vegan mofo

beerline cafe

hey y’all… i guess i haven’t really been feeling the vegan mofo prompts this year, so i’ve been pretty bad about blogging. so i’m going rogue! i’m blogging about food and i’m not paying any attention to what we’re supposed to be doing today. sorry if i’m being a jerk.

late last week, we got a heads up that a brand new vegetarian (and super vegan-friendly) restaurant was going to be “soft open,” and they were offering their food for half price(!) for the first couple of days. we’ve been waiting very excitedly for this place, so we jumped at the chance and headed over to the beerline cafe for lunch on friday. woo!

beerline sign

the space is really cute, right next to a yoga studio and in a bustling part of the east side. they’ve used lots of environmentally-friendly construction and they have a cool wall of herbs above the counter, which is pretty nifty.

beerline herb wall

because all the food was half-price that day, we decided to try several different things. we started off with drinks — erik had an iced tea, and i (of course) had a chai.

for starters, erik tried the house salad, which has spring mix, grape tomatoes, avos, pickled julienne carrots & cucumbers, and homemade croutons… all topped with a smoky tomato vinaigrette dressing. i had a bite or two, and it was really tasty!

house salad

i ordered the avocado hummus, which came with oven-baked tortilla chips, and really packed a garlicky punch. we were a little worried about the number of chips (i.e., there weren’t all that many), so we made a point of creating heavy scoops with each chip, which worked out in the end.

avocado hummus

then for the main event, we each tried one of their crepes — erik went the savory route, and i chose sweet. erik’s was called the diner breakfast, and included vegan kielbasa, sautéed veggies, vegan cheese, and avocado (in place of eggs). served with a dollop of fancy dijon mustard on the side, and i’m not sure what the drizzle was, to be honest. they forgot to include the avocado on his, which was a bit of a bummer, but i think it was just because at first they accidentally made us a non-vegan version (i.e., it showed up with eggs) and then when they re-made it, they were probably hurrying. no big deal. i had a bite (i avoided the mushrooms, har har) and it was very good.

vegan diner breakfast

i was having a rough time deciding on which sweet crepe to order — so many of them sounded fantastic! — but eventually i settled on the crepe ape, which is peanut butter & jelly & banana. what?! right up my alley. it came with toasted almonds sprinkled on top, and it was absolutely delicious.

vegan crepe ape

we didn’t order any sides this time, because of getting two starters and not knowing how big all of the servings would be, but on a return trip i’d probably order a side of roasted potatoes with a crepe, just for a little extra. still, we definitely got enough to eat! we were, however, intrigued by their smoothie options, and so we decided to continue taking advantage of the half-price excitement, and we ordered one of each smoothie to go.

smoothies

on the left is the grapefruit banana smoothie, which is made with rice milk, and on the right is the cayenne chocolate avocado smoothie, which was by far my favorite of the two. i’m really not the target audience for the grapefruit banana, because i don’t like grapefruit at all (heh) and i’m also not a fan of rice milk (i find it too watery). the flavor profile for this one just wasn’t for me, but erik liked it, so it wasn’t a total loss. the cayenne chocolate avocado was great — we both really liked that one — and erik said it reminded him of the mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles from VCIYCJ. he’s not wrong; it has that same creamy chocolate flavor, followed by that little punch of cayenne. yum!

all in all, it was a nice first visit and i’m looking forward to going back. there are several more crepes i’d love to try (both sweet and savory — but mostly sweet), and also a panini or two. i’d also like to check out their other starters, salads, and sides. i’m so excited for a new restaurant with so many vegan options — i hope things go well for them!

the sandwich (est. 2007)

okay y’all, i just spent an embarrassing amount of time (30-45 minutes) searching the bowels of the internet, digging around in the archives of a vegan discussion board that doesn’t exist anymore, scouring all the land for a post i made about The Sandwich. today’s mofo prompt is “best sandwich ever,” and i just knew i had to find that stupid post.

and finally, at long last, i found it! i originally wrote the post (and ate The Sandwich) on july 12, 2007. i ate another one later that same month, but i believe we haven’t recreated it since, which is a travesty. i think eight years is enough, don’t you? i’m going to put in a special request with erik. meanwhile, allow me to share with you the silly post i wrote, lo those many years ago:

last night h-dawg made me dinner and i didn’t really know what i was eating until i ate it. after one or two bites i was all  omg omg  and asked him what all was on it. it was so simple, but SOOO good. i loved it so much i practically had tears in my eyes. after i was done i told him i would eat a second one instantly if i had room in my tummy. right before bed (an hour or so later) he mentioned The Sandwich again and i swear to god, my stomach growled.

