Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Festive Family Dinner

Recently we had a very festive family gathering to celebrate a few special events:
my brother's birthday ~ my niece's birthday (16 years old!)
my aunt being home for a long visit
and... my nephew getting into all seven of the colleges he applied to!!
That's a lot of good news, right? 

You may recall from previous posts that feeding my extended family is no small task -- to put it mildly, we have a very wide array of dietary preferences between the lot of us. ha ha. Everything from "I would rather die than eat a vegetable" to "no fat, no salt, no oil vegan." So, usually we settle on taco night - in fact, we kinda figured out that taco night is one of the only solutions to this crazy situation, where everyone can eat according to their preferences and still have it feel like we are sharing a common meal. 

Tabbouleh, Turkish Salad with White Beans, Bowls of Hummus

But! My brave and clever mom came up with a great new menu idea: Mediterranean Feast! And, my mom did all the work of cooking dinner - with such an incredible spread. First up, two beautiful salad options: a big bowl of my mom's tabbouleh, which is always great... and a big bowl of the salad that my mom calls "Turkish Salad." This salad is based on the salads that my parents enjoyed on their trip to Turkey. I love it too - tomatoes, cuke, olives, red onion, white beans, and vinaigrette. 

Big basket of bread choices, more hummus

My mom is a highly skilled hummus practitioner and she has been making homemade hummus long before it was a hip thing to do. Everyone in our family loves her hummus and so she had a few generous bowls of hummus out on the table. And, where there's hummus, you're gonna want a big basket of bread - regular pita, whole wheat pita bread, and a special olive bread. A basket of bread is pretty much my happy place. 


These are actually the dolmas straight from the can at Trader Joes. Have you ever had them? They are surprisingly delicious! I often buy them for Mr. VE&T as a treat. He is huge dolma fan, and is actually quite picky about his dolmas. So we were both happy to see a couple plates of these familiar friends on the table. Mmm. Just thinking about the dolmas makes me wish I could be eating them again right now! 

Veggie Kabobs!!

Deliciousness on a pointy stick! Of course there were non-vegan kabobs on offer, but I averted my eyes! My sweet mom made a platter of vegan kabobs for the vegans in the family, and a plate of non-vegan kabobs for the others. I am so lucky. These were marinated veggies roasted in the oven, and they were so delicious! 

My plate of gorgeous yumminess

Here's my beautiful dinner plate, the first pass at least - kabob, tabbouleh, Turkish salad, rice pilaf, hummus, and dolmas. What a lovely dinner! 


I was in charge of desserts -- which is so super fun for me! I haven't been baking much lately, but I love it so much. My brother's not a huge desserts fan, but he is a fan of chocolate chip cookies - and he and his family are all crazy about my vegan chocolate chip cookies. I use the Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies recipes from the Aquafaba Cookbook. If you don't have that cookbook, check out Somer's similar and amazing recipe online. 

So, I made a big double batch of birthday cookies, and they got to take home all the leftover cookies after dinner. Their special cookies were presented on a plate with a candle stuck in the cookie and their names written out in chocolate frosting. Fun! 

And a college cake! 

And I really wanted to recognize my nephew's amazing accomplishment of getting accepted to all seven schools that he applied to. We are all SO proud of him, and I wanted to make sure that he got some very special recognition of his own. I asked him what kind of cake he wanted, and he asked for chocolate. Ask and ye shall receive! I made some mini chocolate chip cookies to decorate it, which is a trick I learned from the fancy people on Instagram! We all had a little piece of cake, and then he had several pieces! Ha ha. Good to know it was appreciated. 

I hope there's a little good news in your life too! 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Lasagna Potluck Party! (& Vegan Richa Winners!)

You all know how much I love a good potluck! And I also love lasagna almost more than anything else in the whole wide world! So, you know what's super cool, is when your friend invites you to a vegan potluck and tells you that she is going to make lasagna! And that's just what happened. My friend Connie invited us over for a special pot luck with several of her vegan pals. 

We had a super fun evening together and I got to meet several cool new people, and see a couple familiar friends who I really like. Lots of great food and fun conversation. I always enjoy the opportunity to meet new people, especially new vegan friends! For a proper potluck experience, we split up the various responsibilities of a complete meal - each of us brought something to make a whole feast. 

