Category Archives: Food Review

Jenny Marie is trying to challenge herself to start using her cookbooks more. I don’t have this issue (at least at the moment) as I am use to cooking hearty meal every, fucking, day. I am sure one day I’ll have a melt down and force my family to eat steam veggies and butter pasta for two months straight. But for now, I thought I would try my best to follow along when I can.

For the month of February she wanted to cook from Isa Does It. I already reviewed this book, and I’ve cooked A LOT from it. So I thought, why not do a cookbook update? I’ll review the recipes I’ve tried since the post, and try and cook a few more recipes. Remember, these are just recipe reviews, if you want the whole overview- check out my review.

And as I’ve been doing this year with my cookbook reviews, here are some other recipe reviews of this cookbook. If you have a blog post about recipe reviews, comment and I’ll add it to the site.

Becca Does ItCook Easy Vegan – Herbivore’s Heaven Part 1 Part 2 Part 3Kittens Gone LentilMy Apologies for the NovelVeganopoulousA Woman in Real Life

Bhindi Masala with Black-Eyed Peas
Section: Stews, Chilis, & Curries
I’ve made quite a few okra curries, mostly because it is a crop that does well at my CSA and I hate eating it any other way. I was trying to see if it could switch it up with this recipe, and it was a little disappointing. It is super tomato heavy, which gives a nice burst of flavor and acidity. I am not a huge fan of the black eyed peas, as it makes the dish feel like it is in limbo between some sort of southern dish and indian food.

Overall the dish is palatable, and I think could surprise anyone who doesn’t really like okra. It removes most of the slim, and is very flavorful. BUT I think there are better okra dishes to introduce people to.


Cast-Iron Stir-fry with Avocado, Basil & Peanuts
Section: Stir-Fries & Sautees
This was one of the dishes I was able to make this month. I figured it was something new from the book, and figured why not? Naturally there is a wrinkle in recipe, I didn’t have a cast-iron skillet. I just used my wok, I can’t imagine it making THAT much of a difference. Used the suggestion times saute times, followed the recipe pretty much to a T.

The results were pretty yummy, though nothing life changing. I make a lot of stir-fries, and this one didn’t offer any unique flavors, but was still great. It was easy to follow, fairly cheap ingredients, and pretty fast once you get everything prepped. I think the unique part of this recipe is that she tops the stir-fry with fresh avocado, which my husband liked. Even though it wasn’t unique, it is a solid stir-fry recipe.

Chana Masala
Section: Stews, Chilis, & Curries
Recipes: Isa Chanda.com
This is one of my summer favorites. When my CSA is producing tons of tomatoes, it isn’t a big deal to use up three pounds of tomatoes in one dish. In my area, that many tomatoes can cost $9 overall or $12 organic. It isn’t the worst amount of money when you consider that it makes 4 servings, etc, etc. But when your cheap like me, it is a big deal. Wait? I’ve gone horribly off track.

So I guess my whole point about the tomatoes, is that using fresh results in a very different Chana Masala than using canned tomatoes. If you used canned tomatoes, which you totally can, I find that you get two totally different dishes. Canned results in a sweet dish, and fresh results in a much more acidic dish. I like how Isa does have two different chickpea curry dishes in her book, showing the difference.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
Section: Desserts
I didn’t use white chocolate chips for this. Too expensive, and too hard to find. But I was really happy with the end results. I love the texture and chewiness of the cookies. It has been awhile I’ve gotten such great results. I am not 100% sold on the ginger chocolate combo. I know Wolfie wasn’t a fan- though it didn’t stop him for asking for more, as if each bite would taste different. I think I will try this without the ginger, as the texture and bake of the cookies were too perfect.

Creamy Potato-Leek Soup
Section: Soups
My husband was super proud of himself for picking the recipe, and I wasn’t impressed. I mean, it wasn’t bad. Maybe I just don’t care about potato leek soup? Both are boring ingredients, and one is expensive (the leeks) I think we made it in part because we got leeks from our CSA. Who knows. It also felt like a whole lot of work for very little return. Again, not bad, just not worth it…? Maybe that’s the best summary.

Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale
Section: Bowls (& a Few Plates)
Recipe: Veg Kitchen
I am not sure why I find bowls so intimidating. Maybe I am afraid of all the dishes at the end? Or something. This one was pretty easy to put together. Not too many dishes, nothing was particularly hard to do. So I finally tackled it, and had mixed feelings.

The sauce was clearly the star of the show. It really made the dish. Everything else was just so-so, which kind-of made me not fall in love with the dish. Would I make this again? Possibly. I might just feel free to add a little more personality for the other components of the dish.

Edamame Hummus & Tofu Wraps
Section: Handhelds
This is a super easy meal to put together. Just wiz together the edamame hummus, and grill the tofu. The wrap all up. I liked how fast these were to make, in fact they could be faster if you use prepared pressed tofu. We ate them for dinner, but I used the leftovers for lunch. I liked how “flexible” the veggies are, making it easy to modify for the different seasons. I’ve made it a few times now.

Eggplant & Bread Crumb Fettuccine
Section: Pasta & Risotto
This is another Jon picked recipe, that he was really proud about. I remember it clearly, I asked him to pick a recipe and listed some of the produce from our CSA we had to use up, eggplant was one. And this was a winner despite my skepticism. This was really easy to make and put together. One of those “30-minute” type of meals. If I were to guess, this was Isa’s answer to a breaded eggplant parm-pasta. It tasted great, but a pretty basic flavor overall (I mean eggplant doesn’t have a HUGE flavor).

Everyday Pad Thai
Section: Stir-Fries & Sautees
Recipe: Isa Chandra.com
I avoided this recipe for the longest time. I remember making Brooklyn Pad Thai from Vegan With A Vengence and hating it. In my defense, I had many peanut heavy pad thais, and therefore, wasn’t what I was expecting. Finally I bit the bullet and made this one, and I can safely say it is one of tried and true go-to recipes.

Most ingredients are cheap and shelf stable. I get extra pre-pressed tofu and rice noodles from my local H-Mart since they are extra cheap there. The main veggie in this dish is broccoli, and that is super cheap. It is pretty easy to prep, and super salty and tangy. The best. But I do recommend having an open mind when trying this, most American restaurants have a peanut forward Pad Thai, and that isn’t really what they are like.

Gardeny Shiitake & Chard Fusilli
Section: Pasta & Risotto
This seemed like an easy meal to quickly make, and I had chard to use up. I liked the choice of pasta because the noodles were able to cling to the sauce and veggies pretty well. As mentioned it has an earthy taste, and definitely not a dish to eat if you aren’t a mushroom fan. But I liked everything pretty well, and will probably make it again.

Goddess Noodles
Section: Pasta & Risotto
I am starting to get the feeling that there is a lot of broccoli in this book. Or maybe I’ve been avoiding making broccoli for years and only now decided to try out these recipes? Or maybe it is just that 2017 was a great year for broccoli at my CSA and I actually needed recipes to use it up.

This is a super easy recipe. It was quick to make, and I can’t remember if I used whole wheat linguini or regular spaghetti. It seems obvious that I would like this since it uses some of my favorite foods- broccoli, tempeh, and tahini. My husband thought the dish was so-so. Neither tahini or tempeh are his thing.

Lentil-A-Roni
Section: Pasta & Risotto
This is another fan favorite in the book. I made this and was pretty happy with it. This is one of those recipes that I never think about making, but whenever I do I am pretty happy with it. Funny thing is that I can’t remember why I even bother making it? And why I never think about making it again? Maybe because I never had meals like this before? Who knows. It is a very agreeable dish that almost anyone would love.

Omaha Yakisoba with Red Cabbage & Corn
Section: Stir-Fries & Sautees
I was hesitant to make this recipe since I remember making yakisoba spaghetti squash and not being very impressed. The recipe seemed so simple I was afraid I would be disappointed. The recipe had the opposite effect- it was awesome!

All ingredients are pretty cheap, which makes it easy to justify buying the more expensive frozen or fresh udon noodles. This really make the dish go from good to great. I made this dish towards the end of 2017, so I think when corn is fresh I will be making it more this summer.

Puffy Pillow Pancakes
Section: Breakfast, Brunch, & Bakes for the Morning
Recipe: Isa Chandra.com
Jon wanted to get Gavin on the breakfast bandwagon. He didn’t want to have a kid who wouldn’t like pancakes and french toast. So he was happy to try out this recipe. He liked how detailed the instructions were, which resulted in some pretty awesome pancakes. It is our go to recipe, and some of the other recipes we tried have been good, but not nearly as perfect as these.

