Archive for the ‘Veggie Burgers’ category

J. Alexander’s Update

May 30th, 2014

For a while J. Alexander’s had had an excellent veggie burger that has been vegan. However, on a recent visit I inquired about the veggie burger once again. I was told that the recipe for this burger had changed recently with a menu revamp and now contained eggs and that the bun now had an egg wash. Unfortunately, for the local veggie burger fans this is one less choice.

Do you have a favorite veggie burger in the Nashville area? Let us know in the comments where you find it and be sure to specify if it is vegan.

 

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My Veggie Chef

March 30th, 2012

 

Things I love: cooking, spending time in the kitchen, planning a great vegan meal and creating recipes. Just because I love those things doesn’t mean everyone does. For those that really don’t like meal planning and cooking there’s My Veggie Chef. Being one who loves all of those things and loves to put a dinner together form scratch I had to put myself in a different mode for this. I’m not accustomed to having a ready-to-cook meal supplied to me. I decided to go through this review with a mindset of someone who needs that ready to go meal waiting. I’ll put away my make it my way ideas and be the kitchen amateur for this. Well, a little bit at least. I did take a few liberties here and there. I couldn’t resist.

My Veggie Chef is a food preparation and delivery service in the Nashville area operated by Kristen Agee. No, Ms. Agee will not come to your home and take over your kitchen like to some high-priced celebrity personal chef in the Bentley-driven hills of Bel Air. Instead she will prepare your completely vegan meals in her kitchen and deliver them to your home. Individual ingredients are pre-measured and supplied in containers with easily followed instructions. All you add is a small amount of time and maybe water where needed. It’s very simple to have a healthy, vegan meal without all the pre-planning required and trips to the grocery store.

 

My Veggie Chef

My Veggie Chef meals are supplied frozen. Just thaw and follow the on-package directions.

 

The week of meals from My Veggie Chef that I was supplied were Veggie Burgers, Tuscan White Bean Soup, Roasted Corn Chowder, Pasta with Caramelized Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto and Tofu with Veggies over Tomato Couscous. All five meals were individually packaged in Ziploc bags with smaller bags inside for each ingredient. On the outside of the main bag is a sticker with preparation instructions. Everything is typed out neatly but the only thing I would consider adding to the instructions is prep time. Some people like to know exactly how long it will take from the time they start to pour the first ingredient in the pan to the time they’ll be taking their hot vegan din-din from the oven. For parents who pick up kids at school or whatever practice and have a short time at home before dinner must be served that knowledge is helpful. If I have five meals waiting at home for me to choose form ranging in 30 minutes prep to 2 hours and I know Wednesday night I’ll have only 45 minutes when I arrive home to get dinner made before the kid has to go to bed but Friday night I’ll have all afternoon to get dinner planned. I’ll be saving that 30 minute meal for Wednesday night and the 2 hour dinner will likely be made Friday. It’s better to know at a glance.

 

My Veggie Chef Veggie Burgers

Veggie burger ingredients

 

I’m a veggie burger lover and since the complete prep for a veggie burger is there (including buns!) I made that the first meal to try. A bag of TVP mixed with spices, corn starch and brown rice flour was supplied as well and a smaller bag of ketchup and vegan Worcestershire sauce. The instructions stated to boil a cup of water and pour it over the TVP mixture then empty the ketchup bag into that and stir to combine. Once mixed well I was to let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. OK, here’s where I had time to reflect on making veggie burgers and how I like them. I skewed just a little but not in the basic directions. A hot pan was ready and into it I put a sliced onion to caramelize while I waited for the burger mixture. Once the mixture was ready I made four patties and put them into my hot skillet. The directions stated to cook for 5 minutes on each side. Now, I’m sure that sufficient to heat the burgers through but my crazy cook mentality took over. I wanted to see if these things could hold up to the onions and that meant a nice crispy outside and that meant AT LEAST 30 minutes in the pan if not longer.

 

My Veggie Chef Veggie Burgers

My Veggie Chef veggie burgers frying up. I added some onions because that just how it should be done. Don't be afraid to fry these longer than indicated.

