Monday, February 27, 2023

Belated Valentine's Day Dinner

Paul and I couldn't go out on Valentine's Day this year because it fell on a Tuesday. He works late on Tuesdays, and I go to bed at 8 p.m. every night because my work day starts at 4:30 a.m. So we put off dinner for a night when we both had time. And that night finally came last Friday. 

My parents mail a Valentine's Day card every year with a check to pay for our dinner, so we had some money burning a hole in our pockets. We had planned to go to Ciao Bella, a vegan-friendly Italian place. But we didn't make reservations, and Ciao Bella was packed with an hour wait. So we called Seasons 52, our go-to date night place. And they said they could fit us in. 

So we made the 10-minute drive from Ciao Bella to Seasons 52. And when we got there, a different hostess told us it'd be an hour wait. Dang! Luckily, there were two spots open at the bar, so we grabbed those and opted to eat our dinner there instead of at a table.

We started with the Grilled Artichoke and Lemon Hummus app. This was our first time trying this, and we were both blown away by those chargrilled chokes! The lemon hummus was good too (though a little heavy on the tahini). 

For my entree, I got Winter Gnocchi. The gnocchi is always the only vegan entree option, but the sauce and toppings change with the seasons. I'd only ever had this in the summer with a tomato and veggie base, so I was excited to try the winter version. It had a butternut squash sauce with sweet potatoes, kale, and mushrooms. 

One note: The menu does list this dish with mozzarella, so leave that off. The rest of the gnocchi is vegan. The summer version is naturally vegan, but they add cheese in the winter for some reason. I loved this winter variation. It was hearty and filling, and the whole meal felt pretty darn healthy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Dinner at Good Fortune

Last Saturday, I met up with my pals Megan and Stephanie (and Steph's whole family) for a fun dinner at Good Fortune, my favorite vegan-friendly ramen bar.

I've been there a number of times, and I've blogged about it before. But this last time, I discovered several new-to-me vegan dishes. I ordered the Tan Tan Ramen, which I've had before. It has TVP and kaffir lime, and it is phenomenal. Also, they make their own noodles, and they're amazing.

But I never knew these Tofu Bites were vegan! They're listed on the menu with as having honey butter, but they have a vegan symbol next to them. Still, I just assumed they were maybe only vegetarian, but a server told us they use non-dairy butter and not-real honey. So yay! These were awesome: crispy, spicy, buttery.

We also tried the Impossible Rolls for the first time. These are crispy, fried spring rolls stuffed with Impossible burger. I loved the crunch, and they were so meaty. 

I'm glad to have even more options at Good Fortune. I swear, like half the menu is vegan. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Pizza Day, a Healthy Cookie, and Bagel/Soup Combo

National Pizza Day was Feb. 9, and I'm obviously a little behind on posting. But I cannot let a National Pizza Day pass without eating pizza! Lucky me, I had some Rotolo's Vegan Sausage & Pepperoni slices in the deep freezer. They were left over from a pizza I ate over the summer, and I actually forgot about them for months. But they were still perfect! I thawed out the slices and reheated in the air fryer, and they were like brand new.

My parents got me a big Valentine's Day snack box, and so far, my favorite snack was this Rule Breaker Birthday Cake Cookie. It's made with chickpeas and other whole foods, and yet somehow, it tastes decadent. It's a soft cookie, which is my preference. I'm probably going to order a whole box of these in different flavors.

And a couple Fridays ago, I stopped by Lulu's for lunch and ordered the Mushroom Dumpling Soup. It had wild mushrooms and sourdough dumplings, and it was perfect on a chilly day.

But I wanted something more to go with it, so I also got an Everything Bagel with Vegan Cream Cheese. The sourdough bagels, like everything at Lulu's are made in-house, and their cashew cream cheese is the absolute creamiest!

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Valentine's Dinner for One

Paul has had to work late every night this week, as he fills in for a coworker on vacation. And that meant we couldn't do a Valentine's date on Feb. 14. But we'll have a makeup dinner soon! Still yet, I couldn't let Valentine's pass me by without a fancy meal. So I had a hot date with myself! 

