Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pre-Christmas Curry

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: What's quickly becoming Lyndsay's signature dish: a lovely, light green curry with tons of veggies. Today's installment included sweet and russet potatoes, broccoli, and tofu, all served over perfectly fluffy rice. A side salad of romaine, grated carrot, and sliced cucumber helped us cool our mouths from the curry's heat, which was admittedly much milder today than it has been in the past.

The Goods: We're all in full-on it's-almost-the-holidays-and-we-have-tons-to-get-done mode. which means that it was especially nice to have a warm, filling lunch today. The office might be accurately compared to Santa's workshop right now, as Ms. Lyndsay, who handles all the orders for gift packs, is busily fulfilling away. While we couldn't be more excited to take a nice holiday break, it does come with just a touch of bad news. Since our offices will be closed starting tomorrow, we won't be eating lunch here and blogging about it! This is, offically, the last Café VegNews entry of 2008. We'll see you next year! Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night—filled with vegan food, of course!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Splashy Soup

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A basic, blended butternut squash and potato soup topped with a raw kale chiffonade and garlic-rubbed toast. Yes, using fancy food words like "chiffonade" makes it sound more like a meal, and less like just a bowl of soup! Since there are still a good number of sickies in the office, Elizabeth added extra crushed red pepper, garlic, and cinnamon to the pot, which served the dual purpose of being both good for us and tasty.

The Goods: We're winding up for a nice, long holiday break here at the VNHQ, which means trying to not only get as much work done as possible, but also involves trying to eat all the goodies that have been pouring into the office recently. Just to give you an idea of what we're dealing with over here, there are currently three kinds of fudge, caramels, almond brittle, doughnuts, and cinnamon rolls—all vegan, of course—within arm's reach. Yes, the holidays definitely make us all a little, ahem, jollier, and we're pretty freakin' thrilled about it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Farewell Fiesta

The Chefs: Aurelia and Colleen

The Menu: A multicourse Mexican meal, which brought together two of our favorite chefs! For this all-out feast we dined on homemade black-bean tamales, courtesy of Ms. Aurelia. If there's anything more exciting to see coming out of the kitchen than these adorable, bundled tamales, we don't even want to know about it. Colleen whipped up an assortment of side dishes, including chips, salsa, freshly made guacamole, Nacho Chreese sauce, and a lovely salad of romaine, marinated tofu, cucumber, and tangerine wedges.

The Goods: Today's meal definitely counts as "the goods" but unfortunately, it also comes accompanied by "the bads." Yes, today is a very sad day here at the VNHQ as it's Ms. Abby's last day at VegNews! We've really loved working with her during the last few months, and—even though we relish any opportunity for a fancy lunch—we all wish that today were just another day! Bon voyage, Abby!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Miraculous Mish-Mash

The Chef: Joseph

The Menu: A health-promoting conglomeration of brown rice, black beans, corn, zucchini, garlic, onions, and spices, all topped off with fried onion crispy bits. Okay, so maybe fried onions aren't exactly what most people consider health food, but they do add a delicious crunch. In fact, we liked them so much we also generously portioned them onto our salads, which were mostly comprised of actually healthy items, like carrots and greens.

The Goods: It's definitely cold and flu season around the VNHQ, as evidenced by the fact that Joseph, who's usually excused from kitchen duty, has stepped in twice this week to take over for incapacitated coworkers. We're hoping that the imminent arrival of our January+February issue, in conjunction with Joseph's cold-fighting lunch, will miraculously rally our sickened spirits in time for a healthy weekend!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bye Bye Breakfast

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Once again, Abby dazzled us with a bounty of breakfast items. Did she whip up a batch of fresh biscuits? Yes, yes she did. Did she also create some of the most savory, delicious, bean-based sausage patties we've ever had? Why, yes, she did that too. We sandwiched said sausage and biscuits with dairy-free cheese slices, greens, and condiments, and gorged on sides of herb-roasted potatoes and a bright fruit salad of apples, pears, and dried cranberries. Yes, yum is the appropriate word.

