November 28, 2011

Nhu Lan Bakery

The day after Thanksgiving, we had already eaten too many leftovers and didn't feel like cooking, so we ventured to Nhu Lan Bakery in Chicago for their vegetarian Banh Mis. They have four different types.

The #9 - Classic Veggie. This one normally comes with mayo, so let them know if you're vegan and they'll sub vegan pate. Marinated julienned vegetables and fresh herbs.

The #10 - Lemongrass Tofu with marinated vegetables, jalapenos and herbs.
The #11 - Ginger Tofu with marinated vegetables and herbs.
The #12 - Veggie Pate + Ham, also with marinated vegetables and herbs.
My favorite was the Veggie Pate + Ham. They also serve spring rolls, salads, smoothies and traditional Vietnamese desserts. Really good cheap eats when you're eating with a mixed crowd of veggies and omnis.

November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving was incredible this year...
First, let's start with The Greenbean Casserole. I made Isa Chandra's recipe and it rocked. Seriously, it was my favorite dish of the whole day. I also made Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish (make sure to add orange zest - it adds so much flavor).
My mom brought Corn Pudding (very similar to this recipe) and Chestnut Stuffing with Puff Pastry and gravy.
And...Mashed Potatoes with cream cheese and green onions + Cauliflower Mousseline (puree cauliflower and season just like you would mashed potatoes - vegan butter, cheese, milk and spices, top with breadcrumbs and bake).
And for dessert, Coconut Cream Pie. Mmmmmm...all vegan and insanely delicious.

November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year for Thanksgiving, I adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. It's a lovely thing to do and they'll even send you a picture and certificate of your turkey. You can choose from several different turkeys from their NY and CA locations.
This year, I chose Elizabeth. Isn't she beautiful? No, I didn't think so either. Turkeys are not very attractive :)
So...since I won't be eating turkey tomorrow, what will I be eating? My family is coming to Chicago to celebrate with my husband and me. Here's what we'll be making, all vegan of course:

Mashed Potatoes with cream cheese and green onions
Baked Corn
Cauliflower Mousseline
Green Bean Casserole - not the traditional version, but Isa Chandra's version!
Brussel Sprouts
Cranberry Orange Relish

I'll have pictures of everything on Friday! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

P.S. Elizabeth's favorite foods are kiwi and melon.

November 21, 2011

More Chestnut Stuffing!

Since Thanksgiving is this week, I wanted to post this fabulous recipe for Chestnut Stuffing again. It's by far my favorite recipe for the holidays and I promise you everyone will go crazy over it, vegans + omnivores!
I posted this recipe last year, and got incredible feedback. It's totally up to you if you want to use the puff pastry or not, it's great both ways. And thanks again to my mom for sharing her killer recipe!!!

Chestnut Stuffing with Puff Pastry

½ cup oil
1 cup soy butter
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
8-10 cups day old bread, cubed
2 T. poultry seasoning
1-2 cups peeled, roasted chestnuts
2-3 cups Better Than Bouillon No Chicken stock
1-2 sheets of vegan puff pastry
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil and half of the butter in a large pan. Saute the celery and onion until translucent. Add the bread cubes and stir to evenly distribute the oil and butter mixture. Add the remaining butter and season with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the bread mixture into an oven safe serving dish. Add the chestnuts and vegetable stock. Top with puff pastry and bake at 400˚ for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

2 T. canola oil
2 T. soy butter
¼ cup grated carrots
¼ cup diced onion
2 T. flour
2 cups Better Than Bouillon No Chicken stock
1 cup soymilk
½ cup vegan sour cream
3-4 T. soy sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter in a medium saucepan. Saute the carrots and onion until translucent. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the stock, followed by the soymilk, sour cream and soy sauce. Let it come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I'll have lots more to share with you later this week on the other dishes I'll be serving!

November 18, 2011

Bun Mi Express

Vietnamese food holds a special place in my heart...and my stomach. I'm half Vietnamese and my mother is a chef, so I grew up eating a lot of traditional dishes. Finding vegan, even vegetarian Vietnamese food can be tricky. Thankfully, in the past few years the Banh Mi has been everywhere in the vegetarian community. Last weekend my husband and I stopped by Bun Mi Express for their take on this tasty sandwich.
Seasoned tofu, marinated cucumbers, carrots and jalapenos, with lots of fresh herbs on a crispy baguette. Even my 'hopeful pescetarian' husband loved it. It's the perfect lunch and a great price!
They also have Veggie or Lemongrass Tofu Spring Rolls (they're awesome!) and a Curry Seitan Sandwich on their menu.
Click here to see one of my all time favorite Banh Mis.

November 16, 2011

Mana Food Bar

Having heard so many good things about it...I finally had dinner at Mana Food Bar last week. Mana is a vegetarian restaurant in Chicago, and has an incredible reputation with both veggies and non-veggies.

I started with the Five Spice Tofu, a salad with shallots, basil, cucumber, and tomato in a soy red wine vinaigrette. The tofu is so good and I love the flavor combinations in the salad.
I followed up with the Sesame Noodles, chilled yellow wheat noodles tossed in spicy sesame peanut sauce with shredded peapods and carrot. I love anything with spicy peanut sauce and this was absolutely perfect.
And finally, I had the Spiced Pumpkin Tamale with mole poblano. Creamy, spicy and lovely for fall.

And their heated patio is a great way to spend a chilly evening.

November 14, 2011

Santullos Eatery

BBQ Chicken Pizza has been around for quite some time, but I didn't ever think I would be able to eat such a thing unless I made it for myself. My husband and I were craving NY style pizza last week so we stopped by Santullos in Wicker Park. I had heard they offer vegan cheese, but I was so very pleasantly surprised when I saw a Vegan BBQ Chicken (seitan) Pizza on the menu. 

