Vegan Three “Cheese” & Alfredo Lasagna with Power Greens (Kale, Chard & Spinach)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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vromans back

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This lasagna is delicious & 100% vegan.  I made three kinds of vegan “cheese” for this.  You can make the cheeses yourself (they are all very easy) or buy vegan pre-made varieties.  I used three kinds of sauce, a cup of leftover homemade, the remnants of a jar of Rao’s marinara & a little more than a cup of Rao’s Arrabbiata – my favorite jarred sauce.  You can use all homemade or all from a jar – or mix it up – as I did.

I used red chard, kale & spinach.  You can use any combination of greens that you prefer.  I used cheddar cauliflower, because I had it, but regular cauliflower is just as good (it just has less vitamin A).  I used the sort of lasagna that needs to be cooked in advance – mainly because I noticed the no-cook kind had egg in them.  You can use your favorite vegan lasagna noodles.

I am going to post the three cheeses first.  You can choose to make any or all of them.


Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella (above) – for Melting & Grating – recipe is HERE.

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Vegan Herbed Tofu “Ricotta”


1 lb extra firm tofu

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1-3 TBS mixed chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme & sage)

1 tsp each salt & pepper

1 TBS dry parsley

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Crumble the tofu & mix in the other ingredients.  Set aside.

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Vegan “Parmesan”


1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepita) – I used roasted & salted because I could not find raw – but raw will work, too

2 TBS nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry thyme

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I think it would be ideal to grind these ingredients together in a spice mill – but I don’t have one.  You might get a finer result.  I used my food processor & ran it a few minutes.  The pumpkin seeds were not totally ground – but I went with it anyway.

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Vegan Three “Cheese” & Alfredo Lasagna with Power Greens (Kale, Chard & Spinach)

Makes a standard lasagna


1 lb lasagna noodles – cooked as directed

3 cups pasta sauce of your choice

2+ cups vegan mozzarella – grated

for the power greens

1 head kale – ribs removed & chopped

1 head chard – ribs removed & chopped

2 cups spinach

1 cup fresh basil

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 onion – diced

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan

Olive oil

for the alfredo

1 head cauliflower – cut into florets

1 cup vegetable stock or water

2 TBS vegan butter

5 garlic cloves – minced

3/4 cup vegan Parmesan

GARNISH – chopped basil or arugula leaves or parsley

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Cook the pasta & drain.

for the alfredo

Boil the cauliflower (maybe even boil it in vegetable stock) until very soft.  Drain (I reserved 1 cup of the water I boiled the cauliflower in).

Melt the butter & saute the garlic for one minute.

In a blender or food processor – blend the cauliflower, stock (or water) butter & garlic, vegan Parmesan & a bit of S&P until very smooth.  Set aside.

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for the power greens

Heat a TBS or 2 in a large saute pan & heat the onion until soft.  Add the garlic & kale, chard & spinach & heat just until the greens wilt.

In a food processor (not a necessary step – but it prevents large & hard to bite pieces of greens in your lasagna that can flop, hot, out of a bite you are taking & burn you – or just make a mess) – pulse the hot greens, the basil, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.  Set aside.

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for the lasagna

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large lasagna pan, put about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom & then layer noodles.  The rest of the layering can be random & at your discretion – but here is the order I used.  I topped the noodles with half the “ricotta,” half the “alfredo,” then noodles, then all the greens, noodles, remaining “ricotta,” cup or more of sauce, noodles, remaining “alfredo,” noodles, remaining sauce & mozzarella.

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Bake for about 45 minutes or until well heated.  I would say “or until cheese melts,” but many vegan cheeses do not truly melt.  So – just eyeball it until you think it seems done.

I stacked two pieces on top of each other for photos & you could do this, too, for an impressive presentation.  Or not.  Your call.  Garnish with basil or arugula or parsley.  Devour!

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3 Meat, 3 Bean & 3 Pepper Vegan Chili for the Slow Cooker

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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I’m not gonna lie – I haven’t posted in a while because I have been living – almost exclusively – on my Easy Crispy Oven Baked French Fries – seen above.  They are crispy & yummy & nearly guiltless.  Still – I had to bring some vegan food to a BBQ this weekend so I made a fuckton of vegan chili – THIS chili – 3 Meat, 3 Bean & 3 Pepper Vegan Chili for the Slow Cooker.  It makes enough to fill a 7-quart Crockpot – which can feed a LOT of people (ten or more).  I brought some to the BBQ & used some for work lunches & froze some.  The ingredients are actually pretty random & very forgiving so – feel free to reduce the overall recipe or to tweak the ingredients.

