Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sunday's Bake Sale

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Just a quick "hello!" and picture from Sunday's bake sale. It went okay. I learned a lot and I'm ready for the next one! Dates are still to be determined but thank you to everyone who came out and supported me! Especially someone who hiked all the way from his house! It meant so much!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bake Sale Update

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Hello all! I'm back with some Bake Sale Updates. No recipe posts for a bit while I prepare for this event. So here is the information I have so far about the first anticipated bake sale of the summer to raise money for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry  program.

Bake On Through No Kid Hungry Bake Sale
Day: Sunday, June 2nd, 2013
Time: 10am until supplies run out
Place: Roxborough Ave and Mitchell St, Philadelphia, PA
Items Being Sold:

<in the morning>
Mini Choco-Cinnamon Buns
Homemade Pop Tarts
Chocolate Loaf Cake
Vanilla Donuts with Glazed Topping

<in the afternoon>
Homemade Auntie Anne's
Peanut Butter Bites
Cowboy Cookies
Walnut Brownies
Sugar Cookies (Gluten Free!)
Salted Double Chocolate Chili Cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies
No Sugar (Added) Lemon Cookies

All items are vegan and healthier than traditional cookies.

For more information and a link to where you can donate if you can't make the sale, see my donation page
*Anyone who donates and sends me their home address will recieve a gift in the mail

Monday, April 29, 2013

Taking a Break

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Hi all! Please forgive me, I am taking a break from blogging for the time being. I've decided to sign up to work with No Kid Hungry and I'm trying to organize a bake sale to raise money so much of my time will be dedicated to getting that off the ground- for now. I hope to be back soon though!

I've also got some other things going on in the back ground which I can't talk about here, just yet. If you know me personally, feel free to ask because I'm really excited about it!

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Little Vegan Visits the Big City

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For a vegan, travelling can be kind of stressful. A lot of places are picking up on the "no-animal products" trend and it's getting much easier, but the unknown can be daunting. Fear not in New York City. Down south? Yes. I'm kind of nervous for my trip to Charleston in June. But New York? Vegan dining aplenty!

<Saturday Brunch> The Cupping Room Cafe
I'd been to The Cupping Room before when I wasn't a vegan and it was good. I was a little worried since they don't have a ton of vegan options, but I like the atmosphere and I knew there would be something I could have. So I had the Mediterranean platter. Of course it came with babaganoush but when I asked if it had mayonnaise in it, I found out it did so I opted for extra hummus and veggies. It was still delicious.

We spent the next couple of hours wandering around SoHo, shopping and making our way around various neighborhoods. I love walking in NYC. I feel like you find the best places when you wander around. As long as you have a general idea of where you are so you don't get lost, you can find so much. And who really gets lost these days with the GPS we have on our phones now? We actually found The Little Cupcake Bakeshop by just wandering around. And they had vegan cookies, however, they tasted like something I could have easily made in my own kitchen but I was told the non-vegan cookie was really good.

<Afternoon Snick-Snack> Lula's Sweet Apothecary.
 Now, I will walk anywhere in the city. If you give me a place, I can make it there on foot. It may take a while but I just love walking in the city. Because we were short on time, we took a cab over to Lula's which is in the East Village. Here I tried almost all of the ice creams, including Espresso, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Mint Chip. Ultimately I decided on the Mint Chip and it was by far my favorite. I've already elaborated on Lula's so I won't go into it anymore. Just know that it is one of the best places on earth.

After getting back to the car in So-Ho, we rushed over to the hotel to get ready for our dinner reservations. Traffic that time of day on Broadway was atrocious but we made it and had 45 minutes to get ready.

<Pre-Show Dinner> Victor's Cafe
I'm not sure how I ended up deciding on this place. Oh wait, yes I do. I saw that they had champagne sangria. Vegan options? Not so much. Champagne sangria? I'm there. The food was good, I really only had a small salad and some yuccas. My friend really liked it and I liked the atmosphere. The sangria was great as well. The champagne sangria wasn't as good as the red sangria though, but I'm more of a red sangria kind of girl anyway.

After dinner we mosied on over to the Palace Theatre to see "Annie". Growing up, this was one of my favorite movies so when I saw tickets on sale, I had to get them. The show was fantastic, though somewhat different than the movie, which is to be expected but it was still amazing and a choice I was happy extremely happy with.

<After Show Drink> The Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar
Lately I've been obsessed with rooftop bars. I went to a couple down in Charleston and now I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather sit, have a drink and relax. The weather was a bit chilly but with a jacket on, it was perfect. We sat right under the sign and took in the atmosphere. Some may recognize this hotel from the TV show "Gossip Girl" but I've never seen it. Apparently it made an appearance a few times on the show. I just got a good deal through Hotwire by chance.

