Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Waffles

Vegan Mofo is winding down but it feels like fall is finally starting here in Florida.  For brunch yesterday I made the pumpkin waffles from the Post Punk Kitchen.  They were amazing!  Delicious and tasting like fall.  I already had almost everything on hand and just did some simple substitutions for what I didn't have.  The recipe turned out perfect and it made a ton!  I now have breakfast for the rest of the week. 

Pumpkin Waffles from the PPK:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Combine almond milk and vinegar, let curdle.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk together.  Pour wet into dry and stir until combined.  Prepare waffles in your waffle iron.  Serve with Earth Balance and real maple syrup.

Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer and reheat in the toaster.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Central Florida Veg Fest

 Have I mentioned how much I love living in an area that has not one, but two Veg Fests?  Because I really really love it.  The boyfriend and I hopped on I-4 yesterday to get to the Central Florida Veg Fest in Orlando, only about an hour drive from us.  We got there just in time to hear Dr. Melanie Joy speak.  Her presentation was awesome.  As a graduate student in sociology I find Dr. Joy to be really inspiring as she teaches both sociology and psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  I was able to talk to her afterwards and she was really nice and approachable.

But let's get on to the most important thing: the food.  We started out sharing a plate of vegan nachos with chili and queso.  Easily my favorite last year it definitely claimed that place in my heart again.  The added pieces of tempeh to the chili.  They were messy and delicious, exactly what nachos should be. 

We also had a meatball sub that I failed to take a picture of.  We scarfed it down pretty quickly; it was delicious.  As if we hadn't eaten enough food already we shared the combo plate of Indian food: a samosa, rice, stewed chickpeas, and jalebi (fried dough soaked in syrup).  We love Indian food and for $5, the plate was a bargain.

So after the nachos, sub, and Indian food we still had room for dessert.  The boyfriend had a chocolate cupcake with fall spice and cayenne frosting.  It was really good, he loved it.  I had the pumpkin espresso cupcake, a perfect taste of fall.  Overall, we had an awesome time.  I can't wait for 2013 so we can do it all over again!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


 The boyfriend and I took a road trip to Atlanta last weekend to visit his family.  We had an awesome time.  We didn't get to eat at quite as many local Atlanta restaurants as I would have liked but we did find a pretty awesome vegetarian Chinese restaurant for a late lunch on Sunday afternoon.  It was a bit of a fiasco finding it, but really great once we did.

We shared an appetizer of crispy chicken drumsticks which was served with hot sauce.  The drumsticks were awesome.  The crispy outside reminded me of crispy skin, a texture I haven't had replicated too many times since being veg*n.  

 The boyfriend had a spicy eggplant and chicken dish for his main course, but I forgot to snap a picture.  I was a little to enthralled with my own dish.  Crispy orange beef with broccoli and a side of rice.  Oh.  My.  God.  The crispy pieces of beef were awesome and I loved the slightly spicy orange sauce.  It was one of my favorite Chinese dishes I've ever had.

For dessert we shared a mango bubble tea.  We're boba lovers so it was a pleasant surprise to find some in Atlanta.

I'd really love to go back to Atlanta to eat at some of the places we missed, especially Soul Vegetarian.  Any Atlanta people have recommendations for visitors?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My First Vegan Food Swap

 This was my first month participating in the vegan food swap organized by The Verdant Life.  I received my box from Amie at Whole Soul Vegan.  A fellow Floridian, she sent me a great box of goodies.  And most of it is snacks, perfect to bring with me to my prison cell of a graduate assistant office.  There's seaweed snacks (which I've been dying to try), granola, soup, tea, couscous, an oatmeal raisin cookies, almond butter, and ginger chews.  I can't wait to dig in.  Thanks Amie!

I'm mailing my box out to my lucky recipient today.  I did a Florida themed box with all the ingredients plus the recipe for my key lime pie.  She lives in Rhode Island so I think it will be a nice reminder of summer during the cold winter months.  I hope she enjoys her box as much as I've enjoyed mine.