Pureed Split Pea & Rutabaga Soup
Section: Soups
I got a few rutabagas from my CSA and although I love the taste, I am never too sure what to do with them. So they’ve been sitting in my fridge forever. I finally saw that this soup used rutabaga and I like split pea soup, so I figured why not? Well, I ran into some problems. One is that I ran out of rutabaga. Some went bad before making, so I had to use some mystery root that was leftover from my CSA (turnip? or radish?) The second problem is that I was out of rosemary, so I used tarragon instead.

The soup was pretty easy to make, and the photo in the book does a great job of making the worlds ugliest soup look awesome. But I am not sure if I like the whole flavor of star of anise with split pea. I might have to make this another time to make up my mind. So for now I am giving this a solid “not sure” rating.

Spinach & Black Bean Burrito Bowl
Section: Bowls (& a Few Plates)
This dish was so-so. This had the same issue as the other bowl dish. Not enough flavor for the individual components. So it pretty much tasted like quinoa, beans, and spinach. I don’t think there is much to say about this, other than you are very dependent from the condiments.

Sunflower Mac
Section: Pasta & Risotto
Recipe: Isa Chandra.com
This is NOT my favorite vegan mac and cheese recipe out there. But I understand that not everyone can have cashews. In fact, this is why I’ve made this recipe so many times already. My friend Justine can’t have cashews, and therefore I’ve made this recipe a few times for her. I do have some big issues- one is that the ratio of sauce to pasta is crazy! After making this the first time, I added more pasta, and I let it sit for a minute or two before serving so the pasta soaks up some of the sauce.

My second issue is that I’ve had better tasting non-cashew mac and cheeses. I really like Chloe’s Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese, it is practically perfect. By all means, this isn’t TERRIBLE, just not as good as what it could be.

Tofu-Mushroom Stroganoff
Section: Pasta & Risotto
Recipe: Oregon Live
Another recipe my husband happily picked out. He was super excited about it, and it tasted amazing. I really need to make this dish more often, but for some reason I keep telling myself mushrooms are too expensive. Why I don’t know?

Anyways, this is a simple dish that packs a lot of flavors that aren’t normally thought of with vegan foods- creamy and umami. The choice of fusilli is perfect because it captures all the sauce, which holds a lot of the flavor. This recipe is one of the best in the book, which is probably why you see it on so many online sources.


Whole Foods Restaurant Row

2101 Pennsylvania Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19130
website | facebook | instagram

CHeU Noodle Bar

255 South 10th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

Oh my. This is definitely a late post. It is probably- a year old? Maybe less. This was either Valentines Day, or for our anniversary (in May) Regardless, this post is so overdue that the food we got isn’t even available here anymore. So this post is a little all over. So lets start with what happened.

So Jon and I took a romantic trip in Philadelphia to visit the art museum and grab some grub. We originally wanted to get a cheesesteak from Whiz Kid. At the time they were JUST opening their brick and mortar store front, but only had a location at Whole Foods. So my husband and I went, and was surprised. The Whole Foods had moved since I’d last been there, making me very confused and panicked. Jon was already a little annoyed we were going to Whole Foods for lunch instead of someplace only found in Philly, so I felt extra pressure to not get us lost, and therefore extremely hungry from not eating. Luckily a local heard our confusion, and told us where to go (pretty much behind the Barnes Museum.) The new location is much nicer, providing more parking, a shopping cart elevator (THE BEST PART), and what they call restaurant row.

So I thought it would be worth the time to talk about this new restaurant row. I loved the idea especially since finding a vegan restaurant near the parkway can be hard. If you are visiting Philadelphia to visit The Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Rodin Museum, or The Barnes Foundation I strongly suggest stopping here. You can easily buy a snack of fresh fruit, ice cream, chips, snack bar, anything you could find at a normal Whole Foods, but they also have options of drinks and food made fresh.

Let’s start with the booze. This was my favorite part, though I wasn’t really getting anything. I was still pretty sleep deprived at this point and having one beer for lunch probably wouldn’t of been the greatest. But you can get REALLY cheap beer on tap here. I am pretty sure the cheapest beer was $4, and it looked like it was a local craft beer!

Beer not you thing? I’m pretty sure there was wine- I mean look at that photo- that looks like wine bottles behind that lady right? I am pretty oblivious to wine, soooo… sorry guys for being a crummy reporter. lol. There was also a “cocktail” bar. I am pretty sure you can get the cocktails at the beer/wine bar, but they had another booth just for seasonal cocktails, which was closed at the time.

Don’t drink alcohol at all? Then you can check out the coffee bar that’s found at almost all Whole Foods. Pretty much I treat my local Whole Foods as a coffee shop anymore since they do not charge extra for soy or almond milk. Plus they have some of the best almond milk ever. Just take note that the coffee is on the first floor by the street entrance. Everything else is on the second floor.

Then you have the restaurants. There are little booths all set up in a row near the front of the store, kind-of looking like the little booths you see at malls. At the time we went there was CHeU and Wiz Kid, but they are now gone. I am not sure if this is a decision by Whole Foods, or the owners of the restaurants to move on out.

CURRENT VEGAN OPTIONS ON RESTAURANT ROW:

Clearly the restaurants rotate to keep things fresh. As of posting this in February 2018, these are the current options at restaurant row. There is ALSO a coffee, beer, and cocktail bar that will have varying vegan options. I recommend double checking the current restaurant listing Whole Foods Website to see their most up-to-date listing of restaurants.

Dizengoff 11 am – 8 pm
This restaurant chain offers middle eastern food. Although some of their specialities are meat based, most everything is vegan. Expect hummus with rotating seasonal toppings. Read review of the original store location here.
Goldie 11 am – 8 pm
This restaurant serves 100% vegan options. You can expect hot falafels, fries, and tehina shakes.

CHeU:

When Jon and I went, we ate at CHeU. This was a place I wanted to check out for awhile now. I deeply miss eating a good bowl of ramen. I knew they had a vegan option out there, so when Wiz Kid was closed, I was more than happy to grab a bowl from here.

When you go to CHeU, you won’t be getting a traditional bowl of ramen. The food is definitely fusion cuisine, the owners are very open about their lack of authenticity. And the beauty of CHeU is that their menu is small. This can be a blessing or a curse. If you are an adventurous eater, this is great. You get one option that is vegan, but it is solid and well thought out. If you are a picky eater, well, you have only one option.

The classic Coconut Curry Ramen Noodles

Okay, well you get a little more than one option. The food is labeled as vegetarian, though it appears only one can not be made vegan. I also recommend DOUBLE CHECKING with servers. Philadelphia is a pretty vegan friendly area, so staff is probably use to the question. So here are your options as of February 2018:

  • Broccoli (small bites, ask for no pork)
  • Sweet and Sour Brussel Sprouts (small bites)
  • Coconut Curry Noodles (bowls)
  • Sichuan Spicy Fat Noodles (bowls)
  • Shrimp Yakisoba (bowls, sub tofu, no egg)
  • Chicken Karaga Rice Bowl (bowls, sub tofu, no egg)
  • Kimchi & Bok Choy (add ons for bowls)

No longer on the menu T_T Yummy Cold Sesame Noodles topped with kimchi

When went, the menu was a little different. Yes, there was the Coconut Curry Noodles, but there was also Cold Sesame Noodles. These were really yummy, and Jon was happy with his decision. The noodles were really chewy, and dish was just the right amount of spicy.

I got the Coconut Curry Ramen, which seems to be a classic option that is still on the menu. It was just what I wanted it to be. I was afraid it would be too dense, like a thick curry sauce. The spice and flavor wasn’t overwhelming, and the coconut added a creamy slippery texture to the broth. The noodles were chewy, and there were nice bursts of fresh flavor from the garnishes. 

Naturally this trip wasn’t for reviewing, so the photos are just with the iPhone. If you want something prettier, I suggest taking a look at Ted Ngheim’s blog with his photos of the store location. I strongly recommend checking this place out. Clearly they are pretty aware of having vegan options available, and do a pretty darn good job considering how limited the menu is to begin with. I strongly recommend this place if visiting the city. It is in the heart of center city, and is perfect for a quick meal.


I asked for a slow cooker for Christmas, thinking mostly about making bulk staples- cooked beans from dried, vegetable stock, tomato sauce, etc. But I knew I would eventually try some other recipes, that would be served up as dinner. So here are my findings- with mostly good results.

