Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rehearsal Dinner - Mudgie's Deli

As I mentioned in Friday's post, Brian's brother's wedding was this weekend.  Everything about the wedding worked out perfectly.  The bride and groom looked stunning, the food tasted delicious, the wine was free-flowing (perhaps a little too free-flowing, ha ha), the band sounded amazing, and the reception site looked beautiful.  We had a blast!

Although the food at the wedding was good, this post isn't going to be about that.  What I really want to tell you about is the rehearsal dinner at Mudgie's Deli.  (Please check out my previous Mudgie's post if you haven't seen it yet.)  Mudgie's is very small so Tony and Callie rented the whole place for the event.  They let the owner, Greg Mudge, know ahead of time that I'm vegan so he made sure that each course had an option for me.  He even either personally brought me my food or came to the table to let me know which items were vegan.  Talk about being accommodating!  He was just so super nice and friendly about it all, too.  And the food was absolutely amazing!  Everything was so fresh and delicious.  I can't say enough good things about the food!  Check out the pics of what I ate.

Plenty 'o Perkins Pickles

Mixed greens with strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette 

Strawberry basil gazpacho

Vegan slider and pasta salad

Oatmeal raisin cookie from Pinwheel Bakery and balsamic glazed strawberries

While everything was delicious, my favorite was the gazpacho.  I've never tasted anything like it.  Their soups change daily and are listed on their website and Facebook page.  If you haven't been to Mudgie's, be sure to stop in soon and check it out!

Mudgie's Deli is located at 1300 Porter Street in Detroit

Friday, July 27, 2012

Farmer's Market Fridays - 7/27/12

Friday already?  This week has flown by!  I know I haven't posted much lately but It's been a busy week around here for this Lady of Leisure.  Brian's younger brother is getting married tomorrow so I did a lot of running around earlier in the week hunting down shoes and accessories for my outfit.  And yesterday I was in Ann Arbor all day for a free Mayer Hawthorne concert, which turned out to be possibly the best show I've ever been to.  I went by myself, met some cool people to sit with in the SIXTH ROW, and sang and danced along with Mayer for over an hour.  If you don't know Mayer Hawthorne, do yourself a favor and check him out.  

Okay, on to the real reason you're reading this post.  The farmer's market.  I actually didn't buy very much today.  With the wedding this weekend we won't be home for dinner tonight or tomorrow and I very much doubt I'll feel like cooking on Sunday.  The only produce I bought was some zucchini and yellow squash from Farmer Glen to put on the grill later in the week.

Then I went to Cellar Door Soap Co.  I had already warned Brian that I would be buying soap today.  (He pretended he didn't hear me.  He can't say I didn't warn him.)  Now, before I get to the soap that I bought, let me tell you a little story.  A little story about NPH.  (That's Neil Patrick Harris, but you already knew that.)  This is the story told to me by Brandon from Cellar Door, who was oh so lucky to meet Dr. Horrible in the flesh.  (He's keeping his fingers crossed that he meets Nathan Fillion next.)

It was an especially busy Sunday at the Canton Farmer's Market, when who should happen upon the Cellar Door Soap booth but NPH himself (quite incognito in sunglasses, a baseball hat, and a striped tank top - I got to see a pic!).  He was on his own at the time, just sort of doing his thing, smelling the soaps.  (FYI - I asked about his soap-smelling technique.  It sounds like he's a bit of a dainty sniffer.  Unlike yours truly!)  Brandon was otherwise occupied and didn't recognize him.  Eventually NPH moved on to some other booths. Fortunately, his girlfriend had a keen eye and did recognize him so she scooted over with a bar of Sex Panther (their best-selling soap, BTW).  They were quite discreet and very cool about not making a scene for NPH, which I'm sure he appreciated.  He ended up going back to their booth and buying a bar of Pineapple Grove.  When I found out about this on Facebook I was so excited because I, too, had used Pineapple Grove just that morning!  My reaction to the news went something like this (and you'll note I brought out his full name because this was serious):

"Oh my God Neil Patrick Harris bought Pineapple Grove!  (pause)
I use the same soap as Neil Patrick Harris!!  (wait for it . . .)
I might smell just like Neil Patrick Harris!!!"

