Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!

Grill me a cheese!

So, grilled cheese has got to be my #1 favorite sammich! I've been making myself toasty gooey cheddar cheesy sammiches all week in preparation for today. I made some with beefsteak tomato. I made some with beefsteak tomato and herbed seitan.

They were delicious.

These ingredients were purchased at Whole Foods. I don't shop there very often, but it so happened that my love and I were apartment hunting in the neighborhood. As we all know, Whole Foods can be pricey, but it's an easy place to find vegan ingredients. This sammich was built with Daiya cheddar cheese, organic beefsteak tomato, Dave's Killer Bread, and Smart Balance Light buttery spread, and some of my homemade seitan. 

3 key tips for making grilled cheese sammiches:

1. butter both sides of both slices of bread - this is very important!
2. heat your skillet a bit before you throw your sammich in there - this keeps it toasty!
3. trust in Daiya - it actually melts!

Don't you love grilled cheeses? I have a craving for a grilled mozzarella tomato basil cheese sammich, so this post might be getting an update next time I go shopping...for now, check out my other grilled cheese posts below. Did I mention that I love grilled cheese?

If you love grilled cheese, please leave a comment! Bye for now.

Chow Down on a Vegan Grilled Cheese

Best MoFo Sandwich Ever!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Where Vegans Eat: Root Down, Denver

During my transition from Lambertville to Denver, I spent some time researching my vegan options for dining out. Root Down was one of the first places I bookmarked...that was 2 years ago!

I finally tried Root Down for the first time last weekend. I can't believe I haven't been here yet - it's a perfect date spot. It was crowded (Friday night) but there was bar seating, which is my preference anyhow. The lights were nice and low, and despite the full house I could still carry on an intimate conversation.

The first thing to cross my lips at Root Down was an ethereal, angelic, sublime Coconut Gin Fizz. 

Root Down made my list because they cater to the trendiest epicureans and have options for vegans as well as our paleo & omnivorous kindred. For instance, they have two kinds of sliders - Lamb or Vegan.  

Obviously, I ordered the vegan sliders. (My date had the other kind.) The vegan sliders were absolutely great - nice grilled flavor, a bit of crunch on the outside, served on a soft bun with ketchup, mustard, and a side of sweet potato fries. My sole complaint was that I wanted more. I was also a little jealous of my date's aioli. Chef, can you make a vegan spicy mayo next time, pretty please?

For dessert, we had a dark chocolate truffle each. I paired mine with an espresso, because if I see espresso on a dessert menu, I'm ordering it. I love an after-dinner espresso.

Root Down is the sister restaurant of Linger, another Denver eatery I love. These two sisters resemble each other. I was a little confused while I was looking over Root Down's cocktail menu. I kept searching for the Marrakesh Express, until I finally remembered, oh right! I'm at Root Down and I've never been here before!

Root Down is over in the Highlands at 1600 W 33rd. I think they're also out at the airport. You can visit them virtually at: www.rootdowndenver.com or call 303.993.4200 to make a reservation. I've heard tales of a brunch with bottomless blood mimosas...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Vegan Jambalaya

Sometimes I get a little stuck when it comes to everyday dinners, so I was super stoked when my man requested Jambalaya!

I had never made jambalaya before, so I did a bit of research via Pinterest, and asked a vegetarian friend who hails from Baton Rouge how he makes jambalaya. According to Alex, the secret of jambalaya is "the holy trinity of cajun food: onions, bell pepper, and celery."

So I invoked that holy trinity and made my jambalaya and it was heavenly! 

Here's how the prep went down...first, lots of chopping. Choppity-chop-chop. I made a quick veggie broth out of the ends of the celery & carrots, the onion skins, water, salt and vinegar. I just let it all simmer on the back burner while the chopping and sautéeing went on (there's a lot of sauté time, too). But once the veg and sausages are nicely fried, you just pour the broth into your skillet through a strainer, add the rice and seasonings, stir, cover and leave it alone.

scraps = broth
Season & Simmer

Vegan Jambalaya 
serves 4

3 tablespoons oil, for frying
1 yellow onion
1 red bell pepper 
4 celery stalks
4 carrots
3 Tofurkey sausages
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning*
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup white rice
dash liquid smoke

  • If you want to make your own broth, set some water to boil now and get those ends of veg simmering in there.
  • Chop the veggies and slice the sausages.
  • Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet.
  • Sauté the veggies until tender, then add the sausage and sauté for a few more minutes.
  • Add the vegetable broth, liquid smoke, rice and Cajun seasoning. Stir.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 - 45 minutes, or until rice is done.

