Birthday, Birthday...2 weeks later

My birthday came and my birthday went. At first, I really wasn't too excited about it. My sister was like 'fact of growing up'. Very true. When we were younger there was the big parties the big excitement and yays and ooohs, but this year turning 20, really isnt monumental here. No new responsibilities and still cant drink legally. So I just planned on having a quiet dinner with my family and family friends and then going to go see Jenny Owen Youngs perform with my friends the next day.

So the day of the my birthday, I sleep in til noon (oh my!). When I left my room I saw a beautiful white wicker hamper filled with gifts and a blue star balloon. When my whole family got home, we opened them. I was completely flabbergasted that I got any gifts, as I had already had an amazing trip to IKEA, parents paying rent on a beautiful apartment, and many other necessaries for my apartment. I had asked for one thing, a concert poster of Sia's performance at the Belly Up. This is such an amazing translation of a beautiful photo of her. I cannot wait to find a spot for it in my new bedroom.

I also got a nice expandable drying rack, kitchen drawer organizer, awesome placemats and napkins, a shower organizer that fits my 9ft ceilings, and an addition to my growing vegan cookbook collection...VEGANOMICON.

I am so proud to finally have my own version. No more borrowed library version. Its mine to spill water and spices and fold pages and write changes to recipes or average times for myself. WOHOO

Pretty much after I finished my presents. I went and got my hair done all lovely. I am quite happy with it. It was too long and overgrown, Ive got my full fringe back and layers. Then it was off to the big dinner with family. There was 12 of us. 12 with many dietary restrictions: 2 on South Beach, 1 in need of Gluten-Free items, and of course me. It took me forever to figure out what to do. I was planning just on having spaghetti squash and marinara. I kept trying to read reviews on how happycow, which lead me to PF Changs. I had gone there last summer with my good friend from out of town and my family. We all enjoyed it then, and finding out all the vegetarian dishes were made with vegan ingredients made me really excited. So off we went. We got two orders of vegetarian lettuce wraps and I myself ordered Ma Po Tofu. I still think it is so amazing that they can crisp up silken tofu to such perfection. It was full of so many flavors that I could identify! I could smell the paprika among other things. I love how my pallet has evolved, it really shows that becoming vegan has made me appreciate cooking more.

After dinner we dropped the oldies off, and the girls went to go see Wall-E. OH MY GOD! Can I say this three or four times. You neeeed to see it. It was amazing. I couldnt stop smiling and giggling and laughing. It was so damn cute. And the message with the images were powerful. If you have no prior knowledge, Wall-E is a robot that is cleaning up Earth after all living creatures have moved onto spaceships. Save the environment, woot.

After the movie, around 1opm. I decided to make a birthday cake. Yes, that late. I was the only one who could eat the cake anyway. So it was more just to make it. I had already made the Chocolate Mousse Frosting/Filling from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. It was whipped and soft and deliciously rich and sweet. I was still contemplating what batter I wanted to make. But I ended up with the plain chocolate cupcake recipe from the same book. I just doubled the recipe to put into cake pans.

It was extremely fun to frost. I didnt really decorate it, but I did shave dark chocolate pieces on top. A triple chocolate cake, oh my lord. Definitely happy happy birthday to me.

So my actual birthday was fabulous, but I had a ton more to look forward. Like my first trip to The Chicago Diner, and the concert.


Review: Veggie Bite

The acclaimed South-side Chicago all Vegan fast food restaurant was my first all vegan food excursion outside the comfort of my own kitchen. After I had told my mom that there was a vegan restaurant only blocks from our house, we realized it was necessary to go...immediately, well the next time they were open.

So the next day we headed off to Veggie Bite.

It actually barely opened when we got there at noon. But we got right in and ordered. My mom got the Live salad with tofu and tons of fresh veggies with their vinaigrette. I didnt take a picture of it, since she was already thinking I was crazy for taking a photo of my food outside of the house. She loved it, she said it was the perfect size and perfectly delicious.

I got the chili cheese dog. I havent had one of these in probably 10 years. So I was really excited. When they brought it out, it was still steaming. The whole wheat toasted bun was crispy and ever so soft. And their chili was delicious. It had the right amount of spice and sweetness with whole kidney beans and meat crumbles. Im really not sure what brand of hot dogs they used, but it was so good. It came with a side of fries and an organic Vanilla Lemonade.

