boston market (MoFo 29)



Boston Chicken has gone through its ups and down. In the early 90's they were at the top of their game, so much so that they began offering other menu items. In fact, they became so popular for it, that they decided the name Boston Chicken was no longer apt for the business and so changed to Boston Market. Woo-hoo! Until, that is, they so over-extended themselves that by 1998 they filed Chapter 11. Who do you think came to their rescue? I'll give you one McClue... 

The company was purchased in 2000 by the McDonald's Corporation with the intention to get their hands on the real estate and dump the name and menu. However, after McD's cleaned house of the constipated BM's (I have a joke here that I will not indulge in...too late), the Market began to flourish again (rats!) and McD's decided to leave well enough alone. If it makes money...ya know.

Apparently things weren't quite as rosy in McLand though, because by 2007, the Market once again changed ownership.

The Boston Market Meatloaf was one of the menu additions from the original folks, and here I have reinvented it in all its vegan glory. While theirs is made of a cow, mine is made of veggie burgers. Pretty sure any veggie burger will work, but I made mine with Boca. The burgers are mashed up and mixed with onions, seasonings and barbecue sauce. The sauce is added at mid-cooking, as well. 

The sides at Boston Market are something that vegetarians, at least, can indulge in, but why should vegans be excluded? And why not make it vegan, anyway, for that matter?

Here I have made three of the side dishes, Creamed Spinach, Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Casserole and Poultry Gravy. The mashed potatoes are my creation and not one of their "Gourmet Sides."

All of them are fantastic, but as far as it goes, this place should be called Boston Butter, not Market. They use a ton of butter, cream and cheese in almost every side dish - at least the ones I chose to make. A note: To make this as good as it can be, you must use unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk. Anything else will make things taste way too sweet.


Vegan Meatloaf with Gravy


Creamed Spinach. Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Casserole



cracker barrel (MoFo 28)



The ol' country store. While driving on any highway, you cannot drive more than 30 miles without one of these crossing your billboard radar - they are everywhere! Cracker Barrel has only (and I mean that in comparison to the other mega-stores like McDonald's) 600 some-odd stores to its name, but they are ubiquitous on the road.

The original concept was created to pull people off the road to buy, not food or country junk, but gasoline. Dan Evans thought folks would pull over to eat and shop and, before heading back on the trails, fill up. Good call; that's just what they did. Nowadays there are no more gas stations in front of Cracker Barrel, but there are plenty of rocking chairs!

The Southern-comfort food of the Barrel is pretty off-putting to their vegetarian (do they have any?) clients since most everything has some part of an animal cooked in it. When I worked there about 16 years ago, the apples were the only thing (I think) that was clear to eat, but then perhaps even that had lard. Hard to tell. You know how the mind blocks out unhappy memories.

Hashbrown Casserole was a super popular menu item and their Chicken Casserole was also way up there. The Hashbrown Casserole is country hashbrowns with loads of cheese. The Chicken Casserole has cream of chicken soup with chicken and is topped with crumbled cornbread. I made a baked chicken-style tofu for this dish.

There is something highly annoying about a restaurant where even their vegetables have meat in it. The Barrel's Country Green Beans are cooked with bacon. Great. Grrr. 
Veganize!

I distinctly remember the Barrel making their green beans in the southern-style.. cooked until almost grey in color. To get this dish to be as close to the original as possible, I used frozen green beans (you can be more authentic and use canned green beans or more healthful and use fresh green beans. Oh! the choices.). Surprisingly good. Don't ask me why or how. Cook up a batch and try them. They make a great accompaniment to the Chicken Casserole.


Country Green Beans and Hashbrown Casserole


Chicken-y Setian Casserole

HASHBROWN CASSEROLE PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE


cheesecake factory (MoFo 27)



The first Cheesecake Factory restaurant was opened in Beverly Hills by Evelyn and Oscar Overton's son, David, because he wanted a place to sell his mother's beloved cheesecakes. Although she had been selling her cheesecakes to local restaurants already, most of her customer's weren't thrilled with the prices they were being charged. David thought he could help her out, and that he did.  By 2010, there were 150 Cheesecake Factories in operation. 

Hands down, the most popular dish on their menu, besides cheesecake, of course, is the Chicken Madeira, a sauteed chicken breast, topped with asparagus spears, mozzarella cheese and mushroom Madeira sauce. Veganize! Our mantra of the month!

