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Hummus Tacos

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tacosWith hot weather getting a foothold, I decided some chilled hummus tacos would be great for lunch. I love topping them with Pickled Red Onyums.

Make up a batch to put on salads or even chilled pasta.

Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards 2011 – Best Appetizer

4th Street Grille Nachos in Williamsport

Thinking about mainstream vegetarian appetizers in our area brings to mind a lot of heavy and fatty nibbles. Jalapeño Poppers, Nacho Chips smothered in beans and salsas, Spianch Artichoke Dip with little bread wedges are all regular chain restaurant foods and they feature prominently in a lot of locally owned places too. Lighter fare includes things like Moo Shu Wraps, Fresh Veggies with Hummus, and sometimes Fruit & Crackers along with a Cheese Plate.

Mad Mex's Pennsyltucky Tofu

Vegetarians can, and sometimes are forced to, make their entire meals out of a restaurant’s selection of appetizers and sides when dining out. This can be just fine if the dishes are not too heavy, prepared in a healthful way and the diner is not hoping for an entrée. One impressive exception to that is the second runner up for this award, Mad Mex’s Pennsyltucky Tofu. It comes out like a full sized potion of Genral Tso’s Tofu and is a big enough appetizer for at least 4 people to split.

Luna 2"s Tomato Bruschetta

This year I give my Pennsyltucky Veggie 2011- Best Appetizer award to Luna 2 Woodgrill in State College for their Tomato Bruschetta. The fresh and healthy portion of 5 bias-cut slices of crostini are covered in fresh basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and tomato. Even in the middle of winter this appetizer is garden fresh and a bargain at $5.50 ($7.00 if you add mozzarella).

What, you might ask, makes it any better than the same priced appetizer at the related location Faccia Luna?

Faccia Luna's similar bruschetta

The price is identical, portion comparable, fresh toppings almost the same but the presentation and preparation of the crostini is better at Luna 2. The bread is merely toasted at Faccia Luna and becomes easily saturated and breaks in two upon handling. Luna 2’s crostini handle the toppings better and are more firm, we are assuming they may be wood fired, grilled or at least coated a bit with olive oil, and are a more resilient nosh.

I highly recommend all of Luna 2’s vegetarian appetizers and if eaten at the bar Monday – Thursday from 5-7 they are half off! That is some great food for rock bottom prices. The Artisan Mac & Cheese comes out quickly, piping hot and scrumptious. The Tuscan Hummus with Veggies & Grilled Flatbread serves a voluminous portion of creamy hummus with toothsome dippables.

Luna 2 Artisan Mac & Cheese, Bruschetta, Hummus Plate

Luna 2 is doing quite a few things right, this is their second Pennsyltucky Veggie Award for 2011, they also scored for Best Portobello in the region.

Congrats Luna 2 Woodgrill (restaurant review in full here) for being awarded Pennsyltucky Veggie 2011 Best Appetizer.
Do you know of a Pennsyltucky restaurant whose Appetizers can beat this one in 2012? If it’s in central PA (see map here) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment!

Juice Box Café

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UPDATED 01/27/2012
THE JUICE BOX CAFE HAS CLOSED
Since our visit and review. We have read that a new raw/vegan restaurant named Eden is opening in it’s space. We look forward to trying it.

Jim and I were enjoying a stroll through Shadyside, stopped in lululemon athletica shop, S.W. Randall Toys and Gifts and noticed that quite a few of the shops and restaurants we used to love were gone. Time to make some new friends and Juice Box Café stepped right up and introduced herself to us.

Tucked down on the lower level of 735 Copeland St. We walked through some of the already occupied metal outdoor café tables to the interior. I was betting they might have free Wi-Fi and I was right! The bright interior and local’s rotation of artwork on the walls gave us all of the indications that we would find a veggie snack and a nice place to rest our feet.

We found out on our second visit that it doesn’t open until 11:00AM but once it does a steady flow of health conscious patrons (many dressed in lululemon and carrying rolled yoga mats) wandered in to either sit down or go back to the take-out juice bar.

On both of our visits, we chose to take the advice of the sign on the wall and seated ourselves at one of the 10 wooden tables. Gentle folks tunes played and our friendly waiter took our order (same guy both times).

On the first visit, we couldn’t resist the appetizer of the Sampler Plate. We could pick 2 or 3 of the Hummus, Black Bean Dip or Mock Tuna with Tortilla Chips. We chose it all and enjoyed every bite thus took the edge off our appetites not realizing how close we were in proximity to our lunch destination, Quiet Storm.

Juice Box Cafe’s menu lists (V) Vegetarian, (Vegan) Vegan so it was easy to see which of the meated menu items to avoid. They added a vegan Black Bean Burger for the summer and regularly have some hearty salads including a vegan Smoked Tofu Curry Salad. There were some breakfast choices too like the vegan Breakfast Burrito.

It was difficult, but on our second visit we wanted to stay hungry so we only ordered Smoothies. We shared a Skinny Watermelon and a Skinny Apple-Ginger Smoothie. Both were fresh and perfect on a warm summer morning.

BiNaH Rating
4/5
I would highly recommend Juice Box Café to vegetarians and vegans alike. The food is fresh, the service friendly and fast and the location is a good spot for any age (nice kids menu too). As a café, the menu is a little limited, but it’s not as if they were pretending to be anything else. This place is just plain nice to know about. We will be back.

“Like” their FaceBook page.

Lammas Lunch

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Lammas Blessings and a local recipe to celebrate this day! Although we still have the heat of the summer, days in this hemisphere are noticeably shorter. The rains and warmth have brought a bounty of grains and veggies this year. Our lunch we celebrated Lammas with hummus and bread of course!

This region is known for it’s Potato Bread. The body of the loaves can sometimes have a bold yellow cast so I like using a Yukon Gold Potato in this recipe.

Potato Bread
1 Yukon Gold potato, boiled, peeled and diced
1-1/2 Cups water from boiling the potato
2 (1/4 oz.) packages of active dry yeast
6-1/2 Cups. all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons white sugar
2 Tablespoons shortening
1 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cool potato water to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of the liquid.
To the remaining liquid, add the shortening sugar and salt.
Add the softened yeast and 1/2 cup of the flour.
Beat with a wooden spoon; add remaining flour gradually.
Turn out onto floured surface and knead until thoroughly elastic and no longer sticky.
Place in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
When doubled, divide into 2 parts, shape into loaves and place onto greased pans.
Let rise again until dough doubles in bulk.
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until edge of the bread pulls away a little from the pan.

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