It’s a Great Time to Be a Vegan!

I seriously just had one of the best vegan weeks ever.

Last weekend, H and I went down the Cape and headed over to Wellfleet’s Oysterfest with a bunch of our friends.  And wouldn’t you know, in the middle of an oyster-themed event, they had a vegetarian vendor!

Cape 004

Apparently Karoo is an omni South African restaurant in Eastham with tons of veggie options, but for Oysterfest they only brought the veggie stuff. The menu looked so good (and was 100% vegan)!
Cape 003

H and I split the samosas, which were DELICIOUS, especially topped (okay, doused) with sweet fruity chutney.
Cape 006

And I got the Kibbi:
Cape 008

I’ve had vegetarian kibbi (or “kibbeh”) a hundred times but I’m not sure I ever had one made with pumpkin.  It was really good!  Most of all I was so excited to find a new vegan-friendly dining option on the Cape!

On Monday, my first post as a contributing blogger went up on Chic Vegan!  I wrote all about vegan Halloween treats, including these skull cupcakes:
Skull Cakes 2 007

Click here to read the post!

Then on Tuesday, I went to the farmer’s market, where I bought incredible local rainbow chard and apples, and saw the most beautiful sunset.

Vegan Week 003

There was also a full rainbow over the market, but I only took a mental picture of that because photographs of rainbows never really capture that moment.

Then when I got home, this was waiting for me:Vegan Week 004

Ahhhhh I have been so excited for Isa’s new book and it’s finally here!  I would buy anything this woman writes, truly.  She is brilliant and hilarious, and this book is amazing.  It is full-color with truly stunning photography and styling, and obviously the recipes are just so on-point.  I’m about halfway through (yes, I always read my cookbooks cover-to-cover) and I’ve already bookmarked more than I can count.  One of my biggest goals this year (which I have actually managed with some success!) is to make dinner for H and me most weeknights.  I know this book will help with that and I can’t wait to start cooking out of it.

I also enjoyed some downright delectable food this week.  One of H’s co-workers brought a box of his homegrown squash to work one day, which resulted in us having a butternut squash in our kitchen that must have weighed 5 or 6 lbs.  I roasted it early in the week and we’ve been eating it six ways to Sunday since then.  I also toasted the seeds and those have been an additional delight.

Here it is mashed on a sandwich with baby beets and romaine lettuce from the farmer’s market:
Vegan Week 002Beets and Squash 001

Or featured in one of the yummiest salads I’ve ever had:
Beets and Squash 004

This contained a bunch of local produce (romaine, carrots, and red bell peppers which I roasted) plus the squash and its seeds, tamari roasted chickpeas, baby beets, red onion, and olives, topped with a drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil.

Thursday night H and I watched the Red Sox dominate Game 1 of the World Series while we enjoyed one of our new favorite weeknight recipes, Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheeze from Oh She Glows (click for recipe).
Butternut Mac 003

I am obsessed with this recipe.  I always prepare it with some steamed broccoli or another green and add liberal amounts of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper to it.  If you already have a roasted butternut squash on hand like I did, you can make this in as little time as it takes to cook a pot of pasta.  It’s absolutely perfect and we both love it!

So as you can see, it’s been a terrific week filled with wonderful vegan things, but it’s not over yet!  Tonight H and I are going out to dinner to celebrate our two-year anniversary at The Elephant Walk, a French-Cambodian restaurant in Boston that has really excellent food and atmosphere, and a large portion of their menu is or can be made vegan.


Tomorrow and Sunday is the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival and I am SOOO excited!!!  I plan to show up with an empty stomach and a full wallet and leave in exactly the opposite condition.


If you are anywhere near Boston this weekend you HAVE to check this out!

Happy weekend!!!

Vegan MoFo Orange Week – Lunch Break


It’s Friday again, and today for MoFo Orange week I’m having Dad’s famous Holiday Butternut Squash Soup

AshPhone 715This delicious pureed soup is a staple in our family at holiday times.  Dad makes it by combining a base of sauteed carrots, garlic, onions, and celery with diced butternut squash, vegetable broth, plenty of black pepper and a dash or two of cayenne, then simmering it until the squash is soft enough to puree with an immersion blender. It really is as simple as can be, but has such a delicious result! Sweet and also savory, lightly spicy, thick and filling.

Today I’m eating mine with leftover challah, trying to fill up before beginning my Yom Kippur fast this evening.

AshPhone 714

Have a great weekend!

Sunshine and Rainbows

Happy spring everyone!!!

Check out the beautiful magnolia blooms that appeared on this tree in my yard over the weekend!

Last week was absolutely incredible in Boston (and pretty much everywhere else, too, I’m told). It actually reached 83 degrees here last Thursday, shattering the old temperature record, set in the 1940s, by 11 degrees–amazing!

Last week also marked the first week in my half marathon training program.  This will be my third half marathon and it feels great to be “in training” again.  I love being active and getting to spend a lot of time outdoors, and even more than that, I love how easy it is to eat a clean, wholesome diet while training–my body just craves that sort of food!

Despite that temperatures are back to a normal Boston March level today, it certainly feels like my life has been all sunshine and rainbows recently.  Check out some of the bright and colorful things that have made their way across my plate!

