Honeymoon – Houston

Houston was… interesting. First off, two weeks before we left I received an email saying that our hotel was cancelled. Upon further investigation, I learned our hotel had out of the blue decided to shut down.

The city’s other hotels were packed due to an oil conference, so we were forced to get a super sketchy hotel (like sketchy enough for us to shove our coffee table against the door) on the outskirts of town.

Despite this set back, we decided to start our one day in the city early by taking the bus into the downtown business district.Lunch was at Green Seed Vegan,  a little neighborhood eatery and juice bar. The staff was a bit curt, but the atmosphere was nice and honestly we were just relieved to be someplace with ice cold air conditioning after wandering around in the Texas heat.Peter got a portobello cheese steak and dill fries. The sandwich was just okay, not a ton of flavor and bread was a bit stale seeming. The fries were spot on though, I never would have thought to put dill on themMy jackfruit barbeque sandwich was equally mediocre. The sauce tasted good, but the jackfruit had been cooked down to a mush and the bun was a bit stale too. While I was happy to find a 100% vegan restaurant in the middle of the city, I probably wouldn’t return because the food wasn’t anything to call home about.We decided to walk to the museum district instead of taking a bus, which I’m glad about because otherwise we would have missed some of Houston’s awesome street art.        Some of the paths we walked were truly beautiful and surprisingly green for being in the middle of a city.      The Houston Museum of Natural Science was awesome with a large dinosaur section (with a very excited Peter because he had previously never seen a dinosaur skeleton), Egyptian exhibit, and a huge pendulum that was fascinating to watch.Dinner was at the Hobbit Cafe, a bizarre restaurant we found through Yelp.  While some of the sandwiches had themed names like Smaug’s Delight and Bilbo the Magnificent, the menu mainly consisted of Tex-Mex food. I got the portobello mushroom fajitas without cheese or sour cream and our very helpful server offered to bring extra salsa and guacamole on the side to replace the non-vegan items. Peter got the cheese enchiladas.

The food was amazing. The fajitas were well-seasoned with finely sliced vegetables, and even the side items (brown rice and black beans) which I assumed would be plain, were full of flavor.And while the food was great, nothing could beat the decor. Everyplace from the entrance to the bathrooms was Middle Earth themed. It was fantastic spot if you’re interested in Tolkien’s work, but even if you’re not a big fan, you can still appreciate the delectable menu offerings. 

Four-Way Chili Mac

“Copy cat” recipes seem to be all the rage as of late. I can’t get onto Pinterest without seeing at least one pin proclaiming to have found the secret ingredients to some sauce or batter. Now this is not a copy cat recipe below, but more of a vegan tribute to something I remember fondly from childhood.

It has been several years since I last ate Three-Way Chili at Steak and Shake, but it was brought to mind when some of the beloved diner chain’s coupons were put (in vain) in our mailbox. I don’t really know exactly when I first tried the dish, but what I do know is that my young self was in awe of the meal because it was a combination of two of my favorite foods: chili and spaghetti. I still love both of those to this day, so a vegan update to the meal was a necessary one.

Four-Way Chili Mac

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. package whole-wheat thin spaghetti
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans red beans
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup diced white onions

Directions:

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions and drain.
  2. In a large pot combine red beans through salt. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer. Combine cornstarch with cold water and pour into the chili mixture. Stir well and continue to simmer until a thick saucy texture is achieved.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.
  4. Divide cooked pasta among serving plates, topping each with a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce, a hearty scoop of chili, and a sprinkle of white onion.

Nutrition per serving:
Calories: 383 Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 0g Protein: 18g Carbohydrates: 78g Sugars: 11g

Memphis – Imagine Vegan Cafe

A few weeks ago, Peter and I took a quick trip to see my mom in Arkansas. Since our route goes through Memphis, we decided to stop there for lunch and found some great places with the help of Happy Cow.

This first post is about our stop on the way up, Imagine Vegan Cafe. It’s located in an upcoming neighborhood and the restaurant is nestled in a small renovated home. I was pleasantly surprised by there being an entirely vegan restaurant in a city well known for barbecue and fried chicken (and Elvis, but that part is irrelevant).

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The place is cozy and feels more like a home than a restaurant with its mismatched plates and motivational poster decorations.

We started off with the appetizer sampler because everything sounded too good to choose just one item. It included potato skins, chicken nuggets, pigs in a blanket, buffalo wings, and hush puppies served with a side of ranch and sour cream.

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Our main dish choices were stuffed ravioli with garlic bread and chicken fried steak with garlic kale and mac and cheese.

Peter’s ravioli was decent, but I think the sauce could do with a bit more herbs and maybe some vegetable chunks. It was just a bit bland to me.

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The chicken fried steak was amazing. It was a fried seitan base with a creamy white gravy on top. The accompanying garlic kale was flavorful and fresh tasting. The mac and cheese had a deliciously thick and creamy sauce and it is something I will definitely get again next time.

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We got dessert to-go because we were outrageously full from the main course. I chose an orange fauxstess cupcake and Peter got the chocolate hazelnut cake. Both were later devoured (after arriving in Arkansas) and didn’t fail to amaze us.

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