Sunday, May 22, 2011

vegan sausage and pepper spaghetti

For tonight's dinner, I decided to use up some leftovers from yesterday's party, I had made a double batch of vegandad's sausages, there were three links leftover.. just enough for some pasta :)

I made a chunky tomato sauce with the chopped spicy sausage, leftover veggies (grilled peppers, eggplant and one lone mushroom), a box of chopped tomatoes, some onion, garlic, agave and spices.

I stirred the sauce into some whole wheat spaghetti, added some starchy cooking water to coat the pasta, and spinkled on top some Rawmesan (found that stuff up at a health food store in Saratoga, super yummy!). Delicious dinner :) I really liked how the sausages worked in the sauce, chewy and spicy, reminded me of eating out at a Italian restaurant. I'll make this again!

family party time!

I hosted my first ever family party this weekend. I was quite nervous about cooking up a vegan feast, for my non-vegan/gigantic family. I put a lot of work into a family friendly menu and the whole party went off without a hitch. is such an amazing resource and I found some great recipes on there for the party. As usual when there are too many people around, I forget to take pictures of food... but I do think I documented the dishes that came out the best :) I've made vegandad's sausages before, and they do NOT disappoint. They got gobbled up, along with lots of other goodies, that I made and were contributed :)

On the menu:
-Potato angels (pictured below).. these came out so yummy and the "deviled egg" job amazingly. The whole platter was cleared within minutes
-Red cabbage asian coleslaw.. I made this with cabbage, carrots, slivered almonds, ramen noodles and a sesame dressing
-Marinated chickpea and artichoke salad
-Spicy sausages
-Grilled veggies (eggplant, red, orange and yellow peppers, and porcini mushrooms)
-Pineapple Upside-down Cake (super easy recipe, SUPER delicious cake, i highly recommend!)
-homebrewed iced tea

Monday, May 16, 2011

sweet potato-chickpea curry with mellow yellow rice

Have I ever told you how much I love Indian food? Well I do, but I have NO CLUE how to cook it authentically, my lack of knowledge doesn't stop me from trying! I think my attempts are yummy :)

Last night, I satisfied the Indian craving.. I made a curry with a sweet potato, chickpeas, onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder and coconut milk. (I also added in other spices... like cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper). I basically started with the aromatic veggies, added in the spices and coconut milk, chopped sweet potato and chickpeas.. then let it come together on the stovetop for 45 minutes.

I also made a yummy mixed yellow rice. I had like 3/4 cup of brown rice and 2/3 cup of basmati rice left in the cabinet, so not really enough for a full dinner, I decided to combine them into a sort of pilaf. During my lazy sunday afternoon, I had cooked the rices separately in the rice cooker, then let cool. When it was almost time for dinner, I cooked up a lil onion in some earth balance, added a teaspoon of turmeric, then fried the rice in. I used my regular chinese fried rice technique, and it worked great! I think saffron would have been an awesome flavor, but I'm too poor and the turmeric did the mellow yellow job. I also steamed some kale for a nutritious side of greens.

I wish I could have posted a "recipe" for this... but whenever I make a curry I never measure, and just keep adding random spices until I'm happy with the flavor.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Watkins Glen- Perfect Vegan Getaway!

We had a great weekend adventure in Watkins Glen last weekend. My hubby planned me a birthday weekend away, my actual birthday was back in December, but I totally enjoyed celebrating in Springtime. Little did I know that Watkins Glen is a lil vegan paradise hidden away in central New York.

We stayed at this adorable little Bed and Breakfast, called "The Ginger Cat," the B&B is all vegan and super welcoming. When we arrived after our 3 and 1/2 hour car ride, we were greeted by the owner Gita, with a smiling face, she showed around and we found delicious chocolate cake waiting for us in our room.

We spent the weekend exploring local natural wonders, we were totally blown away by the beauty of the Watkins Glen gorge. We were able to hike the amazing pathway along the gorge, with waterfall after waterfall (a total of 19). The gorge is in a state park with amazing stone stairs climbing along the gorges, and wrapping under waterfalls. We even caught the perfect time of day to see rainbows over the water.

