Thursday, February 25, 2021

Dinner with the Parents!

Since I was snowed-in alone for days, I decided to turn my involuntary "snow quarantine" into a full-on Covid quarantine and visit my parents. So I stayed home a few more days, and then I took Wednesday off work and drove to Arkansas for a quick dinner trip.

Plus, it's tax time, and my dad always helps me do my taxes! We got the boring tax stuff out of the way first, and then my parents made me the most awesome vegan dinner. My dad made Lentil Burgers using a recipe he found online (these have lentils, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and some other stuff I can't remember). My mom and I topped ours with Chao cheese (my dad went with dairy cheese), and we all had vegan coleslaw on our burgers.

On the side, my dad made some Turnip Fries. My parents are doing keto (when I'm not around and convincing them to eat vegan food with me), so my dad has been making these turnip fries often as a sub for carbier potatoes. You just slice turnips up into fries, season however you want, and fry in the air fryer until crisp. They're really good!

My mom made us some Fried Green Tomatoes using my recipe from Cookin' Crunk. It was nice to have a little fried treat with our otherwise very healthy, whole food-based meal!

I'm so lucky to have two parents who are excellent vegan cooks!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Pasta, Dal, & Chili-Stuffed Potatoes!

Over the weekend, I made the One Pot Pasta from The No Meat Athlete Cookbook as a night-before-my-long-run carby dish. That said, my long run only ended up being six miles because there was still a ton of ice on the sidewalks and in the bikes lanes in Memphis on Sunday, so running was a challenge. But making this pasta was not a challenge! Ha! You literally throw everything — pasta, tomatoes, bell pepper, kale, onion, garlic, herbs — into one pot, and dinner is ready. I had some extra almond ricotta left from my Valentine's Day meal, so I topped the pasta with that and kalamata olives.

I also had some leftover Beyond Pepper Steaks left from our pre-Valentine's dinner, so I had one of those earlier this week with some mushroom gravy, steamed potatoes, and green beans (from a can — Paul only likes canned green beans, and he left half a can uneaten).

I made the Basic Dahl from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook last week too! I'm on a mission to make everything from this book, and I'm getting close. I've made this one before, but it's so good that I had to make it again. It has yellow toor dahl with brown rice cooked together, and it's very easy on the tummy. There was still snow on the ground that night, so I put everything in the Instant Pot, headed out for a short snowy run, and came home to a warm meal.

And finally, here's a quick lunch from yesterday. I had some leftover Chipotle Chickpea Chili (from Cookin' Crunk) in the freezer and some sweet potatoes in the pantry. Plus, I had some kale left after making that pasta dish. So I baked the potato and topped with the chili, and I sauteed the kale in some sesame oil and sesame seed. Topped the kale with leftover tahini sauce. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

King Cake Donuts & Tofu Scrambles!

Most years, I make a vegan king cake for Fat Tuesday and share it with my coworkers, but almost a year into the pandemic, I'm still working from home. I could eat an entire king cake on my own, but that's a lot of cake! I decided to order King Cake Donuts from Darling Donuts this year instead, but then the great Snowpocalypse of 2021 happened. When last Tuesday rolled around, Memphis was under a thick blanket of ice covered by a thicker blanket of snow, so Lily of Darling Donuts wasn't able to deliver orders. She promised fresh donuts would be delivered as soon as the roads were safe, and that day ended up being Sunday! Yesterday, I woke up to a text from her that said "Your donuts have been delivered!" What a great wake-up call!

Sure enough, this box was on my porch. Happy Fat Sunday! And Fat Monday because I'm still eating donuts. I froze a couple for later too. Donuts freeze exceptionally well. Thankfully, Memphis is no longer frozen. The snow is melting, and it's going to be 65 on Tuesday. 

I'm still on a tofu scramble kick for breakfasts, so here's one from last week. Made using my recipe from Cookin' Crunk (my secret ingredient is celery salt). I never measure the spices, and I used a bit too much turmeric in this batch but still tasty.

