Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My MoFo Finale: A Vegan Convert! (Not quite)

Okay, I don’t really need a vegan conversion, but I do want to stomp out some unfounded badmouthing of vegans. If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember a post from last August which was spurred by this tweet:


Taste of Belgium is a local waffle shop with a location in our city market, Findlay Market, as well as other fairs, farmers’ markets, etc., and a location at the Columbus city market and The Ohio State University.

Honestly, I don’t know if they ever went for the t-shirts, but they did something better.

Seriously better.

Get ready, you’re not gonna believe this.

They veganized their waffle recipe and now you can get vegan Belgian waffles. This started just in time for World Vegan Day and the waffles are available at Park + Vine.


Wow. This makes me ridiculously happy. Not only did dropping the anti-vegan message put this unfunny joke into context (maybe they’re seeing local vegans as a lost customer?) but it shows with a little thought how easy it is to make a compassionate, delicious, waffle. I bought a four-pack.


Vegan waffles, no big deal, right? Wrong. I make waffles and moffles at home, but this is something different from what you’d put syrup on and eat for breakfast. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but Belgian waffles are dense and sweet, with sticky caramelized sugar on their crisp exterior. The inside is sweet, warm, and soft like a heavy doughnut. I ate more than my fill of Belgian waffles as a student in Belgium 9 years ago, and since then this is the closest I’ve come. My heart is warmed to think that after getting a little upset at their tweet, I get a good waffle. It’s what we all want, right?

This concludes my first-ever MoFo, and probably the last time I will challenge myself to post every day for a month. Maybe next year I can see if Cincinnati has any local vegan foods that aren’t desserts or produce.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Made in Cincinnati

I have two exciting treats to share with you, both made right here in Cincinnati, Ohio, believe it or not. Both are relatively new, and both are worth some attention.


First up, graham crackers. No, not your regular thin, perforated crackers in cellophane that always rips down the side. Unlike those grahams that start crisp and get soft as they age (c’mon, you know what I’m talking about), these grahams start out thick and chewy and soft. And you don’t have to worry about them getting stale. There won’t be leftovers.

These holiday trees are delicious. I probably ate about half of one of these large cookies after photographing it because it just smelled so good! I couldn’t wait. The crushed peppermint, the chocolate icing, and the soft cookie were just amazing. I’d read how great these grahams were, but I never quite went for all the hype (after all, how often do I even eat dessert?) – but these are wonderful.


Meet Grateful Grahams. This is a pretty cool story; this woman turned her love of baking into a side business that only launched around Earth Day this year. Now, she’s announced on her facebook page that she can’t accept any more private holiday orders – she’s got enough! Way to go.

You can still buy Grateful Grahams locally, at Coffee Emporium, Park + Vine, Joseph Beth, or Lucky John Market. Plus you can order online at Pangea Vegan Store or Vegan Essentials. And I’m not going to say an Amazon link didn’t come up when I did a search.

If you can believe it, we have yet another vegan dessert maker in town: Phro*ZEN ice cream, featured last week in VegNews Daily.


Phro*ZEN vegan desserts was started with two sisters, the belief that everyone deserves happiness, and that happiness can be found in the simplest (and sweetest) things. We hope that you’ll find a little joy when you try our desserts, and you can feel at peace knowing that no animal products are used - after all, they deserve happiness too.

Again, I went for a holiday chocolate mint flavor: Merry Mint Chocolate Mantra. And I’m not going to say I wasn’t just tickled to see the cute heart under the lid -- sorry to spoil the surprise if its supposed to be a secret. This is a soymilk-based ice cream that was just as creamy as anything I’ve had, and it was full of chunks of chocolate and candy cane pieces, just like the locals like at their non-vegan ice cream parlors.