 

The moment you know if you have a homemade veggie burger patty that’s going to work is when you make that first flip with your spatula. I was unsure and honestly had little hope of flipping a burger and it coming down in one piece. No problem, a perfect flip. I covered the pan, a step not stated in directions but a staple in my own veggie burger cooking as it lets the heat cook the burger more evenly and provides a moister burger, and flipped them every few minutes. After about 45 minutes on medium-low the My Veggie Chef veggie burgers were ready. Next step in my veggie burger prep that was not in the directions: a toasted bun! Really, who wants a burger on a cold, clammy bun?I put the buns in the pan with the patties and toasted them well so they were nice and brown on the outside yet warm and steamy moist inside. Time to give these veggie burgers a taste, a patty on a toasted bun spread with some Earth Balance mayonnaise and topped with those delicious caramelized onions. I’m thinking these ingredients are too simple and likely I’m going to have a bland burger screaming for flavor. No, actually a very tasty burger! onions. The burgers were spiced well and the texture was excellent. Actually better that some veggie burgers I’ve had in local restaurants. Is it the most complex flavor with perfect fresh ingredients? Well, no but you’re looking for a ready to go meal and that’s what you get. Still, much better than the over-processed frozen patties you’ll find in the grocery freezer.

 

My Veggie Chef Veggie Burgers

My Veggie Chef veggie burgers ready to munch.

 

The next meal I tried was Tuscan White Bean soup. The contents were in two bags. One bag contained onions and a very important ingredient that was not listed on the ingredient list: garlic. Most wouldn’t think anything of this but if you’re allergic to garlic then this is a big issue. Mrs. Nashveggie is allergic to garlic so luckily I caught it which wasn’t hard since I have a nose in the middle of my face. The second bag contained a white bean tomato sauce mix. The cooking instructions for this one was simple. Saute the onion mixture for five minutes then add 3 cups of water and the contents of the bean bag. Cooking this for 45 minutes you should have a ready to eat soup. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. After the stated 45 minutes at a boil the beans were still hard and inedible. It took a full 3 hours before the beans were soft enough to eat.  For me this soup needed a signature addition to make it Tuscan White Bean soup: Kale. About 15 minutes before the soup was to be served I added 2 cups of shredded kale and it made the dish.

 

My Veggie Chef Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tuscan White Bean Soup ingredients

 

 

My Veggie Chef Tuscan White Bean Soup

My Veggie Chef Tuscan White Bean Soup. I added some kale and a little pasta for a one bowl meal.

 

Next up, Roasted Corn Chowder. Another two bag meal this one was stated to be ready in about 15 minutes with the combined cooking times of each stage. Instructions were similar to the Tuscan White Bean soup. One bag contained onions and peppers to be sauteed for five minutes. The next bag contained spices and corn to be added along with one cup of water. The next step left a bit of confusion. ‘Add soymilk’. How much soymilk? A guess? To taste? Being a seasoned cook I had a general idea but for the person likely preparing these meals it could be a loss. I added 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened soymilk and cooked for the stated time but the flavors just didn’t seem to mesh. I simmered another 30 minutes and this one was just flat. If I added too much soymilk causing the flavor to become bland then there would be very little soup between 2 people by adding any amount less. It definitely needs more in the flavor department.

 

My Veggie Chef Roasted Corn Chowder

My Veggie Chef Roasted Corn Chowder ingredients

 

My Veggie Chef Roasted Corn Chowder

Roasted Corn Chowder cooking directions where in step 4 it does not state the amount of soymilk to be added to the soup.

 

Pasta with Caramelized Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto I made for a quick dinner one night after getting home late.  I think “caramelized cauliflower” is a misnomer. It should be “roasted cauliflower” as you’re doing no more than roasting the cauliflower in the oven for a short time until it’s lightly brown. The cauliflower did roast nicely with a little salt and pepper and pasta is simple enough to prepare. The pesto, however, was a bit bland. It could have used some salt and was missing the key nuttiness I find a staple in pesto. I typically use walnuts or cashews in my pesto and I’m not a fan of the traditional pesto ingredient of pinenuts but any of the three would have been a welcome addition.

 

My Veggie Chef Pasta with Caramelized Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto

My Veggie Chef Pasta with Caramelized Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto ingredients

 

My Veggie Chef Pasta with Caramelized Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto

My Veggie Chef Pasta with Caramelized Cauliflower and Parsley Pesto

 

The final meal in the pack to be prepared was Tofu with Veggie over Tomato Couscous. This one took a bit more prep time than some of the others. Frying tofu then frying veggies as well as the plan ahead if following the package direction, which I did, meant knowing 24 hours ahead you’d be eating this meal.  The first step is to fry the tofu in a little oil. I did just that but quickly noticed that the tofu was just plain tofu, unseasoned. I did not waiver from the instructions by adding any seasoning but any vegan knows what unseasoned tofu tastes like, nothing at all.  Tofu prepared I sat it aside and went in on the veggies by frying them in the same manner. Nice chunks of artichoke with carrots and small slivers of peppers went into the pan and I quickly noticed this dish was heavy on the cumin as the scent quickly filled the house. Water and tomatoes boiled and couscous was ready. All together and ready to eat this one turned out fairly well except for the tasteless tofu. I would recommend some seasoning added to the tofu beforehand. It would make this dish stand out and give it the flavor where it was lacking. The veggies tasted very good with the couscous, however.

