Thursday, April 4, 2024

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Sen Trang

Back in December, I posted a sad goodbye to Memphis' most-beloved Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Binh. After 20 years, the family who owned this very vegan-friendly spot decided to call it quits, as the mother was ready to retire. When they posted about their closing, Memphis had a meltdown, and in their last two days — one of which was Christmas Eve — they were slammed with orders. We all thought we were saying goodbye to Pho Binh's famous lemongrass tofu forever.

But as customers picked up their last takeout orders, Pho Binh family members assured us that they were sharing their recipes with the family who bought the space. So, there was some hope that we'd be able to enjoy our Pho Binh faves again. But how close would the meals be to the real thing? Well, Sen Trang, the new restaurant, opened last weekend ...

And I'm happy to report the Lemongrass Tofu is exactly the same! That was Pho Binh's most popular dish, and it's long been my fave. It's naturally fish-sauce-free, and it's seriously the best lemongrass tofu you'll ever eat. I've been enjoying the leftovers for days!

I also got a couple orders of Tofu Spring Rolls, and they were also perfect. They come stuffed with fried tofu puffs, fresh tomato, Thai basil (which I pick out), lettuce, and rice noodles, and they're served with tasty peanut sauce.

I can't wait to go back and try my other Pho Binh faves at Sen Trang. The menu is largely the same as Pho Binh's with a few new additions. But next up for me will be the Tofu Pho, another classic!

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Burgers and Pizza!

Slider Inn is one of my favorite places for vegan options, and they've recently added another vegan item to their already-big menu. These Buffalo Chicken Sliders with vegan cheese are SO GOOD. I tried them recently, and since it was brunch time, they offered the option of hash browns on the side instead of fries. It was my first time trying those, and they were really tasty.

My hasher friends Will and Grace hosted a backyard barbecue at their house last Friday, and even though they're not vegan, they made sure to have lots of veg options. Grace grilled Beyond Burgers and even had vegan cheese, and a bunch of friends brought vegan sides. Love my friends so much!

Speaking of those friends, some other hasher friends got together a couple Sundays ago for a full moon ritual, and Adam made Vegan Pizza in his outdoor pizza oven. He used Miyoko's pourable mozz, and this just may have been the best pizza I've ever had. Those pizza ovens are amazing!

And finally, here's a Flatbread Pineapple Pizza that I made last week. It's from Tabitha Brown's Cooking by the Spirit, and it's loaded with veggies and pineapple. I'm a big fan of sweet and savory. Another fun addition was the Everything Bagel seasoning. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Molly's La Casita

Molly's La Casita has been around for ages, and it's long been a favorite spot of mine for a margarita. But I recently discovered their new-ish, massive vegan menu. I say "new-ish," because they added vegan options a couple years ago, but the options have grown. And now there's a full page of vegan items, including these Impossible Enchiladas!

I went there a couple weeks ago with some friends and finally explored that big menu. They also have Impossible chalupas, a vegan taco salad with Impossible meat and vegan cheese, a plant-based pork taco dinner, Impossible burritos, veggie-stuffed enchiladas, Impossible burgers, and vegan stuffed spuds. There's even a cashew chili con queso. 

These enchiladas are stuffed with a spicy Impossible ground burger and topped with a savory ranchero sauce. You can pick your sides, so I opted for the refried beans and steamed broccoli. You can also choose from black beans and a house salad on the side.

This is great news since most Mexican places aren't very vegan-friendly. I will definitely be back to try the whole menu!

Monday, March 25, 2024

Avo Sweet Tater Toasts & a Vegan Omelet

I made another winner from Tabitha Brown's Cooking from the Spirit book last week. These Sweet Potato Avocado Toasts use baked sweet potato slices in place of bread, and they're topped with avocado, pico de gallo, pumpkin seeds, and Kelly's lemon pepper parm. Tab uses Kelly's in a lot of her recipes, and it's always a staple in my pantry.