Vegan Jambalaya

Sadly I think the point of a slow cooker is slightly missed here. The recipe calls for you to add more ingredients midway through the slow cooker. I get it. It tastes better and prevents overcooking this way. But realistically you can’t just come home from work and add more food. You could still make it if you plan on waiting even longer once you get home for the added ingredients (and if your slow cooker has a timer)

But aside from that, the flavors are all there. And since I am a stay at home mom, it all worked out. It does call for a specific flavored vegan sausage, but that is my only complaint. I am sure you could google a recipe on how to make one if you can’t find it near you.

Bottom Line: Good for stay at home days or timed cooker

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

So many mixed feelings about this soup. For starters- I love how cheap it is to make. Carrots, celery, onions, and split peas. I could crunch the numbers but I am fairly certain the whole soup costs less than $5. It is also REALLY easy to make. Chop- toss- and let it cook. I love how the texture is very smooth but not puree smooth.

The flavor was pretty good, but not mind blowing. I always bring this up since I feel like traditionally non-vegan foods that are close to being vegan need to be a solid 100. Otherwise people swear by that little “je ne sais quoi” that meat brings to the table, in this case a little bit of ham. So I wish she included a little bit of paprika or liquid smoke, etc. I can easily do that, but non-vegan readers might not think of that.

Bottom Line: Overall good, easy to enhance

Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew

This recipe, although it isn’t in the title is suppose to be inspired by a Moroccan tagine (or tajine). If you never had one before it is just a spiced stew cooked in a clay pot, commonly cooked in Northern Africa and the Middle East. I’ve made a few tagine recipes, but not in the traditional cookware.

The first thing I noticed was that there wasn’t that many spices. Seemed a little suspicious so I doubled the spices (for some.) Truthfully I wish they included a wider variety of spices becuase they didn’t jump out that much. I also skipped the raisins and the chickpeas. The chickpeas because of a weird scheduling issue, and the raisins because I thought it would be too sweet. I’m glad I did that because all the root veggies were super sweet!

This was a fast-yet-slow slow cooker recipe. So much time was spent peeling and chopping, but the slow cooker gets put on high so it only takes about 4 hours overall. Making it not so great if you want something to cook while you are at work (unless you work from home) Overall this isn’t a bad dish, though it felt like it was missing something. It does make a HUGE amount.

Bottom Line: Very sweet. Wolfie LOVED it.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Macaroni

I wanted to try and pick recipes that weren’t just soups and stews for this review. I’ve modified quite a few recipe to use a slow cooker to ensure that I don’t burn things on the stovetop or know that I can go for my “late” walks (you know… at 4-5pm) and still have a dinner on the table.

I’ve also made quite a few vegan mac and cheese recipes. So I have quite a few high standards. Let me state that vegan mac and cheese is sort of like a chili- you need a really good balance of flavors. So usually when I see a vegan mac and cheese with a short list of ingredients, I am skeptical. But I gave it a go.

What I got was a SMELLY house… or maybe not. I mean my house smelled terrible, but it could of been because of our trash, but likely a combination. Honestly- it smelled like vomit. I have no idea why. It crept up all morning, but all that was in the slow cooker was water, canned tomatoes (didn’t use fresh like the recipe), butternut squash, and herbs. WHAT?! I also found that the pasta was easy to over cook. If you are wondering how you make this recipe- you cook the squash for several hours, blend, add the rest for about 15-20 minutes for the pasta to cook. Also there just wasn’t enough bang in the sauce. I eventually add some miso to add a little kick.

But that all being said, the overall concept wasn’t bad. I think in the future I would tweak the recipe around, and pay more attention to the pasta while it cooks up. I probably would snag a mac and cheese recipe I like and modify it for the slow cooker to include all the flavors I like. And Wolfie LOVED the dish. So it wasn’t a total bust.

Bottom Line: Interesting concept, needs tweaking to the sauce, needs attention towards the end.

Slow Cooker Seitan Pot Roast

I remember awhile ago learning that you can make seitan in a slow cooker. One day I remembered that and searched for a recipe. This was the first one, and I think I should of looked harder. The name of the author sounded familiar so I figured, gotta be good right?

Overall the recipe worked. The veggies cooked up and were yummy. The seitan cooked and was tasty, buuuut wasn’t the best seitan I ever had. It was pretty plain and I could think of a million other recipes that were tastier. The seitan works perfectly fine for OTHER recipes, but not something that I would want as a Thanksgiving dinner.

Bottom Line: Method check out, flavors meh

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils

I love seeing price breakdowns of food. I hear things like “serves two people for $10!” and I THINK that’s a lot, but I really don’t know. I just know how much a spend each week for my husband and I (and now little munchkin.) But by having the prices next to the food I can think “am I over paying for lentils?” and “thank god for Trader Joe’s coconut milk!” So I think I overall spent LESS than her numbers, but I haven’t personally crunched the numbers for spices and veggies (how can I? they were from my CSA)

So let’s go with how the food turned out. Overall the recipe is pretty straight forward. Toss everything into a crockpot. Cook. Add coconut milk. Okay. Simple enough. The end result? Pretty tasty, though I am not 100% amazed. I would certainly recommend this recipe. Super easy, great for working families. TONS of food. It wasn’t mind blowing though. BUT I like how simple it was, and it is great way to introduce vegan food to newbies. Simple, cheap, nothing crazy, and full of flavor.

Bottom Line: Great for vegan newbies and busy families.


I am not a breakfast person. I don’t like sweet breakfast foods, and I have a smoothie every morning. If there isn’t a smoothie, usually breakfast gets skipped and I have an early lunch. But I am warming up to brunch, mostly because of booze. But this list is probably just breakfast foods. *shrugs* Oh well. They are brunch to me. Almost all are sweet things, so don’t get too mad is you are a savory fan. 

One Bowl Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These were super fast to put together, and the result is a super soft and yummy muffin. I subbed spelt flour for all purpose flour since I had it on hand. But as promised, you used only one bowl, making it a quick muffin to make. This is a great dish to make for a super sweet muffin on the weekends.

She suggests adding cream cheese to the middle, and I used whatever I had left for the centers. I wasn’t impressed with the centers as they were too tart in my opinion. She says the sugar is optional, but I think it is a must. I used Tofutti cream cheese, and it cooked up fairly stiff. If anyone else tries as different cream cheese with different results please share! Since I didn’t have enough cream cheese only some of the muffins got the center. I found that they baked up fine without the cream cheese center.

Bottom Line: Super yummy, mix sugar in the cream cheese!

Raw Buckwheat Breakfast Porridge

I’ve mostly been eating chia pudding for my pre-morning run. It is easy to make and pretty much something to make the night before. This buckwheat porridge ranks up there with easy accessibility. It is simple and easy, and very yummy. My only problem is that you need access to fresh fruit as a topping, which sometimes isn’t as readily available during the winter.

I also found that sometimes buckwheat can be pricey, depending on where you go. And this recipe will use to up a good amount of buckwheat groats fast. But you CAN find buckwheat for cheaper prices, you just need to keep your eyes peeled. 

Bottom Line: Good for weekday OR weekend

Easy Vegan and Gluten-Free Pancakes

What a boring name for these? Banana Buckwheat Pancakes is more interesting. Gluten-free Banana-Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes is even better. But hey, whatever. Doesn’t matter what they are called because these are delicious! I was shocked at how well it all worked together.

Sure they aren’t 100% like normal pancakes, but they don’t really seem “gluten-free” either. They have an earthy-nutty flavor that is welcomed. The bananas add a nice sweetness to the pancakes without it being overwhelming. The only downside is that the batter is thick so I had a hard time getting “pretty” cakes.

I didn’t start with buckwheat groats, but instead had some leftover buckwheat flour from a local Asian food market. I can only imagine that this helped the texture in the end since the store bought flour would have a more consistent texture than home ground flour. I was lazy and didn’t make the homemade whip cream, but these pancakes tasted great with some blueberry syrup.

Bottom Line: Yummy but not too heavy like more “gluten-free” pancakes

Norwegian Cinnamon Buns (Norske Kanelsnurrer)

I am so excited to finally try a recipe from Seitan is my Motor. I love how much thought and planning goes into Constanze’s recipes. I’ve learned quite a lot of European baked goods, and given me a much needed window outside of American sweets. This was the first year having my In Laws over for Christmas morning, so I wanted to include them on our growing tradition of brunch on Christmas.

My overall biggest complaint is that the recipe uses rapid action yeast. So you can’t make it as quickly as regular cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. I tried my best to wake up and start the dough right away, but I don’t think they were fully finished until 12:30-ish. You need to proof the dough twice, once for 90 minutes and another for 60 minutes.

