Tag Archives: food

Vegan Cheese Taste Test

I’m not vegan. However, I’m on a nutritional path that might just lead me there someday. If I tried to explain that path here, I’m afraid we’d have a novel instead of a blog entry! Suffice to say, I’m on a search for tasty vegan alternatives to dairy cheese.

If you’re not familiar with the benefits of eating vegan, I recommend reading these posts:

Below is a summary of tasting notes from my friend (also not vegan) and me. 

(If you’re viewing this on a desktop computer, you can click the image to enlarge it.)

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Cheese plate

Vegan Cheeses from L–>R: Chao’s, Treeline, Follow Your Heart, Miyoko’s and Heidi Ho.

A few weeks after I did the comparison of the five cheese above, I also bought a package of Chao’s Creamy Original, and put it up against the Follow Your Heart Provolone-style cheese in a meltability battle royale of grilled cheesy goodness. The verdict? Both were great! I do not feel the need to buy conventional dairy cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches anymore; both completely satisfied the grilled cheese craving for me in terms of taste and texture. For bread, I used the Alvarado St. Flax Seed Wheat (delicious!) and instead of butter on the outside I slathered on some of the Heidi Ho Smokey Chia Cheeze.

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grilled cheese

Have you tried any vegan cheeses? Did you like them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments below!

Pointers for Potlucks

Food often accompanies the festive winter holidays and what better way to make a gathering easier to manage than hosting a potluck? Here are a few of the tools I recommend for streamlining the scheduling and the menu planning.

Scheduling made easy:

My favorite solution to find the best date and time that works for an event is Doodle. Trying to coordinate schedules for multiple people can be a bit of a bear. Below is a screenshot of a fake poll that I set up to show a hypothetical potluck that is scheduled for April of 2016. As you can see from the user interface, folks can enter their name and availability. In this instance, Sat., April 9 at 12pm works best for everyone.

Menu planning made easy:

As for the dishes and accoutrements, this year I discovered the online tool Perfect Potluck. It is wonderful for coordinating ownership for various items. As the host you can list out what you think you’ll need; e.g.,: 3 appetizers, 4 mains, 2 desserts,  2 bottles of wine, 12-pack of soda, etc.  Then, participants can easily sign up. In the screen shot below for a summer picnic potluck, the names and phone numbers have been blocked for privacy.

 Our Favorite Potluck Dish

And speaking of the menu…perhaps you’d like to try one of our favorite recipes for your next gathering?

Meredith…My go-to potluck dish is Mac ‘N Cheese! My fiancé and I are suckers for cheesy goodness over pasta, but I don’t often make macaroni and cheese unless I’m making it for a crowd (goodness knows we’d devour the whole dish in one sitting!). I’ve tried several recipes over the years, but this Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese from Mommy? I’m Hungry! food blog is one of my favorites. Pasta, cheese, and butter…does it get any better? This dish is the homemade version of the classic bluebox from Kraft that started it all! Mac ‘n cheese is always a crowd-pleaser, and with this recipe you get it right every time!

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Kristi…Whenever a potluck calls, I immediately think salads. First, my husband is a strict Paleo so I unfortunately have to stay away from those delicious casserole dishes and decadently sweet treats (…MOST of the time). He’s a major green veggie eater, and so am I, so salads tend to meet both of our needs. What I love about bringing a salad is that you can completely ‘style’ your salad to a specific occasion or season—something with fresh citrus, avocado and romaine for the Summer, to a cranberry and roasted walnut over a bed of spinach for the Fall. I typically start with some of my favorite blogs, including Gimme Some Oven who has a beautiful gallery of salad recipes, but I do like to go off the grid and incorporate in seasonal veggies that I have on hand. Finally, salads are incredibly portable. I typically weave as many ingredients as I can and bring a small mason jar of dressing. Also, there are so many fantastic multi-functional containers that allow you to prep, transport and serve your dish.

Salad 1

Bri… Seasonal fruit salad. (You can tell I’m not the chef of the group!) For a potluck this fall, I’ll likely use persimmon and pomegranate. For taste, price and environmental benefits, I prefer to use organic produce from local farmers, so shopping at my town farmers’ market makes it quite easy to put together a sweet and healthy dish for potlucks.

fruit salad

Bon Appétit!

Fall in Los Angeles: Fashion, Food and Fun!

Despite the current heat wave in LA, fall is here! In between the ninety-plus days, there are moments of a cool breeze, colorful leaves and other reminders to embrace fall. Fall is one of my favorite seasons—not only does my birthday fall in the autumn months, but this is also the time to break out cozy sweaters, comfort food recipes and pumpkin everything! In honor of fall finally being here (hooray!), I’m sharing my fall fashion, food and fun!

Fall Fashion:
I will admit that I’ve been on a bit of a shopping hiatus recently as my fiancé and I are saving for our wedding, but I did make one recent splurge. When I think fall fashion, I picture cozy sweaters, tights and boots and plaid…lots of plaid. I’ve been on a hunt for a comfortable, plaid button-up shirt, that doesn’t look too western, but still rustic…and I found it! The “Flannel Ex Boyfriend Shirt in Bainbridge Plaid” from Madewell pairs perfectly with jeans and boots for a casual style, and tucks into skirts for a more polished look. I’m so pleased with my purchase, and know that I will be wearing this piece into the forthcoming cooler months!
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Fall Food:
As soon as summer comes to an end, I start thinking about the fall recipes I’ve put away for hibernation. As I leaf through my fall favorites, I begin salivating over fall flavors—apple, cranberry, cinnamon, sage, pumpkin (lots of pumpkin!) and butternut squash. Pasta is a “special occasion” dinner in our household these days (hello wedding diet!), so this week, I deemed Monday a special occasion so I could have an excuse for Spaghetti with Creamy Butternut Leek Parmesan Sauce. My fiancé and I gobbled this dish right up (not before putting some aside for the next day’s lunch!) and gushed about the creamy deliciousness that filled our bellies!

Oct25_image4Fall Fun!
There is much fun to be had during the autumn months…haunted houses, hayrides, pumpkin carving, apple picking, just to name a few! Last year, I ventured to Oak Glen, CA for a day of apple picking, and had such a blast that I wanted to do it again this year! Unfortunately, apple season ended earlier that I expected, but after a bit of research I learned that in addition to apples, you can also pick fruits, berries and pumpkins!

With a great deal of excitement my fiancé and I, and two dear friends headed up to Oak Glen for a handpicked day of fun! As we drove the 5-mile loop of Oak Glen, we were surrounded by rolling hills, open fields and orchards—for the day we felt transported out of LA and into the countryside! We picked pumpkins, pressed our own apple cider, and enjoyed tasty treats (apple cider mini donuts!) as we journeyed from farm to farm! Our day felt full with fall! As we drove home, reminiscing on the enjoyment had, we all agreed that we’d back in the Springtime for a berry-picking!

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What are you doing to celebrate fall? Please share your fall favorites with us!