Tender chicken-like seitan cutlets serve well here, asparagus is already vegan, mozzarella has many delicious non-dairy options and the mushroom Madeira sauce is as easy as finding a suitable Madeira wine. Serve these with mashed potatoes to soak up the sweet, tangy sauce. Vegetables already included. In fact, if I were you, I'd double and even triple the measly 2 spears of asparagus the restaurant offers per serving.

Certainly cheesecake cannot be ignored. Obviously. And here is where a lot can go wrong, and I am not referring only to the quantity of cheesecake that can be consumed in a single sitting. 

This was one of the many dishes that needed a redo. Surprisingly, when the correct chemical concoction for cheesecake perfection is achieved, the process is quite easy and quick. My first attempt was the Key Lime Cheesecake. While it came out tasting awesome, it was not firm and needed a redo. For the second time (not having the heart to ask the family to eat two of the same flavors of cheesecake in a row..what kind of mother would I have been?), I attempted to make the White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake, this time successfully.

I do not like tofu in my cheesecake, so this one is sans tofu, but does use about 3 tubs of Better Than Cream Cheese. Another alteration was needed since I did not have white chocolate and therefore used regular chocolate chips. 

To complete the whole Cheesecake Factory experience, get yourself a can of Soy Whip or some other whip substitute and squirt to your heart's content.. the Factory certainly does.



Seitan Madeira


Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

dairy queen (MoFo 26)



Dairy Queen was a total favorite of mine - before it sunk in that the cows 'giving' the milk aren't doing it so I can have the joy of eating ice cream. And they aren't doing it so I, a grown adult, can continue to consume something that I had been weened of years before by the only person who should be nursing me in the first place. Even if we totally disregard the fact that adult humans should not be suckling at anyone's teats, a mother cow is still raped and then her child murdered. Those are the cold hard facts and if you still consume dairy milk, you are still contributing to the violence.

To make your swallowing all of this harsh (albeit true) info easier, how about a nice vegan Blizzard

DQ first opened in the 1940's. Their innovative concept was the soft serve ice cream. That made DQ famous and what made them popular was their pioneering of restaurant franchising. In fact, by the end of 1947, they had grown to 100 stores. By 2010, they well exceeded over 5,000 stores world-wide.

In 1985, the year I had my first interaction with DQ, they introduced the Blizzard, soft serve ice cream with add-ins such as Heath Candy Bar, Snickers, Oreos, M&M's, etc. My favorite was the Heath Bar Blizzard. Because of all the wonderful folks at Turtle Mountain, Chicago Soy Dairy, Rice Dream, etc.,  there is no need to turn to dairy for any of your cold,  sweet needs. Grab your favorite vegan ice cream and head to your blender to make your Blizzard!...oh, Heath isn't vegan, you say? 

No worries! Heath Candy Bar is as easy as 5 ingredients (brown sugar, Earth Balance, nuts and chocolate chips) and 10 minutes away to make. Plus cooling time, but at least no babysitting is involved. 

The bars are totally delicious all by themselves...just leave enough for the Blizzard :)





hard rock cafe (MoFo 25)




Hard Rock Cafe was the first theme-based restaurant. Although when it opened in 1971 in London, England, narry a guitar or gold record graced the walls of the hamburger place By the time it's first American restaurant opened in Los Angeles in 1982, it had made not just a  name for itself, but gave birth to a trend that has been duplicated since then. 

It all began when Eric Clapton donated Hard Rock Cafe one of his guitars. Not to be outdone, Pete Townsend offered one up soon after, with a note saying "Mine's as good as his! Love, Pete." Thus began the collective legacy. Today, Hard Rock Cafe, complete with 130 or so stores, 4 hotels, 2 casinos and 2 concert venues, and a museum, is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida... quite a history!

One of their most popular menu items is the Hickory-Smoked Pulled-Pork (or Chicken) Sandwich. It comes with marinated cabbage and creamy cole slaw. I made a tofu-gluten seitan for this. It is served on a ciabatta roll with extra sauce on the side. It is, in fact, quite good and not all that difficult to make, even with the making of the seitan. The only catch is that you have to make the seitan, the marinated cabbage and the creamy cole slaw the day before serving it, as all three have to sit over night. If you ask me, it just makes the day of the meal that much easier for the cook since most of the work will have been done already.

