A Tale of Two (PPK) Potlucks

If you’re a Vegan, Vegetarian, or simply Veg-Curious, I very very super highly recommend you join the online PPK forums.

For those of you not familiar with it, The PPK stands for the Post Punk Kitchen, which back in 2003 was a public access TV show about Vegan Cooking.  The show was created by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (and filmed in her tiny Brooklyn apartment) and was co-hosted by Terry Hope Romero.  Both are now best-selling Vegan cookbook authors, for both their joint and solo efforts.  Together they penned the in-every-vegan-home classic – Veganomicon – and they set the stage for Vegan Cupcakes, Cookies, and Pies to Take Over the World.  Isa’s Appetite for Reduction is so tasty you’ll forget that the recipes are healthy, and Terry’s Vegan Eats World is now my go-to book for any special occasion.  While I have no idea whether either of them is musically inclined, simply put, they are Vegan Rockstars.

PPK Forum (source: http://forum.theppk.com/)

The PPK Forums

So anyway, about the forum… It’s a place to connect with other like-minded people (including many of my favorite Vegan Bloggers) on just about anything.  Topics include the best Vegan products at Trader Joe’s, must-try recipes in your favorite cookbooks, vegan restaurants near and far, and even the occasional opportunity to help Isa brainstorm for a future cookbook.  

I had joined the forum a couple of years ago but I was new to blogging and networking online, so I wound up forgetting all about it … until I saw on my friend Jeni’s blog that she attends a monthly potluck with local PPK-ers.  I could tell from her posts that all of the potluck attendees have some pretty impressive kitchen skills.  Check out the Cat chips and Spider Cupcakes from October’s meetup and their crafty do-it-yourself Gingerbread Houses which they bravely attempted without a kit!

When Jeni invited me to join them for January’s potluck I was so incredibly excited!!!  Thanks to Jeni’s invite, I now have some great new friends, so much recipe inspiration, and I’ve newly rejoined the PPK online forums and have so much to chat about!

January PPK Potluck

How cool is this:  the theme of January’s Potluck was KALE!

As soon as I heard this, I knew exactly what I was going to make for the potluck – a fully-loaded batch of my Sesame Kale & Kraut Bowls!  

I even dressed for the occasion:

Can you believe all this food was made by and for just 5 people?  I was so excited to meet Jeni’s fiance Hector plus fellow PPK-ers Megan and Nissa.

We had Kale 7 Ways! And not only were all of these dishes Vegan, they’re also all Gluten-Free!

  • Jeni & Hector made a delicious Kale & Lentil Shepherd’s Pie topped with Mashed Potatoes & Parsnips.  They also made a Kale, Mango, and Pineapple Salad which was so delicious with all the goodness of a Green Smoothie.  AND they made a creamy Kale dip served with celery, carrot, and red-pepper strips.
  • Megan made Kale & Potato Colcannon croquettes that would make an awesome appetizer at any party, vegan or not.
  • Nissa made homemade Kale Chips and the healthy & hearty Kale and Quinoa Stew from Appetite for Reduction.
  • Plus, of course there was my Sesame Kale & Kraut bowl (with the cilantro on the side)

My Kale and Kraut bowls have a lot of strong flavors (in fact, I’m pretty sure that on my way over, the entire El-train car could smell the sesame oil and sauerkraut) so it was a pretty risky choice to bring, but I think everyone liked it – or at least I know that Jeni did, which means a lot to me!

The best part of all is that since all the food was so healthful, I was able to eat seconds of everything without any food-coma crash!

(for more pictures & a different perspective, click here to check out Jeni’s recap of our potluck!)

February PPK Potluck

Just two weeks later, we met again for February’s potluck with a theme of RED / Valentine’s Day.

The group was nice enough to trek out to Oak Park so that I could host.  As a bonus, since the potluck was at my place, Mike was able to join us.  He’s not a vegan or vegetarian, but he’s making strides including switching from regular to Almond Milk and lately he’s been eating Almond Milk yogurt!

Also, since I was hosting, I didn’t have to worry about the portability of my food, which led to me making two things that I wouldn’t have been able to bring on the El train:

A large pot of the Bountiful Beet & Mushroom Borscht from Vegan Eats World, served with Sour Dilly Cream, and a punch-bowl full of Mama Pea’s non-alcoholic Sangria For All, in which I used Tart Cherry Juice in place of the Cranberry Juice.


I absolutely loved the Borscht.  It was loaded with such a variety of vegetables – including Carrots, Onions, Celery Root, Mushrooms, and Potatoes which all turned such a bright beautiful color from the addition of shredded beets.  Thanks to the myriad of veggies, even if you aren’t a fan of beets, you might like this soup, especially with huge dollop of the Sour Dilly Cream!

In my opinion, the Sangria did not taste like Sangria at all, but it did make for a perfect adult-party drink. It was full of Strawberries, Raspberries, Oranges, Lemon, and Lime and it came out pretty dry and tart, which I liked.  The inclusion of tea and seltzer-water, made it light enough that we were able to have a couple glasses a piece.

I also made a batch of the surprisingly-not-red Creamy Red Pepper & Walnut Dip (Muhamarra) from Vegan Eats World which was tasty, though I made it a little too sweet for my taste.  Otherwise, it was very similar to Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, with walnuts and (gluten-free) bread-crumbs mimicking chickpeas surprisingly well. 

As usual, Jeni impressed.  This time, with Gluten-free Beet Pierogis, and a batch of the same Sour Dilly Cream from Vegan Eats World :-)  Mike said these were his favorite dish from the potluck and that the dough was perfect.  I would have never guessed the dough was gluten-free and the Beet filling made for a beautiful pop of color!

Sadly, our friend Megan was sick at home, but Nissa filled in by bringing two stunning dishes:

These beautiful Red Peppers stuffed with Beans, Rice and Daiya…

… and this out of the world cake inspired by Millenium Restaurant’s Chocolate Almond Midnight Cake.  She found the recipe online and made it Gluten-Free by swapping in Almond Flour instead of Wheat Flour in the crust.  This was hands-down my favorite dish of the day. I loved the deep-dark-chocolate mousse paired with a slightly-salty, nutty crust.  When Nissa asked if I’d like to keep any leftovers, I greedily said YES!!! and then day-dreamed about my stashed away slice until I had it after dinner the next day.

In fact, I liked the Cake so much that I decided to make it for my office potluck!  I used this recipe but without the Maple Almond Praline.  I accidentally burnt the crust (note to self: when subbing almond flour for wheat flour, be especially watchful of the cooking time/temperature), but the filling was as delicious as Nissa’s masterpiece.

I can’t wait till our next potluck which is going to have an “Around the World” theme. (in the meantime, you can catch Jeni’s recap of February’s potluck here.)

Hector, Jeni, Nissa, and Me (source: thymeandlove.com)


Valentine’s Day Cute-ness

I know this post is getting rather long, but in the theme of Valentine’s Day, I just had to share my 3-year-old niece Charlotte’s latest triumph:  with help from Grandma, she made an amazing Valentine’s Day gift for her Mommy & Daddy – a Vegan Chocolate Cake!


One of the coolest things about the recipe is that it’s actually an old World War II recipe since eggs and milk were scarce back then.  My Mom’s Aunt (she’s 100 years old!) even remembers having similar cakes.

 Regardless of dietary preferences, vegan baking is a great way for kids to get a start in the kitchen, with no need to worry about the dangers of raw eggs!


 If I’m lucky, maybe Charlotte will help me make a cake next time I visit home!

I’d love to hear from you!

What dishes would you bring to a “KALE” or “RED” themed Potluck?