On Mondays you can get this pizza by the slice, which includes Upton's Naturals seitan, Daiya mozzarella, green peppers, red onions and sweet BBQ sauce. They also offer the Veggie Brickhouse with seitan pepperoni, seitan sausage, green peppers, red onions, vegan mozzarella and tomato sauce. And you can also create your own pizza with the toppings of your choice.
They also have the Vegan Santullo Sandwich with seitan pepperoni, seitan sausage, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, vegan mozzarella and vegan Italian dressing, plus vegan potato salad and cookies.

I actually love pizza with tons of roasted veggies, extra sauce and not a trace of vegan cheese, but sometimes it's nice to have a substantial pie with vegan meats and cheese. And I love love the sweet BBQ sauce as an alternative to tomato sauce!

November 11, 2011

Ethiopian Diamond

Two weeks ago, I tried Ethiopian for the very first time. My husband, a good friend and I met at Ethiopian Diamond in Chicago and shared the Vegetarian Sampler, which consists of Shimbra Assa (a unique vegetarian food prepared from chick pea dough cooked to look like a fish watt (stew), Yemisir Watt (red lentils simmered with onions in a spicy homemade sauce),  Kik Alicha (split peas cooked in a mild sauce of onion, garlic and ginger), Gomen (chopped collard greens simmered in a mild sauce of onions and fresh garlic), Tikel Gomen (sliced cabbage and carrots cooked in a mild sauce) and Dinich Alicha (potato cubes and carrots cooked in a mild sauce of onions, garlic, ginger and Ethiopian spices).

You eat everything with your hands, there are no utensils. Instead of a fork, you use a spongey, sourdough-like bread to scoop everything up. 
Everything we tried was insanely delicious. My husband was not a huge fan of the bread, but I loved it. The flavors were so unique and each dish was better than the next. And combining a little bit of each with the bread was the best part!

November 9, 2011

Chipotle + Gardein

Did you know that there are some Chipotle locations that offer Gardein vegan chicken? Amazing, right?! I stopped by the Chelsea location on my last trip to NY and got to try it firsthand. 

I ordered the Crispy Tacos with vegan chicken, lettuce, pico de gallo, corn salsa and guacamole on the side. It was so nice to have another option besides rice and beans (although I love their rice and bean tacos!). As a vegan at a non-vegan restaurant, it's lovely to have more than one option.

November 7, 2011

Chicago Vegan Mania

I still have more to share from my last trip to New York, but yesterday I attended Chicago Vegan Mania and I couldn't wait to post about it! 

It took place in a beautiful building, covered with ivy, in Pulaski Park.
I spent most of my time in the food area :) My husband and I stopped at each of the booths and sampled all kinds of vegan treats. Although, some of the lines were so long that we couldn't try everything.

We started with a slider from The Chicago Diner, not pictured. It was so crowded that we had to eat while standing in line, so I don't have pictures of everything, unfortunately. 

Then we shared a Chicago style hot dog from Drew's Eatery.
Where they also sell Pickles on a Stick!!!
And best of all...Nachos from Upton's Naturals. They debuted their Italian beef style seitan at the event, paired with Food for Lovers queso, it was heaven. My omnivore (hopeful pescetarian) husband was in love. That should tell you all you need to know. Non-vegan approved. I have a jar of this spicy vegan queso in my refrigerator right now - it's amazing!
For dessert, I had Chocolate Raspberry Truffles from Canary Confectionary. These blew my mind. So rich, chocolatey, sweet and decadent. 

Urban Vegan had too long of a line, but the Orange Chicken sounded amazing. And I'm lucky enough to have Soul Vegetarian's Mac + Cheese on a regular basis, so I went for the new-to-me vendors.

I also got to see my friend, Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture. If you don't know of this company, they design and create beautiful vegan winter coats, as well as tees, tanks and accessories.

It was an amazing event, full of vegans and non-vegans and the best of Chicago's vegan eats and vegan friendly businesses and organizations. If you're in the area next year, I highly recommend it!

November 4, 2011

Harlem Tavern

The Harlem Tavern is a fairly new restaurant on the Harlem scene. It's not far from our neighborhood so my husband and I ventured there on our last visit.

They have an amazing flatbread topped with hummus, grilled tomatoes, red onions, zucchini, squash and artichokes. It's so flavorful and filling - just make sure to order sans cheese if you're vegan! I promise you won't miss it.

Their location is perfect year round - a huge outdoor patio in the summer...

And a warm, inviting interior for cozy winter evenings.

November 2, 2011

Cowgirl's Baking

On my last trip to New York, I stopped by Cowgirl's Baking for a quick lunch on Taco Tuesday.
All day Tuesday their tacos are only $2.
I tried the Fish Taco with vegan fish, vegan fish sauce, pico de gallo, & cabbage. The creamy sauce with the crunchy fish and fresh cabbage - it was absolutely delicious.
I also had the Black Bean Taco with beans, pico de gallo, Daiya cheese, lettuce and vegan sour cream. You really can't go wrong here.
 I couldn't leave without trying one of their mini cupcakes...I went with the Chocolate Peanut Butter. It's the perfect size, you won't feel guilty at all after eating one (or two)!
It was the perfect lunch. I can't wait to go back and try their some of the other cupcake flavors, which include Tiramisu, Boston Cream Pie, Coffee + Donuts and Cherry Sundae. They also serve Deep Fried Kool-Aid....hmmmm.

Also, I'd like to thank all of you for a very successful Vegan Mofo. Monday was the last day and already I can't wait until next year!!!