I think I might actually need a "Lasagna Lover" tshirt! 

For appetizers C. made some some amazing bell pepper spread - this was extremely delicious: rich and creamy. In truth, I am not always a super fan of red pepper spreads, but this was especially good and I ate a lot of it! It was served with some fancy crackers and fresh bread. We had a nice little cocktail hour before the lasagna was ready - chatting, enjoying this good stuff, and enjoying some good conversation too. 

Glorious Creation! 

Look at that lasagna!! Mmmm. Connie actually used my recipe for lasagna, which was extra fun! Unlike most foodie bloggers, I don't actually make up too many recipes. In fact, several of the component parts of my lasagna recipes are directly inspired by other recipes! So it was a real thrill to have someone else make a recipe that I shared! Also, bonus for me, I just happen to really love my own lasagna. Ha ha ha. It's very good, if I do say so myself. I usually make it for myself for my birthday and for Christmas. It was really a super fun and special treat to have my very favorite lasagna without even having to make it myself! 

I think I got super excited about the lasagna, because I neglected to take a picture of the beautiful salad that D brought to the party. I always love and appreciate a good salad as part of a big meal - it feels so good and balancing to have a whole heap of fresh salad on the plate along with all the other good stuff. There was also some great bread from a local bakery that L. brought - I don't often buy bread from that bakery, and it was so good! Perfect with the salad and lasagna. We ate like royalty! 

high fives!
Thanks Connie for a great lasagna and a great evening! ha ha! 

Mmmm... Peanut Butter Hazelnut Lover's Chocolate Tart
with Hazelnut Caramel Sauce

When we were doling out the responsibilities for the dinner, I jumped at the chance to bring dessert! I love making desserts, but I don't do it all that often anymore. What a fun opportunity to make something special and decadent. I've had my eye on the Peanut Butter Lover's Chocolate Tart from Oh She Glows Everyday for a while now. But peanut butter isn't really a very Italian flavor, to go along with our lasagna. So I tweaked it and used hazelnuts everywhere that the recipe called for peanuts - in the crust, in the ganache, in the caramel sauce, and in the garnish. Because hazelnuts and chocolate definitely is a classic Italian flavor combo! I even roasted a bunch of hazelnuts and made fresh roasted hazelnut butter in my Vitamix. I was a little embarrassed at how easy that was. ha ha. I guess there's a whole world of homemade nut butter awaiting me! 

slice of heaven

Gentle reader, this dessert was SO DARNED GOOD. I highly recommend it! I'll definitely make it again with the peanut combo because I bet that's pretty perfect too - though I was quite smitten with my hazelnut adaptation. I bought some cappucino ice cream to go with the tart, which was a great flavor combo. This tart is especially good straight out of the freezer, when it's pleasantly firm, but it's also good out of the fridge. It's super rich, velvety smooth, and 100% delicious. 


Bonus picture of Connie's adorable and awesome little doggie, Champ! I love him! He was a very gracious host and did an excellent job of making the rounds and spending time with all of the guests, so that we all felt special and all got a little quality time with his cuteness. What a good boy! 

Champ and Snoopy also support the Lasagna agenda.

Also! I used the random number generator to select two winners from my Vegan Richa giveaway - 
In the United States, @girlrunner will receive a copy of Richa's excellent new book Vegan Richa's Everyday Kitchen
Internationally, @Josiane will receive Richa's bonus recipe bundle

Friday, January 12, 2018

Vegan Richa's Everyday Cookbook: Review & Giveaway

I'm a bit delinquent in this long-overdue book review... but what it lacks in promptness, it will make up for in sheer enthusiasm!! By now, you've all probably hear about Vegan Richa's newest cookbook "Vegan Richa's Everyday Kitchen." What a fun and special book this is! 


There are so many great things about this book. First of all, and I think this is so cool, many chapters of the book are built around the idea of different sauces as a starting point: like Peanut Butter & Coconut, Sweet & Sour, Masala & Saag, Buffalo & Firecracker. Each time a sauce recipe is featured it has a cute little graphic up top that says "Awesome Sauce!" Ha ha, so cute. Then, for each sauce that's featured, several variations are suggested, and recipes to put your delicious sauce to use. This book is infinitely creative, and really encourages your own creativity - with variations, substitutions, gluten-free options, soy-free options, and on and on. It's really cool!

