Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sublime for the Birthday Dude's Dinner

I made a reservation for Sublime restaurant after the Book of Mormon show. I went there once before and I just remembered my shepherd's pie being too salty. Other than that, I remembered the food being quite good. There aren't many vegan-friendly and fancy dinner options in FTL. I made the reservation for the dude's birthday dinner, so I wanted something fancy! He ordered the mushroom ravioli and I ordered the tofu "fish" tacos. For dessert, we split the chocolate cake with homemade coconut ice cream. We didn't even finish the cake because it was rich and we were full. He ordered a vodka-lemonade drink and I ordered a watermelon margarita since we took a cab to the restaurant. I did not tell the restaurant that it was his birthday, so there were no candles on the cake or a special song. He appreciated that. I know I get so embarrassed when the restaurant staff sings happy birthday, so I thought I'd spare him that experience! When we arrived, I made sure to mention that I was paying. He almost always pays when we go out to eat and has generally rejected my offers to pay or split the bill. I said I was paying and there was no discussion on the matter. We both enjoyed the meal and wished that there was a vegan fine dining establishment in Houston. He made a comment that we'd go there all the time if we had a vegan fine dining restaurant in Houston. I thought that was a sweet little remark. We ordered room service for breakfast before he caught his flight back. I had oatmeal, fruit, and hash browns and he ordered blueberry muffins. We enjoyed our breakfast on the balcony. I wish we could have stayed on the beach for another day or two. Don't worry, I asked the dude's permission before photographing our dinner since I didn't get photos the last time I ate at Sublime. Like an idiot, I forgot to ask the server to take our photo.
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Weekend for the Birthday Dude

I'm at 198 posts for the year, so I'm going for 200! I started off the holiday break celebrating the dude's birthday. He wanted to see Book of Mormon when it came to Houston, but he was overseas for work. When he came back, we looked at tickets on a sketchy third-party website. They were the medium tier for cost, but the website would not say if the two seats were together. We decided to pass. I kept regretting not just buying them. I offered to buy him a ticket to the show when it was in North Carolina, so he could go by himself while he was visiting family. He was going to Ohio during that time, so that wasn't going to work. Interestingly the show came to Ft. Lauderdale, a few hours from my mom's house, during December! We made the 22 hour road trip over 3 days. He used his reward points to book a room at a fancy Marriott hotel in FTL. We had a room with a view of the intercoastal booked, but our early check-in got us an upgrade to a beach view! It was gorgeous. We checked in, changed clothes, and sped over to the theater. We caught the afternoon show. We had seats in the lower orchestra section. We were maybe 10 rows from the stage on the left side, so we were able to see the actors' facial expressions. It was definitely an explicit show, but we laughed a lot. We were surprised by the sheer number of senior citizens present and we saw many of them boarding fancy buses for their communities after the show. Since we went to the 2 PM show, we had some free time between the end of the show and our dinner reservation. We sat on the balcony, chatting and watching the water. I got some gorgeous shots of the beach, so that's what I'll share. Like idiots, we never managed to get a photo of us!
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holiday Potluck

The theme for last night's VSOP potluck was comfort foods! Everything was quite good. I brought sprinkled ginger cookies and chocolate chip cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance. I didn't get a photo of them, but they were tasty! There were several pasta dishes, but someone brought little sample packets of Parma to serve with them! I did manage to photograph the first plate! I got the pasta dishes, tofu "fish" square, chili and brown rice, sweet potato casserole, polenta with tomato sauce, salad and fruit, and my friend Janet's homemade cashew cheese. That cheese got sooo many compliments! I got a pretty big piece, so I split it with the dude. On my second plate, I got more of the chili and rice, a broccoli and rice casserole, a stew that was basically pot pie filling (yum), and the mac and yease (nutritional yeast cheese sauce).
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Haven - Houston, TX

My new boss takes the group out to lunch at the holidays. It sounds like they go to a new place every year. This year's lunch spot was Haven, a little farm-to-table restaurant tucked off a major roadway. I had no idea such a cute little place existed behind the chains closer to the road. I called in advance to discuss the appropriate menu selections for a vegan. The mushroom "risotto" is made with mushroom stock and not with any dairy. I asked multiple times because actual risotto is cooked with dairy products. Nope, just mushroom stock. The vegan sides include the roasted veggies without the sauce (ew, fish sauce on veggies?!) and a sweet potato side (didn't see this on the menu). The vegan dessert option is the fruit ambrosia without the lemon curd. I didn't order a side because I thought the entree would be bigger. I would have liked a bigger portion, but the flavors were good. The texture of the crispy kale was interesting.
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013


