Wednesday, July 20, 2011

La Grand Orange English Muffins

So the other night I was out celebrating my buddy Laurie's birthday. She and I drink far too much wine together! But this time, our communal drink fest produced a great surprise.

After indulging in two lovely wines at Postino on Campbell and 40th St in Phoenix, we ventured over to La Grande Orange Pizzeria so that one of our companions could grab some 1/2 price cookies (after 7pm). They have a lovely deli counter and bakery, but it is decidedly not vegan focused.

As we walked into the deli, I noticed these impressive super gigantoid English muffins. They were so huge they actually looked like bagels, no lie. I was going to check out the ingredient list, when as plain as day the package read "vegan". Well shiver me timbers! I was so excited.

I am not one to shy away from spending some hard earned cash on an enticing product, but I was a little hesitant. They were a bit pricey at $9.00 for a package of 6, but I just had to try them. I decided to get two packages and bring them to work. Holy crap! These babies are incredible. They are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside like the perfect English muffin should be. Two caveats: one, they recommend toasting them twice (they are that big) and two, they are a bit oily. I didn't care though. I just grabbed another napkin. I slathered on some Naturally Nutty Cinnamon Almond Butter and had a crazy filling and delish breakfast.

If you want to splurge and you are in the area, run down and get a package. They would be killer as a "McGigantoidMuffin"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mid-Summer Girlie Lunch

It's no surprise that is is blazing hot here in the Valley of the Sun. I invited some of the girls over that I haven't seen in a while. We all worked in a fine dine restaurant together in the day. We have remained great friends since 1993-ish. We have all been around the block food-wise and these girls can tell stories of my meat eating ways that would probably turn your stomach. This fine group of ladies would probably tell you I was the least likely candidate for digging vegan food and cooking.

It's been a couple of years now, so they have gotten used to the idea that I'm not going to be serving the carnage of yore. I have to say, I still spend a lot of time contemplating what to make for them. I want to make sure they LOVE what I make. If they love it, I can usually be confident that it is pretty good. These gals know their food. It has been a very long time since all of us have been together. It was so much fun being with such long-time awesome friends. I loved hearing all of the conversation and laughter at the table. We were having such a great time our lunch lasted almost into dinner time, so I pulled out the leftovers and we started snacking again.

This fine week as the temperatures were reaching 112, I really didn't want to turn on the oven or even be out at the grill. I decided to go for a totally cold spread. This made for a pretty pleasant day in the kitchen. The only thing I had to cook was the beans (in the slow cooker) and some orzo pasta. While my intentions were to see my friends it never hurts to have an audience to try out some new original stuff. The reviews were really good! The kale salad was a surprise hit, so I will share the basic recipe with you. It is super easy to throw together.

Kale-Avocado Salad

8 servings (4 as a main dish)

1 large bunch green kale, stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces, about 8 cups
1 1/2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup cranberries
1/3 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large just ripe avocado (make sure it is still a bit firm so it doesn't turn to mush in the salad) diced into 1/2" cubes

In a large bowl place washed kale. Drizzle in olive oil and vinegar. Make sure to massage the kale with your hand until the kale is brighter green and a bit softer. This will take out some of the toughness and bitterness that kale can have. Add remaining ingredients except for the avocado and mix well. Gently toss in the avocado, being careful not to mush it up. Salt and pepper to taste.

Thats it! Simple. Beautiful. Delicious. Filling. Oh and as an added bonus for summer, no oven!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Vegan 4th of July? What are you going to grill?

While much of the nation is grilling all kinds of different animal parts, we had our own plans for some grill action. I'm doing some testing again, so I had a few test recipes that were perfect for firing up the grill! It was super hot here again today, so I applaud Fred for firing up the charcoal grill. He smoked tofu, then I got to work.

I made some incredible stuffed jalapenos! These are a tester, so I can't divulge too much, but holy wow!! I thought the heat of the jalapenos was going to be too intense, but the grilling mellowed them...almost too much. It was hard for me to share them, they were that good.

I had visions of making potato or pasta salad today. But it just didn't happen. I didn't want to deal with it. Lazy lazy today. What I ended up doing was grilling up some corn, bok choy and Chipotle BBQ Tempeh. This is a vegan kind of BBQ! Now I have to decide what we should do for dessert!