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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nomadic Month of May, Part 1: NYC

I became a nomad for the month of May. My house sold and my new place in Springfield was not available until June 1. So what is a homeless Traveling Auntie to do? Visit different friends in different cities and see what new exciting things she can find. First stop: New York City....

Now, of course I've been to NYC a bunch. I love it so much. But I have a never-ending list of places that I want to try, though this time I did return to a few spots that I love. The first three days of my time in the city I stayed in Times Square with work colleagues for a summit that our organization was holding. I had free time to escape the craziness of Times Square to find less touristy places to enjoy, as is my custom.


The Treats Truck: [website]
A repeat visit. My co-worker Jasmine and I went for a wander and we found The Treats Truck. And I needed a sweet treat: a Rice Krispy treat. So delicious.

Carmine's: [website]
Our first evening was a dinner with board members and staff at Carmine's. One of those legendary restaurants on Times Square, and a place I would not normally go. What I did appreciate about Carmine's is that they have a separate vegan menu that they allowed me to order from.

The Hummus & Pita Company: [website]
The best pita sandwich that I've ever had. They make the pita bread fresh right there. I had the vegetarian pita, with tabuleh, cous cous, chickpea salad and hummus. And free baklava, because I followed them on Twitter and mentioned them; they gave me a passcode. A good lunch stop to remember for the future.

Cafe Grumpy: [website]
I was in the neighborhood (Chelsea) and felt like getting a coffee. I knew where to go -- one of my favorite places. Always good coffee.

Lula's Sweet Apothecary: [website]
I have had Lula's on the brain since I was there in December. And I had to have it at least once while I was in the city. This time I went with cookies & cream. I did not choose poorly.

Vic's Bagel Bar: [website]
I've had Vic's on my list. They used to have a truck. But no longer. So my co-worker and I found the storefront and boy, did the little walk pay off. I had the Mediterranean breakfast bagel and a LARGE Stumptown coffee. All the hype about this place was right.

Jaya Malaysian:
Lunch on Friday after the summit finished was down in Chinatown at a little place that one of my co-workers knew about. I went with the deep friend tofu with Thai sauce, and whatever veggie appetizers that my co-worker ordered for the table.

Artichoke Basille's Pizza: [website]
Rather than eat at Juniors in Times Square with a bunch of co-workers, my co-worker/hotel roommate went to get pizza. She wanted some pizza before leaving the city, and I knew where to take her: my favorite pizza place. We split a wedge of Artichoke pizza and then walked to our dessert spot....

Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck: [website]
Dessert was more ice cream but this time from one of my ice cream trucks, Coolhaus. I had the chocolate chocolate chip cookie with Guinness chip ice cream. Yeah, that was a winning combo.

Joe the Art of Coffee (at Grand Central Terminal): [website]
I spent my Saturday in the city before heading out to Brooklyn to stay with a friend for the rest of the weekend. I needed to start my day with some good coffee and the Yelp reviews led me to Joe. The closest one being in Grand Central. One coffee and one scone purchased, I paused in the main terminal and people watched while I fueled up.

The Green Bean Cafe: [website]
I wandered about Tudor City for a while, found a bench in the shade to finish my coffee and read, then wandered past the U.N. before heading up to the Upper East Side for some museum time. By the time, I reached UES, I was ready for lunch. A search for good veggie food led me to The Green Bean Cafe. I got a Organic Tempeh Bacon BLT sandwich to go. Amazing. So delicious. I will go back to try another sandwich.

The Jewish Museum of New York: [website]
I have not spent much time on Museum Mile. So this trip I decided to check out a few museums while in the city this time. On Saturday the Jewish Museum is free (since it's Sabbath). The store and cafe are not open but you can go to the exhibits for free. I really enjoyed this museum with a good mix of history and modern art.

Juliette: [website]
I made my way out to my friend's in Brooklyn area. He suggested that we try his favorite place for dinner in Williamsburg. Juliette is supposedly a Parisian restaurant in W'burg. I had the vegetarian sandwich on focaccia with Japanese eggplant which was delicious. But our service was awful. I'd go back as long as we didn't have the same waiter.