No, I don’t work for the Cincinnati tourism board, but December 19th will mark my three-year anniversary in the Queen City and it’s kind of neat to see how many cool things there are in town. I hope that if I leave, I find as many neat things and as supportive a community in my next city.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Brunch: Melt

To conclude MoFo, I’ll be posting a local treasure or treat each day. I know I could have covered more than three days, but Ima start with that as my theme is the product of a little Thanksgiving-induced cooking hiatus (I’m eating the leftovers until they’re gone, and then I think I just want soup).  I used this idea as an excuse to buy several treats I’ve been meaning to try, and I can’t wait to share them. But first, let’s start with a treasure I’ve mentioned several times before.

My parents left this morning to drive back to Tennessee, but first we went out to brunch at Melt. I like Melt’s brunch, but since I’ve learned to make tofu scramble, we don’t go out for brunch very often.

The good thing about taking my folks to Melt, though, is that no one is forced to eat tofu. Two of us ordered vegan meals, one vegetarian, and one neither. We all enjoyed our food and we all chose what we wanted. My father ordered the vegan sausage and biscuits and gravy, and he was probably surprised to see that the gravy was brown, but he liked it even though he mentioned it was a little sweet.

restaurant 018

He and I seem to have similar tastes: I typically order this meal. In fact, the photo is recycled from a previous visit. You get two large, fluffy biscuits with plenty of gravy dotted with sausage pieces.

I ordered the rosemary redskin mess. This is a mess, so please trust me that it is delicious! They take roasted redskin potato wedges, seasoned with rosemary, and top them with spinach, onions, mushrooms, peppers, tofu scramble, tomato slices, and top it off with their smokey cheezy sauce. Even though this looks yellow and brown, it’s incredibly delicious.


This was a great conclusion to our food-centered weekend visit. I say food-centered, but really we had a good time. We took a little road trip to Madison, Indiana for the Candlelight Tour of Homes, we went to a concert at the Blue Wisp jazz club, and we watched plenty of football.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Restaurant: Salt of the Earth

As much I love my Thanksgiving leftovers, by Saturday lunch I was ready for a different kind of food. So, I brought home takeout from Salt of the Earth. This is one of those places that Alex loves because of some vegetarian deliciousness like their standard veggie sandwich and a special cole slaw. However, they typically have rotating vegan selections in their cold case. On this trip, I got a polenta pizza.


This dish has a thick base of sun-dried tomato polenta, and it’s topped with seasoned crumbled tofu and roasted vegetables.


Salt of the Earth is certainly more vegetarian-friendly than vegan-friendly, but the food is always superb. My parents and Alex all ordered vegetarian selections and were very happy with the food.

Salt of the Earth on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Dessert: Derby Pie

I have had pumpkin pie once, maybe twice in my life. And when the opportunity for more has presented itself, I’ve politely declined. Give me a fruit pie, a sweet potato pie, or a chocolate pudding pie, but not pumpkin. I particularly love pecan pie and chess pie – but neither of those are readily veganized.


I first had a Derby Pie in college, and it was frequently requested among my schoolmates. This pie is chocolate, pecan, and bourbon. Often, I’m a pecan purist, but when I came across a recipe for a vegan pie that sounded like a Derby Pie, I knew I had to make it. I am so, so glad I did.

This was exceptionally good. As you can see, my pie is chocked full of pecans. I followed the recipe with only the slightest changes, and maybe there were too many pecans (I’m not the most precise in measuring). I also used Karo corn syrup in place of the maple and agave as I didn’t want to throw in another competing flavor, plus I had a coupon for Karo. That, and Alex didn’t believe me when I told him my grandmother used to give us corn syrup to put on our pancakes.

The pie looks rich, but it really wasn’t too sweet. That may have something to do with my other adaption: as I was using corn syrup instead of agave, I wanted to make sure I didn’t make it too sweet. So I substituted some of the syrup with more whiskey! Still turned out well, even if the filling bubbled over the edge of my crust and then fell back, leaving little craters in between some of the pecans.

If I could have had a slice without leaving evidence that I had done so, I would have liked to have tried a piece before Thanksgiving to rest my mind about whether this would taste good. In the end, though, it didn’t matter; the pie is delicious and I still have several slices to go.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Thanksgiving


This is a typical Thanksgiving, for me. For the past seven years or so, I’ve pretty much done small Thanksgivings, either by myself (yes, really) or just with a few other people. This year, there were four of us - my parents, Alex, and me, at my house in my tiny kitchen.

