Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bake Sale Success & a Bountiful Vegan Cookie Giveaway!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

As I mentioned last week, we held a two day bake sale in San Francisco to benefit Animal Place & East Bay Animal Advocates as a part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. Well, I'm happy to say it was a smashing success! Thanks to my co-organizer Laura from Vegansaurus, plus our many volunteers, we raised $3000 for the charities! Yes, $3000!
Our awesome bakers & volunteers included The Sisters Vegan, Too Vegan To Function (maker of the Pride donuts), Vegan Homemade, Strange and Violent Creations, Kristen Blackmore, Valencia Street Vegan (bake sale table photo), Vegan Lush, Erika Lutz, plus local businesses Pepple's Donuts, Bike Basket Pies, Sugar Beat Sweets, Brassica Supperclub, Pure Life Chef, Pie Truck, Angel Cakes, À Côté Restaurant, VegNews, & Daisy Wares. PHEW! Hope I didn't miss anyone. Of course, we have to thank Ike's Place who let us have our event out front on Saturday, which was perfect! I'm really proud to have worked on this event & I'm sure next year will be even more amazing!

Now that I have your sweet tooth at the ready, I'm going to tell you about a little company called Bountiful Vegan & their Intention Cookie. I was lucky enough to receive their Variety Pack in the mail a bit ago, and it contained four GIANT cookies in interesting flavors. Of course, I had to try them all, so I could tell you about them!

I started with the Harmony which is described as a Lemon Snickerdoodle. This crunchy cookie has a great lemony taste & is flecked with cinnamon & sugar. I made the mistake of sharing a bite with Strummer & the begging never stopped! Next up, the Prosperity is a soft & crumbly chocolate cookie with pecan & chocolate chips. It was not too rich, which made it far too easy to snack on! The Well Being is a Pineapple Coconut affair that's light & fruity, yet chewy with a coconutty flavor likely from the shreds of coconut within it. Finally, the appropriately named Love is slightly soft Orange Chocolate Chip cookie, that still has a somewhat firm bite to go with it's sweet orange flavor & chocolate chips. I think this may have been my favorite & it was hard not to devour it all!

Each cookie contains a message on the inside of the label which you are supposed to repeat, in hopes of making it come true. See where the name Intention comes in? While I wouldn't normally participate in something like this, one of the messages caught my eye, "Money comes easily to me..". I may or may not have repeated this one to myself! ha. All of the cookies are a nice addition to the pre-packaged vegan cookie world & will hopefully be popping up at a store near you! In the meantime, you can order them online.

Guess what? I have a Variety Pack to giveaway! Yes, one lucky commenter will get an assortment of these GIANT cookies all for themselves.. or I suppose you could share with a friend. To enter, leave a comment & let me know, if you were an Intention Cookie, what would your name be? The winner will be selected at random & announced next Tuesday, July 7th. For ANOTHER chance to win a Variety Pack, sign up for the Bountiful Vegan mailing list, as they will also be picking a random winner in the near future. Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

You may have noticed, Vegan Bake Sales are aplenty these days, thanks to the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale! I was lucky enough to attend one of them in Los Angeles this weekend & fill up on everything from pound cake to cookies to peanut butter mousse cups & even raw cheesecake & whoopie pies! To add to the fun, some the bakers were also bloggers, like Britt from Sick of Lettuce, Lindsay from Happy Herbivore, & Afsoon's Posties!

If you missed out, the good news is Bake Me Up LA is having another sale in front of Locali on June 28th (rumor has it Celine & Joni will be baking for it!), so get yourself there & buy good to benefit Animal Acres, Earthlings, & Little Big Dog Rescue.
Not in California? Check to see if there's a vegan bake sale in your area by going HERE!

Of course, I'll be participating in a local bake sale as well! On June 27th & 28th, the “Bay Area Post Punk Kitchen Crew”, Vegansaurus!, and (of course) The Urban Housewife are presenting TWO vegan bake sales! Our sales will benefit the amazing & hardworking non-profits Animal Place and East Bay Animal Animal Advocates, so come out & stuff your face in the name of the animals!

SATURDAY, JUNE 27th, 2009
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Address: 3506 16th Street at Sanchez, in front of Ike's Place!

SUNDAY, JUNE 28th, 2009
Time: 11 am to 4 pm

Address: 800 block of Capp Street
(about 1/2 a block from 24th St BART!)

Be ready to enjoy cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pie, whoopie pies, & whatever else we can dream up! We'll even have Gluten Free options & treats for dogs! Additionally, a selection of cupcakes & brownies will be provided by local vegan bakery Sugar Beat Sweets! (yep, that's me!)

For more information, check out the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale San Francisco webpage!

