May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Vegan Grilling

What a relaxing long parents came to visit and we did some serious grilling.  Corn on the cob, Chicago dogs, veggie burgers, vegan chicken + pineapple for dessert. 

You can see photos of our Chicago dogs here.  Use your imagination for the hamburgers and chicken, they're not the most photogenic!

You can grill the corn in its husk (remove all of the silk-like fibers first) on high heat for about 20 minutes, until the corn turns bright yellow.  You might also want to soak them first in water - ours caught fire a couple times :)
We then poured on some melted Earth Balance, fleur de sel + chopped green onions.

 And for dessert...grilled pineapple with So Delicious vegan coconut ice cream. 

May 27, 2011

Setian Bourguignon

A couple of weeks ago, I finally made Biz Stone's recipe for Seitan Bourguignon, featured on the Martha Stewart Vegan Show.  I used Better Than Boullion No Beef Base as the stock.  It's my favorite brand of vegetarian stock, and they were kind enough to send me some to replenish my supply.

You could also use the Vegetable Base, which has a nice sweetness to it.
The recipe is amazing.  I did substitute Vidalia onions for pearl onions since the pearl variety was not available in my grocery store at the time.  I also served the leftovers over pappardelle noodles, for a bit of a twist.  For the seitan, I stayed local and used Upton's Naturals, really great flavor + texture.
I realize this is a time to start eating lighter, more raw meals, but here in Chicago it's only starting to warm up!

May 25, 2011

Green Festival in Chicago

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I attended the Green Festival in Chicago. 

There were so many speakers, from green building experts to raw food chefs.  I was particularly excited to see The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Colin Beavan (No Impact Man), Michelle Kaufmann (designer of amazing prefab homes) and Karyn Calabrese of Karyn's Raw.  

There were so many vegan and vegetarian activists there, including Peta, Mercy for Animals and Chicago Vegan Mania.  I truly believe veganism is the most important of the green movements.
And I was so thrilled to see The Chicago Diner and Soul Vegetarian as food vendors.

My husband had the Gyro from Chicago Diner, which was absolutely delicious.
And I could not pass up Mac & Cheese, BBQ Tempeh, Collard Greens + Cornbread from Soul cozy and comforting!
Chicago was the first stop for the Green Festival, they'll also be in Seattle, New York, LA and San Francisco.  You can see the schedule here.

May 19, 2011

Off to celebrate...

My husband and I are off to Turks + Caicos to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary...

This will be my first trip there as a vegan so I'll have lots to share next week :)

May 18, 2011

Green Zebra

Last night to celebrate my 30th birthday, my husband and I had dinner at Green Zebra in Chicago.  I had heard such great things about their inventive vegetarian and vegan dishes that I thought my birthday was the perfect time to visit.

It's a small plates restaurant, with different sections on their menu, going from raw and light to heavier and more intense.  They are completely vegetarian, with vegan options.

I started with the Bitter Lemon Soda, which was so light and refreshing.  Fizzy and dry with lots of lemon.
For my first course, I had the Hawaiian Hearts of Palm & Somen Noodle Salad with papaya, edamame and ginger-soy dressing.  The textures were amazing together - I love the noodles mixed with the crisp vegetables.
For my second course, I ordered the Black Bean Dumplings with chimichurri and roasted tomato puree.  These were by far my favorite.  I can't even begin to describe how good they were.  They seem so simple but the flavor was outstanding. 
And for the third course, Chow Fun Noodles, crispy lotus root, charred shishito pepper, sesame-shoyu and tempura.  This dish was spicy, salty and like the best Chinese takeout you've ever had times ten.  It's what you wished Chinese takeout tasted like.
It's all in the details...a crispy thinly sliced potato with a floating parsley leaf.
And finally for dessert I had the Lime Tapioca with Coconut Sorbet and Pineapple.  I really had no idea tapioca could be this good.  It was the perfect dessert - sweet and decadent without leaving you feeling heavy afterwards.
And for my birthday, they sent out a lovely Lemon Sorbet with a single candle.  This sorbet was unlike any I've ever had.  It was almost effervescent with hints of mint and an intense lemon flavor.
It felt like an experience at Green Zebra, not just dinner.  I really loved all of the details and the seriously beautiful presentations.

May 16, 2011

Ely's To Go - New Location

My parents' vegan restaurant, Ely's To Go, moved into a new space a few months ago. I visited them not long ago and took a few pictures.  
The menu changes daily, you can sign up for the daily menu here.
A vegan diet is the most sustainable practice, but they also include this concept into every aspect of the business.

Did you know that raising animals for human consumption accounts for 51% of climate change?  You can see more about this statistic here.
Almost all of the furniture came from Cleveland Art Supply, where they take discarded local industrial material and transform them into beautiful recycled pieces.
Sugar, salt and pepper jars are used instead of individual packets to reduce waste.
The utensils are made from biodegradable materials.
They also recycle and composte + buy local and organic. 

And they even promote my blog :)

May 13, 2011

Vegiterranean Follow-Up

On my last visit to see my parents in Ohio, we had dinner at Vegiterranean and totally indulged.  Part of this is because Chef Scot, the head chef, was extremely generous and gave us a few things to sample along with our selections.

