Thursday, May 18, 2017

When In Doubt...DIP It OUT!

Sometime life gets in the way!  Lately - life has been getting in the way A LOT!  So sorry!  Just another quick post to say HELLO in the meantime!  Food has been uninspiring as of late.  I have been eating out a lot which has been a lot of salads, wraps, and such.  When I am home I have been so lazy.  I haven't wanted to do much around the house with the little time I have or am there.  Recently I busted out these Birds Nests and instead of having the soy based sauce that came along with it I wanted something creamy so I did a basic Cashew Sauce.

The Cashew Sauce was basically Cashews, Water, Onion, Garlic, Black Sea Salt, Nutritional Yeast.

When I have been home I tend to being throwing anything and everything into a wrap or burritos still.  Yes - I have been on a kick!  I ran into Aldi and grabbed 3 items.  My total was $3.99.  I grabbed an Avocado for 99 cents (which is high for Aldi but not as expensive as the $1.50 to $2.50 I have seen in other places) and I had to do something about my Avocado Craving (it was at an all time high)!  I also bought  Wheat Wraps and Mango Salsa!  In my freezer I still had TJ's Organic corn and spinach!  This combo was AMAZING!  It was both sweet and savory!  YUM!  Plus I was able to include greens!  And there were black beans in the salsa, too!  Greens, Beans, Fruit, Veggies, YUM!

Last week I finally busted into those Carrot and Potato fries!  They were pretty good but I like the Broccoli and Potato even more!  For the dipping sauce for these I did a Vegan Aioli!

3 T TJ's Vegan Mayo Spread
1 T TJ's Tahini
1 tea Minced Garlic
Liquid Smoke to taste
Lemon Juice to taste
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Playing Catch-Up Once Again!

Busy!  Busy!  Sorry for the silence!  I have a lot of back blogging to do!  With my photo heavy last post about my sisters baby shower I knew I was already behind on other happenings so I will start there!  Before I went to my sisters baby shower I volunteered at a local cafe that is operated by volunteers many of them from different churches and faiths.  I just like volunteering so I decided to start helping when they needed me!

They're operational/open for business many days during the week but one of their many outreach/ goals is to have a Community Breakfast that is FREE but some people drop in a donation from time to time.  My first volunteer attempt the weather was pretty bad and we had about 12 to 15 who came in for the breakfast which consisted of fruit, sausage, pancakes, juice, coffee, tea, etc.  The 2nd time I volunteered we had between 40 and 50 attendees. This upcoming weekend I'll be stopping by early to from about 8 to 10am before going to a vendor show for the rest of the day!

The 2nd photo I posted in this blog entry was the regular menu.  There are a few veg items present.  It's actually been a while since I have eaten there myself but I really like the eclectic atmosphere of the place.  As you can see from the first photo we had someone stop by and play his guitar for those who were there.  It was really nice.  All sorts of people in the community stop by - families - seniors looking for those to chat with - some people who are really in need of a meal - others who just want to see what is going on - and everyone in between!

In other news...since I live in a small, rural area I always like to point out when I see neat things happening!  A local store/Deli/Catering place recently added organic items to their shop!  I was thrilled!

Even more exciting was their price on Bragg's Drinks were cheaper than anywhere else I have seen around here!  YAY!

YEARS ago one of our local coffee shops was owned by a girl who had a near all veg menu.  I think she offered 1 tuna and 1 chicken option but everything else was vegetarian.  Unfortunately she sold the business and the coffee shop has since changed hands like 4 times.  BUT...this past year she and her family are back and owning and operating it again!  Here is the massive salad I got from them a while back!

In other shopping news - my parents are Piping Rock customers - and so am I!  Recently I purchased these items!  Hemp Seeds, Apple Cider Vinegar, Chlorella Tabs, and Pumpkin Seeds!  Their prices are SO LOW!!!  I couldn't help myself!     Since this post is one big blab I will be mentioning the local businesses by name at the close of this post!