I'll be there both days, selling the goods (hubba hubba), so come say Hello & don't forget to bring cash! See you there!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sweets in Chicago, a Glazed Donuts video & a Mini Foods Party!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

As I mentioned last week, Chicago has quite the selection of savory options, especially of the comfort food persuasion, but they also have a plethora of options for the sweet tooth! One such option is Smash Cake, a bakery & party spot from the minds behind the Bleeding Heart Bakery. As always with pastry chef & owner Michelle Garcia involved, the decor is fun & eclectic, the pastries are all organic & the vegan options are plentiful. We decided to go with a Blueberry Tea Cake with a delicate & delicious crumble top, a deep chocolaty Brownie flecked with Walnuts, & a towering piece of Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter frosting, that was sadly a bit dried out. That being said, Smash Cake is a nice spot to hit if your in the adorable neighborhood is resides in!

Another fun option is iCream, home of ice cream made utilizing molecular gastronomy! First, you pick a base (soy for the vegans), then a flavor, a mix-in, & a topping. They take your combination, add it to a Kitchenaid Mixer, then next thing you know fog is billowing around the mixer as the liquid nitrogen kicks in & freezes your concoction. I went for Caramel ice cream, with Bananas as a mix-in, & Chocolate sauce. One issue I ran in to was they just threw the bananas on top, so when I asked them why it was called a "mix-in" but was thrown on top, they offered to mix it in for me, which resulted in weird gummy chunks of banana & all of my chocolate sauce mixing in & ruining my caramel ice cream! Oh well, next time I'll make sure they get it right!

A new option in Chicago comes from a company called Glazed Donuts, purveyors of unique cake donuts, available in locations throughout the city. Most of the flavors are vegan & their mailing list let's you know what's in store for you weekly, so you can get your donut fix when needed. Natalie from Bake & Destroy & I had the chance to try Mexican Hot Chocolate & the Juniper Spice Cornmeal Orange at Bite Cafe, where the donuts are made. We made a video of us giving the low down on them, so check it out!

Have I mentioned here that I love potlucks? Of course I have! While I was in Chicago, one of the coolest potlucks came together, a mini food party! It's just like it sounds, everyone makes miniature versions of food for everyone to share! The culinary skills of this potluck crew was impressive & we enjoyed Reubens, BLTs, Pizza, Twice Baked Potatoes, Corn Dogs, and two of the best things I've ever eaten, vegan Chicken & Waffles, & Mexican Pizzas, ala Taco Bell, all miniature, of course! On the sweet side was mini versions of Root Beer floats with Temptation ice cream, Strawberry Shortcake Trifles, Coconut Cream Pies, Wedding Cakes, Fruit Pies, Black and White Cookies, & S'mores Pies topped with Dandies Marshmallows & toasted with a torch! One would think smaller portions would reduce your food consumption, but I can safely say everything was so amazing, it was far too easy to justify "just one more" of just about everything!

One final sweet I ate in Chicago was something I have been dreaming of for years. During the holidays, my family always buys an assortment of chocolates from See's Candies. Everyone in my family knew the Scotchmallow, a thick layer of caramel, topped with honey marshmallow, & coated in semi-sweet chocolate was MINE or I would bite your fingers off. Obviously, that hasn't been the case for quite some time, but when I mentioned this to my friend Megan, she set out to veganize this treat. JACKPOT! Using her killer caramel recipe, & Dandies marshmallows turned in to a thicker marshmallow cream, she filled cups with semi-sweet chocolate & the layers of perfection, & churned out a seriously amazing replica! It took all my power not to hoard each & everyone one & it's safe to say I ate more than my fair share of these amazing morsels!

Chicago is a fabulous city for vegans & I can't wait to get back there! If you're considering checking it out, stop resisting & go check it out!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Savory Chicago; the Land of Indulgences!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

Recently, Ryan & I took a little trip to the Windy City of Chicago. With a great group of friends there & lots of excellent dining options, I thought I would show Ryan why I enjoyed it there so much last time & try some spots I didn't make it to before!

We arrived in Chicago late evening & hungry as can be, enter Pick Me Up Cafe, the perfect place for a night time bite. While not an all vegan restaurant, you won't be short on options here! We decided to go for it & get the Jalapeno Poppers, Chili Cheese Fries, & French Toast. While the Jalapeno Poppers were less than memorable, the Chili Cheese Fries were a delicious indulgence with cumin spiced chili, & cheese sauce by Teese, & perfectly crisp fries. Although, the highlight of our dining was certainly the French Toast! Ryan is a serious French Toast lover & is rarely impressed by the offerings available, but we were both blown away by the cinnamon & nutmeg flecked coating on thick, fluffy, locally baked bread. With maple syrup, this was heaven on a plate, & we were glad we listened to the many people who recommended it to us! Rumor has it, the locals prefer the vegan version. On another late night, we popped in again for a bite & noticed dessert options such as rice krispie treats & cake, but we were looking for savory items, so we opted for the Buffalo Tofu & salads. Let me just say, stick to the French Toast, it's too good to pass up!