Here's an easy and not-very-pretty Just Egg Omelet. I was out of spray oil, so I used some olive oil instead and it didn't cover the pan quite as well as spray oil. So the veggie and Chao cheese-stuffed omelet came out looking a little like scrambled eggs. Still tasted great! Avocado toast with Trader Joe's black garlic on the side.

And here's a super-quick week night dinner before kickball last week. I opened a can Trader Joe's Giant Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce and served them cold with some Air-Fried Asparagus (topped with that Kelly's seasoning). The beans had Mediterranean-style seasonings and were very flavorful. Will definitely buy again!

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Ostara Eats!

The Spring Equinox, also called Ostara, was Tuesday, and it's a holiday traditionally celebrated with eggs. But that's a no-go for me. Thankfully, Just Egg is back on shelves after a brief shortage. So, I made the Blue Cheese & Mushroom Quiche from the Llewelyn's Witches' Datebook Calendar, but I subbed Just Egg for the eggs and Violife Feta for the blue cheese.

I have purchased a vegan blue cheese at Sprouts before, but they were out. Still, I think this Violife feta is closer to the crumbly texture of dairy blue cheese, so it was probably better here anyway. I made a homemade pie crust (not the prettiest but very flaky and buttery), and that was filled with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and garlic and sprinkled with the feta. Then I just poured a whole carton of Just Egg over the fillings and baked until it set.

So good! This was one of those meals I'm glad I have multiple servings of. On the side, I made the Oven Fries with Scotch Dipping Sauce (vegan mayo, dijon, and vegan honey) from the Llewelyn's Sabbats Almanac (a different book with seasonal witchy recipes).

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Bean & 'Bacon' Soup, Jerk Kidney Beans, & More

I got a Llewelyn's Witches' Datebook Calendar for Christmas, and it has fun and seasonal recipes every month. For February, there was a White Bean & Bacon Soup that wasn't vegan. But it was super-simple to veganize using Lightlife Smart Bacon. I made this soup in the Crock Pot, and it hit the spot on a chilly February night. I also baked a fresh sourdough loaf that day. Nothing beats beans and bread.

Speaking of beans, I made these Jerk Kidney Beans from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook last week and served them with brown rice and steamed kale. These were just canned beans cooked with tomato sauce and jerk spices, and they were really good. I'm still on a mission to make everything from the NMA cookbook, though I've taken quite a break from it. This was one of only a couple main dishes that I hadn't made yet.

And here's a flatbread with cashew cheese, shrooms, and kale from Lulu's Cafe & Bakery. I haven't been going to Lulu's every Friday like I used to just because I've been spreading my eating-out budget around a bit more. But a monthly trip there is perfect!

Monday, March 18, 2024

Bluff City Vegan Eats: SriMu

Memphis is now home to a fully vegan cheese and wine shop! Vegan cheese-maker Julie Piatt (who is married to ultra-athlete/podcaster Rich Roll) moved her SriMu cheese shop into Crosstown Concourse several months ago, but it took a long time for the space to get its license to serve alcohol. They've been in production for months, and anyone could go in and buy wheels of cashew cheese to take home. But now they're serving vegan charcuterie boards, paired with wines.

Some vegan ladies and I met up there on Friday night to check it out! Look at these beautiful boards! 

We selected two small boards to feed the five of us, and it was plenty of food. Each had three cheeses. One had Bertie Camembert (with truffle oil!), Fire (the spicy one), and Spire (SriMu's take on blue cheese), plus fig jam, olives, pistachios, stoneground mustard, and fresh and dried fruit. The other board had Bonfire (the smoky cheese ball), Gold Alchemy (a smoked gouda), and Cloud 9 (like fresh mozz balls!).

These were so good, and we gobbled every bite and pretty much licked the boards clean. Not really, but we were definitely scraping crackers along the boards to pick up all the bits.

SriMu is open Thursday-Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m. And you can find it on ground floor of Crosstown Concourse, across from Farm Burger and the red spiral staircase. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Tacos, Burgers, and Tortilla Soup

A couple Fridays ago, I met up with my mom at our Native Brew Works, out favorite meeting spot in Jonesboro, my hometown. Neither of us live there anymore, but my me-maw still does, so we meet up for grandma visits sometimes. But we always start with lunch at Native. It's Jonesboro's only brewery, and they have several vegan menu items. This time, I went with the BBQ Cauliflower Tacos, a side of Black Beans, and we split an order of Guac and Chips.