On the Saturdays I have to work, I must go in very early to get a free parking space. Going to work at 6:30 AM sucks. This past Saturday I was able to leave around 9 AM, so I came home to make pancakes using the recipe in Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food. I served my pancakes with clementines, So Delicious coconut yogurt, and homemade hot cocoa. I used Alton Brown's recipe but I used soy milk powder to make it vegan. The leftover pancakes were stored in the fridge overnight and tasted fine when I reheated them the next day. That's a good thing! I slept in on Sunday, so I enjoyed waking up to a delicious, homemade breakfast already prepared! ;)
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I will be posting intermittently for the rest of the year. December is always busy trying to wrap up experiments at work and travel home, but this year is extra busy because the dude is joining me on a road trip to see Book of Mormon in Florida. :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thai Cottage - Houston, TX

Did I mention that I really enjoyed the food at Thai Cottage? I went there on a date with the dude recently (posted here). When some friends invited me to see Free Birds, I suggested we grabbed dinner at Thai Cottage afterwards. The movie is an animated movie for kids about getting turkeys off the Thanksgiving table. (Spoiler: They suggested cheese pizza for the alternative, which made me laugh since a turkey would not eat cheese.) I ordered the tofu chili basil dish from the vegetable lover section. So good! My friends both enjoyed their dishes too, so I would highly recommend this little spot for a dinner and movie date night.
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Quick Chili

I soaked some black beans, black-eyed peas, and red beans and cooked them in the crockpot for chili. I used an onion, garlic, two green bell peppers, and half a bag of frozen okra as the veggies. I kept the seasonings simple with chili powder, cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper. I served this over rice for a weeknight meal that was hearty and healthy. Chili is a great clean-out-the-fridge meal, so just use what you've got. I put a big scoop of nutritional yeast on top for extra nutrition. Yum! Nooch!
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sweet Paris Creperie - Rice Village, Houston, TX

This adorable restaurant Sweet Paris Creperie is tucked in Rice Village, a ritzy little area. My friend and I met up for lunch there. They have one vegan savory crepe. I did ask about the crepe batter being vegan and they said yes. It was so good, but a little pricey ($12 for a bottle of apple juice and the crepe). My crepe had mushrooms, black beans, corn salsa, and chipotle sauce. I told the dude we should check this place out. It's a cute little date spot or for a day with a close friend. My friend and I talked for a while and then headed over to Starbucks to continue chatting. We gave our table to my friend that we joked about seeing in Starbucks because he's always there. Turns out that was his first time at the crepe place too!
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thai Cottage - Houston, TX

When the dude and I went on our last dinner/movie date night, we walked past the Thai Cottage and he remarked we should try it. He loves yellow curry, so he ordered that with tofu. I got the veggie curry with tofu. The food was delicious. We enjoyed the little restaurant and it was full of people. We went to see Gravity after dinner.
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Renaissance Festival

I went to Texas Ren Fest a couple weeks ago with some friends. Got to wear my costume that my mom mailed me for the event. Too bad the shirt is untucked and doesn't look very flattering in the photo of the group. I did get vegan falafel in the Greek area, but I didn't even snap a photo of it! I did get a photo of the amazing pineapple sorbet I bought mid-afternoon. We went to see Sound & Fury, Christophe the Insultor, belly dancers, and jousting. I thought jousting was sword-fighting, so it was a little sad to see the horses being used.
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fur-Free Friday

I joined the Houston Animal Rights Team for a demo in front of Neiman Marcus for Fur-Free Friday. Apparently, Neiman Marcus sells A LOT of fur, including a $23K mink vest. Ew. There is no reason to wear fur. Animals are skinned alive for their fur; because if you cut their throat, their blood would stain the fur. Lots of fur sold in the US is actually cat and dog fur from China. Double ew.
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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sunshine's Thanksgiving Special

Before Thanksgiving, Sunshine's Vegetarian Deli was offering a vegan holiday plate. I went there on Wednesday for an early dinner. There was pineapple not-ham, candied yams with agave, cornbread dressing, broccoli and rice casserole with vegan cheese, cooked kale greens, and a wheat roll. Yum! It was good, but I inhaled it! I thought the greens and the not-ham were the best parts. I love the nachos here, so I need to head back over there sometime for those.
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For future reference, Quan Yin in Chinatown offered a vegan holiday plate on Thanksgiving day. By the time I saw that on VSOP's facebook page, it was too late to leave my kitchen to go all the way out there for a meal. It would have been a great lunch choice though!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I had two vegan friends over for Thanksgiving. I don't go home for Thanksgiving usually, so I emailed a bunch of folks to see if anyone wanted to come over. I made a Field Roast Celebration Roast, mashed potatoes with chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction, green bean casserole from Fat Free Vegan (recipe here), and cranberry sauce from Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations. One guest brought another roast to cook and cranberry sauce, so we used his sauce for dinner. The second guest brought TWO desserts! Clearly a gal after my own heart! She brought Crave's red velvet vegan cupcakes and a vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foods. Yum! It was a simple menu so I wouldn't be a big ball of anxiety before they arrived, but it was satisfying. It was great to have someone to share the holiday with and we talked for hours. :)
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hanukkah Party

