Wednesday, May 29, 2013

4 Amazing Years: The Melting Pot

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a great Memorial day weekend.  This year, my 4 year anniversary with my boyfriend, Ben, actually fell on Memorial day.  Unfortunately due to scheduling, we were only able to spend the day together on Saturday.  Because of that, Ben planned out a whole day for us to enjoy together.  We started with a trip to the zoo, one of our favorite activities together.  Then we had dinner at one of my favorite nice places to eat, The Melting Pot!

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I'm sure many of you have heard of The Melting Pot, and some of you might have even gone.  I wanted to give you guys the run-down from the vegetarian point of view...when dining with a meat-eater.  This was our second trip so we pretty much mastered it.

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My first tip is make a reservation!  This place is usually pretty popular, regardless of the time of year.  Plus the dinners here take longer than at other restaurants.  If you are looking to go during a holiday, like Valentine's day, make your reservations well in advance, unless you want to want dinner at a weird time.

When you get taken to your table, you will have a large burner, and a double boiler pot already waiting for you.  Your server will come over, take your drink orders, and turn the burner on to get the water boiling.  If you have never been to a Melting Pot before, they will explain how it all works.  Luckily, you are reading this post, so now you'll know :-P

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Austin, Texas: Day 3 - The MOTHER of all posts!

Hello everyone! I hope you have been liking my Austin, Texas vegetarian round up. The last day I spent in Texas was Mother's Day. So after a morning of breakfast in a local college coffee shop, and and afternoon playing pinball, it was only natural that we went to Mother's, out favorite vegetarian restaurant, for Mother's Day!

Of course this wouldn't be a meal if David and I didn't order the same thing. When we were looking at the menu, David asked me what I wanted.  I told him I couldn't decide between the BBQ tofu sandwich, or the sloppy Joe. He also couldn't decide between those exact two options, so we each ordered one, and split it with the other. Ahh, sibling love!

Then the waiter informed us that the soup of the day was a tomato, spinach, and feta soup. Instantly my eyes lit up, and I knew I had to start with that.

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This soup didn't have a strong tomato flavor, but you could really taste the spinach. I loved when I got a spoonful of feta cheese too.

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I havn't had a sloppy Joe since I gave up meat, and when I did eat them it was with turkey, not beef.  It was awesome getting to enjoy them again, since I remember loving them so much.  David ordered the Joes, so he ordered them with cheese.  These were so good! The sauce was on the tomatoey side, so with the added cheese and the bun, they tasted like pizza.

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The BBQ sandwich was absolutely amazing, and it was my favorite of all the foods we ordered that meal.  It was like nothing I have ever tasted before. The sauce didn't taste at all like BBQ sauce, since it was peanut butter based.  You might think tofu with peanut butter on is sounds like something pregnant or stoned people would come up with, but it was so delicious!  Both sandwiches were vegan (as long as David didn't order cheese on his) and came on really tasty vegan buns.

After a late lunch, we hung out outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather while we still could.  Then David and I had so much fun playing with his Xbox Kinect which was so much fun, and quite the work out! We were both so sweaty after, but we had a great time making fools out of ourselves four our mom's amusement  What could be a better Mother's Day gift then that?

We had some leftovers for dinner since we were too tired to go out. And then the fun began!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Austin, Texas: Day 2

Hey guys! I hope you liked my last Austin post, because it's time for another!

After that rainy night, we all woke up to a beautiful day!  The sun was out, it was warm, and the air smelled like fresh flowers. We knew it was the perfect day to spend outside, and in one of the most vegetarian friendly cities in the world, it was time for a vegetarian restaurant.

Counter Culture is actually a vegan restaurant which also has lots of gluten free and raw food options.  All the food is locally grown and organic, and of course they recycle and compost!  Its an environmentalist's dream, so I was really happy to eat and support this local restaurant and make good vegan meal choices!