Unfortunately for Brian we were in the car so his ears were really ringing after that one.  Then I had to wait all week to hear the full story of NPH going to Cellar Door at the Canton Farmer's Market.  Oh, and for those of you who don't know why he might have been in Canton in the first place, his fiancĂ© is from the area and has family in Canton.  So there are NPH sightings around here from time to time.  I'm still hoping for one myself. Until then I live vicariously through others.

Pictured below are the soaps I bought today.  My mom bought Orange Clove for herself and a couple of bars of Sex Panther to send to some of my guy cousins.  Inappropriate? Perhaps.  But in my family?  Nah.

I also stopped, of course, at The Granola Tree and bought a jar of jam.  This is one that I tried a few weeks ago and made a mental note to buy another day.  Today was that day. This would be delicious made into a dressing to serve over a spinach salad with strawberries, walnuts, and mandarin oranges.  Or just spread over a hearty whole-grain piece of toast.  

Tomorrow night is the wedding.  It's going to be at the Rattlesnake Club in Detroit and it's going to be very swanky.  I'm even going to get a vegan meal!  You'll be getting a full report next week, plus notes on the rehearsal dinner, which will be tonight at Mudgie's Deli (stellar vegan sandwiches included).  

Happy weekend!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tofu and Veggie Skewers

If you're looking for a simple summer dish that doesn't requite a lot of prep work, cooks quickly on the grill, and tastes fresh and delicious, this recipe is for you.  Brian and I made it a few weeks ago.  It was a really hot day and our grand plans for grilled pizzas with homemade dough didn't exactly happen.  I was feeling lazy and wanted to make something super easy, like a frozen veggie stir-fry, but Brian was pushing for something a little more unique than that.  I think he came up with the idea of veggie skewers.  That seemed simple enough, plus he would be the one to do the actual grilling.  Bonus!

We had this new Black Soybean Tofuplus in the fridge that I'd picked up from Whole FoodsI only bought it because it was new, not because I knew about any health benefits of black soybean over yellow soybeans.  After doing some research online, however, it does appear that black soybeans may be more effective at cutting cholesterol than yellow soybeans.  But I don't really know.  Honestly, I sort of just thought that this tofu looked cool with the little specks of black in it!  Plus it's made with organic non-GMO soybeans.

Anyway, I threw the tofu in the TofuXpress (one of my must-have gadgets!) while Brian and I ran out to the store to grab a few veggies for our skewers.  You can get whatever you like to skewer and the amount you get totally depends on how much you want to eat. If you use tomatoes, keep them separate - they need a shorter grilling time. We have fancy-schmancy metal skewers.  I think if you have wooden ones you'll need to soak them first.

We ate this with a side of Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend, which is a mix of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa.  Yum!

Tofu and Veggie Skewers
(printable recipe)


1/2 package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 sweet onion (such as Vidalia), cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 green pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 yellow or red pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
Small zucchini squash, cut into 1-inch rounds
8 oz. whole button mushrooms, stems trimmed
8 oz. package cherry or grape tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar 
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
Olive oil spray

2 servings cooked rice or other grain


1. Press the tofu for about an hour to make sure all excess moisture has been removed.  Cut into 1-inch chunks and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and toss to coat.  Set aside.

2. Skewer your veggies however you'd like.  If using tomatoes, however, place them all on the same skewer.  They will require a shorter grilling time than the rest of the vegetables.

3. Place the skewers on a cookie sheet or in a pan and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, turning to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside to marinate for a bit.

4. Skewer your tofu chunks separately from your veggies, spritz with olive oil spray, and set aside.  Do not drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

5. Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat.  When it's ready, grill both the veggie and tofu skewers for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until evenly grilled on all sides.  The tomatoes should only take about 6 minutes so add those to the grill after the veggies and tofu have been on for about 5 minutes.

6. When everything is done, combine it all on two plates over cooked grain of choice and serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Have you ever eaten black soybeans?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Farmer's Market Fridays - 7/20/12

For the first time in a month the temperature was not already in the 80's when I left the yoga studio at 8 a.m.  I was actually chilly as I sipped my hot coffee and ate my oatmeal outside - but I was certainly not complaining!  What a nice change from 100+ degrees just a few days ago!

