Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pampering in the City [Vegan Style]

What girl doesn't love pampering? This vegan chick certainly does. There are two places I regularly go for my primping. For my hair, I go to L'Etoile Salon on Broadway near Diversey. I get my hair dyed with their organic, vegan, herbal hair line, Colour Herbe. It's ammonia-free and feels great on your hair. I've never had a burning sensation or any problems with using this herbal hair dye. It does wash out more quickly than normal hair dye as it is vegetable based. Small price to pay for having your hair still look lovely and not dead in 50 years. The products they use in-house on hair are organic too. They also carry organic makeup and hair products for sale. I buy a red shampoo and conditioner to have the life of my dye last a wee bit longer. They also do facials, peels, and waxing. I've never had any of those things done, though.

For my spa services, I go to Allyu Spa Chicago. This place is fantastic. I'm a member which allows you to get discounts on services, birthday gift certificates, free sauna time, and discounts on merchandise amongst other benefits. I go here to get my nails done. They use vegan nail polish brand, Zoya. VegNews Magazine just had a great article in one of their recent editions that talked about vegan nail polish (regular nail polish has toxins in it usually and some companies test on animals). During your manicure or pedicure, they do scrubs which sometimes contain honey (they change it up by season - but they make all the scrubs themselves). You could ask for a different scrub or something else instead. I get my eyebrow threading services done here too. They do a perfect job on my eyebrows! I've also had a hot stone massage which was so relaxing, I literally fell asleep. It felt amazing after coming in from the bitter Chicago cold. If you want a day with your girlfriends or some quality "me" time, I recommend checking out Allyu. Beyond normal spa services, they also specialize in reflexology and chakra balancing. As far as facials go, I've never had one here yet, but I've been meaning to check it out. The place I used to go for organic facials does not do them anymore, so I'm going between both L'Etoile and Allyu now. We shall see which I end up checking out!

To my knowledge, Aveda is vegan-friendly and there are a couple places in the city that specialize in Aveda products and services. 

If you get your vegan pampering on in Chicago, let your blog doll know where you go as she's mighty curious of the other options out there. :]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mushroom & Kale Pizza with Truffle Oil

This is a beautiful and elegant pizza. If you don't have truffle oil, you could sub this for extra virgin olive oil. I would recommend adding more exotic fresh mushrooms on this as well. I only had cremini and shiitake in my fridge, otherwise I would have!

Mushroom & Kale Pizza with Truffle Oil

* Prep Time: 50 minutes
* Cook Time: 15 minutes
* Ingredients (for dough):
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp yellow cornmeal & flour (used to dust counter to roll out dough)
* Ingredients (for topping):
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dinosaur kale, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese*
  • 1 tbsp white truffle oil*
  • vegan Parmesan, to taste*
* Recipe:
  1. In a separate bowl, combine water, sugar, and active dry yeast to activate yeast and let sit for at least 5 minutes.  
  2. In a mixer, add the dry ingredients and mix on a low setting using a bread hook. When the yeast is ready, add it to the mixer with the olive oil. Let the dough form in the mixer until it forms a uniform ball and starts to climb the bread hook. (If you do not have a mixer, then combine the dry ingredients with the bowl of yeast, kneed until smooth.)
  3. Remove and let stand for about 45-50 minutes or until it doubles in size. (You want the crust to be more fluffy for your end product, so you should allow more time for the dough to rise.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
  5. While dough is rising, sautee onions over medium heat in olive oil until caramelized. 
  6. Stretch the dough to fit a round pizza baking pan. Lightly dust with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Make the middle dough thinner in order for the outside dough to be thicker (for thicker crust).
  7. Add about half the vegan mozzarella, the caramelized onions, kale, vegan Parmesan, then mushrooms. Top with the remaining mozzarella and drizzle with truffle oil (including over crust).
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.
* Note: For vegan mozzarella, I used Daiya. You could opt to leave this pizza cheese-less too if one wanted. Truffle oil is something where a little goes a long way in taste and flavor. Be sparing. You may even need to use less than what I suggested. I drizzled from the bottle. For vegan Parmesan, I used Galaxy topping.

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Tuscan Kale

    This is a very simple recipe for a quick weeknight side dish. I am a huge fan of greens and dinosaur kale is up there as a favorite. I make this recipe all the time!