Spuyten Duyvil: [website]
We walked a few blocks for a post-dinner drink. I did not like my choice.

The Mud Truck: [website]
I headed back into the city for another museum and on my way, I needed coffee. I had a couple places in East Village on my list but they were not open. So I went to the nearby Mud Truck and got myself an iced coffee and croissant. It's nice to know that I can always find the Mud Truck at Astor Place.

Museum of the City of New York: [website]
After stopping by my favorite used bookstore just up from the Mud Truck, Alabaster (where I found a cheap biography on Albert Einstein to add to my reading list for 2012), I jumped on the subway and headed back up to the UES for the Museum of the City of New York.

For $10 admission, I saw a video art installment along with the permanent exhibits. But the best part was The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan. According to the website, it's been extended to July 15. Totally worth the price of admission to have a guided tour through the exhibit and then any additional time you need to go through and look at all the pictures of Manhattan from farmland to present day. Loved it.

Central Park:
I had gotten a late start and didn't have sufficient time for the Guggenheim or the Met. I'll have to do those next time. So I wandered back south through Central Park. It was a Sunday afternoon so the park was bustling with great people watching. Real fun.

S'Mac: [website]
Dinner was vegan mac-n-cheese in the East Village. It was good vegan mac-n-cheese but still not as good as what I had at Kate's Joint nearby in December.

Jane's Sweet Buns: [website]
I read about Jane's in Imbibe magazine that featured the top spots in NYC. This place was included in the list because it makes sweet buns that include adult libations. I got The Old Fashioned and The Rum Runner to share with my friend.

Effy's Cafe: [website]
I met my friend Dawn for lunch up by her work on UES. This was after I became stranded on the subway with my luggage. Ugh. Thank God for cabs. Anyway, she took me around the corner to Effy's.  I had the Hummus Sandwich, which included Spanish eggplant, boiled egg and Israeli salad on 7-grain bread. Best eggplant sandwich I've ever had. I was in heaven. And then there was the cupcake that Dawn got me for dessert: Oreo Cupcake. Yes. And I even had leftovers to take on the train with me to D.C.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The third thing I baked in my new place....

I got this recipe from VegNews. After making some whole wheat bread in the bread maker and some vegan molasses bread (from Vegan Planet), I made these yummy vegan treats. They reminded me of the dessert hummus I've made previously.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mini-Muffins

1/2 C. quick-cooking oats
1 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. applesauce
1 1/2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 T. vanilla
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
3/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease mini-muffin tin(s). In a food processor, combine oats, garbanzo beans, applesauce, vegetable oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt, baking powder and brown sugar until completely smooth. Mix in chocolate chips and scoop dough into muffin tins. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. Let cook 10 minutes (at the most) before removing from muffin pan.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I had spinach. I had tofu. Then I had this.

I had frozen spinach that needed to leave the freezer. I had some tofu in the fridge. I googled this and made it with the ingredients on hand. Some homemade chapati on the side, perfection.

Palak Da Saag with Tofu 

2 C frozen spinach
1 t. sugar
8 green chilis – small Indian variety
1 onion – finely chopped
1 t. ginger-garlic paste
1 t. garam masala
15 cashews (soak in hot water for two hours and grind into thick paste)
15 tofu cubes (grilled or pan-fried to light golden)
2 T. lime juice
1/2 t. turmeric
Salt to taste
1 T. oil and 1 T. ghee

Thaw frozen spinach. Bring water to boil in saucepan. Add spinach and little salt and sugar. Boil for 5-7 minutes. Drain water and let spinach cool. Once cooled, puree in food processor or blender with little water and chilis. Grind to coarse paste by adding a pinch of salt and sugar. In skillet heat oil and ghee.

Add chopped onion and sauté to golden brown. Add and fry ginger-garlic paste for few seconds. Add pureed spinach-green chili and 1/2 cup water. Stir in cashew paste, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Before turning off the heat, add tofu and sprinkle in lime juice.

