Monday, October 27, 2014

Tasty Travels: Pulse Vegan

I'm so excited to be in Austin, Texas again. It is a wonderful city full of great music and delicious food! Upon arriving in Austin, we headed out to grab some lunch. (Gotta love the food truck spots... Multiple foods for any taste bud all in one place.)

I chose to grab a BBQ Seitan salad and rosemary fries from the Conscious Cravings food truck. The BBQ sauce was AWESOME! Sweetened with agave there was also a great tang and the kind of heat that doesn't necessarily burn... But it makes ya sweat! (My favorite!). The rosemary fries were so tasty! Imagine roasted potatoes with rosemary but as fried finger food. YUM!

Today, my mom, sister and I walked in and out of a bunch of shops, restaurants, and bakeries before we decided on the South First Food Court for lunch.  

We found Pulse Vegan, an all vegan food truck owned and operated by Colin Sheffield.  Relatively new to the Austin food truck scene, Pulse Vegan opened the truck's window just 5 months ago on May 29th, 2014.

I ordered "The Philly" and the "Sides Trio" (a sampler of the 3 sides the truck offers). According to Colin, The Philly is one of the most popular menu items, and I could definitely taste why!  The peppers and onions were cooked to the point that they were soft but still had an impactful crunch.  The tempeh (local, from The Hearty Vegan) was cooked on a flat top, making it crispy on the outside, and topped with Daiya Chedder-style "cheese".  What really made the sandwich for me was the homemade Cajun mayo.  I even got extra on the side because I wanted it on everything! The sandwich was served on a ciabatta roll which added a really great chew to the sandwich.
The "Sides Trio" was just as delicious and the perfect option to try multiple things on the menu without TOTALLY pigging out! 

The savory greens were AWESOME! They were perfectly cooked so that they were tender but yet still crisp, and... as you can see in the picture they are still actually green! They aren't that swampy mud color that comes from overcooking the greens. The did not have a greasy/slimey feel to them and the taste...?  Well, "fresh", "clean", and "savory" were the words out of my mom's and sister's mouths! It was true! Colin cooks the greens in a savory broth that contains allspice and thyme, which created a warmth but still maintained a lightness to the side dish.  (I can't believe I'm going to say this but... I may have sipped on the broth after I finished my lunch... DON'T JUDGE!!! IT WAS THAT GOOD!)  

Next up was "The Mac". Colin told me that he was very proud of his mac, and he very well should be.  It was a delightful combination of a nutritional yeast sauce and Daiya "cheddar cheese". This was also Gluten Free (all of the sides were naturally GF and everything on the menu could be made GF) What I really loved about this was that it was similar to my Mac-No-Cheese--the kid version as I call it... because it's reminiscent of the blue box Mac N Cheese kids like to eat... It had the delectable CRUNCH of the crust you get when you bake mac n cheese. It added an extra dimension that made it even more irresistible! (My non-vegan sister had ordered that for her meal but then we got the trio instead... I was only allowed 2 bites and she chowed down on the rest!) 

Last but certainly not least, the "Dill Home Fries". OH. MY. LANTA! First of all if you've read my blog you are probably aware that I LOVE POTATOES! (How appropriate that this post was written on National Potato Day! Check Twitter and Facebook for some TUBER-ler recipes! haha See what I did there?) These potatoes definitely claimed a spot in my Top Ten Homefries! Dill, garlic, salt and pepper were all that went on these pan-fried spuds... I couldn't believe they were pan-fried, by the way.  The crunch seemed too good for a pan.  I thought they had been double deep fried (French-fry style but in cube form). I even attempted to save them for last and the crunch survived the lapsed time. (HA yeah right, who am I kidding!? You know these were totally scarfed down...) Colin gave us ketchup for dipping which was delicious but I loved dipping them in the Cajun mayo too!

More about the menu:  Colin told me that he is most proud of "The Mac".  His favorite sandwiches on his menu are "The Buff Boy" and "The Frenchy".  He told me that he loves the flavor combination that exists in "The Buff Boy" and he recognizes that both are pretty unique flavors for the vegan community.  I mean YEAH! Buffalo "wings" and a "French Dip" w/ au jus?! Those are not typically foods that people would think could ever be vegan.  

