Friday, September 30, 2011

VeganMoFo 2011...

Hey ya'll, just a quick update here.

As you may have guessed by now, I am participating in VeganMoFo this year. VeganMoFo (Month of Food) is when vegan bloggers all over the world join forces and blog about delicious *vegan* food every single day of the month. Well... at least 5 days out of the week. You can read more about VeganMoFo and check out which of your favorite bloggers are participating by visiting VeganMoFo.

I've been thinking about VeganMoFo for a lonnnng time now, and I've been trying to figure out if I want to  follow a theme or if I want to just wing it. Frankly, I still don't know what I want to do, sooo stay tuned and see what I manage to squeeze into the blog on a daily basis. If you're interested, some theme ideas I've been toying with are...
  • Apples and/or Pumpkins
  • "Vegan Food" Around the Neighborhood 
Apples and pumpkins are pretty self explanatory (I hope) being, uh well, October. My idea for finding "vegan food" around the 'hood was to kind of showcase the fact that vegan food is just food and that you can find it anywhere you go! This would be posted Tumblr style using mostly just photos and perhaps a word or two (i.e what it is and where I saw it.)

If you have any ideas for me, or if there is anything that you are just dying to see on the blog, please do let me know! You can share your thoughts and ideas with me by commenting orr you can email me at... 

aveganfoodsnob {AT} gmail {DOT} com

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Earth Balance Coconut Spread

At Vida Vegan Con I had the absolute pleasure of sampling Earth Balance's brand new margarine type spread, Organic Coconut Spread. As soon as I got home I knew this was going to be the first product I'd purchase. Not to mention the fabulous people at Earth Balance gave us a coupon for a free tub of the stuff in our swag bag. (Free coupon aside, I would pay mucho dinero for this product.)

Seriously, Earth Balance, could I love you anymore? It's no secret that I want to run away and have a secret Las Vegas wedding with this company. Their soy milk is my go to beverage, I devour both their peanut butter and almond butter right from the tub and my fridge is always stocked with not only a margarine tub, but also margarine sticks. A peek in my fridge and you'd swear I work there or something. (Disclaimer: aside from the coupon I did not receive any monetary compensation from the company for this review, nor am I under any obligation to do this review. I just genuinely enjoy the products put out by this company and do use them in my everyday life.)

Also no secret that I'm coo-coo for coconuts.

I've tried this spread in several ways. The first being simply on a piece of bread. For me this is the ultimate "bread and butter" snack (also my most favorite guilty pleasure). The spread melts as it hits your tongue with the creamy taste of butter and just a hint of coconut. So good. I could eat this stuff with a spoon. (Which I realize is not healthy, both nutritionally and for my mental health.) Clearly, I am not afraid of any fats in my diet!

Secondly, I was eager to use this spread in my baking. I made a batch of mini apple pies and used the Coconut Spread in place of the margarine and shortening in a basic pie crust. The result? A perfectly flakey, creamy, smooth texture with a slightly sweet and salty coconut flavor. I can see this spread baking up beautiful cookies, perfect pie crusts, and to die for cakes & cupcakes.

I want to be clear that the taste of coconut is not overwhelming, but you do gets notes of it in the background. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that even people who do not like strong coconut flavor will actually enjoy this product.

I have yet to saute or stir fry with it, but that is surely to come.

Now for a few details. Earth Balance Coconut Spread is organic, non-GMO and (get ready, food sensitive friends) gluten and soy-free.

In conclusion, this is the closest tasting thing to "real" butter that I have found. Even in a side by side taste test of the Coconut Spread vs. the Organic Whipped EB margarine, I still think the coconut tastes more like the buttery flavor that I remember.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taco Salad

This is a simple and speedy way to use up those nagging kitchen staples and create a yummy meal all at the same time!

What you are looking at here is 2 small bunches of shredded romaine, 1 package (1 1/2 lbs. prepared) of soy curls, 1 can of black olives, 3 ears worth of corn (roasted), 1/2 of a red onion, blue corn chips and Queso.

Not only is this super quick and super easy but it's also customizable. Don't like black black olives? No problem! Want to add avocado? Go ahead! Soy curls not your thing? This is the perfect time to use any veg. protein of your choice. 

My soy curls were prepared very simply. First soaked for 10 minutes in warm water. Then cooked in a skillet with a blend of chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, coriander and the juice of 1 lime. About 10 minutes in the pan and they were done.  

The fun part is getting to arrange your salad...

I roasted up some fresh corn for this bodacious buffet and even that was super quick! Here's how you roast up corn at home in a flash. 