 ***I made this without the chilis, ginger-garlic paste and cashews, and it tasted delicious!

Monday, March 19, 2012

This Is Just Delicious

I had a butternut squash, just waiting patiently for me to find a new (non-soup) recipe. I found this one in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch (thanks to my friend Lisa for the book). I need to go get another butternut squash to make some more, since I have more sage pesto and pasta to use. Oh, and this is vegan, too, thanks to this particular book.

Penne with Butternut Squash, Sage Pesto, and Almonds:

My version

8 oz. whole wheat or brown rice penne pasta, cooked
2 T. refined coconut oil
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch sticks
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 C. sage pesto (recipe below)
1/4 C. sliced almonds

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the shallots, salt and pepper, and cook until squash and shallots are tender (about 1-2 minutes). When the pasta is done, drain it and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to pot and stir in pesto and squash mixture. Add pasta water only if it seems dry. Garnish with almonds.

Sage Pesto:

1/4 C. whole almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 C. fresh sage leaves
3/4 C. fresh parsley leaves
3 oz. vegan cream cheese
1/2 t. fine sea salt
1/8 t. pepper
2/3 C. extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor, combine the almonds and garlic and pulse to roughly chop. Add the sage and parsley and pulse to chop. Add the cream cheese, salt, and pepper and process into paste. With motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil, processing until oil is fully combined. Makes 1 cup. Can store in refrigerator for 3-4 weeks, with thin layer of olive oil on top.

***Recipes are from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

First Attempt: Not so pillowy

In a search for some plain vegan pancakes, I found this recipe. I liked the idea of puffy pillow pancakes. Who wouldn't want puffy pillow pancakes?

My first attempt this morning were not so pillowy. I even followed all the tips to let the batter rest and not heat the griddle to hot. I think my batter was too runny to start. Never fear, I will try again.

Puffy Pillow Pancakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center. Measure the milk into a measuring cup. Add vinegar and ground flax seeds, and use a fork to vigorously mix the ingredients until foamy. This will take a minute or so. Pour the milk mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the water, canola oil and vanilla and use a fork to mix until a thick, lumpy batter forms.

Preheat the pan over medium-low heat and let the batter rest for 10 minutes. Lightly coat the pan in oil. Add 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake, and cook for about 4 minutes, until puffy. Flip the pancakes, adding a new coat of oil to the pan, and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Pancake should be about an inch thick, and golden brown.

***I found the recipe here: Post Punk Kitchen

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Request for an Auntie Visit

I found this picture on my Facebook wall:

Photo by Leslie Ryann McKellar
As a loving Auntie, how could I resist? I booked a ticket ASAP.

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

I had two bananas that were moving to that overly ripe stage, and I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if I can find a vegan recipe combining peanut butter and bananas." Commence some "Googling" and I found this. The original recipe (link at the bottom) included a glaze for the muffins but I skipped that; it sounded like too much sweetness.

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

4 black bananas
1/2 C. smooth peanut butter
1/4 C. vegetable oil
1/3 C. boiling water
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t.baking powder
1/2 t. salt (optional--salt in the PB covers it)
1 t. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line or grease muffin tins. Mash bananas with the oil, peanut butter, and boiling water. Sift sugars, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.  Gradually spoon into banana mixture. Pour batter into muffin tins. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until a toothpick can be extracted clean. Cool for five minutes. Remove from muffin tin.

***Original recipe found here: Chew The Fat

Friday, March 9, 2012

Curried Chickenless Salad

I adapted this from Vegan Planet, or simplified it rather because I didn't have all the ingredients. It was delicious.

For this curried chickenless salad, I used one-half package of tempeh (poached). I chopped it up and added to a mixing bowl. I added enough Veganaise to make me happy and added 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

I was hungry so I put it on my homemade vegan whole wheat bread with some lettuce and chomped it up. The salad was still a little bit warm, which was fine, but I think it'll taste better chilled.