Aside from that, the recipe worked wonderfully. I liked how the rolls weren’t too sweet and used healthier flour than just all purpose. Having the spelt and whole wheat makes them more filling, though I am sure a little more tough compared to if I made them with just all purpose flour. I may have also overbaked them slightly working against a fluffy texture.

Bottom Line: Yummy, but wished there was an overnight option

Scramble Tofu Breakfast Bahn Mi

I feel like the dish is the definition of brunch- breakfast and lunch combined into one. Taking a lunch sandwich (Bahn Mi) and mixing it with the classic scrambled tofu for breakfast. This is something I love since I am more of a lunch person than and breakfast person.

I have a confession. I’ve never actually ate Bahn Mi before. I’ve heard about it, but never took the dive before giving up meat. Steak was never my favorite. So I can’t judge it on how authentic it is. I can judge on how tasty it was. The tofu is wonderfully spiced, and does look a lot like eggs. The Star Anise Daikon Pickles were a great add on. They were crisp and probably gave it that Bahn Mi feel. The downside? There was a little bit of leftovers. No big deal. It will just make a Bahn Mi wrap for lunch. This is definitely a something that will grace our table over and over again.

Bottom Line: Great for people who prefer more of the Lunch of Brunch

Almond Butter Banana Breakfast Bars

I always hate when I find vegan recipes that use lots of expensive ingredients. One cookie recipe used teff flour, maple syrup, and almond butter in huge quantities. It made me wonder how much each cookie cost? I was too afraid to find out. This recipe does use some expensive items like maple syrup and almond butter, but uses them in small reasonable amounts. I like that. All the other ingredients are cheap and commonly found in a vegan pantry.

The recipe is easy and fast to make. I made a change with the maple syrup since I ran out of it. I used a little blackstrap molasses and agave to fill in the rest of the syrup needed. I think blackstrap molasses was too strong, and I wish I used the maple syrup since the flavors would of worked really well. I also swapped spelt flour for whole wheat since i had it on hand. The dough was thick, but the end result is very soft and fluffy.

I divided the bars up into 8 pieces not 10 or 12 as suggested to give a hearty breakfast, but dividing them up smaller makes a great side for breakfast. Maybe a tofu scramble? Or sauted veggies? These are drool inducing bars, but they are tasty and not too desserty like some baked breakfast foods.

Bottom Line: Really tasty!

Continue reading


Oh boy are there a million tacos out there! We are just barely scratching the surface with what’s out there. And even though they are all over pinterest, I think this was one of the hardest compilations to get together. Why? I think tacos are just way too easy to stray away from the original recipe. But I did it! So check out the recipes below!

Falafel Tacos with Sriracha-Tahini Sauce

This recipe is actually an amazing weeknight meal. Aside from my kitchen being so small that taking out the food processor is a pain, it is a super meal. All you need to dirty up is really the food processor, a baking tray, and cutting board. And while the falafels bake, you can clean up most of the dishes. Brilliant! The dinner made pretty much spot on what it would make- granted if you eat only two tacos. That can be hard since they are so tasty, but two tacos has 16 grams of protein. Not too bad considering my husband at three- which would be 24 grams of protein. Downside, I think the sriracha-tahini sauce was a little too thick, but then again I was getting to the bottom of tahini where they was very little oil.

Bottom Line: Quick and easy weeknight dinner

Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos

There’s been a lot of hub-bub with Thug Kitchen and if their writing is mocking African Americans. Although I find the juxtaposition of harsh language in a medium that uses flower language funny, I do think they could of done it without singling out a certain culture. I never really intended to check out Thug Kitchen, but I found this really yummy recipe that I just wanted to try badly.

Did the recipe hold up? Umm…no. The salsa was pretty darn spicy. Which to me isn’t too big of a deal except there was a lot of hot sauce in the cauliflower portion. I like it when you divide the heat up within certain ingredients, not piling on everything hot. The cauliflower was very watery from the beer, which makes me wondering if it would of worked better as sort of a “refried” cauliflower filling? And overall there were WAY too much onion flavor. I didn’t even use as much as they recommend since I didn’t have them, like adding more green onions!

There were some great flavor combos, but there should of been more finessing with the cooking process. Maybe saute the onions in the cauliflowers, only spice in the salsa, etc. Overall it isn’t bad though. 

Bottom Line: Alright recipe, needs more streamlining.

051215-o

Sweet Potato Pecan Tacos

There is so much flavor going on with these tacos. They are easy to make and great for a more fall based taco when sweet potatoes are in season and when the temperature is going down (to turn the oven on). The great thing about the recipe is that the author is very open to variations so I did and found ways to improve the taco.

One thing I found needed improvement in the recipe is the texture. She has a smooth bean spread and soft sweet potatoes that probably have a nice outside texture from roasting. BUT I felt like it needed a little extra tooth, and adding quick pickled shredded cabbage I think did the trick. Avocados are also a major must as well, if it is in your price range.

I loved the flavor from the coconut cream, but it seemed more like something that would be great as a dressing. The blog post does suggest that this dish makes a great salad, so maybe I missed the memo that the cream was just suppose to be a dressing? Maybe, maybe not. But I wouldn’t bother with it unless you want to make a salad over a taco.

Bottom Line: Super yummy, but needs a lettuce or cabbage paired with it.

Black Bean + Tempeh Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce

This recipe is pretty easy and fast to make. What is both nice and disappointing about this recipe is how flexible it is. There aren’t any specifically highlighted flavors, which I tend to like from a taco recipe. But it does give a recipe for a very flexible taco filling that you can pretty much do any day of the week. Don’t have avocado? You’ll be fine. Don’t have cabbage? Just use lettuce. So I could imagine using this recipe as a basic structure to make on a busy weeknight.

I did NOT make the cashew cheese sauce mostly because I had some homemade vegan sour cream that needed to get used up. But the recipe for the cashew cheese sauce looks pretty good, and would of made a great addition to the tacos. Overall I think this is a recipe I might use again, it only took about 15 minutes to make. And as mentioned it is pretty flexible for interpretation, and she makes sure you still get your greens.

Bottom Line: Great recipe for starter vegans.

Tequila Lime Baked Tofu Tacos with Chipotle Crema

This recipe involves a lot of planning, but overall pretty easy. What takes the most amount of time is freezing the tofu, thawing it, pressing, then marinating. None of those steps take particularly long, but you need to think ahead. I think most vegans don’t know how to plan these steps since these are mostly common for meats. But I found that I froze the tofu one day, the next day remove and let thaw in the fridge. Then the day of making I pressed for an hour (it wasn’t fully thawed at the time), and marinated it before heading into work. That way it took a 30 minutes to bake giving lots of prep and clean up time.

BUT I do have a problem with the recipe. Although it was easy to make, there wasn’t nearly enough fat. The overall result was super acidic, but I wish she put a little oil in the marinade, or used cashews for the crema. Aside from that, I was totally happy with the results. There was a little extra of tofu for leftovers (hubs and I had three tacos each) so if you have a big family, you might want to double the tofu.

Bottom Line: Needs a little more fat, but tasty overall

BBQ Eggplant Tacos

Hmm… how do I feel about these tacos. So many emotions. First let me talk about prep work. It is pretty easy. I spent most of the time working on the peach-lime chutney. It wasn’t too hard, but it does involve a lot of fine chopping, so it was probably a total of 30-40 minutes, but worth noting there was lots of time to do other things. In fact I made the fennel slaw while the chutney cooked up. So all I had to do was roast the eggplant and put together the tacos when it came to dinner time. Dividing up the work makes the clean up more manageable.

Flavors have been interesting. I can’t say I hate and I can’t say I love it. My husband summed it up as minty and fruity. I think we both weren’t huge fans of the mix of fennel and peach. I think I might want to “dilute” the fennel by adding a little cabbage next time. Also I didn’t like how the eggplant “shredded.” I mean it kind-of did, but it was mostly just mushy shreds. I would probably just use beans or jackfruit in the future.

And it is worth noting that I had uneven amounts of food. I get it- when your recipe calls for one fennel bulb and mostly nothing else, you are going to have varied amounts. I ended up with a full little jam jar of the chutney. We had NO eggplant leftover, and there was enough slaw for maybe one two extra tacos. Not the worst, but something to keep in mind if you hate leftovers.

Bottom Line: Lots of prep, mixed emotions

What are your favorite taco recipes?

Continue reading


Circles

8 Powell Lane Collingswood, NJ 08108
812 N 2nd St Philadelphia, PA 19123
1514 Tasker St. Philadelphia, PA 19145
website | facebook | instagram | twitter | youtube

Vegan MOFO is done, but I thought this year I would try and do their minimofos. This month’s theme is lazy. I had this post sitting in my drafts for 8 months. Yup I started it in March and it is probably time I finish it up. XD Fits the lazy bill because I’ve been so lazy about making this post and I was lazy about cooking.

