Eatery: 24 Diner

I have to admit, I haven’t been very good about keeping up on all the places I’ve eaten since moving to Austin. I have, though, blown through a bunch of money doing so. There are just too many good things to eat! I’ve had memorable experiences like Wheatsville Co-op’s Popcorn Tofu Po’ Boy, Tofu with Yellow Curry Sauce at Java Noodles, and of course the Dreamsicle cupcake at Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop. Here are a couple of pictures to make you jealous:

I will, for sure, go back and pay better attention to what I’m eating so I can share all the delicious flavors with you. For now, I want to tell you about the veggie sausage at 24 Diner. Their veggie sausage is not for the faint of heart – you have to be a beet lover, or at least a beet liker. I don’t think I’ve had a better in-house made veggie sausage – and it’s all due to those beets! It has it’s own flavor, texture, and nothing like regular breakfast sausage, vegan or not. This sausage is made with beets, mushrooms, lentils, rice, pumpkin seeds & golden flaxseeds. I can not wait to go back and get more – I can’t quit thinking about it! Anyways, I guess I just wanted to rave about the beet sausage. I so want to re-create this at home, and maybe I will.

PS. The rest of the food was really good too, including the coffee. The place is a little expensive, but well worth it.


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My Favorite Salad

Summer is salad time. For me, nothing hits the spot better after being out in the heat than a crisp, light salad. I am not one of those people that enjoys a salad with a heavy dressing (that was in a past life) or tons of toppings. For me, less is better, and more refreshing. Here is how I make my favorite salad.

  • salad greens (obviously, use anything you want – spinach, romaine – they all work)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 green onion
  • salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
  • agave nectar, to taste
  • olive oil, to taste
  • lemon juice and/or vinegar (apple cider or balsamic), to taste

1. Chop garlic glove in bottom of your bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press firmly on bottom of bowl to get the garlic juice out.

2. Add salad greens and green onion to bowl.

3. Top with spices, agave, olive oil, and lemon juice/vinegar. This is your dressing – so just add as much as you would (approximately) to a regular salad.

Do you have a favorite salad “recipe”? Share it in the comments below, I’ll more than likely try it – I see a lot of salads in my future!

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Crummy Croutons

I got some absolutely terrible, no good, weird tasting croutons at the grocery last night – simply because we are trying to save money and they were $2. I knew there was no way we would use enough of the bag to even warrant the $2 by the time we moved, so I had to get a little creative. I had some free tofu hanging out in my fridge, and just bought some onion and spinach! This recipe should serve 4 people and is sure to impress!

Crouton Crusted Tofu Steaks with Balsamic Glazed Onions

For the Balsamic Glazed Onions:

  • 1 medium-large yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp + 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar (like sucanat or turbinado)

For the Tofu Steaks:

  • 1 package (around 14oz) Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
  • 3 – 4 cups croutons, crushed (anything crunchy would work)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp spicy mustard
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vegan mayonnaise (vegenaise!)

1. Heat olive oil in medium sized pan over medium heat. Add onions, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and salt & stir well. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep close eye on onions, if they start to color too much or stick to bottom of pan, turn heat down. Alternatively, if they do not seem to be doing anything, increase heat.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Cover pan, and allow onions to continue cooking for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes. Cook until the desired consistency is reached. Meanwhile, start tofu steaks.

4. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lightly oiling it.

5. Slice tofu in to about 8 “steaks” and pat dry with paper towel. Using the olive oil, brush on steaks lightly. You can sprinkle with a little pepper, if you wish.

6. In small, shallow bowl, mix mustard, agave, balsamic vinegar, and vegan mayo. Place crushed croutons in a pan for coating.

7. Dip each tofu steak in mustard mixture, then coat with croutons. Place steak in crouton pan, press in lightly, sprinkle croutons on top – just make sure that the steak is well coated.

8. Place tofu in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven, and keep warm. (By now, your onions should be done)

9. Remove onions from pan (leaving any remaining liquid). Add the 2 cups of balsamic vinegar, water, and sugar and turn heat up to high and allow to cook, stirring often, and allow to continue cooking until it’s bubbly.

10. Plate tofu steaks, top with onions, drizzle with sweet balsamic sauce!

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Eatery: Shelbi Street Cafe & Bistro

I skipped out on eating at Shelbi Street Cafe & Bistro for the past 6 months I’ve lived across the street. What a mistake. The first bite of the best french toast I’ve ever eaten was a moment of both bliss and sadness. At least I got a chance to try it once.

The french toast was cooked to perfection – slightly crunchy, but still soft. And they don’t make their french toast with just any bread – it’s made with a delicious Italian loaf. Don’t expect maple syrup with this savory french toast. Th syrup is a grand marnier syrup – sweet, thick, and citrus-y. Topped with just a few berries and sauteed bananas, you haven’t had french toast until you’ve had it at Shelbi Street Cafe & Bistro.

J. had a artichoke heart, baby spinach, sun dried tomato, shallots & fresh herb omelette. The flavors of the veggies were able to outshine the egg, and grease was nowhere to be found. The sea salt crusted potatoes were a perfect side with just a dash of hot sauce.

A better weekend breakfast doesn’t exist in Fountain Square, or even downtown Indianapolis. That’s not just a statement, that’s a fact.

