Tuesday, July 17, 2012


 Billy and I wanted to go to Toronto this year for our wedding anniversary. Basically, I asked Billy to find something fun for us to do. He did, but said that we would have to go in July rather than August because there was something there for a limited time, but it was a surprise. So we planned a three night stay with a bunch of activities and this one "surprise" activity. I ate tons of vegan food, we went to the AGO to see the Picasso exhibit, we saw a Jays game, we perused the St. Lawrence market, we hung out and shopped with my sister who lives in Toronto AND.....

Billy brought me to see the broadway musical of my favourite movie of all time! Billy managed to keep it a secret until we were literally walking into the show and I saw the giant rose on stage. It was so sweet! We saw the Lion King last year and that was amazing, but I have to say that Beauty and the Beast is my new favourite. I laughed, I cried, and I even enjoyed the things that they added and changed from the movie. It was wildly entertaining. 

Chocolate Chip Muffins- Vegan Brunch
The recipe is for coffee chip muffins, but I just left out the coffee. These were our road trip snacks along with fresh fruit and crackers.

We stayed at a boutique hotel that we booked through hotwire. Wellesley Manor was beautiful and in the perfect location in downtown Toronto, we will be staying there again. 

 After we saw the Picasso exhibit, we still wanted to look at the general collection of art. But first, lunch! We walk around in Chinatown til we found a lovely thai restaurant with a vegetarian section. I forget the exact name but there are countless restaurants like this in TO. I had a rice noodle and steamed veggie dish that was very tasty.

 Dinner before the show was at Fressen (we also ate at Urban Herbivore at the Eaton Centre....yum!). Fressen is entirely vegan, and it is so nice to not have to worry about ingredients when you're out for dinner. Another bonus? I got to taste Billy's meal too :)

Our appetizer was the fried plantain cakes. These were good, a bit spicy. Our first time having plantain.

 Billy got the black bean seitan sausage with veggies.

And I got the battered tempeh with veggies. The veggies and the broth sauce they came in were fabulous. The tempeh was nice and crunchy but plain. I would've liked a tartar or creamy based sauce to dip it in. 

All in all, it was a fabulous trip.  Almost all of our traveling is usually done to visit our families, so it was so nice to take some time for ourselves. I did not want for food. Sunday,we had breakfast at Fresh with my sister. I got the pancake platter: two pancakes, scrambled tofu with cheese and sausage patties. God, it was filling! We had also wanted to go to Poutini's, a poutine restaurant that serves a vegan poutine, but there was a downpour and construction that kept us from getting there. Next time!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Magical Mint

Loving, loving, loving summer! With the heat, comes the diminished desire to cook things in the oven so I've been having cold things like smoothies and taco salad, but there has been some cooking going on. I went to see Magic Mike this weekend with the girls, and we decided to get together before hand on my deck for some drinks and snacks...

My signature drink for the evening was the mojito! We have tons of mint growing in our yard (hint: if you want to grow mint, grow it in planters, or it will infest your yard!), so this was a great way to use it up. First, I made mint-infused simple syrup.

Mint-Infused Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
handful of mint leaves

Stir the water and sugar together in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir for about a minute, til sugar dissolves, then remove from heat. Add in the mint leaves and allow to sit for an hour. The mint adds a nice little touch to the syrup. I prefer making cold drinks (mojitos, lemonade) with simple syrup rather than granular sugar because then you don't have crunchy bits of sugar in your drink.

And to keep the calories low, I also made a sugar free mint simple syrup using sucralose instead. Its not as good, it doesn't thicken as much as the regular syrup, but once you're one or two mojitos in, you don't really notice ;) Can't wait to make this for my sister in law!

Then it was time to assemble the mojitos (sorry no pictures of this fabulous drink!)

In a glass, pour 1 oz. of simple syrup and add a small handful of mint leaves. Muddle together (mush the leaves). Add crushed ice, 1.5 oz of rum, the juice of half a lime and top with club soda. Garnish with a straw, a lime wedge and some mint leaves.

These were so yummy and refreshing on a hot evening....and definitely made Magic Mike seem better than it really was (what were all those scenes with people talking???? :P)

Now, I'm a good hostess. I don't booze up my guests without providing something to snack on too! I served fruit, veggies and hummus and I also roasted three heads of garlic to spread onto toasted baguette rounds. Mmmmm. 

 I also made up a little goody bag for my friends. Since I've got so much mint, I made a bouquet of it for each girl, along with a handwritten booklet of some great uses for mint. They included tea/iced tea, air freshener, pore reducer, foot scrub and a link to some recipes. As I make these things myself I will blog about them!