Roasted Corn
  • 3-5 ear of corn
Preheat your oven to 475º F.
Cut the kernals off of the cobs and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cook for 5 minutes, remove from oven and scrape up the corn. You basically want to just move the corn around so that it cooks evenly. I run a metal spatula down the sheet in rows, turn the corn and flatten it again. There's no real scientific method to moving corn so just do whatever works for you at that moment. Into the oven for another 5 minutes, and you are done! Serve warm. I highly recommend you do roast up some corn at home, if for nothing but the incredible sweet smell that will fill your kitchen. You can even freeze the roasted corn and save it for a later use.

Monday, September 19, 2011

*Quick and Easy* Fall Vegan Picnic

If summer and I were soul mates, then fall would be my secret affair. Anyone who knows me knows I love the sweltering temperatures of a hot summer day, but when the cool fall air begins to creep in I can't help but secretly get all giddy on the inside.

 For me, fall is the perfect time for picnicking. Yesterday we enjoyed our first picnic of the season, complete with a bike ride around Manhattan.

Tired bikes, resting up.

On the menu was a brown, wild rice salad with slivered almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, cranberries and a sprinkle of arame. This came together in a snap. I had a ziplock bag's worth of the rice already cooked and in the freezer. All I had to do was quickly warm up the rice (I popped it in the microwave for about 5 minutes). Toss in the cranberries, sun-dried tomatoes and almonds (all pantry staples around here) and there's a complete meal. All of the ingredients really complement each other well. You get the creamy earthiness from the rice, a burst of sweetness from the cranberries, a salty bite from the tomatoes and a little crunch with the almonds. This is especially perfect picnic food since you can enjoy the rice warm or cold.

Blue corn chips and Queso were perfect for snacking along with 2 macoun apples to round it all out. The last of the coffee cakes for dessert and 2 sample size Larabars as an extra treat/boost of energy. Have a look...

All packed up!

Queso... yummm!

So good, and soo filling!

It's not a picnic without a red blanket...

good company...

and a nice view makes it complete!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kitchen Blunders & Mishaps

In the last two days I have managed make many small(ish) mistakes in the kitchen. It all started yesterday when I left the oil out of my little coffee cakes...

Today I was extra vigilant to make sure I didn't make any silly mistakes. Hah! (At least I can laugh at myself, right?)

My day started off with a pie crust. I first added the flour and salt and then proceeded to add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. What?! With 1 cup of sugar already in the processor I thought, "Gee, that seems like too much." So I went back to check and realized in my hurry to scribble amounts on my paper I wrote "c" instead of "t". Welllllll damn it.
I did manage to save some of the sugar and some of the flour. I dumped the rest and started over.

Ok, the pies were saved, but not before I dropped the dough on the floor. Luckily most of it was covered in plastic wrap. Then finally (and after I forgot to sugar the tops, oops!) they were safe and sound in the oven. Leave it to me at the end to set the timer for 5 hours instead of the 5 extra minutes they needed. Sheesh.

All while the pies were being tortured I managed to not only squirt lemon juice in my eye, but also Dr. Bronner's lemon citrus soap, in the same eye!

Later in the day I forgot to turn off the slow cooker and over cooked my chickpeas to oblivion, at the same time I was pouring tofu water all over the stove while (attempting to) make a tofu scramble.

Ok, clearly I'm just ranting... and venting... and run-on sentencing. But after all these kitchen shenanigans I got to wondering, and I want to know: What are your kitchen blunders, mistakes and mishaps? Really, I'm curious. Have you had one day where everything just went wrong? Or do you have just one knock down, drag out kitchen blunder of all time? Lay 'em on me people!

As for me... perhaps keep me away from breakable things and sharp objects. I think it'll be take-out this weekend until I get my sea legs back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coffee Cake Nostalgia

Do you remember Drake's Coffee Cakes?
I've been thinking about... dreaming about them, for at least the last week or so. I can imagine opening that package and out slide 2 perfectly round cakes, just for me! Cinnamon wafting in my nose, and taking that first soft and crumbly bite. Crumbs would roll everywhere of course, but I barely even notice, stuffing my face with the second cake before I knew it.

If I don't get some coffee cake now, heads will roll.

My first thought was to thumb through my cookbooks. Surely I had seen a coffee cake in one of them before, hadn't I? There in Vegan Brunch (one of my most used books) was a coffee cake staring back at me. But no. This wasn't it. I needed more crumbs, more cinnamon, more something. Then it hit me! I rushed to VeganYumYum where I knew the perfect crumb cake recipe was waiting for me.