I used Beyond Meat Feisty crumbles,


Tofurky Chick’n & Apple sausages (which my meat-eating friend kept plucking out of the recipe & eating – shocked at how good it was),

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and whatever brand of soyrizo (meatless chorizo) they had at my supermarket.  Trader Joe’s usually carries soyrizo.  You can use whatever combo sounds good to you.

My bean to bean to bean ratio is simply the result of what I had around.  Dividing the quantities more evenly might be nice but once it is chili – a bean is a bean is a bean.  No?

My peppers were both red & green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers & chipotle peppers.  You can mix this up or change it to suit your tolerance for heat.

I also topped mine with this new brand of vegan cheese I found.  It melts into the chili nicely & tastes great.


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3 Meat, 3 Bean & 3 Pepper Vegan Chili for the Slow Cooker

Feeds a small community


1 lb dry white beans (soaked overnight or quick-soaked)

1 (15 oz) can of black beans – drained or not – doesn’t really matter

2 (15 oz) cans of pinto beans – drained or not – doesn’t really matter

2 (9 oz) bags of Beyond Meat beefless crumbles

2 Tofurky (or other brand) sausages – flavor of your choice – cut into bite-sized pieces

2 soyrizo sausages – squeezed out of their casings

1 (4 oz) can of green chilies

1 (10 oz) can Rotel (or other diced tomato)

1 red bell pepper (seeded & chopped)

1 green bell pepper (seeded & chopped)

1-4 chipotle peppers (I used 4) in adobo – chopped

1 small onion – chopped

3 Roma (or other small) tomatoes – chopped

1-3 jalapeno peppers (I used 3) – seeded (or not – if you like heat) and diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 cup cilantro – chopped

1/3 cup your favorite BBQ sauce

2 TBS vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional)

3 cups (or more) vegetable stock

2 TBS fresh oregano (chopped) or 2 TBS dry oregano

1 TBS cumin


GARNISH OPTIONS – scallions, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, cilantro, onions, hot sauce, sliced avocado, cooked rice

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I seared the sausage just to give it grill marks.  Totally unnecessary.

Basically – put everything into the slow cooker & leave it on high for 4 or more hours.  If – it is looking too watery, take the lid off & cook on high until it gets to where you want it.  If it gets too thin – add some vegetable stock or water.  I like to let mine sit on low all day (after 4 hours of being on high), warm overnight & then high the next day to heat it for eating but this is totally not necessary.  Four hours on high & this shit should be good to go.  Season to taste & serve with the garnish of your choice!

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3-Mushroom, Zucchini & Fried Sage Pizza with Blue Cheese and Fresh Mozzarella

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

I must admit – some dishes are harder to make look pretty than others & my troubles are compounded by a full-time job that means I can only photograph things early, before work, or late – after work.  I am certainly not going to make a pizza at 8am & – honestly – the light at 8pm sucks.  So – many of my photos lately have been a tad underwhelming & I find that very depressing.  But – I do not have the luxury of a blog that earns me any money so – this is just a reality I am having to deal with – the fact that I am in a challenging food photography world for a while.

It is especially disappointing when the dish is as outrageously delicious at this pizza was.  I like to go light on cheeses so this pizza looks sorta dark & not as pretty as others I have made but – if you like mushrooms – you are in for a treat.  As one of my three mushrooms – I used this jarred sauce here:

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I have to say – I am not a fan of jarred sauces (Rao’s Arrabbiata as a notable exception) but this stuff here is a revelation!   It is heavily saturated with the flavor of porcini mushrooms.  I recommend it highly.

My second mushroom element was a last minute drizzle of truffle oil – after the pizza came out of the oven.

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My third mushroom element was just a handful of sliced mushrooms sauted in olive oil with some thinly sliced zucchini.

I used a new recipe for the pizza dough.  It came from How Sweet It is – and is intended expressly for a very thin crust.  It is an easy no–rise dough & I found it wonderful.  The recipe is HERE.