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When we got to Counter Culture, brunch was still being served.  I was a little hesitant at first because I don't like breakfast foods since I don't eat meat or eggs.  But a totally vegan breakfast? Yes please! For the first (and only time this trip) my brother and I didn't end up ordering the same meal.  Even though I try to avoid eggs when I can, I still miss them. I used to love omelettes, but I haven't had one in ages. Amy's makes a tofu scramble, so I get my fill of that, but to have an omelette again?  I couldn't pass up the opportunity, no matter  how good everything else looked.  The "eggs" were made of tofu, and they actually tasted a lot eggier than I expected, though not as eggy as real eggs. Definitely eggier than the tofu scrambles I've had, so it was nice satisfying that egg craving, even if they were a little crumbly.  This omelette was filled with roasted potatoes and fresh, locally grown spinach.  It also had vegan cashew cheese in it which was mild and creamy, but still very good.

Even if my brother got a different meal than me, we both made sure to order a side of tempeh bacon.  I've never had tempeh before so I was excited to try it. I wish it was more bacony like some of the soy bacon's I've tried. It had more of a nutty flavor. It was alright, but definitely didn't fill my desire for bacon. My brunch also came with whole wheat, vegan toast and vegan butter which was very nice and light.

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I love root beer, so when I saw they had an all-natural version, I knew I had to try it. It had a lighter and more natural taste that normal root beer. I loved that it was made with stevia!

After brunch we spent the rest of the day shopping at an outdoor mall and I was guilty of buying waaaaay too many clothes!

After a long day of shopping, it was time to eat again! The ongoing joke in my family is that all we do is eat. But with so many good restaurants around, its hard not to. For dinner we went to a place called Korente, which serves Asian fusion food.  What I loved about this place was the really interesting story behind it.  The father of the man that opened the store was an Asian diplomat, so the family traveled all over Asia.  While traveling, his mother learned how to cook food from many different countries   She then thought her son, who decide to use this knowledge to open Korente.

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Again, David and I both ordered the veggie curry with rice medallions and tofu on top of greens. I have to say I was in love with those rice medallions.  I had never tried anything like it before.  They were both chewy and smooth with a rice flavor.  Its hard to describe but it was so good!  Everything was tossed together in a flavorful and spicy curry. However, the most exciting part of the meal was the vegan miso soup! I love miso, but I never get it when ordering out since I'm never sure if it is vegetarian, or if it has fish stock in it.  We all shared some Asian pickles, bamboo soaked in pickle juice and jalapeƱos. They were so crunchy, fresh, and spicy, we couldn't stop eating them!

After dinner we stopped by Whole Foods (the cooperate office is in Austin!) to pick up some treats that I will show you in my next post :)

Do you have vegan restaurants in you area? How easy is it for you to find vegetarian options when you go out to eat?

Don't forget to stay tuned for my last Austin post coming up!

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Austin, Texas: Day 1

Hey everyone! I have something special planned for my next few posts.  Last weekend I went to Austin, Texas to visit my brother, David, and my sister-in-law. I really love Austin! I havn't spent much time in the other Texas cities, but from what I know, Austin is completely different than the rest of the state.  While Texas might be full of steak, BBQ, and cowboys, Austin is filled with hippies, art, and vegetarians!  Austin's motto is "Keep Austin Weird." I have heard my brother call it "the blueberry in the cherry pie."  I love seeing my brother and I really love Austin too!

Like me, both David and my sister-in-law, Deborah, are vegetarians.  Luckily Austin is filled with vegetarian restaurants  plus regular restaurants with lots of veggie options! I always knew that I would find something great to eat.  Over my next few posts I will be highlighting the foods I ate white visiting Austin!

The first place we ate after the plane landed was a place called Diner 24.  This wasn't a diner in the regular sense, it was really nice and had lots of great food.

