Friday, February 25, 2011

Reviews & Recipes (February 25th)

One of my resolutions this year was to cook more, specifically learn to cook vegan dishes. So I've been busy doing a lot of that lately. I also have some Lightlife products to review as well. So let's get started!

I started off by making the quiche that we had at the Lightlife event a few weeks ago, using the recipe they gave us at the event and Lightlife's Gimme Lean Sausage (which they sent me to try).

My mom and I followed the recipe exactly, but it came out a little too mushy and not solid enough, so we'll have to revise it next time. The sausage was really good however and gave the quiche a nice, flavorful taste.

The other Lightlife product I tried was their original Smart Ground crumbles (which they also sent, thanks Lightlife!).

I used this to make tacos...

In the past I had used the frozen crumbles that other brands make, but I thought this was a nice change. The Smart Ground seemed fresher than the frozen kind and tasted better. I just mixed it in with regular taco seasoning and I swear there was NO difference (this is the perfect product to "trick" your husband or boyfriend with! lol They'll never know it's not meat).

Peanut has some "product reviews" too! :) He apparently loves Newman's Own pineapple salsa! (Which is probably not good for cats, but as you can see, I let him have a taste!)

There are very few "people foods" that Peanut likes. But anything with spices or peaches he goes crazy for! Speaking of peaches, for old time sake, he still loves his Mott's peach medley apple sauce too!

(Note how I even let him eat things on my bed! I am a bad mother-- clearly. lol)

Now on to the recipes... I printed out some vegetarian recipes from EatingWell. And here's how they came out...

The first thing I tried was the Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwich (you can see the recipe here).

This was really good and I can't wait to make it again! Although next time I won't be adding red pepper just because I'm not really a fan. And the recipe is vegan if you use vegetable broth or stock (which I did). I did use organic provolone cheese (just a bit) to melt on top like the recipe said though, but it's easy to omit if you want.

The next EatingWell recipe I tried was their Bean "Bolognese" (you can see the recipe here).

This recipe is also completely vegan if you don't put parmesan cheese on top (which I did, again an organic and rennet-less kind). This was SOOOO good. And this is an INCREDIBLY healthy dinner because you get your protein with the beans, not to mention all the veggies! Can't wait to make this one again too!

And the last recipe I tried is courtesy of Mama Pea, and that is her Italian Wedding Soup. I modified the version a bit like my fellow blogger, Gabriela did (and you can see her version here).

Basically the only difference was, Gabriela and I used Trader Joe's meatless meatballs (a favorite of mine!) instead of making our own like Mama Pea. This came out great, and I was really impressed! (The picture didn't come out that great though, but you can see how it looks and all the cooking instructions on their blogs.)

I have not given up dairy completely yet (as evidenced by the cheese I throw on top of things!) and I couldn't help but get a frozen yogurt on one of our few warmer days we had a week or two ago at Red Mango (I went to the one here in Astoria on Steinway St.).

I got my usual, a medium original with granola and strawberries.

All this food is finger lickin' good...

Or maybe Peanut just decided to clean himself instead!

If Peanut could talk he'd say, "Mom, stop embarrassing me!!!" So that's all for now!

Also, thank you for the birthday wishes on the last post! I appreciate them!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Birthday :) February 20th

It's that time of year again... my birthday! I decided to have my birthday dinner at Blossom, and I invited fellow bloggers Melissa and Shannon. Peanut was a little upset he wasn't included! lol

Earlier today I went to the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle (where they filmed one of my favorite more recent movies, Enchanted!). I did some shopping at the gigantic Whole Foods there first and got a "peach perfection" smoothie at Jamba Juice.

Then I headed over to Blossom. It never ceases to amaze me how good their food is. If I only knew their secret, I'd be the happiest vegan on the planet! :)

Melissa and I shared our appetizers because we both wanted to try more than one!

I started off by getting their porcini flutes.

And Melissa got their ravioli with cashew cream.

I really liked both, and they tasted very similar (both were mushroom filled). Don't let the green (pesto) sauce on mine scare you, it is SO good! And normally I wouldn't touch something that looked so, uh... odd!

I also got a side of their mashed potatoes, which truly was their all-star dish. I have NEVER eaten better mashed potatoes than this! It was worth the extra $6!!!

For my main course I got their lasagna. It never ceases to amaze me how good this is. You really don't miss regular cheese at all!

(Melissa took the photos of the food because her camera's flash was working better than mine. So thanks Melissa!)

And here we are at dinner!

(Our nice waiter took the photo)

Afterwards we ran into Cocoa V (Blossom's vegan dessert place across the street). I further bankrupted myself by getting a cupcake (hey, it's my birthday, and what's another $3 after what we had already spent?!).

This was really good and it was a closer vegan dessert place than Babycakes. The cupcake is chocolate and the frosting is vanilla (and my favorite color too!).