Not too long ago I found this individual oatmeal bowl and thought I would try it.  It smelled wonderful and it tasted pretty darn good, too!  I bought this one and another one that happened to be vegan!  They are also Non-GMO, Gluten Free, etc.
I LOVE finding companies that are socially consensus and GIVING!  This company gives one when they sell one!  They even give you a sticker, too!

Below you can see a snapshot of what the finished product looked like!  Nom, nom, nom!

All I did was add hot water.  In 4 minutes of letting it sit I had a nice breakfast at work!

I have been finding a few new-to-me foods and brands and such and I have been SLACKING in the blogging department!  I will certainly try and be better about that.  I was able to find a new (to me) vegan pizza crust!  It was Trader Joe's!  I know I am late to the party - but still...

I have to say I was pretty impressed!  I added just the right amount of spaghetti sauce and Daiya Moz this time!  The secret to this one was the minced garlic and Wildtree seasonings I added!  YUM!

So note to self...every time I go to a Trader Joe's I need to remember their Pizza Dough/Crusts!  They are great!

I also saw another new one at our local Tops from the Brooklyn Brand I posted about not to long ago.  They were mush smaller than the long rectangle ones I blogged about but I haven't tried them - I hope them keep them in stock so I can purchase them soon!  I will let you know if I do! promised...these are the local businesses mentioned in this post....

* The Crossing in Warren, PA - check out their Facebook for more info!  It's a neat place!  LOTS happening!

* Kondak's Market & Catering in Clarendon, PA - check out the Facebook Page for the organics and other stuff!

* Arbor House Coffee Shop & Tea Room in Warren, PA - again Facebook is the way to go for info on them!

With Arbor House I would LOVE to get a VEGAN OPTIONS HERE Sticker over to them for their door!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

One Step Closer To Being An Aunt!

Saturday was the BIG DAY!  It was my sisters baby shower!  We had it at the local Hampton and the space was lovely!  I have to admit that I hate the color pink but the set-up was nice!  She opted for pink and grey!  Chevron, even!

Here is a photo of the party prior to the start time!  We decorated the night before and a few hours prior we brought everything in, too!

I bought and brought a 5 pound bowl of marinated veggies from a semi-local store and catering place!  It was WAY CHEAPER to do it this way than to buy everything individually and marinate it myself!  It was an Italian Dressing type marinade of sorts.  No dairy!  The veggies were all raw and included cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, celery, carrots, onion, green peppers, etc.  It seemed to be a hit because it was the first thing we ran out of on the food table!  And to think - I thought 5 pounds would be too much!  There were about 50 to 55 people there.  The turn out was much better than I thought it would be - however - I didn't know a lot of people there.  My sisters MIL's friends made up the majority.  I was happy that my Aunt Kathy (my Dad's sister) and my cousin Ricky's wife Michelle drove over 3 hours to attend.  My Aunt Carol (my mom's sister in law) also drove about 2 hours, too!

For MONTHS my sister requested I make a Hummus Quinoa Casserole.  Of course I wanted to fulfill that request.  I ended up making 2 of them as you can see in these photos!  Since it's a recipe found in Dreena Burton's Vive Le Vegan Cookbook I won't post it here but I will tell you a few variations.

This one I used Tri-Colored Quinoa for the base.  I used Yam Hummus for the middle layer.  And for the roasted veggies I used Zucchini, Summer Squash, Eggplant, Red Bell Peppers, Brussels Sprouts, and Yellow Bell Peppers.

I have to say this is the first time I attempted to make Yam Hummus and it turned out pretty awesome if I do say so myself!  I will certainly have to do it again!

For this one I did Red Quinoa on the bottom.  For the middle I used Plain Hummus but there wasn't quite enough and there was too much of the yam hummus so I combined the two hummus' here for this one.  For the roasted veggies on top of this one I used Sweet Onion, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Red, Orange, and Yellow Bell Peppers, and just a few leftover Brussels Sprouts from the other one.

BOTH  of these casseroles were gone by the end of the day!  SO I guess they were a hit, too!  Funniest part is...I bet no one noticed they were eating vegan!

