Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Magnolia Cafe in Guelph, ON

Well, when I remembered to finally post the Sofritas Burrito from Chipotle I was reminded of the photos I had on my phone of our visit to Magnolia Cafe.

Magnolia Cafe is a quaint little space on a side street in downtown Guelph. The waitress was very friendly and it was a nice experience overall. 

The above photo shows the damage we did to the Pastiche Platter. We forgot to take photos until after we'd devoured everything. We had just come from bike shopping and were very hungry. The platter consists of hummus, "Pesto Beatto" (tasted kinda like an olive tapenade), and blueberry salsa along with carrots, corn chips, and rice crackers. This was $12.00.

I had the Red Dragon Rice Bowl, which has roasted red peppers, beets, carrots, red onion over brown rice with sliced tomato, mung bean sprouts, and marinated tofu. You have a choice of two sauces - lemon tahini (my choice) and thai peanut. This was really delicious. The beets and carrots were caramelized beautifully and the lemon tahini sauce was SO good! The tofu was full of flavour, although I did find it a bit salty. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. 

Caitlin had the Green Goddess Rice Bowl. It comes with bok choy, snap peas, broccoli, shredded carrot, mung bean sprouts on top of brown rice. You also have an option between the two sauces mentioned previously. The tofu is the same as in the Red Dragon bowl.

The rice bowls are each $10.00.

The products used are all sourced locally, which is great, and you can taste the freshness. It was a really nice lunch but I will say that the portion size wasn't all that big considering the price point (I could've done with a little more tofu) and that the ingredients weren't all that unique. But they are using local ingredients so I guess that makes things pricier? 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sofritas at Chipotle! (Vegan Tofu Burrito Option)

Here's a quick pic we snapped of the Sofritas Burrito at Chipotle. We heard about this a while ago but thought it was being tested only in select locations like California or something but apparently not! It was available in Amherst, NY when we were there in February (?). So I'm assuming it's available in most locations. Very exciting!

It's the same price as the veggie but you get some added protein and flavour. Win Win! The braising liquid that the tofu sits in is quite delicious - sweet and a little smoky. I do find that the tofu is crumbled so small that it gets a little lost but since you're not paying extra for it I'm happy! And like I said, the braising liquid is delish so it gives the burrito a nice flavour. 

BURRITOS FTW! I will never get a bowl at Chipotle. The tortilla is the best part! Just kidding ;)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes with Drippy Mixed Berry Butter Cream

Our love of cupcakes is nothing new. And this isn't even a new cupcake. We've simply tried a new icing - a fruity, we're-ready-for-summer icing!

Why mess with a good thing, right? That's the way I think. So, we've just baked up another batch of these low-fat cupcakes that are definitely not low on flavour/cupcake goodness and tried out a different frosting.

We added frozen fruit to the frosting which made it more like an icing, very drippy as you can see in the pictures. As soon as I smeared some on the cupcakes it started sliding off. It was a tasty mess.

If you use frozen fruit as well, I would suggest reducing the liquid by a little so the icing isn't as drippy. 

We found this recipe from a website that was last updated in 2002. It looks like it's from the beginning of time (internet time). I love it! Sometimes you forget what is was like back in the day. Dial-up, not being able to use the phone while on the internet... times have changed.

Vegan Berry Butter Cream
Adapted from The Vegan Chef

½ cup margarine
2 tbsp – ¼ cup unsweetened original almond milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup fresh or frozen berries

Cream the margarine and milk together in a large bowl. Add half the sugar, beat, then add the rest. Beat until light and fluffy. Fold in the berries. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Vegan Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wasn't expecting to like these cookies as much as I did. I really couldn't stop myself from eating them, they were that good! 

Truth be told, we never properly store our baked goods :s We basically just leave them out in the open until they're all gone. Things get a little stale but that's the result of laziness I suppose. Well, we didn't have to worry about these cookies going stale because seriously every time one of us walked by them on the counter we'd take one. They went so fast! 

They have the perfect amount of orange flavour and a wonderful texture. Kinda cake-y in the middle with a crisp edge, just like they're described in the book! Sometimes our desserts end up completely different than described by others, I never quite understand it.

On a side note, I watched a pretty good movie last night that I was also skeptical about initially. Teeth. A comedy horror about a girl with a vagina dentata (toothed vagina). The subject matter intrigued me because once I made a painting that included a vagina dentata. The scariest thing about the movie was the amount of sexual assault the protagonist Dawn experiences throughout the movie. Makes me want a vagina dentata myself. The ending was great. 