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I ordered the veggie burger, which was really good!  It was a beet based burger which gave it that pretty purple color.  It was also filled with flax and pumpkin seeds which gave it a nice bite. It was topped with goat cheese, that when it melted was more like a sauce than a cheese. It was super creamy and tasty.  Last, this burger had roasted tomatoes and basil which gave it an Italian flavor. I opted to have mashed sweet potatoes as my side, which were so amazingly creamy and delicious. This was such a unique veggie burger, it was a nice change from the same ole same ole.

My brother also ended up ordering the veggie burger too, you will notice that is going to be a recurring theme.

For dinner that night we went to place called Kerby Lane.  Again this wasn't a vegetarian restaurant, but it did have lots of options for us to choose from.

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Both David and I ordered the Asian tofu sandwich off the specials menu. We both really liked this sandwich.  The tofu itself was a bit bland, as tofu has the tendency to be, but the siracha sauce that was on it gave it a great kick.  This sandwich was then topped with cucumbers and Asian coleslaw which gave it a great flavor.  The creaminess of the coleslaw really went well with the spicy siracha. I paired my sandwich with fresh cut french fries. Yum!

After dinner we got hit with a killer storm that ended up flooding some of the streets, and if even hailed in some areas.  Overall we had a nice first day with some great food.

Have you ever been to Austin?  Would you like to go visit?

Stay tuned for more Austin food posts!

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli

Hey everyone! I hope everyone's been enjoying the spring time! I personally can't wait until its over.  June is just around the corner, and even though it wont be summer until the 21st, when I think of June, I think of summer time!

Even though its warming up, I can enjoy the classing comfort food, mac & cheese, any time of the year. While mac & cheese has always been a favorite of mine, I remember about 10 years ago my brother and I were making dinner and we decided on mac & cheese.  We bought frozen mac & cheese, and then he added some steamed peas to the mix. I loved it! From then on I could never have just plain mac & cheese, it needed to have veggies in it! It really took it to the next level, from that comforting kids food, to a grown up, vegetarian, meal!

When I spotted Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli, it instantly became a stable in my freezer!

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This mac & cheese is super cheesy, with a strong cheddar flavor.  The taste of the broccoli really cuts the cheesy flavor, and compliments it perfectly. Nothing better than broccoli cheddar!

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I'm not the only one that loves this macaroni & cheese with broccoli...

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My cat, Muffin, is always stealing bites when I make it for dinner! After I'm all done (and she's had a few nibbles) she loves to lick the plate clean! I love getting to share food with my kitty.

Do you love mac & cheese as much as I do? What's your favorite comfort food?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Veggie Burger Chronicles: Nifty Fifties

Hey everyone! Today I have another installment of the veggie burger chronicles. This one is about a local 1950's diner in Pennsylvania. This one doesn't have many vegetarian options, but it does have a great veggie burger!

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This burger is so full of spices and flavor! It doesn't really fall in the vegetable flavor, or the meaty flavor category  but falls somewhere in the delicious middle.  I also loved that this was served just like a regular meat burger at Nifty Fifties, in a basket with red checkered paper-so classic!

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I got my burger with a side of spicy onion rings! These are so good, super crunchy and with a touch of heat, yum!

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One of the coolest things about Nifty Fifties is the crazy soda menu! They have like 50 different flavors, and you can even mix them if you'd like. The mint flavor is seriously amazing! So cool and refreshing, and I love that bright green.

If you ever find yourself in the 'burbs of Philly, go ahead and stop into Nifty Fifties.  Go ahead and enjoy one of these awesome veggie burgers, and try to decide on a soda flavor!

Do you like fifties diners?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taco Day

Hello everyone!  Today I have the perfect meal for vegetarians and meat-eater alike! I personally am not a huge fan of Mexican food.  Most of it is meaty, and whats vegetarian is basically beans, and if they aren't done right, I don't like them. But I love making Mexican food at home! I can add what I like, and leave out what I don't. My favorite at home Mexican meal is Taco day.  I love the crunchy shell, and all the bowls filled with veggies to stuff into them. The best thing about tacos are that they are completely customizable  making it perfect when you have people over that don't all like the same foods. That's why I love having Taco day with my boyfriend, Ben.  He doesn't like most veggies, and the ones he does like, I don't. This way we can sit down for a meal together, and can both be happy with what we are eating.  Ben is a meat eater, but he will eat the soy meats in our tacos, however for bigger parties, you can make real and soy meats and keep everyone happy with any dietary restriction.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

College Memories: TJ Rockwell's

Hello everyone! As you can tell I'm posting on a Tuesday, which I usually don't do, but I have something quick to show you guys.

