Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Favorites

1. fairy tale places to visit in north carolina
2. a perfect seasonal drink - winter cranberry negroni
3. Need a cleanse? Peep this mean green detox salad
4. The snow would've been perfect for this soul warming winter chana masala
5. After this we're getting pizza
6. The latest in salty and sweet - miso chocolate chip cookies
7. More miso love with miso hummus with crispy furikake
8. Thinking about these chocolate covered strawberry macaroons for Valentine's Day
9. Or maybe these heart emoji donuts
10. Prep for the reboot with every X-files episode ranked !
11. One of my new favorite sites - Women & Whiskies !

//Snow day booze stock//

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weekly Eats Two (1/18 - 1/24)

I was craving something hearty and healthy, so I settled on this amazing vegan Caesar salad. I have made a few different vegan variations of this salad - but this one might by my favorite yet! All it takes is prepping some chickpea croutons, cashew Caesar dressing, and vegan nut parm. Then all it takes is tearing up some up lettuce and kale for individual salads! To streamline the prep even more, I made the parm in my mini food processor and then made the dressing in the same one to reduce clean up and make things easier. If you want to bulk up/stretch these salads even more, add some cooked vegan chick'n scallopini (which happens to be gluten free and vegan) to your salads. They cook up quickly and make a delightfully protein rich addition to this dish!

This one-pot pasta not only required little equipment, but the ingredient list was short as well, making it ideal for any weeknight. I was slightly skeptical about the coconut milk-tomato sauce, but it was perfect with a ton of garlic, Italian herbs, and red pepper. My only forewarning about this dish is watch it closely! It can go from good to burnt very quickly. I would honestly just stand over the pot with tongs, turning it every couple of minutes, to ensure even cooking and no burning. I am definitely planning on doing this next time :) Overall, a very flavorful, easy pantry meal that goes great with garlic bread!

You must know by now - I will use any occasion to bake something for anybody. To celebrate the birthday of one of my best friend's, he requested these exquisite, but easy to make cookies. I know they sound ridiculous, but trust me - they are the perfect combination of sweet and salty. To make gluten/dairy free, I used; vegan butter in place of the butter & a mixture of (1/2 C sorghum flour, 1/2 C tapioca starch, 1/2 C millet flour, 3/4 tsp xanthan gum) for the flour. I dare say these turned out much better than the first time I made them, and everyone was raving over them the first time around! 

Since last year's five day snow and ice storm, I've declared it a tradition to make waffles the first morning of the storm. Last year I made chocolate chip buckwheat waffles, so naturally this year I went with straight up buckwheat waffles. These come together in a flash and hold up to any toppings you'd like! I love the gorgeous dark color that buckwheat flour gives baked goods. We topped ours with vegan butter, agave (forgot the maple syrup before the storm!), and maple sugar. Do you have a dish that you make during snow days? I'd love to know!

Dinner: Vegan Queso Blanco Bowls with Pintos, Crispy Kale + Brown Rice

This recipe comes from Isa Does It, or what I will forever refer to as my Vegan Bible. I am trying not to eat out as much lately, so I decided to make our Mexican food this week instead of going out for some; this also had to do with us being snowed in for 4 days. The bowls consist of brown rice, pinto beans (made from scratch), diced tomato, crispy kale, and the most outrageous vegan queso blanco made from cashews. I've made this queso once before as an appetizer and it's nothing short of perfect. These bowls come together quickly and will gladly satisfy any Mexican/Chipotle cravings that you might be having! 

Overview: I stuck to my meal plan (yay!) and cooked every meal this week, except for one outing the night before the snow storm. I spent a minimal amount on groceries at the store, using all of my tips from work plus a very small amount of cash. This is in part due to cooking my beans from scratch instead of buying organic canned at the store. Tip: I cooked these overnight in my mini slow-cooker while I slept (takes between 8-10 hours), so it was hands-free to make these basically! The only thing I would like to improve upon this week is making more snacks to take to work.

Ideas for this week: apple pie granola bars & Cajun hummus for snacks; crunchy black bean tacos; tortilla soup; spicy tofu stew over polenta; miso-curry roasted delicata squash with kale and tofu over jasmine rice

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekly Eats (1/3 - 1/17)

Sorry that it has taken me so long to update you all on my weekly eats, but I took some time to settle back into my old job and to figure out what exactly I'd like to write about this year. I'm seeing more posts from my favorite bloggers sharing their weekly eats, meal plans, and meal prepping strategies (see here and here). I think this is a great idea because the question I get the most is how do I have time to cook so much? Plus how do I budget, plan, and effectively use all of my groceries? To explain this further, I'm planning a pantry and meal planning post for the future! But first, let's review the past couple of weeks.

I had half a pound of leftover Brussels sprouts from Christmas dinner, so I decided to make this easy hash for breakfast. It was quick and absolutely delicious! A great vegetable packed option for breakfast, plus you could really substitute any other vegetable, as long as it's shredded. Just be sure to top with plenty of hot sauce!