October was the last month for the vegan food swap this year but you can still sign up for when it starts again in 2013.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Taco Bus

Taco Bus is kind of a big deal.  They're a local legend here in Tampa, pretty much with a cult following.  They've been featured on cable t.v. several times, including a feature on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  The cool part about that feature was they showed two dishes including one vegetarian option!  I always take my family to Taco Bus when they're in town because it has something for everyone.  But most importantly, the food is just super delicious.

The vegetarian (vegan when you ask for no cheese) options at Taco Bus include tofu, tempeh, "steak" strips, and my personal favorite, butternut squash.  On Saturdays and Sundays they also make vegan tamales.  I always get the same thing, the taco meal deal: two butternut squash tacos, rice, and beans.  It never disappoints.  In the gigantic cup is pineapple agua fresca, which is pretty much like drinking liquid pineapple.

I can't say enough good things about Taco Bus.  Seriously, if you're ever in the Tampa Bay area you have to check out Taco Bus!

I'm heading to Atlanta pretty soon for a mini vacation so if you have any recommendations on where to eat leave a comment!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Homemade Vegan Sausage

For my Chopped Vegan Brunch entry I made sausage gravy using homemade vegan sausage.  I used two for the gravy and the other two for a marinara sauce the next night for dinner.  The recipe is incredibly simple and the only ingredient I had to pick up for the recipe was vital wheat gluten. 

The recipe calls for the use of a steamer basket which is a kitchen gadget I don't have.  So I thought I'd share with you my inventive, homemade steamer.  You know those store bought pie crusts that come in a disposable pie plate?  Save that plate and poke a bunch of holes in it.  Put the plate on the top of a pot of simmering water.  And tada! You have a homemade steamer.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tampa Bay Veg Fest 2012

 It's that time of year again.  The time of year that I attend not one, but two, veg fests.  This Saturday was act one, the 3rd annual Tampa Bay Veg Fest.  While it was still hot out it wasn't scorching with 98% humidity like Tampa has been all summer.  With the park being on the water there was even a nice breeze.  Perfect weather for the strawberry limeade I downed in about two minutes. 

The food vendors were pretty much the same as last year.  And I ended up eating what I had last year.  I'm a creature of habit.  Sammi had the giant Italian sausage with the works on the left.  I had the regular sized hot dog with onions, relish, and ketchup on the right.  Don't they look like a mommy and baby hot dog?

Of course, I'm all about dessert.  And I absolutely love this frozen banana soft serve from the Gone Bananas truck.  I had mine with "cookie crumbs" (which turned out to be two whole oreo cookies), graham crackers, and chocolate syrup.  It was divine.

I wish there had been more new vendors at veg fest this year.  That being said, I still had an awesome time.  The food was delicious and the weather was great.  I love that I live in a place that celebrates veganism at least once a year!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chopped Vegan Brunch Round

It's another round of Chopped Vegan!  Again, I'm pretty impressed with myself.  This round was brunch so I could have gone sweet or savory.  The mystery basket contained butternut squash, fresh rosemary, popcorn, and apricot preserves.  I made Rosemary Sausage Gravy over Butternut Squash Biscuits and Rosemary Potatoes with Apricot Popcorn.  It's a mouthful to say, but a mouthful of awesome when you eat it.  The salty savory potatoes go surprisingly well with the sweet popcorn.

Butternut Squash Biscuits:
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine), cold
  • 1 cup homemade butternut squash puree 
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
In a bowl mix the squash puree, almond milk, and sugar; set aside.  In a food processor combine all other ingredients.  Pulse until the margarine is pea sized.  Add the squash mixture.  Pulse until a dough ball is formed.  Roll dough out on a floured surface.  Using a biscuit cutter, cut and drop biscuits until a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes in a 425 oven, until the tops are golden brown.  Serve warm under gravy.  Or with margarine and agave or maple syrup.

