Happy Holidays! (xmas recap)

I’m in the mood to do a show and tell kind of post, with pictures and descriptions of my Christmas…so here it goes:

*Note: I decided to eat gluten this holiday…I need to go back to eating gluten free because I don’t feel great again, but I wanted to see how I felt with it. I’m glad I don’t have celiacs, but I’m definitely pretty sensitive. I’ve missed some of this food so much though.

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My brother illustrated a portrait of two of my cats for my dad’s business. It’s really cute. Cats seemed to be the theme of our Christmas this year.

In fact, I made a bunch of cat sugar cookies.

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Unfortunately, I am a little weak with my decoration skills.

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For Christmas Eve we made my Pizza Strips and this caesar salad.

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My orange cat, Sammy, woke me up very early on Christmas morning so I went downstairs to make some cinnamon buns with coffee icing for everyone.

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Yum! They were a hit with everyone. I actually bought pre-made vegan cinnamon buns and just made the icing myself, because it would have been difficult to make them from scratch in the morning and have them ready on time.

Later, we had Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s Pistachio Guacamole from her Italian cookbook for an appetizer:

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For my dinner I made Sporkfood’s frosted tempeh beet loaf. My mom made Chloe Coscarelli’s creamed spinach for me and twice baked potatoes.

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For dessert we made Chloe Coscarelli’s lava cakes with raspberry sauce, So Delicious coco whip and ice cream.

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And I got quite a few culinary presents in the form of new cookbooks!

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It was quite a delicious event! I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas all had a great holiday!

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Vegan Mofo Day 12: Post #9. Betty’s Sandwiches Destroy the Kitchenicon

Okay, so I have a vegan cookbook problem.

As evidenced by:

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Some of my friends have long been asking me to share my cookbook library’s contents here, with reviews and stuff. As you can see, that’s a bit of an overwhelming task. Maybe after MoFo I will continue to write posts about a cookbook from the collection on a semi regular routine. Many of these books are somewhat irrelevant to me now that I’ve gone gluten free, although I will try to adapt them at some point once I find a good gluten free flour blend and figure out my idea for gluten free seitan…

Anyways, today’s MoFo prompt is to write about our favorite vegan cookbook. As you can see, it is a bit hard for me to pick just one. So, I’ve decided to highlight 5 of them.

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They are:

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes

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I used to love sandwiches before I went gluten free (now I can’t seem to enjoy bread without gluten in it really), so this was the perfect fit for me at the time. To me, sandwiches were a specific food group. Even now that I don’t eat sandwiches (sobs!) there are still some favorite recipes in here that I can make without needing bread. These include the Chickpea Bacon from the Peanut Butter Banana Bacon Sandwiches and the Shh-ocolate Spread (part of a panini), that is basically a healthier, nut free nutella. There are also symbols in the book that signify when something is “potentially gluten free,” among other things. In my mind though they mostly require bread, which makes it a bit of a challenge. Before going gluten free, I made the Sushi Soy Wraps, Retro KFC-Style sandwiches (their recipe for no cluck cutlets are amazing!), From Russia with Love, Chazwhich, and brioche bread. It has a great beef-style seitan recipe, and two recipes for making alternatives to Tofurky slices at home! This cookbook contains all the vegan sandwiches of your dreams, basically.

Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater

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I have to say, that when I got this cookbook, I was on a big health kick, and was groaning when I saw some of these recipes. However, Natalie Slater is a girl after my own heart, having created some of them most ridiculously amazing and inventive recipes which include a falafel waffle (which I didn’t have luck with unfortunately in my waffle maker, bummer!), nacho cupcakes (sounds gross but was soooo good),  and a green bean casserole pizza (my favorite, and her green bean casserole alone is the best vegan version of this holiday staple food I have tried). It’s a beautifully designed, colorful, fun cookbook. Natalie also puts the dessert recipes first, which I think we can all appreciate in some way or another. Without this book I wouldn’t have found out that Chick-o-Sticks are basically vegan Butterfingers that you can find at Dollar stores. I also bought a twinkie pan because of this, which was a worthy investment. Not sure what to do with your cans of green jackfruit? There are two really amazing recipes that use this versatile vegan ingredient: You Don’t Know Jack Hash, and Cannibal Corpse Crockpot (which is basically pulled jackfruit tangy bbq), which is used in the BBQ salad, which is the perfect combination of health foods and tasty stuff like ranch dressing. If you’re looking for fun, kid friendly recipes with names that make you chuckle, get this book!

Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli

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Chef Chloe is my favorite vegan celebrity chef, hands down. I always say she can do no wrong, although I do disagree with the amount of salt most of her recipes call for. In her first cookbook of three (she’s also written a dessert book and Chloe’s Vegan Italian–which I have and is also amazing and packed with even more recipes than you’d expect in a book of that size), there is something for everyone. I especially loved the Jalapeno Cornbread Poppers with Whipped Maple Butter, Easy Peasy Pasta Salad, Double Drive Through Burgers, LA-Style Chimichurri Tacos, Moo Shu Vegetables with Homemade Chinese Pancakes, Avocado Pesto Pasta, Indian Buffet Trio, Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice, Southern Skillet Black-eyed Peas with Quick Buttery Biscuits, and Tempeh Piccata. Many of these recipes are easily adapted to a gluten free vegan diet. I have to remember to try making the Chinese Takeout Chow Mein very soon, as I’ve been craving a dish like this for awhile! I love the section on The Basics, which includes an amazing homemade version of Sour Cream which I once taught a group of non vegan kids at a camp how to make and they enjoyed it! I can’t wait until I can make the trek to NYC to eat at her newly opened restaurant!

Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon

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This is probably the most ultimate vegan cookbook I own (Sorry Veganomicon! I’ll get to the reasons why I love you after I talk about this one). There are 500 recipes in it! The categories cover every kind of food you may ever crave to be veganized. The dinners have the most comprehensive section, which include meaty dishes ranging from chicken wings, Vegan Venison, Jalapeno Corn Dogs, and more. My favorite casserole is the Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Pie, which I think I can improvise and make gluten free still (I don’t really recommend this book if you are strictly gluten free, but since I recently went gluten free, I still have a great appreciation for it as a vegan in general.) The section for Baked Treats could be its own cookbook in itself! They include both savory and sweet items. I haven’t tried many of them at all, but they sound amazing. I always forget there is an appetizer and snack chapter, because it’s in the back of the book, but this section includes two different recipes for Faux Fondue! It even has a Kale Chip Party Mix and instructions on how to make your own potato chips. I love the holiday section, which includes some unique gourmet ways to spice up that Tofurky instead of eating it as is from the box. The recipe I have made the most of any recipe is the Baked Chicken and Easy Waffles. It was often my big reward for surviving hectic exam periods at school.  My only gripe with this book is that so many of the recipes require (and no good substitutes have yet to be found on my end) a Gardein Product that I can no longer find in stores anywhere near me, which is the Chick’n Scallopini. Overall, this book is like the bible of delicious, easy and fun vegan recipes.

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

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Though this book is known as the “Ultimate Vegan Cookbook” I would slightly disagree. It’s definitely the first really comprehensive and large vegan cookbook of it’s kind, so credit is deserved there. But in terms of cookbooks that have been released afterwards, I find this one a bit more catered to people who are experienced vegan cooks or who want to challenge themselves and make really nice, fancy, refined dishes. Thankfully, I really like this aspect of the book! My all time favorite recipe, Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream, is housed here. I also love the Lemony Roasted Potatoes, Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Soup, and Smlove Pie. Looking at this cookbook, I am reminded that although I tout it as one of my favorites, I haven’t gotten too adventurous with it as of late. This book was also one of my first vegan cookbooks I ever owned when I first went vegan 7 years ago. It led me to do what I now realize was some pretty brave things as a baby chef who didn’t know how to cook for herself and suddenly needed to now that it was harder and more expensive to find prepared vegan foods to eat. I tried making seitan from scratch without even really knowing what it was at the time because of this book. It’s great for someone who wants a lot of really nice, quality recipes that will impress people all in one book!

So check out these cookbooks if you haven’t already!

