Sunday, August 23, 2009

What Aren't We Makin'?

Brace yourself for a triple-whammy of delicious eats.
First up, my dinner for the evening:

I made some brown rice with some assorted vegetables and peanut sauce. The peanut sauce recipe was from the Fresh cookbook “Refresh.” The only change I made was that I juiced some carrots and celery in place of the vegetable stock which explains why the sauce is such a bright orange. This is one of my favourite comfort meals.

Next up, some desserts!

First, I made some mini cheesecakes made with soy cream cheese. The recipe was from vegweb and can be found here:

I followed the recipe for the filling, but to make it gluten-free, I made my own crust. I blended some granola with some cashews and almonds and some agave nectar and Earth Balance until I got crust consistency. For the topping, I cooked some blueberries and raspberries with some agave nectar.

Earlier in the week I went a little avocado crazy and bought a few too many, so I made an avocado mousse pie. I used the leftovers I had from my crust for the mini cheesecakes. For the filling recipe, I also got it from vegweb here: This recipe was extremely easy and made a really rich pie. I’ve seen a lot of healthier versions and I would probably try those out instead next time, but this would be a good dessert to bring to a get-together of some sort.


Where We Wanna Go: Wild Earth Bakery and Cafe

I just found out about this bakery/cafe and started having heart palpitations as I surfed around on their website. Wild Earth is a gluten-free and organic bakery which also carries a wide variety of teas as well. I can’t wait to try this place out!

Apparently they have many vegan options to choose from!

Wild Earth Bakery and Café is located in the Beaches in Toronto at 2142 Queen Street East.

Their hours are:

Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 6:00pm

Saturday: 10:00am - 5:00pm

Sunday: 12:00am - 5:00pm


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Where We Eatin': Sadie's Diner

Sadie's Diner
504 Adelaide Street West, Toronto

Kreck here. There are few things I enjoy more than going for breakfast, but it can be hard to find a breakfast place where everyone (vegans, gluten-frees, normal people) can go. Sadie's Diner has been a godsend for many a vegan and vegetarian in Toronto. Sadie's boasts many vegetarian and vegan breakfast and dinner options, and also has a juice bar (if you're into that kind of thing).

I ordered the vegan breakfast burrito with home fries ($8), which is not gluten-free, but could be if you got it without the tortilla. The burrito consisted of tofu scramble, soy cheddar, lettuce and refried beans. It was hearty, if a little bland (the hot sauce did wonders). I enjoyed the burrito but I probably wouldn't order it again -- the tofu club sandwich is still my fave Sadie's fare.

I regretted not ordering what Jen and her boyfriend had...

Huevos rancheros! ($10)

This was pretty much the same
as the breakfast burrito, except that it was served on crispy corn tortillas and came with guacamole (!). It looked a lot more exciting than the burrito. Greg thought it was "good" and he would rate it 7 out of 10. Jen thought it was really good, although she thought that it would be tastier if the tofu had been seasoned.

The service could be better and it was really warm, but Sadie's is still one of my favourite breakfast places in Toronto. AND, we all noticed that our hangovers were cured / lessened after eating here. Take from that what you will.

Sadie's Diner: It's where we eatin' breakfast.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What We Makin': P.Y.T.s!

I’m pretty sure that in the song P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), Michael Jackson was singing about baby zucchinis and pattypan squash. I don't know if anyone else would agree, but I’m going to continue to believe it. Maybe it’s just an indication as to how much I really love miniature vegetables.

I was at the market today and found some of these P.Y.T.s and knew I had to make something special with them. I decided to stuff them and then roast them in the oven. This may not have been the best idea on such a hot day, but it was worth it!

I heated some oil and added some black cumin seeds, a cardamom pod, and some fenugreek to the pan. Then I threw in some finely chopped onions, garlic, mushrooms, red pepper and the insides of the squash and zucchini. Once that was cooked, I added a healthy dose of cumin, some pepper and some saffron. Then I stirred in some cooked long grain brown rice and some chopped almonds. I added some balsamic vinegar into the pan before stuffing the squash and zucchini.

