Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grandwich.


Every time I say I want to move to Chicago, Grand Rapids surprises me with a fun event that reminds me it is a fun, growing, vibrant city! First there was Artprize, then Restaurant Week, then 5x5 Night, and now, there is Grandwich.


Grandwich


Grandwich is a new food contest in GR centering around finding a signature sandwich for Grand Rapids. The contest only runs for 2 weeks and there are 48 restaurants that have entered sandwiches. I want to try them all but I can't eat sandwiches for every meal plus some snacks for two weeks. Well I could, but I'd need to have all my clothes let out. If I'm getting my clothes tailored, I want them going the other way! 

I decided to have a few friends over on Tuesday. We each had to bring one of the sandwich entries, then we split them up and shared. It was great! We each got to try 5 of the sandwiches, and we tried to pick the ones with the top votes. Of course, I forgot to take any pics, so I'm borrowing them from downtowngr.org/grandwich. I love when Grand Rapids does this kind of "big city" event.

Anyway, let's get to the point...the food! The GR chefs did not disappoint! I loved all the sandwiches, although one was a little spicy for my taste. ***Side note: Clearly, we gave up our vegan diet for a day...we do not eat a strictly vegan diet. We do not have milk or cheese or eggs in the house and we try to get the majority of our protein from plants, but occasionally we eat animals. 


Bulls Head Tavern

Bulls Head Tavern

Oven roasted turkey breast, havarti cheese, homemade apple and cherry slaw, fat free cherry vinaigrette served on honey wheat swirl bread.
This one was very sweet! Some of our group thought it was too sweet, it was almost to sweet to be a sandwich, but still delicious!



Founders Brewing Company

Founders Brewing Company

Sliced roasted chicken, muenster and pepperjack cheese, jalapeno, chipotle and banana peppers, red onions and homemade chipotle mayo piled on a Nantucket Bakery french roll.
This was soooo spicy. I couldn't even really eat it, although I'm kinda wimpy about heat, but have you ever cooked with chipotles in adobo sauce? I add 1 little chipotle pepper and maybe a tsp of the sauce to an entire pot of chili or black beans, and this sandwich had 3 chipotle peppers plus the sauce actually on the sandwich. The picture looks nothing like what our sandwich looked like, it was covered in spicy red adobo sauce.


Green Well Gastro Pub

Green Well Gastro Pub

Slow braised crispy Creswick Farms pork belly, Grassfields gouda,Michigan Apple & Ingraberg Farms cabbage-radish slaw,Nantucket Bakery’s Hopcat spent grain & Michigan Maple hoagie bun, Doodles Sugar Bush maple-Detroit ale mustard and Rawkowski Farms fried egg.
This was AWESOME! The bread was perfect, the pork belly was perfect, I loved the fried egg...like I said, AWESOME!




Hopcat

Hopcat

Homemade Sloppy Joe, jalapenos, a full order of crack fries, soft beer cheese on a brioche bun.
My friend Katie told me this sub looked disgusting. I love Hopcat's crack fries, they are definitely crave-worthy! I also love sloppy joes. Embarassing as it is, I love manwich, but this is a real homemade sloppy joe. So a sandwich of made-from-scratch sloppy joe meat covered in crack fries and soaked in cheese sauce? What's not to love?


The B.O.B. - Bobarinos

The B.O.B. - Bobarinos

Crispy seared Big B Farms pulled pork, spiced barbeque sauce, local andouille sausage, spicy pickle "slaw" on BBQ spiced Naan bread
This was really good, too. I didn't like it as well as Hopcat's and the Green Well's, but it was very good. The barbecue was perfectly sweet, just the way I like it. My only complaint was not enough andouille and a little too much vinegar-y slaw. 

I really hope GR continues to become a "foodie" sort of town! The top 10 Grandwich entries will be announced next week and then a judging/tasting party next weekend! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Peanut Sauce!

I don't know about you guys but I LOVE Mama Pea! If you don't read her blog, you should. Her recipes are awesome, her girls are so cute, and her sense of humor is the best! I've already pre-ordered her cookbook, it comes out at the end of the week. YAY! Last week I made her Noodle Salad with Peanut Mmm Sauce. I liked it, but she uses fire roasted tomatoes as the base of her peanut sauce. I couldn't decide whether or not I liked that smoky taste in my peanut sauce. 