And don’t forget to like my facebook page for updates and follow me on Instagram over @laurahasheart. My twitter is also @laurahasheart. 

Vegan Mofo Day 4: Post #4: My blog’s 2 year anniversary is today!

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Hey y’all,

Today is my blog’s 2 year anniversary! I made a cute card for the occasion 🙂 It seems like it has been longer than two years, honestly. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come, too. And although I am currently frustrated with being gluten free AND vegan now, I have a feeling this year I will work out some of the problems I’m having with learning to bake vegan AND gluten free. I am going to try to learn through various cookbooks, which is how I learned to cook/bake in the first place. Then once I feel confident enough, hopefully I can go back to creating my own original, unique recipes. I look forward to sharing these adventures with you! This will also hopefully make my blog more accessible to more people!

This is also my second year participating in Vegan MoFo! Woohoo! I’m finding it a little more challenging than last year however, especially as I am finishing my last few bits of work for school before I have my degree!

Today’s theme was to tell everyone about a weird food combination I love. Well, I don’t really have a really weird one, but some people may find this weird: sometimes I get cravings for a peanut butter and potato chip sandwich. I didn’t make one today, because I’m trying to eat a little bit more healthy than usual, and I don’t have that particular craving/am not in that kind of mood…but an especially crispy potato chip (I like Utz’s chips that have ridges in them best for this) can trigger this desire. I like it best with white bread and smooth peanut butter. I think this comes from eating chips with my sandwiches as a kid (I was rarely even allowed to eat chips!) and making sure each bite of my sandwich included a chip at the same time. Eventually, as I became more autonomous in making my own choices about food, I just put the chips directly into the sandwich.

It’s childlike, weird little things like this that can make me happy.

Oh, and here is a picture of some raw brownie cupcakes I made today that I’ll pretend were in celebration for today.

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Happy Birthday to me! Banana costumes and a birthday-worthy waffle recipe!

For my 30th birthday, which happens to be today, I had a bunch of fun stuff planned. The biggest thing was my run last weekend, in which I lived up to my blog’s name, and ran in a banana suit in the Providence (RI) Monster Dash 5k. I made a PR by about 2 minutes and it was soooo fun running in this costume:

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10435985_10100231982422689_6184586216801925680_nIt was a big hit with kids, especially. When I ran through the large crowd of people cheering us on, so many kids along the way would exclaim “there goes the banana!” And many of them put their little hands out to catch a high five from me as I ran past them…it was so cute. I waved to several of them, and even had a trifecta of 3 little kids put their hands out all at once that made me feel like I was a celebrity working the crowd. Haha. So that was cool, and I also plan to use this banana suit for more things for this blog, to make it funnier. You’ll see what is in store for it soon!

This morning, I made birthday cake waffles. I had some left over chocolate sauce from my candy apples and some strawberry syrup left from the strawberry frosted donut recipe that I put on top. Yum.

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BIRTHDAY Cake Vegan Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Immaculate yellow cake mix (found in my local Target in the baking section)
  • 1 cup vegan bisquick mix (read labels)
  • 1-2 scoops vanilla vegan protein powder (optional)
  • 2 tbsp melted Earth Balance
  • 1 tbsp applesauce
  • 1 ½ cup vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ cup vegan non-pareille sprinkles (read label, I was able to find one without the confectioner’s glaze that’s in most sprinkles at my regular local grocery store, and instead has carnauba wax.

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and follow waffle iron’s directions to cook them. Makes about 5 waffles depending on your maker.

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The batter

Tonight my family is making me a vegan vanilla cake, with raspberry filling and chocolate buttercream. I am making vegan crockpot buffalo ranch lasagna from this recipe for my dinner. I will share pictures later in a new post, maybe.

Also, I got three new cookbooks for my birthday present:

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So far I have looked in Chloe’s book the most, and I was seriously drooling after that. I will be cooking out of these for awhile in the next few weeks I think, so get ready for me sharing some reviews and pictures! 🙂

Cooking week in review-more from Betty Goes Vegan

This week I was somewhat lazy. With school in full swing I typically make two meals that will last me a while and fill in the rest with salads and other easy foods. I usually cook once on the weekend and another time during the week.