So here you go- a really old post….
It was a dark and stormy night…
Just kidding. Or maybe it was rainy? The details are a little hazy.

Let me paint the picture. Wolfie was only 3 months old. He is starting to sleep through the night, but still sleeping in his little crib. Jon and I wanted to have a baby free night and went on a date. This was the first time leaving the house late at night, and we had our friend Justine watch Wolfie. Sadly, he was starting to do the whole routine thing and falling asleep pretty easily.

It took us awhile to decide where to go, but we finally decided on Circles, a new to us restaurant that offers Thai food. The restaurant has various locations, currently two in Philadelphia and one in Collingswood. They aren’t a vegan restaurant, but offer many different options. We went to the Collingswood location since it was raining out.

Pad Thai with Tofu

The food isn’t just Thai- it is Thai fusion. But in many ways the food has some authenticity. The restaurants are owned by Alex Boonphaya who grew up in Bangkok. His family moved to the US and Alex spent his childhood cooking since his parents would work late. That is what makes Circles so great. There is a wonderful balance between authentic Thai cuisine and little American twists.

As mentioned the shop has vegan options, and if you are vegetarian you will have more options. Everything is well labeled about what is vegan. They serve seitan, so there are few appetizer items that have a meat and seitan alternative (such as vegetarian cheesesteak springrolls, not vegan sadly). There are also things like vegetable dumplings that can be ordered.

The main courses are almost all available as vegan. I would tell the staff up front that you are vegan, as they knew right away to use fish sauce substitutes, and you don’t have to ask about it for each individual meals. You can add seitan or tofu to the meal for an additional cost (they have meat options as well)

Pad Kee Mow with Seitan

Jon got the Pad Thai with tofu (top photo). He really liked it. The sauce had a nice kick to it. I personally found it a little too sweet. If you aren’t really familiar with Pad Thai you might be disappointed. Each family has their own Pad Thai recipe, and in the US many Pad Thai recipes are super peanut heavy. This was not, but I really enjoyed it. Very tangy and sweet.

I ordered the Pad Kee Mow with Seitan, and guys, I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much about it. I remember liking it a lot. I remember that it was spicy. And now that I look at the photos, I remember the tomatoes being the best. If you never had the dish before the major flavor notes (that I remember) were fresh thai basil, tomato chunks, fat rice noodles, and spicy flavors.

We loved the place and if we were rolling around in cash money we would be going back more often. The place is BYOB so bring a bottle of wine, or stop by Devil’s Creek Brewery across the street to grab a growler. I recommend parking at the PATCO station and walking to the restaurant. The photo doesn’t give a great representation of where it is, as it is in a small street that doesn’t get much traffic, under the new(ish) Lumberyard Condos. Also, don’t bother with the coffee…. they just use a kurig. There are many coffee shop options in Collingswood.


My goodness it has been a really long time since I’ve done one of these! I always try and write a review with any recipe I try online, make a category and hope they build up enough to be it’s own post. But that doesn’t always happen. Luckily my CSA forces me to try and figure out what to do with all these tomatillos so this post has been in the works for TWO YEARS!

Why did this take so long? Well I wanted to feature recipes that weren’t just salsa verde. I mean I made my own salsa morado, but I mean- it is just a salsa verde XD So I give you quite a round up! I hope you enjoy it, and there is even a sweet treat as well!

Roasted Tomatillo Hummus

I am frequent reader of Fragrant Vanilla Cake and saw this recipe using tomatillos in hummus. I knew I had to give it a try since it is an interesting way to eat the fruit. The recipe is pretty easy, roast tomatillos, blend with the hummus ingredients, serve. I have to admit this is a delicious and tangy hummus. Very different than what most people are use to for their hummus. I could picture myself just eating it as a dip with chips.

But I used it mostly in wraps with breaded green tomatoes, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and avocados. But I could use it in sandwiches, and a bunch of other ways. What makes this hummus so nice is that it is sweet and tangy but has lots of protein, so you get food that is nutritionally sustainable and filling.

Bottom Line: Quick and Easy, great for lunches.

Black Bean, Tomatillo, and Corn Soup

This is pushing the definition soup. It is more like a stew since it is so thick. It is indeed tasty, but I think there should be a little more broth to make it by definition a soup. Overall the dish is super healthy and full of vegetables and fiber. I think the longest part is getting all the vegetables prepared, especially since it calls for fresh corn. Because of this I think I would double the recipe next time so I could have leftovers to eat.

I also would add more tomatillos. Yes, you can taste them in the dish, but I wish there would of been more. I mean if you have tomatillos in the title, I better be tasting them. I think I ended up using more tomatoes in the soup than tomatillos! Aside from that gripe- I would give the dish a thumbs up on making it again.

Bottom Line: Easy and healthy soup. Recommend doubling the recipe for leftovers and adding more tomatillos.

Vegan Enchilada Suizas

I think what I’ve learned about these recipes is that maybe my tomatillos from my CSA are smaller than fresh tomatillos from the supermarket. So I doubled the amount of tomatillos in the sauce.

Looking at the recipe I felt like I probably should have a little more veggies in there, so I took away some of the beans, and added some sauteed sweet peppers. Also I didn’t use the suggested hot peppers in the sauce or any added salt since I was going to feed it to a 10 month old. Even without the salt, the dish carried itself quite well, but something to keep in mind with the spice levels.

Overall I loved the dish. I will make it again since it is easy to make and easy to prep ahead of time. I blended the sauce in the morning while my blender was dirty from smoothies. I set aside the sauce, so when it came to dinner time I just cooked the sauce, and put together the enchiladas.

My biggest complaint is that she doesn’t specify which sized tortilla wraps. I have “taco” and “burrito” sizes wraps, and I didn’t know which size, so I just made four big enchiladas as appose to six. Not the end of the world, but I can’t be the only one out there that didn’t grow up on enchiladas.

Bottom Line: Baby Approved, Just would make more sauce

White Bean Tomatillo Soup

This soup is much more “tomatillo-y” compared to the black bean recipe. This one uses a lot of beans and a lot of tomatillos. This is a simple soup that lets you enjoy the taste of tomatillos. Aside from cooking dried beans, the recipe doesn’t take long to make. All I did was soak the beans overnight, cooked them in the morning, then made the short 30 minute recipe. Though you could soak the beans in the morning and cook the soup for longer if you have the time to wait.

My only complaint is that she calls for 4 cups broth, 2 cups water. I feel like just sticking with 6 cups broth/stock would give a fuller flavored soup. Maybe it is to save people money? Most stocks are sold in 4 cup containers. Who knows. I didn’t read the 2 cups water so at first I had a very thick soup. Oops. But I really liked the recipe. Full of flavor, simple, and easy peasy.

Bottom Line: Super healthy and yummy soup. Would use all 6 cups of stock instead of part water.

Tomatillo Green Apple Sorbet

Sometimes recipes are so simple I find a hard time with them! Enter this recipe for a Green Apple and Tomatillo Sorbet. First what I ended up with was delicious, but there was a lot of last minute changes that I had to make.

The first change I had to make was that the portions on the site didn’t add up for me. It should I should of had about 2 1/2 cups by the end of the cooking process, but I had more like 1 3/4 of a cup. Eek! I quickly doubled the apple and tomatillo, started to cook them again, and got about the right amount. Blended it up and popped it in the fridge. Then when I put the sorbet in the ice cream maker, there didn’t seem to be much. This is something that annoys me with ice cream recipes. It takes a lot of work to make ice cream, and making just enough for two servings is a pain. So I quickly dumped some extra coconut milk into the ice cream maker.

The end result? A SUPER delicious recipe. Since I probably cooked the apples too much, I got a tart but semi caramel-like sorbet. The best part is that the ice cream kept really soft in the freezer, one of my first times doing so! I think adding the coconut milk in the end helped with the tartness. If I make this again, I will totally make some changes to the recipe, and you might find a similar recipe on the blog next year.

Bottom Line: Great inspiration. Overall great results, not sure if I will make this recipe 100% exactly the same

Chunky Tomatillo Tostadas

I took some liberties to switch this recipe up a little. Yeah, I got a little lazy in the tostadas part and was starving. So these got transformed into tacos. Oh well. I tried to keep the toppings in the spirit of the original post and let’s face it, a corn shelled taco isn’t too different from a tostadas. Personally the dish probably would of worked best in tostadas form, so keep that in mind. 