    Tuscan Kale

     * Prep Time: 5 minutes
    * Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
    * Ingredients:
    • 1 large bunch dinosaur kale, stems removed, chopped
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1/4 cup water, to steam
    * Recipe:
    1. In a large skillet, sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil with the salt and pepper over medium heat until the onions are translucent.
    2. Add the kale and water. Cook until water evaporates.
    3. Add the red wine vinegar and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Sonoma Chick'n Salad

    I never really cared for chicken salad prior to being vegan as I did not like mayonnaise. As such, I decided to spruce things up a bit with a vegan Sonoma chick'n salad. This is really easy and quick to make. Perfect for a summer picnic.

    Sonoma Chick'n Salad

     * Prep Time: 10 minutes
    * Cook Time: 10 minutes
    * Ingredients:
    • 1 (8 oz.) bag chick'n strips*
    • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise*
    • 1/2 cup seedless red grapes, sliced in half
    • 1 stalk celery, sliced
    • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
    • 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 3 tsp agave nectar
    • 1 tsp poppy seeds
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    * Recipe:
    1. Fry the chick'n strips over medium heat until cooked, about 10 minutes. Chop them up into bite size pieces.
    2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients then add the chick'n. Mix well and serve.
    * Note: For vegan chick'n strips, I used MorningStar Farms Meal Starters Chick'n Strips. For vegan mayonnaise, I used Vegenaise with grapeseed oil

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Penne in Forest Mushroom Vodka Sauce

    I've been meaning to try and make a vegan vodka sauce for a very long time. I haven't had it in many years so this was a fun project for me. Buon appetito!

    Penne in Forest Mushroom Vodka Sauce

    * Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
    * Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
    * Ingredients:
    • 1 dozen hothouse tomatoes*
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 bay leaf
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1/2 medium carrot, grated
    • 1 cup vodka
    • 2 oz. dried forest mushroom blend, rehydrated, chopped
    • 12 oz. penne pasta
    • 6 fresh basil leaves, minced
    • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
    • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
    • 1/2 cup vegan heavy whipping cream*
    • 1/3-1/2 cup frozen peas
    • vegan Parmesan, to taste* 
     * Recipe:
    1. In a large pot, boil the tomatoes until the skin starts to crack and peel. Remove from pot and peel the skin off the tomatoes.
    2. Take the water out of the large pot and add the tomatoes, olive oil, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent.
    3. Add the carrot and vodka. Reduce by 1/4th or for about 15 minutes.
    4. In a medium sized pot, rehydrate the mushrooms. Once soft, remove and boil pasta in the mushroom water.
    5. Once the sauce is reduced, add the basil, parsley, thyme, heavy whipping cream, peas, and chopped mushrooms. Cook until peas are soft.
    6. Remove the bay leaf. Combine the pasta with the vodka sauce. Serve with Parmesan to top.
    * Note: You can use roma tomatoes instead of hothouse. Feel free to use whatever you like or for convenience, 2 large cans of whole peeled tomatoes can be used instead. For heavy whipping cream, I used Soyatoo. For vegan Parmesan, I used Galaxy Topping.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Vegan Chicago: Restaurant Review of Santullo's Eatery

    Santullo's Eatery in Wicker Park has some great vegan options. If you are looking for a vegan pizza pie, look no further (especially if you don't feel like dealing with the Wrigleyville crowd to go to Ian's Pizza but of course, there is always Pie Hole Pizza Joint, Mista, or The Boiler Room). They use Upton's Naturals seitan products and Daiya cheese for their vegan delights. Vegan menu items include a house salad, the vegan Santullo sandwich, spicy buffalo chicken seitan sandwich, veggie sandwich, build-your-own-sandwich (choose from vegan cheese, various seitan styles, veggies, and condiments), linguine portobello (no cheese), vegan potato salad, vegan pasta salad, and of course, pizza. The pizza options are veggie flat iron barbeque (seitan chicken, barbeque, veggies, vegan mozzarella), veggie brickhouse (seitan pepperoni, seitan sausage, veggies, vegan mozzarella), and spinach to the finish (veggies and sub vegan cheese). There are a couple more pies on the menu that can be subbed to have vegan cheese and you are set. 