I baked them in the oven in a dish covered with foil until they were soft. I served them with a balsamic reduction to balance the savouriness of the zucchini and squash. Yum!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

What We Pickin': Blueberries

Wilmot Orchards
Concession Rd. #3, Newcastle, ON

Today I went blueberry picking with my mum, brother and his girlfriend in Newcastle, ON -- so much fun! Blueberry season will probably last until Labour Day, so go pick some while you can!  Fresh blueberries will probably keep for 3 weeks in your fridge!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Where We Eatin': Dream in High Park

Dream in High Park
William Shakespeare's The Tempest
Tuesday - Sunday, High Park Theatre until September 6, 2009
Doors open 6:00 pm, performance starts at 8:00 pm
Suggested donation $20

Okay, it's a stretch.  But Dream in High Park is a really good opportunity for a picnic... a vegan, gluten-free picnic!  The seats in the amphitheatre fill up fast, so you should really go as early as you can.  What better way to fill up the hour or more of waiting for the play to start than with delicious food?

Tonight we had a super potluck picnic, complete with quinoa salad, sweet potatoes, fresh Ontario corn, grapes, mini cucumbers (!), lemonade, juice, samosas, cookies, olives, pickles, cheese, 

It was really fun to see what other members of the audience brought -- I'm pretty sure everyone brought food or drinks of some sort.  The woman sitting next to me brought a pumpkin pie!  There were also baguettes, dips, pizzas, pastries, sandwiches... 

The play wasn't that bad either!

Dream in High Park:  It's where we eatin' a picnic.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What We Drinkin': "Hawaiian-Themed Party"

Summer heat getting you down? Why not cool off with a refreshing "Hawaiian-themed Party," the latest drink brought to you by Jen!

1 oz mango vodka
4 oz Malibu
Some kind of tropical juice blend
Purple freezies (to taste)
Garnish with novelty drink umbrellas
(Makes 2 servings)

This drink was pretty refreshing. The purple freezies kind of ruined the colour of the drink, but we were happy knowing that they were a part of the Hawaiian-themed party. It's the kind of drink that grows on you.

Hawaiian-Themed Parties: It's what we drinkin'!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What We Eatin' To Beat the Heat: Salad

The way the weather has been in Toronto lately, sometimes a salad is all that you can bring yourself to eat. This salad is pretty simple, with some baby spinach, carrots, avocodo and some flax seed oil and balsamic vinegar.

Salad: Its What We Eatin'!


Sunday, August 9, 2009

What We Makin': Chili, Grilled Polenta and Dill Sour "Cream"

For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to make chili on a day when it was supposed to be 45 degrees out with the humidity. Fortunately, a huge storm came in and cooled things down a bit. However, I did lose a tomato plant which fell down the stairs on my balcony, but that is another tale. Another sad, sad tale. :(

Moving on to tastier things, I made a pretty comforting meal tonight.


My chili is never made by following a recipe, but I usually always have my three must-have ingredients to start: onions, carrots and celery. Here you can see them cooking away in the pot. There is also a generous amount of chopped garlic thrown in.

Next up, I added the rest of my ingredients. They are always approximate, and always what I end up having on hand. I threw in half of a yellow pepper, a yellow zucchini, some black beans from the freezer, a can of kidney beans, a jalapeno pepper and a can of tomatoes. My seasonings also depend on what I'm feeling like at the time. This time I used lots of chili powder, cumin, oregano and chipotle hot sauce. At the end I put in some herbs from the garden - parsley, oregano, thyme and basil.

Grilled Polenta Wedges:

I was also craving some polenta, so I made some of that, too. My recipe is approximate, but I used approximately 3/4 of a cup to 1 cup of cornmeal and 3 cups of water.