As much as I loved the little individual coffee cakes, eating a slice of coffee (or crumb) cake was never quite as enjoyable for me. Here is what I did to fulfill my coffee cake nostalgia craving.

Prepare this recipe for Crumb Cake. Scoop 1/4 cup of the cake batter into a greased jumbo muffin tin. Top with the crumb topping. Bake approximately 40 minutes at 350º F.

As soon as I placed the muffin tin in the oven and closed the door, I realized that I forgot the oil! I don't know how, it was literally sitting right in front of me. It was too late to do anything about it, so I just set the oven timer and hoped for the best.


The look and flavor were spot on. However, the lack of oil left my cakes dense and slightly rubbery. If it were not for my mistake they would have been perfect.

Tips: I would suggest to make your crumb mixture more sand-like rather than big clumps. The post for the recipe shows big huge crumbs, but I found the bigger crumbs were a little too crunchy for my end product. Also, I baked the cakes for a total of 50 minutes which I think was a little too long. Next time I'll take them out at 40 minutes. Just be sure to test and see what amount of time works best for your oven.

Friday, September 9, 2011

ELT: Eggplant, Lettuce, Tomato

Okay, technically I'm using spinach, not lettuce. But EST just doesn't do it for me.

Eggplant right is super in season and really cheap right now. I picked up a really pretty one the other day for about a buck. This pretty baby is destined to become bacon. Yes, that's right. Bacon. I have been dying to make the eggplant bacon from Appetite for Reduction, and today is the day. (Edit 10/11: Isa posted the recipe for the eggplant over at the ThePPK, so if you still don't have the book {why?} you can grab the recipe there.)

This is super easy, especially if you don't screw up and let the eggplant stick to the pan like I did.

Eggplant Lettuce Tomato Sandwich

  • 1 batch eggplant bacon
  • 1 batch Cesar Chavez dressing
  • 1 large slice of tomato 
  • small handful of baby spinach (or a few leaves of romaine)
  • sandwich bread of your choice (I used a large piece of leftover baguette)
Carefully spoon the dressing onto both pieces of bread. Really let it soak in, pour on tons of it. Lay the tomato slices on the bottom piece of bread. Layer on the spinach or other greens using and top with your eggplant bacon. Close it up with your remaining piece of bread and take a huge bite!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quick & Easy Veggie Rice Pilaf

Another quick and easy one tonight folks! Can you tell how lazy I've been lately? But hey, a delicious meal doesn't need to be complicated. This is actually the 2nd night this week I've made a rice pilaf dish. The first one though had a longer cooking time. You can also use this as a kind of "clean out the fridge" type meal. I had some broccolini that was starting to wilt so in the pot they went! Definitely feel free to sub any veggies you have at the moment.

Vegetable Rice Pilaf

  • ~1/4 cup vegetable stock, broth or bouillon cube (just enough to cover the pan)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 bunch broccolini, finely chopped
  • generous dash of tumeric
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 3 cups water (or more veg. broth)
Gently simmer the carrot, garlic and broccolini in the veg. stock for about 2 minutes. Add the tumeric and stir. Add the orzo, rice and water, stir and briefly bring to a gentle boil. Simmer, covered on low for 25-30 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked. Taste for seasonings and fluff it up!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Easy Tomato Coconut Curry Soup

How is the weather where you live? Today is day # 2 of crappy, rainy weather in NY. Here's a quick soup that feels like a big warm hug on a cold day.

Tomato Coconut Curry Soup

  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1 carrot, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (I used So Delicious, unsweetened)
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1-2 handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped

Heat oil over medium heat, cook onion 1 minute. Lower heat to medium low, cook onion 3 more minutes. Add garlic and carrot, I grated these both right into the pot. Add all of the spices, salt and sugar, cook about 2 minutes. It will look a little like a paste at this point. Turn the heat down all the way to low and add the coconut milk. Mix it all together, the color will be a beautiful golden yellow. Turn the heat up to medium again and add the can of tomatoes, plus 1/2 a can's worth of water. Bring it up to a gentle boil and toss in the spinach. Simmer just until the spinach is wilted and enjoy, perhaps with some crusty bread.

onion, garlic, carrot & spices 
add coconut milk...
add tomatoes, then spinach...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vida Vegan Con 2011 - Friday/Saturday

The kick off was Friday night with a fantastic reception hosted by VegNews. Champagne and cupcakes were abound! The cupcakes were from Sweetpea Baking Co, and boy were they delicious. I wish I had one right now...

