Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holiday Survival, Los Angeles Eats, & a Peanut Butter Fudge recipe!

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

Happy New Year! I hope everyone survived the Holiday season & is ready for a fun & fabulous 2008! Here's a shot of our vintage silver tree complete with vintage ornaments. I wish I could capture the lighted color wheel as well, but the reflection of the tree on the walls will have to suffice.

The Christmas season started for us with a road trip to Southern California to spend time with Ryan's family. Being so close to Los Angeles, we decided to check out restaurants & meet up with friends. To kick things off, we dined together at Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana, a lovely restaurant with organic, vegan fare & a seasonal menu. The meal was just what we needed after the stress of a long drive! Lemon rosemary seitan with an asparagus crepe and vegetables, as well as a holiday special of "chicken fried seitan" with mashed potatoes, cranberry, & sweet potatoes tickled our taste buds! We wrapped up the meal with a trio of pies; pumpkin, pecan, & french apple & I insisted on the chocolate souffle. At the time, I didn't realize what a feat a vegan souffle can be! It was delicious & I feel as though I should replicate it when I have the time.

Another night brought us to Pure Luck in Los Angeles with a group of awesome friends from the blog world to the PPK! Bazu from Where's the Revolution, Teresa from MaybePigsCanFly, Sharon from To Live and Eat in LA, Trina from Your Vegan Mom, as well PPKers Mike, Jenny Shades, Jenny Stench & friends all gathered to nosh & drink beer together!

The jackfruit carnitas tacos are something that need to be tried to be believed! Ryan & I practically inhaled them with a side of fried pickle chips in BBQ sauce, as well as two more tacos filled with plantains with sweet cream! The jackfruit carnitas tacos have been on my mind ever since this meal, so I'm going to attempt to make them this week.

After the grub, we headed to Scoops across the street only to find they were just about out of vegan flavors! A few of us ended up with some Lemon Jasmine ice cream, not my first choice, but it was smooth & refreshing nonetheless. It sounds like I'll have to make it back to Scoops earlier in the day sometime in the future as we missed out on flavors like Strawberry Balsamic & Tiramisu!

Sharon was kind enough to bring mini cupcakes from Leda's Bake Shop for Ryan & I! Everyone "oohed" & "ahhed" at their lovely decor & they were throughly enjoy later that night in our car before heading home. In addition to the lovely cupcakes, Teresa gave me a copy of Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan & Bazu gave me a Make Your own Chai kit! Aren't I the luckiest?! Thanks again ladies!

On Christmas Day, we were back in the Bay Area to spend time with my family. I didn't think I would have time to bake, but I managed to whip up some goodies for the celebration! Once again the Snickerdoodles from Kelly & Garrick's upcoming cookie book were made with the addition of their amazing English Toffee Bars, which you can find a recipe for here! Make them! The easiest thing I whipped up was Peanut Butter Fudge, which doesn't get baked at all, so you can whip this up for yourself anytime.

Peanut Butter Fudge
3/4 cup Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
1 cup peanut butter (natural works best, as sweetened will be far too sugary.)
3 cups confectioners' sugar (sifted, if clumpy)
2/3 cup cocoa powder

Lightly grease a 9x9 baking dish, parchment is another option for the bottom.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt margarine.

Remove margarine from the heat and whisk in peanut butter until smooth.

Stir in the confectioners' sugar & cocoa, a little at a time, until well blended. It should be thick!

Smooth & press the mixture into your prepared pan & chill until firm.

Once it's firm, cut it in to squares & enjoy!

This fudge tastes awesome right out of the freezer! It's a somewhat soft fudge, & it melts a bit, so it's nice to have some completely solidified.

In addition to sweet treats, I had quite the feast of savory foods! Family dinners can leave a vegan's plate pretty empty, but my mother was wonderful & prepared the mashed potatoes & green beans dairy-free, plus she surprised us with delicious fruit kabobs. My plate was full with Celine's Seitan "steaks", mashed potatoes & punk rock chickpea gravy, Ryan's cranberry sauce, green beans, & fruit kabobs. Needless to say, I was very satisfied with my holiday feast!