I made it again today, then decided to experiment with my own. This is loosely based on hers, but not so much. I've already told you guys about my family's love of peanut butter and that definitely extends over to anything with peanut sauce. My sisters are coming over for dinner tonight, so I wanted my peanut sauce to be perfect! My middle sister is bringing her boyfriend, so I need to make something filling enough for a big Army guy. He's out of the Army now (yay!), but I'm still sure he can put away a lot of food. I'm going to serve this over rice noodles and shredded cabbage with edamame and cilantro!

I'm assuming Mama Pea uses canned tomatoes as a base to make her peanut Mmm sauce more healthy and low-cal. I tried to do the same thing. My recipe uses cashew cream instead of coconut milk. I first heard about this on vegangr.com, and this is the first time I've used it. Supposedly it is a good vegan substitute for heavy cream in things like creamy soups and sauces.

This sauce would be great over just about any protein, you could easily use it over rice noodles and shrimp, then chill it for a cold noodle salad. The heat index in GR today was over 100 degrees, so I cannot dream of eating anything hot right now, but it would be great tofu or chicken. You could also thin it out with a little veggie broth and make it into a peanut salad dressing. If you like it spicy, feel free to add some sriracha or chili paste or cayenne. Peanut sauce is such an easy sauce to make and a great sauce to eat! I hope you'll try it soon. 

Basic Peanut Sauce
1/4 C Natural Peanut Butter
1/4 C Cashew Cream (you can substitute light coconut milk)
1/2 C Veggie Broth
2 T Braggs Liquid Aminos (or Soy Sauce)
1 T Rice Vinegar
1 T Honey (or Agave Syrup)
1 Garlic Clove, minced
2 t Cornstarch


1. Throw everything in the blender and blend until smooth.


2. Pour into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil to thicken.


3. Enjoy! You're done. Yep, it is that easy!




Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Current Events.

Another week has come to an end (and another has begun…late again!), many horrifying/interesting/ridiculous things have happened this week. We might as well take a look at what’s going on in the news this week.
1.       Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.
K.Mo: File this under epic fail. I wish I could say that I’m shocked to hear that reporters were hacking into phones to get stories, but sadly, I’m just not. I’m definitely disgusted, but not shocked. Murdoch started the trashiest of supermarket tabloids: Star Magazine. That fact alone sort of makes you question his ethics. This is totally unrelated to the actual story, but his wife is 38 years younger than him. Gross.
2.       Leiby Kletzky Killed
K.Mo: First, can someone please tell Yocheved Schachter to stop picking up hitchhikers! I do not care if they are Jewish; they just might kill you! Stories like this terrify me to someday have kids. The world is such a dangerous place! What happened to the glory days when kids could decide they should go trick-or-treating in July without telling their parents? That is a true story. My sister, our two neighbor friends, and I donned old dance costumes and took wandered down the street trick-or-treating in July. We did actually snag some candy. This article further fuels my desire to live in a small town in the middle of nowhere.
M.Stine: This might be extremely insensitive, but I just think 8 years old (or anyone under 14) is too young to be walking anywhere alone. The first missing child featured on a milk carton, Etan Patz, was 6 when he was abducted while walking the 1 block to his bus stop, also in NYC. If I ever have children (ha, imagine that thought), I will be that embarrassing mom waiting for them to get on/off the school bus every day, in my gray old-man sweatpants. Mini-M.Stines will also play in the dirt and make their own slip-n-slide out of a tarp & dish detergent, because that’s what I did!
3.       Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
K.Mo: Can we just talk about how sad I am that Harry Potter is coming to an end? Once book seven was released and read, I still had the movies to look forward to; now I have nothing! I seriously feel like I’m losing a friend. I already have my IMAX movie ticket purchased for Sunday afternoon. I am both excited and sad to see the final installment. Excited because the second half of book seven is probably my favorite in the series and because I have waited 10 years for this to finally happen, but also sad because this is it. I guess I’ll have to ease the pain by planning a trip to Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and drink too much butter beer.
M.Stine: Whereas Kerry and Erin (and most of the human race) seem to have a full-blown love for Harry Potter, I would classify my relationship with him as a brief flirtation, and by that I mean I started the first book and got ¼ of the way through. I am a fan of the first 2 movies and actually own them…on VHS ($5 Wal-Mart movie bin!) My attention span leaves much to be desired, and I have a tendency to start books & not finish them. I’m currently several pages into both “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and “Shutter Island”…this should turn out well.
4.) Illegal lemonade stands
M.Stine: I sit here dripping with rage. There are few things more American than children’s lemonade stands, and I think they actually do teach kids valuable lessons about money, costs vs. profits, etc. Bill and Karen ran a tight ship and my sister and I received an allowance of about $1, so we had to perfect our skills in lemonade stands. On a good day I’d say we’d bring in around $8, after several hours spent hawking watery Country Time lemonade. And I hate the health argument, “oh, we don’t know how or where it was made, might not be safe.” Yes you do! It was made in a kitchen using powered lemonade mix, their mother’s Tupperware pitcher and water. So take a cup, give them a few bucks, and be done with it.
K.Mo: For years my allowance was $4 a week. And $2 had to go into “savings.” What I was saving for at eight years old, I do not know, but I do recall hoarding my money. This whole story just seems like a colossal waste of police time and energy. Go solve a cold case if you have so much free time on your hands. But let’s look at the bright side: the girls got their tickets to the water park and had their 15 minutes of fame. Perhaps it was a successful lemonade stand after all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bang Bang Copycat.

