Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate Silk Pie (Vegan)

This rich, decadent chocolate silk pie is (almost) guilt-free. And the best part is that because it's vegan, it's lactose-free (but don't worry, I won't tell anyone).
Let me first point out to those of you nay-sayers, tofu takes on the flavor of whatever it's seasoned with, so in this case, it will taste like chocolate. Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone make tofurky Christmas dinners or anything. It's basically used as a substitute for milk and eggs in this pie.

1 16oz package of silken tofu, drained
1-2 T honey
1/3-2/3 c Kahlua to taste (1/3 doesn't taste boozey at all, 2/3 has a definite Kahlua flavor)
1 package of vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (Kroger has one particular line of vegan chips, though they're not advertised that way. Read your labels)
1 graham cracker crust (These are usually vegan, but as always, read the label. Feel free to substitute with a GF crust if that strikes your fancy) .

Put silken tofu and honey in food processor and blend it until it's smooth. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it makes your life a little easier when you mix the chocolate in later.

Melt chocolate and Kahlua together until smooth in double broiler (or a metal pan over boiling water if you don't have one). Be careful not to scorch the chocolate in this step. Keep it moving!

Pour the chocolate mixture into the food processor with the tofu and honey and blend until smooth and there is no white left, scraping the sides occasionally. 

Pour into pie crust and chill for 2 hours until set. The lumps won't smooth out on their own, as you can see in the photo. Now I make it pretty by smoothing it before I put it in the fridge.

That's it. It's super easy and absolutely delicious. My family loves it. Everyone in my office loves it. Even The Boy loves it! And I promise, no one will ever know it's tofu.

Don't forget to enter my contest by following my blog, linking me, commenting, and referring your friends. You can enter as many times as you'd like to win a $25 gift certificate. Check the contest link for the official rules and ways to enter.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Announcing Our First Blog Contest!

I'm going to let it be known that we use pretty frequently to get gift certificates for our dates. We find so many cool local restaurants and save a lot of money because of these gift certificates, and to be honest, it's the only way we can afford to go out to eat as much as we do.

In the spirit of giving (and to help promote the blog a little) I'm giving away a $25 gift certificate to one lucky winner. I hope that you can have your own date night with that special someone or a good friend.

The Rules: This contest will run from now until January 13th at 11:59 pm. The random drawing will be held on Friday, January 14th and the winner will be announced. If the winner does not claim prize by January 21st, a new winner will be chosen. Prizes will be delivered via email. Restrictions will be determined by the restaurant you choose.

Entries can be earned in the following ways:
  • 1 entry for each blog comment
  • 1 entry for following this blog - please leave a comment to tell me you are following
  • 1 entry for linking to my blog through each of the following: your blog, facebook, twitter, or website - please leave a comment for each link with a link to your page so I can count your entry and return the favor
  • 1 entry for each person you refer who comments or follows - please leave a comment so that I know who you referred and ask your referral to leave a comment so that they will also be entered into the contest

There is no limit to the number of entries, but spam comments will be disqualified. Good luck!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Barcelona Tapas

201 N. Delaware
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317.638.8272 (tapa)

Before the boy and I settled down on the south side of Indianapolis, we had a sweet townhouse downtown that I shared with a roommate before we met. The roommate found a girlfriend and basically lived with her, so we had this place to ourselves...but that's not the point. When I lived downtown, I walked or biked everywhere and would often pass by Barcelona Tapas. I would see the people sitting outside and smell the wonderful aromas that radiated from the place, but I never stopped in. I heard that it was really expensive (as was my apartment), so I would go to one of my usual spots for dinner with friends.

This particular night was another story. We were celebrating. Celebrating what, I'm not sure, but we were celebrating, damnit. I think I hit a big bonus at work. I wanted tapas.

