Friday, January 9, 2015

Merit Vegetarian Restaurant- Sunnyvale, CA

I've told all of my children that when they were teenagers, I would take them on a special weekend trip, just the two of us, anywhere they wanted to go in California.  The exception being Disneyland: if I was able to afford Disneyland, I wanted to take all the children.  SR for the last couple of years has been mulling over Death Valley, but whenever she decided upon it, it was not the right season.  Apparently the temps are better in the Spring, and there are certain flowers that blossom during that time as well.  But something even better than Death Valley came up for her last June.  One of her favorite artists was performing a rare American tour, and one of her stops would be in Mountain View, a mere couple of hours from our home.  When I offered that to SR as her special weekend, she jumped at the chance.  So, off we went to the Emilie Autumn Asylum Experience.  Now, this music is not for everyone, not even me, but it wasn't about me.  It was about giving SR a special weekend. So, we left on Friday night, spent the night in a hotel, spent all day at the Experience, stayed over again, and had lunch the next day before returning home.  I researched restaurants before we left home and found Merit Vegetarian online.  It was open on Sundays, so I thought we'd give it a shot.  See my review below along with a a few shots of our trip.

 This is a funny shot of the hotel's room service menu.  If you look on the left side of the page, it lists appetizers and sides.  Then the right side of the page lists more appetizers and sides.  Notice how they are completely identical.  I wonder whom they are trying to fool?  

Okay, here's a pic of SR with others talking with someone who does daguerreotypes at the Experience.  Just so you know, SR has an unusual style in clothing.  She likes layers, gloves, employs a Goth influence along with some Victoria era influence, and adds her own unique touch.  I completely support her expressing herself with her attire.  Here, for once, she found others that dressed in a similar way.  She completely fit in and had made a few friends that will last a lifetime.  I'm the one that stood out with my baseball cap and camera and pants.  Oh, by the way, she's the one in the striped tights and dress.  Don't you see her?

Here she is locked up with other prisoners in one of several cages at the Experience.  You can see how utterly miserable everyone is.  Okay, okay, she's the one on the right with black hair, black dress and black and white striped tights.

 Here is Emilie Autumn and a couple of other permanent patients performing.

SR had a fabulous time, and that made it a great weekend for me too.  I love you, SR!

Here is Merit Vegetarian.  They are in a nondescript strip mall down a busy street.  Their info is:, ph: 408-245-8988, 548 Lawrence Expressway. Sunnyvale, CA 94085.

SR and I started off with Drumsticks and a sweet sauce.  They were very good.

 Then we went for their Orange Nuggets.  Great glaze, very tasty.

SR had one of their freshly made Mango Smoothies.  She let me have a sip, and it was delicious.

I ordered their Noble Broccoli.  It was a beef and broccoli style dish.  Very good, I liked the sauce it came with, too.  Lots of broccoli, which is one of my favorite veggies.

SR ordered the Spicy Noodle Soup.  She didn't realize it had mushrooms, which she despises, but she worked around it, and liked it in the end.  It had a tangy taste to it and was good.

 We ended our meal - and our stay - with desserts.  SR ordered the Caramel Flan and completely loved it.  I tasted it, and it was light and sweet, very good.  But...

 I had a penchant for chocolate, so I ordered their Mocha Chocolate Cake.  The cake itself was a little too dense for me.  I like light cakes and cupcakes.  But, the frosting made up for it.  So light, so creamy, it was in a word, delightful.  

All in all, I highly recommend Merit Vegetarian. The prices were reasonable, and if you're a vegan, looking for an open place to eat on a Sunday, this one will definitely work.  If you're in Sunnyvale, look them up.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pasta with Chorizo and Sweet Potato Sauce

This was another recipe inspired from Deceptively Delicious, which I renamed, veganized, changed ingredients up, the usual.  Still, the idea behind the original recipe was good: pureeing sweet potatoes for the sauce to get the kiddos to each more veggies. This also has chopped up celery and carrots, as well, so it's nice and healthy. This came out tasty, and the fam liked it, so all is good.  I puree my veggies ahead of time, bag and freeze them, and then thaw them out for recipes.  So, my sweet potatoes were already boiled, peeled and pureed for this recipe. This makes a lot of sauce, plenty for leftovers. Give this one a go, and let me know how it works for you.