I'm still steadily working my way through Tabitha Brown's Cooking by the Spirit cookbook. And this week, I made her Cheeseburgers. These are veggie-based patties with black beans, mushrooms, bell peppers, sundried tomatoes, red onion, and spinach, topped with Violife cheddar and all the fixins. It's really nice to have a classic homemade veggie patty sometimes. On the side, I had some air-fried potatoes with sriracha aioli.

I also recently made her Tortilla Soup. This also has black beans and mushrooms, but the mushrooms are oyster, which gave the soup a really nice, meaty texture. The soup is topped with vegan cheddar shreds, avocado, and tortilla chips (of course!).

And here's a quick week night meal I've been enjoying. I used a can of Trader Joe's Greek Chickpeas with Parsley and Cumin to stuff pitas, along with hummus, butter lettuce, avocado, and kalamata olives. I had some airfried potatoes with Cavender's Greek seasoning on the side and a garlicky vegan mayo for dipping.

Monday, March 4, 2024

Race Recap: Little Rock Half Marathon

I do the Little Rock Marathon — either the half or the full — every year. It's my favorite road race, and the medals are amazing. This year, I just did the half because I'm not getting back into long-distance stuff until this fall. And my friend Kate from Memphis Hash House Harriers signed up to run it, too. So, we made a plan to run together.

But first, I stopped by the race expo on Saturday afternoon. This year's race was dino-themed, so I grabbed a selfie with a dinosaur.

Then, I headed to my BFF Sheridan's house. I always stay with Sheridan and Drew when I come down for this race. I dropped off my things, and then we met up with Kate for pre-race pizza at Raduno Brick Oven

Raduno has some really yummy Vegan Spinach-Artichoke Dip, so Kate and I split that for an appetizer.

And then we each ordered the Vegan Pepperoni Pizza.

And the Funghi Mushroom Pie with no cheese. Yay for carbs!

The next morning, the race started bright and early at 6 am! It usually starts at 8 am, but the weather was predicted to be unseasonably warm on Sunday, so they moved the race up by two hours at the last minute. I was not too happy about this, but there wasn't much I could do. And turns out, it never really got that hot. Temps were in the 60s (not 70s), and there was cloud cover and a drizzle. Oh well. 

Kate and I stayed together for the full 13.1 miles. I had originally planned to go for a PR when I signed up, but once Kate signed up, I decided to treat this as a fun run so we could run at conversational pace. But Kate is faster than me, so she kind of pushed me more than I realized she would. And I ended up finishing with my second-fastest time! Not a PR, but I was only one minute off. 

Check out these cool medals!

I had such a good time running and talking with Kate. I'm so used to running races alone with headphones, so this was a nice change. One of the best things about hashing is having a giant group of new running partners. 

After the race, I met back up with Sheridan and Drew, and we grabbed brunch at Little Rock's new City Silo

This place is Memphis-based, but they just expanded to Little Rock. And even though I can eat at City Silo at home, I'd never been there for breakfast/brunch. I had an oatmilk latte and this Sunshine Burrito with City Silo's veggie burger, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and vegan cheese. That hit the spot and powered me for my right home!

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Yuba Noodles, Peanut Stir-fry, and Sweet Tater Hash

On my last Trader Joe's visit, I picked up a box of the frozen Tofu Sheets everyone has been talking about. They're really just yuba sheets, and I can get those at my local Vietnamese market, which is much closer to my house. But they were cheap at TJ's, and the internet is all the rage about them, so why not? I wasn't sure what to do with them, but I googled and found this Creamy Sesame Noodles with Yuba recipe on Bon Apetit.

This has somen noodles and sliced tofu sheets in a soymilk-based broth, seasoned with miso, sesame oil, and some other spices. It was super creamy and very different from my usual ramen. The tofu sheets gave the noodle dish a nice, chewy texture. Next time, I'd like to try this vegan chicken made with the tofu sheets.