I just returned last last from a weekend in Pennsylvania to watch my boyfriend, and his sister, graduate from graduate school and college.  The weekend was beautiful, and we got to spend some time out in the beautiful weather when we weren't attending meals and ceremonies. On the drive back we actually passed through the little town that I went to college in exactly 2 years ago, and we got lunch at the place where we had my very own graduation dinner. Well...why am I telling you all of this? Well if you remember the post on Melted Mozzarella Minestrone I did, I mentioned my inspiration of a vegetarian tomato soup prepared like French onion, with croutons and cheese melted right on top, that I got at a restaurant near where I attended college. Well we went to eat at that very same place, and I had to order that melty tomato soup!

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Look at how amazing that is!  There's nothing like some hot, melted cheese on a perfect bowl of tomato soup. It's easy to see how I needed to find a way to enjoy this on my own home.

I opted for the lunch special and paired this soup with a fresh salad topped with walnuts, craisins, cheese, and a raspberry vinaigrette. No matter what I was eating, every bite was so delicious and filled with college memories!

I thought I might share some photos from the graduation, there are after the jump if you want to see how else I spent my weekend away!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Amy's Broccoli and Cheese in a Pocket

Hello everyone and May the 4th be with you :-P

I love sharing Amy's food with you guys because it is always all natural and organic, which I love.  It is great to find a frozen food to feel good about!  This one combines veggies, and hot melty cheese, what's not to love?

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Awareness Wednesday: Caesar Dressing

Hello everyone and welcome to another Awareness Wednesday post.  With spring here and summer around the corner, everyone is putting away their soup pots in exchange for salad bowls. There is nothing more refreshing than a big bowl of  fresh salad on a spring day.  While I hate the cliche of "vegetarians only eat salads" once in a while its nice to enjoy a salad. People might think and veggies like us just live off salad, but some of you may not know there are salads that we can't even eat!

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Caesar salad is another one of those foods that I ate when I first became a vegetarian because I didn't know any better.  Then one night I was watching that cartoon called Brace Face.  In the episode, the main character decides to become a vegetarian.  There is a scene where she is in the cafeteria asking the lunch lady if there is meat in each of the food options. Then she asked something that had never crossed my mind until then: "Is there anchovy paste in the Caesar dressing?"

WHAT?! Fish in my dressing? I was shocked and confused, and popped right up to do some research.  Low and behold that cartoon was right! Caesar dressing is made with anchovy paste.  Of course I stopped eating it right then and there.

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Then a year or two later, I was at a friend's birthday dinner. She decided to have a big family style Italian dinner at a local restaurant for her friends and family.  There were 3 vegetarians there, including myself, so she was nice enough to include a vegetarian pasta dish for us.  First the salad came out, and it was a Caesar salad.  I politely declined and nibbled on some bread.  But I noticed one of her vegetarian friends eating away.  I informed her that the Caesar dressing wasn't vegetarian, and then she ran to her mom (who was also a vegetarian) freaking out. I over heard her comforting her daughter telling her that Caesar dressing was, in fact, vegetarian.

This is why I have this blog, to inform vegetarians what is actually in the food they eat.  It saddened me that night to see a vegetarian eat animals, and not even know.

While ordering a Caesar salad at a restaurant might be no longer in the picture for us, you can always make it yourself at home! I have found this recipe, among others online, for vegetarian Caesar dressing. While I have not made it myself, I am very excited to try it!

Are you exchanging traditional Caesar dressing for your own home made vegetarian version?

Bye from the Veggie Side!


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