Pizza Fusion – Fort Lauderdale, Fl

29 Aug

I finally got to try out Pizza Fusion yesterday. I’d been meaning to go there for a long time, pretty much since I started eating fully vegan, actually. On the way there I was having a major craving for iced green tea, and was thrilled to find out that not only do they serve it there, (with free refills no less!) but it’s even organic. Sweet. (Well, unsweet, in this case, just how I like it!)

They had a pretty awesome array of organic beers, wines and non-alcoholic beverages to choose from. You can take out or sit down for table service. We had been running around a bit that afternoon, and it was super hot outside, so we decided to just park it there for awhile and enjoy the A/C, so to the table we went. Our server was super friendly and helpful. I loved that the menu had clearly marked vegan items to make it easy. We chose to veganize one of their specialty pizzas, the Four Cheese & Sundried Tomato Pizza with the vegan soy cheese instead of the myriad of cheeses it was supposed to come with. I think we caught him off guard with ordering a four cheese and replacing it with vegan cheese. It took him a minute to process. I explained that I really liked the other toppings… sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, fresh basil… he understood. I explained that I was vegan. He gave us the option of regular or multigrain crust. I asked him if he was sure the multigrain was vegan (sometimes eggs get thrown into these things!), and he said he was, so we went with that.

We had probably eaten half of the pizza before I realized that it didn’t have the fresh basil. Oh well! Technically I ordered the specialty pizza with vegan cheese substituted vs. the build your own to save the (1) extra topping charge, so it was a wash.

This was ridiculously delicious! The crust was great. You could see the little flecks of flax (I mean, it looked like flax to me!) and it was a nice, thin crust with a good crispness on the outside and the right amount of chewiness. I love sundried tomatoes and these were incredibly tasty. I’ve really only had Daiya on restaurant pizza before, so I was especially scrutinizing the cheese here. I think they use Follow Your Heart brand, but honestly, it may be purely speculation on my part. (I can’t remember if I read it somewhere or if I’m making it up.) It had the same sort of taste and texture as Tofutti cheese slices. The way they go from completely melted to kinda thick and gloppy. By the way, it tastes way better than I’m making it sound, hah. It just sort of skips that stretchy cheese texture that Daiya is so good at. No sweet Daiya taste though, the taste is spot on to cheese. Okay, maybe that’s my vegan brainwashed mind talking. It’s probably not as salty. :) It was wonderful.

We also took one of their vegan brownies to go. Here’s what remains. I nibbled on it on the way home. It was huge! Pretty good. Very fudgey and chocolate chips throughout, for the true chocoholic. I’m not the biggest brownie person, but I would’ve liked it better if it had some frosting. Hah. I’m not complaining, just suggesting! That reminds me, I've recently switched to only eating vegan cereals for breakfast as I've finally managed to mind a yummy cereal. Oats are delicious but when they're mixed with granola and fruits they're even better!

Overall, a FANTASTIC experience. I would definitely recommend checking them out if you live near one. We also found a coupon in the New Times we picked up on the way out for a buy one specialty pizza get a cheese free, so we were pretty excited about that and will definitely be paying them another visit in the very near future! Thanks pizza fusion! :D

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My Spaghetti & Vegan Meatballs, a keeper

28 Aug


I’ve made this dish several times since it’s inception last year (Here!), and with a couple of last little tweaks, it has moved from an experiment to a definite keeper. If you want the extra “beefy” kick to the meatballs, you can use a “not beef” vegan bouillon cube or you can just enjoy the nice combination of flavors for what they are. I gave the sauce a little extra love with some fresh basil from my patio garden. Don’t forget a generous topping of vegan parm, and enjoy! : )

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Quick Indian style Bean Curry

27 Aug

After our wonderful dinner at Udipi Cafe, the all vegetarian Indian restaurant we went to recently, I was left wanting more. Not only that, but Thomas and I had both had some dental work done and I needed something that would be easy on our abused mouths. I picked up my Indian cookbook and began flipping through to figure out what I could throw together. I went for a combination of chickpeas and red kidney beans, because that’s what I happened to have in the pantry. Certainly two cans of either would work equally well, I just never have two cans of chickpeas because Thomas is always eating them! ; ) While my knowledge of Indian food is certainly novice, this was easy, tasty, and hit the spot. I served it over brown rice. This recipe was inspired by my quick skimming of The Indian Vegan Kitchen.

Quick Indian style Bean Curry
Serves 4

olive oil for misting
medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp. cumin
2″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced

1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
2- 15 oz cans of beans, whatever you like or have on hand
3 c. water
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. curry powder
cayenne to taste

 

1/2 tsp. garam masala
splash of lemon juice

Directions:

1. Mist a medium sized pot with olive oil and raise to medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle with cumin. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent.