Colin has a mission very similar to my own: Being vegan doesn't have to mean you're missing out! Just TASTE IT before you dismiss vegan food because of the opinion formed in your head that. Vegan food is just as delicious, filling, and nutritious as "regular" food if not more so! **More from Colin to come when TastyKaiti's reaches 20,000 pageviews.  So stick around to watch a clip of the interview when that happens! 

"Thank you Colin for an excellent lunch! And thank you for letting me interview you about yourself and the food truck! It is absolutely my pleasure to endorse your truck on my blog." ~Kaiti
Let Colin know you read about him here as we love to hear from our readers/eaters!

A Note to my Non-vegan friends: 

The great thing about food truck lots in Austin is there is something for everyone! (Vegan or Not)  And while they are certainly not afraid of vegan food anymore, my mom and sister were in the mood for a Breakfast Burrito and found a great one at Gravy, a truck that blends Mexican flavors with an old southern favorite of biscuits and gravy. We talked with the owner/operator Scott who told us that they are BRAND NEW!  Just opened THREE WEEKS ago! While he informed me that he didn't have vegan options, I did want to share with my non-vegan readers that he does have Vegetarian options on his menu.  His biscuits do not contain lard and the burrito my mom and sister split contained all vegetarian ingredients (with the exception of the bacon gravy).  So check him out at South First Food Court! Tell him I sent ya!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake

It's National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! (gotta love the super specific food holidays hahaha) It is also the day that my blog reached 19,000 Views!!!! Thanks so much to everyone who reads and shares my blog.  Depending on how quickly my view count continues to go up... I have a big surprise that I've been secretly working on that I will announce for either 20K or 25K views!  So Keep Sharing!

Well what kind of food blogger would I be if I didn't give you a recipe for today's "holiday"?!  If you've been following me for a while you may remember that last year's Thanksgiving a debuted a new dessert.  It just so happens that I never posted the recipe (ughhh I'm such a blonde sometimes) annnnd it was a Pumpkin Cheesecake... Are you connecting the dots...???

Today's recipe, in honor of NPCD ...yeah I'm sick of writing it out.... issss:

Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust! 

Oh it's so good.  When I made it for the non-vegan family members to try, they all said the same thing... "But this doesn't taste Vegan...!?"  What does that even mean? Why does everyone have this preconceived idea that vegan food is not as good as regular food?  UGH those people bug me... Just TASTE IT! (slight variation of my normal tagline... but it's the same point!!)

1 1/2 boxes of Back to Nature Triple Ginger Cookies (Or try making crust with my Gingersnaps!)
5 TBSP Earth Balance Soy-Free Margarine, melted

In a food processor pulse cookies into fine crumbs. 

Add in melted margarine and pulse until it looks like wet sand.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan and pour the crumbs into the pan.  

Press down* and around firmly to create crust on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
*I use a measuring cup to spread and press the crumbs into a crust.

2 (8-oz) containers of Daiya Cream Cheese (or your favorite brand non-dairy cream cheese)
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or stand mixer, until completely combined.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F for 45 minutes.  Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 10 min.

Remove from the oven and let it sit out at room temperature for an hour.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and serve!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Drunken Noodles


That said... 
I wish I could go to a Thai restaurant and order Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles).  Unfortunately the sauce has a combination of oyster and fish sauces.  A far cry from vegan friendly…

Quick side story: If you live in, near, around or visit Seattle, WA look up a Thai restaurant called Araya’s Place.  It’s a completely vegan Thai restaurant!!! They have “Drunken Mushrooms”, which is like drunken noodles but with a vegan mushroom “oyster” sauce.  If you go get it… LET ME KNOW! I’m willing to travel cross-country to eat it! (my bank account might not be yet… but I’ll get there)

Okay well here’s a great drunken noodles recipe that I encourage you to try.  It’s supposed to be quite spicy… but adjust it to your taste.