After breakfast at Starbucks my mom and I walked over to the market.  I only bought a few vegetables today - some red skin potatoes for Brian (he loves to grill them with garlic and fresh rosemary), a big basket of green and yellow beans, and 4 bright red tomatoes.  We chatted with Brandon from Cellar Door Soap Co. for a bit and I promised to buy soap next week (he said he'll have some new scents - ohhhh boy!).  The Granola Tree wasn't there today so I couldn't sample any jams and peanut butters, or buy another jar of Carrot Cake Jam.  Sad, right?

But then something even more amazing happened.  I met someone famous.  A local celebrity.  

It all began when I stopped at the Perkins Pickles booth to take a picture of their pickles.  (Their pickles are amazing and I needed a picture to share with those who aren't in the loop!)  There was a guy standing there and I looked at the label, then at him, then at the label, and back at him.  The following conversation ensued:

Me: "Is this YOU?"

Him: "Yes it is."

Me: "So YOU'RE Perkins?"

Him: "I'm Perkins."

Me: "I can't believe I'm meeting Perkins!  Of Perkins Pickles!"

And then I went on and on about how exciting it was and my mom said we were meeting a local celebrity and then I got my picture taken with him!  I'm pretty sure we made his day.  (At least we like to think so.)

I found out his name is Tom.  Tom Perkins.  Of Perkins Pickles.  And his pickles really are delicious.  They serve them with the sandwiches and burgers at Woodbridge Pub and Mudgies Deli and you can buy them at a variety of retail locations.  Check out their Facebook page for more details or stop by the market - maybe you'll be lucky enough to meet Tom Perkins yourself!

Oh, but I didn't buy any pickles today.  Instead I bought their chow chow, which is red cabbage, green tomatoes, pearl onions, carrots, and jalapenos.  I'm not sure what I'll try it on yet.  I'm thinking a kidney-quinoa burger or a salad.  It's delicious enough, however, that I could probably eat it straight from the jar!  Mmmmm, chow chow!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Woodbridge Pub - Summer Menu 2012

Woodbridge Pub recently introduced their summer menu and Brian and I stopped in last weekend to check it out.  As usual, there are quite a few vegan options.

Appetizers: Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, Grilled Vegetables
Soup: Gazpacho
Sandwiches: Stever McFever, White Bean Burger (both menu mainstays)
Entree: Ratatouille
Sides: Sweet Corn Salad, Cilantro Rice, Summer Vegetable Saute 

I wanted to try a few things (um, everything) so I ordered an appetizer, soup, and a side.  Our server was SO excited that I was getting three things.  He said, "I see what you're doing . . . and I LIKE it!"  Then he called me a rock star!  And when he brought me all my food out at once, I sure felt like one.  Or a food critic.  But I like rock star better.

Okay, so I went with the gazpacho, the grilled vegetables, and the sweet corn salad.  All of them were delicious, all of them are highly recommended, and all of them I would get again.  My favorite was by far the gazpacho.  So let's start with that.

Gazpacho - $3.50 (cup), $4.50 (bowl)

I've never really given gazpacho much of a chance.  Mostly because it's cold and to me cold soup just doesn't seem natural.  But on a 90 degree day, it really hit the spot!  The fresh tomatoes, basil, melon, and lime were a perfect flavor combination and it had just the right amount of spice to it.  I could have easily eaten more than one bowl of this!

Grilled Vegetables - $9.00

The grilled vegetable appetizer made a great mini-meal for one.  The zucchini, peppers, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, and yellow squash were grilled in olive oil and salt and came with some sort of oil and vinegar on the side for dipping and/or drizzling (I didn't try it, though).  There was also a baguette on the side.  The bread was good and I dipped it in my soup but it had a lot of oil on it.  Next time I will ask for it without any oil.  (I gave half of the slices to Brian to go with his pasta.)

Sweet Corn Salad - $4.00

While the sweet corn salad side dish didn't exactly go with my soup and vegetables, it did taste amazing!  Fresh, crisp corn mixed with peppers and cilantro and some kind of light dressing.  This would go well with the guacamole or pico de gallo and the Stever McFever black bean burger.   

I'm looking forward to going back to try the ratatouille and the other side dishes.  If I can get myself to order more than just the gazpacho, that is!

