Saturday, October 13, 2012

Red Velvet Brownies, Yes Indeed

I love red velvet anything. And when I saw this on Pinterest, I knew that the hours of rambling spent on that site was not for naught. I'll make a vegan version in the days ahead but I tried the original and they were pretty darn good.

Red Velvet Brownies:

3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz. red food coloring
2 t. vanilla extract, divided
1/2 C. unsalted butter (I used margarine)
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 C. flour
1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8x8 pan.

In a small bowl, stir together cocoa powder, food coloring, and 1 t. vanilla into paste with no lumps of cocoa.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in remaining vanilla. Add cocoa mixture and beat for two minutes until batter is uniform color. Slowly add flour and salt and mix on medium-low speed, just until combined.

Pour into pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool before frosting and serve.

The recipe calls for a white chocolate buttercream. I used a vegan cream cheese frosting.

I found the recipe here: Smells Like Home

Friday, August 17, 2012

So This Happened Tonight

I found this recipe earlier this afternoon. I knew it would be my Friday night treat so I can get up and run in the morning. It worked perfectly.

5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

4 tbsp all purpose flour
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp applesauce (I used soy yogurt)
1/8 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp non-dairy milk
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp chocolate chips

Mix together dry ingredients in a large mug. Then add applesauce, vinegar, non-dairy milk, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chips. Microwave on high for three minutes (my microwave took 2:30). Cool slightly before eating.

***Recipe from Vegan Heartland here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Bought an Ice Cream Maker

I bought an ice cream maker at Costco and now my life will never be the same. Now I can make vegan ice cream and sorbets for much less than the $7 a pint of non-dairy ice cream that the grocery store charges.

My most recent deliciousness was a fresh peach sorbet with peaches that I bought at the farmer's market. It went something like this...

Fresh Peach Sorbet:

5 peaches, peeled (about 2 cups pureed)
1/2 C. sugar
2 t. lemon juice

Peel the peaches by soaking in boiling water for 45 seconds then 1 minute in an ice bath. Peach skin will easily come off. Add peaches to blender and puree. Add sugar to saucepan with small amount of pureed peaches. Over medium heat, melt sugar into puree. In a separate bowl combine sugar/peach mixture with remainder of peach puree and add lemon juice. Chill mixture in refrigerator until cold, then add to ice cream maker and mix for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nomadic Month of May, Part 3: Virginia

My final week on the East Coast was spent in Richmond and Charlottesville with my girlfriends Leslie, Linnea and Mandy. Leslie did a lot of research beforehand, and thank God for that (Ipanema!). There was lots of exploring and eating and shopping...


Ipanema Cafe: [website]
I am still thinking about this place. If I ever get back to Richmond, this will be my first stop. It is touted as the best vegetarian restaurant in all of Richmond. And after our meal, I can say that I'm not surprised.

The tofu sandwich I had (with a side of sweet potato fries) was one of the best veggie sandwiches I've ever tasted. It was grilled tofu with oven-dried tomato, hummus, caramelized onions, and spinach. It was divine. Foursquare told me that it would blow my mind; Foursquare was right.

Also, this place is apparently known for their pies. My friend Leslie and I split the Mexican Chocolate pie. She loves pie and this one made her cry; it literally brought tears to her eyes. 

The Republic:
We wandered down the street for an after dinner drink. The Republic was close by and they had some localness available; we chose one of the Hardywoods.

Black Hand Coffee Company: [website]
I had to get some work done the next morning so we needed a place with wifi. The Black Hand was close at hand. A bagel sandwich (egg & cheese on everything) and some coffee did the trick. It was good. Not as good as Vic's in NYC, but good.

Halcyon Vintage Clothing: [Facebook]
Leslie turned me into a vintage store junkie, and in her Richmond research, she discovered Halcyon. The lady who owns the store is said to have vintage superpowers. I believe it. She had some amazing things in this store, whether they fit or not, whether they were practical or not, she had some amazing pieces.