Naturally my main complaint is that recipe calls for x amount of tomatillos, not going by poundage. I added more to the recipe since the tomatillos picked from my CSA were a little smaller than most commercial grocery stores. Aside from the resulting faster cooking time, everything worked out great! The whole recipe will probably take an hour from beginning to end but is very easy to get the prep work done, and has a lot of hands off time. 

I really love how there were bursts of tomatillo flavors hidden in the pinto beans. I think there should be a little bit more tomatillo to bean ratio, but aside from that it is a great mix. As mentioned I made tacos instead and paired them with lettuce, avocado and tomato (no sour cream mix.) I will be adding this to my rotation during the next tomatillo season at my CSA

Bottom Line: Takes some time, but overall very easy and hands off.


Vedge

1221 Locust Street, Philadelphia 19107
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

It’s finally happened- I’ve eaten at the legendary Vedge restaurant! The spot is known as a major restaurant to check out for any foodie when in Philadelphia – omni, vegetarian, or vegan. It has taken me so long to write this post- 2 months! There is just so much to talk about. The history of the restaurant, building, chefs, and naturally the food. When we went we pretty much ordered everything from the menu (No- really). The meals are sold as small plates, and are suggested you get three plates per person. Each section has 5 dishes to choose from, and we had 4 people altogether. It was easier to choose what we weren’t going to order, but before I get ahead of myself let’s talk about the history.

Vedge opened up in 2011 with Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. The co-owner Rich Landau has reached a minor celebrity chef status, being featured in many interviews, owning several restaurants, and even being featured on Chopped (and won!) Landau and Jacoby have shaped Philadelphia’s vegan food scene, expanding it from it’s punk and religious background. They opened up V Street, a tapas bar, and Wiz Kid, a fast food cheesesteak shop. Nicole Marquis was an employee at Vedge, and has expanded the vegan high end dining experience by opening up Bar Bonbon, Charlie was a Sinner, and HipCityVeg. Just type in “best of philadelphia” and Vedge will appear in many different articles. There isn’t much debate- Vedge is one of the best restaurants in the entire city.

If you aren’t much for “fancy” food, then grab a drink or dessert at the bar to appreciate the architecture. The building was designed by the legendary Frank Furness. He designed over 600 buildings during the Victorian era. Most of his buildings are in the Philadelphia area, and many were destroyed. But this row home has managed to survive, and it really gives a fun layout for a restaurant. When you first walk up the steps it doesn’t feel like you are going into the right building. Surely you are walking into someone’s apartment? Once you open the doors you make it to the bar area and are quickly greeted by the hostess. There is a dining room in the front of the building and one in the back, we were seated in the front, giving lots of light at the beginning of the meal for photographs. Whoo!

Thinking about visiting? Here are some things to keep in mind. One is that everything I’ve written below is subject to change, in fact, their menu changes daily. Not joking. Part of this is because they try and truly stick with seasonal produce. The waiter said there are staples to the menu, or there are some things that simply get modified. For example the radishes seem to be available year round, but the choice of radishes change according to the season. So this menu is the 2017 spring/summer menu.

Also make a reservation — now! Yes I mean now! Open a new tab, google their number, and call! They book months ahead of time for weekend dinners. My sister tried to make reservations for my birthday, and they were booked. Last year my parents in law tried to take us out to dinner but they were booked. But if you are going to be able to dine during the week- you will probably have a much better chance of snagging a table. Even still, if you don’t mind sometimes they will let you eat at the bar without reservations, which isn’t bad. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a cocktail and dessert at the bar late at night- or right when they open XD!! 

On paper the prices don’t seem too expensive. But the menu is set up to order one plate from three categories. They aren’t particularly shareable- I mean try cutting those tiny radishes into four pieces! So this is what makes the price of your meal to shoot up. The review is divided up in the categories on the menu, cocktails, the vedge bar, the dirt list, the grill, and desserts.

So I will leave you to read my reviews on the dishes after saying this- Hey Vedge! Want to have me back and pay for my meal? I can totally do another review of your fall/winter menu. Hit me up. I can also try Wiz Kid or V Street! *winkie face emoji* Alright I’m done selling out- read and drool.

COCKTAILS

BLACK HOLE SUN
scotch, burnt miso, maria al monte, charcoal 14
Dummy’s Guide: scotch, burnt miso, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, hip stuff to make things black
Jon, his Dad, and myself all got this cocktail. It is a strong drink served in an old fashion. The combination is very odd, scotch plus an herbally liqueur? And what would burnt miso and charcoal even taste like? They all come together nicely, and the miso and charcoal take off some of that astringent alcohol taste. This was so good that my Father in Law got a second.

THE ELDER SAGE
gin, elderflower, lemon, smacked sage
This is a very tasty cocktail but nothing unique. Gin and elderflower are made for each other. But I can say that the flavors work very well. If you can’t stand neat hard liquor, this is probably the cocktail for you. Simple, light, and not too sweet.

LIFE OF PABLO
tequila, aperol, rhubarb, poblano
Dummy’s Guide: tequila, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, rhubarb, poblano peppers
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my love of poblano peppers on the blog. They are my favorite pepper, and I get so excited when they start showing up at my CSA. So it was obviously in the cards for me to get this drink. They layer the drink, making a rhubarb layer and a poblano layer. The more you drink, the more they mix together. Truthfully it seems like a weird mix, but they worked so well with each other. I would never think to mix an amaro with a tequila, but they picked out what seemed like the least bitter of all the ones available.

RABBIT FIGHTER (Not Pictured)
rum, strega, pomelo, cardamom bitters
Dummy’s Guide: rum, green herbal liqueur, a citrus fruit, cardamom bitters
Hmm… I blame this cocktail- my third of the night- for my less than stellar memory. Okay- it is probably because we tried almost EVERYTHING off the menu but hey- I can still blame this right? I remember liking this cocktail a lot, but the specifics are a blur. #blogfail

THE VEDGE BAR

FANCY RADISHES
smoked tamari, yuzu avocado, pickled tofu, shishito
Let me first start by talking about how we all had to skillfully cut each and everyone of those radishes into four pieces. We divided ALL of the dishes- but this one was a particular challenge. This dish is a staple, according to our server, but the radishes change as they come into season. Some of the names I reconized from our CSA, but I was a dummy and didn’t take notes. I can hands down say that my favorites were the radish paired with the tofu and the radish paired with the shishito pepper. The tofu and pepper gave a wonderful contrast of texture to the radishes.


PORTOBELLO CARPACCIO
deviled turnip, caper puree, nigella grissini
Personal opinion here- not sure if I get the whole “deviled” veggies thing. But that is only a minor part of the dish. The grissini, or let’s be real- a breadstick, was super yummy and made daily. The portobello was amazing. They are thinly sliced and cooked or marinated to perfection.


SALT BAKED BEETS
crushed cucumber, dill, capers, cured olive, rye
This is one of Vedge’s signature dishes. They bake beets at low temperatures for 2+ hours over a bed of salt. The salt takes moisture away from the beets, concentrating the flavors. It also gives the beets a unique texture. I’m normally not a huge fan of rye or dill, but they worked wonderfully with the beets.


RUTABAGA FONDUE
today’s soft pretzel, yesterday’s pickle, charred onion
Hands down- one of best dishes of the night, or even best in this category. The pretzel was fluffy and soft on the inside but just enough crust on the outside. It is pure magic how they get the rutabaga to be so fondue like. It is fluffy and creamy. I can honestly say that the pretzel worked perfectly with the fondue. Yeah, the pickles and onion were good too- but the pretzel and rutabaga?!

THE DIRT LIST

NEBRODINI MUSHROOMS (Not Pictured)
as “fazzoletti”, “pomodoro”
If you know Italian food you probably have an idea of what this dish looks like. If you are like me and am totally hopeless, you were completely surprised. Fazzoletti is a flat square noodle, which kind-of look like someone picked apart a ravioli. THe mushrooms were served in a similar fashion- flat and square. Pomodoro is a quick light pasta dish with olive oil and fresh tomatoes. Although everything I ate at Vedge was amazing, this dish was less memorable.


POLE BEANS & ZUCCHINI
briam stew, hummus, smoked sourdough
The title is a little misleading, the pole beans and zucchini are not the highlight of the dish. I think the sub-description better explains what you are ordering. There is a big serving of hummus, topped with briam (a greek stew with pole beans and zucchini), and smoked sourdough chunks are placed on top. Even though we were expecting a larger portion of beans and zucchini, the dish was amazing. The hummus was perfectly smooth and not too thick or thin.