I also picked up a jar of Trader Joe's Peanut Satay Sauce on that trip, so that was a good excuse to make Spring Rolls with rice paper, tofu, carrots, and cucumbers. But I still needed a main dish, so I made Thai Tofu Red Curry with zucchini, mushrooms, tofu, red curry paste, and coconut milk. No recipe, just threw some things together and served over brown rice.

Here's another peanutty dish: Peanut Sauce Stir-fry from Plant You. A savory-sweet peanut sauce coats tofu, carrots, onions, bell pepper, and snap peas. I love every dish I've tried from Plant You, and this was no exception. Carleigh's recipes are always so very flavorful. I could eat this sauce with a spoon by itself.

I've also never made a bad dish from Tabitha Brown's Cooking by the Spirit, and I loved her Sweet Potato Hash for breakfast this week. I grated the potatoes very finely in the food processor before sauteeing with peppers and spinach. It's topped with guac, salsa, and Kelly's vegan parm. Field Roast Apple-Sage brekky sausages on the side!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Vegan Tuna, Brewery Burrito, and Scram

I've been reading Tabitha Brown's Feeding the Soul, which is her self-help book filled with Tabisms, but it also has a few recipes, including one for a Vegan Tuna Melt. Now, I never liked real tuna. But lately, I've been craving vegan tuna. I bought some canned Tuno on clearance at Sprouts (haven't eaten it yet!), and I picked out the recipe for the week. It's made with hearts of palm, lots of spices, seaweed, and a mayo-based sauce. And then it's grilled on a sandwich with vegan cheese. 

Even though I didn't like real tuna, I loved this! It had a mildly fishy taste from the seaweed, but it wasn't overwhelming. And the texture of the hearts of palm was perfect.

And speaking of Tabitha Brown, I'm also working my way through her Cooking by the Spirit cookbook. I've had my eye on her Pumfu Scramble, with soy-free Pumfu tofu (made with pumpkin seeds). She avoids soy for allergy reasons, and I thought it'd be fun to try a tofu-free scramble. But I couldn't find Pumfu. So I decided to make the recipe using tofu! It was heavy on veggies with mushrooms and kale, and unlike most scrambles, this one didn't have turmeric. So it had a different flavor. I loved it topped with the suggested Kelly's vegan parm. 

Last Saturday, I met some friends for post-run beers at Soul and Spirits Brewing. I'd run 12 miles that morning, and I only had a smoothie after. So, I got pretty hungry by midafternoon. Luckily, the Tacos Mondragon food truck that was parked there had Veggie Burritos. This was good and hit the spot! It had rice, beans, and corn salad. They were out of hot sauce, but that would have been a nice touch.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Belated Valentine's Day Dinner!

Paul worked late on Valentine's Day this year, so we pushed our Valentine's dinner to Sunday, his only day off. And I waited too late to try and make reservations. Most of the places we usually go for a vegan-friendly fancy meal were booked up. And then I remembered this little Italian place, Marciano, across from my pharmacy that always looked empty. I even sat in the pharmacy lot one day a few months back and googled it to see if it was even open. I learned then that it was, and despite always looking empty, it had good Yelp reviews.

So we called Marciano, and they had plenty of space! And they had vegan Fettuccine Primavera on the menu. So to Marciano we went!

There were only about three tables full at 5 p.m. on Sunday, and while we were there, about three more tables filled up. But there was still plenty of space. The servers were super nice, and we talked to another couple who ended up there for the same reason we did — it was the only place they could find a table for Valentine's dinner.

We were served bread and homemade pesto when we were seated, though I requested olive oil for dipping since pesto isn't usually vegan. I ordered a glass of chianti and the Beet Salad to start. This salad was awesome! It's big beet chunks, mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios!), and balsamic dressing. I had them leave the goat cheese off. The free bread was really good, too.