The Goods: The greatness of today's lunch was only slightly tarnished by the knowledge that it marked Miss Abby's final turn as the VNHQ chef, as her editorial assistant days are nearing their end. While we'll miss all her amazing breakfast goodies, we'll certainly miss having her in the office more! (And that's saying something. Seriously, she makes a mean biscuit!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cheesy Casserole

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A lovely, hearty, cheese-laden potato-kale casserole. Yes, one of those adjectives is our favorite. Aurelia's signature dish—the casserole—boasted a bubbling tomato sauce spiced with cayenne and paprika, which the perfectly tender potatoes and rich cheese tempered nicely. Of course, by "cheese" we mean cheddar-flavor Teese. Duh. A fresh salad of mixed greens, shaved carrots, and homemade vinaigrette made a perfect side and whole-wheat tortilla points (like toast points, but, you know, not made of toast) served as vehicles for scooping any saucy remnants off our plates.

The Goods: Today's meal was an extra-special treat, not only because the food was delicious but because we got to share it with two of our fabulous writers, Jesse Miner and Mat Thomas. This time of year, with all its attendant baked goods, chocolates, and other treats, it's always nice to get to share a non-sugary, nourishing meal with friends. And once the final savory bite is bitten, we dig right back into the sweet stuff. As our highly insightful editorial assistant Abby noted, anything that comes in a holiday box doesn't count as bad for you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Righteous Risotto

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A not-quite-seasonal springtime risotto. With crisp asparagus, flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, and some very zesty lemon zest, this rich dish really hit the spot on an extremely cold winter's day. With a simple spinach salad, and maybe a little dessert, the meal was complete.

The Goods: Since we're perpetually working four months in advance of the actual date, we sometimes run into a little trouble of having to test recipes with seasonal ingredients that are, to put it bluntly, totally out of season. Nonetheless, we're sure that this yummy main course will be even better come March, just in time for the March+April installment of Jesse Miner's column, High-Tech Chef, in VegNews! Want to know what else you'll find in that issue? Oh, just a little something we ate after lunch called Neapolitan Bars, courtesy of Ms. Hannah Kaminsky's My Sweet Vegan column. Yes, your curiosity in said bars is well founded.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cold-Fighting Curry

The Chef: Joseph

The Menu: A delicious double-duty sweet potato curry. Joseph went all out today, adding sweet potatoes, dinosaur kale, beans, garlic, and spices to a really excellent yellow curry, which he served over a blend of rice and amaranth. The whole thing came together as one fortifying, satisfying meal. Oh, and that little bowl on the side? That would be some freshly popped popcorn which was drizzled with Earth Balance, nutritional yeast, and Parma. Yes, there are health benefits to popcorn—we'll just have to get back to you later about what they are.

The Goods: Today's regularly scheduled chef is out sick, so Joseph stepped in to make sure we all didn't starve. A couple other staffers have been under the weather, so a seriously healthy meal was definitely in order for today. During lunch we discussed some of the most extreme cold fighters—like chewing on cinnamon sticks, consuming more green chiles than is usually humanly possible, and all those other wacky "traditional" cures. What are your best bets for staying healthy during cold and flu season?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Warm-Up Wraps

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A light lunch of very yummy wraps. Like all good things, these started with whole-wheat tortillas, which we then topped with freshly made hummus and a salad of marinated collard greens, shredded carrots, cubed tofu, sliced mushrooms, and chopped onions. In a word, today's eats were stupendous.