Today, I tried a new-to-me scramble recipe from the 4-Week Vegan Meal Plan e-book by My Darling Vegan (one of the e-books I got in the No Meat Athlete Health & Fitness Bundle). This one has no turmeric or any spices except lots of nooch, salt, and pepper. And onion, garlic, and lemon juice! I really liked it, and I'll be making this one again. 

Memphis is under a boil water advisory after the winter weather caused breaks in the main water lines, so I'm using that as an excuse to drink more beer! This weekend, I finally cracked open this bottle of Crosstown Brewing Co. Sarratavia Blackberry Wheat Wine beer. The image on the bottle is of Midtown Crosstown Grill, which closed during the pandemic. RIP, MTC! If you look closely, you can see the actual Midtown Crossing building in the background. I really miss my neighborhood bar/vegan-friendly pizza joint.

This beer was aged in red wine barrels, and it was 8% ABV. I'd been holding onto it for a special occasion, and being snowed in seemed pretty special. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Donuts, Quesadillas, & Chick'n Burgers!

Last Friday morning, my friend Pam sent me a text that said "Look outside your door." So I did. And there was a box of Darling Donuts! Pam ordered her friends vegan Valentine donuts for Galentine's Day! I have the best friends!

Here's a Refried Black Bean & Cheese Quesadilla that I ate for dinner one night. It has black beans, Daiya, and spinach. Topped with lots of guac.

I got a bunch of guac on sale for 38 cents a tub, so I'm finding all kinds of ways to use it. One day last week, I made Mexican Oats with salsa and spinach, topped with leftover black beans (from the quesadillas) and guac.

I've been taking Soul in the Raw's vegan cooking classes, and I'm getting all kinds of fun new recipes. I made her Mediterranean Bowl with Hummus & Veggies last week. It's a raw dish with marinated raw zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms (marinated in tamari and herbs) and served atop greens. The hummus is oil-free and has edamame, tahini, and lots of seasonings. 

I picked up some of the Simple Truth Emerge Chicken Patties a couple weeks ago at Kroger. They were with the plant meat products, like Beyond and Impossible. They're okay. Not as good as the breaded Boca chicken though. These aren't breaded, but I think they'd be better if they were. Next time, I'll add some BBQ sauce because they needed something. Served with air-fried turnip fries and curry sauce. The turnip fries are so good! You just coat turnips with a bit of oil and spices and air-fry just like potatoes. My dad has been eating these a lot on his keto diet and recommended them!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Snowy Pandemic Mardi Gras!

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, and in a normal year, we would have had a giant party with hundreds of people at Crosstown Concourse, where I work. Mardi Gras at Concourse is a fun, family-friendly event with brass bands, a second line parade, beads, costumes, and more. 

But we're not in a normal year. Not only are we unable to have large events during the pandemic, but Memphis has been snowed in all week. Most years, I make a king cake for the office, but I'm still working from home, and I can't eat a whole king cake by myself! So I ordered some king cake donuts from Darling Donuts instead. But due to the icy road conditions, the donuts can't be delivered until the weekend. So I'll be having Fat Saturday or Fat Sunday or whenever!

I did get to have some Fat Tuesday fun though! After work, I put my beads on and made a Hurricane Cocktail

The hurricane is kind of the official cocktail of the French Quarter, and it's made a couple different ways. One has rum and passionfruit juice, which I didn't have at home. But the other is made with rum, grenadine, orange juice, lime, and simple syrup. I didn't have grenadine, but I did have pomegranate juice, which is what you use to make homemade grenadine. And the homemade version is better anyway because it's free of HFCS. 

I enjoyed my cocktail while I prepared some gumbo to a zydeco playlist. Every year, I try a new gumbo recipe, and this year, I went with this Vegan Chicken & Sausage Gumbo from The Healthier Steps.