(How to poach tempeh: Just add to boiling water and let cook for 10 minutes.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Homemade Pop Tarts!

I found this recipe via Pinterest. And I couldn't resist trying them. They tasted better than real Pop Tarts...nothing like fruit-flavored cardboard filled with preservatives.

Whole Wheat Pop Tarts

For the dough:
1 1/2 C. whole wheat pastry flour

1 C, brown rice flour, plus 2 tablespoons

1/4 C. arrowroot flour, plus 2 tablespoons
 (I substituted cornstarch)
1 1/2 t. coarse sea salt
1 C. plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
 (I used Earth Balance)
10 T. ice water

For the filling:

3/4 C. apricot preserves
 (I used raspberry preserves)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I used vanilla)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water (I just used water to keep it vegan.)


Place pastry flour, brown rice flour, arrowroot flour, and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add butter and pulse until it looks like wet sand, about 8 (1 second) pulses. Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse after each addition. Pulse until dough gathers into larger clumps. The dough should not be crumbly. If it is, add a tablespoon or two of water. Divide dough into 2 portions and wrap plastic wrap around each piece, pressing firmly to form into a disk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator place on a floured surface. Roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick. Cut rectangles that are 4-inch x 2 1/2 inch. Place half of the rectangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the egg wash over the entire surface of each piece of dough (This helps seal the filling inside. Again, if you’re egg-free then use water to seal the dough). Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each rectangle, keeping about 1/2-inch perimeter. Place a second piece of dough on top of the first and gently press around the pocket filing, sealing the dough. Using a fork, press the tines around the edge of the tart. Repeat with remaining tarts. After all tarts are assembled, brush each with egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Repeat process with second disk of dough.

Storage: The tarts will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. To reheat, place in a 350ºF oven for 10 minutes. The pop tarts can also be frozen. To reheat, place on a baking sheet in a 350ºF oven for 20 minutes.

***I found the recipe here: Deliciously Organic

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy National Pancake Day!

In honor of National Pancake Day, I decided to make pancakes for dinner. A search of Post Punk Kitchen for a vegan pancake recipe, I found this. Yes, indeed a keeper. And what I like about it is that it doesn't use sugar. It does have a small amount of pure maple syrup as a sweetener, but otherwise I think they reserve the sweet for adding syrup (or maybe a vegan cream cheese topping?) on top.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes (Vegan):

2 T. ground flaxseeds
1 C. almond milk
1 t. apple cider vinegar
1/4 C. water
1/4 C. pure maple syrup
2 T. canola oil
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 C. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice
1 C. peeled grated carrot (grated, not sliced)

In a small mixing bowl, using a fork, beat the flax seeds together with the milk for about a minute. Add the vinegar, water, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Mix well. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon just until combined. Fold in grated carrot. Let batter rest for at least 5 minutes.

Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray or oil. Add batter in scant 1/4 cup scoops. Cook three at a time for about 4 minutes (or until the tops look mostly cooked), then flip and cook until lightly browned, 2 more minutes.

***I made a half batch and it was delicious.
***I found this recipe here: Post Punk Kitchen

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dessert Hummus? Yes please.

My birthday was Sunday and the Super Bowl was Sunday. My contribution to the party was dessert hummus.

I stumbled on these recipes. And I have every intention of making them again. I tried the chocolate chip cookie dough and the chocolate fudge brownie; both were divine. Next stop, the peanut butter.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dessert Hummus

1 C. cooked great northern (white) beans
2 T. almond butter
2 1/2 t. vanilla
3 T. honey (or agave)
sprinkle of salt
sprinkle of cinnamon (optional, but add it)
1/4 C. chocolate chips

Add all ingredients except chocolate chips to food processor and blend until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips, chill and serve with fruit, pretzels, etc.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Batter Dessert Hummus

1 C. cooked great northern (white) beans
2 T. almond butter
2 t. vanilla
5 T. honey (or agave)
1/4 C. cooked sweet potato (or squash or pumpkin)
1/4 C. cocoa
sprinkle of salt

Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth. Chill and serve with fruit, pretzels, etc.