The Goods: So, as delectable as Colleen's meal was, it also served a secret agenda. What could possibly be better than a freshly made wrap of greens, you ask? Oh, maybe a little something we like to call the VN Holiday Party which will be held tonight at Millennium! We consider ourselves very lucky to get to dine in such high style this evening, and in preparation for what is sure to be a flat-out phenomenal meal, Colleen was kind enough to keep lunch on the lighter side. Now that our stomachs are all warmed up to the idea of food, they'll be good and ready to get stuffed with amazing edibles this evening! As we're pretty sure ours isn't the only festivity going on tonight, let us officially say, Happy Holiday Party Season!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sugar and Spice

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: A sweet, savory, and satisfying breakfast. Abby busted out made-from-scratch black bean faux sausage patties seasoned with smoky herbs and spices, and baked marinated tofu for a killer savory combo. Baked oatmeal with cranberries, brown sugar, and a muesli topping made for a hearty side dish that easily doubled as dessert. Sliced organic apples rounded out the plate with a fresh, tangy bite, leaving us all stuffed and happy.

The Goods: There's nothing better than relaxing in the rays with a plateful of food, forgetting the stressors of the workweek and holiday season. Speaking of holiday stress, have you finished your shopping yet? Or, like some VN staffers, have you neglected to even start? Here at the VNHQ, we've got you covered. Check out our just-announced Holiday Blowout Sale, featuring 1-year subscriptions for $15, and our awesome VIP-worthy gift pack for only $40! There, we just saved you a lot of time and headache, not to mention set you up to be the coolest gift-giver around.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crazy-Good Casserole

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A phenomenal casserole chock-full of flavor. Aurelia continued her reign as the VNHQ casserole connoisseur with this tasty combo of spicy tomato sauce, Teese, broccoli, carrots, and greens, all sprinkled with a crunchy bread-crumb and fried-onion topping. A side spinach salad with carrots, onion, and garbanzo beans added a fresh, light element, and made for one seriously delicious lunch.

The Goods: There's nothing better than one of Aurelia's casseroles, especially when it's supplemented by sunshine-filled al fresco dining. Throw in Sjaak's chocolate bites for dessert and a post-lunch game of smashball, and we couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bountiful Bibimbop

The Chef: Elizabeth

The Menu: A totally killer Korean-ish meal of bibimbop. Okay, this might not technically be the most authentic dish ever served, but it was pretty palatable nonetheless. The rice blend—including black-eyed peas, green peas, and pinto beans—made a lovely base for sesame-marinated Swiss chard, roasted acorn squash, sautéed butternut squash, and a sweet red chile paste sauce.

The Goods: These days, we're using squash any way we can around the VNHQ, and couldn't be happier about it. While it might seem like two varieties in one meal would catapult us into squash-overload mode, it was actually lovely to get to compare the flavors of the butternut and acorn squashes in today's lunch. Wait, have we said squash enough times in this post? Squash, squash, squash. Now go out and squash someone you love—culinarily, of course.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Superb Stuffed Squash

The Chefs: Lyndsay and Aurelia

The Menu: An extra-yummy, fall-inspired main course of soy-chorizo-stuffed acorn squash. Lyndsay and Aurelia tag-teamed the cooking duties today, and the result was a seriously delicious meal. Perfectly tender roasted acorn squash housed a savory m
élange of couscous and soy chorizo, which was sautéed with tons of onions and garlic. Yes, we like it when two talented chefs team up to bring us lunch. A bright salad of romaine, black beans, shredded carrots, and a little couscous leftover from the filling made a splendid side.

The Goods: It's the start of another busy week here at the VNHQ, kind of like all of those that have preceeded it. Of course, it always helps to get the workweek started off right to enjoy a filling, delicious meal, and today's lunch did the job quite nicely. Okay, maybe we also brewed up a big pot of coffee this morning, and intend to taste test a few new coffees later this afternoon. Can we help it if companies submit coffee for product reviews? Indeed we cannot—nor, frankly, would we want to, especially on a Monday.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Garlic 'n' Greens

The Chef: Lyndsay

The Menu: A tasty trio utilizing our favorite ingredient—garlic! Lyndsay spoiled us with a hearty helping of penne pasta tossed in garlic-infused olive oil, with Swiss chard and extra sautéed garlic added for maximum flavor. Thick slices of roasted garlic artisan bread were the perfect counterpart, while a robust kale salad with iceberg lettuce, broccoli, and carrots balanced the fragrant dishes.

