Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Frozen Food Victory: Amy's Vegan Mac and Cheese

As much as I love to whip up a beautiful dinner from scratch, sometimes I just want to throw a frozen dinner in the microwave and be eating within five minutes. My new favorite frozen dinner is Amy's Vegan Rice Macaroni and Non-Dairy Cheeze, a creamy concoction featuring Daiya. Dishes that feature non-dairy cheese always make me a little bit nervous- things can go downhill quickly with the wrong flavor or texture. However, this dinner has an uncanny similarity to the dairy version of this dish and is a perfect bit of comfort food at the end of a long day. The portion size isn't huge, but it's still pretty filling. Likelihood of stockpiling? Extremely high.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vegan Downtown Fargo: Really!

This past weekend, my friend and I made the journey up to Fargo, North Dakota for a Brandi Carlile show, with openers The Watson Twins. Although I was looking forward to the show, I was a smidge concerned about food. However, my fears were unfounded.

We wound up staying right by the venue (the beautiful Fargo Theatre) at the Radisson. This is not only right by the venue, but also by the downtown strip of stores which are fabulous for wandering through before any activity you may have planned in Fargo. My favorite of these stores was a vintage store called Revolver that had both clothing and home decor.

As for food, we wound up eating dinner at Wasabi, a local sushi and Asian grill. I ordered an appetizer of edamame and two rolls: a veggie roll and an avocado roll. The veggie roll featured carrots, asparagus, avocado, cucumber and thinly sliced shiitake mushroom. The sushi was fresh and flavorful and definitely fulfilled my needs.

Other vegan options in downtown Fargo include Pita Pit and Subway, as well as a health food store called Swanson Health Products. There were also a couple coffee shops in the area that looked interesting, but I didn't have time to check them out.

Fargo is a cute little town. It definitely has charm (especially in the architecture) and enough to do to fill an afternoon.

Friday, August 27, 2010

WhoaWren + Staple Gun = Success!

I've been feeling a little under the weather this week, and I'm finally starting to feel a bit better. What better way to celebrate than with a little light upholstery work? My mom recently gave me her old dining room table. It's a fantastic piece because it opens up to twice it's size, making it perfect for projects and dinner parties. However, the fabric covering the chairs didn't match the decor of my apartment. So, I popped the cushions out, staplegunned my little heart out and wound up with....

Left: Before, Right: After
I'm pretty happy with the results- if you want to know the step by step instructions, check it out after the jump.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daily Grub- Banh Mi

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of dining at Daily Grub with some friends. I ordered the Banh Mi sandwich and it was incredible. The combination of cilantro and daikon made the sandwich crazy-refreshing on a humid Nebraska day and the tofu kept me full for a long time afterward. The ancho cashew cream spread was the final element in making this sandwich so fantastic- it would be a welcome addition to any meal. Daily Grub is still churning out the hits and I am so happy to have them in Omaha- go there if you haven't yet!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dhaba Indian Cuisine

Recently, Vegan Omaha got together at Dhaba Indian Cuisine for one of their regular meet-ups. I was pretty psyched up about this meet-up because Dhaba offers an okra masala, and I am a sucker for okra. Therefore, I got an order of the okra masala for myself and shared a masala dosa as an appetizer.

The masala dosa was a beast of an appetizer. More than enough to share, it was packed with flavorful potato masala and came with two dipping sauces, with my favorite being the coconut chutney. I could definitely see myself ordering just this as a meal, but it would be quite a feat to finish it in one sitting.

My main course, the okra masala came out once we were done destroying the dosa. One thing I really liked about Dhaba was that I got the choice between naan or rice with my meal. I definitely prefer having the naan with my meal, so I loved that I didn't have to order it separately from my meal. As far as the meal itself, I really enjoyed it. It was spicy without too much heat and the okra was perfectly cooked. There was a sprinkling on cilantro on top, so haters should be sure to specify that they would like their dish without it.

Dhaba is definitely outside of my normal stomping grounds but there are definitely other items on the menu (such as the vegetarian samosas), so I may have to make another trip out west for some Dhaba.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Corn Pesto with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

As a Nebraskan, I obviously try to work corn into every feasible meal. When I saw this recipe for corn pesto, I knew my mission was to veganize it. Here are my (vegan) results:

Corn Pesto with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil
4 cups fresh corn (I used frozen because I already had a bag and it was fine)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup almonds
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn or chopped, you call it
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (I had a lot left over, you use however many works)
Pasta (I used penne, you make the call)

Place the corn, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a skillet and cook over medium-high heat until the corn is tender. You aren't browning the stuff, just warming it up. Reserve about a cup of the mixture and pour the rest into your handy food processor. Add in the nutritional yeast and the almonds. Blend the heck out of it while pouring in your olive oil. I like a chunkier pesto, so I used my olive oil fairly sparingly, but if you like a smoother pesto, more olive oil it is. There! You are done with the corn pesto!