I used two kinds of cheese simply because I had them.  If you don’t like blue cheese – skip it.

Fried sage rounded out the flavors & gave this pizza an autumnal flavor.  Sage is a perfect companion for mushrooms so – if you haven’t tried it – you must.

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3-Mushroom, Zucchini & Fried Sage Pizza with Blue Cheese and Fresh Mozzarella

(quantities of each are up to you – to suit your taste)


Pizza dough of your choice (I used THIS)

Mushroom pasta sauce

Truffle oil

Sliced mushrooms

Sliced zucchini

Fresh sage

Olive oil

Crumbled blue cheese

Fresh mozzarella – sliced


Crushed red pepper (optional)

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Heat the oven to 500 degrees.

Prepare the dough & roll out some to a pizza of shape & size that you determine.

With a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a pan – fry the sage a few minutes – being careful not to burn it.  Drain on a paper towel.

Add the mushrooms & zucchini to the pan with a few pinches of S&P.  Saute on high until soft.

Put your dough on a cooking sheet (covered with parchment paper – highly recommended – or greased).  Top with sauce, vegetables, sage and cheeses.

Cook for about 10-15 minutes – depending on your oven & how done you like your crust & cheese. When it looks read – take it out & drizzle with truffle oil.  Add some crushed red pepper – if you like – and eat the whole fucking thing alone.  I did!

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Arugula, Ricotta, Cream Cheese and Parmesan Pie with Heirloom Tomatoes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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vromans back

I keep throwing softballs like this out there to you kids.  Softballs in that the recipe is easy & the result delicious.  When, oh when, will you trust me & try one?

This one is almost like a quiche but uses no eggs or heavy cream.   I suppose it can be made vegan – if you can find vegan alternatives to the dairy ingredients.    I used three colors of heirloom tomatoes but any tomatoes would work, even cherry tomatoes, I suspect.  I used a packaged, raw pastry dough but you can make your own if your prefer.  HERE is a recipe for dough that I included in my Savory Three Mushroom & Kale Pie, seen just below.


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The ingredients & instructions lists are short so, if you like tomatoes & arugula & a light but creamy entree – why not give this one a try?
Arugula, Ricotta, Cream Cheese & Parmesan Heirloom Tomato Pie


Pie crust – uncooked

3 heirloom (or other) tomatoes – sliced thin

2 cups fresh arugula

2 cloves garlic

15 oz fresh ricotta – or vegan alternative

4 oz cream cheese – or vegan alternative


1 cup Parmesan – grated  – or vegan alternative

Basil – as garnish

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Press the dough into a greased pie or tart pan.  A traditional pie dish is absolutely OK to use – as is a spring form pan.  Slit the crust at the bottom and par-bake it for 7 minutes.

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Put the sliced tomatoes on paper towels, salt them & press more paper towels on top.  If your tomatoes are very wet & seedy, squeeze some of the seeds out to avoid excess moisture in the pie.  You can see that I did this with my red tomatoes.

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Meanwhile, blend the ricotta, cream cheese, arugula & garlic in a blender or food processor.  Season with S&P.

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When the crust has baked 7 minutes, top with the cup of grated Parmesan, the ricotta mix & the drained tomatoes.  Add some S&P.

Bake for 45-60 minutes – or until the ricotta is set.  You might need to wrap the edges of your pie with foil (or one of these cool silicone things – the red thing below – that I got at Bed Bath & Beyond) to prevent the crust from over-browning.

Depending on how deep your crust and/or pan might be – it is possible that you will have leftovers of the ricotta filling.  If you do – hang onto it.  Don’t overfill the crust or you run the risk of the tomatoes slipping off while cooking.   I will post a pizza recipe tomorrow that uses the ricotta filling.

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When the center seems set, allow this to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.  It can be eaten warm or room temperature.

Garnish with basil & eat it up!

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Zucchini Squash Blossom White Pizza with Goat Cheese and Ricotta and Mozzarella

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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vromans back

My favorite place on Earth, Super King, carries unusual & seasonal produce & now is the season for zucchini blossoms.  I LOVE ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS!  Almost irrationally.   They have a flavor so subtle as no almost be indiscernible & easily overwhelmed.  They are most frequently served stuffed, breaded & fried but that is just so unhealthy – I can bring myself to do it anymore.