I was recently invited to a Hanukkah party hosted by some of the dude's friends. We brought quinoa-stuffed mushrooms from Party Vegan, a vegan white wine by Sterling Vineyard (that I found on Barnivore to use in the mushroom dish), a peach crisp from Whole Foods, a whole grain bread from WF, and roasted veggies. I made the mushroom dish and he made the roasted veggies. He actually had the day off, but I worked until the early afternoon. I could have made much more food from scratch, but I wasn't sure if I would get out of work early enough to make more than the mushrooms. They were OK, but I probably won't make them again. The host made us vegan latkes! Yum! The dude tried the matzo ball soup because he doesn't worry about meat broth and eggs (yet). He's a new vegetarian, so I was glad that he didn't eat the brisket with bacon!
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Vegan Thanks-living 2013

I went to VSOP's Thanks-living event last weekend. It was packed! 115 people showed up, even though they had planned for 100 people. Last year we got second servings, but this year there was barely enough for everyone. The entree was made by Vegan Comfort, exact same menu as last year but the roast was drier this year. The pumpkin cheesecake pie was from Sinfull Bakery and we got donated coconut ice cream from So Delicious to go with it this year! In the door prizes, I won a shaker of pesto seasoning and a bag of raw granola from Pat Greer's Kitchen. I gave my friend the bag of raw granola because I knew she'd like it. It had buckwheat, pecans, dates, and something else. Granola's not really my thing. The dude enjoyed the food but said he wanted more gravy. He's home for the holiday and said he'd make a game day decision about eating turkey. He's only been meat-free for a few months and I can understand that he's not super comfortable being the odd one out at a family gathering. I just said it'll probably put him to sleep, but I wonder if he'll get upset stomach from it. I'm proud of the progress he's making, so I won't be judgmental if he has a holiday slip-up. I never ate meat after going vegetarian, but I did eat cheese a couple months after I decided to go vegan (and it made me feel like crap).
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Bread Baking

The dude likes fresh baked bread. It was a comment he made once and I thought, "Challenge accepted." I tried twice in the used bread machine I got from a friend, but neither attempt was successful. I think the temperature wasn't warm enough to encourage the dough to rise. Recently, I decided to try using my Kitchenaid to knead the dough and let it rise on the counter. I had the oven earlier so I think that made the kitchen warm enough for the dough to rise. You can see it rising above the bread pan edge in this photo. I followed a King Arthur recipe just replacing milk with non-dairy milk. He really appreciated the bread. I made Italian tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance and sun-dried tomato pesto to serve with the bread and some spinach. The sandwiches were delicious. I used the leftover marinade to make more tofu and created a bowl with the other ingredients. :)
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Farewell, Miss Adie Mae

Since I introduced the new feral kitty in my life, I guess it's time to write about the saddest day of my life. On September 17th, Adie unexpectedly collapsed and died. I had fed her breakfast, then she went off to play. I heard her nails on the floor, like she was running, but it was way too fast. I came out of the kitchen to see her lying on the floor. I tried to lift her, but she was limp. I set her down, with the hope that I didn't injure her more. I petted her and tried to talk to her, then she took her last breath and wet the floor. I panicked and called the vet, rushing up the stairs to get her crate. She was so limp and light when I put her in the crate, I was crying hysterically the entire way to the vet. I knew it was incredibly unlikely that the vet would be able to save her, but I had to try. Or force them to take x-rays and tell me if she fell down the stairs. The vet helped me schedule a necropsy with the Texas A&M vet school. Turns out she had an enlarged heart that finally gave out. She did not have a heart murmur, so we had no idea that she had an enlarged heart. I knew from her ultrasounds that her liver was slightly too large, but the necropsy showed that one of her kidneys was 1/3 smaller than the other and that many of her organs had microscopic lesions. She had an adenoma on one of her thyroid glands too. Poor girl. All the result of bad breeding. She was a purebred Ocicat. I got her when her old owner dumped her at my house in Baton Rouge. She had misshapen toes, but was otherwise an absolutely stunning and intelligent cat. I miss her. Mischa has also been grieving. I posted many photos of her in the living room and made a little area for her urn in my room. I love you, Miss Adie Mae. You will forever be my little diva.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Meet Onyx