These are pretty intense to make - especially if you are making more than one at the same time!  You should have SEEN the kitchen OMG! lol!!!!

So on to more food but not all of it was vegan so I just skipped over that stuff for my own plate.  My mother made the BIGGEST Fruit Salad I have ever seen in my life!  The first batch sat in a large corn pot.  There were two other LARGE containers full of the fruit salad used as back-up, too!  WOWZA!

There were raw veggies and tomato and basil with Balsamic, too!  One without dairy and one with dairy.

To show you more of the festivities here is a shot of the food tables.  There are non-veg things mixed in but still there were a lot of things that I was able to eat which you will see in a bit.

It was rainy on Saturday so I'm glad we were inside.

It was a nice space for a shower, too!  My favorite part of this hotel is the lobby and I totally forgot to take a photo of it.  I'm pretty sure at some point I will be there again for a meeting or something so I will try and remember to take a pic then!

My mother also made like 3 HUGE batches of candies (not vegan) but a hit with the masses!  Of course she always over does it so I had to bring some in to work to get rid of it!

And of course NONE of this is vegan but I had to share it with you!  There is a regional pie maker that is adored here and a lady brought 7 of their pies!  My husband said they are the best pies he's ever had in his life and was upset when I didn't bring any home for him!

Then there was the cake!  YES!!!  My niece's name is going to be Trinity!  Not sure if you noticed that!

Once the room filled up it was a bit snug but still nice!  Here is everyone socializing!  My sister's sister-in-law brought her new mini-Polaroid camera and took all of the guests pics and put them in a book for them to write bits of MOM ADVICE for my sister.  Neat idea!  And pretty cool mini-camera to boot!

Here's a quick pic of my sister Megan.  It's hard to tell from this angle but she's definitely showing!  I took one from the side but she had a really funny expression on her face and I'm sure she would kill me if I posted it here! haha!

She has about 6 weeks to go!  Her due date is June 14th.  It's finally starting to feel real that I will soon be an aunt!  I will be known as the CRAZY AUNT and I'm totally ok with that!

I have so much more to post and blog about but I realize how photo heavy this post already is so I will only blog about the shower today and save the rest of the weekend happenings for tomorrow thru Friday!

Just a few more pics in the meantime for the shower...

Here is the beginning of the present pile!  I'm pretty sure it doubled in size shortly after I took this photo!

She got a bunch of cool stuff.  One thing I laughed about was the wipe warmer.  Yeah!  It's a warmer that WARMS...WIPES!  I am probably the only person on Earth that finds that funny!

And you see that Diaper Bear in the right hand corner?  I had to take a closer look...

I'm not really an "Awwwwww....CUTE...." person but if you don't get a kick out of this there may just be something wrong with you (juse kidding)!

I never thought I would be that person who would want to 'see if the baby was kicking' but I am.  Not that I would do that to anyone other than my sister but still!  I guess I am NOW that person!  I'm a bit obsessed with her stomach and Trinity flip-flopping around in there!

I can't wait to meet her!  I know my sister will be a great mom, too!

And Trinity will be SO Spoiled!  TOO Spoiled!  But too bad, so sad, right!?

Another thing that was clever was this gift!  It was a dozen eggs container but when you opened it - it was a dozen baby socks instead!  This is my mom holding it up!

Jody - who was a co-worker of my father's before he retired in October was the one behind the idea of this one!  Really nifty - if you ask me - but then again - you didn't ask me...I just told you!  (Like you had a choice, eh?)

And personal plate of food at the shower!  I like to call this one...

What a Vegan Eats at a Baby Shower

And I think I will stop right there for now!  More tomorrow!

What did you spy with your lil eye that looked interesting at this party?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Where Did The Week Go?

Thursday, already?  Not sure where the rest of the week went but I knew I needed to get a blog post on before the craziness of the next few days takes place!  You see - my sisters baby shower is Saturday!  Both near-future grandma's are running around like maniacs and then there is the near-future 'Crazy Aunt' (that's ME) that has been overly busy at work and down and out not feeling well for a few days last week!  I haven't been as much help as I wanted the last couple of weeks! I will share with you some things I have been taking snapshots of over the past week and then I will blab about the shower next week!