My jambalaya came out darker than I expected, but that's probably because I put too much seasoning in...

Be careful with the Cajun seasoning! 

Add more if you want to, but watch out. I was all like, "I love spicy food, so I'll put in 3 tablespoons." Mistake! The first ingredient is black pepper. The second ingredient is cayenne. My jambalaya was hella good, but I had to put some sweet BBQ sauce on my portion to tame the heat. 

*If you decide you need more than 2 tablespoons, proceed with caution!

So now I have a new favorite dinner! I will definitely be making more jambalaya, and if it comes out a little more colorful next time, I'll be sure to share the photos.

What's been cooking in your kitchen lately? Any tips on Cajun cuisine? Please comment below!

Oh, and before you go, be sure to check out Alex Chappo's newest music video, MAD MAGIC:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Vegan Shopping Tips for King Soopers

How to Shop Vegan at King Soopers

Okay first off, I have to say, who in the heck named this store? Who is King Sooper and why does he spell it that way??? I don't understand! I'm going to have to research this a bit and get back to you at the end of this post...it's bothering me.

I went to King Soopers to get lunch stuff and snacks for work. Lara Bars are on sale 10/$10 so I got two of each of my fave flaves. I got some sammich stuff - fresh bread, heirloom tomato, hummus, arugula, and vegan turkey slices. Sriracha Kettle chips on the side...I'm eating well! Just look at that scrumptious sammy - mmm.

So anyway, King Soopers is a big-big supermarket like a Safeway. I'm pretty sure they're only in Colorado. To the residents and visitors to this glorious state, here follows my advice on:

How to Shop Vegan at King Soopers

+ Half-gallons of Simple Truth organic soymilk are only $2.79 regular price!

+ Watch for the 10/$10 sale on organic canned beans!

+ Corn tortillas are super cheap here. So is hot sauce. For all your enchilada needs.

+ If junk food is what you crave, get your chips or Ritz or sweet breakfast cereal here, just make sure to read the ingredients.

~ Vegan Finds ~
Check the end caps in the dairy section for vegan variations like
• Vegenaise vegan mayo
• Tofurkey sausages and slices
• Lightlife tempeh bacon
• Daiya cream cheese
...and, of course, tofu! (I❤️TOFU)

You can find vegan energy bars in the health food section, mixed up with all the other energy bars. Plant power, activate!!

There are lots of organic options, including fresh produce, cereal, chocolate soymilk, and peanut butter. You can also find essentials like olive oil, sushi nori, and vital wheat gluten at King Soopers.

...and finally, for any who were wondering, here's the Sooper King himself:

Lloyd J. King founded King Soopers in 1947 with Chuck Houchens. According to Here Lies Colorado: Fascinating Figures in Colorado History, "Curiously, to this day, no one seems to know why King and Houchens decided to spell 'Soopers' the way they did." I guess that settles it. The mysterious origin of Sooper will remain unsolved.

If you've read this far, please comment below! I'd like to say hi.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Year!

Here's a quick Leap Year reminder to look for the
leaping bunny
when choosing shampoo or cosmetics!

The leaping bunny symbol shows that no animals were harmed 
in the making of this product.

Happy Leap Year!
I'm taking advantage of this "extra day" to add some back-dated posts for February.
Get your banana bread here...Go Bananas

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It's National Banana Bread Day!

February 23 is National Banana Bread Day - let's get baking!!

Beautiful Banana Bread 

Got brown bananas? then bake 'em! Everybody loves banana bread. This classic whole wheat breakfast treat is sure to please. You can add some chopped nuts or chocolate chips if you're into that kind of thing.