This week I made some scrumptious recipes from the cookbook Betty Goes Vegan!

Vegan Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza

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I used the recipe for the whole wheat crust that was in the book, as well. This was so good! I was skeptical of putting tofurky onto the pizza, but it got crisp in some places, and remained chewy in others, and was the perfect texture addition for this recipe. The red peppers and tomato added another wonderful dimension. There is no sauce on the pizza, but it’s fine with just the tomatoes. The choices of herbs (especially the fresh oregano) were wonderful, and completed the experience, along with the daiya cheese I used. It was so good, and quite impressive for a pizza. I defrosted the Gardein chicken first before putting it on, but was not sure if that was required since it did not say that in the recipe.

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The next thing I made was the New England Chowder from the book as well.

It uses oyster mushrooms instead of clams. It came out really thick, more like a stew with very little broth. I’m not sure if I maybe did something wrong? I might have had really big potatoes that screwed it up? I’m not really sure but either way it was delicious, especially when served with oyster crackers mixed in!

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That is all for now. I am hoping to rework/veganize an amazing recipe I have been craving for awhile this weekend. We shall see how it goes. I will post about it whenever it is finished!

Foodie (Photo) Friday! I made a lot! Especially from the cookbook Isa Does It!

This week was a big week for my cooking. Not only did I create my own original recipe for a favorite, typically very non vegan appetizer, but I also tested tons of other people’s recipes.

I mostly tried a bunch of recipes from the Isa Does It cookbook though, which I have not found a single recipe that wasn’t amazing or really yummy yet. My only complaint is that the recipe names are not easy to remember because they are usually named after the ingredients and not that creative/specific so I feel like I sometimes write about them and name them different than what is in the cookbook. So apologies if I am not using the actual recipe names to a T, I am currently too tired and somewhat lazy to go get the book and double check! Woops. How unprofessional of me…

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Brussels Sprouts and Tarragon Cashew Cream Sauce

The most impressive recipe  I have tried  so far was definitely the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Tarragon Cashew Cream and Brussels Sprouts. I have made my own gnocchi from recipes before, but it seemed so difficult and was such a long process. Maybe my cooking skills have drastically improved over time and I just do things faster and in a more organized time saving manner, but I still think this recipe is by far an easier and simple way of making you own vegan gnocchi from scratch than the previous recipe I tried. It only really takes awhile because you have to bake the sweet potato (or potatoes…but I found a 1 lb sweet potato that worked out very well). The sauce is also simplistic yet has a very fancy flavor/touch to it with the tarragon. And a cashew based sauce makes almost any pasta recipe rich and luxurious. The Brussels Sprouts were the perfect finishing touch, and add to the dish to make it a complete healthful meal.

I love the bowls so far in this cookbook. I think I forgot to post about the cucumber ranch tofu bowl I made New Year’s Eve? Well that was pretty good. Even better was the pizza bowl, though.

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Not the prettiest looking pizza bowls

I used tofurky italian sausages (Which, to my delight, do not contain soy protein isolate in them which I am really trying to avoid as much as possible now.  My nutritionist said she believes that it is that form of soy that causes the most problems for our hormone balance, and it is very highly processed (and typically g.m.o I think?) so it is good to avoid or eat irregularly. Tofu is fine unless you have digestive/other sensitivities to it, whIch I do not.

Anyways, this was absolutely delicious and comforting. The sauce is really, really good. It reminds me of pink (or vodka cream) sauce, which was one of my favorite sauces before I went vegan and I have found difficult to replicate as a vegan despite trying . Actually now this gives me an idea to try and make an even more authentic version of it! Yay!

Paired with the kale (which I actually seemed to cook right for the first time ever…I typically only eat it raw), rice, sausage, garlic, red onions, olives, etc it is just so wonderfully filling and tasty!

My pictures of it are not the prettiest, but believe me, it is so yummy!

