there are snap peas and cilantro mixed in with the red bell pepper. 
I think we're having leftovers for the rest of the week. I have to do a crazy midnight shift Friday morning, so I'm not going to be in the mood to cook.

So is anyone else excited about The Hunger Games? I love the books (with some reservation about the third), and can't wait to see the movie in IMAX!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Finally Cook Something!

So it's something I've featured on this blog before, but that doesn't mean it's not exciting! It's Polish Neighborhood (Cabbage and Potato) Soup from Ripe from Around Here. 
With Tofurky beer brats! I love cabbage and potatoes, and the beer brats just tip the scales into soup bliss. 

I also made some stir-fried veggies tonight with the leftover cabbage and some mushrooms, but it wasn't exciting enough to warrant a picture. They tasted good, though.

And now, on to a non-food related topic. Super Best Friends Forever recently premiered on Cartoon Network. I believe this is the first of several shorts involving the adventures of Supergirl, Batgirl, and Wonder Girl. The hope is that if this project does well enough, SBFF will be made into a regular cartoon. I really think it will succeed. The 90-second short is lively and fun, and the superheroines even have diverse body types. Yay for that!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sorry, Still No Cooking

There was some junk food this week, however. Exhibit A: excellent pizza.
Nothing fancy, just vegan cheese and fake pepperoni from Spak Brothers, the only Pittsburgh pizzeria with a vegan pizza option. They also have vegan hoagies and seitan wings, which I'd like to try.

Exhibit B: A great piece of pecan pie from East End Co-op. Please note that I split this with J!

 Despite the crazy, unhealthy eating going on the past three weeks, I've managed to lose ten pounds. Which is great, but kind of confusing. Maybe it's because I'm sometimes too busy to eat a proper meal. Also, nothing but oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter and a teensy amount of agave nectar for breakfasts. Who knows?

But I had a dream last night about cooking, so feel that I will return to the kitchen very soon. Maybe for some late Irish cooking. More on that later.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

No Cooking

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been incredibly busy lately, which means I haven't had a lot of time for cooking. I made an uninspired pasta, and J cooked a humongous pot of veggie chili that is going to take forever to eat. Uncharacteristically, I tried to convince him it was a good idea to have take-out every day this past week.

That didn't happen. But we did have a couple of good meals. The first was at Station Street. Well, more accurately, it came from Station Street. J brought a couple of vegan hot dogs home for dinner one night. He's far from a vegan, but it was Friday, so he couldn't eat meat. 

I made a traditional choice with a House Dog, with ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, and the welcome addition of sriracha. This was very good. Next time, however, I'm going to try something else. Maybe the Hawaiian Dog, minus the bacon, of course. 
Next time we'll eat in. I have heard that the decor is very kitschy, and I'm big into kitsch.

We also went to China Palace in Shadyside. We went to this restaurant once before, almost a year ago, and for some reason never made it back. I don't know why. There are a hundred vegetarian options on the menu, so many I was almost overwhelmed. 

We started with the fried sweet yam. This was basically like a vegetable tempura. The batter was not quite as light as I'd like to, but it was still a satisfying appetizer.
  J ordered the Stir-Fried Spinach Lo Mein. 

And I had the Soy Protein with Kung Pao Sauce.
This was amazing! By far the best Kung Pao dish I've had in a long time. We're definitely going back to the China Palace.

I'm sure that there'll be more take-out and restaurant posts in the future. Life is very hectic right now -- I haven't knit a thing in days, or read any comic books. But hey, I still have to eat, right? :) 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Very Random Post

I'm covering all the bases tonight -- vegan food, knitting, and comic books!
It's been unseasonably warm for February, but that hasn't deterred me from making more soup! Last night I made a piping hot Black Bean and Tomato Soup from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. It was easy enough to pull off on a weeknight, even on a Thursday night when my energy level is usually low. More importantly, it tasted great. I had a cup with a smoked Tofurky sandwich. 
There's a few tomato slices tucked in there, but no lettuce. Our fridge has been freezing all of our lettuce lately, which is an annoying problem I haven't been able to fix yet. 

I finished the cardigan! Here is a picture of it blocking. I tried to enlist J in taking a picture of me wearing the cardigan, but no luck so far. Maybe tomorrow, when the sun is out. 