The movie is definitely a commentary on the effects of pollution (as two large smoke stacks overshadow the town) and abstinence-only education, as well. 

Back to those cookies. We halved the recipe because it makes two dozen large cookies which would've been dangerous to bake up! But if you need/want a lot of cookies you can easily double it.

Vegan Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 olive oil (or canola or vegetable)
2 tsp ground flax
¾ tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
¾ cup AP flour
½ cup soft whole wheat flour
¼ tsp + a sprinkle baking soda
Sprinkle of salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. 

In large bowl whisk together agave to orange zest for 2 minutes. Sift in the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated then add the chocolate chips.

Scoop out heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet, 2 inch apart. Cook for 12-14 mins. Let em cool before you remove them from the sheet. Then place on cookie rack.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chili Mac and Cheeze (Nacho Cheeze + Vegan Chorizo)

This dish was amazing! SO good! I love mac and cheeze and I love chili so naturally you'd put the two together! We used the leftover nacho cheeze from these nachos and I think it worked awesomely! It worked even better than just a regular cheddar because it complimented the chorizo.  

The chorizo we used is by Helen's Kitchen and it really added something special to the entire dish. It's finely ground which is nice so it's not like you have these big chunks of chorizo going on because, ya know, there's a lot going on here. The flavour is great, probably the best of any soy chorizo we've had before. It was kinda sweet too, which was really nice. 

If you've never combined chili with mac and cheeze before, you really should try it! It's amazing! But I really love mac and cheeze so.. maybe I'm a bit biased. It's a much more interesting take on the traditional, for sure!

Nacho Chili Mac and Cheeze
Adapted from Yegan Yack Attack

1 tsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp Spanish paprika
1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package of veggie chorizo, like Helen’s Kitchen

Mac and Cheeze
1 bag of pasta, cooked according to instructions
1 ½ to 2 cups of cheese, grated; we used the leftover Nacho cheese alt. From these plus some Cheddar Style Daiya cheese shreds
2/3 cup – ¾ cup unsweetened original almond milk, like Silk

Heat olive oil in saute pan over med-high heat. Once hot add onion. When the onion is translucent add in the pepper and zucchini. Let the veggies brown a little, about 5 mins, then add in the tomatoes and beans. Add the tomato paste. Make sure the paste is dissolved before adding all the spices plus salt and pepper. Lower the heat and cover. Cook for 10 -15 mins, stirring every once in a while. Add the chorizo and cook until everything is warmed through. Turn heat on low.

You can also heat the chorizo in a pan separately, making sure to add some oil to the pan to prevent sticking.
When your pasta is cooked and strained, add it back to the pot it was boiled in and add the cheese plus the milk. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted.

Layer the chili and chorizo on top of the mac and cheeze. I find it tastes best when you mix it all together once you've got it in your individual bowl.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Broccoli, Pepper, and Seitan Stir-Fry over Basmati Rice

We got this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen (Isa Chandra Moskowitz love!) and it isn't called a stir-fry there but I'm going to call it that, I hope that's alright. Anytime there's veggies sauteed in a pan and a sauce added to said pan then it's a stir-fry in my eyes. Is that bad? 

This was sooo good! I love broccoli! Do most people really hate broccoli? I feel like that's a really big myth. But in case it is true, serve this to your broccoli-hating family member or friend and I'm sure they'll be singing broccoli's praises. Or at least they won't turn their nose up in disgust.

This sauce is really flavourful. It's not too sweet but it's not overly savory either. It's a great mix. Much better than store-bought sauce, any day! 

Oh I almost forgot to mention the seitan we used. Store-bought. Sorry can't do it all in one day. It's really good! It's by WestSoy and it pretty much tastes like homemade seitan, which can be quite a process. So when you can't find the time this is a good alternative. We found it at Wegmans. 

Vegan Broccoli Stir-Fry with Seitan
adapted from Post Punk Kitchen
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsps pure maple syrup
2 tbsps molasses
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
Good Stuff
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 tsp salt
1 package of WestSoy Seitan Strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh black pepper
1 head of broccoli cut into florettes

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a large measuring cup.

Preheat large pan over medium high heat. Add oil when heated then saute onion with salt until browned. Add pepper and cook until softened. Then add seitan and cook until it’s browned or for approx. 10 mins. Our seitan didn’t brown too much that I could see. Add garlic and black pepper and saute until fragrant.