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There isn’t a thing that spells summer to my mouth more than fresh berries. And not just fresh berries, any berries, really. Frozen berries, dried berries, freeze-dried berries. Even in the middle of winter, I can trick myself into thinking it’s spring for about half a minute by eating berries. I’m going to share with you a recipe that was passed down from a friend that is the epitome of spring to me. There isn’t a recipe out there that allows berries to shine more than this one.

Yummy Berry Pudding

2 cups juice (part from canned pineapple, part from your favorite juice – I used pomegranate this time)
1/2 cup tapioca pearls
1/4 cup agave nectar (honey can also be used)
1 can crushed or chopped pineapple, drained
2 cups frozen berries (any kind will do – I used strawberries & blueberries)
a few fresh berries of any kind for garnish

1. Mix juice, tapioca, and agave nectar in a 2 quart saucepan. Let stand for at least 5 minutes (longer is okay), then bring to a boil over low heat until most tapioca is clear, stirring VERY frequently. Remove from burner and allow to cool.
2. Meanwhile, mix pineapple and frozen berries. You can use a food processor, blender, or just chop them finely if you’d prefer a chunkier pudding.
3. Mix the two parts together and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
4. Top with fresh berries!

Besides being delicious, berries are one of the best nutritional foods around. Most berries are low in fat, carbs, and calories, and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Not only can berries contribute to overall health by giving you a dose of immune boosting vitamin C, they may even help to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as slowing the aging process.

Want to snag a bunch of berries this spring and freeze them for use throughout the entire year? That’s easy! And these berries will taste better than any frozen bag you’ll get at the store.

You’ll need fresh berries (of course), heavy duty freezer bags, a baking pan/tray that will fit in your freezer, and a strainer. (I bet you can see where I’m going with this)

1. Rinse berries in strainer. Allow to sit in strainer for about 10 minutes so most water can drain off of berries.

2. Spread berries on pan/tray in single layer so they are (mostly) not touching. This way they will not freeze in clumps and make it easier for them to break apart.

3. Place tray in freezer and allow to freeze overnight.

4. Put frozen berries in heavy duty freezer bag. Get AS MUCH air as you can out of the bag! I do this by sealing the bag until just a corner remains open. I then put a straw in the remaining opening and suck out as much air as possible. Remove the straw and quickly seal the bag!  (This may not be the most sanitary, but I am using these berries for myself)

5. Label the bag! You want to know what kind of berries you have, don’t ya?

Voila – fresh berries all year round! You can use these berries frozen, or thaw them and use them as fresh berries in your recipes.

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Morel Mushrooms

One of the best foods to come out of spring has to be morel mushrooms. I love mushrooms in general, but morels have this delicious taste & texture that really can’t be compared. Going hunting for morels makes them taste even better! (I plan on trying to do some hunting this week) I found some at my local natural foods store – so that will do for now!

I know many people are used to fried morels; while tasty, it’s an unfortunate waste of their uniqueness. Often times the thick breading and heavy flavor take a lot away from the morel itself. A fellow foodie suggested cooking my morels in butter and dry white wine with garlic, red onion, spinach, red peppers, plus some salt and pepper. While his idea sounded delightful, I had to alter the idea a bit to use what I had (saving money and whatnot).

So, what was in the kitchen? Garlic (as always), Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, and Cabernet Sauvignon – that’s as close as I could get! Two tablespoons of vegan butter melted in a medium-hot pan, followed by 3 chopped cloves of garlic. After sauteing for a minute, I added the morels (after soaking them in icy water for a minute) and allowed them to cook for a few minutes. Then added a couple glugs of the wine, a little sugar – allowing the flavors to soak in for a few more minutes. A shake of salt and pepper – and they were done! Delicious! This preparation would probably by ideal for a steak side/topping – as red wine stuff tends to be. Fortunately, I don’t eat meat. So I paired this with roasted asparagus & onions. Yum!

So, go out on an adventure! Check out your woods and railroad tracks! Find some morels! When you bring them home to cook, share your secret recipes with me!

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Eatery: YogoKiss

This weekend, I finally got to give YogoKiss a test run thanks to Indy Vegans FroSoy Meetup. While IndyVegans only had about 6 people show up, the Indianapolis Veggie Meetup group had a nice turn out; so the event wasn’t a total fail due to low attendance. I’d have to say there was at least 20 people that showed up, and that’s the number we originally gave them. Unfortunately, our two groups didn’t converse much – since we’re a pretty new group, I think we need to learn how to socialize.

Anyways, on to the frozen soy yogurt. YUM! I don’t know if the yogurt alone would have been mind-blowing, but their array of toppings were. The fruit was prominently displayed on the counter and shone like fruit never has before; pineapple, mango, banana, strawberries, raspberries, the list goes on. The candy toppings were displayed in jars above the fruit, almost like an afterthought. To be honest, I totally loved that. Fruit at kid eye-level, candy at chest-level. I like to think they’re encouraging people to choose healthy toppings. And at $3.50 for a small yogurt with up to three toppings, you could even mix fruit & candy!

It’s quite unfortunate that YogoKiss is so far away on the opposite side of town, but luckily, it’s neighboring Jasmine Thai which is amazing as well! It’s a perfect strip-mall date! Go, now.

4825 E 96th St #300
Indianapolis, IN 46240

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