Beware: your neighbors might "unexpectedly" pop by for coffee.

Got allergies? Never fear, the gluten-free version is here: Best Banana Bread Ever!

Build yourself some beautiful banana bread and slather the slices in coconut butter or almond butter or maple butter or whatever gets you going. It's delicious.

Warning: If you bake a double-batch so you have extra to bring to work, be prepared to share.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Super Bowl 50!!! Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Corn and other Party Snacks

This Sunday is Super Bowl 50!!! 

I love living in Denver! Above is how Mile High Stadium looked after the Championship game - cheering could still be heard all the way out on the highway. The Broncos are going to the Super Bowl!!!

As much as I love Roman numerals, I have to admit that "Super Bowl L" would look a little silly. It also sounds rather ridiculous to pronounce one L right after another, so Super Bowl 50 it is! Let's talk snacks...

The championship involved a deep dish pizza from Paxti's and a six-pack of Denver Pale Ale. That's a winning combination and pretty perfect football food. However, an event like the Super Bowl means it's party time! 

The old Chip-n-Dip is an essential component of group gatherings, as we all know, so I've incorporated two of my fave dips into this post (both involve avocados). If you have a spice-loving crowd, you might make some easy Bajoran Hasperat (a flatbread roll-up with kimchi and cream cheese) and Sweet Potato Fries with spicy aioli (vegenaise + sriracha).

Speaking of sweets, vegans just don't get enough treats in an omni crowd, do we? Here's a sweet and salty snacky for your Sunday afternoon, 

Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Corn!

2 tablespoons coconut or other high-heat oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon sea salt


Heat oven to 350°F.

Make the popcorn:
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a stock pot.
Drop two or three kernels of corn into the oil to test the heat; when they pop, pour in the rest of the corn, cover the pot and shake side-to-side to coat kernels with oil.
Set pot over flame and shake occasionally until popping has stopped. Remove from heat.
Separate any unpopped kernels from the popcorn - you don't want to crunch down on one of those bad boys while you're happily munching your sweet fluffy caramel corn! Put all the good popcorn in a large mixing bowl.

Make the caramel sauce:
Heat 1/4 cup coconut oil over medium to medium-high flame.
Melt the brown sugar into the oil, stirring constantly. Add the peanut butter, continuing to stir. Add the soymilk and salt and stir until fully incorporated.
Bring caramel sauce to a boil -stirring constantly! - for 5 minutes, then lower heat to a simmer. Continue to stir frequently as the sauce reduces.
Before it gets too thick, pour the sauce over the bowl of popcorn and stir well to coat all the kernels in caramel sauce.

Bake it:
Spread the caramel corn out onto baking sheets or into a large roasting pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven and serve when cool.

I used to beg my mom to let me make caramel corn when i was a teenager. My sister Jo would help. Its a bit of a process, but its a big batch and so worth it!

Now, on to the dips...I've shared these recipes on my blog before, but these two are total  classics that everybody loves. Now they are united at last! Ruthless Salsa, meet Crocodile Guac!

Ruthless Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa

2 tablespoons oil, for roasting
1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
2 cans black beans
2 avocados
2 or more hot peppers - how ruthless are you?
1 small red onion
1 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400ºF. 
Toss corn in oil and roast in hot oven on a baking sheet until browned.
Drain the beans and dump them into a large bowl.
Dice the avocados, chop the peppers and onion and mince the cilantro and throw them in.
Slice the limes into quarters and squeeze their juice over everything.
Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt on top.
Stir it all together and serve with tortilla chips.

Crocodile Guac'

4 ripe avocados
4 scallions
3 nice fat cloves of garlic
2 handfuls of baby kale
2 juicy mangoes
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a big bowl, mash up the avocados with a fork.
Roughly chop the onion, garlic, kale and mango, then 
puree in a food processor with the lime juice.
Add the blended mixture to the mashed avocado & 
flavor with cumin, salt & peppa.
Stir. Dip. Yum.

What are your favorite party snacks? Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl? Comment below!