Its good when the plate is loaded with a variety of tasty eats, and this is one time of year that I don't mind my foods touching. I made many of the things my family typically enjoys, with a few changes to accommodate Alex’s requests, and of course everything was vegan. Clockwise, starting at 12:00 on the plate, we had:

  • Cornbread dressing, made with cornbread, biscuits, celery, and onion
  • Paula Deen’s corn casserole with vegan analogs (Better Than Sour Cream, Earth Balance, no cheese)
  • Broccoli Casserole with a Daiya cheeze sauce similar to what I used as the macaroni and cheeze base, with cashew cream in place of soymilk
  • Roasted sweet potatoes with maple and pecans
  • Roasted Brussles sprouts
  • Tofurkey with vegetables accompanying it during the roast (onion, carrot, celery)
  • Cranberry relish
  • Mashed potatoes, mushrooms, and mushroom gravy

All four of us enjoyed the meal. My parents even enjoyed the Tofurkey – my dad went back for seconds! I had offered to get some (pre-cooked) turkey for them, and thankfully they declined.

The cats are not enjoying the company; they’ve hidden themselves out of sight and are keeping each other warm in a bed built for one and have only come back into the open now that my folks have returned to their hotel:


I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving, or a wonderful Thursday. I’ll share the details on the Derby Pie tomorrow – it was delicious! Right now, I have a lot to be thankful for, but on a lighter note - I’m thankful I’m not a Bengals fan. Cincinnati sports teams have broken my heart one too many times.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

In a silly way, I am thankful that I was able to take Wednesday off from work. Up until lunch on Tuesday, I was a little worried about the amount of cleaning and prep I wanted to get done before my parents arrived Wednesday evening.

I spent today prepping for Thanksgiving. And cleaning – you can see brooms and vacuums in the background here.


Here we have a Derby Pie, pumpkins, cornbread and biscuits, and cranberry relish. I sure feel like I worked harder than this looks like – I made pumpkin chili (with the fresh pumpkin) for supper tonight with my folks.

The cornbread and biscuits are for dressing, and the cranberry relish is something my mom used to make but is almost exactly like this recipe. The Derby Pie is a complete experiment and if it wouldn’t be evident that I’d sampled some, I’d sure have a slice before I serve it.

My parents are in town, visiting for Thanksgiving. We’ll be making a Tofurkey and enjoying some vegan sides. I haven’t seen my folks since July, so this will be a nice visit. And the pumpkin chili has been eaten (and enjoyed!). Have a great holiday, or just a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome to the Cal-Zone


Whenever I ask Alex what he wants to eat, his first answer is almost always pizza. We run into trouble, though, because he likes to go out to a restaurant and I like to make my own. I decided that one easy way for us to each have our own pizza-type-thing was to make two calzones.


Let me tell you, learning to make my own pizza dough has changed my life. Is that too dramatic? Well, I certainly feel like a more accomplished cook, and I also feel empowered to make my own pizza creations. I didn’t develop my own recipe, though. I use Mario Batali’s, but I sub out the honey and use half whole wheat flour. I do use the wine. I love opening a bottle because the recipe calls for it.

In my calzone, you will find meatless balls (Trader Joe’s brand); sauteed mushrooms with lots of garlic; spinach; and (jarred) tomato sauce. I also included a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

The dough didn’t get soggy, and in fact it was so crisp that I was able to eat each half with my hands. No need for that fork you see in the background.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Supper for One

I remember hearing a piece on the radio about the book What We Eat When We Eat Alone and thought the idea was pretty interesting. The book, by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin, contains both stories and recipes. You can imagine: some people are accustomed to eating alone and either relish it or not; others take a meal alone as a chance to eat something their dining partners dislike or to enjoy a secret indulgence. Sometimes it may be as simple as takeout, leftovers, or cold cereal.