I had picked up the Tabitha Brown Sweet Pea & Basil Ravioli at Target a few weeks back, and I was saving it for a special occasion. So I made a white wine-garlic sauce with olive oil, Kite Hill plant-based butter, chardonnay, garlic, and red pepper flakes. And I steamed some broccolini. Then I tossed the ravioli and broccolini with the sauce. I topped it all with some Kelly's Roasted Garlic Parm (made with nuts and nooch). Voila! Fancy dinner in 15 minutes or less. I served it with a glass of red wine. 

Paul did make it home before my bedtime though. So we had a few minutes to exchange Valentine's. I got him some of his favorite truffles and gummy candies. And he got me this box of Lake Champlain Vegan Truffles in raspberry and dark chocolate. They're stuffed with chocolate coconut cream, and they are divine! (And one is missing because I ate it.)

Monday, February 13, 2023

Super Bowl Snacks!

I only watch football one day a year, and that is Super Bowl Sunday. I don't dislike football, but I'm more of a basketball girl. It helps that Memphis has an NBA team — the Memphis Grizzlies. The nearest NFL team is the Tennessee Titans, and they're based out of Nashville. But Nashville is three hours away, and culturally, it's even further away. Our cities couldn't be more different.

But I love Super Bowl snacks. And I love the halftime show. Last night's halftime show was especially amazing. Y'all, Rhianna killed it — and while pregnant! On a flying platform! Paul and I were just blown away. 

As for those snacks, I had Morningstar Farms Pepperoni Pizza Rolls, Gardein Ultimate BBQ Wings, and Chips with Guacamole.

A simple but tasty meal! Both the wings and rolls were cooked in the air fryer, and it took me less than five minutes to make the guac. It was possibly the easiest Super Bowl meal ever!

As for the game, I was rooting for the Eagles since they have a couple players from Memphis, but oh well.  

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Winter Salad, Moong Dal, and Tabitha Brown Sauce

We're still in winter, but we're getting hints of spring here in Memphis with a few 60-ish degree days. And let's be real: I love soup and stew, but sometimes, I just want a fresh salad. So this week, on a 65-degree, sunny February day, I made the Winter Sunshine Salad from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. This is free of salad greens, but it has red grapefruit, red cabbage, shaved fennel, walnuts, cilantro, lime, and avocado, and it was very tasty. I had some sourdough with hummus on the side.

But I do still love me some stew. And I also made the Whole Moong Dal from Plant-Based India this week. Another hit from this awesome book! I love how these recipes call for authentic ingredients like hing and curry leaves. I served it with Indian-spiced brown rice and parantha.

I made a tofu scramble last week, and I had some left on Monday morning, so I made Breakfast Tacos with avocado and salsa. Everything is better in a taco.

And finally, here's a tasty Roasted Veggie and Tofu Bowl that I had late last week. It had quinoa, steamed kale, and roasted squash, mushrooms, and tofu seasoned with an herby mixture. But the star of the show was the Tabitha Brown Garlic Truffle Sauce on top. I bought a jar of it at Target, and it's fantastic!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Imbolc Feast!

The pagan holiday of Imbolc was last Thursday (also Groundhog Day), but I was busy, so I waited until Friday to celebrate. I knew I wanted to make a big Spanish feast using recipes from the Llewelyn's Sabbats Almanac, and I knew that would take some time. So I got started in the kitchen on Friday afternoon.

Traditionally, people eat dairy-based foods for Imbolc because the season is associated with milking sheep or goats. So I normally have some kind of vegan plant milk/cheeze-based meal. But in the Sabbats Almanac this year, they included Spanish recipes for Imbolc because they are spicy and warming for a cold time of year. And I will never say no to tapas. 

The book is not vegan, so when I cook from it, I have to adapt the recipes. And this time, that meant adapting a Spanish Lamb Casserole. I used seitan in place of lamb for this hearty stew with red bell peppers, tomatoes, red onion, red wine, and lots of smoked paprika. This was absolutely one of the best things I've eaten in a while!

On the side, the almanac suggests Spanish Roasted Potatoes, which were cooked with smoked paprika and lots of olive oil. And they included a recipe for Roasted Chickpeas with Mint. Both of those recipes were already vegan (yay!), so I made both as sides. 