Rosemary Lentils over Polenta- Supermarket Vegan
This is a very tasty dish...and it made me like polenta. Billy liked it too. It's a very visually appealing meal and feels fancy when you're eating it.

Look what I found at Value Village! An old popcorn popper! I've bought some from WalMart before but they always break :( They just don't make things the way they used to. This thing looks like it was made in the 80's and it still works great. I'm a popcorn fiend, as in: I have it as my evening snack almost daily. I was popping kernels in brown bags in the microwave, but a popper is less wasteful and makes delicious popcorn without the use of oil. I paid 4$ for it. 

More cold food, since its 29 degrees today...leftover grilled veggies with guacamole on a whole wheat tortilla. Yum!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Summer Time!

School's out and that means I now have a lot of time on my hands! So hopefully, my blog posts can be a little more regular. I'm aiming for once a week.

Cinnamon Oat Pancakes
I decided to make breakfast for dinner one night when we were running low on food. I made these about 3-4 inches big and froze the leftovers. They were great to just pop in the toaster for a quick breakfast or snack. The recipe is here.

 Pan Seared Tofu Scallops with Basil Cream Sauce over Linguine- Veganize This!
The recipes in this book are such a mouthful! This was a really nice meal. I absolutely loved the way the tofu was prepared (marinaded in a seafood broth, then pan seared in Earth Balance Butter til crispy). I will be using it again. It felt really fancy :)

 Tempeh Sausage Breakfast Squares- Vegan Brunch
I wanted to make a warm breakfast item and use up the puff pastry in my freezer, so this recipe was perfect. I used the maple tempeh bacon strips, and its sauteed with red peppers and seasonings and then baked on puff pastry squares. Delicious! You can find the recipe here.
 Tomato, Basil and Arugula Bruschetta- The Vegan Table

Billy likes to have a BBQ night every once in a while, and who am I to complain if it means less work for me?!? So we had barbecued meatless chicken (grilled to perfection) with bruschetta and fiddleheads. The bruschetta is fabulous. It's a great way to sneak some greens in.  And it held up pretty well as leftovers.

Lemon Pepper Tofu- Vegan Brunch
These tofu slices are really simple to make. I sliced mine thinner than the recipe calls for, just as a personal preference. They are rubbed with oil and lemon pepper and then baked. I had mine on toasted tomato sandwiches.

DIY- Father's Day
I guess I should have posted this yesterday on my DIY post. For our dads this year, I made homemade rubs for barbecuing. I know that the end result is not vegan, but my part of it is! :P I made greek rub, brown sugar rub, and all purpose spice rub. A quick google search will give you tons of recipes if you're interested. I'd love to try the greek rub on some President's Choice Meatless Chicken. I got the magnetic spice containers at Bulk Barn.

 Strawberry Shortcake- Skinny Bitch UEC
This consists of a sweet biscuit layered with sweetened strawberries and Rice Whip. I liked it, Billy loved it (I think I got 2 of the 9 or so). I wouldn't say it's super desserty as the biscuit kind of comes out like a pancake, but its a nice light end to a meal.
 Santa Claus Melon
When I saw the name of this melon at the store yesterday, I had to buy it! You prepare it the same way you would honeydew or cantaloupe. And its very similar to those melons. It's mellow and very sweet and juicy. Very refreshing on a hot day! (It beats the freezies I used to have instead, which I have since banned from the house lol)

Tempeh No-Meat Loaf- Skinny Bitch UEC
I followed the variation in the cookbook, to cook them in muffin tins for individual portions. Like most vegan meatloafs I've made, it doesn't really hold up and ends up crumbling, but it was still very tasty, especially served with ketchup.

I am off to the library to stock up on some summer reads! :D

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

DIY mondays: homemade fragrance oil

Yes, a day late but we were out of town for the Canada Day long weekend. In this instalment of DIY Mondays I will show you how to make your own fragrance oil for reed diffusers.
I have three or four diffusers around the house. They are a great way to add some light scent and decor to your home. However, when all the oil has evaporated what do you do? Based on the popularity of these things I am guessing many people throw them out and get new ones. I have tried to find just the oil refills before but with no luck. Internet to the rescue!

Here is what you will need:
-Safflower oil (grocery store)
-Vodka (I used my standard Stoli but if you dont keep vodka on hand buy the cheap stuff)
-essential oil or combination of oils of your choice (I bought mine at the health store, mmmm grapefruit)

For a small container like the one pictured, fill it up halfway with the safflower oil. Then add 20-25 drops of essential oil and 1 teaspoon of the vodka. Stir it all around and add the diffuser sticks.

I just finished making mine so I will update later on how it worked. Grapefruit isnt really a strong scent so I am thinking this will lightly scent the house with citrusy yumminess :)