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So – I made this pizza – because I had leftover, homemade dough & just felt like pizza.  Does anyone ever NOT feel like pizza?  I blended the goat cheese with an equal part ricotta in an effort to add subtle flavor but nothing so strong it overwhelmed the zucchini blossoms.  This is a very delicately flavored & mild pizza.  Pretty to look at & yummy to eat.

I also used the last bit I had of this shitty grated cheese.  A fresh mozzarella is infinitely more desirable.  PLEASE use some of that instead.

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Zucchini Squash Blossom White Pizza with Goat Cheese and Ricotta and Mozzarella


Pizza dough (I make THIS in my bread machine & use it over several days)

Zucchini blossoms

Goat cheese

Ricotta cheese

FRESH mozzarella cheese

Chives and/or micro greens as garnish


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Heat the oven to 450-475.

The amount of cheese you want it up to you but I mixed equal parts goat & ricotta & then added a bit of S&P to that.

Carefully, snip out the pistol with scissors or by pinching with your fingers.  The pistol is the nubby thing growing out of the center of the flowers.  Pinch off the stems.  Don’t worry if they tear.


Now – just assemble your pizza.  I have really come to love parchment paper.  Nothing really sticks to it & it is nice to photograph, as well.  Anyway – get your pizza pan out & spray it with cooking spray or line it with parchment.

Roll the dough out & put it on the cooking sheet.  Then – assemble.  I started with my bullshit grated mozzarella.  You should use fresh stuff (the sort sold in water), if you can.  I added some blossoms, randomly, & dolloped the whole thing with the ricotta/goat cheese blend.  I cooked it about 12 minutes but you cook it until it looks done to your liking.

Garnish with snipped chives or micro greens & maybe more S&P.  Mmmmmmmmmm!!!!

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BEER! And other lunch items at Spitz, 3 Dog Cantina, Mission Cantina & Golden Road Pub – in & around Hollywood, California


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.



The last time my badass boyfriend, Miles, was in town from Little Rock – it was over 100 degrees nearly every day of his week-and-a-half long stay.  Hot like the temperature recorded on my drive to LAX – in that photo above.

That is the heat reading on one of my two trips to get him at LAX (as his first attempt to leave was thwarted by the total incompetence of American Airlines – a fact that also allowed us a few extra days together so – there’s that).  Driving round trip from Hollywood to LAX is usually unpleasant, at best, but when it is 105 in your house & you have no air conditioning, you find yourself quite content on the 110 south in bumper to bumper traffic – because it is your only access to free AC.  Even the typically irritating fact that you cannot access the carpool lane because you are alone in the car is an inconvenience that rolls off you like the sweat on your own back.  Sweat that has dried & even causes a little chill as you blast the AC into your face so hard that your hair looks like a fright wig at the happy reunion with said beau.

The result of the uncivilized & oppressive & unyielding heat was that Miles & I spent far too many daylight hours in air-conditioned public places – usually ones with bars.  Not jail bars – but “belly-up-to-the” bars.  Bars with friendly bartenders.  Bars serving cold beer & the kind of acidic, unpleasant wine that most bars serve by the glass.   MMMMM!  That’s livin’!

The first time I picked him up at the airport, it was literally 105 in Hollywood so we went directly to Mission Cantina because Miles had a taste for Mexican food & because they serve this Pasadena-made beer – Craftsman 1903 – that I really enjoy.  He got a chicken burrito & I got a couple of fish tacos.


Everything was delicious.  I’ve written about Mission Cantina before – when Miles & I first went there & then to the Museum of Death.  Here is the interior & outside patio.



Our only issue on this day was that they had all their doors wide open & it was only a few degrees cooler in there than the oven just outside the doors.  I had sweat rolling down my legs and when a gal is wearing shorts & sweat runs down her legs – well – does the word “incontinence” mean anything to you?  It isn’t a pretty picture.

