Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dining on the run; Frozen Yogurt, Circus Demos, Donuts, & a Potluck!

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

Life has been busy lately & it seems like I've been everywhere but home! Last week, I headed down to Palo Alto to have a meetup at Fraiche, home of my favorite vegan frozen yogurt. It was a small group of Ladybros, but the attendees included Megan from Say It's Not Soy, Jordan from Too Vegan to Function, Erika from Strange & Violent Creations, & Jennifer who may be the only vegan on earth without a blog! You may also recognize Jordan & Erika from their podcast The Cosmopolitan Hour! I can be heard babbling on Episode 21 & a few other episodes, so you should listen in! Back to the frozen yogurt, did I mention I'm obsessed? It's plain & tangy yogurt topped in your choice of toppings. I went with Mango & Apricot this time & was saddened to find out they've discontinued Pineapple, my topping of choice. Rumor has it, San Francisco gets a Fraiche location a mere 6 blocks from my house in 2 weeks. Oh man, I'm in trouble! Delicious, delicious trouble.

Recently, I've been down in San Jose with Citizens for Cruelty-Free Entertainment to pass out fliers to circus-goers to let them know Ringling Circus abuses their animals & animals should not be used for entertainment. It's always an interesting time, as reactions vary wildly, but ultimately if you change the minds of a few people, it is completely worthwhile. If you're in the Sacramento area, Born Free USA will be at the Arco Arena leafleting Thursday, August 27th through Sunday, August 30th & volunteers are always welcome. I'm going to try to make it out there Friday & Saturday. Not in the area? Born Free USA has circus & other animal related literature to hand out in your own area.

While in the South Bay, I had the chance to check out Psycho Donuts in Campbell & bring back some donuts for the circus volunteers. While I'm not the biggest fan of their shtick (mental illness isn't funny), I AM a big fan of their "We Been Vegan" donut. A donut covered in Cinnamon & Sugar may not sound like much with all their other over-the-top offerings, but this old fashioned cake donut was fluffy & moist with just the right amount of sweetness & spice from the coating. There's rumor of the vegan options expanding & I hope that's the case!

Over the weekend, I went to a housewarming party for two of my favorite gals, Meg & Kelly from The Sisters Vegan. It was a potluck, of course, & the theme was Middle School Foods. I made some Coconut Cake Balls, which didn't quite fit the theme, but I also made mini Bagel Pizzas, ala Bagel Bites! I took the highbrow route & made them Garlic & Heirloom Tomato with a blend of Italian & Cheddar Daiya Cheese. I have to say, they were pretty darn good & I wouldn't turn down another chance to eat them! The potluck spread was pretty tasty, Erin from Vegan Homemade made an awesome Potato Salad & there was everything from TWO types of Corn Dogs to Peanut Butter Cups, Cookies, & Box-style frosted Brownies. Do I even need to say we were stuffed?!

On a final note, did anyone else celebrate National Waffle Day yesterday? We had vegan Cheddar & Green Chile Waffles with Roasted Brussels Sprouts last night & I had hoped to bring you a recipe today, but those little buggers wouldn't stop sticking! They were tasty though! I think my waffle iron may be on its way out, so I may get a new one & try them again, so I can share the wealth!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sweet on San Luis Obispo, Whole Foods Southern California, & "Sweet Justice"; a Benefit.

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

While this weekend was hardly a relaxing getaway having done 14+ hours of driving in less than 3 days, we always take the time on trips to find delicious vegan options along the way! Our first stop was halfway between San Francisco & Los Angeles in San Luis Obispo, our former home & the current home to our good friend Josh. Josh is always kind enough to let us crash at his place, any hour of the night, any day of the week, seriously ANY time, so I decided to surprise him with a delivery from Amy Bakes Cupcakes!

A popular Central Coast special order bakery, Amy Bakes Cupcakes has options for the vegan & gluten free folks & will deliver right to you! With Josh being a lover of Peanut Butter & Chocolate, I opted for a dozen of the "PB Kiss" cupcakes, a moist, flavorful peanut butter cupcake, topped in sweet chocolate frosting! He was completely surprised & they disappeared quickly! We can't wait to pass through & place another order, I have my eye on the S'mores cupcakes next!