I made my pesto in advance because I was bored, but you could easily prep your pasta while you make the pesto. While the pasta is cooking, I also rehydrated the tomatoes by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. While the pasta is cooking, you will want to reserve some pasta water for later. When the pasta is done, drain it, and place it back in the pot with the pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and torn basil. Then stir, stir, stir! If you need to loosen things up, add in a bit of the reserved pasta water. Then eat.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tofurky Frozen Pizza

Frozen pizza is tied in with many happy memories of mine- mostly of eating it while watching movies with my family. So, I was super excited to find out that Tofurky was putting out a frozen pizza. Finally! When I discovered it was available at my local Whole Foods, I ran out to purchase a pie. I agonized over the choice- cheese, pepperoni or sausage and vegetables. I went with middle of the road, topping-wise, and settled on pepperoni. I hustled it home, took a picture of the box (obviously) and then set to cooking it. However, upon freeing my pizza, I was saddened to see how little Daiya was sprinkled onto my pizza. If I'm paying $9 for a frozen pizza, it better be loaded with toppings. There was plenty of pepperoni, but I really would have liked more Daiya on it- the pepperoni was a little overwhelming and the Daiya would have balanced it perfectly. Don't get me wrong- it was good and I ate it, but each bite was tinged with the sadness of what could have been. 
The rest of the pizza was, in fact, great. It is the perfect substitute for my beloved Tombstone- crust and sauce especially. If I try it again, I'll definitely go for the cheese and add my own toppings. However, for $9, I would rather just hit up the Whole Foods pizza area on a Wednesday and get a bigger pie for the same price. Good for an emergency option in the freezer, but I don't foresee this being added to my regular rotation of convenience foods.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Those who have traveled with me, or talked about eating with me, know that I have a slight obsession with vegan buffalo wings. For those of you who have ever been curious about where that started, here is your answer: Handlebar's Buffalo 'Chicken' Wrap. Breaded 'chicken' in buffalo sauce, wrapped with fresh tomatoes, romaine, red onions and a vegan ranch dressing, this is a taste combo to remember. That bit of green you see in the background is a pile of collard greens, my new favorite side dish at Handlebar. I'm not a big fan of their french fries (thin and greasy- I like a crisp fry), so these greens are a perfect alternative. Spicy buffalo wrap with salty, garlicky greens? It's the perfect combo to start an obsession.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chicago Diner

I recently took an impromptu road trip to Chicago with my friend Becky to go see Hanson, and while I was out there my not-so-secret agenda revolved around sandwiches. You see, two of my favorite sandwiches of all time are made in Chicago: Chicago Diner's Radical Reuben and Handlebar's Buffalo 'Chicken' Wrap. Luckily, Becky was awesome enough to make the trip to eat both sandwiches.
We started out with the Chicago Diner- always a crowd pleaser. I got the same thing I always get: Radical Reuben with mac and cheeze as my side. I always consider branching out, but the reuben calls me back every time. I just can't say no to sauerkraut. This behemoth of a sandwich can technically be eaten like a sandwich, but go ahead and save yourself the trouble and just eat it with a knife and fork. Tons of kraut and seitan, along with creamy mac on the side satisfies me each time I order it. To round out the meal, I ordered a s'more milkshake to go. I didn't take a picture of it, but trust me, it was perfection. I even got a marshmallow stuck in my straw, and isn't that what everyone wants out of a s'more shake?

I will talk about Handlebar later, and just let the you soak in the glory of the Radical Reuben for now.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thrift Finds, featuring the greatest teapot ever

My mom's birthday was this past Wednesday and she wanted to go antiquing/thrifting for her birthday. I love thrifting, so this was obviously more than fine by me. Although I didn't find a new (old?) pair of cowboy boots like I've been craving, I did find some pretty sweet treasures. Fantastic jewelry (including that rad cat charm and my new 'Deep in the heart of Texas' bracelet), and a multi-slicer, which promises nine equal slices at the same time, but the winner was the teapot. For only 50 cents, my tea time is now set in 1972 and matches my china set perfectly. Love.  For a close of of any of the above items, you can click on the picture and the internet will allow you to zoom in.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry

One of my favorite go-to recipes in Veganomicon is the Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry, not only because of the impressive amounts of hyphens, but also because it is quick and delicious.

I generally modify this pretty liberally- I left out the mint and hot red chile, and just used a frozen veggie stir-fry mix. I also subbed pineapple juice for the vegetable broth. And you know what? It still tastes awesome. It's also great for when it's hot out because you can use a rice cooker for the quinoa and an electric skillet for everything else, so it doesn't generate too much heat.