Both my mom and I left happy and full. Too full to try the Chicago Soy Dairy's frozen deserts or shakes, meaning Id have to go back. Well like that wont be horrible for me, as I loved it. Obviously not the healthiest of foods for everyday, but it was so nice knowing we have the option for some delicious, fast-food only a few miles away.

Sorry for the long break. Summer months does make it difficult to have a regular schedule. But I have many photos yet to post about. Including my birthday cake, The Chicago Diner, and more...



My birthday weekend of amazing amazing delights is over, I swear that post is next! But I am definitely sad to see the few days off gone. I had the most amazing weekend, I still am high from excitement from last night's events.

A few weeks ago I decided to pick up some vital wheat gluten from the health food store. I found it a bit expensive for just a few cups in the package. But Ill probably start buying it in bulk. Anyways, I looked at Vegan Dad's seitan recipes. I knew his were quick and easy and delicious. I finally landed on Vegan Boneless Chickenless Hot Wings. It was promising and just looked so tasty from the recipe. I decided not to use the skewers, just because I would rather eat 'meat' with a fork. I went to the more ethnic grocery store in search for panko breadcrumbs. The pathetic thing is it was apparently a hot item that week, everybody was asking for them...and the spot lay empty. So I just used regular bread crumbs in the recipe. The breading was such a great fix that kept the breading snug on the seitan pieces. He used flax seed with soy milk, a little oil, and lemon juice. I really never thought of doing that, but it really kept the breading on because of how well it thickened. Im tempted to do something similiar for a french toast. I also did not make the sauce the same. He called for a 1/2 cup of hot sauce. The hot sauce we had was HOT HOT sauce that comes in a bottle that doesnt even hold a 1/2 cup. So I just picked up a hot vegan bbq sauce and heated it til it was liquid. When the seitan came out, I poured it just the same. I served it with roasted potatoes, leek, asparagus, and red peppers. Just so delicious. I was so excited to have finally ventured into the world of seitan. Just delicious.

I made the full recipe of chickenless hot wings that night, so I decided to use a piece atop a salad. We had cucumbers, celery, black beans, and radish. So I chopped up some romaine lettuce and mixed it all up. It tasted great cold and worked just wonderfully on top of the salad. Left me quite full til dinner.

Well that is it for today. I work tomorrow morning, and I really should get

Next post, my review of Veggie Bites and the start of my birthday! Shortly I will be all caught up and will feel much better, whew!

Brownie, 'Mexican' Pita

Yesterday was my birthday, so loads of excitements came along with the day. I have one more post to catch up with, and then I can fully tell you about my birthday celebration. Though I can say it was family oriented, and I got to spend some quality time with my sister and mom. I vote it a great day.

So since Ive been working so much, I get stressed out so easily. Customers are evil at times and yell at you for things you just cannot control. Most of the people that witness these attacks come up to me and apologize for the person they have never met, but it still effects my day. So by the end of the day I am looking for something to savor and hold every bites worth. Normally I end up choosing to have my favorite snack of all time...popcorn. I have a microwave air popper, which pops perfect corn when you heat up the popper for 5 mins and then pop for 5. Though, my microwave is now 15 years old, I think she is a bit slow. One day I was craving chocolate, flipping through my google reader, and viola! Paulina of Veggie Delight had exactly what I was looking for. A quick gooey fudge brownie that can be made successfully in the microwave. I took my computer downstairs instantly and started to make it. It was the first time I was working with making a flax egg. I put the water in the microwave for a few seconds just to warm it out nicely, and let it sit for 15 minutes. I was amazed of how the flax soaked all the water up. It truly had an egg-like consistency. Then I made the batter, I just used the same bowl since I get complaints for making too big of a mess and using too many pots and pans and utensils. So it looks a little messy in the picture, but boy oh boy was this good. It was warm and gooey from the chips and had that nutty granola-y taste from the flax. It was so delicious! Exactly what I was looking for. I told my friend about it and when she came over to watch 'The Other Boleyn Girl' we made a batch, and she adored them! I just love when omni friends like my cooking/baking.

