Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vegan (Treats) Thanksgiving, Part 2 of 2: Dessert Wrap-Up

After we lost a week of civilization to Hurricane Sandy and another catching up, Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on us this year.  Planning dinner was relatively easy since we knew we'd go traditional (sometimes we buck tradition and go Italian!), but dessert hadn't really crossed our minds until after all our favorite dessert-makers had called an end to holiday ordering.

A week prior, I found myself at Vegan Treats gorging on just about anything I could get my hands on. 

How do you improve upon a glazed chocolate donut?  Top it with chocolate cookie crumbles and chocolate drizzle!

And I certainly couldn't pass up a holiday themed sprinkle donut.

I also tried all of their cake ball/truffles of the day: chocolate caramel, red velvet, and chocolate hazelnut and I've decided they should offer a box of these for Valentine's Day.  You're welcome.

A cannoli:

Oh, and ice cream; I always get ice cream.  On this day, chocolate and cake-batter ice cream:

Then we spied this little feller in the case.  There was the issue of no Thanksgiving dessert...and once VM heard it was a cannoli cake the order was placed.

Since we'd decided to forgo the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, I had the forethought to bring that kind of stuff home for a fall treat.  There is no rule that says these things are only for the holidays, people!  A pumpkin cheesecake streusel.

And a pumpkin cheesecake.

Also, another triple chocolate donut!

Believe it or not, that same weekend, I was lucky enough to see Vegan Treats again (Hi Ashley!) at the Brooklyn Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market.  I didn't initially intend to get anything else...but, well-

so much goodness in one place
Can you see what looks like a peanut butter bomb in the bottom, right, corner of this picture (the real peanut butter bombs are in the top, left corner)?

Instead of peanut butter drizzle, it was sporting some kind of cooking crumb garnish.  When I inquired, I was told that it was a Speculoos bomb.  Yes, you heard that right: SPECULOOS BOMB!!  As in Biscoff!!

Unfortunately, it knocked around in my totebag all day, so by the time I arrived home it had kind of exploded within the container.  Completely my fault, you understand.  I don't have to tell you I ate it anyway, right?  Well, I did.  Danielle said that it might be better than the peanut butter bomb and I am here to confirm that besides being a vegan baking genius, she is absolutely right!  Regardless of how it looked by the time I ate it, I can assure you that the taste was not affected in the least.  Phenomenal!

They couldn't possibly be more deserving of this top honor.

And then, just a few short days later, it was time to dig into the chocolate-turkey topped cannoli cake.

As you can see, the turkey's eyes melted from what we'd already consumed earlier that same day.

love the waddle
To our surprise, it was a chocolate cannoli cake!  We'd just assumed...

So many fantastic elements: 3 layers of chocolate cake interspersed with two layers of chocolate chip cannoli cream filling, then iced with buttercream and drenched in a chocolate shell.

As for the turkey, he tasted like a tootsie roll.

Much thanks to Vegan Treats' for the incredible desserts, as well as to the entire staff for always being so incredibly kind to my family.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Vegan Thanksgiving, Part 1 of 2: Dinner

Oy; I'm full.  Not surprisingly, Thanksgiving day was filled with lots of cooking and tons more eating- so much so that I have to break it down into two posts: one for dinner and one for dessert.

VM's napkins: veganized

Truth be told, I don't like my food touching.

Especially gravied items; they belong on a separate plate!

We went extremely traditional this year, starting with green bean casserole from the PPK:

It never disappoints.

VM has always made awesome vegan mashed potatoes, but her new trick is to add horseradish- making them taste just like even better than the non-vegan wasabi mashed potatoes from Lucky Cheng's, circa 1999bv (before vegan).  VM's famous horseradish mashed potatoes!

I had some farmar sweet potatoes languishing, so I cubed and roasted them skin-on with cinnamon and nutmeg, then mashed them with butter, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon sugar.  AB's so-so, sweet, sweet potato mash.

Because Thanksgiving is as good of an excuse as any to make brussel sprouts...we did.  But, we didn't roast them this time; instead, I tossed them in safflower oil with salt, pepper, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and sautéed them stove-top for 15 minutes.  They tasted very similar (better) than the ones from Blossom, and I loved the vibrant green.

I forgot the chestnuts!!
VM has always made vegetarian, creamed corn stuffing, but she's long since veganized it.  On a good day she'll prepare them in balls rather than a casserole.  A day when a dead turkey is roasting in her oven is not a good day.

Okay, okay; our mushroom gravy is from a can.

But our cranberry is homemade by my boss, who does something terrific with orange zest to make an orange/cranberry chutney of sorts that I really like...and I am not a fan of cranberries (never craisins).

And, finally: our "main course" was chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon- easily doubled on PPK. Cause what are you gonna do with a single batch?  Not enough, that's what.

I really didn't overdo it.  The problem arose when I was effectively done, but then decided to have a little more mashed potatoes...and stuffing...and green bean casserole.  Then I was not only done, but done for.  Despite my own gluttony, it was a wholly successful spread and I'll be eating leftovers for at least a week.