Well, 2008 is here! I started it dancing on a bar & playing Guitar Hero with friends, but after some rest time, I attended a brunch at the home of Shane & Mel from Veglicious Recipes! Mel was the most amazing host & made all the food herself, which included Lettuce Wraps, Peanut Butter coffee cake, roasted vegetables, Apple & Pear salad, & Cherry Coconut muffins, many of which you can find recipes for on her blog! It was an excellent way to start 2008 & if it's any indication of the year in store, it will be a fabulous year!


ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Did someone say "peanut butter fudge"? Yummy...

That's so great that you got to meet other vegan bloggers! I wish I could've been there too!

Happy 2008 :o)

nerdling said...

Damn! The strawberry balsamic from Scoops is one of my favorite of their flavors (followed closely by the coffee-brandy—one of their Thanksgiving vegan flavors and rum-coconut-banana).

Ruby Red said...

No fair! All the other bloggers get to party together! Sounds like you had a great time - this is the second time I've read about the deliciousness of the jack fruit! I need me some restaurant seitan after reading this.

Celine's seitan steaks look so yummy, you lucky thing! Lettuce wraps! Peanut butter coffee cake?! Ahh just stop!

Anonymous said...

Your meal at Madeline's sounds wonderful. I finally get to try them out this weekend, can't wait!

Traci Anne said...

You're making me drool! The lemon jasmine sounds pretty darn good, not gonna lie... and the jackfruit carnitas tacos sound AMAZING!!

Cakespy said...

Wow! What a great crew! How much fun, and what awesome, awesome desserts!

Anonymous said...

Wow - I am lucky if my mom will go to a restaurant with me that serves a vegan dish, let alone prepare one for me!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Sounds like a great end of the year to me! And wow, vegan chocolate souffle?!? Please try to recreate it and share the recipe with us... I have been missing that fluffy texture.

How fun to meet up with other bloggers! I think I just need to move to the west coast so I can join in on the festivities.

And peanut butter fudge, whoa, that's not fair to give us that right afer new years when we're all trying to be good. Must resist.... :-)

bazu said...

happy new year to you, too!

I love your holiday post, so full of goodness. It was great meeting up with you again, and I'm still drooling over jack fruit everything...

Oh, how funny, we got the exact same things at Madeleine- the lemon seitan for me and the chicken-fried seitan for Daiku. Unfortunately, they were out of souffle, so we shared the bananas flambe split- and it was actually fabulous.

Hope to see you again soon! ;-)

Rage And Love said...


You came to LA?! And got cupcakes from Leda's?

I love Leda's! Their cupcakes are so damn cute! My friend introduced to that place like 5 months ago, it's like a crack in the wall!

Hope all the best for you in 2008!

Pink Theory said...

ooh yummy yummy, peanut butter fudge. thanks for the recipe! looks like fun yummy times with fellow bloggers.

vko said...

Happy New Year Melisser!

Looks like a fun fun holiday- love your vintage tree & how nice to have a PPK meetup too! I didn't make it to Madeleine's in Tarzana but it was recommended to us by Tanya at Native Foods- so good to hear that it was delicious.

And those jackfruit carnitas sound amazing, especially since you & Bazu both raved about them.

Jenny Wren said...

I'm trying to imagine tacos with jackfruit. My memory of jackfruit is that it is like durian...way too sweet and smelling of garbage. I will take your word on it though! But everything else makes total sense. I will try the fudge!

Anonymous said...

Mmm, peanut butter fudge... As if I need any more decadent treats after my holiday over-indulgence!

And vegan soufflé...? I must learn how to make this!

mel said...

How was the souffle? Was it authentic? Get to work!

Lori- the Pleasantly Plump Vegan said...

ooOoo, thanks for the peanut butter fudge recipe!
oh, and those tacos. oh my goodness. i'll take 5 please (although, i COULD eat more).

urban vegan said...