Vegan Bang Bang Shrimp Tofu

Soooo, I get an embarrassingly high number of food magazines every month. They take over my living room and Mic hates it! I LOVE it! Even now that we are mostly eating vegan, I just love looking at the recipes and getting new ideas. I rarely follow a recipe, but I like to look at several recipes for one thing and then try to put together my own.

I get the Food Network Magazine, of course. I have an obsession with the Food Network in general. Each month they do a copycat recipe and a while ago, it was Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill! Mic and I absolutely love Bang Bang Shrimp. They do Bang Wednesdays when it is just $5. If you've never had Bang Bang Shrimp, go get it. Right now. It is deep fried shrimp with a sweet and spicy sauce. It is the best!

Anyway after I saw the recipe, I promptly lost that copy of the magazine. I have about a years worth of Food Network Mags and it is not in any of them! Figures. Luckily I remember that the sauce is a mayo-base and has Sambal Oelek (an Asian chili paste/sauce that you can find in the Asian section at the grocery store) as the spicy element and some kind of sweetener.

In the original recipe, they dredge the shrimp in egg and flour twice to give it a thick coating and then deep fry them. Since we are doing the whole vegan thing, shrimp and eggs are both out of the question and we try to stay away from deep frying in general. On Monday, I decided to make some vegan Bang Bang Tofu. It was so good that I made it again last night.

Here's how you do it...

Vegan Bang Bang Tofu

Sauce
4 Tbsp Vegenaise (or Mayo)
2 tsp Honey or Agave Syrup
1-3 tsp Sambal Oelek
Pinch of Salt


1. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. I'd add 1 tsp of the sambal oelek, then taste it to see how much more you want to add. These 1 cup prep bowls from Pampered Chef are my favorite!



Tofu
1 Block of Tofu (firm or extra firm, not silken) You could probably use shrimp instead.
1/4 C Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp Earth Balance (or butter or oil of choice)
1-2 Sliced Scallions


1. Press your tofu. You can layer paper towels or a clean dish towel and place your tofu on top, then fold the towel up to cover the tofu and place something heavy ( such as a large pan, or a few books) on top. Lots of liquid will come out, so you may want to check it every so often to see if you need to replace the paper towels with dry ones. Or you could get one of these...

My friends, Kerry and Melissa (you know them from current events), got me this for my bday! I love it!

2. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch-ish cubes.


3. Put 1/4 Cup of flour and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Add half the tofu and give it a few shakes until all the pieces are covered with flour.