This bad boy makes a ton, so it's perfect for a week of lunches or for a potluck. Plus, quinoa is a complete protein and looks a tiny bit like Saturn. And who doesn't love Saturn?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Because I'm a Girl: Urban Decay Vegan Palette

I've been an Urban Decay junkie for a long time. I love the bright colors and the creative packaging, but most of all, I love the little paw print next to the vegan items in their collection. Urban Decay recently released a vegan palette of their six most popular vegan eyeshadows, as well as a 24/7 eyeliner and eyeshadow primer. To be honest, I probably would have bought this even if the colors were unflattering and the packaging was hideous because I like to support vegan products, but this palette is adorable with flattering colors.

The eyeshadows are (from left to right, top then bottom): minx, urb, gunmetal, twice baked, smog and half-baked. The liner is zero and the primer is sin. I've used all of these products before and absolutely love them. The eyeshadows are last forever (especially with that primer under them!) and are vibrant, while the eyeliner lasts and lasts and lasts and....you get it.
Minx, Urb, Gunmetal, Zero liner
Twice Baked, Smog, Half Baked, Sin Primer
The top row isn't as intimidating as it looks- the colors aren't as intense as they appear, but could easily be made brighter by layering them over the primer. The bottom row rounds out the package with some very lovely neutrals. I swatched the shadows, liner and primer on my skin for an example of what they look like out of the package. I promise the primer is there, it's just very difficult to see due to my Cullen-esque skin tone. A close-up didn't help matters at all. However, Urban Decay's primer has kept my make-up on through concerts, late nights out and walking around in 100° weather, so the fact that it doesn't show up on my skin doesn't make it any less amazing.

This is definitely a palette that will travel with me everywhere: great colors, my favorite liner and a primer for hot days and long nights? Perfect.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zen Zero

Lawrence, KS has a pretty fantastic selection of restaurants that cater to the needs of vegans. One of these is Zen Zero, located on the Mass, along with a good chunk of the shopping. The staff is knowledgeable about what vegan means and there are tons and tons of options. I got the Thai Basil Tofu and (obviously) subbed out the rice for rice noodles. My dining partner in crime, Alaina, got the Cashew Vegetables. While it wasn't the best Thai I've ever had, it was pretty darn good and had big portions for the price. Centrally located and vegan friendly? I can get into that.

As a side note, The Merc, also in Lawrence, stocks those Drumstick-like ice cream treats called Yours Truly by Tofutti. So amazing and worth the rushed drive home to prevent melting. They even have the little bite of chocolate in the bottom!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ten things that make me happy: Material Goods I Desire Edition

These are things that I don't own but make me happy. I would be okay with owning them.

1) Morocco Women's Toms: So cute! So versatile! And every pair purchased means there is a pair given to a child who needs shoes. Won't you think of the children?

2) "Branches" by Blik: I obviously need this wall decal to finish my room's theme of magical forest

3) Giant cat couch: You know nobody wants this more than I do.

4) iPad: The uses of this would be many: pretending that I am from the future and using it as an expensive cat toy.

5) Tauntaun Sleeping Bag: I would never need anything else to sleep in. I would just curl up in my Tauntaun, next to my giant cat couch.

6) Spiralizer: I love Blossoming Lotus's live pasta and this would let me attempt to recreate it at home. Cashew cheese, pesto and zucchini noodles for life!

7) Daiya: Just pounds and pounds of Daiya. Grilled cheeses and quesadillas. Maybe lasagna, if I'm feeling like a fancy lady.

This is ridiculously difficult.

8) Urban Decay's Groupie Lashes: If I'm going to go to the effort of false lashes, I'm doing it up. Still somewhat subtle, with a burst of color to make things exciting.

9) Lush's Emotibombs: Finally, a bath bomb for those of us who prefer to shower. I want my shower to be lined with these, and have the scents switched out every week. Thanks.

10) Steve Madden 'Caryssa' Glitter Pumps: I don't know if I really have anywhere to wear these guys, but I'd find something if they belonged to me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Because I'm a Girl: Zoya Nail Polish

During my recent to trip Portland, I stopped into Blush Beauty Bar with my friend Joanna, knowing I would not leave without buying something. The first thing to catch my eye were the Zoya nail polishes. A dazzling array of stunning colors, with fantastic coverage, I invested in two colors: Pierre (shown) and Jolene, or as I like to call them Barbie Pink and Barbie Purple. The more I use them, the more I love them. This is easily the best vegan nail polish I've used. They are vegan and free from formaldehyde, toluene and other nasty chemicals. Also, they somehow smooth out on their own (I was super duper groggy while I put on the stuff in the picture) and lasts forever, which is perfect for a spaz like me. I especially love the matte colors and am willing to accept them as a gift for telling you about Zoya. You can buy Zoya products online or use their salon locator to find a local retailer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Super Secret Family Recipes: Black Eyed Peas and Corn

This summer, I visited some long lost family in Seattle, and my Aunt Gwen made a super fantastic salad that I immediately demanded the recipe for. Both delicious and super duper easy, it also requires no cooking, which makes it perfect for hot summer days. This salad will probably comprise all of my meals for the rest of the summer.