First up is what I had for dinner last night.  It's the first photo you see in this post and it is LITERALLY something I threw together because I didn't want to fuss with anything special.  I found tortilla boats that happen to be vegan and I filled them with this chickpea mixture!

Smoked Russian Chickpeas:

1 Can of Chickpeas
4 T Vegan Mayo (I used Trader Joe's - see below)
2 to 3 T Ketchup
1/2 t Smoked Paprika
1/2 t Wildtree Memphis Dry Rub
3 Drops Organic Liquid Smoke

I cannot express how AWESOME this turned out!  I'm not going to lie - I kinda wanted to drink the 'dressing' which was a more smoked up version of my Vegan Russian Dressing I have done in the past.

This was the Vegan Spread and Dressing I used that I found at Trader Joe's the last time I went.  I'm partial to Just Mayo but this is pretty awesome on it's own.  It's not what I would call a straight-up vegan mayo but more like a dressing like it states - it seemed thicker and did have a different taste but the taste was pretty wonderful!

Another wrap I did within the last week was this one.  It doesn't look like much but it was a great comfort food!  I used a couple of potato patties, tomato slices, and vegan cheese sauce.  The vegan cheese sauce was the leftover vegan cheese powder I made not too long ago!  It worked well!

I had a huge salad this week, too, and I made this dressing.  It was supposed to resemble a vegan Ranch Dressing using Sunflower Seeds as the base but it totally missed the mark as a Vegan Ranch Dressing taste-alike.  The taste wasn't bad it just wasn't what I was going for.  

I'm grateful on a daily basis that Paco has been doing well the last several months!  A few months ago he wasn't able to do this!  He would barely move let alone look engaged in things!  

I still have to help him up on the sofa and recliner but the WANT and INTEREST is there!  I put him up on the recliner but he managed to get on the armrest all by himself and pose like this!  I couldn't tell you the last time he did that!  For about a year I freaked out when he did try to because his legs were so unstable!  How can these photos NOT put a smile on your face?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Another Day - Another Dip!

This past weekend was weird.  I was OFF.  I couldn't really tell you WHY I was OFF I was just...OFF!  One of the things that happened hasn't happened to me in 20 years.  Apparently I had an asthma attack.  Scared the crap out of me.  Just when I think I have won a personal battle something else seems to pop up!  My sleep is getting better.  I was able to FINALLY sleep in bed - haven't done that in YEARS so that is pretty awesome!  I was able to get many of my aches and pains under control - so I'm thrilled about that!  Next up I am going to try and lose a couple of pounds - I think!  Between getting a bit lazy and going with convenience items and winter weather and not moving around much I have gained more than I am comfortable with.  So that's my next mini goal.  I will be doing more salads, soups, RAW Foods, etc.  I think I gained weight because I wasn't preparing almost 100% of my own foods and dropped back into vegan convenience items - as well as NOT doing as many RAW FOODS like I was prior to last year. the only photo I have to share with you is the one you see above!  Not overly exciting but it's a Cashew Cilantro Dip that I made for the Broccoli Potato Fries I found a while back.  They were pretty YUMMY and they almost tasted CHEESY but they were clearly marked VEGAN and GLUTEN FREE!

Cashew Cilantro Dip & Salad Dressing

1 C Cashews
1/2 C Water
2 T Lemon Juice
1/4 C Cilantro
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1 t Wildtree Garlic Galore (or Minced Garlic)
1 Powerful Squirt of Dijon Mustard
Pinch Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Optional Sprinkle on top Smoked Paprika 

Everything in the high speed blender.  It was a little thin but after refrigerating for a while it thickens naturally.  This is also a great Salad Dressing, too!