Peanut Butter Dessert Hummus:

1 C. cooked great northern (white) beans
1/3 C. natural peanut butter
2 t. vanilla
1/4 C. honey (or agave)
1/4 C. cooked sweet potato (or squash or pumpkin)
sprinkle of salt

Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth. Chill and serve with fruit, pretzels, etc.

I was just thinking, you could add chocolate chips to the brownie batter and the peanut butter or maybe cocoa to the peanut butter. Oh, the choices!!!

***I found these recipes here: Nourishing Flourishing

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mom's Meatless Meatloaf

I made my mom's meatless meatloaf tonight, though I switched it up to make it vegan. Bless her for finding the recipe for her meatless daughters. It's tasty; I could eat the whole pan at once.

Meatless Meatloaf


3 C. whole wheat bread
1/2 C. walnuts, chopped fine
2 T. flaxseed meal
6 T. water
1 t. Mrs. Dash's No Salt Seasoning
1/2 t. sage
2 T. olive oil
4 T. onion, chopped fine


Preheat over to 350 degrees. Mix flaxseed meal and water and let stand for a couple minutes. Mix all ingredients together and spread in 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 loaf pan, or double the recipe for regular loaf pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Make your own mustard

I made my own ketchup recently. I didn't realize that there wasn't any in my refrigerator and I needed some for a recipe. That was a successful experiment.

The other day I noticed that I was getting to the bottom of my squeeze bottle of yellow mustard and thought I would attempt to make my own mustard, since the ketchup went so well.

I used the recipe below; it was a success. It tastes like basic yellow mustard but with a kick! Not like spicy stoneground mustard, but kind of like spicy stoneground mustard.

Yellow Mustard:

4 T. yellow mustard flour/powder
1/2 t. flour
3/8 t. salt
1/8 t. turmeric
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of paprika
1/4 C. water
3 T. vinegar

Mix dry ingredients in small saucepan. Add water and vinegar; mix. Bring to boil over medium heat. Turn heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for one minute. Cover and cool completely. Transfer to container and refrigerate.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Christmastime in the City // NYC Christmas 2011

So... I am a bit delayed in creating a NYC recap. Here we go:

Leslie and I made our annual trek to NYC two weekends before Christmas. Another lovely weekend of fun, food and fotos.


The Mud Truck: [website]

I started my day of Christmas shopping with an Americano from the Mud Truck in hand. Delicious. And easy to find. A giant orange truck at Astor Place.

I love NYC at Christmastime because there are pop-ups and markets everywhere in the city. Makes for fun Christmas shopping.

Kate's Joint:

I found Kate's Joint via Scout Mob. It's a vegan place in East Village. I tried the vegan mac-n-cheese and wow! It was delicious. A generous portion of the best, creamiest mac-n-cheese. I would definitely visit here again.

National September 11 Memorial: [website]

My friend Justin and I visited the September 11 Memorial in the afternoon. If you've been to Ground Zero pre-Memorial, I would recommend you visit again. The memorial is stunning. To be able to walk around the reflecting pools and see the names up close was moving.

Korilla BBQ: [website]

I connected with my friend Betsega who moved to NYC from Nashville last summer.  We hemmed and hawed about where to eat dinner when we spotted the Korilla BBQ truck. Apparently this is the truck from "The Great Food Truck Race" on Food Network; I don't have cable so I take their word for it.

I had the Chosun Bowl with tofu. They were keen to the tofu choice and made sure to ask if I wanted the whole dish to be vegetarian/vegan, to which I replied yes. The bowl was well worth the $8.

Republic: [website]

The new friends I made that night hadn't eaten dinner so we went to a noodle place nearby: Republic. Bets and I went with dessert. I hadn't had tapioca pudding in forever, so I tried it. Uh, delicious. I'd walk in and order that again in a heartbeat.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters: [website]

The Stumptown cafes I know are in Portland.  But there is one shop in Manhattan at the Ace Hotel. I can't get enough of the Americano. Add a treat for breakfast and off I went to Christmas shop some more before Leslie arrived....