There are all sorts of diverse recipes, and not just the same recipes over and over that you've already made 100x. In addition to the chapters devoted to different "awesome sauces," there are also chapters devoted to burgers, deep dish pizzas and casseroles, breakfast ideas, and sweet desserts! Indian recipes, Chinese recipes, tacos, pizzas, so much to explore!!

Gobi Manchurian!!!

Crunchy Baked Cauliflower with Manchurian Sauce 
I think my blood stream is probably made up almost entirely of roasted cauliflower. I love it so much, and I eat it all. the. time. So, I'm kinda like a pro. And I have to say, I really loved this way of preparing cauliflower - as promised, it was seriously super crunchy!! The breading mixture was lightly seasoned, and honestly these little stinkers were so yummy all on their own that I had to stop myself from eating them all before I added the sauce.

There are so many great suggested sauces to go along with these crunchy cauliflowers: Kung Pao, Buffalo, Sweet and Sour sauce... but I had my eyes set firmly on Manchurian Sauce. For some reason, I'd been having fond Gobi Manchurian memories from my time in India and I was absolutely fixated on that plan of action. I made a beeline for this recipe as soon as I received my review copy in the mail. It was soooo good! In case you don't know, Manchurian sauce is an Indo-Chinese sauce (there is an excellent subset of Indo-Chinese cuisine in India - a playful and delicious mash up of flavors!) -- it's an incredibly flavor-packed sauce with a good kick to it as well. The relative neutrality of the breading and of the cauliflower itself was a great vehicle for this spicy, spiced power sauce! 

Tikka Masala Chickpeas with Tikka Masala Sauce

Variations variations every where! This is such a fun book for cooks who like recipes (like me!), and for cooks who like to tinker and change things around. I love to have a recipe, but I also love "permission" to switch, experiment, and swap. I think this book might even help me learn how to be more fluid and experimental in the kitchen!

This meal uses the Tikka Masala Sauce, which is a variation on the Makhani Sauce -- with a little extra touch of tomato sauce and unsweetened yogurt. The sauce is rich with a myriad of spices, fresh ginger and fresh garlic. Creamy and rich and SUPER good. I also used the suggested variation to add a couple cups of extra veggies, because I love veggies forever!

Smoky Crisped Lentils over Creamy Greens

Oh man, we loved this dinner so much!! This night we had a friend spontaneously drop in to stay the night, and he had been out kayaking all night, and he was hungry. I was a little nervous to have a brand new recipe on deck, rather than a tried and true favorite to offer him. I needn't had worried!! This was a hit with all three of us. The recipe gives you two sauce choices for the greens, and I chose the Creamy White Masala Sauce. This is a lovely creamy sauce, spiced with Indian spices, and it was a great compliment to the greens. 

Star of the Show Alert! Smoky Crisped Lentils are the best thing ever!!! Oh man, I just really want to eat these tasty little lentils all the time from now on. I've already made them a couple more times to nibble on and to sprinkle on my salad. 

I took a cue from the photo in the book, and served it all alongside some roasted cauliflower. A good choice!

Black Pepper Tofu

Every time I flipped through this book, the photo of the Black Pepper Tofu caught my eye, so I had to make it! Simple, spicy, and delicious!! Tofu, spices, celery & bell pepper, and lots of black pepper. This is such an easy and satisfying dish to make. I loved how it was spicy, but not too spicy, and the celery provides a good crunch as well as a good balance to the peppery heat.

Spinach-Artichoke Lasagna with Cauliflower Alfredo
(before going in the oven - and a big piece after being baked!)

I am a devout lasagna lover, and I have my own usual favorite recipe - but I am also always in the mood to try a new spin on vegan lasagna. I'm glad I expanded by lasagna horizons because this is a wonderful recipe, and I never would have thought of using artichoke hearts in my lasagna! Very good! Once the sauce was prepared - which was quite easy- the whole lasagna came together very easily. I love that, because I generally think of lasagna so labor-intensive. This was a lot faster than the recipe I usually use, and just as delicious and satisfying. It's also chock full of veggies, which is just how I like it! Why is lasagna so perfect??