Woodbridge Pub is located at 5169 Trumbull in Detroit

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grilled Vegetable Stackers

This dish is amazing.  It's fresh - made with vegetables and basil you can get at the farmers' market or from your own garden*.  It's simple - just balsamic vinegar and a little seasoning.  It's healthy - no oil needed. 

And, not to brag (much), doesn't it even look a little bit gourmet?

You can certainly get creative with different veggies but whatever you do, do not leave out the fresh basil leaves.  That is what absolutely makes this dish pop!

*I did add some jarred roasted red peppers because I had some in the fridge that I needed to use up.  They weren't from the garden but I highly recommend using them!  Next time, however, I'll just grill my own peppers using this technique.

Serve these with a side of cooked grains - such as Israeli couscous or quinoa - and steamed green beans or sauteed kale.

Grilled Vegetable Stackers
(printable recipe)


1 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices or strips
2 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, plus extra for drizzling (if needed)
1 tbsp. pizza seasoning (mine is a blend of onion, bell peppers, fennel, oregano, garlic, basil, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, marjoram, celery flakes) or sub Italian Seasoning with some garlic powder and onion powder
1 roasted red pepper (packed in water, not in oil), sliced
Fresh basil leaves


1. Place the eggplant and zucchini slices in a large flat container with a lid.  Pour balsamic vinegar over vegetables and sprinkle with pizza seasoning.  Stir and flip slices until everything is evenly covered.  Place lid on container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat your grill.  (We use a gas grill so it heats up pretty quickly.  If you use charcoal it will obviously take longer to get it fired up and ready to cook.)  Stack and wrap tomato slices in foil.

3. When the grill is ready, place eggplant and zucchini slices on grill grates along with the tomato packet.  Grill for 10 minutes over direct medium heat, turning veggies and tomatoes once.

4. Now it's time to stack everything up!  How you do it is up to you.  I made three 3 stacks and they were all layered differently.  Just be sure to get all your veggies, along with the basil.  If you want to drizzle a little extra balsamic on top go ahead - but I didn't think it needed it.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pinwheel Bakery - Ferndale, MI

Yesterday Brian and I went to Ferndale to check out The Rust Belt Market, which is a collection of local artists/vendors.  Basically an Etsy that you can walk through.  It's pretty sweet. 

We don't go to Ferndale often and weren't really thinking about what else is there other than our destination.  Imagine my excitement, then, when I got out of the car and realized we had parked right in front of THE best place to buy vegan cookies in all of southeast Michigan - Pinwheel Bakery!

This was my first time actually going to Pinwheel Bakery but I've indulged in their cookies before.  For my 30th birthday party, Katie brought an enormous box of their cookies.  There were 5 different kinds (Sugar, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin, something with pecans?) and they were all amazing.  The texture is like the best homemade cookie I can imagine - a little crisp around the edges but soft and almost fluffy inside.  I know I ate at least 6 cookies just that night!  I've been wanting to get to Pinwheel myself since and just haven't made it out there. 

A peek inside

Yesterday they had 4 different vegan cookies - Oatmeal Date Ginger Pecan, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin, and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip.  I had to go with the Oatmeal Date Ginger Pecan.  And it was definitely the right call.  It was so yummy!  I loved the big chunks of ginger. 

Oatmeal Date Ginger Pecan Cookie - $1.75

They also had vegan brownies and the incredibly friendly girl working there said they have vegan muffins every morning, as well.  I'd actually love to go earlier in the day for coffee because inside Pinwheel Bakery is The Red Hook coffee shop.  Delicious coffee and a vegan muffin?  Yes please! 

Pinwheel Bakery is located at 220 W. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, Michigan 48220

Check out Pinwheel Bakery and The Red Hook coffee shop on Facebook!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Farmer's Market Fridays - 7/13/12

It's Friday again and you know what that means - another trip to the farmer's market!  It was a quick trip today.  My mom and I didn't stick around too long and I didn't buy much.  Just a few bunches of dinosaur kale, two eggplants, and some tomatoes - the 1st of the season!

I also bought some new jam from The Granola Tree.  There is actually coffee in the jam!  And hazelnuts.  In the jam.  It's amazing!  I am super excited about this one and already have some ideas formulating for what to do with it.  (Stay tuned!)