<When I'm Hungry...> PJ Clarkes
After all of that drinking, I needed a little food in my tummy. Enter PJ Clarkes. It was right next to the hotel and being that it was now Sunday morning, I had to go where the food was. I had the mezze plate, sans the yogurt dip. I know, more hummus. What can I say? The options were limited at the time of night and I was better safe than sorry, It was really good hummus though and the pita bread was warm and wonderfully delightful. Oh and this carrot cumin dip? Amazing. I need to look into that recipe.

The next morning our brunch reservations weren't until 11:30 when the restaurant opened so we hung out, and I ran out for some Starbucks. By the time I got through the line, it was almost time to go to brunch!

<A Lazy Brunch> Cafe Blossom
I have a hard time find places that do a really good vegan brunch. In fact, I'm pretty sure most brunch foods are meant for omnivores. Cafe Blossom was all vegan brunch foods and it was decent, pretty good even. I'm still convinced someone (maybe that someone should be me!) should open a vegan brunch spot. I had a chickpea crepe filled with mushrooms and caramelized onions (it had hummus on the top, too. New Yorkers must love their hummus!). My friend had a plate with tofu scramble, sweet potato hash browns, toast, and an apple chutney that was pretty good.

Here is where Cafe Blossom won me over though: they serve Lula's for dessert. They had three choices and I went with Brownie Batter and Butter Pecan. Again, amazing on all accounts. I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it to Lula's in the afternoon so I wanted to get my fix in when I could.

After brunch we took a scenic trip through the city to Ground Zero. It's something I had been meaning to do since it's such an important part of American history. And although I don't know anyone who was there that day, I don't know anyone it hasn't impacted in some way or another. The line was long and security was tight but we eventually made it through. The memorial was solemn and beautiful. It's hard to believe that two huge buildings were once standing there. What I found most amazing was the fact that from one end to another, the buildings really weren't that wide. They were just tall and lanky. Looking back, it's hard to understand what the architect was thinking but it was a different time then, different mind-set.
It was also interesting to see all of the other construction going on there at the same time. I found myself peeking through the fences and checking out the job site more than most people there were. But that's just the industry I'm in so of course I would be intrigued.

In typical New York fashion (or big city, for that matter) there were no public restrooms available. So we decided to stop in at my new favorite place (after Lula's of course!) and grab a drink and relax. We found this on a whim while looking for somewhere to go to the bathroom and eat. The sign out front said "rooftop lounge" so I was sold immediately. It's not exactly on a rooftop, but they do have patios you can sit out and relax on. We stayed inside though, as the doors to the patio seemed to be locked.

The W Living Room is awesome. When I was there it was quiet (though apparently it turns into somewhat of a night club on Thursdays) and had comfy couches to lounge on while relaxing and taking in the view of the river and the World Trade Center. It was absolutely perfect. Except for the food. They didn't have many vegan options, the food they did have was wonderful, I'm sure but I was hungry and dinner was coming up so out came the Yelp! app.

<Sunday Dinner>Benares
Benares was another great pick. It's Indian food and I'd been having a craving for a while. I saw it had 4 stars and I was sold. I had an eggplant dish that was out of this world and it really hit the spot. After a drink, I suggested going over to Lula's before we headed home. On the way, I saw a wine store and popped in. I love that they don't have state controlled stores in New York, which means a wider selection at each store.

So after my final trip to Lula's, it was time to head home. I had a wonderful trip and was sad to go but I'm already planning my next trip and a hopeful stay at the W (if I find a good deal, holy moly those rooms are pricey!).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On Why I WIsh I'd Gone Green Sooner

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I'm back after a brief hiatus. I went to New York City with a friend and had Lula's THREE times! Three! Can you believe it?! It was so amazing. We went on Saturday when they opened and I had a scoop of the Mint Chip, which I've decided was my favorite. Then on Sunday we went to brunch and it was offered on the dessert menu. Um... why wouldn't I get a scoop of brownie batter ice cream and a scoop of butter pecan? So after dinner, and a couple drinks I thought it would be a good idea to head over again (my friend actually drove me across town so I could get another fix before heading home. He's the best!) On that trip I had a scoop of coffee and another scoop of the mint chip.

I was able to chat with the owner of Lula's, and she was seriously the sweetest vegan I've met to date. Since I haven't met Chocolate Covered Katie, I can say this. CCK seems like the nicest vegan in the world. But I have a confession: I thought she was an annoying vegan at first. I know. I thought vegans were annoying, animal rights freaks until I realized that some vegans are annoying animal rights freaks, some just love animals and have chosen a healthier lifestyle that supports their cause and others, like myself, are health-conscious vegans. Through becoming a health conscious vegan, I have become more apathetic to animals though and the conditions they face when they are raised for eggs, dairy and ultimately, meat.