 

My Veggie Chef Tofu with Veggie over Tomato Couscous

My Veggie Chef Tofu with Veggie over Tomato Couscous ingredients

 

 

My Veggie Chef Tofu with Veggies over Tomato Couscous

My Veggie Chef Tofu with Veggies over Tomato Couscous

 

These meals when following directions needed a nudge here and there. If you’re comfortable enough in the kitchen then these will give you enough of a start to where you can add your own touches to make then a little better than out of the bag. As I stated a few places, some extra seasoning, and extra directions, would come in handy.

You can sign up for emails from My Veggie Chef as well. Doing so will get the weekly menu sent to you so you can decide if you’re feeling that weeks flavors. You can then go to the website and order your meals.

The meals I reviewed were enough for 2-3 people but My Veggie Chef has an option for meals for 4-6 people. Meals for 2-3 cost $80 for five meals and the 4-6 serving 5 meal plan is $160. Despite the shortcomings with some of the meals I tried this is an excellent service for local vegans, or vegetarians and even those who just want to eat a little healthier, and those who are in a time crunch to prepare dinner My Veggie Chef can help you out. My Veggie Chef only delivers within a 20 mile radius of downtown Nashville but outside of that delivery area pick-up is available.

 

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Portland, Oregon: Off The Griddle

October 25th, 2011

Off The Griddle - Portland, Oregon

After going through all of the notes I made on our trip to Portland and all of the food pictures I took, as well as the non-food pictures, I’ve come to realize that I could be writing a post a day. I don’t have the time to write a post a day and that would have me wriiting about Portland up until my next Portland trip. I’m not going to do that so I’m going to touch on a few of the highlights of the food portion of our trip and maybe a conglomeration post with a few tidbits of what’s left over with the pictures that are left.

I am a veggie burger lover. I will make one at home on occasion and always skip the frozen ones opting for fresh. If you’re looking locally in Nashville for a decent one in a restaurant you could always go with J. Alexander’s which makes a pretty good one.  However, in Portland I encountered the best veggie burger I’ve ever had in a restaurant. For lunch one day we searched out Off The Griddle, a small food cart on the corner of SE 50th and SE Division. Serving nothing but veggie burgers, both vegan and vegetarian choices, you knew they had to have it down and would serve up a killer burger. No disappointments. All of Off The Griddle’s burgers are mostly organic, homemade and served on Dave’s Killer Bread. Dave’s Killer Bread is another anomaly of amazing food goodness but I’ll try to give you more on that later. The cart is also solar-powered. Solar-powered, homemade, mostly organic and vegan. How can you possibly beat that? Make the best veggie burger you’ll ever eat.

We ordered the Smoky Bleu Burger, topped with tempeh bacon, spinach, onion and a vegan bleu cheese sauce that was so close to bleu cheese that it had me questioning it’s vegan authenticity. Our second choice was the daily special, a Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger. This one had the usual inclusions, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and sweet pickles but also a great tasting curry coconut tahini sauce that made the burger perfect. Both burgers were, of course, vegan and had great texture. They weren’t mushy and didn’t fall apart. These could be the perfect vegan veggie burgers.

 

Off The Griddle - Smoky Bleu Burger

Smokey Bleu Burger

 

Off The Griddle - Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger

Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger

 

There’s ample seating available in the food cart pod so you don’t have to search our a place to sit on the street or walk with your food. These tasty burgers are prepared fresh to order so grab a seat and wait for the most amazing veggie burger you’ll ever encounter.

If I could get to Off The Griddle right now I would. If I could have the veggie burger perfection that I found at Off The Griddle right now I would. However, that would be a 2,351 mile trip and I don’t have enough time during lunch to get there and back. Next trip to Portland, though, it’s on!