For my entree, I had the Fettuccine Primavera, and I have to say, it was the best I've had in Memphis! Most places around here treat primavera as an afterthought with a few tomatoes and maybe some artichokes mixed into a bland pasta. But this had a ton of veggies (mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, corn, tomatoes, and artichokes) and a very flavorful olive oil-white wine sauce.

Paul ordered a steak and said it was one of the best he'd had, too. This place is definitely a hidden gem!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Three Meals, Same Bowl

I didn't plan it this way, but all three of today's food pics are in the same bowl. I only have one of these pasta bowls. It's shallow and wide, and I love it, so I use it all the time. Last night, on Valentine's Day, it held my Sausage & Veggie Pasta from Tabitha Brown's Cooking by the Spirit. Paul had to work late on Wednesday, so I had a little solo V-Day at home with an evening run, pasta and The Office, and a nice bath. This had Field Roast chorizo (spicy!!), zucchini, kale, mushrooms, and tomatoes, and it was so good. 

On my last Trader Joe's trip, I picked up some Vegan Bolognese Ravioli and served that in my fave bowl last week with Victoria Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo. This ravioli was awesome, and the insides were stuffed with a lentil base, so they felt kinda healthy. I served the ravioli over a pile of sauteed kale and mushrooms.

And finally, here's a non-pasta dish in my pasta bowl. I also picked up some Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower Stir-fry, which had a nice sesame oil flavor with corn, peas, and peppers. I added some of TJ's Baked Tofu and had a TJ's Veggie Spring Roll on the side. I've almost worked through all of my Trader Joe's treasures, and I'm a little sad about it. Trader Joe's is such a long drive from my house so I rarely go. I may have to make another special trip.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Galentine's Day Fun!

Tuesday was Galentine's Day, so 16 of our Memphis Hash House Harriers harriettes (aka the lady hashers) got together for a big girl dinner at the Beauty Shop. Because we had such a large group, they designed a special menu just for us. And they made sure to include several vegan options because three of us are vegans!

Here's one side of the table and the other side. The best thing about joining the hash group this year is having so many new besties! 

I ordered a glass of beaujolais wine and the Tennessee Wild Mushroom appetizer to start. These grilled shrooms were in a sesame, saffron, coconut, kaffir lime, and lemongrass broth with ponzu. Yum!

And for my main dish, I picked the Lucky Pot, a rice noodle ramen bowl with more of those same coconut and lemongrass flavors with crispy tofu, pickled onions, corn, and avocado. This was excellent! I did pick off most of the basil though because I'm not a big fan of Thai basil. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

Slutty Vegan Birmingham!

This past weekend, I traveled with the Memphis Hash House Harriers to Birmingham, Alabama, for the Birmingham Red Dress Run. Hash groups across the country have red dress runs for charity, and some kennels (that's what we call clubs in the hash) make their red dress run a big festival. The actual trail was run (okay, more like walked) on Saturday, but we all arrived from Memphis on Friday night.

There are only a few vegans in our group, and only two of us attended the fest. But Slutty Vegan's Birmingham location was just one mile from the hotel, so most of our group carpooled over for dinner. I've been wanting to try Slutty Vegan for years! But I've not been to a city with one. My last Atlanta visit, where Slutty Vegan is based, was years before they opened. And I was so excited to see the Birmingham location was so close to our hotel. This isn't all of our group, but here are some of us. 

This place was so fun! It's takeout only, and when they call you to pick up your order, one of the workers sings "You gotta bust a move for your food!" And you're supposed to dance for your food. We all had a lot of fun with that! After everyone had their stuff, we headed back to the hotel and ate together at big tables in the ballroom. 

I got the One Night Stand, a burger with vegan cheese, bacon, and slut sauce. Not sure what was in the slut sauce, but it was really good. The burger came with fries, but I ordered on the automatic ordering system, and that wasn't clear. So I also ordered extra fries. Oops. Those who ordered from a person at the counter were told the burgers came with fries, so that's something good to know if you ever visit.

Loved this place so much! And I'm glad I finally got to check it out. Now if only we can convince Pinky Cole to open a location in Memphis ...