I had a few kitchen fails over the weekend, too, or else I would have posted more.  I am not giving up on the cracker appetizer!  I am going to experiment with them more and if I can get them to where I want them I will post about them at a later date!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Zesty Hummus Dressing

Sorry I didn't post a 2nd time like I said I would yesterday. I have been having some glitches with blogger the last couple of days. I'm actually typing this in HTML now because it's the only way the editor will let me create a new post. I apologize if the last couple of posts look funky.

Yesterday was really gloomy and rainy and by the end of the day I just didn't feel like doing anything. I didn't even know what I wanted to eat. I had this simple salad. I decided to take some hummus and make it into a dressing. It was a success! Check out what I threw in my blender and used on my salad...

1/4 C Hummus (I used Trader Joe's Red Pepper Hummus)
1 t Dijon Mustard
3 T Lemon Juice
2 T Minced Garlic
2 t Maple Syrup
Handful of Nutritional Yeast
Handful of Hemp Seeds
Squirt of Coconut Aminos
Splash of Pumpkin Oil
Water as needed

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Vegan Options Inside!

After reading Vegan Power's post about volunteering for Humane League without actually living near the Humane League offices I decided to look into doing something with them, too!  I signed up for their Fast ACTION Network.  Within a few days I was contacted via email by Rachel.  She was telling me about a few things I could do online and semi-locally and regionally to get involved.  It's wonderful because there are ways to participate regardless of HOW you do it.  One way was to hand out (what I consider to be) graphic info/facts/stats on farmed animals.  Another way was to participate in the Subway Boycott.  But the action I decided to be a part of was to contact area restaurants and see if they want to put one of these nifty stickers on their doors to let veggie-heads know that they have at least 1 (hopefully more than 1) vegan option inside!  I have at least 3 places I know of here in this small town that would most likely be interested in putting this on their door.  Because of what I do for my full-time job and the small town where I live I have to be careful how I stir the pot so to speak.  I try and take a pro-active approach.  I try and promote the positives.  I feel one of those positives to be area businesses that provide vegetarian and vegan OPTIONS.  I really liked this action of theirs so I wanted to be on board with this one for sure.  Altho I think ALL of their Fast Action Network campaigns are great in their own right...this one...was the one that fit my way of doing things and certainly something I could do on a local level.

I'm going to have more than one post today.  I wanted to do a quick write-up about the Humane League.  I have a few other posts coming up in the near future including one about Foto Jet - an online collage making and photo editing program that I am pretty excited about.  But I have that one popping up sometime in the next week or so.  I also have to share some items I found at TJ's this past weekend, too!

So many things to blog little time, eh!?  What have you been up to?  Have you looked into the Humane League yet?  Have you seen any of the Vegan Options Inside Stickers at any of the restaurants near you YET?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Raw Vegan Ranch Dip & Dressing

I was having a serious Ranch Dressing Craving not too long ago and threw a bunch of things in my blender and came up with this.  The first recipe is for the dip.  It's thicker and tangier.  Perfect for carrot sticks and dipping!  To make a dressing just add a few tablespoons of water and/or non dairy milk of your choice!
1/2 C Cashews
1/2 C Sunflower Seeds
1 C Water
3 T Lemon Juice
3 T Coconut Aminos (or Maple Syrup)
1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
3 t Onion Powder
2 t Dill

You can add a splash of oil and/or sea salt or Braggs Liquid Aminos if you wish.  Optional, of course!

Cannellini Bean & Red Pepper Dip

I don't often buy Cannellini Beans but when I do it's usually by mistake.  It's not that I don't like them it's just that I don't LOVE them like some of the other beans I tend to use.  I have similar feelings when it comes to Black Eye Peas but that is another post for another day.

Perhaps it's a texture thing or maybe it's the aquafaba left behind from this white bean that I don't jump, jive, and wail over.  OR maybe it's just that I don't know what to do with them to make them SHINE.  Regardless - I think I found at least one solution.

Cannellini Bean & Red Pepper Dip.  So far - this is my favorite NOM NOM that contains Cannellini Beans.  Recipe below.  It's not quite a hummus but it could be a distant cousin.  It's not really a vegan cheese dip but it might be reminiscent of one.  Either way - it was a WINNER!