I did end up buying a simple black dress that works well for work and probably the coolest necklace that I will ever own.

Mary Angela's Pizza: [website]
Leslie loves pizza, and Mary Angela's on Cary Street where we shopped was convenient for lunch. We split a veggie pizza and then took the leftovers to our airbnb apartment. It made the poor girl's refrigerator smell of onions though (sorry, girl!).

Carytown Cupcakes: [website]
We can't pass up a chance for a dessert, and especially a cupcake for that matter. I had a difficult time deciding between vegan lemon and vegan lemon-blackberry. The gal behind the counter talked me into the lemon-blackberry because it was a special. But since I was going to be in Richmond for a week, I felt it likely that I would eventually come back in for the vegan lemon. Though, the lemon-blackberry was quite delicious.

Rooster Cart: [Facebook]
In her research Leslie discovered that there was going to be a food truck rally one night in the parking of the Virginia Historical Society, down the street from our apartment.

She also noted that the Rooster Cart was going to be there and that this cart was supposed to be amazing. It was. I had the Tofu Bahn Mi. The veggies were fresh, the bread was great and the sauce just right. You can see a picture of their creations on their Facebook page. This would be the second place I eat if I ever get back to Richmond.

Commercial Taphouse: [Facebook]
On Leslie's list for post-food cart happiness was another search for localness. I experienced the best beverage of my life here. I almost died from happiness.

Lamplighter Roasting Co.: [website]
So good that we had to go back with the girls later in the week. The breakfast and coffee was perfection. I had an egg sandwich with grilled asparagus, tomato and havarti. I could eat that every morning; goodness gracious it was good.

Agecroft Hall: [website]
From breakfast we went over to Agecroft Hall for a tour of the house and gardens. It was really quite interesting.

This house is a Tudor estate, a manor house that was actually built in Lancashire, England in the late 15th century. The house fell into disrepair and went up for auction. So Thomas Williams, Jr. of Richmond purchased the structure, had it dismantled, crated, and shipped to Richmond. It was then reassembled in Windsor Farms, a neighborhood in Richmond.

Most of the rooms in the house were actually redecorated in the manner that they would have appeared back in 16th century England. All except the library. That was left as the owners set it up in Richmond. That was my only complaint; I wanted to see how the people who bought the house, shipped it and rebuilt it lived. I didn't care about the authentic pieces from the 16th century that the estate had collected  and pieced together to show us how people in England (and not Richmond) lived.

The gardens were pretty extensive, though we missed some the blooms. They were lovely to wander through.

If you go visit, just remember one word: priesthole.

Moshi Moshi: [website]
Sushi! We just needed a little snack. And their Dirty Hippie Roll hit the spot. We stopped at one more vintage/thrift store, which had far too many good things. I narrowed it down to one dress and one shirt. Then we hit the airport to pick up the other two girls and make the drive to Charlottesville.

The Local: [website]
Now, we're in Charlottesville for the night. Leslie was checking it out as a new hometown. And we wanted to go to Monticello.

For this restaurant, it's all in the name. It's all about the local here. "Eat, Drink & Be Local," they say. So we did.

There were limited veggie options but they did have delicious that could be made vegan, so I went with it. And loved my choice. It was the Roast Local Zucchini with quinoa, dried cherries and almonds over braised greens with tomato sauce. Mmm, mmm, mmmmm.

C&O Restaurant: [website]
Another downtown stop (in the pouring down rain) was C&O. For after some local after-dinner drinks. We sat in the basement bar and chatted it up with a Facebook friend of Leslie's that lives in the town.

Blue Moon Diner: [Facebook]
Before Monticello, we fueled up at the recommended Blue Moon Diner. We were told if you order the pancakes, you might get the face of Dwight Schrute from "The Office" in powdered sugar on top. I did order an ala carte pancake, but I got a "girl on scooter" and not Dwight.