The Sandwich:
avocado (chunks?)
romaine lettuce
minced red onions
vegenaise
(+ tomato on hubbydawg’s)
all on toasted bread that was “grilled” in a frying pan with spritzes of olive oil

   

*fainty guy*

(it was a little emoticon-heavy. don’t judge. also, ‘h-dawg’ obviously was short for hubbydawg, which was everyone’s code name for erik. because i was bluedawg. you understand.)

aaanyway, this sandwich was the bomb. and i like tomatoes now (i’m all growed up!) so i’d even try that version willingly. let’s start a change.org petition to see if erik will make me another one?

 

breakfast!

the first day of mofo is here, and it fittingly begins with a breakfast prompt. i originally planned to do my post on instagram today, but then two things happened: 1. i ate my breakfast before i remembered to take a picture, and 2. i realized that my photo would probably not be anything earth-shattering, because i eat super-boring breakfasts. so, instead i’m bringing it to the blog to tell you about my important breakfast elements:

cereal! i have always been a cereal person, and until very recently i’ve always been a sweet cereal person. last year during mofo i blogged about my affection for cocoa snapz, and those are still in the rotation, but lately i’ve been on a very grownup kick, and i’ve been eating flax flakes, of all things. i like them and i feel healthy when i eat them. my preferred milk for the past several years has been almond milk, although i’m considering a switch to soy milk for more protein. back in the good old days, i incorporated a cup of whole soy yogurt in there, but you all know how that turned out.

water! i always try to start the day with a big ol’ glass of water. i have an awesome 20 oz mason jar (trying to link to my instagram… no idea if that will work) from meaningful paws that i’ve been using lately. i drink at least 64 oz every day, and this glass helps me get there.

peanut butter! this is an important ingredient for the early portion of my day. sometimes i have peanut butter on a slice of multigrain toast, and sometimes i have peanut butter on a banana… and SOMETIMES i have a sliced banana ON peanut butter toast. on mornings when i work out, i have cereal first, hit the elliptical, and then come back upstairs for breakfast, part 2: the peanut buttering. it’s all very scientific.

and there you have it! my super-boring everyday breakfast. happy mofo!

vegan month of food, 2015

so, i screwed up again and missed the cutoff for signing up for vegan mofo. i’m an idiot. i think i’ve done this at least once before — i always forget that the cutoff is several days before the start. whoops.

anyhow, i think i’ll play along regardless. this year you can do it on your blog, instagram, twitter, youtube, or wherever… so i think i’ll take advantage of that flexibility, and split my time between the blog (here) and instagram (@veganchai). you may have noticed that i’m also about a zillion years behind on my blogging (i never finished my VVC posts! i’m a double-idiot!), so maybe mofo will, once again, kickstart my blogging habit. one can only hope.

see you in a couple days, mofos! ❤

hometown tuesdays – bel air cantina

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it’s the last day of vegan mofo! this month went by really quickly, and i’m pretty proud of myself for posting so much — a total of 29 posts, on 27 days this month! BUT, i am hella behind on my blog-reading… i don’t know about you, but i plan to play catch-up over the next several days, which probably means i’ll be the creepy weirdo suddenly commenting on a bunch of your posts all at once. sorry dudes.

also, i feel like a total jerkface, because i was twice(!)-nominated for a liebster award (once by soy division and once by banana curl vegan girl), but i was kind of treading water just to make my usual “theme days” during mofo, and i didn’t get to do the liebster thing. should i still do it anyway, even though mofo is technically over? i really hope they don’t think i’m an a-hole. i promise i’m not.

anyhow, for my last hometown tuesdays post, i’m featuring an established restaurant in milwaukee that is about to open their third location. bel air cantina first opened on the lower east side a few years ago, and we were really excited to learn that they had several vegan-friendly options on their menu. their rice and their black beans are both vegan, and they also offer several different taco/burrito fillings that are vegan or easily-veganizable (i.e., by holding the queso fundido or something obvious). their menu is tweaked on a near-constant basis, which gives me a bit of an eye twitch, but so far they haven’t taken away anything that i dearly love, so i’m trying not to sweat it.

bel air tacos

yucatan tacos (marinated tofu, pineapple, corn & avocado salsa)

we frequent the lower east side location because: (a) it’s less than 3.5 miles from our house, (b) they have a super great patio during the warm weather months, and (c) their tacos are muy bueno. we have a friend who loves nachos as much as we love tacos, and the three of us have made somewhat of a habit of bel air lately. yum.