All in a high speed blender...

1 can Cannellini Beans
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 C Basil
1/2 t Smoked Paprika
1 t Balsamic Vinegar
Handful Cashews
3 T Almond or Cashew Milk
2 to 3 T Nutritional Yeast

Optional but a splash or pinch of the following if you choose...

Pink or Black Himalayan Sea Salt (or Miso, Braggs Liquid Aminos, or Coconut Aminos)
Crushed Red Pepper
Grapeseed Oil (or Pumpkin Oil or Hemp Oil)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar & Vegan Cookbooks

This past weekend we did a couple of day trips and I have been wanting to go back to Woodmere, OH, (just outside of Cleveland) since we stopped at the Trader Joe's out there and discovered Eton Chagrin Boulevard about a month or more ago.  How could I NOT be interested in this place with all of the EYE CANDY?  If you click on that Google Images will give you a sample of what I saw and why I was interested.  It's a flashy mall but it looks like village on the outside.  Very cool!

This trip we stopped at Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar.  There were several things on the menu that were clearly marked vegetarian and most of which could be made vegan.  They even had a footnote to ask about vegan options.  The staff was wonderful.  The decor was gorgeous!  As much as I wanted to have a salad on the menu that featured Spinach, Hearts of Palm, Mango, and more - I can get a salad almost anywhere so I wanted to try something I can't usually find.  I decided to go with the Coconut Curry Vegetable Stew.  This dish was vegan all by itself and the waiter said it was a vegan favorite for sure!  It had sweet potatoes (some with the skin on but done to perfection), sweet red bell peppers, sweeter red onions, zucchini, and what you can't see underneath all of the wonderful veggies...brown rice and pinto beans!  All in a Coconut Milk and Gentle Curry Sauce.  It was amazing!

Shortly after our very filling LINNER it was starting to rain and the parking lot was CRAZY.  I noticed there was a Vegan Sweet Tooth (Bakery) somewhere around there but I didn't see where it was so I'm sure we will have to go back in the near future to find it.

While we were there we did stop at a Barnes & Noble.  I had a little dejavu because the day before we were in Buffalo and I stopped in at a B&N there, too!  Regardless, I was stoked because between the 2 stores I picked up 3 books!

The Taco Cleanse was one of those books and I have to say I LOVE everything about this book and will be using it often! The snarky humor is a trip, the ideas and recipes are AWESOME, and the additional fun things at the end are cool, too!  Why haven't I known about this book before now!?  I seriously can't tell you how blown away I am by this book!  It's so fun!  It's so...ME!!!!  If you have read it let me know in comments and if you haven't make sure you get your hands on it!  FAST!

This was another book I picked up this weekend!  I did my initial thumb-thru of it and enjoyed it.  There were many recipes I in there that I have seen similar recipes for but Alicia put her own spin on them.  That's totally what I do sometimes so I appreciate that for sure.

I have to confess I was drawn to the cover.  Then again most of them I am.  I know, I aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover but sometimes I can't help it (in the literal sense).

I understand that photos are expensive to take, to print, and to include in cookbooks.  I wish this one had more but I understand why they usually fall short.  I do agree that for the most part the ones included in this Quick & Easy Vegan Comfort Food book by Alicia C. Simpson were fairly quick and easy!

So yeah...I did a little retail therapy this weekend!  It's not something I have done much of the last few years outside of foods.

I was always a fan of Isa's Vegan with a Vengeance.  I never bought/owned the book but borrowed it from more than one library several times.  When I saw the 10 year Anniversary Edition with NEW PHOTOS I knew I had to have it.  It was NOW or NEVER!  Ok...I probably would have been able to find it and buy it again at some point but still...the best time to BUY is when you see it, right?  That's exactly what I did!

While I have already spent some time with the first two books - I'm leaving Isa's for THIS WEEK!  Can't wait to jump in and see the new look and feel of this vegan classic!