And then Friday took a very exciting turn when I went to the beach with my sis-in-law Jaime.  We basically spent the whole afternoon lounging on our rafts in the lake, listening to 90's rock blasting from the speakers.  It was pretty much the best day ever.  It's no Lake Michigan but we had a relaxing day in our own little paradise!

Happy Friday to you!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garden Fresh Pasta Primavera

Brian decided he wanted pasta for dinner this week.  Usually when Brian wants pasta it's a jar of red sauce with minimal vegetables and lots of noodles.  I'm a veggie-lover and not a big noodle fan so I usually compromise by steaming a plate of broccoli and carrots and subbing those in for most of the noodles.  We still basically have the same dinner - with a little extra prep - and we're both happy.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Brian's pasta suggestion was NOT for the usual red sauce but for a veggie-packed pasta primavera!  So this recipe is actually his idea.  I tweaked it a tiny bit but for the most part it was all him.  This is also one of those recipes that we sort of made up as we went along so it's quite forgiving with measurements and ingredients.  You can use your cook's intuition and just have fun with it!  Definitely take advantage of whatever fresh veggies you have available.  'Tis the season!

Garden Fresh Pasta Primavera
(printable recipe)


1 medium zucchini squash, sliced into 1/4-inch half moon shapes
1 meduim yellow squash, sliced into 1/4-inch half moon shapes
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch long slices
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 pepper (yellow, red, or orange), cut into 2-inch long slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine, plus more if needed
1 lemon, juiced
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste

2 servings cooked pasta


1. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil and heat.  Once the oil is good and hot, add the squash, carrot, broccoli, and pepper.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the white wine, lemon juice, and cherry tomatoes.  Stir and cover with a lid.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more wine if the veggies start to stick.  Be careful not to overcook the veggies - you want them crisp-tender, not soggy. 

3. When most of the wine has cooked away and the veggies are cooked but still crisp, season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in fresh basil leaves.  Serve over cooked pasta.

Serves 2.

The best part of cooking with wine is (of course) drinking some along the way!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Going Bananas

Here's one of those "It's funny because it's true but if I made this up it would be really dumb" stories.  And even so it's not all that funny but it makes me laugh to tell it.  So now I will share it with you.

I was at Kroger one day buying bananas, which I do at least 3 times a week.  (I eat a LOT of bananas!)  On this particular day they happened to be on sale and anytime bananas are on sale I have to take advantage.  So I had probably 2-3 huge bunches of ripe bananas in my arms when a woman says to me, in all seriousness, "Wow, you're really goin' bananas!"  Oh yes she did.  I looked at the armload of bananas I was holding and said, "I guess I am!"  What else could I say?  Then she wanted to know what I was going to do with all those bananas.  So I told her how I like to keep them in the freezer to have on hand for smoothies or banana bread.  She had never heard of A) freezing bananas or B) using bananas in smoothies.  All she knew to do with bananas was make banana pudding!  So I gave her a few tips and off she went with her bananas.  I'm still sure she thought I was crazy but I'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, she put a couple bananas in her freezer for a smoothie later on. 

I usually have bananas in 3 stages in my kitchen.  On average I eat 2 bananas per day so I have ready-to-eat, perfectly ripe bananas hanging on what I call the "banana hammock" (Brian HATES that I call it that - ha ha!) at all times.  

When they have become too brown, soft, and/or spotted to be eaten on their own, they will be transferred to the freezer.  Usually they will sit on the counter for a few days because I get lazy.  Also sitting on the counter, however, will be bags of sale bananas from the Dearborn Farm Market.  They have this amazing deal where you get a big bag of bananas for only $1.49!  Sometimes they are overripe and will go straight to the freezer (as seen below with the pile of bananas on the left) and sometimes they have yet to ripen and may make it to the hammock for regular everyday consumption (you can see the ones in the bag are still green).  It is such a great deal and I buy them so often that I swear they must think that I have a pet monkey.  And I like to let them think what they will.

And last are the bananas in the freezer.  I have a big container that I keep them in but sometimes they are also in freezer bags if I have a lot in there.  To freeze, just peel and either cut or break into chunks.  I like to just break them in half so I know later what I'm working with but you'll want to eventually break into smaller pieces when you go to blend them.