Not pictured is the Hot Sangria I also made from the book. But it was a perfect complement to my tapas spread. It called for red wine, sugar, triple sec, and fresh citrus. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Lulu's Bakery & Cafe

I've posted about Lulu's, my friend Don and Stephanie's vegan bakery, about a million times. But until recently, they were just selling stuff at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market. But now they have their very own brick-and-mortar, and it's officially open! They did briefly have a stall inside Puck Food Hall in downtown Memphis, but Puck closed during the pandemic, and they lost their space. But now Lulu's is in a stand-alone space at 3119 Poplar Avenue, across from East High School. 

They've been softly open for a few weeks, but their official grand opening was this past Saturday. I've been trying to make Lulu's a Friday lunch habit since I'm off work very early on Fridays. Here are a few things I've since they've opened in their new space.

Last Friday, I had this Blackeyed Pea Sausage Biscuit with Tomato Jam. YUM. I love savory-sweet combos more than just about anything, and this is just that. The sausage is handmade with blackeyed peas, and it's super meaty. The biscuit is flaky and soft.

The Breakfast Sando is probably my favorite thing. It comes on a sourdough roll, which is delicious. But sometimes, I like it on a bagel. This has tofu egg, smoked carrot bacon, and cashew cheese.

There's also a Mushroom Sando if you're feeling more lunch-y. This has blue oyster mushrooms, sweet and sour cabbage, and a beet sauce on sourdough focaccia. That bread is delectable.

And you can get a soup of the day on the side if you need more — though the sandwich is pretty big! A couple weeks ago, I got this Bean-Kale-Sweet Potato Soup on the side of my sandwich. And it came with even more bread!

Lulu's also has lots of sweets to choose from. There's usually coffee cake, muffins, and cookies. Last Friday, there were also Blueberry Lemon Miso Scones. These were perfect. And that miso is made from scratch! You can buy their homemade miso by the tub.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Product Review: WunderEggs

Y'all, vegan hard-boiled eggs are here!!! When I went vegan in 2004, eggs were the hardest thing for me to give up; not cheese, like most people. I just really loved eggs, and there weren't any good vegan alternatives back then. We've had vegan scrambled eggs in the form of Just Egg and Follow Your Heart Eggs for a while, but we finally have a vegan hard-boiled egg with WunderEggs!

As soon as I heard Whole Foods stores carried these, I went out to my Whole Foods. And sure enough, there they were, right next to the chicken eggs. 

Inside the package are six hard-boiled WunderEgg halves, which is basically like three eggs. And they're not cheap at $8 a package. So this will definitely be a special treat. 

These are made from coconut milk, almonds, and cashews, but they legit taste and feel like eggs. It's wild! The white part is a little gelatinous, just like the white of an egg, and the yolk is a little pasty, just like hard-boiled egg yolk. Each package comes with a little pack of black salt, which of course provides the eggy flavor.

So far, my favorite way to eat these is just plain, on their own. Since they're pricy, I'm not sure I want the flavor to be lost in a larger dish. But I did have to try one on a bowl of Veggie and Tofu Ramen! I always see ramen served with an egg on top, and now I can do that too. By the way, this ramen is Pumpkin Curry by What If foods, and a full review of their products is coming soon. 

By the way, I recently went on the Plant-Based Morning Show podcast to review WunderEggs (and Philadelphia vegan cream cheese). You can listen here. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Valentine's Day Snack Box!

Last week, I got a very special delivery! My dad told me to be on the lookout for an Amazon package from him and my mom. They ordered me a surprise snack box from The Good Grocer for Valentine's Day. Few things make me happier than an unboxing!

Here's what I saw when I opened the box. Snacks!

The box had several bags of popcorn, chips, corn nuts, and Paleo Puffs. I've already dug into the Lesser Evil popcorn, the Boulder Canyon jalapeno chips (a perfect post-long run treat!), and the sea salt Pop Chips.

And under all that goodness was even more snacks — pistachios, peanuts, tiny chocolate coconut bars, fruit leather, sesame thins, rice crispy treats, a cookie dough bar, peanut butter bites, and a birthday cake cookie. I love having all these snacks!

Thanks to my awesome mom and dad! Love y'all.