The Goods: It's obvious that here at the VNHQ, there's no such thing as too much garlic. On top of having a fantastic lunch, we managed to get a little vitamin D, thanks to the sun's surprising appearance. The fact that it's December and 60 degrees outside might seem ridiculous to our cold-weather compatriots, but we couldn't be happier.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Woo Hoo, Waffles!

The Chef: Abby

The Menu: Holy crap it's waffles. We're talking like, big, fluffy, gorgeous waffles. Maybe Abby had the ideal combination of leftover pancake mix, a waffle iron, and ingenuity when she made today's amazing lunch. As if the best freaking waffles we've ever had weren't enough, she also busted out some perfectly roasted potatoes with lemon-infused olive oil and herbed sea salt, and made a savory spinach salad with black beans and carrots. This bears repeating: holy crap.

The Goods: There's not really much left to say after describing how totally yummy today's lunch was. True, it is a surprisingly lovely day here in the city and we got to dine al fresco, but we'd be hard pressed to think of something more exciting than waffles. Really.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Build-Your-Own Birthday Burritos

The Chef: Aurelia

The Menu: A birthday bonanza of burritos! In celebration of the birthday of one Frankie McGee, Ms. Aurelia busted out some first-rate burritos. Warm flour tortillas made the base for Mexican-spiced rice, savory pinto beans, chopped lettuce, roasted butternut squash, sliced avocado, fresh salsa, chopped scallions, and two—count 'em—kinds of vegan cheese, namely saucy Nacho Chreese and shredded cheddar Teese. Um, yum. That's pretty much all there is to say about a spread like this. Oh, did we mention that the festivities got going a bit early with a taste testing of some artisan olive oils and sea-salt blends? Yeah, they did. They also extended beyond the burritos with an absolutely delicious apple crisp from Ms. Colleen, who used apples right from her own tree as a special treat.

The Goods: Who says eating all day long should be reserved for holidays? Around the VNHQ, we'll go ahead and take just about any excuse to share a big, fantastic meal, and Frankie's birthday is certainly no exception. Here's a brief list of things that would suffer drastically if we didn't have Frankie:

1. Our plants—they would all be dead.
2. Our intake of chocolate-covered everything.
3. Our happiness! Frankie is a much-loved member of the VN crew—we'd be lost without her!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Award-Winning African Stew

The Chef: Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen

The Menu: An award-winning West African sweet potato stew served over a perfectly fluffy bed of millet and absolutely delicious winter salad. The savory stew had tomatoes, swiss chard, peanut butter, and just a little kick of ginger. A slightly sweet salad of greens, persimmons, and dried cranberries dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette completed the yummy meal.

The Goods: Today's lunch was full of treats! First of all, it's not every day that we have a cookbook author come over and make lunch for us. Not only did we get the day off from cooking, but lunch was absolutely scrumptious. Jill also gave us her tips for perfect pressure-cooker meals, which sounded totally ideal for the coming winter nights. Here's the whole gang:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beautiful Butternut Soup

The Chef: Colleen

The Menu: A Thanksgiving-leftover-inspired spread complete with roasted butternut squash soup, extra-super-garlicky garlic bread, and a fall salad with mixed greens, sliced pears, dried cranberries, and candied pecans. Can Thanksgiving-themed food go on forever, please? Today's soup had the extra-savory spice of toasted cumin seed, which gave it a slightly exotic flavor. Oh, and in case it wasn't already clear, we love us some garlic bread—with extra garlic, of course.

The Goods: This is the kind of meal every week should start off with: delicious, colorful, and celebratory in feeling. Maybe some of us swore we'd never eat again after the delectable deluge that was last Thursday, but then again, maybe some of us knew we were lying when we swore that particular oath. Here's to being back in action after the holiday weekend!