Month: February 2012

Warm your Heart Indoor 5K


Yesterday I ran a 5K in shorts in Chicago in February and not because of global warming The Warm yourHeart 5K was an indoor race, a single loop course through McCormick place. It was in the space that hosts the Chicago marathon expo, plus the room behind that expo hall and the expo hall across from it. There was a lot of zigzagging through the rooms like an amusement park line.


The lanes were fairly large, so it wasn’t crowded. There was also a wave start. I was thinking with all the turns that I’d probably do a 7:30 pace and was debating starting in the first wave (the 6 & 7 min/mile paces) or the second (8 min/mi pace). I went with the second wave and it was the first time I’ve been right at the start line when the gun went off (or air horn, as the case may be). The turns slowed me down a bit, but it was a fun race. It was well organized. A little stuffy inside, but no wind, of course. The only complaint I have is the water stop. I didn’t stop for water and most people ahead of me didn’t either, but spilled water on a concrete floor can be dangerous. I ran back by the water stop at mile 3 and already the water was coming over and making the floor a little slippery. Hopefully, no one fell.


I finally wore my no meat athlete t-shirt to a race!

I didn’t hit the start button on my watch hard enough, so I don’t know my splits, but my finish time was 23:01. That’s a 7:26 pace and it put me in 9th place (out of 218) in my age group.

Top Chef Wednesday: Quinoa Pilaf & Curried Sweet Potato Mash


This quinoa pilaf recipe by Andrea Beaman goes all the way back to season 1. It’s a vegetarian recipe, but not much needed to be done to make it vegan – just make sure to use a vegan sausage and use Earth Balance instead of butter. I needed to use up my Field Roast sausages so I doubled the sausage and cut the cranberries. The sausages had apple in them, so there was a little sweetness from that to replace the cranberries. I could have sworn the picture with the recipe used red quinoa, so that’s what I bought at the store, but I guess I was thinking of the red cranberries? It was a tasty dish; loved the fresh sage.

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Happy Mardi Gras

It’s Fat Tuesday, Sassafras’s favorite holiday! To celebrate we had Tofu Jambalaya from Fat Free Vegan and okra. I probably should have drained the tofu a little more, but the flavors of the dish were great.

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I attempted to make hand grenades, but this recipe was just awful. I watered it down with some ginger ale so we could drink it. It wasn’t like being at the Tropical Isle, but that’s probably a good thing.

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And finally, king cake! It’s not Mardi Gras without one. I made a cream cheese filled king cake this year and this recipe from PETA is pretty good, but it was hard to tell when the cake is done. I baked it longer than the stated 20 minutes, but it probably should have stayed in a little longer.

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Serious Eats Goes Vegan

For the four weeks between January 14th and February 11th, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Managing Editor at Serious Eats adopted a completely vegan lifestyle. He updated his progress with diary entries and recipes. It’s nice to see someone in the food industry take veganism seriously. He didn’t choose to stay vegan at the end of his experiment, but it’s generally positive reporting. Plus, there are some great looking recipes, including this Chickpea, Potato, and Spinach Jalfrezi with Cilantro Chutney. It was delicious!

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My First Cupcake Job

My friend Nancy had to bring cupcakes to a baby shower. She planned to buy cupcakes from Costco (!!) so I volunteered to bake four dozen cupcakes for her. It gave me the opportunity to try out my newest cookbook: Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes

Rubber Duckie – yellow dyed vanilla cupcakes  and blue buttercream frosting

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Pea pod cupcakes: chocolate love (from Doron’s new cookbook) with vanilla buttercream

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Baby sheep & chicks: carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

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Glittery lemon scented vanilla cupcakes with lemon buttercream

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All packed up and ready to go!

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Valentine’s Day at Expressly Leslie

I have been terribly sick since last Friday with some kind of sinus infection, but after three days of antibiotics, the majority of my remaining ailments are the medication’s side effects (which, honestly, are just as bad as being sick). I have two more days of this nonsense. But fortunately, I felt well enough to enjoy a Valentine’s Day dinner with H at the best restaurant in Woodstock, Expressly Leslie.  The only thing that could have made this night better was the bottle of champagne that we had to leave at home because I was still taking antibiotics.


It started with a buffet of delicious dips and pita bread.

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I tried to get all the vegan dishes, but they didn’t fit on my plate. The spicy potatoes and Muhammara were my favorite dishes.