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edamame hummus tofu wraps…before I wrapped them 🙂

I also made the tofu wraps with edamame hummus. It somehow tastes kind of like a Japanese-inspired egg salad wrap to me which I thought was pretty cool. I will definitely be making the edamame based (instead of chickpea) hummus on it’s own again multiple times. The tofu was really good too though! I love anything with sesame oil in it, and it crisps the tofu perfectly. Isa Chandra Moscowitz doesa really good job through writing her recipes teaching people the proper methods of cooking her dishes without having them fail horribly. Hopefully I can get there myself too!

I did not use sprouts because when I buy them they seem to go bad too fast, instead I used greens. When I use up the leftovers tomorrow though, I am probably going to use baby arugula. Yum!

Aside from cooking from Isa Does It, I found this recipe on a facebook group I belong to and was intrigued so I gave it a try. Behold, Green Pancakes!

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not the prettiest again but behold green pancakes!

They look kinda gross, but I felt really good about eating them for my breakfast and do not taste too different from unhealthy versions of pancakes…especially when you add some maple syrup, ha, ha. I kept thinking of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and thinking this would make a good vegan story like that, especially for kids while eating these. So it was fun, healthy, and fed my belly all at once.

Finally, I made a really delicious salad today.

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my delicious salad with chickpea “bacon”

The centerpiece of the salad was the Chickpea Bacon recipe from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! Gosh do I love that book!

I put 2 cups chopped romaine, 1/2 cup baby arugula, 1/3 cup sliced cucumber, 1/3 cup chopped hearts of palm, 1/4 of the chickpea recipe, a slice of red onion that I chopped into smaller bits, 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and 2 tbsp Organicville Non Dairy Ranch! I made a similar version for my dad and he really liked it too! He was trying to refuse eating it because of the non-dairy ranch, but now he says I have to make him a salad every day! (Though fat chance…but I will make an extra for him when I have one from now on!)

Ta da! And now you know what I cooked up this week!

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can follow me on these social media outlets where I post related (and unrelated) things to my blog.

Banana Curl, Vegan Girl’s Facebook Page

Follow me on Pinterest (the blog has it’s own board if you just want to follow that)

Twitter

And I think that’s everything for now! I will be adding these to the end of my blog every so often for new people to click on and explore. Also, I love comments and feedback and love it when people spread and share my work I am doing here, so do not be shy about that!

My favorite new cookbook! Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon!

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Me with my favorite new cookbook

First of all, I have been so busy with finals that I have not had time to write any entries until now. However I managed to finish everything for this semester tonight! I have taken all my exams, and as of 6:30 pm finished the last of 3 or so papers I had to write.Go me!

In honor of this momentous feat, I treated myself to cooking an amazing sounding dinner from my newest cookbook in the collection. Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon, which happens to be VEGAN CHICK’N AND WAFFLES!! (on page 38, it’s actually titled “Baked Vegan Chicken and Easy Waffles.”

It was as amazing as it should be, as perfect as I had hoped. It blew me away. It was pretty much in my stomach faster than I would have liked, that’s how good it was.

You’ll need a waffle iron for this recipe though…and access to Gardein Chick’n Scallopini…but if you have the recipe and these two things, I HIGHLY recommend you try it.

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I mean, how can you resist it now?

I give this particular recipe 5 good bananas! But if I could I’d seriously give it 10 good ones!…

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I’ll probably be writing more about this cookbook in the future. I love it so far! I love the sheer volume of recipes (500), the ease in which every recipe I’ve made so far has come together, and the minimal use of utensils and dishes because I hardly have to do any dishes after I make these recipes. Which is rare, but I also tend to pick really complex recipes. The recipes are very simple but make it appear and taste like they are very complex. I love that about it.

The only criticism I would say I is that it relies too much on actual brand name foods and ingredients. I cannot find the creole seasoning it recommends anywhere near me. Luckily Gardein products are readily available for me. I do however wish there were base faux meat recipes for every recipe that needs fake meats, because it would be healthier (less processed and with better ingredients) but then again it would have been quite difficult to make 500 recipes and perfect the fake meat recipes for so many of them too. It would also detract from the simplicity of making all these recipes if you had to make the faux meats from scratch. So, I’m somewhat torn…

But yeah. I think despite the criticism I mentioned above, I’d still give this cookbook overall 5 good bananas!