Dinner: Curried Split Pea Soup with hummus avocado tomato sandwiches

Whenever I'm looking for a quick, nourishing soup, I always go back to split pea soup. This variation has some Indian spices, but the preparation is very simple. Plus I always keep a pound of dried split peas in my pantry because you just never know! I paired it with some sandwiches made with GF rye style bread, tomatoes, avocado, and local spinach hummus. This is a sandwich I like to make when I want something with little to no work, plus it paired wonderfully with the soup! I had leftovers for lunches, as usual, and it lasted for a few days! The soup recipe originally comes from Vegan with a Vengeance.
 Dinner: Indian-spiced collard greens and tofu served over jasmine rice

I love buying a bunch of collard greens for a few reasons: they're incredibly cheap, super healthy for you, and versatile. I made two different recipes with just one bunch of collard greens! This is the first one I made, which has an incredibly short ingredient list and took less than 25 minutes from start to finish. I served mine over jasmine rice topped with a ton of chopped cilantro plus fresh lime juice. The flavors are amazing even though there's not much to this recipe!

With just a few small parts to prep (slaw, tofu, sauce, and veggies), you can make these absolutely amazing collard wraps! It seems like a lot to prep, but each component takes only a few minutes to make. On top of each collard leaf is a slather of wasabi-peanut sauce, baked tofu (I picked a simpler asian broiled tofu from Isa Does It), a carrot-cabbage slaw, plus cucumbers, green onions and cilantro. I've never had a real Banh Mi before, but these collard wraps were so refreshing and packed with flavor! When I ran out of collard leaves, I just put the components into spring rolls and ate them with sriracha. You could also eat them cold over rice or some rice noodles.

Dinner: simple, salty, nutty broccoli + soba plus steamed edamame 

Looking for your next quick meal? This easy broccoli soba is amazing. I can't put it into words. It's literally just cooking some soba, steaming broccoli (and edamame if you'd like extra protein), and mixing together this fabulous, nutty sauce. The sauce is everything I want - sweet, nutty, umami, incredible, spicy. It has raw garlic, ginger, and cayenne/red pepper for extra heat, making it perfect if you're sick (but tired of soup). When I used all of the sauce, I ate the rest of the soba/broccoli/edamame with vegan butter and GF tamari, another incredibly delicious combo. 

Dinner: Black Bean Yam Soup with Cilantro and Orange served over jasmine rice

I know, I juice in a soup? It's new to me too, but I trust pretty much anything that comes from Appetite for Reduction. This soup is packed with nutrients, flavor, and spice from the jalapeno peppers. I served it over some jasmine rice for some extra bulk, but serving soup with rice also stretches it more! Plus having cooked rice on hand can turn it into other meals, like fried rice, if you're in a quick pinch! I usually go for jasmine because it takes 15 minutes to make and it goes with everything, plus I love its fragrant flavor.

Getting up for work at 5:30 AM five days a week can be tiresome. For a few months, I didn't have to be up until later, so I had more time to cook breakfast every day. Now that I have to be up so early, sometimes I will cook oatmeal in the slow-cooker overnight, or I'll prep some instant oatmeal. Instant GF oatmeal can run me $5 - $7 a box, with only 8-10 servings. I prepped this large batch of maple oatmeal at home and it will last me over two weeks! The prep is minimal, but the pay off is wonderful. Sometimes I will eat it at home, or I can bring it to work and just add hot water plus toppings! I love having the option for a healthy breakfast whenever I need one.

Overview: I wish that I would have cooked a little more this past week, but I did successfully have lunch for work every day. I'd like to not eat out quite as much in the future, except for the occasional Mexican outing (which I can't help, truth be told). I am excited to keep trying new recipes, and I'm happy that this is how my New Year is starting off!

Ideas for the upcoming week: crunchy black bean tacos; vegan queso bowls; one-pot Diovolo pasta; maple doughnuts with salted almond butter glaze; deviled eggs for snacks; apple pie granola bars

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 - Looking Forward

I know that I'm twelve days late, but Happy New Year! I am looking forward to a brand new start this year. I'm not a believer in resolutions or taking things away from myself in a negative way, but rather enhancing and increasing the positive things in my life. So far I have re-started my daily home yoga practice, which has been wonderful, and it has also made me realize that I need a much thicker yoga mat! For me personally, this has helped with my personal happiness and releasing negative energy. I have still been keeping up with my exercise routine of weight lifting, cardio, and other work outs 3-4 times a week. I've also been trying new recipes a lot this year, so I'm really looking forward to what the rest of the year holds!

Last year was very stressful and full of many changes. I graduated from college, went to the ER more times than I'd like to admit, found someone I absolutely love being with, became a teacher, and at the end of the year, I quit. Quitting that job was something I had a very hard time dealing with as there was a lot of guilt attached to it. I convinced myself that I would learn to love teaching, and that I would get used to all of the stress and being a 24/7 employee. I just graduated and all of a sudden I had no social life or free time. I was stressed and crying all of the time, all because of this job that I was trapped in. I finally put in my notice after much consideration, and I've never been happier. I honestly forgot what it felt like to feel grateful for everything and happy with everyone around me. I am trying not to hang on to any lingering feelings of guilt, but rather looking ahead with gratitude for what teaching, as an experience, has given me. The bottom line is, it's not for everyone. I am so thankful to be where I am today and I can't wait to see where I'll be at the end of this year.

I'll be posting about what I've been cooking up very soon!