a little over a year ago, bel air opened a second location across town (in my sister’s neighborhood, nice!), and it’s been doing a swift business. hooray for spreading the love! then, earlier this summer, news broke that a local pizza place was going to close, and bel air was planning to plunk down their third location in its place. i flipped out pretty much immediately, because said vacancy is a mere 1.5 miles from our house. as in, easily walkable on a lovely fall day. y’all, i am about to experience a serious influx of guacamole, chips, and tacos.

bel air tacos

 2 black bean & corn tacos; 1 soy chorizo & potato taco

there have been a few false starts as far as the opening date is concerned (translation: they have been toying with my emotions), but yesterday and today there have been some official-news-type reports, so i think it’s really real this time: they’re opening on monday! whee!!

thanks so much for reading my ramblings this month! i hope you had a lovely vegan mofo! ❤

mac & cheese mondays – cheezish!

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all right, i’ve been foreshadowing for a month, and the big day is finally here: it’s time for cheezish macaroni, the best mac & cheese in the whole galaxy! i have blogged about cheezish before, both here and also here, so if you’ve been reading this blog awhile, you won’t be too surprised by this reveal. but if you’re new around here, welcome! let me tell you about the wonders of gladcow’s cheezish macaroni!

gladcow cheezish

i’ve been making this recipe for nigh on eleventy years now, and it’s just the greatest thing going. my dear friend summer (who wrote this book, and is the gladcow to my bluedawg) is a wizard in the kitchen, and the first time i tried her recipe, i knew i was in love. because of cheezish, i pretty much have roasted red peppers and quick oats in my house at all times. this is my go-to comfort food; my favorite thing to make on lazy teevy days, or when i need a little cheering up. my motto: cheezish makes everything better. here’s a shot of the sauce, as it’s doing its thickening thing:

cheezish stir

and here’s how it looks right as you’re stirring in the pasta (once again, cavatappi ftw!):

cheezish pan

it’s so great, you guys. if you don’t have the glad cow cookbook, you should! it’s full of delicious recipes! but meanwhile, summer has her current version of the recipe posted online, so you can check it out here if you’d like to try cheezish in your very own kitchen. i always use roasted red peppers; typically the 12oz jar so that i can make a triple batch. i usually make enough sauce for three batches; that way i can eat one, and then freeze the other two for later cheezish needs. this method has served me very well — i prepared one of my frozen batches for this very post!

cheezish

as per usual, i was unable to restrain myself, and i ate two pretty gigantic bowls for lunch. erik came home from his run just as i was about to pack it away for future lunches, so he snagged a bowl for himself (i was in a generous mood, har har), but i still have enough leftover for a couple of quick meals this week. yum! i also had enough to share with maia, who is a HUGE fan of cheezish. i think she looks forward to it as much as i do! she follows me around in the kitchen when i’m cooking it, and when i’m eating it she just stares at me from her bed with the cutest hopeful expression. of course, i had to reward her for being adorable:

maia cheezish

bon appétit, everyone! i hope you enjoyed mac & cheese mondays as much as my belly did!

sunday sharing – speculoos frosted cupcakes

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cupcakes! who doesn’t love ’em? i know they got amazingly popular a few years back, so now they’re probably past their prime or something… but to be honest i still consider them a go-to dessert when i’m feeding other people. they’re delicious, they’re easier to serve than cake, and they’re so adorable! i came into my own as a cupcake-bringer when vegan cupcakes take over the world came out, and i never looked back… so, thanks isa and terry! ❤

my most recent batch of cupcakes was a slight twist on a recipe in their book. i made the basic chocolate cupcake, and then used the peanut butter buttercream recipe to make speculoos (aka biscoff, aka cookie butter) buttercream frosting. (in case it’s not obvious: i just substituted speculoos for the peanut butter.) zomg, y’all.

speculoos frosted

i packed these into my double-decker cupcake carrier, took them to a family birthday party, and they went over really well. just looking at the pictures again makes me wish i had more. looking at the pictures also makes me realize that i’ve still never learned to make pretty cupcakes. must learn to use pastry bag and tips, for real.

speculoos frosted

in eight years (i can’t believe it’s been out that long!), i have never had a recipe from VCTOTW go wrong. my all-time personal favorite of theirs is the pumpkin chocolate chip recipe, and i’m extremely stoked that it’s finally pumpkin season again. they will be my next batch of cupcakes, for sure.