Do I miss seafood? Sometimes. Do I miss cheese? Sometimes. Do I regret my decision? No, I don't.
So am I just following a diet trend? Sometimes I worry that people will think I'm just vegan because it's trending in the diet world, like Atkins, South Beach or Paleo. But for me, it's a lifestyle change. I don't see myself going back. Maybe one day, but I really hope not. The main reason I decided to go for it was that through becoming trendy, more options were available to me and I could finally see what it was all about.

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. I'm hoping to come back later this week with a post about my trip to NYC and the places we went and tried (some vegan, some not, you have to keep everyone happy!).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Bought a Starfruit!

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Luckily that's not my only big news to share! How boring would that be? I mean I bought a starfruit and tried it for the first time ever, but I don't really know if that could be considered "life changing" but you know what is? When your best friend in the whole wide world gets engaged!

Yup! They got engaged on Sunday! This was the same couple that moved to Charleston last April and I'm so excited they are taking the next step in their journey together. Even better? They were in town when he proposed so we were all able to celebrate afterwards together!

That being said, I have tons of updates to go over. Most importantly, how gorgeous is that starfruit??? It was tasty too. I saw it in the grocery store and I realized I had never had one. I bought it with the intention of using it in a recipe but because I have been so busy lately, I ended up just cutting it up and eating it plain. I haven't seen any in the stores lately but I'm hopeful I will see them again.

What else... what else? Oh! I'm going to New York City on April 6th to see "Annie" on Broadway. I loved the movie as a kid so I'm excited to see the Broadway adaptation. Does anyone have an vegan restaurants they recommend? I have found a few that I'm curious to try but narrowing them down is the hard part! There are so many! In Philadelphia there are a select few (Vedge is my absolute favorite period) but New York has so many options.

And I definitely want to make it to Lula's. Last time it was closed. Apparently they are having some conflicts of interest among the owners. Hopefully we can squeeze it in. It's out of the way and between the hotel, theater, and SoHo where we are spending most of our time added on to the fact that we have dinner reservations and they don't open until 3 it may be tricky. They are open until 11:30 though... hmmm...

Moving on...St. Patty's day? I made Irish Soda Bread. I don't celebrate it, being English and all. Plus I'm already tiny so I don't need any more leprechaun jokes thrown at me. People can be so cruel, don't you think?! So I made this soda bread and it wasn't bad. It's basically cinnamon raisin bread but with out the cinnamon. And it's vegan!
So what's in store for next weekend? Just hanging out I guess. It should be quiet since I don't celebrate Easter. Maybe just me in my kitchen with some champagne. How awesome does that sound?

Adapted from: Liz the Chef
Yields: 1 loaf

1/2 teaspoon unsalted (vegan) butter (I used Soy-Free Earth Balance) and 1-2 tablespoons flour for preparing pan
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cup almond (or any other non-dairy) milk
1 3/4 Tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a round cake pan.

Combine almond milk and lemon juice and set aside for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Turn out onto a floured surface and lightly knead, just for a minute or two. Shape the dough into a round, flat shape, place in prepared pan and cut a cross into the top of the dough.

Cover the pan of dough with another round cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes covered, then remove top pan and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sweet Potato "Fries" and Chipotle Dip

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It's no secret. I love sweet potatoes. Regular white potatoes? You can have them. Sweet potatoes? More please! These are super easy to prepare, and even easier to eat. I also threw together a Chipotle dressing to take these over the edge. Since I'm not a huge ketchup person, it was perfect.

Fries are personal. Everyone likes them cooked differently. I like them crispy on the outside and only slightly soft on the inside. The crispier the better. I rarely eat them. And when I do they are always baked in the oven, never fried.

The dip is wonderful too. I know mayo on fries seems weird but it's not. It's actually an English thing that I discovered while I was studying abroad in London. I used a vegan mayo and added some spices to taste and I was really happy with the results.
It's spicy, tangy and can easily be altered to suit one's taste buds.

How do you like your fries? Crispy or soft? Salty? Plain? With ketchup? Flavored? Not at all?


Sweet Potato Fries
Yields: 5 servings

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the potatoes into fry shapes (thick or thin), then toss with the oil or oil spray in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Spread the fries on the baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from oven, turn fries over and bake another 15 minutes or until desired crispiness. You can also broil fries for 2-4 minutes for added crisp. (I broiled mine with a veggie burger and got them super crispy!)

Chipotle Dip
Yields: 1/4 cup

1/4 cup vegan mayo (I used Soy-Free Earth Balance)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning

Mix everything in a bowl and adjust flavors as necessary. Feel free to mix it up and add or omit whatever ingredients you want. It's so easy to make your own!