Walk up and order the best veggie burger you'll ever eat. The special the day we visited was the Pumpkin Curry Falafel Burger. Whatever it is the day you visit it's sure to be delicious.

 

Off The Griddle Menu - Portland, Oregon

Vegan and vegetarian veggie burger choices galore. Time to get your veggie burger eats on!

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St. Augustine Vacation

July 19th, 2011

Another Summer vacation is behind us. Each year we make a trek to St. Augustine, Florida so Mrs. Nashveggie can veg-out on the beach. It’s her one annual requirement.  Sand, the sound of waves and a book pacifies her.  St. Augustine is the city she went to college in and where she lived when we first began dating so returning there is based on the fact we know the area quite well. That and the fact there’s a beach. The beach is important if I didn’t emphasize that enough already. We like the fact the beaches aren’t overrun with nutty families with coolers in tow and it is highly preferred over the Redneck Riviera which so many from this area attack every year. You know where I’m talking about, that strip of beach that runs from Mobile, Alabama to an area just east of Panama City Beach, Florida and where you’ll find every beer-gut, Budweiser-swilling, SUV-driving, camouflage-bikini wearing redneck in a 500 mile radius. Yes, the Redneck Riviera, not what this post is about nor where you’ll find me. As I said, we head to St. Augustine on the East coast of Florida where the beaches are clean and relatively free of crowds if you know where to look. We have our own little beach few know about or at least few choose to go there and that makes us all the happier.

St. Augustine has a few places to find a vegan lunch. I’ve written on them before and the choices have not changed. If you’re looking for a big vegan dinner you’re best moving up the road to Jacksonville or south to Daytona as the choices aren’t the widest in St. Augustine. You could try The Perfect Moment, a raw vegan cafe serving what I lovingly refer to as “pretty food” but I can give you no pointers on that as it is “pretty food” and I don’t typically partake of that. You could go to The Manatee Cafe, a great vegetarian restaurant that serves mostly things I make easily at home. The do have great vegan breakfasts and sandwiches but we didn’t visit this trip. We did visit Stir It Up, a small walk-up lunch counter serving wraps and smoothies as well as Mango Mango’s where it’s not easy to order vegan off the menu and if you ask for what can be made vegan you’ll still have a slim selection. Mango Mango’s does, however, have a killer Black Bean Soup. I know, soup isn’t exactly what you might want for dinner on a hot, humid beach vacation but it really was exactly what I wanted. The black bean soup was heavy on the jerk seasoning and contained small chunks of one of my favorite fruits, plantain. Mrs. Nashveggie had the Caribbean Mango Island Salad, a mix of greens topped with peppers, oranges, coconut, almonds and mango. The salad looked great and tasted fresh. Heavy on the mango and sweetness. We ate at Mango Mango’s a couple times and had the same each. We also made a few trip to The Spanish Bakery. Cheap lunch awaits! Two fresh bowls of gazpacho, a big hot loaf of bread, six cookies and drinks for $10! Seating is all outside under big shade trees and on a hot day gazpacho is perfect. Most of our time in St. Augustine was spent on the beach as it usually is and meals were relegated to fresh fruit and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

Mango Mangos - Caribbean Mango Island Salad

Mango Mango's - Black Bean Soup

On the drive back we stopped off in Atlanta for a couple of days. My mother-in-law lives there so life wouldn’t be pleasant if we passed through without stopping for a visit. We decided on a new place for lunch, Urban Pl8. I had read good and bad about it but the food always came out good in reviews. Our arrival was during brunch on Sunday about noon. A 40 minute wait and we were seated outside near the small garden where some of the ingredients in this “local food” restaurant are sourced. Looking over the menu and reading between the various Paleo selections and after asking which selections could be veganized I decided on the Vegan Breakfast Plate. It included a pinto bean cake that was just a bit spicy but lacked much else on seasoning or salt leaving it very bland. It was accompanied by braised kale that was very good and maple sweet potatoes which I could have eaten a second serving of. Overall, not a bad meal but something should be done about that pinto bean cake. Dress it up in some flavor-love. Mr’s Nashveggie had the same and my mother-in-law had Lily’s Nut Burger, a patty of walnuts, cashews, brown rice and cheddar cheese topped with sour cream on a whole wheat English muffin. Of course, it’s not vegan but is vegetarian so add that a choice if that’s your way. It was on the small side and I would have needed at least 4 of them to consider it lunch. It was served with a mixed greens salad that was drenched in a very spicy dressing. Again, on the small side but I guess hangovers need small eats for brunch. The Kid had tofu scramble and the same maple sweet potatoes included with the vegan breakfast. The scramble looked very good and had subtle flavor. It contained a mix of red peppers, zucchini and onions and seemed to be cooked in an abundant amount of oil which was served along with in the bottom of the bowl. The food was nothing outstanding and I’ve had worse but the service was really bad. It took 10 minutes to get our drinks after ordering and 20 minutes for a refill of my sweet tea. The Kid’s tofu scramble was served with shredded cheese on top, which was not even mentioned in the description, and was replaced with a fresh dish when we brought it to the server’s attention. I’m not sure on the exact breakdown on the time but we arrived at the restaurant at noon and left after eating, no floundering after finishing, at 3:20. Most of this time was spent waiting for our meals. Everything seems to be prepared fresh when ordered and to order by one cook. The restaurant wasn’t extremely packed. If you do plan on visiting Urban Pl8 be sure to give a good amount of time to get in and out.