    The pizza pies are huge! Bring at least 3 people with you, if not four. My friends and I shared the spinach to the finish pizza gone vegan. As you can see from the picture, it is covered in Daiya. While this was a nice treat, it was a lot of cheese for me. I think I would prefer to get something with either extra veggies or more seitan products next time. Don't get me wrong, it was delicious! Definitely going back to try other menu items. I'm also mighty curious about this vegan potato salad and pasta salad.

    One of my friends came late and she ordered the spicy buffalo chicken seitan sandwich as well. She liked it but said it could use more sauce as it was kinda dry. 

    Super excited about this place. There are so many options in Wicker Park to choose from! Native Foods, the Handlebar, Sultan's Market, Penny's Noodle Shop, Estelle's Cafe 'n Lounge, and of course, most places in this neighborhood have a vegan-friendly option or two.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Product Review: Soyatoo Extra Creamy Whip

    Soyatoo has done it again. I'm a huge fan of their products. The regular Soy Whip is a great alternative for whipped cream. I have not had the Rice Whip, but next time I'm in need of vegan whipped cream, it is on my list to check off to try. There is another vegan whipped cream that I'm familiar with, but have never tried, Healthy Top. I've used Soyatoo's regular Soy Whip (the kind you have to whip by hand) in recipes before as a replacement for heavy cream. Check out my Chick'n Divan recipe to see what I mean.

    I had forgotten what normal whipped cream looks like and how thick it is until recently when I went out to eat and someone got a dessert with it. This Extra Creamy Whip is thicker and creamier than the regular Soy Whip. Soy Whip has that light airiness too reminiscent of Reddi-wip. The Extra Creamy Whip is more like hand whipped cream where you see the heavier texture and feel the "dairy" more, if you will. I really recommend this one over the Soy Whip. I loved it!

    You can find Soyatoo at the Whole Foods near me, but otherwise, it is online at Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe and VeganEssentials.com.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Braised Tofu with Pilaf, Bok Choy, & Kabocha Sauce

    I wanted to try something different with kabocha and this is what I ended up with. It is a pretty dinner and was quite tasty. This dinner is for two, but feel free to double the recipes. It was inspired by this recipe.

    Braised Tofu with Pilaf, Bok Choy, & Kabocha Sauce

    * Prep Time: 15 minutes
    * Cook Time: 30 minutes
    * Ingredients (for braised tofu):
    • 2 slices firm tofu, sliced 1/2" thick, water pressed out
    • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp lemon
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
    * Ingredients (for pilaf):
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/3 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
    • 1 cup edamame, shelled
    • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice, follow box instructions to cook
    * Ingredients (for bok choy):
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 3 bunches baby bok choy, end trimmed
    • 1 tbsp garlic, minced 
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    * Ingredients (for kabocha sauce):
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
    • 1 cup kabocha squash, seeded, peeled, cubed
    • 1/8 tsp cumin
    • 1/8 tsp curry powder
    • 1/8 corriander
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 cup vegetable broth, add more if needed

    * Recipe (for braised tofu):
    1. To make braised tofu, heat olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Once hot, add tofu and lemon juice.
    2. Brown both sides making sure not to burn.
    3. Once browned, add the salt, pepper, and stock. Cover with lid and cook, turning over occasionally, until broth dissolves.
    * Recipe (for pilaf):
    1. Cook the rice according to box instructions. Set aside.
    2. In a medium skillet, add the olive oil and heat. Once hot, add the garlic, shiitake, edamame, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes until browned and tender.
    3. Toss in the green onions and cook for another two minutes. Remove from heat.
    4. Mix vegetables with the brown rice for a pilaf.
    * Recipe (for bok choy):
    1. In a medium skillet, add olive oil.
    2. Toss in the bok choy, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the leave begin to wilt and a fork can go through the stems.
    * Recipe (for kabocha sauce):
    1. In a small pot, add the olive oil and heat. Cook the onions and ginger until onions are translucent. 
    2. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook until the squash is tender to a fork.
    3. Puree in a blender. If the sauce is too thick, add more vegetable stock.
     * Recipe (to build dish):
    1. Using a small bowl, pack the rice pilaf inside. Carefully flip over onto a plate.
    2. Top rice with bok choy and braised tofu.
    3. Pour sauce over the dish and around sides.
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