Here's a picture I snapped of the Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce that I snapped while preparing the lasagna. This is a thick and lovely sauce made with blanched cauliflower, and a perfect balance of spices. It's so smooth and delicious, and is a perfect component in the lasagna. It adds creaminess and body, without being super fatty or heavy. 

A few more thoughts about this great book:
~ I think this is a really fun book for people who are new to cooking and/or new to veganism, but it's also a really great and creative book for home cooks who aren't at all new to cooking or to veganism. That's pretty rare to find that in a cookbook! The recipes are very clear, the instructions are clear, no surprises!

~ The layout is lovely and easy to use. The recipes are presented one per page, with tons of beautiful pictures. Each recipe includes information about prep time, as well as nutritional breakdown information. Many of the recipes also include suggestions for variations. The font is clear and easy to read.

I still have so many recipes from this book that I want to try:
Massaman Curry Vegetables
Kung Pao Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry
Firecracker Chickpea Salad with Peanut Dressing
Buffalo Chickpea Tacos
Tinga Black Bean Soup
Tempeh Broccoli Wraps with Jalepeno Popper Sauce
Deep Dish Pizza
Samosa Stuffed French Toast
One-hour Cinnamon Rolls
and the list goes on and on!!!!

Great news for you! Two Giveaways! 
Richa and her publishers are letting me offer a copy of Vegan Richa's Everyday Cookbook to one lucky blog reader in the US. AND! for international readers, one lucky winner can win Richa's "Bonus Bundle" ~ featuring 3 recipes from the book, 2 new recipes, and 3 videos of 3 more recipes from the book! 

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment here on this post and tell me about one of your favorite sauces, or anything else nice you feeling like saying! And if you're a non-US reader, let me know, so I enter you in the right giveaway! 

Saturday, January 06, 2018

NYC Funapalooza (& Cookbooklette Winners!)

New York, New York! 

Last fall, one of my besties, Sophia - and her excellent partner Max - moved to NYC and she is so rad and I miss her a lot. So, I knew I was going to have to visit them as soon as possible - and made a rush for it in November. It was a quick visit - just about 4 days, but oh geez did we ever have fun together! We did so much, walked for miles and miles, rode bikes, lazed around, saw the sites, met up with a couple of my other special NYC friends, and ate some pretty special meals together too... Here are a few culinary highlights from our vegan escapades! 
I love New York! 

I went straight from the airport to Double Zero, to meet up with my pal Sophia and her partner Max! We were so happy to see each other. This is a new-ish all-vegan fancy pizzeria in East Village. I loved it! It was a bit pricey, but I thought it was worth it - especially for a fun occasion. We got 3 pizzas and an appetizer and two drinks and I think it was about $100... so by NY standards that's practically cheap. These pictures are terrible because we ate outside and they had these reddish heat lamps over our table (generally much appreciated, but not great for photography!). That said, the pizzas themselves were quite fantastic - creative flavors, high quality ingredients, and (most importantly) excellent crust!! 

Here are the dishes we ordered:
Basil Sunflower Pesto, Tomato Confit, Slow Cooked Onion, Herb Macadamia Ricotta
Farro Fennel Sausage, Tomato and Cashew Mozzerella 
White Pizza, Roasted Corn, Garlic Macadamia Ricotta, Maitake Mushroom, Baby Kale
Broccolini, Preserved Lemon, Toasted Garlic, Green Raisin (side dish)

It is so exciting to go out to a restaurant with a creative and inspiring take on vegan food - and I especially loved the opportunity to go to a pizzeria using in-house vegan cheeses. Getting 3 pizzas for three people was just about right - we split them and so we each got to try two pieces of each pizza. So fun! The trip was off to a good start! 

side note: I got Matthew Kenney's cookbook PlantLab as an xmas present from my friend Jane, and it has many of these recipes in it! I can't wait to recreate that Farro Fennel pizza! 