2. Add ginger and cook a for another minute or two. Add all remaining ingredients but garam masala and lemon juice. Bring up to a boil, and drop to simmer for at least 15 minutes. Use stirring utensil to mash up some of the beans into the sauce.

3. Stir in garam masala and lemon juice and cook for another couple of minutes and serve.

Sorry for the lousy picture! We were really hungry, and it smelled good, so I just took one shot!

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Udipi Cafe, Sunrise, Fl

26 Aug

Udipi Cafe was actually Thomas’ find, though I had seen it listed on happycow.net before. We were heading over to Tate’s comics, which is just a little north of here, and he went through the trouble of looking up some veggie places that were close by. It’s a good thing he did, because we were starving.

When we walked in, it was around 5, and it was clear that we were some of their first dinner customers for the day. This actually worked in our favor because the host/waiter was able to take time to discuss the menu with us. Udipi is ENTIRELY VEGETARIAN. I noticed that some of the entrees on the menu were clearly marked vegan, but it was harder to discern what else was from the rest. He helped to explain the menu, but after figuring out our main dishes, we were still at a loss for an appetizer. If you’re not really familiar with Indian food, the descriptions are not enough to go on, because a lot of them sound similar. We decided to go with the sampler. He explained that it came with paneer, and I said that was okay, as long as he pointed out to me where it was and if any of the sauces were non-vegan.

First came this wonderful soup. I don’t really know what was in it, but it was delicious and Thomas’ bowl had a piece of squash!

Next came our sampler. To my surprise and pleasure he announced that they had made a totally vegan sampler for us and skipped the paneer. Again, I’m not sure what everything was but the rings were onions, and the little pieces of bread had slices of potato. The long skinny green bean looking ones were actually chiles, and I ate the small one trying to figure it out. I got it when the heat started to build. Thomas ate the larger one, and I guess it wasn’t as spicy. The doughnut shaped one was made from lentils and the big round things and fried cake were the best. The sauces were all delicious. A mint and a coconut, and savory and sweet ones. I’m sorry I don’t know more about it to give you better descriptions, but this trip has piqued my interest.


Assorted Appetizers varied combination of medhu vada, potato, samosa, vegetable cutlet, pakores served with multi kinds of sauce $9.95

Then came all of our food. Our two entrees on either side of what we figured was a shaved fennel something, because we had a similar “slaw” if you will, at Mary’s recently! It came with an enormous amount of white rice, which I pushed over to Thomas, and I ordered some bread / Chapathy soft, thin baked whole wheat $2.95, not pictured.

Thomas’ on the left: 16. Tofu Mutter Makhni Kajoo ( Jain, Vegan) cubes of tofu, garden fresh, green peas, whole cashews cocked in tomato basil sauces $10.95

and mine on the right: 17. Tofu Ya Aloo & Channa ( Jain, Vegan) chunks of tofu, idaho potatoes & chick peas cooked in mild spicy sauce $10.95

Both of these dishes were incredible. I really liked the sauce on the left. It was sweeter, but I also really liked mine, and we both love chickpeas, I think we both agreed that they both should’ve had them! hah. We stuffed our selves silly and still had plenty for leftovers. Everything was wonderful and fresh and our server was very helpful and patient.

I would definitely recommend checking them out! I can’t wait to go back and explore some more. I especially love that they were able to accommodate me without a big explanation! YUM & YAY! : )

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Vegan Tex-Mex Deep Dish Cornbread Pizza

25 Aug

I originally wrote a version of this recipe over a year ago. It was the veganizing of a recipe that I’d already made vegetarian years before. It was one of my favorite go to recipes when I learned how to cook. There is something very comforting about all that yumminess atop a wonderful cornbread crust. I finally got to try it out last night, and here it is with some final tweeks! I use TVP, but you can use vegan crumbles instead to save a step, if you want to.

PS- I made this with a different [savory] cornbread recipe that I was trying out. That new cornbread turned out to be a fail, but the topping is delicious on it’s own or over some brown rice too, if you don’t feel like fussing with the cornbread part. Still broil the cheese on. Then you can use it as a tex-mex picadillo or with some lettuce, tomatoes, rice, etc. as a burrito or taco filling!

