Vegan Dining: Sam Diego’s

 

So I’ve reached that awkward point in adulthood where my childhood nightmares become my happiest dreams.  My husband and I are buying a house in the town where I grew up and I could not possibly be more excited.  It’s close to our families, our jobs (I was commuting about two hours last year back and forth to work), and it’s located on the beautiful (well at least I think it is) south shore of Massachusetts.  Fifteen year old me would find it totally lame to move back to the town I grew up in. So boring!  Adult Sarah is pumped.

Thankfully, this town has diversified and opened up more restaurants and grocery stores than where available when I was a kid.  I think the only restaurants in town when I was growing up was the “fancy” Italian place that served too much garlic (but can you really ever have too much garlic?) and Unos.

We plan on venturing out once in awhile, but as many of you know, buying a house means a change in the way you spend money.  Frankly, I’m looking forward to cooking more.  When we’re not eating Subway, my family and I have been living off of four plates and a pan the last month in anticipation for this move.  I’m excited to be reunited with my Fiestaware and real wine glasses.  I’m also transitioning into an awesome kitchen with more than three feet of counter space.  Woot woot!

We’ve spent quite a bit of time on the south shore this year, mostly for baby’s doctors appointments, visiting family and stalking our new house, and we’ve been lucky enough to have a few dates nights here in there.  My husband and I are blessed with wonderful parents that love our kids and actually WANT to spend time with them.  Last week we dropped baby boy off with my parents and ventured out to the Plymouth waterfront.

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There are few things in life more enjoyable than a margarita the size of your head.

Though not the most original dining conquest we went to Sam Diego’s in Plymouth and were not disappointed.

I guess it’s hard to be disappointed when you order $40 dollars worth of (mammoth) margaritas (we got good tequila okay?), but no seriously, we were not disappointed.  While they have a vegetarian section on their menu they actually have a separate special menu with vegan options.  You just need to ask for it.   We ordered the black bean burritos and quesadilla to split.

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“Special” menu. Gluten-free options were on the back as well.

The wonderful thing about Mexican food is that meat can very easily be replaced (via beans).  At home when I make a Mexican based meal I usually will incorporate vegan cheese and sour cream.  This meal had no vegan substitutes but we were not missing out at all.  The quesadilla was my favorite, and had caramelized onions in it which gave a nice meatiness to it.  Everything was really delicious, and I don’t think that’s much the margaritas talking.

The hubby and I have find Mexican restaurants pretty easy places to remain vegan when dining out.  Worst case scenario, you order something with beans and hold the  cheese and sour cream.

Speaking of bean dishes, once we’re all moved and settled (and most importantly have internet) I need to share my chili recipe.  I can’t believe I haven’t shared it yet!

I hope you’re all enjoying the last days of summer!

 

 

Vegan Dining: Julian’s

Well I’m certainly behind.  I’m enjoying the last half of my April vacation and reflecting on dining experiences I had during February vacation.  Funny though, the weather was a bit nicer in February.

As I’ve mentioned before, we live very close to Providence.  I love (parts of) Providence.  I appreciate the history, the countless veggie friendly restaurants, and the easy parking (because I’m old).

Our friends had spoken highly of Julian’s, which is right down the street from one of our other favorite spots, The Grange.  We heard high praises for their brunch and drink menu.  Well, we didn’t’ make it to brunch and obviously I’m not taking too much advantage of the bar these days but we were certainly not disappointed.

We decided to grab an early dinner at Julian’s on a Friday night.  Julian’s is not a vegan/vegetarian restaurant but they have tons of veggie friendly options.

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Vegan Tasting Board Yumminess

We started with the vegan tasting board which came with sumac cheese, eggplant -quinoa pate, root vegetable chips, squash jam, pickled veggies and naan.  It was so flavorful and unique!  I love apps that give you a little taste of everything.  The best part was it was only $12  For our entrees Dylan order the vegan “steak and cheese” wrap and I opted for salad adding grilled tofu (which was out of this world).  Dylan’s wrap was also delicious (of course he had to let me have a bite or two).

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The bar menu was expansive and had a great beer selection.  They even had a mock tail section which made this pregnant lady happy!

The hubby and I are in baby and house buying mode right now, so we are trying to save our money as much as possible, but we are going to have to check this place out for brunch sometime.

 

Oatmeal Stuffed Pancakes

Very hungry pregnant lady here.

Very hungry.

Today I learned that hungry+pregnant+grocery shopping = $40 over budget.  Oh well, it was totally worth it.  I loaded up on lots of veggies, fruit, tofu, and lots of other healthy foods as well as some not so healthy items (vegan ice cream, ramen, etc.)

My grocery run/shopping spree was fueled by a delicious breakfast I made this morning.  Way back in the day, I used to go out to brunch with friends a couple of times a month.  We frequented this (what we considered) fancy place is Wellesley (of course everything is fancy in Wellesley).  Anyways, this spot had an awesome brunch menu.  This was before my vegan days so I indulged in almost every meatless option on the menu.  The other night their oatmeal stuffed pancakes popped into my head through the magic of Facebook.

Pregnant Sarah loves pancakes.  Non pregnant Sarah liked to subject her family to tofu  scrambles and tater tots (and mimosas for the 21+ crowd), but non pregnant Sarah has a sweet tooth.  I haven’t heard any complaints…

I tried my best with these pancakes, the whole “stuffed” factor was the trickiest part, but if I can do it you can too, trust me.  If the “stuffing” proves too difficult you can always make the oatmeal pancakes and top them with the fruit of your choice, but come on, take the risk.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3/4 cup old fashion oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 1/4 cup water

For the filling

  • 1 1/5 cup fruit of your choice (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

First I mixed together my oats and almond milk and set it aside.  Next mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Add water, oil, and soaked oats to your bowl and stir together.