So there you go - next time they are on sale, you can really go bananas, too! Winking smile
Use frozen bananas to make some of my smoothie recipes:

Tropical Spinach Smoothie 

Do you keep bananas in your freezer?  What do you use them for?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Banana Bread - Pure & Simple

Go ahead and call me crazy, but I don't think anything belongs in banana bread other than bananas.  That means no nuts, no dried fruits, and definitely - DEFINITELY - no chocolate chips!  Chocolate chips would be the quickest way to ruin a perfectly good loaf of banana bread.  Walnuts are forgivable - occasionally and in small quantities.  But chocolate chips?  I just don't think we could be friends anymore.  Ha ha, I joke.  Or do I?

As I was saying, I prefer my banana bread pure, simple, and unadulterated.  And all in all, pretty darn healthy.  My egg replacement is ground flax seed, so there is a bit of healthy fat from that but I use applesauce instead of oil so it's a very low-fat recipe.  It isn't the lowest in sugar but hey, we all have our vices.  Feel free to use less if you'd like.  You could also sub in whole-wheat flour for some of the white.  I can't vouch for the results but please leave a comment below if you try it.

I like to enjoy this for an evening snack with some tea but it's definitely healthy enough that you could have it for breakfast.  If you'd like to make muffins instead of a loaf, pour the batter into 12 muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. 

This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook: 11th Edition.

Basic Banana Bread

(printable recipe)  


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground flax seed
3 tbsp. water
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 very ripe bananas)
3/4 sugar (I prefer Sucanat)
1/4 unsweetened natural applesauce
1 tbsp. old-fashioned oats


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 8x4x2-inch loaf pan and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

3. In another bowl, combine the flax seed and water and whisk well.  Add the mashed banana, sugar, and applesauce and stir to combine.  Add wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just combined.

4. Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle oats over the top and bake for 50-55 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack.  Allow to cool completely.  Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator.  As with most quick breads, this is best enjoyed the next day.

Makes 1 loaf.

Do you put chocolate chips or nuts in your banana bread?

* If you ARE one of those people, you can add about 1/2 cup walnuts and uh, I don't know how many chocolate chips.  Those have never entered my banana bread so I wouldn't know.  But you can Google it.  


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company - Detroit, MI

There's a new coffee shop in town - Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company.  We've been purchasing whole-bean Great Lakes Coffee at various retail locations, such as Westborn Market, as well as brewed cups at Avalon and Eastern Market for years.  It's excellent coffee and we love that it's a local roaster.

Monday was the grand opening of their new coffee shop, located on Woodward in Downtown Detroit.  The building is absolutely gorgeous.  You should go there even if you don't drink coffee, just to get a look at the place.  (But seriously, who ARE you?)  As you can see from the photos below, there are exposed brick walls and high wood ceilings.  The furniture is wooden with metals chairs and stools.  There's seating at the bar and along the huge glass windows, along with some small and large tables throughout the spacious and open room.  The big windows provide great natural lighting.  As I said, GORGEOUS.

The coffee is amazing, as well.  It was just their first week so I imagine (hope) they might be expanding their pour-over coffee offerings a bit.  When we were there they only had 2 choices - a light, fruity roast and a dark, bold roast.  I went for the dark roast - Kenya French Mission - and was not disappointed.  Their prices are definitely not cheap, though.  For just a regular-sized mug of coffee expect to pay either $2.75 or $4.50.  Like I said, I hope they'll expand their selection and have a few other things in between.  But it was a damn fine cup of coffee.  Brian had a latte that he was quite pleased with, as well.  And it had the fancy little leaf design on top - which I can't see without thinking of The Green Hornet - so we were both happy.

They have outdoor patio seating and - are you ready for this - are also a wine bar!  Coffee and wine under the same roof?  Genius!

Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company is located at 3965 Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Check out their Facebook page for more info.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Farmer's Market Fridays - 7/6/12

Just the usual summer Friday around here for a LOL - that stands for Lady of Leisure.  I met my mom at the yoga studio at 7 a.m. for an especially painful yoga session (thanks to my Tough Mudder Boot Camp workout at the park on the 4th of July - ohhhhh, so sore!)  Then we went to Starbucks where I had my Venti iced coffee and oatmeal.  Brian is off work this week so he met up with us there.  Even though it was already getting hot and humid at 8:30, it was nice in the shade.