I don’t eat alone often, especially not for supper. When I’m alone for lunch I almost never cook. This time, I decided to make myself an easy but hearty meal.


This was easy because I simply steamed a couple of red potatoes, cooked up some kale, and the sausages were almost ready to go. I make big batches of sausages along the lines of the chorizo in Vegan Brunch and keep them in my freezer. Pop one out, thaw it, then split it in half and brown it in a skillet and devour. I doused everything with a mustard-Vegenaise sauce that’s heavy on the dijon and poured most generously over the sausage.

If you want to hear the interview, it was on The Splendid Table and you can listen here. I haven’t read the book, but there is a video advertisement for it on the Amazon page that introduces the book as contrasting what you eat when you’re alone with what we talk about being healthy. That kind of reality-television twist on what was initially interesting decreases my desire to read the book. So instead, I’ll ask you.

Whether you’re accustomed to eating alone, perhaps enjoying saltines and jelly over the sink like Carrie in Sex and the City, or it’s a rare occurrence that you dread or love, what do you eat when you eat alone?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

MoFo Nachos

This post is yet another in the series of me being too awfully busy to write a proper post, but still enjoying the challenge of posting every day. I was away from home all day today and came home hungry – for nachos.


I love to pile chips on a cookie sheet and toss everything in the oven. This is blue and yellow corn chips, chipotle salsa, smashed pintos, diced tomatoes, and Follow Your Heart shredded cheddar. Cold toppings include lettuce, cilantro, Follow Your Heart better than sour cream, and homemade guacamole. Pair with a beer and enjoy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Urban Vegan’s Gobhi Aloo


I made this recipe from Urban Vegan; this is a simple flip on Aloo Gobhi because it’s more cauliflower than potato. This was pretty good, and quick, but not quite as quick as this post.

Friday, November 19, 2010

One More Round: Restaurant Food at Home


This goes way back to last May, when I visited The Chicago Diner. At the time, I was kicking myself for choosing a quesadilla when faced with more choices from their extensive vegan menu than I could wrap my head around. Still, it was really good. And even as I said to myself that I could make it at home, I never did. Until now.

I stuffed my tortilla with smashed sweet potatoes, steamed spinach, black beans, and grilled onions. After the photo, I added some spicy salsa. Yum! I should make this again.

Have a great weekend – I’ll be around!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Restaurant food at home: 2 of 2

I really enjoy eating out. Yesterday’s pasta was a dish ordered out of desperation, on vacation. When I find a good restaurant, I love love love eating out. I’m not quite ready to say that my favorite dish is whatever someone else cooks*, but I still love not having to cook - on occasion. I go out usually once a week, sometimes twice. I’ve found a generous handful of local restaurants I like, and there are more I’m eager to try. So tonight, I share with you something I’ve enjoyed when eating out but have never made for myself. It turned out pretty well.

I have eaten wheatberries only two times before this. That is inexplicable, because although I enjoyed them, I had not eaten them again until just now. My first time was at Third Avenue Cafe in Louisville, and the second was at Myra’s Dionysus here in Cincinnati.

So I buckled down and halfway recreated something I had at two restaurants at home.


My home version isn’t quite as chock-full of goodness and the Third Avenue version that included celery, onion, and carrots, or the Myra’s version with black eyed peas, dried cranberries, onion, garlic, mint, and lemon tahini dressing. Mine, though, was still absolutely delicious.

I didn’t measure, but here’s the ingredients:

  • Cooked wheatberries
  • Cooked edamame
  • Apple
  • Dried cranberries

This is dressed with lots of apple cider vinegar and a little olive oil. It was delicious. I actually didn’t look back at the previous salad ingredients until I was composing this post. This salad is best enjoyed at room temperature, but it’s okay chilled as well. I know I couldn’t wait to eat my leftovers and it was pretty good straight from the fridge.

*I heard Mario Batali say this on The Splendid Table. I understand the sentiment, but I don’t agree.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Restaurant Food at Home: 1 of 2

When I was in San Diego earlier this month, there was a lot of – um – tension about where to eat. That’s putting it politely. We were all on edge: tired, hot, sunburned, and hungry. We ended up eating our final dinner in town at Jimmy Love’s, which is more of a nightclub than a restaurant.