Tapas, by definition, are a wide variety of Spanish appetizers or snacks. If you've never been to a tapas bar, then it may be a bit confusing. You will order a dish or two, usually with a glass of wine. Then when you are finished, you will order another dish. 
The decor is fun. Lots of red and yellow as well as several paintings of toros adorn the inside and the outside has black wrought iron tables under a red canopy. It was a warm summer night, so we sat outside. 
Our server was over shortly. Fortunately, he was wonderful and led us through the menu, which is written in Spanish with English descriptions. He was knowledgeable enough to suggest wine, as well. I told him that I really like Chianti and other spicy wines and the boy told him that he typically drinks Pinot Grigio and he pointed us to the perfect wines.
The menu is extensive, and although not exactly traditional Spanish cuisine, everything we tried was delicious. We started with Cordero a la Parilla - grilled lamb chops with sherry alioli and Rioja reduction and Mejillones en Salsa Picante – mussels in spicy tomato sauce. The lamb chops were succulent and fell off the bone and the mussels were plentiful, fresh, and sand-free. The sauce had enough spice to let you know it was there, but it was not overpowering. 
The second course was Pincho de Pollo y Chorizo – chicken and chorizo skewer with cumin alioli and  Gambas al Alioli – garlic shrimp with chili oil and fresh lemon. The chicken and chorizo skewer was delicious and seasoned perfectly.The boy really enjoyed the shrimp. I don't particularly care for shrimp no matter how it's cooked. I had a bad experience once.
Last, we ordered Plato de Embutidos – assorted grilled Spanish sausages, which is their most traditional dish. The sausages were wonderful and full of flavor.
The whole meal took about two hours and we were nice and full. I also had 3 glasses of wine to the boy's 1, but who's keeping track? We spent $110 including alcohol and tip, so all in all, not bad. Especially when you consider $40 of that was wine.
The Verdict: So far, this is our favorite restaurant in town. The service was unbelievable and we love outdoor dining. It is a bit pricey when you consider that you're paying close to $7 for a small plate, but for high-quality ingredients, it's worth every penny. 

On another note this blog will now be going to a twice a week blog. As  much as I love to eat, I also love to cook, but I am lactose intolerant so that sometimes limits my choices at a restaurant - or I go ahead and eat it anyway and spend the next two days in agony. Most weeks, I will choose another item off the menu that I really wanted to try and find a way to make it lactose-free. Otherwise I will post another delicious lactose-free meal or dessert option. So we'll have a weekend post with a restaurant review and a mid-week recipe post. Check back later this week for my super easy vegan chocolate silk pie! I promise, no one will know it's vegan unless you tell them.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Villa Inn

1456 N Delaware St
Indianapolis, IN 46202
phone 317.916.8500
fax 317.917.9086

The boy and I were ready for a romantic evening. A restaurant with no children (not that there's anything wrong with kids, but they kind of ruin the mood). We wanted the kind of place where we could enjoy a quiet dinner by the light of the fire with minimal restaurant noise in a beautiful atmosphere. And a castle would be nice. We made reservations at The Villa, and that's exactly what we got.

We were seated at a small table next to a window and the fire place and our first server came over with the wine list. I had a few questions about the wine, which she unfortunately could not answer. She admitted she was only 19, but gave me a few suggestions based on what she knew. We selected our wines and they were brought out a little later. 

In the meantime, a second server came over to our table to start our order. I ordered the Chicken Marsala and the boy ordered Pancetta Tortellini. About 10 minutes later, the bread came out and it was absolutely delicious.

By the time our food came, we had worked up a pretty good appetite, but we were entertained by each others company and dinner really shouldn't be a rushed meal. The chicken marsala was deliciously seasoned (often times it's too salty at other places, but not the case at The Villa). It was served over angel hair pasta. The sauce had a nice sweetness to and it coated the chicken well, but didn't drown it. The boy really liked the tortellini. It was stuffed with cheese and served with a garlic cream sauce with the pancetta. It smelled wonderful and both dishes were rich and flavorful. The menu is traditionally Italian and there are some of the typical Italian dishes as well as some more creative and adventurous ones. I almost felt like I was back in Rome. Although it is not an expansive menu, there is something for almost everyone. Personally, I'd rather go to a place with a small and specialized menu.

The portions were good, but not so much that we left stuffed. Unfortunately, I didn't have room for the crรจme brulee and that's not one of those desserts that you can take home and eat later.

The service was a bit on the slow side, which surprised me considering there were never more than three tables including us and there were two different servers (each with different responsibilities, from what I gathered), but we weren't in any hurry.

We were impressed by the price. Most of the meals on the menu, with a few obvious exceptions, are around $20. The glasses of wine we ordered were $9 and $10 per glass.  When we sat down and saw the prices, we were a bit worried that they would be serving us poor quality food, but that was not the case at all.

