Seattle Veg Fest 2011!

Whew!  Feels good to sit down.  My awesome husband is upstairs giving three kids a bath right now while I get to relax and do a blog post, while eating a Daiya grilled cheese sandwich on Dave’s Killer bread.  Bliss!

I spent the afternoon at Seattle’s Veg Fest, which happens once a year at the Seattle center.  I’ve gone probably 5 times before, missing a year now and then.  This year, I decided it was time to volunteer.  The festival could not happen without the 1000 volunteers that show up every year, so I thought it was high time I did my part.  For those of you who haven’t had the chance to go to Veg Fest (or are not local), it is a big vegetarian food festival.  There are numerous booths with free food samples, as well as cooking demonstrations, nutrition talks, and even a clown show for the kids!  I ended up spreading Melt butter substitute on crackers, which would not have been my first choice as Melt is not even vegan!  It was still fun to chat with the other volunteers.

I got so immersed in working that I didn’t have a chance to snap photos while I was actually at Veg Fest.  But I did get a shot of my loot when I got home (pictured above).  I decided to renew my Vegetarians of Washington membership for the piddly price of $22 when you consider all the free gifts you get with it.  You not only get a Vegetarian Times magazine, you get a full year’s subscription!  Add to that a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread, a half gallon of soy milk (So Nice brand, which I haven’t tried yet), several soy and almond milk yogurts, 6 Odwalla bars, 2 bags of salt and vinegar potato chips, an Odwalla green drink, 2 bottles of Acai juice drink, coconut water, tons of tea bags, sunflower butter samples, Larabar samples…I’m sure this all would have cost much more than the price I paid for my membership.

My very favorite sample was the Dave’s Killer Bread Sin Dawg cinnamon roll!  It was the best thing I have ever tasted.  Another favorite was the Daiya pepperjack cheese which is just about to arrive in stores.  It was awesome and I cannot wait to buy some and make a big plate of vegan nachos!

I also sampled a new almond milk yogurt called Amande, and I got three cups of it with my membership bag.  I liked what I tried, and I’m always excited to find a nondairy food that is not soy based.

I am worn out and now it’s time to help put the kiddos to bed.  If you missed Veg Fest this year, look for it in 2012, it always happens sometime in the month of March.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

Make Your Own Vegan Pizzas!

It’s pizza for lunch at my house today!  Above is my grown-up pizza with caramelized onions, black olives, and a drizzle of olive oil.  It was delicious but too sparse on the toppings.  It was more of a gourmet flatbread than a pizza, and I found myself wishing I had some sort of sauce to dip it in.

Here is my 5 year old’s masterpiece.  Lots of pizza sauce, lots of olives, and a light sprinkling of Daiya mozzarella shreds.  He even rolled out his own crust!

Here’s my go-to crust recipe.  It’s half and half white and whole wheat.  I’ve done all whole wheat flour before and it works fine, but I prefer a slightly lighter, crusty-chewy texture for pizza.

Bread Machine Pizza Crust:

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast


Add water, salt, and oil to the bread machine.  Sprinkle flours over the top without mixing in.  Make a little well in the center of the flour and sprinkle in the yeast.  Set bread machine to dough setting (mine has a specific “pizza dough” setting) and relax while it does the rest!

Pizza Sauce is from Vegan with a Vengeance.  Super duper simple recipe and it always makes enough for at least three large pizzas, so I use 1/3 of it and freeze the rest in two small containers.  In fact, today I just thawed out one of those containers to use for these mini-pizzas!

To caramelize onions, thinly slice up an onion and then cook it slowly in oil for about 3o minutes.  I like to add a sprinkle of salt and sugar just to make it super savory.

I baked all of these pizzas at 425 degrees F for about 15 minutes, brushing the bottom of the crusts with olive oil so that they wouldn’t stick.  Served them with cups of pineapple tidbits for a 100% kid-friendly lunch.

What is your favorite kind of pizza?

Ooey Gooey Vegan Grilled Cheese

Do you ever get a craving for greasy diner food?  Food that reminds you of your childhood, or your college dorm cafeteria?

Yeah.  Me too.

This is a vegan replica of my favorite food from my dorm cafeteria – a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich.  I must say, this is a PERFECT match.  It satisfies that craving to the very core…each bite a crispy, crunchy, gooey, salty, delicious taste of nirvana.  All without bothering a single cow or turkey.

I won’t post a recipe here (because really, who needs a recipe for grilled cheese?), but I will tell you what I used:  two slices of whole wheat bread, Daiya mozzarella shreds, two hickory smokedTofurky deli slices, and copious amounts of Earth Balance slathered on the outside.  Grilled to perfection on my trusty cast-iron skillet, which unfailingly delivers a golden-brown, crusty finish.  Mmmmmm…

I know, I know…lots of processed foods, lots of fat, lots of salt.  Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it is health food!  You didn’t think vegans ate nothing but rice and beans and veggies, did you?  😉

What to do with leftover chili…make quesadillas!

When you have a big pot of leftover chili, the possibilities abound. My very favorite go-to recipe is Robin Robertson’s Layered Polenta-Chili Casserole, from Vegan Planet.  The Confetti Vegetable Chili from the other day, though, was such a hit that we only had about 1/2 cup leftover.  So I decided to use it to make a single-serving quesadilla.  My older kids are both at school for lunch on Fridays, so it’s the perfect day to whip up something fancy for one (or two if baby’s awake, but today he was napping.)

Quesadillas are such a great quick and easy food to make, and vegans don’t have to do without!  The most healthful and yummy way to make a vegan quesadilla is to use hummus instead of cheese, a trick I learned from Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s The Vegan Table. But yesterday I bought some Daiya vegan cheese, so I used that.

To make this chili quesadilla, spread some Earth Balance margarine on a whole grain tortilla.  Place buttered-side down on a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Spread chili evenly over tortilla, and top with a sprinkle of vegan cheese.  (If you were to use hummus, you would spread the hummus first, then sprinkle the chili.)

Spread a second tortilla with Earth Balance and place on top, buttered-side up.  Cook until cheese begins to melt, then flip and cook until golden brown.

Cut into 8 equal wedges with scissors or a pizza wheel, and serve with fresh salsa for dipping.  Enjoy!