So – the next time I picked him up at the airport (an hour after dropping him off there) it was still 105 outside.  So – we decided to try a new place we spotted on our drive back home – Spitz.  I had never heard of it & the exterior gave nothing away as to what we might expect inside.  Here is the inside:


They had Golden Road AND the Craftsman 1903 – both made locally.  I’m a fussy beer drinker so this pleased me a great deal.  So – Miles & I ordered beers & checked out the menu.



Nearly everything on the menu had a carnivorous & vegetarian option!  That is a great thing for me (a vegetarian) & my “all meat all the time” boyfriend.  Unfortunately, neither of us were very hungry so we ordered only the Street Cart Fries which we were promised would be amazing.  And they were!


Somehow, despite being loaded with a lot of damp toppings, these fries remained crispy & delicious.  Then we noticed – MY GOD – it was happy hour!  So I ordered a glass of white wine & Miles got another beer.  The wine was far more drinkable than your average happy hour white & served in a real wine glass AND it was a deep pour.  Suffice it to say, I will be returning to Spitz!


On a hot Sunday, Miles & I staggered in from the heat – and I mean it was Africa hot – to 3 Dog Cantina.  I’d considered the place before but a peek inside revealed it to be MASSIVE & with a sports bar vibe.  Neither Miles nor I can tolerate sports so this place has been on the back burner.  Until that boiling hot Sunday.  We entered 3 Dog Cantina!


Promptly seated in one of those huge booths by the window, I checked us in on Four Square because, as I’ve said before, I am a huge dork.  And because, sometimes, you get a little reward.  This check-in rewarded Miles with a free beer!  Bravo!  I ordered this cucumber margarita & it was pretty awesome.


If I’m not mistaken, Miles also ordered a lemonade & a Coke with his beer & they were served in huge Mason jars.

Here is the menu.


Not a fan of mahi-mahi, I ordered shrimp tacos & Miles got fajitas.



The food was great, the room was very pleasant (despite sports on every wall) and it wasn’t crowded so we lingered as long as it took Miles to eat ALL of that chicken – which he did.  A miracle.

On the last full day of Miles’ trip, the temperature dropped into the nineties so I decided we could brave an outdoor meal.  We had been planning to try the Golden Road Brewery Pub and so try it we did.  It was even bigger that 3 Dog Cantina & offered indoor seating, outdoor seating & outdoor games.  Empty, it had the vibe of those massive bars in – like – Ensenada – that cater to college kids.  The sheer optimism of the size of it was intimidating.  Being there when it is crowded must be brutal.  But they had parking & it wasn’t crowded so we pressed on.



HERE is the menu.  Far more creative than I have come to expect at pubs.  I ordered the avocado fritters & the banh mi (because I have never seen a veggie one before).  Miles, predictably, got ribs.  And we both got their Point the Way IPA.



I’ve had fried avocado before & found it mushy, warm & gross.  THESE were crispy & delicious.


I cannot comment on the ribs but Miles seemed to enjoy them a great deal & he ate ALL of that hunk of cornbread.  I guess southerners like the cornbread crumbly while, southerners say, Yankees like it wet.  As a Yankee, that was news to me – though I am definitely in the “moist with fresh corn added to it” camp.  Miles, if you haven’t figured it out, is a light eater despite the fact that (or maybe because) everything he chooses to eat is heavy.  Meat meat meat.  If it is fried – even better.  “Vegetables” for him include (and are almost limited to) mac & cheese & french fries.  How he stays at 135 lbs at 5’6″ – I will never know.  Especially when you factor in the beer.  By I digress.


That is the banh mi.  In fairness to Golden Road – I am not a huge tofu fan.  I don’t dislike it – as in – I will not avoid it but I never add it to anything that doesn’t already include it.  I don’t buy into that whole “Vegetarian?  My god!  How do you get your protein?” bullshit.


So – I found the tofu in the sandwich sort of pointless & replaced it with the fried avocado.  Also, in fairness to Golden Road, they offer a sandwich with the fried avocado.  And the bread was ridiculously awesome.  So, next time – I will get that fried A.L.T. they offer.  And there will be a next time because it was distinctly pleasant to sit out on their big porch & drink their beer & nibble the goodies they offer.

So – there you have it!  Four new joynts to try out – whether you are a degenerate carnivore, a persnickety vegetarian or just an inveterate drunk.  Enjoy!

In closing – here are two completely unrelated but cute little animal posts.  You’re welcome.