Chicago knows junk food & so does Veggie Bite. If you like neon cheese sauce, then you'll LOVE this spot that claims to be the first 100% vegan fast food joint. We headed here with Natalie from Bake & Destroy, plus her husband & Veggie Bite lover, Tony. She warned us it was going to be gnarly & boy, was she right! When selecting photos for this post, one thing I noticed was all the food looks the same! It's like Taco Bell, the food may have different titles, but it all has the same ingredients. We started with Chili Cheese Fries for the table, then moved on to a Chili Cheese Dog with Fries for Ryan & a Taco Salad for me. Guess what? They all had (slightly burnt) beans & neon cheese sauce with something fried! I could see this being a late night drunken dining spot, but I couldn't imagine eating here regularly, unless you enjoy having a boxing match in your stomach!

After checking out Millennum Park with Natalie & her crew, we headed to a new spot for vegans called Delicious Cafe. While it's more of a coffee shop with light food options, there's some tastiness to be had here. First of all, they have a case full of sweets, some made in-house, others made by Fritz Pastry, which included cupcakes, pie, scones, & even S'mores! On the savory side, you'll find a McMuffin-like Breakfast Sandwich, plus sandwiches like my grilled Peanut Butter & Banana. Ryan opted to make his own sandwich with Tofurky & lots of veggies, which came with a side of chips. While nothing we had was epic, it was a nice bite to eat & a great option for the neighborhood. If anything, I would go back to support this vegan owned & operated business!

You can't go to Chicago without going to The Chicago Diner. In fact, we went there twice, once before a Cubs game & once for a night out with friends & we may or may not have ordered the same thing both times. The bottom line is The Radical Reuben totally lives up to its name & even as someone who would likely not order a reuben, I just have to have this sandwich when I'm there. Perfect seitan from Upton's Naturals, tangy Sauerkraut & Thousand Island dressing, plus melted Teese, I'm powerless! I can't seem to get away without ordering the Peanut Butter Cookie Dough milkshake as well, Temptation ice cream makes a killer shake! We also had some tasty nachos, some not-so-buffalo tasting wings, & I tried a raw strawberry cheesecake that was pretty good. I think I may be a Reuben & Shake girl for life!

On sunny afternoon, we headed over to Handlebar, another vegan friendly spot in Chicago, to meet up with Leanne from Vaute Couture & have lunch. If you don't know, Leanne is the beauty & brains behind Vaute Couture, a 100% vegan, eco-conscious, fashionable line of winter coats! She also has a blog On Our Sleeve, where she writes about news regarding her line, plus her life has a vegan, model, & activist. We had a great time chatting about our lives in the fashion industry & what's coming up for us next, Leanne is an awesome gal! On the food front, Ryan had one of the staples of Handlebar, the Buffalo Chicken wrap with a side of fries. I opted for a salad version, taking the "Fried Chicken Salad" & adding buffalo sauce. It turned out to be a good call & it totally hit the spot!

I always like to try to meet up with friends & bloggers when I visit other cities & this was no exception. A group of awesome ladies including Kelly of Vegan Cookies, Julia of SnarkyVegan, & some PPKers joined me for a feast at Soul Vegetarian East. We started with a big ol' basket of fried food! Onion Rings, Cauliflower, & also the Protein Tidbits were passed around & we all filled our bellies with far too much before our entrees came out. Most of us went for the Dinner Special of Pot Roast, Red Beans & Rice, Collard Greens, & Yams. I also had to grab a piece of Cornbread, since it's a favorite of mine. Everything was well seasoned & I enjoyed it, especially the yams. For dessert, we ordered soft serve & that's when the confusion began. Our waitress just plopped all of the (tiny) servings on the table, never telling us which was Mango & which was Pineapple! You would think we could taste them & figure it out, but that wasn't the case. Needless to say, none of us were impressed. Next time, I think I'll pass!

On my final day in Chicago, I spent most of the day in a tattoo chair with Hannah Aitchison laying down a little over 6 hours of ink on my arm. All that tattooing gets a girl mighty hungry, so I met up with friends Cas, Mary, & Megan for dinner at Amitabul, home of "Healthy Korean Vegan Cuisine". Everything on the menu sounded SO good, it was hard to decide what to get, but we all started with some delicious dumplings, & I ordered the Spicy Kimchi Noodle dish as an entree. It was a HUGE plate of food that was super flavorful & spicy! Mary ordered the Dark Side of the Moon & I have to say, it was so good, I would likely order that next time! I loved the fresh vegetables & flavorful dishes at Amitabul, it really did feel healthy for restaurant fare & I hope to get back there soon!