We set off from my friends' apartment (in Crown Heights) for a long and generally aimless stroll, with the idea of finding a vegan breakfast. Happily we made our way to Clementine Bakery - which completely won us both over pretty much immediately. First of all, it is SUPER CUTE inside. So cozy and bright and comfortable. And they have one big case of vegan and gluten-free baked goodies, another huge case of enticing vegan baked goodies, and several appealing savory options. It was so hard to choose! In the end, I went for sweet and savory - I got a tofu scramble, a cinnamon roll, and a cup of coffee. You can't tell from the picture, but that scramble was huge and delicious and came with two *perfect* pieces of sourdough toast. Pretty much heaven. And all that food was only $12! I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of Sophia's amazing slice of breakfast cake. Ha ha. It wasn't really "breakfast cake," per se, as much as it was a huge slice of carrot cake that she had for breakfast. It was huge, beautiful, and crazy delicious. We were so happy with this charming spot. Highly recommended! 
Breakfast Cake:
trend of the future

Oh my gosh. Coming here was a dream come true. It felt like some sort of religious pilgrimage. I have been a fan of Lagusta's Luscious Chocolates for so long and it was such an awesome treat to come see all their goodies In Real Life and get to pick out a bunch of chocolates for myself! Lagusta's is located upstate in New Paltz, but this awesome little shop in the East Village sells their chocolates, pastries, and macarons by Sweet Maresa's (more on that below). We spent quite a while here because it is awesome. I definitely 100% think every vegan who goes to NYC needs to go here and bask in the glory of creative, delicious, ethical, and innovative vegan sweets. 

We came here with my excellent Instagram pal @gravelgirty and she also took us to Orchard Grocer vegan market, which is right near by. I didn't get pictures there (I think I was too busy freaking out), but that is another highly recommended stop -- an excellent array of vegan food, as well as a deli that sounds incredible. I will definitely eat there next time I get to go to NYC. 

OH. EM. GEE. This place was so incredible! Sophia and I decided that we would have one big special splurge meal together during my visit - and we decided to make a reservation at Dirt Candy for us three. This was an absolutely memorable and remarkable meal. It was so good and so exciting to experience really creative, innovative and delicious vegetable-based culinary creations -- from our amazing vegetal cocktails all the way to our vegetable desserts (!!!).

To make an understatement, none of us have any experience with fine dining. So we were a little confused about what was going on! The way it works here is: you can select either 5 courses or 9 courses. Then you select vegetarian or vegan. Everyone at the table has to agree, because then the courses are presented in a family-style way. We chose 5 courses, vegan (duh!). 

For the first course, we had some amazing Gochujang Buffalo Cauliflower with bok choy and two special sauces. It was so good. Next, they brought out 3 small plates with very elegant (and small) salads. We were all so startled because we thought these were courses 2, 3, and 4. We were like "holy crap, is this all we get to eat???" Ha ha. NOOBS. It's so embarassing, but we had to call the waiter over to ask. To his immense credit, he was extremely gracious and without a hitch, explained that in fact, all three dishes comprised the 2nd course, and that more food would be coming. OMG. It was a bit embarrassing. After that, we were off and running. Because there were 3 of us, we received 3 different dishes for the second course. Get it? I am just telling you in case you don't know, so that you don't have to embarrass yourself like we did. Ha ha ha. 

3rd Course was an amazing hot dog and hamburger course: Carrot Sliders with a slice of crunchy taro and some marinated carrots that were incredible. And some Broccoli Hot Dogs, with salt and vinegar kale chips. Everything was so well-balanced with interesting and surprising flavors. 

4th course was a big spread of Brussels Sprouts Tacos with Butter Lettuce for taco shells, and a great selection of toppings/taco components. The Brussels were perfectly seared and served on a super hot stone. So neat. We ate pretty much every last drop of every little dish. 

Desserts - again, we got three different desserts, and the desserts all included vegetables. SO FUN. Our two favorites were the chocolate & caramelized onion cake, and the popcorn cake with corn ice cream and corn custard and powdered popcorn. Both of these desserts were super creative, but creativity isn't enough -- they were also legitimately delicious, with fantastic flavors, excellent and surprising textural elements. 

The food here was so unique and good and sophisticated, but also playful and fun. It surprised us, made us laugh, we didn't know what to expect, and we were delighted. What a super, super fun evening. 

Note: also cool that Dirt Candy's head chef is a woman, and their wine list features entirely female vintners! 