First, bring the water to a boil, throw in a pinch of salt and a spoonful of Earth Balance (optional). Whisk in the polenta and stir until it gets so thick that it's splattering at you. Then you can turn down the heat to medium and eventually medium-low if you find it is sticking or burning. You are free to add whatever seasonings you might like. I added a couple of pinches of saffron, some cumin and a bit of garlic powder in mine. Cook the polenta while stirring for about 10-15 minutes.

Next, pour the polenta into a pie plate and cool until firm. Mine took about an hour or so. Flip out the polenta and cut into wedges. It doesn't look too pretty just yet, but once it is cut and grilled, it will look and taste delicious, I promise! Brush the wedges with oil and grill until crisp on the outside. I used my electric grill, but you could also use a barbecue or even a frying pan.

Dill Sour Cream:

The recipe I used for the sour cream came from one of my favourite cookbooks, Vegan Planet by Robin Robinson. I added about half a tablespoon of chopped dill at the end to mine.

Here is the recipe:

6 ounces of silken tofu, drained
1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil of other neutral-tasting oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of sugar or natural sweetener (optional)

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy.
2. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 to 4 days.

That's it! It doesn't taste like real sour cream exactly, but it is creamy and the perfect accompaniment to a spicy chili.

Put it all together and you have a delicious comforting and pretty economical meal:

Chili: It's What We Makin'!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What We Makin': Caramel Corn

While I was coming up with ideas of snacks to take with me on a weekend trip, I remembered a recipe I have long wanted to make: Caramel Popcorn from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I don't know what took me so long to try this recipe out. It was really easy and cheap to make!

Here, you can see that I didn't have a large enough pot to hold as much popcorn as I needed, so I'm taking some out while its popping. It can get a little challenging trying to dodge flying popcorn kernels.

Next, I melted some brown sugar and Earth Balance (vegan butter substitute) together to make the caramel coating. After that is done, you mix the popcorn with some nuts and toss it with the caramel on a pan and bake it in the oven.

The popcorn has to bake for about an hour, and you only need to stir it every 15 minutes, so you are left with some free time. I chose to make up a quick lentil and cilantro salad to balance out the fact that I was making such a sweet treat.

Then you end up with over 14 cups of caramel corn, perfect for sharing!

Carmel Corn: It's What We Makin'!


What We Cannin': Dill Pickles!

Canning foods has always been of interest to me. It lets you capture the taste of summer and enjoy it year round. Yesterday, I tried my hand at making dill pickles.

I used a recipe for sliced sweet dill pickles from the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. This is my go-to guide for anything to do with preserving foods. There are great tips and important safety information about home canning.

I also made some whole dill pickles. I was looking for a quick recipe for them that made a small batch, so I found one on the internet and got started.

Dill pickles are a really easy thing to make for those looking to start Home Preserving. I can't wait to try a jar!

Dill Pickles: It's What We Cannin'!


Where We Eatin': Rancho Relaxo

I have wanted to try out Rancho Relaxo for a long time! They have tons of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

I always seem to get overwhelmed when I have more than one or two options on a menu. Eventually I narrowed it down to Potato Enchiladas (which I ordered with vegan sour cream and cheese).

To start off, we needed to do things right by getting tequila shots!

Next, I decided to go for a frozen lime margarita. It was pretty good, although next time I might go for a margarita on the rocks because the lime taste was watered down by the ice.

While we waited for our meal, we were served homemade tortilla chips and salsa. We also had time to enjoy the decor:

Next our meals arrived!

I had the potato enchiladas. They were good and very filling. It came with rice, beans and a salad. The only disappointment for me was that I didn't seem to have any of the vegan cheese and there was only a little of the soy sour cream. Other than that, the meal was great!

For "dessert" I had a mango margarita. It was very good and was almost like a smoothie. I kind of regret not getting the deep fried soy icecream on offer, but I would assume it would have a wheat-based batter of some sort.

I would definitely recommend this place!

Rancho Relaxo: It's What We Eatin'!


Rancho Relaxo's website.