Saturday, March 30, 2013

Victoria Vegan Sauces

One of my favorite things about Houston is the surprisingly good selection of vegan goodies at Fiesta Market. The selection at Whole Foods is awesome, but Fiesta is my go-to grocery store. There is a wide selection of natural products and a nice selection of vegan specialty products. I even gave them a list this morning of suggested items. Anyways, why am I telling you all about my love of Fiesta? The store by my house started carrying some of the Victoria Vegan Sauces!! These are highly praised online and I couldn't justify paying for shipping. I was walking through the store last weekend and saw an end cap display of sauces and chia pasta. I already had a grocery list for the week, so I decided to pick up a sauce this weekend. I decided to buy the arugula pesto alfredo. I had some extra vegetables in the fridge and thought a pasta dish would be a simple way to use the veggies. I cooked some white beans in my slow cooker today, then sauteed the zucchini and squash while the pasta was cooking. After draining the water from the pasta, I poured in the sauce, the veggies, the beans, and stirred like my life depended on it! I want saucy goodness to get inside the penne noodles. I've got to say the sauce was VERY creamy and I could detect the peppery notes of the arugula. The creaminess comes from cashews! Yum! I wouldn't buy these every week, but they're definitely worth the $5 or so per jar. What a great sauce for a quick dinner!
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Panang-Like Curry

I love panang curry! I used to order it all the time at this little place by my work in South Florida. I recently went to Nit Noi in Houston's Midtown area. I didn't snap a photo of my panang curry, but it had a thick sauce and carrots and green beans mixed in. Very different from the one I ordered in Florida that had basil leaves as the only plant added to the tofu and sauce. I decided to try an even weirder version of panang curry at home and made Chef Chloe's recipe. It's not authentic, but it was tasty!
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spicy Stir-Fry

Recently Robin Robertson released a new cookbook focused on nut butters! Nut Butter Universe was heavily promoted on several blogs, so I've added the book to my wish list. I made a spicy stir-fry recipe featured on a blog, but I did not have cabbage or mushrooms. I did use the spicy peanut butter my friend sent me as a graduation gift. That stuff is perfect for peanut sauces, but is not really suitable for dipping vegetables. This was a hearty dinner that was easy to put together after a long day at work. My boss promised me second author on a paper if I can get these experiments to work, so I've been staying late at work a lot recently. Fun!
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Luau Party!

Last night, my friend hosted a luau party at her house. She's renting a room in a house, so all of her housemates wanted to have a party. They decorated with leis, tiki torches, and lights on the palms in the yard. My friend marinated some tofu to make skewers, and surprisingly her non-vegan roommates didn't buy any meat to prepare! In addition to the skewers, there were two types of vegan cheese from Artisan Vegan Cheese, coconut pudding, mochi, and daiquiris. The guy that owns the house gathered up some wood from the yard and made a tiny bonfire in the driveway. We had vegan s'mores made using Dandie's vegan marshmallows, dark chocolate, and graham crackers (Nabisco Original are honey-free!). The non-vegan guests said the food was so good that they didn't even care that it was vegan! Yay! I'm going to be so sad when my friend moves in the next month or so, because she is always planning events and is a great cook. She spoils me with vegan cheeses and baked goods! I ate mostly vegan cheese and crackers, because my friend and I had Chipotle for dinner before the party started. By the time I got home and showered (smoke and bug spray smell - yuck!), it was 3 AM! I definitely did not wake up in time to go to the farmers' market for Sinfull Bakery's new vegan poptarts. Whoops! I'm sorry that I don't have more photos, but I didn't carry my phone on me after people arrived. I'm really intent on being present when I'm with people, instead of being one of those people that ignores everyone to play on the iPhone.
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Madras Pavilion - Houston, TX

A friend invited me to try Madras Pavilion, a local Indian restaurant chain. The location that we went to has been cited and closed by the Health Department several times in the last couple years. I found that out as I was Googling for this post. I can report that I did not get food poisoning from this place, but I'll try to suggest other Indian places in town to my friend. We went to the lunchtime buffet and the woman working was very helpful in finding out which items contained dairy. The food was OK, but surprisingly was not spicy at all. I always think of spicy heat with Indian food because my former roommate (in the Baton Rouge house) was from a region of India that used A LOT of hot spices.
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Homemade Fries

I had an extra potato lurking in the fridge so I decided to make fries. I cut the potato and seasoned it using the recipe for Cajun fries in Vegan with a Vengeance. I was surprised that these actually turned out well. I was scared that I was going to burn them! My oven temperature is off by ~50*, so I have to set the oven higher to get the right temp. These are supposed to cook at 450*, but I set the oven to 485* to actually get the oven to something close to 450. I served my homemade fries with some Gardein chick'n fingers and frozen broccoli. Lazy dinner, what can I say? :)
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Stuffed Shells Without Tofu!