Urban Pl8 - Vegan Breakfast

Urban Pl8 - Lily's Nut Burger (Vegetarian, not vegan)

Dinner that evening was on the mother in law’s suggestion. She had decided we should go to Nicola’s. No argument from me, Nicola’s is great. A Turkish restaurant on LaVista, Nicola’s makes anyone feel like family. Everyone is greeted by the owner upon entering and kept entertained by the length of the visit by him and one or all of the staff. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night you’ll be able to enjoy belly dancing. Be ready to be asked to join in. Everyone is and at some point in the night the entire restaurant is on their feet in the center of the dining room dancing to Middle Eastern pop tunes and sloppily belly dancing the best they can. I can only guess I might have better falafel and fried artichokes if I visited a Middle Eastern country and ate them locally. No, I take that back I’m sure these would beat anything I would get if I traveled thousands of miles. This is the absolute best Middle Eastern munchies I’ve ever had and the personal attention you get just adds to the experience.

Nicola's Restaurant - Hommos, Baba Ghanoush, Falafel with vegan sauce, Artichoke Heart, Tabbouleh, Fattoush, Grape Leaves (vegetarian), Spinach Pie (vegetarian)

It’s peach season so we made sure to have enough room in the car on the trip home for extra cargo. If you’ve bought peaches locally you know they’re not cheap. They might seem cheap until you buy a sufficient quantity to do something with then you realize that $1.49 a pound adds up. Grocery stores and local farmers markets are not the place to buy peaches if you’re looking to save money. To do that you find the growers selling their product. Being able to haggle helps, as well. Instead of that $1.49 a pound we got 60 pounds of big, plump, sweet, juicy, delicious smelling peaches for $20. That comes out to about 33 cents a pound. That’s the way to buy peaches! Look soon for a post on various peach concoctions. I’m looking to try something peachy new. Any ideas?

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Burger Up from Frothy Monkey

March 16th, 2010

Since the writing of this article it has been pointed out to me by some who work at Burger Up that the Marathon burger mentioned in this article is no longer vegan. One of the ingredients is Worcestershire sauce containing anchovies. Note: Worcestershire sauce is also in the homemade ketchup they serve.

 

UPDATE: Burger Up is now open. If you have made a visit please take the time to let me know what you thought in the comments.

I have been reading of the new black bean/quinoa burger at Frothy Monkey for a few weeks on Twitter and had a standing reservation for one form Miranda, the owner, for some time but never could make it because of other obligations. This weekend we finally made it on the last day they would be available before the opening of Burger Up just down the street.

My trips to Frothy Monkey have only been for coffee in the past I have never really looked at their menu which has a few vegan selections. The burgers are not on the menu but were on a spur of the moment availability. The burgers can be ordered with a wheat bun or sourdough bread. Those working were unsure if the wheat bun contained honey so we opted for the sourdough. Our burgers were served topped with tomato slices and hummus and a side of tortilla chips and salsa. I’m not a big fan of the black bean veggie burger variety. Usually they are over-spiced with cumin to the point there’s no other flavor but these burgers were great. No over-powering spice and they held together very well, something not easily found in housemade veggie burgers. The hummus was a very nice addition.

Burger Up Black Bean Quinoa Burger

Burger Up Black Bean Quinoa Burger

We were told by Miranda, the owner, that Burger Up will hopefully open by April 1st. They will also be serving baked fries for those who prefer something hot and crispy on the side.

Future Location of Burger Up:

 

 


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