Next stop was the Farmer's Market.  I bought another bunch of kale to make kale chips, some zucchini and yellow squash, green beans, peaches, and a rosemary plant.  I visited The Granola Tree again and sampled many of their delicious jams and peanut butters.  They have such unique flavors!  Last week I bought the Carrot Cake Jam, which makes amazing oatmeal.  This time I had a hard time deciding between the Mulled Wine and Blackberries, Strawberry Lemonade, and Strawberry Coconut.  Finally, knowing that I can and will return next week, I went with the Mulled Wine and Blackberries.  I think I'll make some homemade bread this weekend to spread it on.

I also remembered to take my knife to have it sharpened for $2 at Binell Brothers Cutlery.  It's a used one that I bought from them last year and it's seriously the best knife I own.  After sharpening the blade, the guy asked if I just wanted a new (used) one instead since it was sharper.  Same price!  Um, yes please!  So I got a brand new (used) super sharp knife for $2!  Sweet deal!  

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I exercised great restraint at Cellar Door Soap Co. and did not buy any soap.  That's correct.  I didn't buy any soap!  Did I think about it?  Yes I did.  Did I smell every bar there and mentally pick my 3/$15?  Yes I did.   But I set them down and walked away, singing a little Kelly Clarkson tune to myself. 

So that was my morning at the market.      

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Cupcake Station - various locations

Plymouth location - 318 Main Street

When you are craving a vegan cupcake - and I mean a real deal, totally delicious, buttercream-frosted vegan cupcake - look no further than The Cupcake Station.  There are 4 locations - Plymouth, Ann Arbor, Birmingham, and Ferndale.  Brian and I were in Birmingham the other day for "Two Buck Tuesdays" and I had this amazingly delicious bad boy right here for just $2.  That's right - just $2!

Vanilla cake filled w/ chocolate frosting

A few months ago I special ordered some mini cupcakes for my BFF Katie's baby shower.  Katie knew they were vegan but I didn't let anyone else in on the little secret until after everyone was already raving about how delicious they were.  (Not that people wouldn't have eaten them - I just love to drop the V-Bomb and surprise people!)  

Chocolate cake w/ vanilla frosting (left), Cookies & Cream (right)
Mixed berry (back), Vanilla cake w/ vanilla frosting (front)

Unfortunately, most of the cupcakes at The Cupcake Station are not vegan.  They only make a couple of Vabulous Vegan varieties each day.  (But as I always say, we vegans gotta take what we can get!)  Unless they're sold out, you're sure to get the chocolate and vanilla but from there it's a surprise.  When I was there on Tuesday they had Delicious Banana, which was banana cake with chocolate chips and walnuts, frosted with vanilla buttercream.  They also had frosting-filled (vanilla cake with chocolate frosting - see first photo - and chocolate cake with vanilla frosting).  When I picked up cupcakes for Katie's shower they had the Mixed Berry as the special flavor.  And if you want something specific, just call ahead.  They were very accommodating on the phone as to what they could make vegan. 

No matter what the flavor, you will not be disappointed, TRUST me!

Have you had vegan cupcakes from The Cupcake Station?  What flavors have you tried?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Easy "Cheesy" Kale Chips

Here's a snack that I've been meaning to share on the blog for some time.  It's one of our absolute favorites (especially Brian's) and when we made it again the other night, I made sure to snap some photos before they were only crumbs remaining.

There are a lot of recipes out there for kale chips and this isn't some new rocket science way to make them.  Basically most of the baking times and temperatures are about the same.  Some recipes use parchment paper and some use either olive oil or nonstick spray.  I've tried both and find that the parchment paper is a little more trouble than it's worth (personal opinion - some people swear by it).  I find the results are just as good with a good baking sheet and a little bit of non-stick spray.

There are also lots of packaged kale chips out there but they are awfully expensive.  I bought a massive bunch of kale last week at the farmers market for $2 (it made two recipes worth of kale chips!) and you can buy nutritional yeast at a bulk foods store for pretty cheap.  So not only are these quick and easy to make, but they are also cheap!