Rosemary Sausage Gravy:
  • 2 homemade vegan sausages, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
 In a saute pan over medium heat brown the sausages in olive oil.  Once brown add the rosemary and coat the sausage in flour.  Stir in milk.  Let the mixture simmer until thick.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over butternut squash biscuits.

Rosemary Potatoes and Apricot Popcorn
  • 3 large red potatoes, chopped into even pieces
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups salted popcorn, preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
Coat potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Roast in a 425 oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked and slightly crispy.  Meanwhile, pop your corn with just a bit of salt.  Toss hot popcorn with apricot preserves, coating the corn.  Mix with roasted potatoes.  Serve with biscuits and gravy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ever since I got an iPhone for my birthday I've been really bad about using a camera.  And I've also become kind of crazy about instagram.  So excuse the instagram photo.

I started graduate school in August.  I'm loving it and I've made new friends really quickly.  One of my new friends had a birthday in September and her favorite dessert is red velvet cake.  Wanting to let my new friends know how awesome vegan desserts can be, I made cupcakes for the M.A. students on her birthday.

I found the recipe for the cake here.  Instead of making 2 8-inch rounds as the recipe calls for I made about 20 cupcakes.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops spring back and a toothpick comes out clean. 

I topped the cupcakes with homemade cream cheese frosting.  That recipe can be found from the early days of the blog here

*Make sure the red food coloring you use is vegan.  Alternatively, you can substitute with an equal amount of fresh beet juice!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Paris Cafe

When I was in high school about once a month or so my school would have "late start days".  Sometimes I would sleep in, but more often my friends and I would meet downtown for brunch before going to school.  I'm not sure which friend found this gem, but the Paris Cafe was where we went.  The food has always been consistently fantastic.  The place is fairly vegetarian friendly, but this was my first time back as a vegan.

The options were more limited but I really enjoyed what I ordered.  It was the Moulin Rogue salad; mixed green, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and pistachios.  They also serve a house made tarragon dressing with almost all of their salads.   I'm not a huge fan of salad dressing but I'm tell you I could drink this stuff!  It's seriously the best salad dressing I've ever had.  And they serve it to you in a super cute Eiffel tower bottle.  Also served along with your salad is a big chunk of fresh baguette.  It's an awesome place and I highly recommend it if you're ever in downtown West Palm Beach.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Victory Garden

USF has a botanical garden on campus, including a limited number of plots in an organic vegetable garden.  Who has two thumbs and one of those plots?  This girl!  Florida's growing season is pretty much reversed from the rest of the country.  October is a good time to plant, as the weather is slightly cooler (this is kind of a joke, I sweated buckets out there in the cool 88 degree weather).  We started with some tomato, basil, and parsley plants picked up from a local shop.  Then we planted carrot, kale, and lettuce seeds.  I'm going to update the blog with progress from the garden.  I'm hoping for lots of kale by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Holy Guacamole

Probably like most people I go through cycles with recipes.  I'll find something I like, make it once a week for a month or two, then kind of forget about it for another few months.  Then one day I'll think, it's been a while since I've had ____, and then the cycle starts again.  Enter empenadas.  I've posted two different recipes for empenadas on the blog before.  And to be honest I never make the recipe the same way twice. 

The filling always consists of whatever I have in my fridge and/or freezer.  Today I used half a package of Boca meat crumbles, a can of black beans, red onion, garlic, cilantro, and spinach.  Then I sprinkled a tablespoon or so of taco seasoning.  Top that mixture with some pepper-jack Daiya cheese and that makes one tasty empenada.  In the past I used Goya brand empenada shells, which aren't vegan.  But I found another brand in the same section of the grocery store that is vegan.

I served these with yellow rice (Mahatma brand is vegan) and homemade guacamole.  Guacamole is a new passion of mine.  I simply can't get enough of it.  When I saw a recipe for a copycat of Chipotle's guacamole on Pinterest I knew I had to try it. 