Bryant Park & Real Simple Pop-Up Shop:

My shopping took me to the holiday shops at Bryant Park. Real Simple magazine had a pop-up shop at the park. There was a cooking demonstration when I stopped by, which included samples of peppermint brownies and apple cider. Yes, please. Leslie and I did swing through there later in the week for more apple cider.....

Coolhaus New York: [website]

I've been following Coolhaus on Twitter (@coolhausny) for a while. They have ice cream; they have cookies; they have ice cream sandwiches. Including vegan ones. I got a vegan almond cookie as an afternoon sugar fix.

Burger Heaven:

Leslie arrived! With camera in hand! We headed into the city with my friend Tom to see some exhibits at MOMA. She needed food so we located Burger Heaven nearby for her to have dinner. (I had the sweet potato fries, pretty good!)


Fridays at MOMA are Free Target Fridays. Just walk in, get a free ticket at the counter and waltz into the museum. Awesome. Love it.

We checked out a few exhibits, including a photography exhibit that Leslie had on her to-do list. The last time we visited MOMA was for the Tim Burton exhibit, which might still rank at the top of museum exhibits that I've ever seen.

Cooper's Craft And Kitchen: [website]

Les and I had a list of places to seek out in the city. So we pulled up some floor space at MOMA, I yanked out the iPad and we hunted down one of the places to visit.

The winner: Cooper's in East Village

And we were winners, too. By this time, my sweet potato fries had worn off. I ordered the veggie flatbread and we had to try the Harpoon Winter Warmer. Goodness. Christmas in a pint glass. Loved everything about this place. In fact, we would stop back in later for some more Christmas in a glass. Also, they had Founders Red Rye on tap as well. Loved seeing Grand Rapids represented in NYC.

Lula's Sweet Apothecary: [website]

If you do nothing else the next time you visit NYC, you must stop by Lula's in East Village. Holy goodness. It's a vegan, non-dairy ice cream place. So smooth and creamy. Betcha can't tell it's vegan. I had the new candy cane flavor, very holiday-ish. I think Leslie had the peanut butter fudge, which was also divine. We sat outside to enjoy our treats and Leslie talked to every person that passed by, encouraging them to get some ice cream.

Egg: [website]

Saturday brunch. Where should we go? We consulted a magazine article that Les got from a friend and narrowed it down. We decided on Egg in Williamsburg. There was a bit of a wait; to be expected on a Saturday morning at this little place with a cute name.

We split the big French press, because why not? I had a hankering for eggs and went with the Eggs Rothko with kale. It was the good choice.

And something about Egg: They had their own farm. [Read more here.]

Mast Books: [website]

After brunch we decided to just wander through some parts of town that we hadn't visited yet. We started in East Village in the daylight.

Lucky for us, Saturday was also the annual SantaCon, the day-log pub crawl in Manhattan with everyone dressed up like Santas, Santas helpers, Christmas trees, or anything that seems remotely holiday-ish to the revelers. It became Leslie's mission to record the drinking Santas throughout the day. You can see some of them in the slideshow below.

We stopped by Mast Books on our wanderings. It was a very clean, organized bookstore, with new and used books. But more importantly, close by was....

Lancelotti Housewares: [website]

Oh, how I loved this store! So many things I wanted to buy, all kinds of gadgets and goodies. I did end up returning a few days later to get my Letterpress Cookie Cutter and Stamp Set. Note: Skip the sugar cookie on the back; it's just OK.

Cafe Grumpy: [website]

On our way to the High Line park, we needed a hot drink and treat. So we stopped by Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea, a lovely little place I found on my last visit to NYC. I went with the special Guatemala coffee and a chocolate fig brioche. Sigh. So good.