Once again, Chicago showed me a good time on the dining front. While everything may be a bit heavier than I would normally eat, it's fun to let loose sometimes & load up on vegan cheese products & fried treats. Speaking of indulgences, next time I'll be bringing you the sweet side of Chicago! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Go Max Go Vegan Candy Bars, Millennium's Southern Comfort Dinner, & more Brownies!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

We've all perused the candy aisle at our local store, reading ingredients, only to find most everything is not vegan or filled with questionably sourced items. Well, no more! Go Max Go Foods, a vegan owned & operated company, is aiming to fill your candy void with their four new candy bars in varieties similar to those you may remember! I was lucky enough to get my hand on all four flavors & thought I'd give you a run down of each one.

I started with the Buccaneer, a candy bar in the style of 3 Musketeers. Thick, sweet, nougat covered in a rice-milk chocolate coating, this bar was delicious. While the nougat isn't as fluffy as I remember the non-vegan version being, I was still more than happy to eat this!

Next, I broke open the Twilight, which also contains nougat, but it also has a layer caramel in rice-milk chocolate, ala Milky Way. I loved the caramel in this, as I'm a big fan of anything caramel! Both of the bars were very sweet, so I was able to reign myself in & eat them over a few hours, instead of devouring them in one fell swoop.

I tried the Mahalo, a sweetened coconut candy bar topped in roasted almonds & coated in chocolate, but I'm not the biggest coconut fan & I didn't like Almond Joy bars, so I passed this on to my husband. We both agreed, it tastes like German Chocolate Cake filling, which is his favorite, so he was more than happy to take it off my hands.

Finally, the Jokerz bar was liberated from it's wrapper & headed to my stomach! While I wasn't a huge Snickers fan in my pre-gan days, this one sounded the best to me, hence saving it for last. Roasted peanuts, rich caramel, & peanut nougat in rice milk chocolate? Yes, please! I have heard people say it has too much caramel, but I'm a fiend, so I was thrilled. While I enjoyed all of the Go Max Go Bars, I think this may be the one I find myself craving most.

These fabulous candy bars by Go Max Go are still being added to stores around the nation, so check out the webpage to see if they're sold near you or get over to Food Fight, Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe, or Vegan Essentials to place an order!

Every year, Millennium, San Francisco's vegan fine dining establishment sheds their formal gear & goes country for the Southern Comfort Dinner. I've attended the past two years & this year was another night of fun, food, & friends. This year our table of 9 included friends old & new, including Megan from The Sisters Vegan & Jenna from Vegan Dance Machine.

While some of the table started off with the uber classy bucket of beer, the whole table was treated to a bread assortment from jalapeno corn bread to bacon beer bread with a chive butter, as well as complementary "squished lemonade" & "sun tea".

Next up, a platter of "Branson's Style Nachos Supreme" hit the table with chips piled high with "Cheese Whiz", chorizo, black beans, guacamole, olives, & scrumptious Fried Green Tomatoes! It's funny how a gourmet restaurant can make something so basic taste so good! As we finished our nachos, the "Iceberg Wedgie" arrived. While most people aren't iceberg lettuce fans, this wedge topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, honeydew melon balls, & strangely realistic tofu "egg" crumbles, & house-made 1000 island dressing could tempt just about anyone.

With a selection of entrees to choose from with names like, "Muther Tucker's Oyster Dog" & "Pee Wee Epstein's Shake & Baked Seitan" it was hard to make a decision! I landed on the "Danielle's Hamburger Help Her Sheppard's Pie", which turned out not to be much of a pie, but a small bowl of walnut & mushroom filling with English peas & maitake & morel mushrooms, topped with mashed potatoes. While I was skeptical of the presentation, it was delicious! All dishes came with a side of buttered vegetables, (very strong) bourbon baked black eyed peas, & poppy seed & currant slaw, although none of them really grabbed me.

For our final course, we had a choice of "Muff Cake", something between a muffin & a cake, to take to the DIY (Decorated It Yourself) Bar. While this was similar to last year's Brownie sundae dessert, the toppings bar was lacking in options this year & although our reservation was early in the evening, some options had already run out. Thankfully, the "cherry popping" ice cream was good, as none of us were impressed with much else on the sweets side. That being said, the Southern Comfort is a creative & kitschy yearly event that I always look forward to attending. Look for me next year!

While it seems all I do is travel & dine out, that's not the case! Most of the food I have been making at home is less than inspirational, but I did whip up another batch of brownies, this time for the birthday of my girl Laura B. over at Vegansaurus! Having a few more Dandies Vegan Marshmallows on hand, I decided to use them for Fluffernutter White Chocolate Chunk Brownies! These deep, fudgy brownies with marshmallows, white chocolate chunks, & a peanut butter swirl top were so rich, they were cut in to bite size pieces, a perfect way to keep everyone from sugar overload. They flew off the table fast, so I'm guessing that means they were a hit!