Cruising around Brooklyn, we were near Riverdel Cheese Shop, so off course we had to stop in. This adorable and elegant spot is tiny, but is also awesome - an all vegan cheese shop and deli. They have a refrigerated wall of vegan cheeses, a wide selection of artisanal seitan, another huge wall of condiments, cheese mixes, and other special products -- all that plus a deli. While we were here, we ran into one of my friends from the PPK!! How fun! She was in town visiting from Texas, and so we finally got to meet each other in Brooklyn. So excellent. I was extremely overwhelmed by all the options in here - especially as a traveler. I would have liked to try SO MANY things here. In the end I got one seitan salami, and we got a container of Kite Hill Jalepeno Cream Cheese, which I had been waiting to find in a shop! 

We didn't time it right to eat here, but my friend who we ran into later told me that the Croissant Sandwich she ordered here was one of the best things she ate in NYC. I will try their deli for sure on one of my next trips to see Sophia! 

Kite Hill Jalepeno Cream Cheese and Elmhurst Hazelnut Milk

Pretty much every vegan goodie I've ever heard of seems to be available in New York! These two are products I've heard of and seen people on Instagram raving about them, but I haven't ever seen them in little ol' Santa Cruz. Of course we had to have several lazy and quiet mornings to be cozy and relaxed together, and that definitely involves some good bagels and some hot coffee! A good NY bagel is really something special, and that Kite Hill Jalepeno cream cheese is SO GOOD. It's got a real kick to it! I hope it will show up in the stores here soon! 

And the Elmhurst milk, oh man, it's so thick and creamy and flavorful. We got hazelnut milk, and they also make milks out of peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and oats. So many options! I would really like to try more of their milks, I might even resort to ordering some off their site so that I can try them! 

Oh Glorious Bagel, I salute you and celebrate your majestic deliciousness!

For at least a year now, I've been following @veganshopup on Instagram - which has been fantastic but also sort of painful, because every month they have these amazing vegan pop-up markets at a vegan bar in Brooklyn and they have all these great vendors... and I'm on the other side of the country. I was so stoked that the one weekend I would be in the city they were going to have a pop up! I got there a little late, and I only had a little while to soak it in - but I still LOVED it! It was crazy jam-packed with vegans, and there were so many vendors: beauty supplies, chocolates, pizza, sweets, and lots of booths selling hot prepared foods. So much innovation and vegan entrepreneurialism!! I was kind of overwhelmed, but I did have time to buy some vegan macarons, specialty chocolate nut butter cups, a fancy artisanal cardamom extract, and I think that's it! It was so fun! 

These are the amazing macarons that I got at the ShopUp. Neither Sophia nor I had ever had a macaron before!! So, I decided to pick out a few fun flavors for us to share together with Max. Sophia and Max are into crazy and creative flavors - so I picked out fun ones:
Apple Fennel, Pistachio Cardamom, Bay Leaf Plum, and Corn
So fun to finally have a macaron at last! 

Brooklyn Eat-a-Thon!

One night we bussed up to Williamsburg and had a very excellent eating-based walkabout... Our primary destination was Xi'an Famous Foods. Some of my Instagram pals had mentioned this place and it was SO GOOD. It was exactly what we were in the mood for - hot and warming and spicy and delicious. Friends, I'm pretty sure that these are the best noodles I've ever had in my life. We had noodles, dumplings, salad, soup... all so good and I wish I was eating it again right now!! 

Right down the street was a Van Leeuwen Ice Cream shop - and so how could we resist?? Answer: we couldn't. Ha ha ha. This isn't an all-vegan establishment, but they've got lots of fun vegan options! Sophia got a super cool ice cream sandwich concoction: a scoop between two glorious and giant chocolate chip cookies. She is very smart! I got a big scoop of mint chip ice cream because I am into the classics. 

And then two doors down from Van Leeuwen was Screamer's Pizza - an all-vegan pizzeria! I couldn't stand to pass by this opportunity, even though I was stuffed full with noodles and dumplings and ice cream. Ha ha. What a glutton. So I got a piece with peppers and sausage and brought it home. It made an excellent midnight snack!

Omg! Every self-respecting vegan dreams of going to Modern Love, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's restaurant in Brooklyn... what a dream come true! The PPK (Isa's online vegan forum) has been a huge support for me in my own vegan journey and the source of many enduring and meaningful friendships for me. In fact, Sophia and I first met on the PPK! It was so fun to eat here together! 