High Line: [website]

We meant to visit High Line before but were thwarted by illness or not great weather. Not this time! Leslie didn't have the flu and the skies were clear. So we strolled the length of the High Line. It was quite lovely. There will probably be a return visit in the spring or summer when things are greener.

192 Books: [website]

This was a bookstore I wanted to visti on my May tour of bookstores but it was kind of out of the way. But it's right by High Line so we stopped by. I loved it and all its new books. I could sit there and just read through books.

A Startup Store: [website]

I read about A Startup Store before the trip. And then kind of forgot about it. But we stumbled on it as we wandered down through Chelsea on our way to Anthropologie at Chelsea Market. Loved it! I even bought the Portion spoon for myself. It was one of the Quirky items available.

Artichoke Pizza: [website]

More surprises were ahead. Back on the street, wandering toward Chelsea Market, we ran across Artichoke Pizza. Another place I've been meaning to visit on past trips to the city. Les and I determined then and there that we would be eating dinner there. After our stop to Anthropologie, we backtracked to Artichoke. And surprise, ran into my friend Tom who had met a friend for a late lunch in the neighborhood. He joined us for some hangtime while we ate pizza.

Now, the pizza. It totally lived up to the hype. I'm trying to remember what kinds we got; I think we split a whole pie between the Margherita and the Artichoke. Both were delicious.

There are three Artichoke locations in NYC; pick one and go.

Gimme! Coffee: [website]

Sunday started with coffee and killing time until our chosen brunch option opened. We went with Gimme! Coffee. I went with the Honduras Linda Vista, brewed just for me. Loved it!

Saltie: [website]

We wandered through the neighborhood, drinking our coffee and wasting time until Saltie opened. We patiently waited outside the door waiting for them to open. Worth the wait. So good. I had the Ship's Biscuit: a soft scrambled egg with feta on the most delicious toast. This was a two-handed breakfast sandwich. What a way to start the day...that would only get better.

Cherry Lane Theatre: [website]

Leslie asked the Fates via Facebook for tickets to the play "Asuncion," written and featuring Jesse Eisenberg. [Review by the NY Times] I decided I would be the Fates and bought tickets for the Sunday afternoon performance. We killed some time by running over to St. Luke's Thrift Shop; we tried to stop by Milk & Cookies down the street from the theater but it was closed for a staff meeting (bummer). Then it was showtime. And it was worth every penny, nickel, quarter, dollar.

Milk & Cookies: [website]

Hunger set in after the show. We started with cookie appetizers. I had been here during my bookstore tour in May. This time I went with the mint chocolate cookie. Good choice.

Ghandi Cafe:

Being in the West Village, we struck out to find food. Indian food was on the brain and we found Ghandi Cafe. I had the spinach and cheese dish with garlic naan, which was good; the surprise carrot dessert and chai tea that came with the meal made up for the initial bad service (they sent that server on a delivery).

We capped off a fantastic day with a return trip to Cooper's for some football watching.

Sweetery NYC: [website]

Sunday was a good day but Monday might have been better. It started out with breakfast and coffee from the Sweetery truck. I treated Leslie to breakfast with my gift certificate from last May: spinach and cheese croissant and coffee for me. I really wanted a brownie but they were not cut yet -- I would get that brownie before I left town; I was determined.

From the Sweetery truck we decided to wander north on the west side of Manhattan, another part of the city that we had yet to explore. We went from Hudson and King all the way to Central Park.

Bookmarc: [website]

We wandered into West Village. What delight. All of the sudden, Magnolia Bakery. "Oh, there it is." We did't feel the need to go in. But across the street was Bookmarc, the Marc Jacobs bookstore, and we felt the need to go in there. Fun store. Even found my sister's Christmas present there.

Left Bank Books: [website]

On our wandering we found this great little used bookstore, near the Meatpacking District. There was also a fun paper store nearby, FYI. I loved this bookstore and will likely return.

Darling: [website]

Darling boutique near the Meatpacking District was awfully cute. And I found the most darling dress on sale, a lovely little wool jumper, new but vintage looking.