Pasta with Chorizo and Sweet Potato Sauce


1 pound pasta (we used penne)
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 onions, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 carrots, chopped small
4 stalks celery, chopped small
2 - 10 oz. pkgs. soy chorizo
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4 - 29 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 - 14.5 oz. can Del Monte petite cut tomatoes with chipotle chilies
1 - 32 oz. box Imagine No-Chicken Broth
1 Tbs. vegan sugar
2 cups prepared sweet potato puree (boiled first)


Prepare pasta according to package directions midway through making the sauce.  For the sauce, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery, and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chorizo and salt and pepper, and cook for another five minutes.  Add the tomatoes, broth and sugar.  Lower heat to medium low and cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the sweet potato puree, and stir well.  Continue to cook until heated through, about ten minutes.  Serve over pasta.  This makes a bunch!  I froze about half the sauce for a later meal.  Feeds five hungry vegans and then some.  Very good.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs - 2014

In my quest to catch up on all the posts I missed last year, here is a particularly outdated one.  But, you were warned ahead of time.  Anyways, this one is too cute not post, as you'll see.

The kids and I took Mindy and Abby to a local 5th Annual Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs the Saturday before Easter in 2014.  I loved this because it was sponsored by WAGS hotel and had several animal friendly booths out there.  All the dogs were well behaved, and ours enjoyed the day as well.  Below, you'll see some of the shots I took that day.

Here is JK at the kids' crafts table watching how to make a bunny mask.

 Hey, where did JK go?  All I see is this very realistic bunny standing in front of me!

 There was a line for dog tattoos.  Mindy enjoyed her green bone on her rump.  Her outfit took up the rest of her body.

 When Abby saw the dog in front of her get sprayed, she almost bolted.  But, in the end, she was happy with her skull and crossbones.

This is the shot of all the dogs in line at one end of the field.  See how far the line stretches?  That's a lot of dogs!  In the background, you can see the booths.  The hunt is about to begin, and everyone is waiting for the go signal.

Here's my gang.  You can see the ferocity of our pooches as they scope out the best eggs to snatch.  JK calms his nerves with a stiff drink. SR is on the left with Abby, and GR is on the right with Mindy.

 The hunt is on!  Check out their style.  Eventually, the dogs would split up to better scour the field.

 Ta dah!  Here's Abby with her winnings.  Each dog was allowed to find a certain number of eggs, and Abby is so proud she counted correctly.

GR is helping Mindy open her eggs under JK's watchful eye.  Inside the eggs were dog biscuits and slips of paper for bigger prizes.

Guess who won a basket of treats?  Abby!  Mindy is looking on supportively.  Of course Abby shared with her sister.

We'll probably go again this year because we had such a good time.  I'll post that as well, if you enjoyed this one.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pasta with Artichokes and Broccoli

This is a quick, easy and delicious dinner I made the other night.  G usually just gulps down what I make with nary a comment, unless he really doesn't like or really does like something.  This one earned a comment for the latter, so I knew it had to be blog-worthy.  The ingredients are few, and the simple seasonings brought out their wonderful tastes.  Hopefully, you'll enjoy it, too.  What is your favorite thing to toss in a pasta sauce?

Pasta with Artichokes and Broccoli


1 pound of thin spaghetti
1 Tbs. of olive oil
2 cups of broccoli florets, coarsely chopped small
3 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced thin diagonally
2 - 14.5 oz cans of Del Monte diced tomatoes with rosemary and oregano
1 and 1/2 cups of marinated artichoke hearts, sliced in half lengthwise
1 Tbs. sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the broccoli and carrots and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the tomatoes and artichoke hearts and cook for another three minutes, until heated through.  Add the sesame oil and salt and pepper, stir and let simmer on medium low for five minutes.  Top pasta with sauce and enjoy.  Feeds five hungry vegans.