We still had a handful of menu options and I ended up getting the spaghetti pomodoro. It was surprisingly good. That was one of those dishes that reminds me how good plain marinara sauce with lots of tomatoes can be. Let’s be honest, though, it was not worth the $15 it cost, but it was better than I expected from a menu that misspelled tomato.

So I recreated it at home, but I made it better.


This is Alex’s plate. He likes for me to photograph his food sometimes, too, and in this case his Ninja Warrior training, hungry-man portion is perfect to show all the tomatoes.

I riffed from a recipe from an Italian restaurant we frequent, often with Alex’s mom, in Philadelphia, Ralph’s. They actually have a few recipes on their website, including the marinara. It’s so simple there’s no reason to keep it a secret, and Ralph’s is never short on customers. And if I were Italian instead of Southern, I probably wouldn’t have to bother looking up the recipe.


This is my plate, on which you can see the portabella slices. I sauteed half of the grape tomatoes with garlic and onion, then added some tomato sauce and the seasonings and cooked for an hour. I finished with fresh basil and the other tomatoes, which I just heated through. The spinach and mushrooms were cooked separately. So simple that the only reason for my lead-in was to tell a story. I have another restaurant recreation for you tomorrow. It’s actually more interesting.

Buon appetito!

When you eat out, do you enjoy another person doing the cooking, or do think how you could do better? I do a bit of both, depending on where I’m eating.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mr. Potato Pants


For supper I had the chickpea patty from Veganomicon with Road’s End shiitake gravy and some steamed broccoli. And yeah, some fingerling potatoes (steamed, then finished in the oven with a little olive oil, smoked salt, and black pepper). The gravy was a Thanksgiving tester (from a packet) and although it’s better than anything I’ve made before, I’m tempted to try my hand at something truly homemade after reading what Tofu Mom has been up to this month. 

This potato is nothing, though, compared to the Ten Naughtiest Vegetables from the Organic Authority. No, it’s not quite like the dirty dozen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blog to Blog

Even with daily blogging, I still don’t show everything I eat. I say that only to let you know that I did not eat these two dishes in one sitting. But I’m not saying that’s a bad idea. I paired these two meals together because they came from the same, most incredible source. If you’re not already reading go vegan meow!, go check it out.

Jacklyn over there does an awesome job coming up with stellar vegan eats, and she photographs them beautifully with step-by-step instructions and process photos. It’s like an awesome, interactive cookbook, occasionally featuring her cat, Taffy.

1262go vegan meow!: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

The mac and cheese was her inaugural MoFo post, and it was oh-so good. I actually didn’t have any breadcrumbs so mine got a little dry after being in the oven, but it was still super delicious. This is made with Daiya melted in soymilk.

005go vegan meow!: Vegan “Beef” Stroganoff

This stroganoff is another recipe I was eager to try after I first read it. It’s chunks of seitan, mushrooms, and a sauce made with vegan sour cream. This dish came together surprisingly quickly and we both really enjoyed it.

Evidently, these recipes go really well with black pepper. They were both so very good. Thank you Jacklyn for making such wonderful food so easy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Current Love: Oven Roasted Veggies

Sunday round-up style, here’s some dishes I didn’t share as I ate them, but I’ve taken these photos over the past two weeks.

1269Brussels Sprouts


Green beans and parsnips; acorn squash stuffed with turnip, carrots, and apple from Passionate Vegetarian.


Yellow and green squash and onions over couscous and tofu with Trader Joe’s Mango Chutney.


Buttercup squash with cinnamon and maple; rainbow chard; Field Roast Celebration Roast. (Thanksgiving trial.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Best Lunch Ever


I actually had my heart set on sloppy joes and tater tots for lunch today and went to pick up some Fantastic World Foods sloppy joe mix. I walked from my house to the library and then to the grocery store. Today was a wonderfully warm day for a long walk, but my hunger was making me a little grumpy and I can’t say I didn’t overreact in the aisle when I saw no sloppy joe mix.