Ty’s Tex-Mex Deep Dish Cornbread Pizza

Recipe for your favorite cornbread (try mine!)
vegan butter to grease skillet

Reconstituted TVP:

1 1/2 c. dry TVP granules
1 c. water or vegetable stock
1 tbsp. liquid smoke
2 tbsp. vegan worcestershire
1 tbsp. bragg’s, shoyu, tamari or low-sodium soy sauce

Toppings:

olive oil for misting skillet
medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
bell pepper, diced

reconstituted TVP , or 1lb equivalent of vegan crumbles
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot sauce, or 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional

1 15 oz. can vegan re-fried beans
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (with chiles optional), well drained

1/4 c. nutritional yeast, optional
1 c. vegan shredded cheese (i used Daiya pepperjack)

Optional:

shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes, black olives, vegan sour cream, salsa, cilantro

Directions:

1. Prepare cornbread according to recipe directions and pour into the bottom of a greased large oven-proof skillet. (they say you can wrap a skillet handle really well with aluminum foil and cross your fingers, but i’ve never tried it.) Bake according to instructions, or until top is lightly browned, and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Set aside.

2. To reconstitute the TVP: In medium sauce pan, heat water, liquid smoke, worcestershire, bragg’s until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in TVP, and set aside.

3. Heat oil in second skillet to medium. Add onions and salt, cook for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Stir in bell pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add TVP and spices and cook 3-4 minutes. Add refried beans and tomatoes, mix in until heated through.

4. Top cornbread with TVP mixture. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast  and cheese. Place skillet under broiler to melt cheese, about 3-5 minutes. Garnish with lettuce, fresh tomatoes, olives, sour cream, salsa, and/or cilantro, as desired.

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Wave 2700, Boca Raton, Fl

24 Aug

We were fortunate to find out about Wave 2700‘s vegan menu through a livingsocial special, and I couldn’t be more pleased that we did. When I asked for the vegan menu I was alerted to the trifold tent on the table, which had a vegan menu and drink specials. They have a small but impressive list of draft beers including some craft selections like Magic hat #9 and Florida beer, Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale. Wave 2700 is a predominantly seafood restaurant, but I quickly found out that the one of the owners, John (Captain Snapper)’s wife, Sally Stiller is vegan, hence the vegan menu.

We tried to start with a tabouli stuffed tomato, but they were all out. So we nibbled on the vegan dinner rolls and sipped on our tasty libations.


The entrees sounded really good, and I was torn between the Potato Gnocchi ala Marinara $16.95 and the Vegan Nut Loaf with Sage Gravy $15.95, but settled on the latter.

At first I thought the small portion of the nut loaf was not really enough, but it was partnered with a heaping portion of mashed potatoes and the best vegan gravy I’ve tasted to date. I actually didn’t end up finishing it, because I was so full! The gravy was loaded with mushrooms, which I mostly pushed aside, but certainly helped flavor it to perfection. It wasn’t too sweet, which is something I’ve found with a lot of vegan gravies. The nut loaf was a very dense combination of brown rice, seeds, nuts, and legumes that proved to be both nourishing and deceptively filling.

The lack of a vegan dessert option was my only complaint, since they are really trying to cater to the plant based crowd. However, once a week they do a “Veg-a-cation”, a vegan 3 course meal (appetizer, main, dessert) based on Sally’s direction, including wine and vegan education for $25. (Must RSVP!) The theme changes every week. Last week’s was a completely raw menu and this week the focus is on Italian food. You can get on their email list for further information about those events here: [email protected]

Come check out this little gem inconspicuously adjacent to the front of the Best Western hotel at 2700 N. Federal Hwy,  Boca Raton, Fl. 561-361-2700. Reservations accepted.

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New Restaurant Reviews coming soon!

23 Aug

I’ve been slacking off for the last few days, but I’m off until Tuesday to celebrate my upcoming 33rd birthday, so I’ll be getting back to work (well, the kind that I actually like, and am sadly, not paid for) soon! We did get to try some new vegan friendly food joints, so stay tuned! Reviews will be up shortly! : )

PS- I also added a bunch of my local restaurant reviews to happycow.net, so I felt like I did get something accomplished!

Pantry Soup

18 Aug

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I make soup when it’s rainy or cold, or when I just need some clean, almost fat free food to keep things slim. Pantry soup is my way to use whatever I have on hand or what needs to be used up.

In this case it was my leftover makeshift pizza sauce from last week’s pizza rolls that needed using. I used my basic recipe and subbed the sauce for the crushed tomatoes and added some extra broth. I used sweet potato puree instead of butternut squash for variety’s sake. But that’s basically all there is to it. Just sautee some onions & carrots in a light mist of olive oil and add the spices & canned ingredients you like and enough broth to get your desired consistency. Bring up to a boil and drop to low to simmer, covered, for at least 15 minutes.