The lentil soup was also very good.


My favorites from the entree were the savory kunafa and the veggie kebab.

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And what is Valentine’s Day without dessert. The oranges and syrup were good and that thing behind the carrot cake was surprisingly delicious, but my favorite was the truffle. I love their vegan truffles!

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Groundhog Day Party


Menu for the Second Annual Groundhog Day Party

Crackers and veggies with sun-dried tomato hummus and cilantro hummus
Chips and salsa
Mixed green and avocado salad with cilantro-cumin vinaigrette
Brazilian Collard Greens
Citrus Rum BBQ tempeh sandwiches with coleslaw
Mango black beans with rice
Peanut butter bites
Gluten-free blueberry crumb cake
Groundhog cupcakes

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Chicago Soydairy Field

Superbowl XLVI -a game where we all got together to cheer against the Patriots for the Giants.

I dream of the day when an NFL team plays in a stadium named after its vegan sponsor, but until then we can create, and eat, the Chicago Soydairy Field: a “stadium” made with Dandies rice crispy treats, “fans” of tortilla chips, a “field” of Teese Nacho Sauce, salsa, & guacamole (and black bean dip if your field is large enough), and pretzel rod “goal posts.”



  • 1 bag of Dandies marshmallows*
  • 3 tablespoons margarine*
  • 6 cups brown rice cereal*
  • 1-2 containers of Teese Nacho sauce (heated when served)
  • guacamole (I mashed 2 avocados with a minced garlic clove and stirred in finely chopped cilantro, lime juice, salt and chopped tomato)
  • salsa (I just used salsa from a jar, but made it fancy by putting cilantro on top)
  • Black bean dip
  • Two colors of Tortilla chips
  • pretzel rods

*If you are going all out and have enough people to eat two batches of rice crispy treats, double this.

You will also need:

  • a huge platter or table space (I used a cookie sheet and only had room for 3 dips, but I had to carry it)
  • 3-4 rectangular dishes or a dish with dividers (I used mini bread loaf pans)
  • toothpicks

For the rice crispies, I just used the basic Kellogg’s Rice Krispy Treat recipe: melt margarine, melt in marshmallows (stirring the whole time), remove from heat, stir in cereal, spread in a 9×13 pan covered in cooking spray, cool and slice.

And the rest is pretty self-explanatory. Build a wall with your rice crispy treats, put the 3-4 dishes in the middle and surround with chips. To make the goal posts, break off pretzel rods to your desired size and use 3 toothpicks (per goal post) to hold pretzels together.

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Happy Groundhog Day!

The most wonderful time of the year! Last year the festivities were canceled because of the blizzard; this year it was a toasty 32 degrees and there was a large crowd at the Woodstock Square.

The Square is still decked out with Christmas lights. I love fog. Maybe not when I’m driving, but for standing around, it has a calming effect.

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I arrived at the Square shortly before seven, so I caught some of the singing. The guest of honor (besides Woodstock Willie, of course) was Bryan White. His career must be going nicely.


Woodstock Willie dancing


Woodstock Willie waiving to the poor people on the side who can’t see anything.


Woodstock Willie did not see his shadow (yay!). Spring will be here soon!

I really wish they didn’t use a real groundhog. They have the big mascot, who is the highlight of the event; a stuffed groundhog would do the job. It’s not like the groundhog actually predicts the weather. The groundhog comes from some animal rental company and that kind of makes me sick. How is it treated in captivity and how traumatic is it being stuffed in a fake tree stump and then shown off to a big group of fans and cameras? It’s a fun celebration and groundhogs are  cute (and often overlooked), so it’s nice that they get their day, but there is no need to use a live animal.

Bye-bye, Willie!


Top Chef Wednesday: Enchiladas with Onion & Seitan

Another vegan recipe from Top Chef Masters. This recipe is from Vegas chef  Alessandro Stratta: Enchiladas with Onion & Seitan.  This was very good and pretty easy. I made seitan from Fat Free Vegan and cut up some veggies in the morning, so it was more manageable in the evening.  The onions have a good kick with all the chili powder. I wiped the pan with a paper towel in between, but I used the same pan to caramelize the onions and toast the pumpkin seeds, so the pumpkin seeds also had a bit of chili powder on them. The pumpkin seeds were my favorite part of the dish.

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