Monticello: [website]
The home of Thomas Jefferson. Go there. Take the tours (garden and house). Look around and ENJOY! The tour guides were great, the views were amazing, and the history of the man who built this place is important.

Revolutionary Soup: [website]
Voted "Best Vegan Options" by the Best of Charlottesville, it was a good thing I was so hungry by the time we finished at Monticello and headed back to downtown Charlottesville to find food. I went with the (vegan) tofu sandwich. It did not disappoint. (Man, I love tofu sandwiches!)

Mudhouse: [website]
After our late lunch, we needed a little sweet and coffee. Mandy and I split a chocolate torte-type thing. Mmmmm. Paired with their good coffee, it hit the spot.

Cous Cous: [website]
Back to Richmond for the remainder of our weekend. Another top recommendation for veggie eaters on Leslie's list (what a good friend, making lists of eateries good for me), we stopped by Cous Cous before checking into our swanky hotel.

We got there a little late and they were getting ready to set up a band for the night. But we ate and left before any of that happened.

I went the small food route: Israeli Cous Cous (onion, fennel, carrot and peppers) and the Curry Platas (seasoned fries with curry sauce). I could have ate my weight in the curry sauce, yow!

The Jefferson Hotel: [website]
Leslie's brother works for a sister resort of The Jefferson Hotel so he got us the super sweet Family & Friends deal. We got to stay in this luxury hotel for three nights for like $60/person or something ridiculous like that. It was nice, real nice.

Lamplighter Roasting Co.:
We had to take our girlfriends back here for morning coffee and breakfast. I had to try something a little different this time. I went with The Works, vegan style: Tofutti with capers, red onion and tomato. Yum.

Sweet Frog: [website]
In between shopping on Cary Street, we needed a snack (my blood sugar was getting low and that's never a good thing for the group). Leslie and I split a bowl of frozen yogurt, which included peanut butter and Snickers. Yeah, that was a winning combo.

Maymont: [website]
We went to a little local grocer and got some lunch items to picnic at Maymont. Maymon is another historic estate in Richmond. And once we found the correct entrance, it was good. Though the main house was closed for tours by the time we arrived. So we just explored the grounds. Quite pretty overlooking the river.

Capital Ale House: [website]
My friend Joe in Nashville recommended that we stop by the Capital Ale House. It is one of his all-time favorite places for a beer. He even has the t-shirt.

The menu was extensive, so to narrow things down, we kept it local. We hit a few high points and a couple of weird points, but overall a great experience.

Lift Coffee Shop: [website]
Before hitting the town for our last full Richmond day, we walked a couple blocks to Lift for some coffee and breakfast. Leslie and I found it on Yelp -- it was within walking distance and open. But it wasn't the greatest location on our trip.

Legend Brewing Company: [website]
After a failed attempt at a farmer's market and stop at a design store and some driving around The Fan, we made our way to Legend across the river for a brewery tour. Two of us took the free tour and two of us just sat outside and enjoyed the view of downtown Richmond. Good beer, and good snacks. I had a big baked pretzel. Love those.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: [website]
Our afternoon was spent at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. My favorite exhibits: the photography exhibit and the furniture. The modern art section was really great, too. Make sure you visit!

Carytown Cupcakes:
We went back to the cupcake place; Leslie and I had to show the other girls the cute place. And I wanted that vegan lemon cupcake before leaving town.

Fresca on Addison: [website]
I had been waiting and waiting all week to go to this place. This was a "vegetarian bistro." We walked past it numerous times. On Saturdays they have half price pizza. So I went with the pizza; I had one of the special pizzas of the day that included asparagus, I believe.

Byrd Theatre: [website]
The Byrd Theatre is one of those old school theaters that show two movies at a time, one at 7ish and a different one at 9ish. And the movies cost like $3. This particular weekend the 9ish o'clock movie was "21 Jump Street." I haven't laughed that hard and that loudly in a movie theatre, maybe ever. What a fun experience!