I have recently started feeding a feral cat by my house. I started putting the food inside a trap I borrowed from a neighbor so he'd get used to eating in the trap. Once I saw him go in the trap several times, I set it to actually trap him. Before you freak out and think I have awful intentions, I was doing trap and release. This program allows feral cats to be sterilized, vaccinated for rabies, and released back into their territory. Their ears are marked to show animal control that they are fixed and vaccinated, therefore they should be left alone. After having my hard drive crash and losing my fellowship application, I was very happy to have the kitty go in the trap last week on the first night of an extreme cold snap. It was down into the 30's!! After the vet visit, I kept him inside in a crate another night because of the weather. I hope he continues to come by for food. I've decided to name him Onyx since he's all black. :)
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Beaucoup Bar & Grill - Houston, TX

I recently met the owner of Beaucoup Bar & Grill through my kickball league. We had our mid-season party there. I had inquired about the menu beforehand. There is a vegetarian section, so I knew I could modify that to make a vegan meal. After many questions, the owner said the beans and rice are vegan and the grilled veggies for the po'boy are cooked with oil, but the bread was probably not vegan. I ordered a bowl of red beans and rice with just the grilled veggies (no questionable bread for me!). Turns out the sandwiches come with fries, so I got a surprise side of fries. It was quite good! Plus, they hired a DJ for the party and had the LSU v. Alabama game on TV. LSU was doing so well during the first half, but we lost.
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tofu Quiche

Since we had to depart rather early for the chili cook-off and weren't going to have time to stop for brunch in Austin, I made a tofu quiche for breakfast. I actually cooked it the night before, so I'd just have to reheat it in the morning. It's a rare occasion that I make a savory breakfast, but this was quite good. The crust fell apart, not surprising since it's gluten-free. I used portabello mushrooms. It had great flavor, but I'd add a bit more nooch next time. I love nutritional yeast!
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Bouldin Creek & Sweet Ritual - Austin, TX

After the eating tour of Austin, I knew I wanted to stop for dinner at Bouldin Creek Cafe and for ice cream at Sweet Ritual. I ordered the tofu migas for dinner. I skipped the beans, since I had a million beans at the chili cook-off. Bouldin Creek isn't stingy with the nooch on their tofu scramble. Nom. Other people ordered tacos and chips with salsa. After dinner, we headed over to Sweet Ritual for dessert. I tried the prickly pear ice cream, but went with the salted caramel sundae. I got one scoop of salted caramel ice cream covered in chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, mini Dandies, and graham cracker crumbs. So good! I'm glad I saved room for dessert. The dude regretted eating chips and salsa when he saw my sundae, but I had told everyone in advance that I wanted to stop for ice cream before driving us back to Houston.
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Texas Veggie Chili Cook-off

A group of us went to Austin last Sunday for the annual veggie chili cook-off. They had two separate categories for traditional chilis that had vegan meats and veggie only chilis. I liked many of them, but ultimately voted for The Hearty Vegan tempeh chili. They're a new business and they've come to several VSOP events. Their chili also didn't have a bitter tempeh taste, which was impressive to me. I only got a photo of their booth, but trust me that the chili was tasty. At the cook-off, I bought a pumpkin carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting from Celeste's Best. That cupcake was incredible!!
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The dude cooks!

After many years of being single, I've been dating someone for a few months now. We go out to eat quite a bit, but I've also cooked several things for us. I do most of the cooking for the monthly VSOP potlucks and I've cooked a few meals for us. This past Friday, the dude invited me over to his place and said he would do all the cooking. He had made a red wine and mushroom pasta during his 30 day vegan challenge that he really enjoyed. It's a fancy enough meal for date night. The Youtube video was playing on his ipad when I showed up. I tried not to get in the way, but it was interesting watching someone else do all the work. I did volunteer to make the garlic toast, since that was easy and could be done away from the stovetop. I was very impressed! It also made me really appreciate dating a vegetarian dude. He went vegetarian after his 30 day vegan challenge and he eats only vegan food when we're together. I posted this photo on fb and many of my female friends commented that he's a keeper. I think so too. ;)
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