Overall, I'm okay being another year older. I'm not that old anyway. And I feel like I keep learning and growing. I'm in a better place in my life, healthier, and you know what? It shows! :)

I'm going to be doing a post on product reviews and recipes next, so more soon!

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Valentine... February 14th

  • has fishy breath
  • uses fresh step
  • has a chubby belly
  • loves kibble
Yup, you guessed it!

And he is so handsome too! :) So who is your valentine?

Last weekend I had a very "Valentine's Day" brunch...

I got french toast with their homemade strawberry sauce and cream at Brick Cafe here in Astoria (it came with a side of potatoes too). All for $7! Talk about a great deal! (One of the only great deals I could find too... most restaurants here in Astoria are as expensive as Manhattan, or worse!!)

And my first Lightlife review is actually a product they didn't send me, but rather one I bought with the free coupon they gave me at the event I went to. Because I liked their mini hamburgers so much at the event, I bought a package.

And I had one of their burgers with Alexia's sweet potato fries (the new kind with sea salt and pepper). All in all I like the texture of Lightlife's burger. It's very "meaty" and filling. They are not your typical frozen burger, and you can find them in the refrigerated section.

And I swear, dairy (at least in large quantities) isn't for me. Mom made her mushroom lasagna last weekend, which was good, but upset my stomach. :(

I also tried a thai place in the area called Yajai.

I got their pad see ew with tofu. It tasted almost exactly the same as it does at Spice or Sea Thai in Manhattan. Unfortunately though, they don't give you a free appetizer, just a free soda (who needs that?!). So I've yet to try their spring rolls.

And yesterday I got a mango smoothie at a great health food store on Steinway St. called Organics For All. (The picture isn't appetizing, but the quality of the smoothie was terrific!)

I am glad that my "valentine" is adjusting well to the new apartment. He loves to look out my window...

and roll around on the floor (notice that he practically "blends in" to the floor!!)...

but his favorite of course, is his "perch" in the living room with Pellet (who recently had a bath... I like to give him one every several months because Peanut gets him so dirty!).

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lightlife Event ~ February 9th

I truly owe Lightlife a lot. Not only for the lovely event that Melissa and I attended last Wednesday (Feb. 2nd), but for all the free products they've sent us (which I will be reviewing over the course of the month)! Here are some of the professional photos from the event, taken by Diane Bondareff Photography...

Melissa and I...

A very staged pic (lol) of me getting food from one of the adorable male waiters!

And here are some of my favorite foods from the event (all are vegetarian, some are vegan):

Stuffed mushrooms




Lemon chicken with tasty brussel sprouts

Overall we had a really good time and for once I actually ENJOYED the food at one of these events! It's so hard for vegetarians (especially vegans!) to "fit in" and actually eat the food at most cocktail parties. But this was truly the exception (a good one), and I had fun!

To see more, please visit Melissa's blog (Missy Maintains). She took so many great pics that evening, including more of us and the food!

More to come with the Lightlife reviews too, so stay tuned! :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Astoria Eats! February 4th

I'll have much more to report on Wednesday's Lightlife event that Melissa and I attended, but that will be in another post. For now, I just wanted to post what eats I've been having around my new home here in Astoria!

After tying up loose ends at our old apartment in Manhattan on Monday, my mom and I were beat. So we ordered in chinese food for dinner from a chinese restaurant nearby called Happy Garden. It is similar to Suzie's in Manhattan, but not quite as good with not quite as many vegetarian options. But still, I was pretty satisfied!

I got their vegetarian egg roll (which was more like a spring roll) with steamed veggie dumplings...

and their bean curd country style dish, which is basically tofu and vegetables with rice in a brown sauce (I like the black bean sauce better that I got at Suzie's, but this was still good).

On Wednesday I headed into Manhattan pretty early, because I had some errands to run, plus a salon appointment before the event later. I took the subway into Soho, where I stopped in Cafe Duke (I used to go there all the time back when I went to the Makeup Designory in Soho).

I got a bottled water and these chocolate filled panda cookies that I love, but they are SO hard to find!

Then I stopped in Sea Thai for lunch before my hair appointment and got the usual!

At the Bumble & Bumble salon I got their "monster" cookie (which has peanut butter, chocolate chips, M&M's... basically a whole bunch of stuff in it!) to have as a snack for later.

Then later I had a bunch of goodies at the Lightlife event that Melissa will be blogging about soon! (She was the one taking pics of all the food. I was too busy eating it! lol)

Yesterday I stopped in Astoria Pizza for a slice and it was good!

And today I went to Bagelberry, which is a bagel/frozen yogurt place nearby. I made my usual bagel sandwich with swiss cheese & mustard, had some Wise ridgie chips, and a Dole fruit cup, with my mini bottle of water that Melissa and I got from our car service on the way home the other night! :)

(Note the paper plate-- no more dishwasher, means paper plates so I have less dishes to do!)

As for Peanut, he's been adjusting well. Here he is with Pellet on one of his many "perches!"

Ok, more to come soon on the Lightlife event!