In a sauce pan over medium heat add fruit and sugar and let the fruit cook down.  I used a frozen berry mix we had on hand.  I thought it came out pretty good.  I think this could be great with fresh blueberries or strawberries.  If my husband wasn’t so grossed out by bananas I would give those a shot too.

I used my cast iron skillet and coconut oil for cooking our pancakes.  I dished out about 1/4 of a cup of pancake batter onto the skilled and let that sit until I could see bubbles in the bater. Next I added a spoonful of my fruit filling and topped the pancake with some more batter enough so that it covered the filling.  I let that cook slightly longer then flipped the pancake.  It took a couple of minutes to cook each pancake, use your best judgment.  The nice part about vegan pancakes is that you don’t need to worry about raw egg!  It’s important not to let your pancake cook too long before you add the filling and top it off or else your pancake will be very uneven.

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I topped these off with some maple syrup and powdered sugar.  I loved this breakfast, I think the oats added a nice texture and richness to the pancake.  I will be making these again for sure.  Anyone want to come over for brunch?

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Orange Julius

I can feel summer slipping away already.

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Back to reality soon.  It’s been an amazing summer.  We just got back from my best friend’s wedding in upstate New York where I was proud to be one of her maids of honor.  Since then we’ve been trying to fit in our final beach days, time at the pool and long walks at World’s End.  Sigh.

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We are, however, looking forward to fall.  Who doesn’t enjoy the plethora of pumpkin flavored foods and scents?

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But before I go into pumpkin mode I am going to soak of the last of this crazy hot and humid weather, and while I do that I’m going to enjoy a nice frozen drink.  Now, I couldn’t tell you the last time I had an orange julius but I always knew I liked them.  I finally attempted to make a vegan version of the drink and it was a hit!  Here’s what I did.

Ingredients 

  • 12 oz Trader Joe’s organic orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of ice

You will need a blender powerful enough to blend ice for this.  We are lucky that we have a Vitamix at home which does the job nicely.  First I blended the vanilla extra and almond milk together, then added the rest of the ingredients.  I blended until I could no long hear any ice.

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I loved this drink, I only wish it was a little lower in calories.  The orange concentrate certainly packs a punch in that department.  Oh well.  This drink is perfect for a hot summer day and can be enjoyed by the whole family (except for the dog).  Cheers!

Dylan’s “Dirty” Potato Salad

Everything tastes better when someone else makes it for you right?

Well I think I’m a pretty good cook but I love when someone else cooks for me.

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Farm share goodies this week!

We pick up our farm share box every Friday and this week was our best box so far.  It had peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, corn, potatoes and so on.  The potatoes were our firsts of the season and my hubby promised me that he would make potato salad.

Ingredients

  • 7 small potatoes
  • 1 cup vegan mayo
  • dill weed (about 1 tablespoon)
  • salt to taste

Dylan insisted I call this recipe “dirty” potatoes because when he peeled the potatoes he left some of the skin on.  I don’t know if that was to cover up some less than proficient peeling skills or on purpose but we will refer to this recipe as “dirty” potato salad.

He first peeled the potatoes and chopped them up into bite size pieces.  Next he placed the potatoes in a pot with boiling water and left them in until they were soft (15-20 minutes).  Once the potatoes were tested with a fork for appropriate softness he drained them from the pot and placed them in the fridge to cool off for about 30 minutes.

 

After about a half  hour he took out the potatoes and added mayo, dill, and salt.  We love dill in our house but the amount you want to use is totally up to you (same with salt).  As for vegan mayo we have a preference in our house.  We buy Just Mayo.  I’ve seen it at a few stores including Target (Target is my happy place).  It’s by far the best mayo (vegan or not) that I’ve ever had.

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Just Mayo and Pepe my rooster painting.

Once Dylan added the seasonings and mayo he put the potatoes back in the fridge to continue to cool off some more.  I have to say, you could bring this to a cookout and no one would realize it wasn’t vegan unless you told them.  Super simple.  Super easy.  Even a husband could make it. 🙂

Vegan Caprese Salad

Back in the day one of my favorite summer time dishes was a caprese salad or better yet a sandwich.  My college roommate and I lived together years after college and our first place was close to a bakery that served awesome sandwiches.  We used to order the caprese sandwich served on a baguette and loaded with fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella.  I can still taste it.

I know they make vegan mozzarella cheese (that’s not shredded) but it’s either a. expensive or b. not even close to as good as real mozzarella.  I’m sure there’s some food scientist out that burning the midnight oil to create realistic nondairy mozzarella cheese balls, but for now I will opt for tofu.

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I know, tofu sounds weird and it’s a little intimidating right?  Well don’t be afraid, with this recipe you don’t even have to cook it!  I’m very pro not turning my oven on right now!

Ingredients

  • 1 block of extra first tofu (pressed)
  • 3 cups organic grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 balsamic vinegar 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I kept this recipe pretty simple.  You can play around with it all you want (added red onion, more or less balsamic, olive oil, etc.).  First step is to press your tofu to get rid of the extra water.  I have a tofu press which I love but if you don’t simply wrap your tofu in a dish towel and place something relatively heavy on top (like a tea kettle with some water).  I would press it for about 20 minutes or so.  Once your tofu is free of excess water chop it up into cubes. I halved my tomatoes and chopped the basil while I was waiting on my tofu.  Simply mix all your chopped ingredients together and add your balsamic vinegar and keep mixing.  I served this over toasted bread.  You can serve it over a salad or on a toothpick as an appetizer as well.

Now I know the tofu isn’t quite fresh mozzarella cheese.  I’ll admit that but once it is marinated with the balsamic vinegar the texture is actually pretty close.  The five year old loved his tofu so I consider it a success!

Happy summer!