4. Heat your Earth Balance/butter/oil in a large skillet. Wait until it is hot, then add your tofu cubes one at a time. Yep, one at a time. It takes a few extra seconds but you don't want any excess flour in the hot oil.
5. Let them cook for a few minutes, checking the bottoms of the cubes occasionally until they are brown. Like this...

6. Give them a stir and cook for a few more minutes, stirring every so often until browned on all sides.

7. Place on paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

8. At this point, if your pan is dry, you will need to add a small amount of oil to keep the second half of the tofu from burning. Once it is hot, you can begin the second batch.

9. Once all your tofu is cooked, you can add the sauce. I like to use the same bowl that I used to dredge the tofu (we don't have a dishwasher), just give it a rinse in between. Pour the sauce into the bown, reserve about 2 Tbsp to use for dressing if you're going to put it over greens, then add the tofu and stir gently with a spatula.


10. If you want to turn your reserved Bang Bang sauce into salad dressing, add 1 tsp of vinegar and 1 tsp honey or agave to the reserved sauce. Pour it over your greens and add your tofu. Add sliced green onions on the top.
Mic prefers to make his into tacos. He adds greens and salsa, but be careful, the salsa can overpower the Bang Bang sauce. If it were me, I'd add some extra bang bang sauce with the greens instead of salsa. Yum!


Some variation ideas:
-This would be awesome with just about any protein
-This sauce would be delish as a sandwich spread
-Add some cilantro along with the green onions
-Quesadillas!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Current Events!