We started with the Hot Italian Banana Peppers filled with Fresh Herb Risotto, Daiya Mozzarella and a Basil Lime Sauce.  Typically I don't love banana peppers, but these were truly incredible.  The perfect amount of heat topped with a creamy risotto.
We also shared a special that evening, Fresh Greens topped with Grilled Artichokes and several dipping sauces.
My husband ordered another special, Seitan Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Greens. Wow...nothing lacking in this dish.  So comforting and perfectly seasoned.
My dad had the Italian Frito VT Chicken Scaloppini – Herb Battered and Fried VT Chicken Scaloppini served with Chrissie Fries and Braised Escarole.  Perfectly crunchy with a sweet sauce, and the Chrissie Fries are out of this world.
My mom had the Eggplant Parmesan topped with Daiya Mozzarella and fresh basil.   This dish normally comes with Gnocchi, but my mother ordered hers with spaghetti.  I love seeing vegan versions of traditional dishes, it's the first step at getting omnivores to make the transition ;)
And I ordered the Risotto Cakes – Oven Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Artichokes and Smoked Garlic with Sherry, Fresh Herb Cashew Cream Sauce, served with Braised Greens.  I love risotto and making it crispy only sweetens the deal in my opinion.  With the sauce, it's a perfect combination.
Now here's where the real indulgence begins.  We ordered two desserts to share, and three came out, compliments of Chef Scot.  We took our leftovers home, as you simply cannot throw out perfectly good vegan desserts.

First, Tiramisu.  All I can say is that it was as good as it looks.
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting and Raspberry Sauce - so decadent, rich and lovely.  
Vanilla Raspberry Cheesecake - oh how I miss the crust on cheesecake!  I've seen vegan cheesecakes go horribly wrong but thankfully there are some (see below) that make up for all the rest.
What an awesome experience.  And a huge thanks to Chef Scot for treating us so well!

You can see my previous post on Vegiterranean here.

May 11, 2011

Loving Hut Columbus

Loving Hut Columbus recently had its grand opening - it's actually in Reynoldsburg, but it's worth the drive.  My nephew and I stopped in for lunch a couple of weeks ago, it's one of his favorite restaurants. 

Loving Hut is the fastest growing chain of vegan restaurants in the world.   Each of their locations has its own menu, but a few dishes do overlap.  You can see a list of their US restaurants here

I love Thai Iced Tea, but most Thai restaurants don't offer a non-dairy option.  I was thrilled to see it on LH's menu with soymilk being the only option.
My nephew had the Golden Nuggets and vegetables with tartar sauce.  The nuggets were gone in a matter of minutes, the vegetables took a little more coaxing.
I started with the Lady Fingers, crispy thin rolls filled with a red bean paste, served with crisp carrots and broccoli.
And followed up with the Kung Pao, crispy veggie protein sauteed with Kung Pao sauce, peppers, cabbage, onion and cashews.  This dish was really satisfying and I love the addition of cashews. 
I'm a huge fan of Loving Hut, I've been to four different locations now and each one was equally tasty.  I've also noticed that the people working there are exceptionally pleasant.  And I've said this before, but it's worth mentioning again...They're very picky about their ingredients.  Nothing is genetically modified, everything is triple checked to be 100% vegan and organic whenever possible.

You can see my visit to Loving Hut Pittsburgh here.

May 9, 2011

Mad Mex

I've been wanting to feature Mad Mex in Columbus for some time now, and during my last trip there, I finally got a chance to have lunch there.  

The amazing thing about Mad Mex is that they offer tofu, vegan cheese and vegan sour cream.  I was expecting a vegan sour cream like you buy in most grocery stores.  However, what I got was exactly like a homemade cashew cream version.  It was incredible.  

I ordered the Herb O’vore’s Tofu Tacos with crispy tofu tossed in a sweet-soy-citrus sauce, bean sprouts, sliced avocado, cilantro and avocado-tomatillo salsa.  The vegan sour cream, black beans and rice accompanied the tacos.
Mad Mex also has three other locations in Pennsylvania.  My nephew, Isaac (in the background), loved this restaurant!

May 6, 2011

Jeni's Splendid Cherry Lambic

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus always has the best sorbet flavors. 
This visit I discovered their Cherry Lambic flavor.  It is by far my favorite.  Normally, I despise cherry flavored anything - it reminds me too much of cough medicine.  But this sorbet actually tastes like real cherries.  And the Lambic gives it an effervescent quality that is so addictive.
I love the old school imagery and this milk bottle chandelier.  Good design makes all the difference.

May 5, 2011

GGA post - What To Do + Eat in Seattle

If you want to see all of my Seattle eats in one spot, check out my Girlie Girl Army post on What To Do + Eat in Seattle!

May 4, 2011


Last month I spent a week in Columbus visiting my family.  As you might know, Northstar is one of my favorite Columbus restaurants.  

I met a good friend there for dinner and we shared the Whole Grilled Artichoke...amazing starter.
I followed it up with the Northstar Burger, made with organic brown rice, black beans and beets, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion + simple salad.  When ordering, tell them you're vegan and they'll switch the bun to focaccia and use mustard instead of a mayo based sauce.  The entire menu features a 'V' when an item can be made vegan, very helpful.  I also love that the only burger they serve is veggie!
And they make a Fresh Ginger Ale that I cannot resist.  It's a must every trip.  You can see it here.

May 2, 2011

Better Than Boullion

Speaking of grilling, potato salad is one of my favorite things to serve with Chicago dogs.  I recently wanted to try something a bit lighter and went with French Potato Salad.  I found a great recipe by Ina Garten and veganized it with amazing results.  It's packed with fresh herbs and a vinegar based sauce, making it a great alternative to a heavier mayo based sauce.
Superior Touch recently sent me some samples and their Better Than Boullion No Chicken Base is my go to for just about everything calling for chicken stock.  I find vegetable stock can be a bit sweet when concentrated and this has little to no sweetness, which can make all the difference in savory recipes. 
I also use this boullion in my mom's Chestnut Stuffing.