The next morning I was looking for another quick meal idea. I realized we had some leftover rice in the fridge that really needed to be eaten soon. And some pita, that looked quite tasty. I felt like something spicy, so I was like TOSTADA! But then I realized it was 95 degrees and there was no way in hell Id turn on the oven to bake a pita, to act as a tostada. So instead I cut it in half and toasted it in the microwave. I toasted it twice and flipped, since it didnt fit well in the toaster. I wanted mexican-style rice, but I also realized I didnt have the motivation to make it (veggie stock,tomato paste, veggies, and the spices) So the rice was mixed with black beans, creamed corn, salsa, and a mix of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and jalapeno powder. Heated that for a few minutes, and it was ready. I had some Tofutti sour cream in the fridge, and put it on top of the perfectly toasted pita. This was soooo good. I was so pleased with how it turned out. It filled me up and got me going and ready for another day of work.

I work even more next week, but I have a feeling Ill be making a ton of new recipes from my new cookbook. Anybody want to take a guess at which new cookbook has joined my collection?

Either way, you will be finding out quite soon :)
And Ive decided to change my font, I like this more, and I think your eyes will too.


Scrambled Tofu, Pizza Bagel

Well Happy Birthday America. Another year has passed and my holiday and break from blogging is officially over. I have a ton of things to update on, so it wont be all in one post like normal. It'll take me a few days to get em all out. The past few weeks have been a load of fun. I have been working, but also getting some of the summer fun in. Last week, I finally got myself over to the forest preserves to run the 150 stairs that are at the toboggan sleds. I am unable to do the 15 sets that I used to be able to do last summer, but my goal is to get back up there before August. And I think I can do it. Im going tomorrow and then as well on Friday. I also went to the farmer's market, we got fresh raspberries, blueberries, snap peas, zucchini, home-made pita, hummus, baba ghanoush, and my mom got some cheese. It was nice and small, but it was a good market and we have already eaten all the fresh produce and fruit. Then for the Fourth, my friends and I headed up to Milwaukee to Summerfest. It is a large summer music festival that lasts for 10 days. Well we went up to see Ingrid Michaelson perform. She was amazing and amazing. She sounded just like she does on the cd, almost better, because you could hear every single pitch and shake and change in her voice. And it was great she rapped The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Ice Ice Baby. It was so fun. She ended on her Ukulele singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. What was also really great about the show, was that Bess Rogers, another amazing singer/guitar player was backing her up. Then after that show, was fireworks! We decided to then walk around and see what the festival had, and thank god, because we found out that Thievery Corporation had just started their set. We started out way in the back belly dancing and enjoying the sitar and the professional belly dancer. But we somehow ended up way up close and within the dancing, crazy crowd. It was an amazing show, sounds from every part of the world. I think the best bit was all the songs from the reggae side. The crowds went wild and for the final song before the encore, Warning Shots, we were allll going mad. Here is a clip from another show they did a few weeks ago of the song, Ill have to say our show was madder. The fans were just crazy! Im so glad I got a chance to go.

Okay, now onto the food. I had been wanting to make scrambled tofu for awhile, so when I had extra tofu lying round the kitchen after my stir-fry. I wasnt putting my hopes up too high since I still can remember the buttery, fluffy taste of perfect scrambled eggs. I have to say eggs were a weakness of mine. I put shallots, broccoli, zucchini, and garlic in my scramble. Spices were paprika, tumeric, and fresh ground salt and pepper. It looooked so delicious. I ate it, and I was not too thrilled. It had a great texture, but the taste had something weird to it. I think it had to do with the tumeric. It smelled good, but in that proportion I could not handle it. So next time, yes, I will try again! Im going to make it without the tumeric. As I really dont care about color, just needs to satisfy my mouth.

The next day, I was hungry for something warm and somewhat bad for me. So I ended up making a pizza bagel. I put leftover pizza sauce and toffuti slice with zucchini pieces, oreagano, basil, and minced onion pieces. While it was baking, I knew I should probably add something good for me, so I made a mixed berry smoothie, but Ive never been a fan of yogurty or milky smoothies, so I normally just use frozen fruit and orange juice and any other juice Id like. They are always delicious and I do like to add some ground flax seeds. I also had some fresh veggies cut with the meal. Well that was the first of the posts to catch up with my lack of posting the past few weeks. Tomorrow my mom and I are going to the farmer's market to get some more of the delicious pita bread we got last week and then we are heading to Veggie Bite, a fast food vegan restaurant. I will be overwhelmed with being able to pick everything from the menu. The Chili Cheese Dog or Italian Beef Melt or Nuggets or oh dear, see I cant handle it! There will be a full report back with the meals.

btw, It took me an hour to get my photos to upload, kept saying internal error, then I got one through til I gave up. Anyone had this issue?