Easy "Cheesy" Kale Chips


1 bunch kale
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (plus additional to taste)
3/4 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. finely ground sea salt
Olive oil spray


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces, rinse and dry very well.  I use my salad spinner and then pat it dry with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture.  You want the leaves as dry as possible.

3. Put the leaves in a large bowl.  Spritz lightly with olive oil spray and sprinkle with nutritional yeast, chili powder, and sea salt.  Toss to coat. 

4. Lay kale on 2 baking sheets lightly lined with olive oil spray.  For additional cheesy goodness, give another light spritz with the olive oil and sprinkle on more nutritional yeast, to taste.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they are crisp, watching closely so they don't burn (I rotate the pans after 10 because my oven doesn't bake evenly).  Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jammin' My Oatmeal

Last week at the farmer's market I picked up some Carrot Cake Jam from The Granola Tree. The ingredients are simple and natural - carrots, pineapple, apple, sugar, lemon, pectin, pecans, and spices.  All fresh, nothing weird or unpronounceable, which is what I look for when buying jam at the farmer's market.

Yesterday I decided to stir some into my morning oats to make a quick and easy carrot cake oatmeal.  Oh my.  It was amazing.  Just like carrot cake!  And oh so easy.  I hardly need to include a recipe, but it will look more professional if I do.  (ha ha)

Carrot Cake Jam Oatmeal
(printable recipe)


1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use Almond Breeze) 
splash of vanilla extract (optional)
2 tbsp. carrot cake jam
1/4 cup raisins


1. Combine oats, almond milk, and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl and stir.

2. Microwave on high power for 2 minutes.  Stir and microwave for another 30 seconds.

3. Add jam and raisins.  Stir well and cover for 3 minutes before eating.  

Makes 1 serving.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sidelined - But Not Benched

I told you how I hurt my tailbone 2 weeks ago at Tough Mudder on the Slip 'N Slide.  (At least that's what I self-diagnosed the injury as.)  It didn't hurt to sit unless I leaned back on it but as long as I was careful, sitting was fine.  No, what mostly hurt was running or walking too fast.  It was the impact that really bothered me.  And taking big strides.  Ugh, it was killing me!  Not to be able to run, I mean.

Since I'm a runner, and slightly um, OCD if you will, that first week back I tried to ignore the pain and run on it anyway.  I went for short, slow runs but they were excruciatingly painful.  I tried taking Aleve and icing it but it made absolutely no difference.  By the end of the week I finally came to my senses and decided I would just have to give myself a break.  We were in Denver for the weekend so that was a good chance to rest.  No only was there no time but I was also not prepared to run in the high temps and altitude!  So, I rested.  Completely.  I didn't even use the hotel gym.  (It was not easy - trust me!)

I thought after a weekend of resting I would be ready to go so I tried running Monday morning.  Bad idea.  It was a very short run.  That was my last run for the week.  

But it was not my last workout.  That's where my gym membership comes in quite handy!  Most of my other workouts are non-impact so I was able to keep up with all of my cross-training.  I just increased my time in the gym a bit, which was okay since temps climbed into the upper 90's again this week and running outside didn't sound too pleasant anyway. 

These are the things that worked for my tailbone injury*:
  • Indoor cycle (being careful getting in/out of the saddle)
  • Stair Master
  • Elliptical
  • Yoga (standing poses were best)
  • Weight machines (no inner/outer leg press)
  • Boot Camp (avoiding running, squat jumps, high jacks, etc.)

Today I laced up my running shoes and decided to give it another go.  I've given my tailbone almost a week of rest so I thought why not?  Amazingly enough, it was not sore at all!  I ran 3.7 miles and felt great!  I wanted to run farther but also didn't want to push my luck.  I can do more tomorrow. 

Lesson learned?  When you are injured it isn't worth it to try and power through if it's only going to delay your recovery.  Or potentially make your injury worse.  Take the time you need to let your body rest and heal.  It might not be easy - TRUST ME - but in the end it's the best thing you can do.

But on the flip side, unless you need a total-body recovery, don't use an injury as an excuse to sit on your ass and do nothing!  Find exercises that you CAN do while your injured parts heal. 

*NOTE: Obviously, I do not have a degree in sports medicine and every injury is different so please consult your doctor and use your best judgement when deciding which exercises are best to engage in when you have an injury!

Have you been sidelined from an injury?  Were you still able to workout?