If you have some leftover grain in the fridge you can keep it fairly thick and serve it over top like chili. (I served it over quinoa, and mixed the remainder in to the leftover soup.) Plus it makes enough that you’re off the hook for a couple of meals! : )  

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My Vegan Vitamins

17 Aug

* I guess I should probably say something like, in no way does my posting this make me an expert on health or nutrition, this just happens to be my daily vitamin regime, and I felt like sharing. *

One of the main reasons I wanted to share was because I’m so happy with all of the supplements I’m taking currently, and part of that is that they’re all vegan, sure, but the main reason is they’re all small, easy to swallow pills. I’m one of those people that hates swallowing pills, and cannot do the horse pills at all. If you are too, this might help with finding good brands.

Every morning I do the non-swallowing ones. Chewable Vitamin C and sublingual B12. You have to take B12 sublingually or it won’t absorb. The vitamin C tablets tend to be large, so I get chewables to make life easy. Mine are from the grocery store. I had to carefully read several brands before finding one that was vegan. A lot have milk, so check ingredients! I get the Whole Foods brand B12 or whatever is “suitable for vegetarians” and around.

I take the rest before bed. Not sure why, I just do.

Deva D2 2400 IU. This is the vegan version of vitamin D. Most of the ones you find in the store are D3 and made with a little help from your sheep friends. These pills are also nice and tiny! I started taking vitamin D at the insistence of my mother. It’s the “sunshine vitamin”, since your skin produces it when you go in the sun. I, however, am a heliophobe [somewhat goth] chick, so I definitely am not getting any the natural way, and mom was concerned about my bone health. Oh, and she has it on authority from Dr. Oz too!

Solaray B6 100mg. I take B6 on recommendation from the Gyn for helping PMS, though she recommended 50mg. I think 100mg works better for me.  Although they’re not tiny, they’re very easy to swallow thanks to their cellulose vegan capsule. Yay!

Veglife vegan Iron 25mg. This is the normal amount in multivitamins. I bought the tiny tablet multis that don’t contain iron, so I have to take it separate. I’ve always been borderline anemic (since I was a kid!) and now I don’t bruise all the time! Sweet.

Deva vegan multivitamin Tiny Tablets. These are indeed tiny and easy to swallow! The trade off is that you have to take your iron separate. No problem.

Oh yah, and I buy pretty much all my swallowing vitamins on amazon, since they are pretty impossible to find on the store shelf, even at whole foods! Ok, that’s it. : )

 

 

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Veganomicon’s Tamarind Lentils, Curry Tofu and Cornmeal-Masala Brussel Sprouts w/ Basmati rice

16 Aug

So I decided to hit up Veganomicon for some new recipes last night. First, I found the Tamarind Lentil recipe. Then I turned a couple of pages and found the Curry Tofu recipe that suggested I serve both together with some basmati rice. Somehow I ended up in the back of the book and found some meal plans, one of which was for an entire Indian meal with the addition of Cornmeal-Masala Brussel Sprouts. I’d never made basmati rice before, but it turns out brown basmati rice cooks the same as brown rice.

***

How to cook Basmati Rice

rice:water  ratio is  1:2   (ie. 1 c. rice : 2 c. water)

Directions:Put both into a pan and raise to a boil. Let it boil for a couple of minutes, drop to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Check to see if water remains, and if so check in 5 minute increments. Fluff with a fork before serving.

***

The Tamarind Lentils were easy to prepare and absolutely AWESOME. They brought all the dishes together, and the brussel sprouts were good slathered in some of their sauce. I will definitely be making these over and over again. This dish had so much yummy flavor.

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I tried to buy fresh brussel sprouts at WF and the only ones they had were HUGE, so I was just going to skip it, but then I found a bag frozen petite ones, and figured, why not?! That being said, my results of the Cornmeal-Masala Brussel Sprouts were probably not typical, especially since I further strayed from the recipe by using a mix of yellow & blue cornmeal & cutting the fat down to a few sprays of olive oil instead of 8 tablespoons of oil. For being a vegetable I grew up hating, they turned out pretty well. They were toasty on the outside and kind of mushy on the inside (which I totally realize is from being frozen) but they mixed in with the rice and lentils very well.

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The Curry Tofu was super easy to make and so well seasoned. I cut the tofu into cubes so I could quick press it, and get it going. The best part was that the tofu & lentils could cook together, because the oven temp (400*F) and timing (25-30 mins) was the same for both! We killed all this delicious tofu in this 1st meal, which was kind of a bummer, because it was so good. We both got to eat leftovers of lentils, rice and sprouts on day 2. The sprouts reheated really well in the toaster oven on the convection setting at 400*F for 5-7 minutes.

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