How I feel in NYC sometimes...

My friend Leslie posted this on my Facebook wall during my last trip to NYC. There were a couple moments I felt this way...

Rush Hour by Yann Kebbi

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Nomadic Month of May, Part 2: Washington, D.C.

Next stop on my nomadic month of May was Washington, D.C. My friend Shelby (from Portland) was in the town working and said that I could crash with her and her cats for the week. I made this week about food trucks and repeat visits to some favorites.


White Tiger: [website]
Shelby and I kicked off my week with some Indian food at White Tiger. There was not much going on the evening we were there. But the food was delicious. I had the vegetable kofta and Shelby had the paneer. Both were delicious as was the naan bread.

Pour House: [website]
After dinner we walked to the Pour House to watch some of the Celtics vs. 76ers game. And found Bell's Oberon.

Sol Mexican Grill: [Facebook]
My first food truck of the week was the Sol Mexican Grill. For a veggie burrito. I skipped the cheese and sour cream so it was vegan. There was no need for either. Worth a repeat visit in the future.

Pound The Hill: [website]
Shelby and I had a late dinner at Pound The Hill, a coffee shop on Pennsylvania Ave. They have a great dinner menu as well. We split the Tuscan Bread Salad and the hummus plate. That salad was amazing!

Ebenezers Coffeehouse: [website]
I like Ebenezers. It was particularly convenient to Shelby's apartment last year and while I was out on my hunt for a lunch truck, I stopped for an iced coffee. Good stuff.

DC Ballers: [website]
Food truck #2 was DC Ballers, a falafel and fries truck. I went with the falafel side and sweet potato fries. I went with the chipotle may as my dipping sauce, which was NOT a wrong choice. It as delicious with both the fries and falafel.

Founding Farmers: [website]

Return visit #1. Leslie and I went here last year for Sunday brunch. The wait was worth it. Shelby and I planned before my arrival that we would have eat there. So we did. Dinner this time. Without a reservation there was going to be a wait so we hovered in the bar area and scored to chairs pretty quickly.

I love that Founding Farms has vegan options. I chose the vegan meatless bacon burger and it did not disappoint.

sweetgreen: [website]
Before a stop at Whole Foods in the neighborhood, we of course needed dessert. So we hit sweetgreen, a salad and frozen yogurt place. They had a special that week, with blueberrys, agave and graham crackers. Pretty good, though very sweet.

This is a chain in the area, but how many cities have such frozen yogurt chains these days? Lots of them do. And this is a decent one.

Big Cheese Truck: [website]
Next food truck lunch came from the Big Cheese Truck. I've been following them on Twitter for a while and missed trying their food by mere minutes last year. This time I made it before they closed up for lunch. I had the Cherry Glen, which is Cherry Glen chevre with lemon fig jam, and it was delicious.

FYI, there are no substitutions from the menu, I think because they have the sandwiches pre-made and they just grill them in the truck. That helps keep the line moving but I think hurts the hot-off-the-grill freshness. It makes a difference, especially after enjoying so many sandwiches from The Grilled Cheeserie in Nashville that makes them to order.

TaKorean: [website]
Hands down my favorite food truck in D.C. and possibly my all-time favorite. They offer a vegan taco that is simply the best. I will go out of my way to have one of these. It's caramelized tofu goodness.

Sweetbites: [website]
I took my tacos over to Farragut Square and joined a few other hundred people for lunch. It was Food Truck Friday so there were more trucks to enjoy, including my dessert choice Sweetbites, a cupcake truck.

There was a line so I had some time to debate which kind of cupcake I wanted. I chose the Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache. I chose well. The cupcake was just so-so, not dry as some tend to be. But the flavors with the cake, ganache and frosting were delightful.