The castle that is The Villa Inn, Restaurant & Spa has a rich history. I won't go into that here, but you can read all about that as well as their bed and breakfast and spa on their website.

The Verdict: I absolutely recommend this place for a couple of reasons. The speed of service forces you to enjoy your company and your meal. A great dinner like this should not be rushed through. They also advise against bringing children, which is a must for a romantic night on the town. The food was delicious and the servers were great - not on top of you, but attentive enough to your needs. And finally, the cozy and romantic atmosphere set the mood for a great evening. We're looking forward to returning soon!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Red Lion Grog House

Red Lion Grog House
Fountain Square
1043 Virginia Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46203

The Red Lion Grog House offers deliciously prepared fresh food with a touch of sophistication. The boy and I were hungry and decided to head up the road to Fountain Square, a funky Indianapolis neighborhood known for it's local artists, restaurants, duck pin bowling, and entertainment. Because I love English food and have been wanting to try this place since it opened a little over a year ago, we parked down the street and walked over to the bustling restaurant. It was loud in there and it was a full house! We were told there would be a 45 minute wait, but we were welcome to go to the bar and he'd come get us when our table was available.

I was pleased when we got to the bar to find that there were beers from Indiana breweries as well as several other craft beers. Of course, they had your usual suspects as well and they do have a gluten-free offering.  The boy and I both ordered Sun King Wee Mac and took in our surroundings.

Besides being loud and crowded (which is what we expected from this place at 7:30 on a Friday night), it is very dark in there. They have low lighting and the decor is mostly black. There is seating in the front by the window and tables that line the wall leading to the back. The bar is on the other wall in the back of the restaurant. It's a tight fit, but we didn't find it uncomfortable at all. The atmosphere was fun.

Our table opened up sooner than expected and the host came running back to the bar to let us know. I was impressed that he remembered our faces and it's always nice when you don't have to listen for someone to yell your name over the restaurant noise. I swear I miss more tables because I stop paying attention. We paid our bar tab and sat down at our table. 

Our server was over promptly to greet us and give us the run-down of the menu. The soup of the day was New England clam chowder. Being a native New Englander, I asked her how it was. The boy then went ahead to say, "she's a seafood snob." He's right. I am. We were in luck, though. Her husband, the chef, makes it from scratch. I ordered a cup and the fish and chips. I hadn't had any seafood since my last vacation to Cape Cod a few months ago, so I was dying for it. The boy followed my lead and got fish and chips as well. She also recommended the curry dip for the chips, so I ordered mine mild. I'm kind of a wimp.
The chowder reminded me of home. Succulent clams in a thick creamy base with chunks of potatoes. It was very hardy and seasoned perfectly. The entrees came out a few minutes later. They hand-dip Atlantic Cod in a delicious homemade batter and fry it. The fish is flaky and tastes very fresh. Not something I'm used to in Indiana. It wasn't overly fishy, either. Good fish doesn't taste fishy. I promise. And the curry dip was oh-so-good. The mild is actually very mild and next time I'll get the spicier one.

I didn't have room for dessert, but when our server suggested the bread pudding, I had to take some home with me. It was also delicious, but would have been better if I had eaten it at the restaurant. It's served warm with a drizzle of chocolate. It's good, firm bread pudding, too. A very large portion that should probably be shared.

When it was all said and done, we spent just under $35 for the meal, excluding the beer. I would have gladly paid more than that. Nothing on the menu is over $13, so this makes for a fun and inexpensive date.

The Verdict: I had to text my mom from the car to tell her that I found good affordable seafood and clam chowder that was to die for. The service was top-notch and we can't wait to go back. We'll just make sure we aren't as hungry next time because there will be a wait.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Everyone has to start somewhere.

"Nouvelle Cuisine, roughly translated, means: I can't believe I paid ninety-six dollars and I'm still hungry."
Mike Kalin.

 I have a passion for food. There are those who live to eat, and those who eat to live. If you're anything like me, then you live to eat. My boyfriend and I plan a date night every Friday and we love going to locally owned restaurants.

Usually, our experiences are pretty amazing, but every now and then something goes terribly wrong. Follow this blog for some great dining advice and hopefully a few laughs. At least stop by before you go out to eat and I'll do everything I can to make sure you know your options!