Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring Break Goodies!

Get ready for some spring break porn, that is!! (forgive the looooong post...i'm new!)

Now that my spring break is officially over (tear) and it's back to the old routine, I feel that I must post about the wonderful trip I took to Chicago, so I can reminisce about all the fun and food I had!

Right before I left for my spring break trip with my mom, I prepared a delcious vegan Easter dinner for my family...

For dinner, I made the tempeh sheperdess pie from savory and chunky and delicious!! I served it with garlic-roasted asparagus (yay spring!) and hemp rolls...mmm. This pleased my veg mom and my meat-eating grandparents...and of course me, too!

And for dessert, the Coconut-Ginger-Macadamia Nut Carrot Cake (the name and cake were both a mouthful!) from Vegan with a Vengance, garnished with a whole mac nut and a slice of candied ginger. Possibly the best cake I've ever made or eaten!

The next day, my mom and I were off to Chicago! While we went to see some family up there, I must admit that my primary goal for this trip was to eat some tasty vegan food! And, oh yes, I achieved my goal!!
First up was the raw vegan palace called Cousins and hoooooly crap was it awesome! This was my first raw restaurant, and it was an incredible experience. Wonderful food and atmosphere, wonderful staff, it was perfect...except that we got lost trying to find it!

I had the raw moussaka with a side of greek shepard's salad and a big slice o' avocado. so many veggies, so good!

For dessert, I had the raw brownie. who knew raw food could be so fudgy!

My mom had a sampler platter with raw mini-pizzas, raw dolmas, and the fantastic guacamole... With a raw pear pie for dessert. wowie.(it's the one on the far right)

The next day, we went to the buffet at whole foods for a quick lunch, and it, too, did not disappoint!! I had the vegan curry "chik'n" salad with the raw kale salad, some raisin-pecan bread, and a kombucha (my new addiction). quick and delicious?? yes, please!

And for dessert, a cranberry-orange made by Chicago Diner...they sell baked goods at Whole Foods...yay!

For dinner, the much-anticipated CHICAGO DINER!!!! This was one of the best restaurant experiences I have ever had! I had so much fun being and eating there...and I am quite sure I have never been so full in my life! I could not complain about a thing!!

I had the polenta fiesta for my meal: sun-dried tomato polenta square topped with melted vegan cheese, caramelized onions, garlic-sauteed spinach and roasted sweet potatoes (yikes!) with sides of seasoned black beans, spanish rice, and salsa. GOSH

My dessert (have you noticed that I am a sweets person??) was the triple-layer cookies and cream cake. It was a religious experience.

My mom had the vegan super gyros. and if you were wondering, yes that IS vegan tzaziki sauce and, yes, it IS to die for!

And her dessert was a mint-chocolate chip vegan "milk"shake. 'nuf said.
The next day's lunch was another raw restaurant, this time it was Karyn's Gourmet. I had heard about Karyn's from several people and knew that I had to try it for myself...this food was so decadent and simple and fresh and satisfying. What more could you need? And the staff was great, which seems to be a trend for the places we visited on our trip!!
I had the pasta primavera with zucchini noodles and a cream sauce made from macadamias. And for dessert (yes, again) was the "tiramisu," which was layers of crushed nuts, rich carob sauce, strawberries, and almond creme. Yikes.

My mom went nuts for her basil-scented ravioli filled with macadamia "ricotta" and topped with an insanely good tomato sauce with olives and peppers...
and a raw lemon pie with a pistachio creme sauce. unreal. seriously.

When deciding on a dinner destination, both my mother and I were convinced that Chicago Diner needed another visit before this trip was over, so it was the logical choice!

I had the "chick'n" ranch sandwich...vegan.ranch.dressing.shiiiiiit ya'll. with sweet potato fries, I am sure I couldn't ask for much more!

Except maaaaaaaybe this warm, gooey chocolate bread pudding topped with sliced bananas, vanilla soy ice cream, and hot fudge sauce. I would trade a limb for this dessert. any of them. My mom and I split this because it was the size of a small child (although I could have knocked it out on my own...)

Before dessert, my mom got the vegan "crab" cakes with a creamy remoulade sauce..whooooooaaa...served with brown rice pilaf and roasted root vegetables. How could anyone not be vegan with food this gooooood??
The last day of our trip was great, but bittersweet, because I was not so psyched on going back to may not believe this, but there are fewer places to eat there than in Chicago...

Our ceremonial last lunch was at a vegetarian brunch-y joint called Victory's Banner that literally gave me peace just by walking in the door. that's rare, folks. you must visit this place!

Because we had been eating simple breakfasts at Whole Foods of fruit and soygurt, my mom opted for the tofu scramble with spinach and caramelized onions, served with a side of homefries and warm, homemade bread...

And I, being mildly obsessed with any food categorized as a sandwich or wrap, chose the Thai-inspired coconut peanut veggie wrap, filled with tofu, brown rice, tons of veggies, and a creamy coconut-peanut sauce. yowsa. It was snowy and cold, so I also got a cup of the Lebanese chickpea and artichoke did the trick!
And yes, dessert...chocolate-chocolate chip muffin. rich, fudgy, i like my men. :)
All-in-all, a great experience...i got to chill with my moms, see some cool museums, and fill myself to the BRIM with vegan goodness. screw cancun for spring break--i'll take vegan cake over a sunburn anyday!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Birth of a Blog...

Welcome to my brand-spanking new vegan baking and cooking blog! I have been wanting to create a blog about being vegan in the midwest for a while now, and I finally got the time over my spring break from here it is! I read all the vegan blogs out there like it's my job, but I think it's high time I start my own! I am a dietetics student at the University of Missouri and a chef at a vegetarian restaurant, called Main Squeeze, in mid-Missouri. My number one hobby is vegan baking...this kind of lifestyle is not the easiest or most typical here in the midwest, but I am making it work and getting better at it all the time! So, here is where I will chronicle all of the goodies that I make and share about vegan life in Missouri....enjoy and pleeeeeeease feel free to leave me comments! Thanks!!

Here is a preview of some baked gooooooods that I will share:
This is the Coconut-Ginger-Macadamia Nut Carrot Cake from Vegan with a Vengance that I made for Easter last week...heaven in a cake!