M.Stine: Just when you thought you’d never hear from us again, here we are! But first, let’s give a belated birthday shout-out to E.Mills! Thank you for always being such a great friend and for enabling K.Mo & I to have a creative outlet on your blog, with our highly inconsistent Current Events. I can’t wait for the next time we’re reunited, so you can cook me a fabulous vegan feast! (And I will make you some non-vegan cupcakes in return.) And while we’re on the topic, let’s also give the U.S. of A a belated birthday shout-out! Thank you for being so full of liberty, freedom, and processed food…God Bless America!
[Erin's Note: Thanks for the bday shoutout! Also, for everyone else, MStine, KMo, and I have been friends for a long time (8 years!) and so we have our own language sometimes - translations you will need to know for this post: 1. E.Mills = me. My sorority sisters call me E.Mills. We do realize that my (maiden) last name was Miller and not Mills but it needed to be one syllable. 2. Shiller = Shupe + Miller, we were not married when we bought our house so my BFFs referred to us as the Shillers. 3. Bob = Mic, my hubs. Just accept that one for what it is, there is no good reason.]
1.) Grand Rapids Shooting Rampage
K.Mo: Some of this took place near the Shiller house! Let’s all breathe a huge sigh of relief that E.Mills and Bob weren’t around to witness any of these God awful shenanigans. You really have to wonder what sent this guy over the deep end. And sadly, we will never truly know his motive seeing as how this whole shooting/murder spree ended with the gunman killing himself. Honestly, what is wrong with the world today?
M.Stine: WTF?! I feel like all the people I care about the most are in unsafe parts of the US! We have the Shillers being just blocks from this psychopath; K.Mo living in perhaps the most violent city in America (I still love you Chicago!), with their flashmobs and random acts of violence; and my sister Lauren lives in Phoenix, who just experienced an epic dust storm called a haboob, and also happens to be the kidnapping capital of the country. I live in a town that has had about 1 murder in the past 5 years. A guy killed his wife & was arrested at the Tim Horton’s, biggest scandal in years…welcome to small town America!
[Erin's Note: This was a VERY scary day for us in GR. One of the houses was just 3 blocks from our house and there were police everywhere, and our street was closed and it was just very scary. There was a period of time when they did not know where Dantzler was, just that he was driving around GR somewhere. SCARY! I also want to say that according to one of our news stationsZ GR had only 9 murders last year, and these 7 murders put us over that number, and it is only July. A sad day for GR. The community has really come together and is thankful for how our police handled the situation. Not to be insensitive, but if you get a chance, try to find a video of the high speed chase on the highway, it is INSANE. He was going the wrong way on the highway being followed by dozens of police cars and no one was injured!]
K.Mo: To lighten the mood I thought we could take a look at the five most expensive ball parks (determined by concession stand pricing in the US). Wouldn’t you know that two are located in Chicago? The first summer I was in Chicago Melissa and Erin came to visit and we decided to take in a Sox game. How do three less than affluent young gals afford adult beverages at US Cellular Field? They don’t; they’re savvy enough to buy little bottle of vodka, hide them in their bags and buy some Diet Pepsi at the game. If my mom is reading this, I just know she is going to tell me I am trashy for BYOB-ing a non-BYOB event. Kind of like how she told me I was trashy for taking a beer for the road when taking cabs in the city (trashy and also illegal…what can I say? I live for danger).
M.Stine: Ha! That game was so fun! Not only because we were our own personal bartenders, but we also got a picture with a guy dressed as a hot dog, and we annoyed the people in the row in front of us so much that they switched seats…all in a day’s work! Fenway is like my happy place, but they’re not lying about how expensive it is! The last time I went I spent well over $100 at the game (not including my ticket), but it’s okay because it’s Fenway!
3.) Final space shuttle flight
M.Stine: To say I’m space obsessed is like saying Johnny Depp is “semi-attractive”…it’s a supreme understatement! After watching Apollo 13 and attending Space Camp as a youngster, it became my dream to work for NASA Mission Control in Houston. Unfortunately life had other plans, and she blessed me with exactly ZERO skills in math and science, aka the 2 subjects one should probably excel at in order to work at NASA. I will admit that I got chills watching this last shuttle launch & it makes me feel extremely proud that we live in a country that has the ability to accomplish such great things.
K.Mo: HA! I forgot M.Stine went to Space Camp. I too have a love of and appreciation for space and I also have no aptitude for science and math. Perhaps they would have let me work as an office admin for NASA. That would have been the closest I could have gotten to being an astronaut. I watched the last launch in the conference room at work with about 11 other people. Part of me was scared the shuttle would explode ala the Challenger. Thankfully the shuttle and crew were launched into space safely.
4.) Casey Anthony verdict
M.Stine: I have a lot of issues with this trial, but the main one would have to be how the jury has been treated since the conclusion of the trial. Without even getting into this whole soap opera, I think I would have voted the exact same way the jury members did, because (in my opinion) there was not enough evidence to prove beyond a doubt that Casey Anthony intentionally murdered Caylee. But now the jury members are receiving death threats, getting forced out of town, and being called out for past indiscretions by Nancy Grace. First of all, Nancy Grace is absolutely nuts! But more importantly, the jury system is what we have in the USA, and people DO NOT chose to be on certain trials. The jury members of this trial did exactly what they were supposed to do…listened to the testimony, examined the evidence and rendered a verdict based on it. If anyone has a problem with the outcome I think they should raise it with the prosecutor instead of the jury, given that the prosecution was in charge of proving the case that Casey Anthony was guilty.
K.Mo: I recently read that a jury member was scared to go home and that is honestly just awful. At first I was outraged with the verdict (and I still sort of am, but it is what it is), but then M.Stine talked some sense into me! The prosecutor’s case was pretty much all based on circumstantial evidence. We also have to remember that the jury hasn’t been bombarded with news stories that essentially rendered Casey Anthony guilty before the trial even began. I’m pretty happy the over the top Casey Anthony statuses have stopped showing up on my Facebook news feed. No need to let the world know that you think Casey will get killed on the street by some vigilantes. Perhaps that thought is better left between you and your closest friends.

[Erin's Note: I feel the need to weigh in on this one. I understand everyone's outrage! I think it is kind of ridic that she is going to get away with this; HOWEVER, the prosecution had the burden of proof. For a criminal case like this, that burden is beyond a reasonable doubt. Sure, we've all heard that phrase on SVU and NCIS, but when you think about it, that is an extrememly high burden of proof, there cannot be any slight doubt and in this case they could not even show a cause of death. I'm not happy about it, and I think the lawyers turned the courtroom into a circus and made us all look bad, but that's just the way the system works sometimes.]