Thankfully, I calmed down and decided that I could handle this. I came home, snacked a little to tide me over, and made my own joes in the time it took to cook the tots.


  • 1 cup TVP, rehydrated in 1 cup broth
  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 3 oz. can tomato paste
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce (I used Bourbon Barrel)
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cumin
  • Red pepper flakes

I didn’t measure the seasonings, but I used lots of garlic powder, a little onion powder, a little cumin, a tiny shake of red pepper, and probably a tablespoon of brown sugar. You may also need salt, depending on you broth. I cooked all this for about 15 minutes and tasted for seasoning.

This was slightly sweeter than the mix I normally use, but this was really good. I’m happy with what I threw together.


This was a perfect lunch with some tots and onions. I had some extra sloppy on the side and I was so ready to dig in I almost didn’t stop to get a photo. Yum! Plus, I’m proud of myself for not throwing a fit in the store.

I have two giveaways to tell you about – first, check out Vegan and So Forth where Jenny is giving away a $40 gift certificate to Vegan Essentials. Also, Noelle at Opera Singer in the Kitchen has several giveaways going on right now, including a TofuXPress. Good luck!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Failure Friday: Mushroom Barley Soup


This doesn’t look too bad, does it? I actually enjoyed my first heaping bowlful when I first made this soup from a tried-and-true cookbook, Robin Robertson’s Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.

What went wrong? Too much barley. My leftovers turned into an inedible gelatinous blob of goop. What a disappointment, especially after I enjoyed my first bowl and used the last of my dried mushrooms.

How can this be fixed? Use less barley. Of course, it seems so obvious now. But I was following the recipe! (Actually, maybe I was not following it correctly. I’m don’t always measure.) The mushrooms were good, the carrots were good, the broth was good – I loved the touch of smoke paprika and chives. There was just too much barley.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

(Red and) Green Paella and Deer Update


Way back, I don’t even remember how long, my father gave me a cookbook: The Vegetarian Little Big Book. Or maybe it’s The Little Big Vegetarian Book? That’s what Amazon is calling it. It’s a small book, but thick. And heavy. And full of gorgeous color photos.

I haven’t cooked from it in a while, but I decided to break it out and look for something new to make. This is the Green Paella, but I threw in some red bell peppers because I don’t care much for cooked green bell peppers.

This is rice cooked with saffron and tomatoes along with some vegetables, including green peas and spinach. And topped with pine nuts. This was pretty good, especially with a extra red pepper flakes!

On the deer from yesterday, I worry about them because I do live on a very busy street and people usually drive really fast – and they’re not looking for deer. I think these guys were trying to decide where to go. After they caught me looking, they went into the back yard and hung out for a good long while trying to decide which way to go. There’s a pretty steep dropoff one direction and a fence in another. I just figure they’re city deer and they know what they’re doing. They eventually found the only way out. You know I took another photo of them out back, in the shadow of the neighbor’s house.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reinventing Leftovers

I typically eat a lot of leftovers. I rarely eat sandwiches or go out for lunch. But sometimes, I want something different from more of the same.

I had extra rice and portabellas from last night’s veggie roast, and also s small batch of frozen cannellini beans after I used most of them in soup last week.

Lunch: wrap with bean dip made with cannellini beans and sundried tomatoes, raw red bell pepper, carrot, lettuce, and leftover rice and corn.


Dinner: roasted asparagus and portabella cap, topped with Daiya.


This concludes your daily MoFo.


Unrelated, I took saw some deer from my window. I hope these guys are okay tonight.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

After Work Veggie Roast


This is one of those dinners that is so good and yet so simple I wonder whether I should share it. This meal came together really quickly and required minimal attention, so I was able to do other things while it cooked.

Yes, I ate white rice, made with this foolproof 12-minute method, mixed with chopped cilantro and (heated) frozen organic corn. Quickie confession #1 – when pressed for time, I eat white rice over brown. Hey, at least it’s not Minute Rice.