Overall I'm pleased. I did spaz out when I was making the raglan decreases (I was paying attention to Captain America on the blu-ray when I should have been looking at my knitting!), so the neckline turned out to be off-the-shoulders instead of a traditional scoop-neck. I added a black button in an asymmetrical position to make it look intentional  (not shown in the picture).
Here are the details:
Pattern: Vinelle by Voolenvine (you can download it from Ravelry)
Needle size: 8
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted (in Eucalyptus) 

My newest project is a shawl in striping colors. The pattern is Athena, by Kate Ray. I love stripes, but I hate weaving in all the loose ends. Sigh.

And finally ... I didn't get to my local comic book store this week. I think Animal Man came out this week, so I have to go there soon to get my copy. But in the meantime, I've been reading Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise. I'm on the fourth volume of the pocket book edition.
My introduction to Terry Moore's work has been unusual. I read the first few issues of Rachel Rising first, then the first trade volume of Echo, and then finally picked up the first volume of Strangers in Paradise. SIP is like an addictive soap opera in comic book form. Katchoo and Francine are best friends who may also be in love with each other ... except there is everything standing in their way, from a sweet boy named David to gangsters, plane crashes, and pregnancies. SIP is over-the-top, bittersweet, addictive fun. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

Why do they call it Fat Tuesday? I guess it's because you're supposed to gorge yourself before the long stretch of meaty deprivation. As I don't eat meat, I had to indulge in a different (yet still extravagant!) way. 

So here's what I ate today:
I made another steel-cut oatmeal in my slow cooker last night: Slow Cooker White Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Oatmeal, from The recipe is here. And yes, that is graham cracker crust sprinkled over the oatmeal! I added an extra half a cup of coconut milk this time, and cooked it on low for only six hours to prevent burning/sticking. 

For lunch, the aforementioned jambalaya. J actually cooked this one while I was at spinning class last night. I left out the Red Jambalaya recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes for him, but he improvised, adding extra vegetable broth, Tofurkey kielbasa, and a lot of Old Bay and cayenne pepper. It was almost too spicy for him to eat, but perfect for me!
For dinner, a meal with no vegetables in sight! Grilled cheese sandwiches (with Daiya), french fries, and Tempeh's Smoky Maple Tempeh Bacon. After snapping the picture, I stuck the bacon in the sandwich. The Daiya shreds didn't exactly melt, but it was still a really good dinner. Oh, and I used Trader Joe's low calorie wheat bread to minimize the guilt factor.
For dessert, half a piece of the best chocolate cake in the world, from the East End Co-op. 
In other news, I'm 98% done with the cardigan I've been knitting for three weeks. I have to sew the armholes and loose ends, and then acquire some suitably pretty buttons from either the LYS or Etsy. I'll post pictures as soon as I'm done.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Good Belly 12-Day Challenge, Day One

Today J and I went to see a matinee performance of The Gammage Project today, a harrowing docudrama based on the true events of October 12, 1995, when a black man was stopped by police due to a traffic violation, and ended up dead. It was a great performance, but we needed cheering up when it was over. So we went to Whole Foods, where I got another container of Brad's Raw Leafy Kale. I also picked up a quart of GoodBelly Probiotic juice in cranberry watermelon. 
I'll admit, I didn't read the back label until I got home. I'm not that big of a juice drinker, mostly because of the added calories and sugar, and the serving of this has 100 calories and 24 grams of sugar. I'll drink the juice, of course, but next time I think I'll pick up the Goodbelly Straightshot (no added sugar, and just 30 calories). 

I love the cranberry watermelon flavor. It has a slight yogurt-ish taste to it, but of course it's vegan, so there's no dairy involved.
I also purchased the ingredients to make Cheesy Kale Chips, recipe courtesy of Pride & Vejudice. My food processor went kaput when I was making the cashew/nutritional yeast spread, so I didn't get a very smooth consistency. A few of the chips didn't get that crispy, due to excessive glops of cheesy sauce. I cooked the kale at 200 degrees for 50 minutes; maybe I should have kept in the oven longer. But it didn't matter, because these taste so freaking good! 
J and I ate half a batch. The other half I put away in sandwich baggies to eat tomorrow. Oh, and tomorrow, one day ahead of Fat Tuesday (cause I can never cook elaborate dishes on workdays), I'll be making jumbalaya!