This has Soy Curls (for the chicken), sliced vegan kielbasa, okra, tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic, and a tasty roux made with whole wheat pastry flour and olive oil. I served it with brown rice. This may be my new favorite gumbo recipe, y'all! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Chinese New Year Eats!

Friday was Chinese New Year, and y'all know I celebrate every holiday I can. February is great for me because there are SO MANY HOLIDAYS (Imbolc, the SuperBowl, Valentine's, Chinese New Year, and Fat Tuesday, which is today!). 

Friday marked the beginning of the Year of the Metal Ox, which is said to be a year that's all about resilience and sticking it out. It's soft, slow, and passive, which seems accurate as we ride out the rest of this pandemic. It's considered to be a transitional period. By contrast, 2020 was the Year of the Metal Rat and was predicted to be dramatic and life-shifting, and boy was it ever!! 

To celebrate, I made General Tso's Seitan and Dragon Green Beans from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. 

It'd been awhile since I'd made homemade seitan! I love seitan so much. Isa's recipe is a classic boiled seitan, which is then coated in flour and fried before coating in a savory-sweet-spicy sauce. Fried foods are great, but they're not great on my stomach, so I opted to bake the seitan instead. And it was perfect.

The green beans are sauteed with slivered almonds and a spicy sriracha-laced soy sauce. So good!

I also made a themed lunch that day. I had some leftover zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms from another recipe, so I sauteed that in a little sesame oil and added some brown rice and tofu for a quick Tofu Fried Rice lunch.

Happy belated Chinese New Year! And Happy Fat Tuesday!

Monday, February 15, 2021

A Snowy Valentine's Weekend!

It's been an icy/snowy week in Memphis! Last Thursday, we had an ice storm, and it started snowing on Sunday. Temps have been in the teens and single digits, so the roads have stayed pretty bad. I know my Northern friends are used to winters like this, but down here, we might see snow once every couple years. It's always a big deal when it happens! 

Paul works in Nashville but he'd been home in Memphis sick all week last week (not COVID!). By Saturday, he was feeling a bit better, and we knew he'd need to leave Sunday to head back to Nashville before the second big wave of winter weather hit. 

So we did Valentine's dinner on Saturday night. I made Vegan Pepper Steaks from The Vegan Meat Cookbook (full review coming soon!) with Chunky Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli (for me; Paul requested green beans from a can! HA!).

The steaks were made with Beyond Burger and topped with a yummy mushroom gravy. I really enjoyed these and can't wait to try more recipes from the book. I roasted the broccoli in the air fryer (at 350 degrees for 8 minutes), and the potatoes were lightly smashed because Paul wanted chunks. We watched Greyhound with Tom Hanks, and I really hated it. If you like war movies, go for it, but there's no plot to speak of.

On Sunday morning, we got up late, and I made a Valentine's Day pancake brunch. I used this recipe for Fluffy Vegan Pancakes (it never fails!), and I made some Beyond Sausage. I added blueberries and chocolate chips to my pancakes, but Paul likes his plain.

Rather than my usual mimosa, I opted for a zero proof Sweet Sunrise Mocktail with OJ, simple syrup, and pom juice.

Brunch table no-makeup/still in my PJs selfie!

Paul got me a box of Vegan Chocolates from Imagine Vegan Cafe. They made them in-house, and they're all different flavors — butter cream, chocolate PB, orange cream, chocolate almond, chocolate cherries, and many more! I got him some running socks because he always runs in cotton socks that aren't designed for running.

After brunch, Paul had to head out because the snow was starting to come down pretty hard. I did a little KonMari-ing around the house and started Bridgerton on Netflix. And then I dug into my Sjaak's Chocolate Almond Butter Heart that my dad ordered me for Valentine's Day. Perfect paired with a glass of red wine.

For dinner, I made myself a very fancy dinner of Vegan Arancini with Almond Cheese from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook! These arborio rice balls are stuffed with almond ricotta and deep fried. Not something I'd typically make but soooooo good.