When you are ready to eat, spin some tunes and stock up on the napkins. It's worth it, even if you have never been to a Hard Rock Cafe.
 It's not like they have a monopoly on music.



Hickory-Smoked Pulled Seitan Sandwich

Creamy Cole Slaw

(coming)


MoFo update

Update of failure. I blame it on my husband. When you tell someone they will fail, they just might. I asked him to check on the contents of the oven and as he walked upstairs to report his findings, he flat-out told me it was a bust. The dish wasn't  even done, yet, but when someone portends its demise, it is a foregone conclusion that the end has been foretold. Thus, after another two hours of cooking, it was evident that he was right.

I will retry with this particular restaurant replication later since I have a feeling I know what went wrong, but I don't wish to divulge the name of the place in case I ... well, fail again.

I typically would not blog about something like this, since I hate terribly to admit defeat, but I don't wish to be removed from the MoFo feed and I know they insist that we continually post, otherwise what is the point of Vegan Month of Food? I am sure, however, that the good folks at MoFo HQ had other blog posts in mind besides failed recipe ones.

Will write soon; it has been a long day.

bennigan's (MoFo 24)


Before Norman Brinker took over Chili's, he was the founder of Bennigan's, an Irish-inspired restaurant and pub. They serve American food with an Irish twist. Some of the most popular end enduring menu items have been the Monte Cristo and Broccoli Bites.

The company was later abandoned by Brinker for greener pastures. Pillsbury, the original owners, passed the restaurant chain onto other conglomerations, among them a huge liquor distributor. Over the years, the company has degraded due in part to a lack of rolling with the times and following trends. Basically they remained stagnant in a fluid restaurant environment. The company declared bankruptcy in July 2008 and wound up closing hundreds of stores. Among the only remaining stores that stayed open were franchise-owned ones. In October 2008, the dregs of the parent company, Steak and Ale, was bought up and the new owners are now trying to turn the tides and revamp Bennigan's image, food and the establishments themselves.    

I was a server and bartender at Bennigan's for about a year in the early 2000's because hubby was laid off, but the mortgage company still insisted on their monthly payments. You could tell that things were forced and apathetic for the company, even though it was a new store I was hired for. 

As for the food, the Monte Cristo was the signature dish, if you don't count the double burger that had a knife sticking out of it in an effort to hold the monstrosity upright. The Monte Cristo is a three-layered sandwich of ham, cheese and turkey, coated in an egg batter and deep fried. Now I am not exactly sure who looked at a sandwich and thought it would be a good idea to deep fry it, but then I am often confounded at the ludicrous things people choose to deep fry, including a stick of butter. Why?

However, I am not here to ask 'why?' just here to make the food. As anyone knows who has tried to recreate deep fried egg batters, it is not an easy endeavor. And since I figure there might be someone who does NOT choose to deep-fry their sandwich, I have offered a grilled version of it. Not the same, but not bad either...and not as bad for you. The batter is made with tofu and once a light dusting of flour is on the battered sandwich, the batter does not dissolve in the hot oil.

Broccoli Bites is one of those appetizers that I served a lot of, but one that isn't even vegetarian, with the inclusion of bacon bits. I omitted the bacon bits completely, but if you'd like to add some vegan tvp bacon bits or crumbled Fakin Bakin or something like that, the option is there. The broccoli, once pulsed fine in a food processor, is mixed with finely grated vegan cheese and formed into balls. The balls are then frozen to help them stay together during frying. They are coated in milk-flour-bread crumbs and fried. Baking is an option also. The balls flatten a  bit with this process, but the broccoli cooks more and they are still crispy and golden.

Yup, more brewskie is recommended here and perhaps a strong stomach if you dare to try the Monte Cristo as it was originally intended to be eaten by the good folks at Bennigan's.


Monte Cristo


Monte Cristo - grilled


Broccoli Bites


chili's (MoFo 23)


Chili's was started in Dallas in 1975 as basically a hamburger place. It was bought by Norman Brinker in 1983, by which time it had expanded to thirty stores. After Norman acquired the place, he added Fajitas to the menu, a finger food of southwestern-marinated and grilled meats served sizzling on a cast-iron skillet. The meat and vegetables are arranged in a soft flour tortilla or corn tortilla, with the addition of pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese or guacamole. Most people have by now heard of or have eaten fajitas, thanks in large part to Chili's who made it part of our culture. 