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Yay!

Foodie (Photo) Friday #5: Eating out, Pumpkin/Chocolate muffins, Tofu Satay

Hello hello! It’s foodie (photo) Friday! Annnd… I did not make much food this week because I ended up going out to eat quite a bit.  I’ll talk about my dining experiences first before going on to the food pictures and recipe reviews:

I went to a burrito place that had seitan as a filling option (which I was very excited about) in Amherst, Massachusetts,  an Asian restaurant in Providence, RI  (the menu had mostly Thai and Chinese dishes but also some Cambodian I believe) where I got orange crispy tofu, garlic eggplant, and sticky white rice, and then tonight to The Grange in Providence where I got a pretzel bun po’ boy with fried oyster mushrooms, vegan remoulade, pickles, lettuce, and cole slaw.

It’s a big toss up between whether I liked The Grange or the Asian food better. I want to say I liked the Grange more. I was so excited when I was eating that sandwich. The flavors in it are amazing. And all the textures together worked really well. A mix of 3 crunchy elements (the pickles, lettuce, and mushrooms) and two soft/creamy (the bread and the remoulade). I was worried that the restaurant might not live up to the hype I’ve heard about it, but I was impressed by the food at least. The only complaint I may have but am undecided about is that I found the atmosphere kind of weird, it was noisy and too dark (I don’t really like dark restaurants, but maybe that is because my vision is not great in the dark? I honestly do not know!

The Asian restaurant (called Gourmet House) had a lot of options for tofu which is always a sign of a good Asian restaurant for me. Almost all the dishes you could choose tofu or tofu and vegetables with. The orange tofu was so good. I was not expecting it to come the way it was though. This tofu was more like what I remember the sauces being when I was an omnivore and had ordered lemon chicken. It was a thick, citrus-y orange flavored sauce, with no hint of soy sauce or anything that I was expecting. I liked it so much I may have gone a bit overboard by eating the whole plate of it. Oops. And the eggplant and rice were also very yummy. I liked the stickiness of the rice, I don’t think I’ve actually ever had sticky rice before. It’s kind of sweet. The eggplant was savory but also had a sweet flavor to it at the time. The eggplant itself melted in my mouth.

Sorry I didn’t take any pictures of my food at the restaurants, I was embarrassed to do so, heh.

Anyways, on to what I made from some tasty recipes this week.

The first:

venus chocolate pumpkin muffinsVenus Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins from Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater. These are half and half pumpkin/chocolate muffins with a streusal topping. They’re difficult to make half and half so they look good, but they do taste pretty good. Next time I might omit the walnuts in the pumpkin, because I’d like a stronger pumpkin flavor. I think the walnuts might overpower it.

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Also I had a hard time with my oven getting them cooked well enough. Even with the max time listed with the recipe they were still totally liquid in the middle when I put a toothpick in the center, I think I cooked them for 5-10 minutes more. I honestly cannot remember, sometimes my oven is a bit weird lately.

Overall, these tasted pretty good and the recipe was pretty straight forward and easy despite having to make 3 separate parts so I give it a 4 good banana, one bad banana. It lost one good banana because it just didn’t have that “wow” factor when I tasted it. But they’re good otherwise.

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Second, was Tofu Satay from The 30 Minute Vegan cookbook.

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I made it into a bowl with some quinoa and added extra peanut satay sauce on top. The satay sauce was perfect, it tasted exactly like the kind of peanut satay sauce I like, that I remember getting from the Thai restaurants I have been to. Sometimes people and companies make a type of peanut satay that doesn’t taste this good, maybe without coconut milk and less of a peanut buttery taste, but this was amazing. The tofu came out pretty good, but I wish I had baked it longer until it got a little more crispy, except I was hungry and impatient so oh well. The addition of raw scallions and red pepper made it a complete and tasty meal all together with the quinoa. So yay! I think this probably deserves a 5 good banana rating!

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That’s all, folks! I have some couple neat ideas for a few different kinds of posts this week, hopefully I’ll get some time to post them, but I do have some exams coming up as well, so I don’t know! But I hope so!

Until next time!

In deliciousness,

Laura