Chipotle Guacamole:
  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt to taste
Mash avocado with a fork, it can be chunky.  Mix with all other ingredients.  Serve with empenadas, tacos, or tortilla chips.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vegan in an Omni Family

 A few months ago I was the only vegetarian in my family.  It had been a little over three years and it seemed like everyone had finally adjusted.  And then I told them I was going vegan.  So now I'm even weirder, still the only one who doesn't eat animals, but now I don't eat their secretions either.

My family is very supportive of my choice to be vegan.  To me it seems like one of their primary concerns is how we're going to eat together as a family.  I'm vegan, my sister is notoriously picky, and my dad would eat junk every day if my mom let him.  So when we find gems like BurgerFi it's a very happy occasion. 

It's a burger joint, so obviously there's a whole lot of animal flesh going on.  But they do have an AWESOME veggie quinoa burger.  Seriously, probably the best veggie burger I've ever had.  Restaurants like this are great because they show my family that just because I'm vegan doesn't mean I can't share meals with them.  In fact, there are many places we can share a meal that satisfies all of us.  We each had our own burger with the fixings we wanted and shared/devoured a bucket of well done, super crispy french fries.  It was a great lunch.

If your family is hesitant about you adopting an animal-free diet I think it's really helpful to not only cook for your family, but find restaurants that serve all of your unique tastes.  That way they realize that you can still share meals together and that you're not missing out on anything.  My mom had a bite of my quinoa burger and loved it!  It's unrealistic to think that we can change our families, but we can come together and share delicious meals and have honest conversations about our values of compassion and kindness.

And just to reiterate, this was the best veggie burger I've ever had.  Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside.  And they have all sorts of cool toppings.  I had lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, pickles, and ketchup.  Be sure to tell them to hold the cheese. Hindsight, some avocado would have been great as well.  Not pictured is the glass of strawberry lemonade I had which was also amazing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Onion Rolls

Oh onion rolls, how I love thee.  I've made these probably about ten times now.  They never get old.  They're always perfect.  Even though I know I usually eat two tempeh sandwiches, meaning two rolls, I always have to sample an extra one straight out of the oven.  You know, for quality control.

Onion Rolls:
  • 1 cup lukewarm water 
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1 egg replacer (1 1/2 tablespoon oil + 1 1/2 tablespoon water + 1 teaspoon baking powder)
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
  • 3 tablespoons minced dried onion, plus more for topping
  • 1-2 tablespoons soymilk
Using a stand mixer with the dough hook, combine first 8 ingredients.  Mix on low until a ball forms.   Place dough ball in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a towel.  Place in a warm spot and let rise for at least 1 hour, until doubled in size.  Roll out dough into a 12x17 rectangle.  Sprinkle dough with the minced onion.  Roll the dough into a log, sealing the ends and the seam.  Cut the dough into 10-12 rolls.  Places the rolls on a lightly greased cookie sheet, then flatten with your hand.  Cover with a towel and let rise for another hour, until they're very puffy.  Remove the towel.  Brush the rolls with soymilk and sprinkle with more minced onion.  Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool slightly.  Slice in half to use as sandwich rolls. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Year of Vegan Mofo

This is my first year participating in Vegan Mofo (month of food).  Some bloggers have a theme they try to work on for the month.  For me, as a new vegan, my theme is simply what I'm eating on a regular basis and how I'm dealing with the transition from vegetarian to vegan.  And one thing I'm eating a lot is this BBQ tempeh sandwich with coleslaw and sweet potato fries.  I found the recipe through the Kind Life.  I make it about two or three times a month now.  The recipe can be found here.  I've also been trying to make the onion rolls that I serve the sandwich on.  Because what's better than homemade bread?  I'll post my recipe for onion rolls later this week.  And if there is anything you'd like to see on the blog during Vegan Mofo just let me know!