I have made my fajitas with tofu, seitan and portobellos, but, really, any combination of delicious vegetables will work wonderfully, including squash, other mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. Skip potatoes in this. It is too starchy.

Along with burgers, fajitas, soups and pastas, salads are a large part of Chili's - in this generation, any way. One of their best selling salad is the Caribbean Salad, a melange of greens, onion, pineapple, dried cherries and Honey-Lime Dressing, topped with marinated, grilled meat. It isn't difficult at all to substitute the honey with maple syrup in the dressing and use grilled tofu or grilled seitan for the chicken. 

Lastly, I replicated their Chicken Enchilada Soup, which uses masa harina as the thickener and has a few ounces short of a ton of cheese. Substituting the chicken is easy - I used chickpeas, but omitting it totally is great as well, or using tofu cubes or seitan. As for the cheese, you need something creamy and tangy - I used Better Than Cream Cheese and Better Than Sour Cream. Not too much, but just enough to take it into Chili's realm. This was a winner by a mile and I encourage you to try it - it is super easy and quick - on top of being delicious.

Enchilada Soup


Caribbean Salad






buffalo wild wings (MoFo 22)



Buffalo, New York must have been too far for the founders of Buffalo Wild Wings in 1981, based out of Ohio, which must have been the impetus to open a restaurant built around chicken wings. The restaurant makes wings... and about a dozen or so different sauces to coat them. Not only are the chicken wings formerly those of..chickens... the sauces are 'thickened' and 'stabilized' using eggs. Neither is necessary.

Last MoFo I attempted to duplicate chicken wings since they have become such a huge staple in our culture; sort of a bonus for the meat-packers ... they get to sell the chicken meat/carcass and now, thanks to the popular Buffalo Wings, not lose money on the previously not-good-for-anything-but-to-make-stock chicken wings. Fantastic. Except for the chickens.

My last attempt to make wings was a little complicated and I wanted to have another go at it. This recipe uses both seitan and pressed tofu very successfully... and easily. The pieces are coated with a little flour and fried. That's it.

The sauces are pretty great. Buffalo Wild Wing's most popular sauce is the Spicy Garlic one, but if the teaspoon of garlic powder is not enough for you (as for me), add three cloves of minced garlic to the bowl you will be tossing the wings in. They will cook well enough with the residual heat from the frying of the pieces. 

The second sauce, Parmesan Garlic, makes use of roasted garlic and mayo. You can omit the parmesan if you can't find any good vegan ones (Hint: Tami and Celine's new sandwich cookbook will have a fantastic recipe for one in it! Yes!) just up the roasted garlic and add a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast. 

Serve with fries, celery sticks, a brewskie and ranch dressing. Is it football season, yet?

Wings with Spicy Garlic Sauce


Wings with Parmesan Garlic Sauce




denny's (MoFo 21)


Hard to believe that Denny's Restaurant started out as Danny's Donuts, a simple donuts and coffee shop open 24 hours a day. Once their customers began asking for other types of food besides sweet ones, Danny added sandwiches to the menu and changed the name to Danny's Coffee Shop. The joint went through one more name transformation to the now well known Denny's. Still open 24 hours a day and still selling coffee and sandwiches, among many other diner fare. It is hard to find a city without at least one Denny's.

I had my first taste of Denny's in college, working the graveyard. Lots of interesting characters visit the place once the regular folks call it a night. Lots. And not all of them were aware of the tipping system customary after being served.

I remember The Super Bird, a glorified grilled cheese with turkey, tomato and bacon, being very popular. The sandwich was cut into three parts, being so big. For the turkey I used Tofurkey slices. Any style of Tofurkey slices will do fine. For the bacon, I used my Tofu Bacon recipe, using three slices.  For the cheese, anything that melts well will be great - Daiya, Rice cheese, Follow Your Heart...

The second sandwich from America's Diner is Moons Over My Hammy. This sandwich has ham, scrambled eggs and cheese on a sourdough bread. Yves makes a great ham-alternative and the cheese choices are the same as above. As for the scrambled eggs, pressed tofu with black salt and a bit of vegenaise is all that is needed to make it just as creamy and delicious as the Denny's version.  

Grab a skillet, fry up some hash-browns, make some coffee, and enjoy a Denny's sandwich the vegan way.  

Super Bird



Moons Over My Hammy