It was great getting to meet some of the bloggers and visiting the great companies that were tabling. Some of the first ladies I met were Dawn of veganmoxie and Gena of Choosing Raw. Wow, these ladies are so amazing, I was happy to see both of them throughout the weekend and even attended several panels that each of them spoke on. Additionally, on Saturday I was so lucky to chat with Gena about nutrition school and she gave me the most stellar and possible life altering advice. 

Gena, Dawn & myself
Photo via Bianca of Vegan Crunk
At this point I had also met Bianca of the blog Vegan Crunk, and we chatted a bit about her brand new tattoo (check out a pic of it on her site.) This girl is awesomely honest and funny and I saw her on two different panels. Keep your eyes peeled for her cookbook which will veganize classic southern/soul food. Umm, yes please! 

After much schmoozing and mingling we bloggers retreated and prepared ourselves for a full day of gettin' our learn on. 

Saturday morning began with a full vegan (obviously) breakfast buffet. I was so hungry and so excited that forgot to take any photos of breakfast. In fact, I found myself so excited/overwhelmed/distracted the whole weekend, that I forgot to take pictures of almost the whole conference. 

Anyway, I sat down at a table with my overflowing plate of tofu scramble, biscuits and gravy, breakfast potatoes and coffee of course. I was settling myself in and chatting with the people at my table when, mid coffee sip, I suddenly realized that I was eating breakfast with Susan of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. Wow, I was completely star stuck. Susan's blog was one of the very first that I started reading and cooking from. I couldn't believe I was having breakfast with her, and in fact, I actually still can't believe it. 

Finally it was time for classes! I first headed to Build-A-Blog with Amey of Vegan Eats and Treats, Sherri of VeganNosh and yes, Bianca! This was a very informative class with topics covering everything from literally how to begin a blog to getting noticed to themes and blog structure. One thing that stuck out to me was the talk of using Facebook. Bloggers (and everyone else who uses the FB), Facebook owns what you post. So bloggers, be careful and beware if you have a Facebook page. (Coincidentally, A Vegan Food Snob, does and you can visit it here.)  

Next for me was the Nutrition Panel with Gena, Ginny Messina, The Vegan RD, Bryanna Clark Grogan of Vegan Feast Kitchen and Wendy of Veg Food and Fit and moderated by Grant Butler of The Oregonian. I was very excited for this panel as I am constantly wanting to learn more about nutrition and these were very legit people in front of me. A few topics of interest I want to mention are...
  • When buying organic produce, focus on the dirty dozen.
  • When eating raw, it doesn't have to be all or nothing!
  • All vegans need to take a B12 supplement. All *humans* should be taking a B12 supplement after age 50. 
  • Oils and fats are good!
I had like a light bulb moment when the chat about raw food came up. Gena was saying how often people who want to "go raw" tend to take it to an extreme and literally go 100% raw. My moment came because I did this! Last summer I wanted to go raw for the month of August and went totally crazy. Mind you it only lasted 2 days, but that's a story for another time. Gena's advice was "do not dehydrate anything!" and simply add more naturally raw food, such as fruits, veggies and nuts into your current repertoire. Hello, this makes so much sense! Healthy vegan eating should be all about inclusion of good things, not insane restrictions. 

My second major "I can't believe it!" moment of the weekend happened in this panel. During the Q & A session, I turned to see who was asking the question, and who is it but Isa! Ah, I almost died! In my head I'm thinking... "Oh my god! Isa Chandra Moskowitz is actually taking the same class as me?! But she like already knows everything about everything!!"

My last class of the morning was The Accidental Journalist with Gabrielle of Vegans on the Move, Dawn and Michele of vegtasticvoyage (also a VVC founder). Such an interesting class for me and some of the tips I took away were...
  • Add contact info when reviewing a restaurant (duh! seems so obvious, but I realized I hadn't done that!)
  • Read your post aloud!
  • Leave & come back to a post before you publish!
  • Test your links!
Since lunch was next and this post is getting too long (sorry Dynise!) I'll leave you here with a photo of my extremely delicious lunch from our fantastic lunch buffet! 

Clockwise from top: pesto potato salad, BBQ tempeh, grilled veggies
raw golden beet salad, raw kale salad, baby carrots w/ purple cauliflower
hummus & orzo salad

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Vida Vegan Con - Voodoo Doughnut - The Magic is in the Hole

Voodoo Doughnut gets it's very own post because we made 2 stops there while in Portland.