Dump in the broccoli, give it a stir and cover the pan to cook. Take a look every once in a while to make sure nothing is getting stuck. Once the broccoli is softened, add the sauce, toss to coat, and cook until everything is heated through, about 5 mins.

We served our stir-fry with basmati rice.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Vegan Nachos! (for dinner?!)

One day Caitlin was craving some nachos and so that's what we ate for dinner. I love when cravings solve the problem of what to eat for dinner! Everything seems so simple after that's established.

Nachos for dinner. Not the healthiest option maybe but not entirely bad either. We have been know to have similar "junk food" dinners before. You've got protein, carbs, and veggies - it's all good :)

We tried this nacho cheese from Follow Your Heart and it was good. I think it provided a little extra nacho something but it wasn't entirely distinctive as a nacho cheese. I will say it was very easy to grate, which is always nice in my books.

YUM! I wish I could just grab a loaded nacho chip right now!

Vegan Nachos
1 bag of restaurant style tortilla chips
1 ½ to 2 cups of vegan cheese like Follow Your Heart Nacho style
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 package of vegan chorizo
½ cup to 1 cup salsa
1 bunch of green onions (approx. 5), sliced thin
whatever else you can think to add

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Heat ½ tbsp. of olive oil in a pan on medium. Once hot add the bell pepper and cook until slightly softened, about 5-7 mins stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate pan, add the chorizo and cook on medium until somewhat browned. Once browned, or cooked through, set aside.

Cover the base of an oven-safe dish with tortilla chips. Layer half the chorizo, peppers, salsa, and cheese. Add another layer of chips and the rest of the goodies. Place in the until the cheese looks melted – we found the cheese never really reached a “melted” state so if the chips start browning you can take it out.

Lastly, garnish with green onions!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Vegan Nanaimo Bars - a Decadent No Bake Treat

Oh yeah. Nanaimo bar spam right here. That's what this post is. So what who cares?

I sure don't! I love nanaimo bars, just love 'em! The thin chocolate topping, the smooth, creamy centre, and the moist, flavourful, perfectly textured base... *runs to the fridge, fork in hand*

Mmm there's nothing quite like a nanaimo bar and they're so easy to pull together too.

We've posted this nanaimo bar recipe once before but I think it's worth repeating ;) This time however we added chocolate extract to the base instead of vanilla extract and I think it really heightened the chocolate flavour. And made it taste even better, if that's possible! 

Chocolate extract can be extremely difficult to find, as we know very well. Caitlin actually just stumbled upon a bottle one fateful day in clearance. You can order it online I do believe but it can be pretty pricey. BTW apparently the price of chocolate will be going up?! What's a chocolate fiend to do? 

Oooo that's my favourite thing right there. When you crack through the chocolate topping and all the filling smooshes out the sides. You must keep your nanaimo bars in the fridge until consumption so you can experience cracking through the chocolate. Just kidding! You can eat your nanaimo bars however you like, this isn't a tyranny!

What's your favourite no-bake treat? Do you even like no-bake desserts? Do you feel weird about eating raw margarine like I sometimes do? Should I even let little things like raw margarine bother me? Why have these questions become about me? hahaha 

These nanaimo bars are thicker than the last batch we made. I think this way the filling and base are more equally proportioned but I might like thinner better. Use an 8" baking dish if you prefer the above bars and if you prefer thinner then use a 9" baking dish.

Vegan Nanaimo Bars
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon ground flax 
1/3 cup vegan margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs 
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped cocoa nibs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons custard powder
2 tablespoons almond or coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened
2 cups icing sugar

Chocolate Coating
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Add water and to flax set aside until thickened.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine margarine, brown sugar, agave, cocoa, and flax mixture. Stir until everything is incorporated and thickened. Stir in the chocolate extract. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, cocoa nibs, and nuts. Add to the mixture in the saucepan, and mix well. You may want to line a baking dish with parchment paper but I don’t find it necessary. Pack the mixture into a baking dish either 8 or 9 inch.

Cream together margarine, coconut milk, vanilla and custard powder. Add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Spread over bottom layer, than place in fridge to chill.

Combine chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl and place in microwave for 30 secs. Remove from microwave and mix. If the chocolate isn't completely melted, which it probably won’t be, put it in the microwave for another 30 secs. Let the chocolate cool for a bit but don’t let it harden the take the base out of the fridge and pour your chocolate over it using a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly. Put it in the fridge to chill for one hour.

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