PEA LEAVES
flash seared, smoked onion dashi, pickled spring onions
Greens are always a little disappointing. I always want more than what they serve! These pea leaves were super amazing, tender, flavorful and not too bitter. The dashi and pickled spring onions added only a little bit of flavor, letting the pea leaves really carry the dish.


GRILLED GOLD POTATOES
black garlic tahini, za’atar, calabrian chile relish
I think these potatoes were the favorite in this category. I am not a HUGE potato person so that is saying something. It has everything you need- crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The flavor combinations were perfect. The tahini had a wonderful garlic-y salty flavor, and the chili relish gave it this dish a bright burst.

THE GRILL

ASPARAGUS “COLCANNON” (Not Pictured)
peas & green garbanzos, garbanzo crepe, smoked kohlrabi
It has been a long time since I’ve eaten asparagus. I don’t get any in my CSA and they tend to be pricey. The asparagus was nice and thin, making each bite tender. The garbanzo crepe wrapped around the asparagus, and sat on sauce (I think made from smoked kohlrabi?) with some peas and green garbanzo beans.


SSAMJANG GLAZED TOFU
edamame puree, burnt miso, cucumber, sea beans, toasted nori
I am a sucker for tofu, and this was a delicious small slab of tofu. It was well pressed, grilled, and marinated. I especially liked the accompanying flavors. The tofu itself wasn’t overly flavored, but the edamame, miso, cucumber, and sea greens added to it perfectly.


EGGPLANT BRACIOLE
smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive
My Mother in Law was excited to try this. She had made this recipe several times at home using the Vedge cookbook. She first pointed out how much tidier their eggplant dish looked compared to hers. But after doing some googling, I think she did a REALLY good job with her version. Naturally I can’t help but compare this dish to the one she made. I love the rice filling at Vedge, it is fluffy, light, and packed with flavor. But I think I prefer my Mother in Law’s eggplant. Hers is just a little bit thicker, which I prefer. Regardless, this is a great dish, and I am pretty sure sticks on the menu most of the year. Heck it was even on the menu when Gina from The Full Helping went 5 years ago.

SEARED MAITAKE MUSHROOM (Not Pictured)
celery root fritter, smoked leek remoulade
This was another crowd favorite. We almost ordered a second plate of it. Maitake mushrooms (or hen of the woods) are amazing and hearty. The mushrooms are very “meaty,” perfectly cooked to be tender but not too dried out. The celery root fritter adds a nice contrasting texture.

DESSERT

So this is where I really dropped the ball. I forgot to take a photo of the dessert menu, thinking it would be fairly stable each night. Nope. I know they have rotating ice cream flavors each night, which my Father in Law picked since the featured flavor of the night was pistachio. It also appears that they have different variations of cheesecake that are always available. My husband went with the cheesecake, but I can’t remember what flavor he chose. Regardless, it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve tasted in awhile.

CHOCOLATE UBER CHUNK (Not Pictured)
malt custard, pretzels & peanut butter, stout ice cream
Although the menu changes all the time, this seems to be the staple of the house. My Mother in Law jumped on this dish the second she saw it. I don’t blame her. I had a bite and it was amazing. Perfect for a chocolate lover.

GOLDEN PEACH ROBATAYAKI (Not Pictured)
yuzu-chile cornbread, miso ice cream, honeydew duck sauce
So after three cocktails and sharing two flights of Amari- my memory is a little hazy. Well, at least when it comes to reading. I couldn’t find the name of the dessert I had, until randomly this dessert appeared on the menu again. Oddly, I remember that night being surprised there was a peach in my meal…which seems unlikely since peach is in the title. Who knows, but I am 99% sure this what I had. Peach. Check. Miso Ice Cream. Check. Honeydew sauce. Check. So much to say about what the heck this even is. Well first robatayaki is a slow barbecue method from Japan. So this is what it looked like- the honeydew “duck sauce” is poured onto the plate creating a pool. The yuzu-chile cornbread sits on the honeydew puree, then the robatayaki-ed peach and ice cream sits on top of the cornbread. It is overall sort of like a fancy-pants sundae. All of this sounds very unlikely to be a good match, but it was actually perfection. So many textures and flavors. I love how salty the miso ice cream is, then is balanced by the sweetness of the honeydew sauce. The peach is also sweet, but adds a hint of tartness. The cornbread added only a little crumble to the dish overall.

Photo from my Mother in Law showing some of the Amari we sampled

AMARI FLIGHT
This deserves mostly an explanation, and less of a review of each individual drink. Maybe one day I will go back and give a more solid review, but this is something you will most likely want to do if you visit.

So what is Amari? It’s Italian for bitter, and you might of noticed me listing some amari in the cocktails above. They are herbal liqueurs that have roots back when hard alcohol was a way to administer medicine. Today they are usually served as an after-dinner digestive, which is why they appear on the dessert menu. If you are wondering what it tastes like- well that’s where things get complicated. Each one has their own blend of herbs and strength in alcohol. They can have anything between 16 to 40 percent alcohol. Wikipedia has a great little breakdown of different types, including ones made with artichokes, grapes, rhubarb, truffles, and bark.

Again, I would love to do a sampling with a notebook and all to really do some justice about these different drinks. But for now, I will leave you with a list of drinks offered, with some notes and links to learn more about them. 

*NOTE: Prices are just listed to give an idea of how expensive the bottle might be. All stores will price differently.
**VEGAN WARNING: If you decide to buy Amari/Amaro from a liquor store check this list or barnivore before buying! Traditionally the red color comes from bugs.

Amaro Don Ferne 25% ABV $50
Amaro d’Erbe ‘Nina’ 30% ABV $35
Amaro Meletti 32% ABV $20
Averna 29% ABV 40 proof $25-30 a bottle
Cynar Carciofo style (made with artichokes) 16.5% ABV (there is a special 70 proof) $35
Elisir Novasalus 16% ABV $25
Fernet Branca 39% ABV $35
Maria Al Monte Fernet style 40% ABV $30
Ramazzotti Amaro 33% ABV $20
Sibona Amaro 28% ABV $32

Congrats! You made it to the end!
Which dish are you most curious to try?
Have you ever been to Vedge in the past?


I am not much of the type of person to make a post of my latest hauls or cheap finds, but I was pretty excited about my recent trip to Home Goods. It is a pretty hit or miss sort of place. Some things are cheaper there, some are not. I mostly like to look at their kitchen and food items. They have some “health foods” for cheap. What I mostly like is that there are some brands that are endorsed by the Food Empowerment Project.

With that said let’s start with CHOCOLATE! I remembered that Navitas is listed under as recommended brands from Food Empowerment Project. I am always in need of bars so I can stash them in my backpack just in case. I noticed the box was in the clearance section, and listed as $11 a box of 12 bars. I figured that is less than $1 bar, which is about the price of clif bars. I later looked online- Amazon is selling them for $20 a box (cheaper for subscription)!

I’m glad I got them because they are really tasty. They remind me of kind bars only not as hard. I never liked how crunchy the nuts made the bars, but these have lots of soft crispiness from rice and quinoa puffs. Oh! I also love how they DON’T have chia seeds. Seems like all companies just toss them into foods and then you get the problem of getting chia seeds stuck in your teeth. I am guessing these were still on the shelf because people were afraid of the cranberry chocolate combo? It was yummy, but not much flavor from the cranberries.

I haven’t done anything yet with the almond meal, in fact I rarely use the stuff. I skip over recipes that use it because the price is too much. But this was $4 so I thought why not. It seemed cheap… and it is. I looked online amazon sells this brand for $12! And it looks like almond meal is around $8-12 for 12-16oz. Nice steal! I remember loving a recipe for raw cookies that use almond meal. Might mix some up this weekend.

I also found this protein powder for $7. It said that it had 14 servings, and each serving had 15 grams of protein. I normally don’t like things that say detox, and I didn’t find the brand listed of FEP’s list, but I thought why not? Got home and stuff sells for $24!? What?! I prepared the smoothie like they suggest on the box and it was pretty good. I will probably add some cocoa to the mix, but I wouldn’t recommend it on principle.

This I’m MOST excited about. I am sucker for packaging, and new products. People know how to market to me. So when I saw this macadamia nut milk I wanted to try it. But it is always priced around $4-5 in stores (and on Amazon) it was just too much for me. Heck- I have been thinking the store brand soy milk is too expensive ($2.80 for a half gallon). This was on sale for $2! Whoo! That’s cheap enough for me to try once. The package was pretty dinged up, and there was only one container so I am thinking hard about how I want to use it.

