Posts tagged dessert

Caramel Pecan Bars

During my recent trip to Asheville, I wandered into the fantastic Malaprop’s Bookstore. There was a huge selection of vegan cookbooks, and I decided to finally buy Veganomicon and Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar, both by authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. So far, I’ve made three cookie recipes and one entree from these books, with delicious results.

Caramel Pecan Bars

Caramel Pecan Bars from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

First, I made everybody’s favorite, chocolate chip cookies. These were pretty standard, and that is good for a plain chocolate chip vegan cookie. A lot of the ones I’ve made before taste a little too whole-wheaty for me, and these taste like the “regular” kind. Next, I made the caramel pecan bars which blew my mind. OMG they are so good, like eating a convenient mini pecan pie. Everyone who tried them loved them, and I will be making many, many more batches. The final cookie I chose to make was the Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Brownie (not really a cookie, I know). These were tasty, but they were a lot of work to make. I feel like they weren’t worth all the energy that went into making them. Which is easily remedied, because the base of these brownies is the plain chocolate brownie recipe just two pages previous in the book. And the actual brownie was the best part anyway.

 

My Big Fat Vegan Asheville Vacation

I just spent a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend trip with my boo.  We decided to go on a pseudo-staycation, so I wouldn’t have to take time off work. We picked Asheville, NC because of its status as hippie-crunchy mecca of the East Coast, and because we haven’t been to Asheville since the Biltmore Estate field trips of our elementary school days. It was only a four hour drive from Raleigh, but in hindsight, we should have stayed two nights instead of just one.

On Saturday afternoon, we toured the magnificent Biltmore Estate and later attended the Asheville Symphony’s Romeo and Juliet. Both highly recommended, but what had me on cloud nine was the city’s culinary delights. We ended up eating so much, we’re still full two days later.

Saturday night, we dined at Mela, an Indian restaurant on North Lexington Avenue. Mela is an omni restaurant with a heavy vegetarian and vegan selection. I ordered a salad of spinach, mango, beets, candied walnuts, and jicama, along with a raspberry and coconut milk martini, just for starters(!) The salad totally outshined my entree, the aloo gobi masala, which was a wee bit too spicy for my tastes.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake at French Broad Chocolate Lounge

For dessert, we headed to French Broad Chocolate Lounge, an all-natural gourmet chocolate bar featuring decadent truffles, cakes, cookies, and mousses. I ordered a slice of the vegan chocolate cake, made with Theros olive oil, rich cocoa powder, and agave nectar. I also got an individual “Buddha” vegan truffle made with dark chocolate and coconut milk. I practically inhaled them both.

Tofu Benedictine

Tofu Benedictine at Laughing Seed Cafe

The next morning, with martini and chocolate hangovers, we went to the Laughing Seed Cafe for the organic Sunday brunch. With a completely vegetarian menu, Laughing Seed was right up my alley. I ordered the “Tofu Benedictine,” a spin on my old favorite, eggs benedict. My plate was piled high with “scratch-made biscuit, grilled organic tofu, grilled tomato, sautéed spinach, and seitan sausage over grits with herb oil and béarnaise.” Breakfast was so delicious, I finished my meal and wanted to actually lick the plate clean.

truffles

Vegan Buddha Truffles collection at French Broad

So after brunch, we decided to walk around town. Somehow, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge seemed to pull us back in, and we ended up in line for brunch dessert… which is not really a thing people do. But I managed to down yet another piece of that decadent, moist, vegan chocolate cake, and purchase a six-pack of vegan truffles for later consumption. The cashier kindly asked me if I would like a bow for the truffle box, but I pointed to my stomach and said they were going straight in there. “Word,” she said.

After a day of sight-seeing around downtown (two fantastic stores are Malaprop’s Bookstore and Blitzkrieg Games), we headed to Wasabi sushi for an early dinner before heading home. All I can say is Holy Cow they have Tempura Sweet Potato sushi rolls. My boo and I agreed it was one of the best sushi meals we’ve ever had.

sushi

Avocado and Tempura Sweet Potato Rolls at Wasabi

I have to say, I am left feeling pretty disappointed after this trip. Not in Asheville of couse, which was like a vegan’s dream world. I’m disappointed that Raleigh is so much larger and more populated, and yet we have only a fraction of the cool eateries and local, sustainable ideology Asheville seems to have. Maybe I’m just bitter, but here in Raleigh it’s like you have to hunt for a nutritious, local, vegan meal. Yes, we have Irregardless and we have Remedy, and I love those restaurants. But in Asheville, we couldn’t walk down the street without finding yet another place overflowing with vegetarian food. In any case, Asheville just became my second favorite foodie vacation spot (I think Western Mass will always be number one for me).

Kim Barnouin’s Crêpes with Raspberry Sauce

Crepe

My crêpe with mixed berry sauce

Kim Barnouin’s Skinny Bitch cookbook is quickly becoming my go-to for deliciousness. I made her Crêpes with Raspberry Sauce for brunch on Sunday, and they were so decadent. Instead of raspberries, I used some frozen mixed berries for the sauce (that’s why it looks dark purple instead of red). The crepes were fluffy and light, but crisp on the edges, and the sauce was simple and perfectly sweet. Next time I make these, I think I’ll make the berry sauce and also make some chocolate sauce to drizzle.

I have to admit, I am seriously impressed by this cookbook. I am starting to like it more than The Kind Diet, which was the book that made me switch to veganism in the first place. I also need to get Veganomicon, which my friends all rave about. What do you think? Should I get Veganomicon or is there another cookbook that beats them all?

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