5k as Super Vegan

I totally forgot to post this here, but I ran a 5k with a friend recently. We signed up because it was a superhero themed race to benefit Child Advocate Services. I went as Super Vegan in a cape that I made from gold sequined fabric and he went as Thor. I ordered the vegan socks on Amazon here. I didn't ask his permission to post his photo here, so I'll just share my photo from after the race. We finished in 29.5 minutes! We signed up to have a reason to run and train, but neither of us actually trained. We ran less than 6 times to prepare between the two of us. Whoops! We were both pleasantly surprised by our time! Yay!
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Frozen Tamales

Found frozen vegan tamales at Fiesta recently. I stuffed them into the freezer for a busy day. October was full of those, so I finally tried them. They are made by a company called White Mountain. I tried the chipotle-mushroom tamales one night and the sweet potato-pecan tamales another night. The chipotle one did not seem to include any mushrooms, just chipotle peppers and corn. They were very hot, but I really wanted mushrooms in them. The sweet potato-pecan one tasted sweet instead of savory. Overall, I'd rank these a meh and I likely won't buy them again. Bummer. I served these with some blue corn chips and Nacho Mom's vegan queso. I've had this queso before, but snagged a jar in Austin. It has a weird texture when cold, but is tasty when warm.
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quick Coconut Curry

Another clean out the fridge post! Baby carrots, onion, part of a bell pepper, coconut milk, frozen broccoli, sriracha, red curry paste, and some pumpkin or squash puree lurking in the freezer for months. Also cooked some tofu to add for protein. Served over basmati rice. Quick and easy! Look at the colors in that mis en place - gorgeous! I need to get some pumpkin or squash puree for this year.
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lunch at Whole Foods

After college football the other day, the dude and I were indecisive about what to have for lunch. His team had lost and I was patiently waiting for the evening for the FSU v. Miami game. I suggested Whole Foods because the hot bar allows you to pick and choose, or stand around and consider your choices for an excessive amount of time haha. I went for the channa masala, one of my favorites from the WF hot bar in Florida, and the samosas! I've never seen a samosa on the hot bar before, but they were very good. I was bummed that the naan bread was not vegan, but I haven't seen a commercially made naan bread that's vegan ever. I also picked the saffron rice since there was no white rice on the hot bar. The dude went for the eclectic take-out box. He picked a samosa, a scoop of channa masala, Cajun corn and stewed tomatoes, roasted carrots, and a green falafel patty. I bought an Eli's Earth Bar for dessert and he picked out dark chocolate covered pretzel. Nom nom nom.
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Date Night

The dude mentioned wanting to see the new movie Ender's Game. It's based on a book, but I have not read the book. This meant the twist at the end was a surprise to me and it left me thinking. Overall, I'd recommend the movie. I decided to order tickets for opening night as a surprise date night idea. I offered to take him to dinner too, because I had a gift certificate for Pepper Tree, which is next to the theater. He ordered the General Tso's chick'n and I ordered the Cashew Chick'n. The Tso chick'n is more flaky and the Cashew chick'n is more dense. If you are particular about textures, ask which chick'n is used in the dish you'd like to order. Perfect date night, just the two of us and a mellow evening. We've both been so busy in October that it was nice to just have a low-key evening together. He seemed to really enjoy himself. I snapped this photo of our food when he went to the bathroom.
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Veggie Crockpot Chili

The weather has been cooling down here in Houston and that's the perfect signal to break out the Crockpot. There is nothing better than coming home to a hot, already prepared, comfort food meal after a long day of work. (Did I mention I work way more at my new job? 9 or 10 hour days with a 15 minute lunch are common.) I knew this week would be busy, so Monday night I set up a chili recipe that only needed to cook for 3.5 hours. I soaked my beans and cooked those in the small crockpot during the day, but I could have made canned beans and used one less appliance. This two bean chili recipe is from The Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Interestingly, the second bean is green beans! Pinto beans, green beans, corn, zucchini, and sauteed onions are cooked in the crockpot and a sauce made from soaked ancho peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro is added near the end. The zucchini is sauteed, chilled, and then added with the sauce actually. It is tasty and I like the crunch of the green beans. I tried to make some bread in my bread machine to go with this, but it didn't rise very well and was too dense. I ended up eating the leftovers with crackers during the week.
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dosa Factory - Houston, TX

VSOP had dinner at Dosa Factory recently. I'd been there once before, so I was glad to return. I ordered a chettinad spicy dosa and the dude ordered the masala dosa. The masala dosa is the only one that comes in a traditional presentation, which was a bit of a surprise to us. Since the restaurant is currently offering free appetizers with each dosa purchase, we picked the Manchurian idli and onion vada. We were even given a free dessert, that soy rice pudding again. Nom nom nom.
Onion Vada

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Manchurian Idli

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Masala Dosa

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Chettinad Spicy Dosa

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Rice Pudding

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