On our first stop (on Friday morning) the line "wasn't that long" according to those walking by (it really wasn't) but normally the line for this place wraps around the building. They make yeast and cake doughnuts with interesting flavor combinations and hilarious names. Check out their website for the full menu. They have specific racks of vegan doughnuts so we picked out a handful to sample and quickly devoured before heading off to brunch. Some of our samplings include the Cock-N-Balls and the Maple Blazer Blunt. 

Portland Cream

On stop #2 (the following Tuesday) we were anxious to try more flavors so we loaded up a box.

Voodoo Dolls (jelly filled)

Cock-N-Balls (cream filled, obviously) 

Clockwise L-R: Double Chocolate with Sprinkles,
Portland Cream, Peanut Butter, C-N-B

Tasty little guy!

Voodoo Doughnut: 22 SW 3rd Ave. Portland, OR 503-241-4704 (multiple locations) *CASH ONLY*

Vida Vegan Con - Pre Con/Chillin' in Portland

We arrived in Portland a few days early. I wanted to savour as much of this city as possible (little did I know our flight would be cancelled due to Hurricane Irene and we'd be having an extended stay!) While walking from the train station to our hotel we made our first stop at Stumptown Coffee. (Coffee break, self explanatory, yes?)

We settled into the room, and went out exploring. The first thing on my mind was getting food. Not just any food, but a burrito from Homegrown Smoker.

Homegrown is one of many food carts in Portland, and as you can see, they are 100% vegan. There isn't a day that goes by that I wish I had this food cart in my neighborhood and this burrito in my hands...


This was easily my favorite thing we ate the entire time in Portland. Meet the Macnocheeto. Mac-NoCheese, baked beans, grilled peppers and onions, soy curls with BBQ and No-Cheese sauces in a giant flour tortilla. I have never been a fan of BBQ sauce or anything with a BBQ flavor, however... Homegrown Smoker has changed that for me, forever. If the world was ending tomorrow and I had to choose a last meal it would be the Macnocheeto. If I were stranded on an island and I could only have one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be the Macnocheeto. I think you get my point here... 
The best way I can describe this beautiful creation is, foodgasm. 


I should mention we also tried the SloSmoMofo, smoked soy curls, BBQ sauce and chipotle slaw, with a side of Mac-NoCheese. Later in the week we went back for another Macnocheeto as well as the Portorrito (smoked portobello slices, Mac-NoCheese, smoked soy curls, grilled peppers and onions, chipotle aioli and two cheeses in a flour tortilla) and the Tye Dye Chili Cheese Fryz.  

Next up on the agenda was a bus ride to the vegan mini mall, which consists of Sweetpea Baking Co, Herbivore Clothing Co, Food Fight! Grocery and Scapegoat Tattoo (where I got my tattoo done at the end of the week). 

Vegan mini mall!

A peek into Herbivore where I purchased 2 shirts that I've had my eye on for some time (no sales tax in Oregon, hooray!) and then into Food Fight! where we picked up a bag of soy curls (because I've been looking for them for years and can't find them anywhere!) some Tofurkey jerky to try and most importantly, Queso and chips to snack on. Literally as we stepped outside, the Queso was opened ad devoured.

So yummy. So spicy. 

Places to visit in Portland:
  • Stumptown Coffee (downtown) 128 Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR (503) 295-6144
  • Homegrown Smoker - SW 4th & College Portland, OR (Facebook page here)
  • Sweetpea Baking Co - 1205 SE Stark Street, Portland, OR (503) 477-5916
  • Herbivore Clothing Co - 1211 SE Stark Street, Portland, OR (503) 281-8638
  • Food Fight! Grocery - 1217 Southeast Stark Street, Portland, OR (503) 233-3910
  • Scapegoat Tattoo - 1223 Southeast Stark Street, Portland, OR (503) 232-4628

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vida Vegan Con 2011 - Portland, OR

I have been staring at a blank blog post for much too long now. As I'm mulling over all the fantastical things that made the first ever Vegan bloggers conference amazing, I've been finding it difficult to even get any words out about it. Let's just start at the beginning, shall we?

For me it actually began sometime in December or January, I was having a particularly unenjoyable day. As I sat at my desk at work I began searching... typing in "vegan conference" just out of curiosity. What do I see but a link to Vida Vegan Con. My first thought is "Oh my god, it actually does exist!" I bought my ticket, and waited for August to arrive.

As details emerged I could only imagine what a weekend surrounded by all amazing people and all things vegan would be like. Turns out I wasn't nearly prepared for just how breath taking and perhaps life changing this conference was going to be...

My special parting gift to myself.
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