Thursday, April 8, 2021

Cookbook Review: The Big Book of Vegan Cooking

I've been blogging since 2007, and along the way, I've made a bunch of awesome vegan internet friends, mostly other bloggers and cookbook authors. Dianne Wenz of Dianne's Vegan Kitchen is one of those! I've internet-known Dianne for a long time, and I was very excited when I heard she had a new cookbook out! The Big Book of Vegan Cooking is, indeed, a very big book of vegan cooking. It's nearly 300 pages, and it's a pretty large-sized book in both width and length. Inside, you'll find 175 healthy vegan recipes.

Dianne covers all the bases here with breakfasts, snacks, salads, sandwiches, bowls, vegetable mains, bean/grain mains, pasta dishes, desserts, and sauces. The recipes are simple and call for mostly whole foods. When the recipes refer to other recipes in the book, such as a sauce or homemade plant meat, there's always the option to include a storebought version of that thing (i.e. Dianne's Chic'un Patties or storebought vegan chicken patties). I love recipes like that, because sometimes, I want to be lazy, and sometimes, I want to go all out and make all the things.

I made two recipes from the book. First, the Tofu Rancheros. This savory breakfast dish features a tomato-heavy tofu scramble that's seasoned with chili powder and nooch and served with warm corn tortillas. Perfect for a fancy week day breakfast or a lazy Sunday brunch.

Last week, I tried the White Bean Shakshuka. This was in the Spill the Beans chapter on bean and grain mains, but it doubles as a breakfast option since it's based on the traditional North African shakshuka breakfast.

Pan-fried tofu stands in for the eggs that are traditionally included in this dish. They're served over a bowl of white beans with tomatoes, bell pepper, spinach, and lots of spices. I love a whole foods-based dish like this! So satisfying!

Other recipes I want to make from this book include Mac & Cheese Soup (!!!!), Taco Casserole, Mushroom Wellington, Broccoli Bac'un Pizza, and Spaghetti Pie. Also, the Lemon Tahini Cookies look DOPE!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Tacos, Wraps, & Burgers!

Last night was Taco Tuesday at Global CafĂ©, and they were slammed! I usually order online and then show up just in time to pick up my food. But I decided to order in person, thinking I'd be home with tacos in thirty minutes or less. But orders were taking much longer last night. Luckily, I ran into some friends in the ordering line, so we got our $2.95 margaritas and sat outside on the patio while we waited for our tacos. It was nice to hang out with people for a bit! I'm so glad spring is here, so we can safely gather outside! It almost felt like 2019 for a minute. 

I didn't take any pics of my Black Bean Tacos with Avocado when they were fresh, because I was so hungry by the time I got them that I pretty much inhaled two right away. But I saved two for lunch today, along with leftover chips and garlic-habanero salsa. These tacos are SO GOOD. I don't know how they season their black beans, but they taste like magic. And that salsa is so spicy and tasty!

I've been enjoying Hummus & Veggie Wraps for lunch this week, along with IWON Sweet Dijon Protein Stix. I found these crunchy snacks on clearance at Kroger, and I wish I'd bought all the bags. They're so tasty! 

And here's a recent Boca Chicken Sandwich with Miyoko mozz and some Air-fried Fries. I'd been craving British-style malt vinegar fries, so I doused these babies in vinegar and served with ketchup.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Vegan Easter!

I don't celebrate Easter in a religious way, but y'all know I love every holiday! To me, Easter means Spring is well underway and the Earth is super-fertile. It also means chocolate bunnies and vegan eggs! I may be 40 years old, but my awesome dad still sends me Easter basket treats. This year, he ordered a Moo Free White Chocolate Bunny and some Sjaak's Peanut Butter Chocolate Eggs.

I broke into the eggs a few days before Easter, and they're so good. These are stuffed with crunchy peanut butter, and we all know PB chocolate is the greatest flavor combo on Earth. 

I waited until after my Easter morning run to try the bunny. I wasn't sure what to expect because I've had some vegan white chocolate that wasn't so great, but y'all, this Moo Free white chocolate is AWESOME. It actually tastes just like dairy white chocolate as opposed to the waxy cocoa butter flavor that some vegan brands have. Glad I still have lots of bunny left! I ate the ears first.

Later that afternoon, I went on an Easter picnic at Overton Park. We packed Miyoko's vegan mozz, some fresh tuscan loaf, vegan black forest ham, homemade vegan deviled eggs (from my recipe in Cookin' Crunk), mandarins, and grapes. Plus, some red wine!

Monday, April 5, 2021

My Dad's 67th Birthday!

My dad turned 67 this past Saturday, April 3, and for the first time in over a year, I was able to visit them without doing a two-week quarantine. And Paul was able to visit them! We're all fully vaccinated now! Paul could never quarantine with me over the last year since he works with the public, but since I'm still working from home, so I was able to self-isolate for two weeks at a time. But man, that was no fun! I'm so glad we're all vaccinated!

My mom cooked a big ole Southern supper with all our favorite foods — Vegan Chicken & Dumplins, Blackeyed Peas & Cornbread, Fried Squash, Macaroni & Tomatoes, and the last of Granny's frozen greens. I ran 10 miles Saturday morning before Paul and I made the drive over, and I was HUNGRY. 