Normally, I’m not a huge breakfast eater, but when in training this meal becomes a crucial part of my day.  I try to find things that are quick and portable, but also contain a respectable balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

Banana Flapjacks from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
This has recently become my go-to weekend breakfast, mostly because I never seem to run out of must-be-used-now bananas.  For this batch, I added shredded coconut and spread a smidgen of Earth Balance on top.  This recipe is a sure bet any time you are making breakfast for non-vegans who cannot imagine what vegans eat for breakfast if not pig patties stacked with various globs of eggs and cheese.  The recipe produces pancakes that are soft and creamy from the banana and just the right amount of sweet.  Very highly recommended.

Later in the week, I used leftover flapjacks to make breakfast roll-ups.  I spread a small amount of pecan butter in the center of each, rolled it up, and just like that, it was ready for me to take along on the train!
Freakin’ so delicious, and filling too!

Homemade Yogurt Parfait
It is rare that I eat strawberries so early in the season, but I found a carton of incredibly fragrant, perfectly ripe specimens at Russo’s and couldn’t resist.  I cut them up along with some banana and layered it with Whole Soy & Co.’s Strawberry Banana (which has replaced Apricot Mango as my favorite flavor) yogurt for a sweet treat of a breakfast that was pleasing to both the eyes and the palate.

In keeping with what I mentioned in my last post about trying to fit in more high-volume cooking, I’ve been buying produce that looks good and cooking it up on the weekends, then finding random ways to use it throughout the week.  My latest experiment involved roasting a small butternut squash with maple syrup and olive oil, as well as a batch of gorgeous beets that I found at Russo’s (where else?)–they were only 98 cents for the whole bunch, leaves and all!  The result was this delicious concoction, which I’ve dubbed The Rainbow Sandwich
Look at those beautiful colors! Earthy roasted beets, sweet maple-roasted squash, baby spinach, and incredible fresh-baked Russo’s “rustic bread” make for the most delightful and spring-appropriate sandwich imaginable.  Sunshine in every bite!
I would be lying if I said I did not eat this same sandwich for lunch 5 out of the last 8 work days.

I have a lot more cooking to chronicle and recipes to review, but time is short, and this post is already very long!  Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far.

A final thought: we all know that life can’t be all sunshine and rainbows all the time.  But that is exactly why I treasure weeks like these so much when they do come around.  I hope you all do, too!Photobucket

Indoor Sunshine

It is SO.COLD. in Boston this week. I’ve been eating alot of soup, and while it’s easy (and truthfully, fairly yummy and satisfying) to heat up canned soup (I always have Amy’s or Whole Foods soups on hand), tonight I wanted to make some of my own. I’ve been thinking of the squash-broccoli-cauliflower soup concoction that Dad made for Christmas dinner (which was absolutely delightful) for a few weeks now, and the fact that I had a butternut squash in the kitchen that desperately needed to be eaten made my decision for me.  The result was something I am calling Sunshine Soup, because of its sunny color and pleasant warming taste.   A rough version of the recipe (because I sort of made it up as I went along) follows the pictures!

The star ingredients (squash, broccoli, onion, and garlic), mise en place

Simmering away (peas and carrots? ha)

Ready to eat!

This soup is tasty and seriously filling.  I was super-hungry but could only eat the portion shown, plus one slice of whole wheat bread as accompaniment.  The main tastes that stood out to me were the white pepper and the turmeric, with a hint of sweetness from the squash.  Overall it was a little reminiscent of curry (mostly I’m sure because of the turmeric!) and had the slightest hint of spiciness.  Also, I happen to love the strong and distinctive taste of white pepper, but if you don’t like it or haven’t tried it before, I’d recommend skipping it in the recipe.  The broccoli doesn’t actually add much flavor but it definitely adds a nice texture and some solid nutrition.   I have a ton left over, which will be great to pack up and bring to school over the next week.

And as promised, la receta:

1 small butternut squash, peeled and 1″ cubed (or as close as possible to cubed)
1 head of broccoli, stems only, 1″ cubed (or as close as possible to cubed)
1 medium onion, roughly diced
4 small-medium cloves of garlic, cut into strips (see picture above…sort of in the shape of slivered almonds)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (I hardly ever use 2 full tbsp. of oil for cooking, but for this recipe it’s necessary in order to properly “roast” the garlic without burning it)
2 1/4 c. vegetable stock
1 c. water
a boatload of whatever spices you want (I used ground white and black pepper, ground coriander, oregano, turmeric, a bit of garam masala, a bit of cumin, and sea salt, obviously)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Throw in the garlic and push it around with a wooden spoon for a few minutes til it starts to brown (be careful not to burn it!).  Toss in the onion and sautee for 2-3 minutes until it starts to soften.  Add the squash and broccoli and sautee for about 5 minutes, until the mixture seems like it’s getting soft.  Put in whatever spices you are using and stir for another minute.  Add the broth and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Puree using an immersion blender or in batches using a food processor.   Adjust seasonings as necessary.

Note: If you puree the entire thing, it’s pretty thick.  I reserved about 1/6 of the soup with the veggie chunks in it and pureed the rest, then stirred the brothy chunky part back in at the end, because I wanted it a little more soupy.