2 tablespoons vegan oyster sauce
2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce
2 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Maggi or Golden Mountain sauce (optional, can sub in soy sauce)
1 teaspoon sambal (Thai chili-garlic paste) or hot red pepper flakes
Juice of half a lime
Mix all of the ingredients and set aside.

Pad Kee Mao
7 ounces (about half a package) wide rice noodles
3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Thai chilies, seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 head broccoli, trimmed into florets (don’t use the stem)
2 cups chopped Napa cabbage
1/2 to 1 ounce fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 to 1 ounce fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Half a lime, cut into wedges, for serving.

 For the noodles: Soak noodles in cold water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender but still firm, about 8 minutes. Drain most of water from pot, adding just enough cool water so that noodles stay warm but do not continue to cook.
  Place a large wok or skillet over high heat. When pan is hot, add oil. Add garlic, chilies and onion, and sauté to let flavors infuse oil, about 1 minute. Add broccoli and cabbage, and stir-fry until cabbage starts to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
 Add basil, cilantro and scallion tops. Drain noodles and add to pan. Add sauce, and toss until mixed and well-heated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot, with lime wedges for squeezing over noodles.

**A few side notes**
1. The pad kee mao at my local Thai restaurant has cherry/grape tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, and mushrooms. You can definitely play with whatever veggies you like.  (I like zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, baby corn, bell pepper… but I try to limit myself to 3-4 veggies at a time or there is too many veggies!)

2. If you can’t find Thai chilies (aka bird’s eye chilies)… you can sub in (depending on your spice level) serranos, for less heat, or a habanero/scotch bonnet for lots more heat.  The Scoville scale rates Thai Chilies at 50,000-100,000 Scoville heat units,  Serranos at 10,000-23,000, and habanero/scotch bonnets at 100,000-350,000.  BE VERY CAREFUL!!!! or see below

3.  You could play with the spice on your own by using cayenne pepper, sriracha sauce, sambal (Thai chili-garlic paste), or red pepper flakes.

That’s all I’ve got for you for now!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

World Food Day 2014

In honor of World Food Day, I wanted to just take everyone on a journey of my recipes with origins from all over the world. In case you missed it on Facebook and Twitter here are all of the recipes, by country, that I posted throughout the day! (plus a few extras!)


Szechuan Green Beans

Fried Rice

Lo Mein

Kung Pao Chick'n

General Tso's Chick'n

No-Crab Rangoon

Baked Spring Rolls

Mongolian "Beef"




Eastern Europe:
Noodles and Cabbage




"Goat Cheese"

French Baguette




Stuffed Peppers


Not-Really Fish Tacos

Butternut Squash Tacos


Hope you're eager to make these recipes and share with you're friends/family!! Remember two little words will almost guarantee they'll try it... "TASTE THIS!!"

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pomme Frites

So funny story...  You may have gone to a fancy restaurant and ordered "Pomme Frites" and gotten what we know as French Fries in the US... But literally translated, Pomme Frites means "apple fried".

Last I checked, potatoes and apples don't run in the same crowd... 

This recipe for pomme frites is actually what the name suggests with a little touch of the Americanized version... that's right guys... these are: APPLE FRIES (ahahaha I'm so good at rhyming without even trying!!<---- I did it again)

Apple fries... HOLY SUGAR! These are so yummy.  I'm still perfecting the recipe a little so that the apples stay crispier for longer, a problem only because of the residual cooking that happens while they are cooling. 
...maybe if I freeze them first.... hmmmm Next batch I will try that.  I will definitely make these again, and often.  They are SUPER quick and a great little snack that would definitely be a hit with the kiddos!

Side Note:  I've always got a bucket of cinnamon sugar on hand... A happy mistake created by my sister :-) 

  • High Temp Frying oil
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into "steak fry" sized wedges 
  • cornstarch
  • cinnamon sugar

Heat oil in a sturdy pot to 375-400 degrees F.

Coat apple wedges in cornstarch, shake of extra. 

Fry apples in oil for 1-2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Dip in cinnamon sugar to coat. And serve.