Think Coffee: [website]

I think it was the previous Christmas trip that we were introduced to Think Coffee by my L.A. friends Dave and Lois. Well, there is a Think Coffee right around the corner from Darling so we stopped for a restroom and tea break before continuing north. The shop was pretty large, not too busy, and therefore, quite comfortable.

5 Napkin Burger: [website]

Through Chelsea into Hell's Kitchen. And then hunger strikes. So we start looking for a place to eat. Nothing was striking our fancy until I saw 5 Napkin Burger across the street. "That's where we are eating," I said. I had read about this place and its veggie burger, which had been declared the best veggie burger around.

And yes, this was the best veggie burger I have ever had. It was a housemade burger with the special 5N sauce.

Columbus Circle / Central Park / Rockefeller Center:

Properly fueled, north we went to Central Park and the holiday shops at Columbus Circle. My friend Justin met up with us for some wanderings. We poked about the shops for a while, wandering through Central Park to see the ice skaters, and eventually landed at Rockefeller Center to see the tree and more ice skaters. It was very NYC Christmas and quite lovely. Les and I went down to Bryant Park for a few before finding our nightcap location.

Vbar & Cafe: [website]

Once Leslie had satisfied her photography urges, we decided to roam down to Greenwich Village for one last treat of the night. We chose Vbar & Cafe, coffee place by day and wine bar by night. We enjoyed a glass of wine with a side of olives (Les was re-living her recent trip to Spain) and we backlit our drinks for pictures with my iPad -- very sophisticated.

Ripley-Grier Studios: [website]

Part of Leslie's time in NYC was for work. And she needed her top lighting assistant at a photo shoot on Tuesday morning. So off we went to Ripley-Grier Studios to meet her subject. Good times.

Breeze Thai-French Kitchen: [website]

We decided to grab lunch in Hell's Kitchen before Leslie grabbed a cab for the airport. Using the handy Scoutmob app, we found Breeze. It got pretty good ratings. I think we were the first customers of the day; not many others followed us in for lunch. The crispy tofu and veggie spring rolls were good, or good enough for 50 percent off from Scoutmob. Would not go out of my way to find this place again. Still not sure where the French part of the name comes in, because both my and Les' were more Thai than anything else.

I said "good bye" to Leslie and roamed about the city myself for a couple more hours. I got my brownie from the Sweetery (gift certificate all gone!), returned to Lancelotti to get my cookie cutters, and then poked my head into Housing Works Bookstore and Alabaster Bookshop before heading home to pack. Another successful and jam-packed week in NYC....

Here is Leslie's slideshow of our time in the city:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Made My Own Ketchup

I was making the Tempeh Joe from Happy Herbivore last night when I discovered that I didn't have any ketchup in the house. Who doesn't have a most basic condiment like ketchup in the house? Me apparently.

Thanks to Google, I found a ketchup recipe. It tastes like ketchup, though not as thick as Heinz.


1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 C. white vinegar
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 T. garlic powder
1/2 T. onion powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 C. water

Mix it all together and done.

***I modified this recipe to fit what I had on hand: Ketchup Recipe

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vegan Soup!

One of my New Year's Resolution of sorts is to be as vegan as possible in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. I never thought I would want to be as vegan as possible but I was practically there anyway so why not make the leap.

I received the Happy Herbivore cookbook for Christmas and started making the recipes as soon as I got home to Nashville. Starting with this one (page 59)....

Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup:

1 small butternut squash
2 4-ounce cans of green chilis
1/2 C. non-dairy milk
1 t. pure maple syrup
1/2 C. broth or non-dairy milk
salt, to taste
hot sauce, to taste

Roast the butternut squash until the skin peels away and discard the seeds. Place the butternut squash in a blender and add the chilis, non-dairy milk and syrup. Blend until smooth. Add the broth/non-dairy milk to get the creamy texture you want. Pour into saucepan, add salt and heat on low on the stove. Drizzle with hot sauce as desired.