There were some other goodies there. Like nutripods (which I do use creamer so didn’t get them), beanitos, and orgain. 

Any good bargains lately?


Photo credit to Bar Bonbon website

Bar Bombón

133 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
website | facebook | instagram | twitter

May is a busy month for me – having a birthday in May pretty much means you are used to your birthday thunder being stolen. I remember once being invited to two different weddings on my birthday one year (one being my uncle, the other being my grade school teacher.), as well as there being school graduations, Mother’s Day, and copious other birthdays. This year we celebrated Mother’s Day, my birthday, and my 4th wedding anniversary all in the same week. So when Jon told me one Saturday that he was taking me out for a surprise I really didn’t know what to expect. Turns out we were going out for a big birthday dinner with my sister and friends (apparently I am turning 30 this year and that’s a big deal)!

Jon got his parents to watch Wolfie as we got dressed up and got into the car. At this point I didn’t know yet that what was going on. I tried not to speculate since Jon has a poor history of keeping surprises (I’d already found a wrapped gift in the closet). I noticed we were getting off at the exit for the train so I start pulling out my PATCO card… and then we drive right past the station….

“We need to stop by your sister’s house. We split a gift for your birthday and she forgot to bring it into work so we’ll need to pick it up!”

That sounded plausible, so I thought no big deal. She also lives next to a different station so it made sense. As we start pulling to my sister’s house I see a car, one I’ve never seen. So I asked who’s car was that- or rather “Who the fuck did that shitty park job?!” Jon said that it MUST have been a friend of my niece’s – and at this point if I wasn’t sleep deprived I would of gotten suspicious. When we got inside I was surprised by Alexa and both my sisters! That shitty park job was Alexa!!! In her defense there wasn’t much she could of done, it’s just the shape of my sister’s driveway.

So we all got on the train and met up with my friend Justine in the city to eat at Bar Bombon. It is a Puerto Rican/latin tapas restaurant owned by Nicole Marquis. She worked at Vedge, and opened up Charlie Was A Sinner and HipCityVeg. There was a lot of hype when the restaurant opened and much has already changed. The restaurant moved from having a mix of burritos, arepas, and tacos to having more seasonal plates.

If you are thinking about coming to this place YOU MUST make a reservation. My goodness the place was packed! When you come in it is a little awkward as you immediately walk into the bar area. There is barely enough room to walk past the bar to the seating. There is also a few tables outside but it is next to alley, which isn’t terribly charming. But the inside is awesome and very warm.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: At first glance I noticed that I really liked the decor of this place. I don’t go out into Philly that often unless I’m with Jen, so I just love taking in the scenery of new restaurants and such. It was very crowded, but it was also a Saturday night around peak “let’s go out” hour – I guess I was just surprised because it was also pouring rain (I’ve been out of the city for too long and apparently forget that rain stops almost no one from going out and being away from their apartments). 

Overall I really enjoyed the food and drinks, they had an extensive list of cocktails that I did not partake in…unlike Jen I’m wary of liquor as opposed to beer because if I don’t like it, it’s not a pretty sight. This is a place that I would love to come back to and try more off of the menu.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER
Avocado, green goddess, black bean puree, mirepoix
Alexa: One of the things I miss most as a vegetarian is good barbecue and food slathered in buffalo sauce. I love buffalo cauliflower for this very reason! Let me tell you – this taco DELIVERS. The cauliflower is slightly crisp and not soggy and the buffalo sauce isn’t overpowering. While I would say that everything we ate that night certainly tasted fresh I especially felt that way about everything in this dish. 

CUBANO CLUB
Blackend chick’n, smoked tempeh, avocado, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, grain mustard aioli
Jen: This was my favorite of the dinner and it was FILLING. This is one of those confusing tapas how big/small are the plates moments as this sandwich I think was a lot more food than the tacos. The club comes with a side of fries, which makes it pretty much a stand alone meal. The club was amazing! Definetly the chick’n and tempeh make it stand out as a unique sandwich from the original cubano sandwich. The smoked tempeh was tasty, and the pickles and aioli give just enough tang. If I were to go back with hubby, I might get this again with a vegetable plate and probably would have enough to eat (with cocktails too duh)

GUACAMOLE FRESCO & PICANTE
I know it is possible to mess up guacamole, but it happens to rarely. I liked the guac here. They let the avocados speak for themselves. You can pick it “fresco” or “picante.” The picante wasn’t insanely hot, but if you want a more traditional route, get fresco. They give a good amount of guac to chips. I was able to use some of the guac with my yuca fries. The chips were pretty nice too, and clearly fried on location.

MUSHROOM EMPANADAS
Leeks, currants, pickled plantains
I had really high expectations for these empanadas and was a little disappointed. Not to say they tasted bad, I just envisioned something different. The flavor was soft, and the plantains were served on the side. The empanadas were fried to perfection though.

REPOLLITOS FRITOS
Brussels sprouts, peanut, mango, lemon
Jen: My rushed meals at home mean I don’t eat enough veggies. So this night I was craving vegetables so Jon and I split the brussel sprouts. They were roasted to perfection with crispy leaves. There was a tasty peanut dipping sauce which was amazing. The annoying thing is that I tasted zero mango. I am guessing it was mainly in there as a sweetening agent?

Alexa: I love Brussels sprouts. Jen isn’t exaggerating when she said these were cooked to perfection, I probably could have had that whole plate as a meal for myself! To be fair, I didn’t know there was supposed to be any mango involved in the dish so I wasn’t as let down, but the oil used to cook the sprouts did have a sweetness to it. So maybe she’s not off on the “sweetening agent” idea!

SEITAN “AL PASTEUR”
Guacamole, onion, cilantro, pineapple
Alexa: I enjoyed this taco as well, but it wasn’t my favorite of the two that I tried. I enjoy spicier foods, so the buffalo cauliflower was a huge hit. The seitan was cooked well and had a lot of flavor that was brought out more by the onion and pineapple. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a “meatier” dish. 

SPANISH FRIES
Roasted peppers and onions, cheese sauce
Jen: My sister seemed to be very concerned about what was in the cheese sauce. The wait staff was very hesitant to give any clue about what it was made of, but if I were to take a guess it was maybe a veggie based sauce? Whatever was in it ended up tasting great. The fries were thin and extra crispy. My only complaint is that it could of had more toppings.

Alexa: My only complaint was that these weren’t bottomless because…
a) potatoes are a gift on this green Earth
b) potatoes cut into thin pieces covered in sauce and veggies are also a gift.

YUCA FRITA
Maduro sauce
I strongly recommend getting these yuca fries. They are light and fluffy but crispy on the outside. If you like handcut french fries, you will love these. They come with a sauce that made me think of the “special sauce” that my parents would get in Southern Utah. It was just ketchup and mayo, but this sauce tasted like it had a paprika kick.

BETTER & BETTER
aged rum, mezcal blanco, falernum
DUMMY GUIDE: rum, tequila (or something like it), spiced syrup
Hubby got this drink first. I am guessing the mezcal blanco means it is similar to tequila. Mezcal is pretty much an open ended category for drinks made from any type of agave plant. So this ended up being a strong “manly” drink served in a low-ball/old fashioned glass. The drink was very robust and nicely spiced. I question the purpose of the mezcal? I couldn’t particularly pick up on any of it.

LA CLASICA
tequila blanco, orange liqueur, lime
This is a classic magarita- like a REAL one. No neon colors, no slushie ice, and all fresh ingredients. It was really refreshing and tasty. Personally I like less ice, but is perfect for people who don’t like strong drinks.

LA PREFERIDA
tequila blanco, beet, habanero, lime
This is a twist to a margarita. Alexa got this drink and it comes out looking pretty pink-red because of the beet juice in it. It had just enough habanero to give a wee little kick.

NO LOVE LOST
london dry gin, lavender, cucumber, thyme, lime
This was my sister’s favorite drink, so much so she got it twice! I can see why. I found it super refreshing and you could taste all the different components. They worked all so well with each other. I strongly suggest this to anyone, but particularly to people who don’t like strong drinks.

SMOKING DARTS
mezcal blanco, white rum, creme de violette, rose water
DUMMY GUIDE: a tequila like liquor, un-aged rum, sweet violet flavor liquor, rose water.
This was my drink of choice! I’ve been wanting to try creme de violette for some time but not many liquor stores sell the stuff. FYI it is creme because the sugar gives a creamy texture. It was really nice. It had nice floral notes but wasn’t over powering. You don’t taste much of the rum and mezcal but I think they helped prevent the drink from tasting too much like perfume.