For dessert, mama made some Vegan Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes with ganache. These were really yummy. My daddy loves coconut!

Paul and I both got daddy whiskey gifts. The Huling Station on the left is made in Memphis at the Old Dominick Distillery. Daddy LOVES whiskey, making him very easy to shop for.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Peanut Noodles, Sausage Pasta, & a Buddha Bowl

Last week, Rose Lee of Cheap Lazy Vegan was a guest on the No Meat Athlete podcast. I have two of her e-cookbooks, but I hadn't yet tried anything from them. Her recipes are super-simple with only a few ingredients. After the podcast, I was inspired to try a few, so I started with this Sweet Peanut Noodle Salad. 

It's just rice noodles and frozen veggies heated with boiling water, served over lettuce with homemade peanut sauce (peanut butter, lemon, hoisin). I added some airfried tofu for protein! This was so good and quick. And cheap!

Curb Market in Crosstown Concourse is trying out some vegan menu items on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Monday, they had Beyond Sausage Pasta, and it was really yummy! It had lots of sliced sausage, broccoli, corn, and bell peppers with an olive oil-garlic sauce. I can't wait to see what else they try out!

And finally, here's a recent Grain/Green/Bean Bowl (or Buddha Bowl). This has brown rice, chickpeas, roasted acorn squash (from my CSA), kale (from my neighbor's garden), and tahini-tamari sauce.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Cookbook Review: The Vegan Meat Cookbook

I love plant meats! I don't eat them every day since I try to stick with a whole foods-based diet most of the time, but a few times a week, I'll get down on some vegan burgers, chicken, or hot dogs. I usually just prepare vegan meats in the way the box or bag instructs, but there's a new cookbook that's been giving me some fresh ideas. The Vegan Meat Cookbook by Isabel Minunni is filled with fun ways to use Beyond burgers and brats, Gardein beefless strips, Field Roast sausages, and more.

The book is divided into chapters for breakfast, apps and snacks, soups/salads/side, and main dishes. Think breakfast burgers, bagel nachos, cheeseburger omelets, sausage bites, Italian BLT sliders, poutine, tofu scallops, Mexican sloppy joes, and beef & broccoli pizza!

So far, I've made two main dishes. This past Sunday, I made the Chicken Pot Pie Bake with Alpha Foods chicken strips, puff pastry, potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery. 

The recipe called for Gardein Chicken Strips, but the Alpha Foods brand were on sale at Sprouts, and they worked perfectly. I accidentally forgot to add the peas, but that would have been nice. This has a creamy vegan chicken-y gravy, and the puff pastry is so light and fluffy. I would eat this again and again! I was sad today when my leftovers were gone.

For Valentine's Day, I made the Pepper Steak with Mushrooms. I posted this image in my V-Day post, but I wanted to share it again for the review. This is made with Impossible Burger that's fried with lots of black pepper and a creamy mushroom gravy. We served this with broccoli and mashed potatoes. Paul is a meat and potatoes kind of dude, and he loved this recipe! I love having ways to use Impossible burger besides just burgers.

I have so many more recipes to try! There's a Grilled Sausage & Pepper Potato Salad with Beyond brats that sounds amazing for a spring picnic. The Szechuan Beef Skewers with Gardein beefless strips sounds really yummy, and the Sausage Stuffed Breakfast Bread is going on my next brunch menu (it has vegan sausage, vegan eggs, and potatoes all wrapped up in a pizza dough!).

Several recipes call for Impossible Pork, which I haven't seen for sale around here yet, but I hope to see that product soon! There are also a few recipes for homemade seitan meats, and some just call for tofu instead of plant meat. All of the recipes are indulgent though, so this is definitely a special treat meal kind of cookbook!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Corn Dogs & Avo Toast!

I recently discovered that Morningstar Farms Corn Dogs are now vegan. They haven't always been, and I remember picking the box up over and over at the store to read the ingredients, hoping that maybe (just maybe) they'd be vegan one day. I read an article years ago about how Morningstar was veganizing some of their product line, but it took them forever to finally make those corn dogs vegan. And maybe they've been vegan for awhile, but I didn't notice until a few months ago. I had some for dinner one night last week. They're just as good as I remember them being in my vegetarian days!

Here's some Avocado Toast with chopped baby spinach and balsamic vinegar.

And here's one of my favorite meals from Imagine Vegan Cafe. The Southern Staple is the healthiest thing on their unapologetically indulgent menu. Some days, you need fried vegan chicken sandwiches, and other days, you need this wholesome bowl of brown rice, black beans, and collards. Of course, it's smothered with garlic aioli and served with a buttery slice of cornbread, so it's not too healthy!

I had a planned 14K trail race on Saturday morning that ended up being canceled due to the weather. We woke up to thunder and intense lightening on Saturday morning (and there were tornado warnings later in the day!), so the race was postponed. But I had no idea that would happen the night before when I ate this carb-full meal of Lentil Bolagnese (from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook) with whole wheat pasta, salad, and some garlic toast with Miyoko mozz. This still made for good fuel for the solo 9-miler that I managed to squeeze in between thunderstorms.