For vegetables, I used two portabella caps, sliced pretty thinly, and storebought cut veggies including red onions and orange, green, and red bell peppers. I also tossed in a few grape tomatoes. These guys went in the oven with a “grill” spice shake that I’ve for probably too long. It was mostly black pepper, but very good.

You know what, for $5 I did spend more than I would have if I’d chopped them myself, but it’s still cheaper (and tastier) than eating out. Quickie tip #2 – the pre-cut veggies seem overpriced, but sometimes it’s worth it if it means eating that instead of takeout, if you’re on a budget.


There you have it – my quick supper. Yet again tastier than some of the things I’m still perfecting, or trying out. I’m trying to choose which fail to share this Friday.

When you’re pressed for time, what do you eat?


Monday, November 8, 2010

Peer Pressure Pumpkin Chili

I’ve been seeing lots of pumpkin recipes all over. I’m sorry to say that although they all look good, I am not really a fan of pumpkin. Please don’t ban me from the blogosphere! I want to be open to trying new things, and maybe there’s a little bit of peer pressure, so I bought four cans of organic pumpkin puree. I read about people hoarding cans and stores running out, so I figured I should get plenty just in case I liked it.

I didn’t grow up eating pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. My mom would make pumpkin cheesecake. Instead of venturing into that (maybe later!), I decided to make pumpkin chili like I get at Loving Hut. Mine was much chunkier and it turned out really well. I combined so many recipes that I’ll share what I did, as I do consider it my own.



  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 15 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and simmered
  • 1/2 cup dried kidney beans, cooked
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup water or broth, or more, for desired consistency (I used the sweet potato boiling water)
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or small amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice)
  • A shake of cayenne, or more if you like it hot. Chipotles or fresh peppers might be good here, too.


This was pretty simple. My beans were prepared, so I boiled the sweet potatoes and sauteed the onions, then just combined everything else and cooked until heated through and the bulgur is done.


I wanted to take photos of the cooking in-progress, but unless you need to see my chopped onions or my sweet potato cubes, this is pretty much it. This was a quick and easy chili that was delicious. I like the two kinds of beans and the sweet-heat, as well as the chunks of sweet potatoes.

So, am I pumpkin convert? Maybe. What’s your favorite thing to do with pumpkin? Or, do you fall for peer pressure?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Restauarnt: Shanghai Mama’s

I can’t believe that I haven’t written about Shanghai Mama’s before. It’s been one of my standby restaurants ever since I moved to town.

Shanghai Mama’s is a casual noodle shop downtown, and they’re open late on Fridays and Saturdays. They’ve been a welcome sight more than once for me after a game or a show when I’m looking for some good food after everything else is closed. But it’s not just because they’re open that I like going there. The food is good, and I always have a good time.

They make their own tofu and noodles and have a great selection of vegan options on the menu. They make their own soymilk and you can order it by the glass! This time, I opted for a Kirin Ichiban, but maybe next time I’ll go soymilk.


They have several starters to choose from, including my favorite, a Shanghai ravioli stuffed with spinach, tofu, and ginger; edamame (marked “healthy” on the menu); and glazed tofu. If you’re sharing with a larger group or want a different kind of entrĂ©e, the flatbread with roasted eggplant topping is incredible, or you can go for a large salad. This time, we got the fried mushrooms that were listed as a daily special.


I chose the restaurant and I knew what I wanted before we arrived. Shanghai Mama’s is known for big bowl noodle soups, and the staff even wears shirts with sassy sayings about eating noodles. I choose the Buddha bowl, which includes tofu, seitan, vegetables, and thick noodles in miso broth.



Lots of cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, baby corn, and lots and lots of seitan

There are several veg soup options, including one with a variety of mushrooms (yum!), but if you don’t want soup there are still choices. Alex selected the vegetarian cashew chicken, which is made with seitan, or you can get the seitan orange faux ribs. If you’re going for just vegetables, maybe you’d love the wild mushroom lover.


The portions are generous, the prices are low, and this is just a fun place to eat.

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