Black Eyed Peas and Corn Salad
1 can black eyed peas (make sure there's no bacon in it), rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained (or 2 ears)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (haters can sub basil)
1 plum tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 T red wine vinegar
1 1/2 t olive oil
1 1/2 cloves garlic
1/4 t black pepper

Mix everything together. That's it. I also salted it before I ate it because I love sodium.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Taters, Maters and Onions

I don't post much of my own cooking on here, but I'm hoping to change that. I just moved into an apartment with a much bigger kitchen (and a dishwasher!), and I've been cooking more and more. One of my favorite things to make are roasted vegetables- simple, easy, delicious. The vegetables pictured at right just some tomatoes and potatoes from Grandpa's farm, along with some onions, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. I just sliced everything up, doused it in olive oil and the S & P, then threw it in the oven for 45 minutes at 425 degrees, giving the veggies a stir about halfway through to make sure they cooked evenly. The perfect meal for a lazy evening.

PS- For further guidance on roasting veggies, check out Veganomicon, which has a whole section on roasting, grilling and steaming vegetables.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Concert For Equality

Click picture for full size.

This past weekend, I attended the Concert For Equality. It boasted an amazing line-up but more importantly, was put together to help fight the recent law in Fremont that runs along a similar vein as the Arizona's controversial SB 1070. The law has been temporarily suspended thanks to legal action, but by no means does this mean the fight is over.

The Concert for Equality was put together to help raise money for non-profits fighting the law and was easily one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen. People were excited to be there and the attitude was positive and seemed to be prime for change. Since it is almost 100° in my apartment, my brain is a little sluggish, so please read the articles if you want to know more about what's going on (you do!) and want to see what you can do (you should!). Some other great resources are The Sound Strike, which is the coalition of artists against SB 1070 in Arizona and ACLU-Nebraska. Check it out!

PS- There are no pictures of food because all I had was a bottle of water and that would be a boring picture.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ten things that make me happy: Other people's blogs edition

My google reader has a pretty intense list of blogs. Out of those, these are my favorites, presented in alphabetical order, since I'm already playing favorites.

1) Eat Pure: It's not a big secret that I like to travel and eat, and those two activities are the focus of this blog, along with stunning pictures.
2) Fear Street: This kind soul reads the Fear Street books of our past (present?) and sums them up with her own commentary. A healthy dose of both nostalgia and humor.
3) Hyperbole and a Half: Serious belly laughs. Just trust me and read it (as long as you aren't at work because you will laugh out loud).
4) Iconic Photos: This blog features a photo considered to be iconic (duh) in each post and tells the reader about the photo- anything from it's history, to the effect it had, to what situation caused it to where the people in it are now. Sometimes the photos are graphic (as a warning) but the blog is interesting and informative.
5) The Laziest Vegans in the World: Reviews of vegan convenience food. Perfect. I love to cook but am totally susceptible to an awesome, easy dinner.
6) The Man Repeller: Sometimes fashion isn't sexy (harem pants, I am looking in your direction). That's okay. This blog approaches it with a sense of humor.
7) Not That Kind of Girl: This is a blog about a girl who decided to do 250 uncharacteristic things. Not only is she a good writer, but she's also inspiring to read about. Her changes are profound (but written about with a sense of humor) and are attainable (such as handing out flowers to strangers). Love it.
8) Stumptown Vegans: Reviews of Portland restaurants, with some travel reviews thrown in. I read this blog to drool over the food, and then maybe weep gently for a bit.

9) What I Really Really Want: Another fashion blog with a sense of humor. Seriously beautiful stuff on here. Also, vote for Sarah on the Mad Men Casting Call.
10) What I Wore: My friend Gwen's lovely blog about vegan fashion. I love seeing fashion with a conscience that isn't based in burlap.

I may have to do a second round of this one, I feel like quite a bit was left out...

Sunday, August 1, 2010


If you saw that last post (the one about my favorite blogs), I hit 'publish' instead of 'save'. I really do like other people's blogs and I will prove it by listing them tomorrow. Promise.