Another sweet treat in San Luis Obispo is the newly opened chocolate shop, Sweet Earth Chocolates. Formerly housed in Splash Cafe, this company making organic, fair trade confections has opened their own storefront location & seems to have more vegan options than ever! While my favorite will always be the rice crispie & cashew flecked caramels coated in dark chocolate they call Turtles, I certainly would not turn down their other chocolates! I opted for an assortment for myself & friends, including Vanilla Caramels, Chili Orange Walnut & Almond Clusters, plus Cherry Almond & Peppermint Bark. They also have Truffles, Fruit Gellies, & Peanut Butter Cups! Luckily, you can order online if you won't be making it to San Luis Obispo any time soon.

I have heard time & time again that Southern California Whole Foods are the best around. Well, even though we only made it to Thousand Oaks & not the vast locations further south, we were pretty well impressed. Signs declared that we were in the midst of vegan options & we found everything from organic cotton candy to Gardein Curry Salads & even a vegan friendly taco bar. Sure, those all sound great, but we were there for the "Surfboard Pizza"! Whole Foods in Southern California offer large, surfboard shaped pizzas with the soy free, non-dairy cheese Daiya, that has been taking the vegan world by storm. We opted for a Garlic, Tomato, & Spinach pie which was topped in Cheddar Daiya, baked to perfection in a wood fired oven, & set us back a mere $13.99! While I prefer my pizza topped in Cheezly, this was a pizza definately worth eating & sharing with friends!

For those of you in the Bay Area, there's a benefit coming up on August 28th at 8pm to support the AETA 4. "Sweet Justice" will be a night of vegan desserts with a silent auction, raffle, & more to benefit 4 activists currently jailed due to the Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act. Please see the AETA 4 blog post for more information! For those of you who can't be there, please sign this petition to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act!

Finally, if you haven't checked out Veggie Thing lately, you're missing out! Sure, I might be a bit biased because they just featured the Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes my company Sugar Beat Sweets made for Sky at Eats Well With Others, but they also bring you the best in vegan eats across the United States, submitted by vegans like YOU! Be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tasty Testing, Ambrosia Salad, & upcoming trips!

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

Thank you everyone for the well wishes on my last post. I am finally feeling better, I'm back in the kitchen & ready to share my culinary adventures! Lately, I have been devoting time to recipe testing for two of my favorite people, superstar cookbook authors, Isa & Terry! I've mentioned the upcoming Vegan Latina book from Terry before & trust me, it's going to be phenomenal (check out The Sisters Vegan post), but did you know Isa has another book coming up as well? Hot off the heels of Vegan Brunch, will be a whole foods, weight conscious cookbook, low on fat, but high on flavor! I've made quite a few dishes already like the Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry with Plantains, a Potato & Corn Salad that gets a kick from Chipotle Peppers & other dishes all varied & delicious! In the photos are a Quinoa Salad with beans, veggies, & toasted Cumin Seeds, plus some chewy & delicious Scarlet Barley topped in Mushroom & Cannelini Paprikas! Trust me, you would never know this was a low-fat book, everything has been fabulous!

In a previous post, I mentioned I had made vegan Ambrosia Salad for a potluck at my house. Well, based on the comments & emails it seems people want to make this trashy treat for themselves! There's not much of a recipe, much like the original, it's all about opening processed food containers & pouring them in to a bowl, but hey, you asked for it, so you get it! I used organic canned fruit, but if you want to stick to the classic version, go for syrupy fruit cocktail & maraschino cherries!

Vegan Ambrosia Salad
1 box of Soyatoo Whipped Cream
1 Vanilla Bean or Vanilla extract (optional)
1 can of Fruit Cocktail, drained
1 jar or can of Cherries, drained & sliced
1 bag of Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
1 cup of shredded coconut (optional, I served mine on the side, as an add-in.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine Soyatoo Whipped Cream & vanilla. Whip for a few minutes, until it reaches a fluffy consistency.
Combine the fruit in a large bowl, fold in the whipped cream mixture, then the marshmallows & coconut (if using).
Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. (Yes, it's that easy.)

In travel news, Ryan, Strummer, & I are off to Southern California this weekend to see relatives. Hopefully, I'll have some tasty food to report on when I get back! Also, in late September, I'm headed to Austin, TX & would love to meet up with my Texas vegan pals, so get in touch!

In uber exciting news.. we're going (back) to JAPAN! Ryan & I recently celebrated 11 years as a couple & to reward ourselves, we booked a flight to Tokyo in October. Calling all vegans in Japan! We want to meet you! Of course, suggestions on where to go are very much welcome. We went to Japan on our honeymoon 4 years ago in October, as you can see in the photo from a Purikura booth, but we'd like to see new things this time. We will likely be in Tokyo, Kyoto, & Nara, but are open to suggestions! Bring 'em on!