That Xmas tree reminds me of my childhood tree!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

oh my goodness I LOVE your vintage silver Christmas tree - retro indeed!!

how fun that you got to meet Teresa and Bazu - you three are definitely awesome fellow bloggers!! :0)

Madeleine Bistro and Pure Luck sounds like great restaurants - your reviews are always so helpful and informative, and introduce me to new dining locations.

peanut butter fudge, eh? I'm sold! yum!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

A vegan soup competition sounds like SO MUCH FUN! Wow, I'm intrigued to see what you decide to make. Have extra fun for me when you go, since they don't have such a cool event in Dallas :o/

Maybe someday...

whitneybee said...

I totally want to try the peanut butter fudge! IT sounds delish!
Happy new year!

Gigi said...

Peanut butter fudge, YUM! It's so awesome that you got to meet other bloggers.

linda said...

Happy Birthday M!

xhellsbellsx said...

gosh i wish i lived in the states!!
your blog is gorgeous.
its so hard to get good vegan ingredients here (new zealand)
we dont even have graham crackers!
i survive though.
hey i made chocolate dipped vegan twinkies last night! they were delicious.
that mint cake looks amazing.
im making myself chocolate mint cupcakes for my birthday.

we have these great vegan after dinner mints that are so wafer thin they make the perfect garnish coupled with a mint leaf.

julie hasson said...

I love your tree Melisser! It's so cool.

All the food looks amazing, and makes me wish that I ate at different restaurants the last time I was in LA. I've heard so much about those chocolate souffles. I can't wait to see your version, which I'm sure will be even better.


Teresa said...

Oh I love how the picture turned out- you're going to have to email me a copy. Next time you're in So. Cal. we're going to camp outside of Scoops and run inside the second they open! We're also demanding they provide more vegan flavors each day considering those were the only ones they were sold out of!

Oh I do love your vintage Christmas tree. Damn reflection of the tree- It looked so cool in person!

Seitan Said Dance said...

That all looks amazing! And I rang in the New Year with some Guitar Hero too.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M said...

Carnitas are my favorite, I will have to try them with jackfruit when I am in town visiting family.

Fudge is my fav too. LOL

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

ccVegan- I wish you were there as well! It's always fun to meet vegan bloggers! The soup event is just a group of our brunchers, but it should be interesting!

nerdling- Sounds like I missed out!

rubyred- Come join us! ..& try out jackfruit, it's awesome!

Sharon- I hope you enjoyed Madeleine's!

traci anne- The tacos are totally amazing!

Jessie- indeed! yum.

vegfab- I was actually SHOCKED! My family ate steak 4 nights a week when I lived with them. They'd never go to a veg restaurant!

Amanda- Yes, come join us west coasters! I hope you come back to SF soon!

bazu- xo! We're global, bitches!

Rage&Love- Yep! I was lucky enough to score some Leda's cupcakes!

Jenny Wren- The key is YOUNG green jackfruit before it's sweet. It basically has no flavor, but has a good texture, so it can take on what you cook it in.

Hannah- A vegan souffle MUST be made!

mel- It was GOOD! I wish I'd thought more about how unique it was while I was eating it, it kind of occurred to me afterwards!

ppvegan- We ate SO many tacos & wanted more!

urbanvegan- That's awesome!

Linda- Thank you SO much! xo.

xhellsbellsx- Thanks so much! I'm sorry it's such a problem getting ingredients. Let me know if there's anything I can send you! Twinkies & mint candies- YUM!

Teresa- We are SO getting better options at Scoops next time! Maybe in February? I'll be in town for a wedding.

Michelle- Try it, they're awesome!

Pink Theory, vko, veggiegirl, whitney, gigi, julie, seitan said dance - Thank you!

TB said...

The next time I go to Pure Luck I am totally ordering those jackfruit carnitas tacos because they look amazing and a lot better than the burrito that I ordered last time (which was fine, but just not amazing). I have also heard that the plantains are very good there from a number of people now, so I will be trying those, as well. I LOVED those fried dill pickles, though ;) And wow, your cookies look amazing!

Anonymous said...

the food looks amazing! Youre making me hungry and in addition to that your making me crave chocolate souffles. =[

Ha! Looks like you guys had an incredible time!