When I saw this recipe for white bean stuffed shells, I knew it wouldn't be long before I made the recipe. I love stuffed shells. I've always made a tofu-based ricotta like the recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance. This recipe is written to be soy-free, but I used soy milk instead of rice milk. I cooked white beans from scratch in my little slow cooker, then drained them and let them cool so I could use the slow cooker for making marinara sauce. For the marinara sauce, I cooked the onion and garlic a little bit before adding them to the food processor and I used ~1.5 cans of crushed tomatoes. I really enjoyed this meal tonight and I can't wait to enjoy the leftovers! :)
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Sunday, March 17, 2013


This weekend has been so lovely! The weather has been in the 70's this week, so I went outside to run this weekend. I couldn't resist soaking up the sunshine along my running route. After my morning runs, I've been meeting up with friends for fun. On Saturday, my friend and I went to lunch at Green Seed Vegan, where we ran into our other friend with his nephew. We both thought our other friend was working, so we were really excited to see him. I ordered the Big Tex burger and cauliflower nuggets. SO GOOD! My friends ordered the raw tacos and paninis. All of us went to the health museum, which is a small museum designed for kids. There are lots of interactive displays about the human body. After that, we went our separate ways. I ended up going to a kickball party, but that bar was dead. The next bar was also dead. However, the last bar had midget wrestling! CRAZY! My labmate accepted my invitation to go out with kickball people. Yay! Today, I stopped by my friend's house and she shared her cashew cheese and cupcakes with me. I'm really going to miss her when she moves. She's a scientist, she's interesting, and she's been vegan about the same time as me but she's a slightly better chef. She's having a luau themed house party this weekend, so I picked up a PVC pipe for a limbo bar when I was at Lowe's buying new plants. One of my plants died in the winter, so I bought some new plants today. OK, time for pictures!
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Monthly Potluck

Last weekend was the vegan potluck. They were heavily promoting their fundraising effort for the Houston VegFest. I'm pretty exhausted today, so I'm going to just post this and sign off. There's a BBQ sandwich, my fluer de sel cupcake, an Indian pancake thing, tempeh and butternut squash, beans and rice, Indian cornbread, kale salad, black beans with quinoa, chickpeas, avocado alfredo, and a scoop of something that looks like potato salad (there was potato salad, but I have never liked potato salad...). Anywho, hope everyone has a great weekend! :)
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cashew Queso

Robin Robertson has released a new book, Nut Butter Universe, which was heavily promoted on several blogs over the last couple weeks. I immediately knew I had to make this recipe for a Mexican-inspired quinoa dish with CASHEW QUESO. I could have cared less about the quinoa/bean part of the dish. I was dying to try the CASHEW QUESO and have an excuse to make something new in the Vitamix. Well, the queso was quite good, but the dish itself needed a little more spicy heat for me. I would recommend using fresh tomatoes instead of canned, because I added everything to the rice cooker to heat after the quinoa was done. The canned tomatoes tasted like the can because they didn't get cooked through enough the first night.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fleur de Sel Cupcakes

I recently ordered Chloe's Vegan Desserts and was SOOO excited to flip through the book. Her other book, Chloe's Kitchen, is incredible. I've made about a dozen recipes from that book and loved them, so I pre-ordered the dessert book. A dessert book written by the first vegan to win on Food Network can only be awesome! When the dessert book arrived, I was immediately drawn to the fleur de sel cupcakes. I've never made caramel, much less vegan caramel, so I've never enjoyed the new trend of fancy sea salt on sweet desserts. The caramel came out well, but I did notice that the frosting got a little firm when left sitting on the counter. I gave it a stir and it seemed fine. Maybe my caramel was still a little too warm when I made the frosting. I bought a small bag of fleur de sel from Whole Foods for $15!! The first bag I saw was $30 and I about died in the aisle. I did manage to find the smaller bag on a lower shelf after the initial sticker shock wore off. These cupcakes were delicious, I will have to use my fleur de sel for many more desserts. Yum!
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Homemade Vegan Samoas

I used the VegNews recipe for homemade vegan Samoas written by Meet the Shannons. I don't think my caramel got as thick as the original Samoas, but they were definitely delicious. Time consuming, but so worth it! They were very popular at the potluck. This is just one rack of the finished product. I used a small biscuit cutter and a piping tip to get the perfect shape. :)
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Crockpot Chickpeas & Biscuits

I couldn't wait to try this recipe for a chickpea-based potpie-type dish made using a Crockpot. It's still just cool enough to justify comfort foods like this. I cooked my own chickpeas for a few hours in my small crockpot instead of using canned. I use a little extra celery and a whole bag of frozen peas. The recipe is written with vegan suggestions for non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, and vegan margarine. I decided to try out solid coconut oil instead of margarine. That seemed to work really well and it's a healthier choice. It took me 3 days to eat all of this food, but it was perfect to pop this in the microwave before yesterday's kickball game. :)
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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Citrusy Black Bean Taquitos

I made these taquitos a while ago but somehow never posted them to the web. The citrusy black beans are incredible and I was surprised by how well the fresh salsa kept in the fridge. Both of these recipes come from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook. I did use some cubed avocado, because I can't eat Mexican food without avocado. This made quite a bit of food, so it was dinner for several days.
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Friday, March 1, 2013


I love brinner! That means breakfast for dinner. I decided to have pancakes and tofu "bacon" tonight. I pressed the tofu yesterday in my Tofu Xpress and marinated it overnight. It was way better than tempeh bacon. I just can't get past tempeh's bitterness, even with a steaming or simmering step. The recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance. I had all the ingredients already to make these vegan pancakes, except I used ground flax seed instead of chia seeds. I have yet to make a perfectly round and fluffy pancake, but these were pretty darn good. They have maple syrup in them and I topped them with more maple syrup. I also made a shake using soy milk, frozen bananas, and Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter. Yum! Definitely a fun way to end a so-so week! :)
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