They are best when they are fresh out of the oil but like a real fry they do stay crispy on the and are get soft and squishy on the inside.... Like I mentioned earlier, I'll work on a way to make 'em still crunchy on the inside for a longer period of time! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"BLT" Salad

(Shout out to @Organicville and @lightlife whose's products make an appearance in the #Recipe)

I love to cook for people.  Especially people who are always willing to try something new! Saturday was the perfect opportunity.  Naturally I made my Mac n(o) Cheese (it's always a huge hit for newbies!) but I needed a side dish to go with it.  Something light... But tasty--hehehe get it? TASTY Kaiti's... haha I crack myself up :-)

Anyyyyways.... Salad is always a go to for me. (I eat salad almost everyday... even did so before going vegan.) So why should this night be any different?  Since I was cooking for someone who eats meat I wanted to make sure they felt like they were eating something "normal".  So I turned one of my favorite sandwiches into our salad.  It was super yummy and definitely a salad I will make again and again... and again!  

You've gotta TASTE THIS "BLT Chopped Salad!" 
(serves 4 as a side and 2 for dinner)

For the Salad:
1 head Boston Bibb Lettuce 
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
1 package (yes package) Lightlife "Fakin' Bacon", cooked according to the package and chopped
2 green onions, chopped 
Organicville Non-Dairy Ranch Dressing 
Salt and Pepper
Sourdough Croutons (Recipes Follows)
**I also added sunflower sprouts to the salad when I made it. I love the addition of them in a salad or on a sandwich!**

For the salad:
Tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces. Top with tomatoes, green onions, and tempeh bacon pieces.

Drizzle with Organicville Non-Dairy Ranch.  Add croutons and season with salt and pepper.

For the Croutons: You've gotta have great croutons for a salad based off of a sandwich!
Sourdough Bread, sliced (you'll need 1-2 slices for this salad. I always make extra to eat as a snack)
Olive Oil
Granulated garlic

To make the croutons: Add olive oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium heat. (You need enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan.) Add the slices of sourdough, turning once immediately so both sides get coated in oil.  

Reduce heat to med-low and cook until lightly browned. Flip and cook other side until lightly browned. Remove from heat and sprinkle with granulated garlic.  And cut into crouton sized pieces.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mexican Kale Salad with Spicy Avocado Dressing

It's #NationalKaleDay (and World Vegetarian Day) so what better way to celebrate than with a homemade Mexican Style Kale Salad with a Spicy Avocado Dressing? 

I love Kale.  In fact I prefer it in my salads over regular lettuce.  It just has a better chew to it than a super watery iceberg!  Not to mention how good it is for you! Kale is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. 

Talk about a super food! 

This salad came together really quickly... Like 30 min max... Take that Rachel Ray! Heads up, I'm not putting measurements for what went into the salad.  Make it your own.  If you love tomatoes, put lots of tomatoes! If you don't like cilantro, leave it out... My mom hates cilantro... I love telling her that she has a chemical imbalance! No, SERIOUSLY! People that hate the taste of cilantro... it's due to a chemical imbalance in the body!! Look it up!

I'm considering taking this with me tomorrow when I meet a guy for coffee... just so I can say, 

For Salad:
Kale, washed, trimmed, torn into bite sized pieces, and massaged
Cherry Tomatoes
Black Beans
Orange Bell Pepper
Frozen Sweet Corn, thawed
Red Onion
Cilantro (Yay or Nay depending on your chemical make-up)
Tortilla Chips, crushed (makes for a good crouton sub)

For Dressing:
1 1/2 avocados
1 1/2 limes, juiced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded
2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Cilantro to taste (Just in case you're one of those people...)
S&P to taste

Make the dressing by putting everything in the blender and blending till smooth.  (COME ON!! How easy is that?!)  

Build the salad: I chose to toss the kale with some of the dressing before topping with all of the yummy salad toppers! (If you've never had fresh herbs in your salad, you are missing out! Try cilantro here or basil in an Italian style salad.  YUMMMMM!)

 Toss again and serve. Garnish with a lime wedge and some crushed tortilla chips for some added crunch.  

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