We were able to enjoy lots and LOTS of vegan cuisine. The breakfast feasts we enjoyed at the B&B were fantastic, the first morning we enjoyed quesadillas (w/ the new PepperJack Daiya), roasted brussel sprouts, fruit, muffins, and more. On Sunday, we enjoys chocolate-banana waffles, covered in strawberries, lemon-pepper tofu (holy yum!), scones, and more. These breakfasts left us totally satisfied and energized for days exploring the Fingerlakes region.

We also enjoyed eating out on the town :) After our hike at the gorge, we got some highly recommended vegan soft serve ice cream! Neither of us have eaten soft serve on a cone in a long time, and this place did not disappoint. I even got a brain-freeze!!! For dinner, we checked out the Rooster-Fish Brewpub. The menu included a whole vegetarian section, and the friendly server pointed out options that were vegan and/or easily veganizable. We also tried the sampler of home brewed beers, with a sweet potato fry appetizer. I enjoyed my soba noodle dinner, and the hubby enjoyed an avocado pizza pie. The high light was definitely the beer, super tasty, I think I loved them all… except for the really dark ones…

For one of our lunches, we grabbed some amazing subs right in downtown Watkins Glen at the Glen Mountain Bakery. This bakery has a huge selection, including bread, sandwiches and pastries (with LOTS of vegan options). We couldn't resist trying the seitan subs, and they did not disappoint. The sandwiches were huge, on amazing bread, with tasty seitan and fresh veggies.
Our innkeeper gave us some pointers on local vineyards that make vegan wine. We took an afternoon and decided to check out some of those vineyards. The first one we checked out had really tasty wine, but was full of "bro" types.. we were tasting wine at 2:30 in the afternoon, and were a bit put off by the obnoxious bachelor/bachelorette party crowd, I don't really love whooting with my Reisling. So, we headed on down the road to Rasta Ranch, a vineyard that we were told would be more our speed. We were welcomed warmly by a friendly hippy wearing tie-dye and drinking a beer. The clientele was warm, smiley, and the wine flowed freely. We were able to taste a huge variety and loved the decor and music. Along with wine, the Rasta Ranch sells incense, tie-dye skirts, etc.. We enjoyed our afternoon there and grabbed several bottles to take home with us.

The true highlight of the weekend was our visit to the Farm Sanctuary, this is what truly brought us to the region. We were able to spend several hours meeting the staff and animals of the Sanctuary. We've been able to visit the Woodstock sanctuary in the past, and bond with the animals, and this sanctuary proved to be another beautiful experience. The land this farm sits on is absolutely breathtaking. We really lucked out with the weather and enjoys a mild, sunny morning to hang around the farm. Immediately upon arrival, I got lost in the gift shop, and wanted to take home all the vegan goodies that I've seen on blogs, but have never seen anywhere near Schenectady (vegan s'more cookie, what?!?). Once our tour started, I feel in love with the animal residents of the farm. We visited with the "special needs" cattle first, and I became friends with a calf named Blitzen, our tour guide told us that he was rescued from a cattle auction, and was being basically given away for free, because he was sickly and under weight, when he was rescued and brought to live on this amazing farm. I was hanging out with one of the other calfs when I felt a bonk on my leg, and it was Blitzen coming to say "hi", the same way my kitty at home says "hi", by slamming his head into my leg. He was super loving, and had the most amazing Dow eyes. I wanted to hang out with him all day, but our tour guide said we should go see everyone else. We were able to visit with the goats, turkeys, chickens, and pigs. I made another good friend when we visited the pigs, I spent a few minutes scratching the belly of this cutie Sprinkles.

Even though I am vegan, and don't feel guilty of supporting the meat industry that causes so much pain and suffering on part of animals (anymore). It is extremely powerful to visit with these animals and learn their histories and how their lives were on those other farms. The horror and suffering of their lives is so undeserved. Its almost amazing to me that these animals are so loving and forgiving to humans, after the way other those humans treated them. Do Blitzen and Sprinkles really know me any different than a farm hand? When I see battery cages, and see videos of the confinement that millions and millions of animals are forced to live their lives in, its amazing to me that there aren't more vegans out there and more of an outcry against their treatment.

Although the Farm Sanctuary is a very informative environment, I continue to learn more and more about animal rights… I did not leave there with a feeling of depression or guilt. I left with hope, and now I can't wait to go back. All in all, I think I fell in love with Watkins Glen this past weekend.. and lil' Blitzen…