Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't Be Sad Cleveland....

Can it be? I haven't posted in 2 weeks? Actually, more like 3. Oh my. Well, I have a lot to share, but I'll break it up in digestable pieces. Let's start with Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. Poor little Cleveland. I was there the day before LaBron James dropped the bomb. As a huge basketball fan (bet those who don't know me personally would have never guessed, right?)I was kinda' hoping he wanted to come over to the sunny side of the Midwest, but alas, he's going to Miami. But, Cleveland still has the Cleveland Clinic, the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, and Akron 30 minutes away.

Akron is the home of Chrissie Hynde (singer for the Pretenders) and vegan extraordinaire. She owns The Vegeterranean, which as I've mentioned before, is one of the most wonderful vegan eating establishments in the USA.

I went The Vegetarranean on my first lunch venture. Lunch was every bit as divine as the 4 dinners I've had in the past. The craft cocktails and wine list aren't too shabby, but for this lunch I stuck with a fizzy Izzie.

For starters an amazing gazpacho, topped with a perfect creamy dollop of guacamole. Not only is this a happy flavor combo for your tongue, the good fat in the avocado is going to help you absorb all that yumminess in the fresh soup.

Next came the most amazing pizza. It was actually their flat bread lunch special, but completely tricked out with caramelized onion, roasted red pepper, mushrooms, and yummy Daiya cheese. I loved this because it was delicious and completely doable.

Any time I go to The Vegeterranean dessert isn't negotiable. So, I finished my perfect lunch with a big chocolate cupcake. Perfection!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Girl Talk

I hope everyone has had the most amazing 4th of July holiday. I've had the perfect balance of work, rest, play, contemplation, guy time and girl time. I especially relished the girl time. And something I know for certain is that girls like to snack.

When we get together, and it doesn't matter the venue, we just need a little something to quench our thirst, a place where we can sit in a cluster, and snacks. Preferably flavorful, light snacks that we can nibble on over the entire evening. After all, talking and listening so much takes fuel!

So, here are a few items sure to sustain those valuable bonds.

Japanese Eggplants with Roasted Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

4 Japanese eggplants
10 slices of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (I get from the olive bar at Whole Foods)
20 thin slices of fresh garlic
Toast rounds or a baguette, sliced in rounds and toasted

Preheat oven to 375. Cut slits across the width of the eggplants, about 1 inch apart. Cut sun-dried tomotoes in half, reserve oil that they're packed in. Slip a piece of tomato and a slice of garlic into each slit.

Place eggplants in foil and drizzle a little of the packing oil over tand sprinkle with salt and ground pepper. Fold foil around eggplant and bake about 40 minutes. Take out and let cool, then chop up and serve in a dish with the toast or pita chips. Yum!

Lemon Almonds with Dill

1 bunch of fresh dill
1/4 cup of lemon flavored oil (you can make this by heating the peel of 3 lemons in 1 cup of light olive oil)
2 cups whole raw almonds

Chop the dill and set it aside. In a great big pan heat the oil and add almonds, stirring constantly. Add about 1/4 cup of the dill and toss with the almonds until nuts are golden and dill is a little crisp. Drain almonds on paper towels and add more of the fresh dill, salt and pepper. Let cool then serve.

Gardein-Pesto Satays

2 Gardein breasts
Prepared pesto, about 3 Tablespoons
1 medium garlic clove

Cut the gardein breasts into 6 squares, each. Thread 3 chunks on 4 wooden skewers. In a bowl mix the pesto and finely diced garlic. Spread the mixture on the chicken satay and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and put in the fridge for about an hour. Preheat the broiler and cook for 2 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. This is great served with a bit of red sauce, or eaten as is.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Ginger-Peanut Dipping Sauce
(inspired by Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry)

Before I give you this recipe, I have to say this is one of the most amazing cookbooks out there. As a southerner, I'm a huge fan of what Bryant Terry has offered vegans. I get to eat all the familiar flavors I love, but I can eat as much as I want and know I'm not hurting animals or myself.

4 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Cut the potatoes in slices the size of any old steak fries...about 1/2 and inch wide and long. Preheat the oven to 450. Put the potatoes in 3 qts. of water, with a little salt, and place on high heat. Boil for about 10 minutes then drain and dry with a dishtowel. Toss the potato bits with olive oil then arrange on a baking sheet and bake. Every 15 minutes flip the fries around a little to get even baking.

For the dipping sauce:

1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1/2 cup toasted peanuts
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tsp. agave nectar
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor. I actually use a stick hand blender. You just want to create a smooth, creamy sauce.

Serve sweet potato fries with the dipping sauce. I actually added some chopped fresh parsley to mine.