The menu was quite enticing, but I didn't have any trouble choosing, I knew just what I wanted to order: Veggie Pot Pie. I had been thinking about pot pie for weeks, and as soon as I saw it on the menu, my mind was made up. And, it did not disappoint!! What an incredibly perfect and delicious pot pie: perfect flaky pie crust, excellently cooked veggie and seitan chunks, delicious gravy. So lovely! For an appetizer, I ordered a bowl of roasted Brussels Sprouts with aioli, for us all to share. It was SO GOOD. I didn't have any room left for dessert (tragedy!), but I was very eager to take bites of Sophia and Max's dessert! ha ha. Lucky me, they were willing to spare a nibble or two. I especially loved the ice cream sundae on a brownie! 

It was cold when I was there, so we had to bundle up!
Of course, now it's REALLY cold there! 

A few more NY eats! 

One day when we were walking around Manhattan, we *just happened* to pass by legendary all-vegan Dunwell Donuts. So, you know, I had to have one! I got chocolate with peanuts. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I am not actually the biggest fan of donuts. Nonetheless, this was a fine donut indeed! I had no problem putting it away! 

On my last day in town, I had dropped Sophia off at work, and had a little time left to explore Manhattan. I made my way down to Blossom Du Jour to meet a friend. I got this huge bowl of kale, roasted veggies, tofu scram, and corn & beans. It was such a perfect hearty and healthy meal to have before my flight. This wasn't the most glamorous or exotic meal, but it seriously did the trick in a more-than-utilitarian way. I'd definitely eat here again when I find myself hungry in Manhattan.

Lastly, this Spicy Salami made by The Tiny Vegan deserves mention. I got this at Riverdel and carried it around all day and flew home with it! ha ha. I liked this spicy little number! I came home from this trip excited about all the amazing goodies I found, and also kinda bummed out that it's so hard to find all these vegan products and this quality of vegan dining where I live. 

Last time I was in NYC, everyone on Instagram was talking about The Cinnamon Snail, The Cinnamon Snail... but back then, it was just a food truck and we were never able to be in the same part of time at the right time. I was bummed! SO, this time around I was determined to give it a go! Right before I caught a train to the airport, I made one final stop at their new-since-I-was-here-last location at Penn Station. WHOA. I got two pastries (an apple turnover and a cinnamon roll) and a sandwich to eat on the plane later. I ordered a Smoked Sage Seitan Burger - which is described on their website as: topped with sage seitan sausage baked ziti, with marinated kale, smoked chili coconut bacon, and roasted garlic aioli on a grilled pretzel bun. This was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my whole life. I felt so sorry for everyone else on the plane who didn't get to eat this. I seriously wish I could be eating this again and again and again and again. It was packed with rich and robust flavors, perfect textures, the bread was amazing... just thinking about it is making me crazy!!

A few non-culinary adventures! 

We had so many fun adventures together during my short visit - but two really stand out:
We went to see The Dinner Table, by Judy Chicago, at the Brooklyn Art Museum.  I had no idea this wonderful piece was in Brooklyn, and Sophia was a great person to see it with! She is a super smartie and a feminist whiz. The museum also had up a special exhibit about the making of The Dinner Table, which added so much to the piece itself. We both really loved this piece, and the exhibit about its creation. So exciting and moving to see a monumental piece of work by women and about women. Such a rare experience as an art lover.

On my last day in town, I had ONE priority: see the Balto statue in Central Park! I've wanted to see this statue for so long and every time I've tried to get there, something has come up or I've been waylayed. Not this time! This sculpture is so beautiful and it actually brought tears to my eyes. I first learned about this sculpture, and of the story of Balto when I was a little girl. It was a rainy and cold morning, and the park was pretty empty, which was perfect. I got to have lots of quality time with Balto! 

Cookbooklette Winners!

I was so touched by all the lovely comments on my annual holiday Cookbookette Giveaway that I decided to pick 10 winners instead of 5! More fun! As always, I used the random number generator to pick the winners. Congratulations to Elizabeth, Hannah, Mariela, Beth, Melissa Diane, Things2Eat, Patsy, GirlRunner, Jenny, and Jennifer! I'll try to email each of you, but just in case, you can also send me your mailing address to ameyfm (at) gmail (dot) com. 

woo hoo!