89 doesn't really eat at the table; she was just posing for posterity.
Don't get me wrong; I did manage to have dessert...hours later.  But, I'm a professional.  I'll let you digest dinner for now and catch you later with part 2.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vega Shake and Go Smoothies

A couple of months ago, Vega generously put out a call to bloggers offering samples of their Shake & Go Smoothies.  Since I've been toying with the idea of a short-term juice fast, I thought this might point me in the right direction and I took them up on it.  I was impressed to receive a 5-pack assortment of varying flavors and thrilled to see that the directions were simple: "Just add water, shake, and go!"  Since I have water, my measly muscles are capable of shaking, and I really do have to go (to work every morning), this sounded just right; being healthy ain't so hard after all ;-)

I decided to start with the tropical tango flavor because I rarely keep orange juice in the house and I really miss the citrus.  It was suggested to me that I actually mix the Vega with orange juice, but I didn't have any (see above).  I wasn't too disappointed since I really wanted to try the product exactly as intended;  an additional element would have both defeated the convenience aspect and affected the taste. 

I was surprised that the powder smelled like Hi-C, but the green-tinged orange color of the mix allayed any concerns that it might taste the same.  I vigorously shook the contents of the package with ice water in a lidded Magic Bullet mug, but could see unappetizing bits of green on the sides of the cup and collecting on the bottom; I was afraid to try it.  Thanks to No Meat Athlete's suggestion, I quickly added about a dozen small ice cubes, gave it another shake, and headed off to work. 

I'll admit that I feared it might taste like Tang (which I never liked), but it was much too thick to even be compared.  After two small sips I had to add some extra water to dilute it.  That seemed to thin it out, but although the powder was no longer visible, it was still discernable between my teeth.  I did manage to drink the whole thing and may have even felt a little bright-eyed as a result- albeit slightly nauseous.  A large glass of water was in order to wash it all down.

the only bits I like in my drinks are chocolate chips
I had every intention of trying the chocolate next, but punked out and went with the vanilla almondilla (like godzilla?).  The mix smelled unpleasant, but once it was shaken with 1 1/2 cups water and 1 cup ice, the smell inexplicably transformed into something dinstinctly almond.  The hue, however, was decidedly green.

Despite the unappealling color, I do think this flavor was better.  Unfortunately, I was still left unsettled by the consistency- which is that of a watery smoothie, but with a bit of chalkiness.  It did fill me up, but I had to have a few pretzels an hour later to get the taste out of my mouth cleanse my palate.

I really did shake and go.
The next day I decided that I would really try the chocolate flavor; it was go big or go home time.  Best case scenario?  Yoo-Hoo.  Worst case?  Well...

I admit that I wussed out and didn't just shake and go this time.  Instead, I mixed it up- smoothie style, with a banana and lots of ice; this was the best of the bunch!  I'm not saying it was a chocolate shake, but it was a relatively outstanding chocolate smoothie- and that's saying a lot.  Mixing it with the water, fruit, and ice absolutely solved the problem I was having with consistency.

I've yet to try the remaining flavors: raspberry and plain, since I think I'd prefer to just stock up on the chocolate for now. 

But, I think it's safe to assume that if I enjoyed the chocolate, those of you who normally enjoy fruit smoothies may enjoy those flavors much more than I did; give them a try and see for yourself.

Thanks to Vega for sending me the samples to review; I would recommend the Vega Shake and Go Smoothies as a great way to get your nutrients when you're on the go, but I'd definitely add fruit and ice for improved taste and texture.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Souen Union Square

Much to the pleasure of two of my healthier friends, I agreed to go to Souen SoHo one day last year when I wasn't feeling particularly like myself was craving healthy food.  I'd been forewarned that there was fish on the menu, but aside from that it was nothing like I expected; I ordered the macro plate because nothing else piqued my interest.  I'd never before purposely eaten macrobiotic food; I assume it's just boring by nature.  So, other than discovering that I really don't like hijiki seaweed, I had nothing significantly good or bad to report; I didn't blog it.  Ok, I'll admit that the restroom sink was cool even though the dining room itself was nondescript at best, but really- that was it.  In any event, I assumed I'd try it again and then have a better sense of my opinion, but it turned out that I really had no urge to return.  Months and months later one of the same friends suggested we visit his favorite Souen: Union Square.  When I saw that they had an A things were looking up!

The modern dining room was packed: both the sushi bar and two floors of tables.  I distinctly smelled the fish, but my table mate disagreed (it could have been mind over matter?).  The menu again surprised me- nothing stood out as being extraordinarily appealing.  Although it was very cold outside, it was quite hot in the restaurant- so I decided to focus on something cool.  I skipped the generic vegetable sushi because now I'm spoiled, but I found this appealing on the lunch sandwich menu: stuffed tofu pita: whole wheat pita bread stuffed with homemade baked tofu, avocado, cucumbers, carrot, sprout, onion, and tofu dill mustard sauce.

The service was supremely slow, but the sammie was really good.  Fresh, tasty, and well-proportioned; my only complaints were that it was overly dressed and impossible to eat without utensils.  However, the pickles that it came with were delicious enough that I was able to easily overlook this minor infraction.

My pal also ordered from the sandwiches: seitan vegetable gyro: whole wheat pita bread stuffed with sautéed seitan, broccoli, green, carrot, and onion in olive oil and garlic, topped with tofu dill teriyaki sauce.  This looked really appetizing and it was reported that it was delicious.  I didn't try it; I'm very finicky with seitan, but I was also still too hot for warm food.

His lentil soup also received the thumbs up.

Souen Union Square was definitely a vast improvement over Soho.  I'd prefer not to eat where animals are served, but now that foodfeud has raved about the East Village location, I'll probably complete the trifecta.