Newseum: [website]
I had a coupon. That's why I went. The ticket was good for admission for two consecutive days. Which made it totally worth it. I wanted to visit on previous trips to D.C. but with so any free things to do, I couldn't bring myself to spend the money for a ticket. My friend Shelby had coupon for 33 percent off. And it was totally worth the $15 for the two days, and I did need that second day.

Highlights were the 9/11 exhibit, the Pulitzer Prize Photographs gallery and the little tour of the studio for This Week With George Stephanopoulos. (I might have a little crush on George.)

Jimmy T's Place:
Shelby and I went over to the greasy spoon down the block from her apartment for breakfast. It took forever and the coffee was standard, lousy diner coffee. I remember Shelby's breakfast looking lousy and I don't even remember what I ordered...eggs and toast, I think.

Ethiopic: [website]
Alongside Takorean, this is probably my favorite restaurant. It's a must-stop for me in D.C. Not only do I love Ethiopian food, but I love to eat with hands. I pretty much ate an entire vegetarian sampler myself. This place is never bad.

Ted's Bulletin: [website]
We picked up one of Shelby's co-workers who had dropped her keys down an elevator shaft and decided we should do dessert at Ted's. Because dessert there is something special. I had the white russian milkshake. I think I shouted "oh my word" after taking a sip; good thing we were sitting outside. The onion rings were good, too.

Pound The Hill:
I think Pound became my new favorite coffee shop in D.C. Shelby and I had to redeem the breakfast from the day before. If I remember correctly, I had some kind of spinach, egg and feta croissant (not vegan) and some of their yummy coffee. It more than redeemed the previous day's breakfast outing.

Biergarten Haus: [website]
Shelby and I met up with some of the concert crew in the afternoon. I'd been here two years ago when it was brand new and the place was buzzing. Good this time around and not so crowded.

Rita's: [website]
Shelby and I couldn't decide what we wanted for dinner as we walked back home so we decided to do an ice cream tour to see if that would sort out our feelings towards actual food. Starting with Rita's. I had the Red Velvet Italian Ice -- not that great.

Pitango Gelato: [website]
Lucky for us, there is now a Pitango Gelato out by Eastern Market, close to Shelby's place; this is both delicious and dangerous news. Still not "feeling" any of the restaurants in the area, we go for more ice cream. I went with a nutty combination on this visit: the Nicciola (hazelnut) and the Silician Almond. We ended up going hom and making dinner.

BACK TO D.C. I headed back to D.C. after my time in Virginia (recap blog to follow) to catch a cheaper flight to Chicago. But I also got to spend time with Shelby and Russ and catch some of the The National Memorial Day Concert on the lawn of the Capitol Building, before it was called for rain.  The last few stops I made during the Nomadic Month of May included....

Leslie and I popped in here last year for a quick bite. I had a cold dish with tofu that was amazing. This time I tried the Indian Spinach Curry, which was good, but afterward I wished that I had just ordered that tofu dish again.

The Orange Cow:
After my spicy lunch, I wanted something cold. I was in the neighborhood of the downtown Pitango but before I got there, I turned a corner and found The Orange Cow ice cream truck. This was new to me, so I had to try it. I went with the Coffee Oreo. A great choice.

Pound The Hill:
As if I hadn't been here enough in the last two weeks... One more morning was not going to hurt anyone. I kept reading on Yelp and Foursquare about this place's Nutella latte. I didn't try that latte but I did try the Nutella scone with my Americano, and boy howdy, was that thing ever good. Which reminds me. I meant to "google" a recipe for those.

Acqua Al 2:
The dinner winner was this little Italian place by Eastern Market, and I was a winner with the ravioli with pear something or other that they had on special that night.

Pitango Gelato:
Since Pitango was across the street, across the street we must go for dessert. Chocolate Noir and Spicy Chocolate sorbets: the perfect chocolate combination.

And thus ended my time in D.C. and my Nomadic Month of May. It sounds like all I did was eat and drink coffee. Which was mostly true. The rest of the time I was working from home. I didn't spend much time out and about in the city since I had done most of it already.