Friday, September 4, 2015

Vegan Mofo: Weird Food Combo

For Vegan Mofo Day 4, we're supposed to write about a weird food combo we love. I'm actually pretty sure I love lots of weird food combos. But as I was reading through the daily Mofo prompts and came across this one, my mind immediately jumped to peanut butter, Marmite, and chili sauce.

I love this combo on toast! In fact, I had it for breakfast yesterday!

I'd have probably never discovered this combo had it not been for Lisa of Panda with Cookie. We were on a PPK vegan group camping trip called VeganStock in Asheville, North Carolina in 2009. And we were sitting around the campsite chatting about vegan food — as vegans do ALL THE TIME — when the topic of Marmite came up. At that time, I'd already developed a love for this British yeasty spread. But when Lisa said she liked to combine Marmite with peanut butter, it blew my mind.

I had to try it as soon as I got home. And I loved it! But something was missing. It had that creamy, fatty saltiness, but it needed something. Something spicy! So I added sriracha. The result is almost like a Thai peanut satay sauce on toast.

These days, I prefer Yellowbird Jalapeno Sauce over sriracha. It's all-natural and mostly organic, and it contains sneaky veggies, like carrots. I'm also LOVING this Everland Chia Peanut Spread that I found at T.J. Maxx, which means I'll probably never find it again. Oh well.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Vegan Mofo: Quick, Easy & Delicious

On day 3 of Vegan Mofo, we're supposed to write about something "quick, easy, and delicious." I feel like that pretty much sums up my day — toast for breakfast, frozen Amy's noodle bowl for lunch, and leftovers for dinner.

But rather than show you pics of my boring old leftovers, I thought it'd be fun to use this opportunity to do a little product review and use that product in a quick and easy smoothie recipe! Nutiva sent me a jar of their Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil to try.

It's organic, fair trade, and non-gmo. And it's cold-pressed and unrefined. As for the taste, it has a light hint of coconut that's not overpowering. According to the jar, you can add a pinch of salt to reduce the coconut flavor in savory recipes, but I've not tried that. And I'm not sure I'd want to reduce the coconut flavor! It's so good. So rich and creamy.

First, I tried it in Vegan Bulletproof Coffee. Definitely quick, easy, and delicious.

If you're not familiar, bulletproof coffee is kind of a paleo thing. Basically, it's coffee with butter in it. It's supposed to increase energy and performance. When I first heard about it, I must admit that I thought it sounded gross. But as with everything, my mind began to wander into the "I wonder if that could be veganized territory?" Earth Balance in coffee just sounded gross but coconut oil ... hmmm. That could work. 

I googled, and sure enough, it'd already been done. I found this recipe on One Green Planet. You brew some coffee. And then you put the hot coffee in the blender with coconut oil, vanilla, and stevia. I added a little maca powder too. It did keep me full longer after breakfast, likely because of the added fat. And the blended coconut oil made the coffee super-creamy and frothy. I'll definitely be making this again.

Speaking of blenders, I've got a quick, easy, and delicious blender recipe for you now. It actually comes from Nutiva. They sent me the recipe for this Blackberry Citrus Rise 'n' Shine Smoothie in an email. I made it yesterday morning after a little walk/run around the neighborhood, and I want to share it with you. 

This is a super-simple smoothie made with frozen blackberries, fresh orange slices, cashew milk, and coconut oil. I actually reduced the coconut oil in the recipe from two tablespoons to one, and I added a scoop of Vega One protein powder. The coconut oil made for a creamy, thick smoothie with staying power. It kept me full from 8 a.m. breakfast to lunch at noon.

Blackberry Citrus Rise 'n' Shine Smoothie
Adapted from Nutiva

1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup orange slices, peeled
1 tbsp. Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
1 cup plant milk of choice
1 scoop vegan protein powder (natural or vanilla)
4 ice cubes

Gather and measure all ingredients.
Place all ingredients in a blender.
Blend on high until all ingredients have been completely blended together, forming your perfect smoothie consistency.
Pour mixture, and serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vegan Mofo: Recreate a Meal From Your Childhood

It’s the second day of Vegan Mofo, the Vegan Month of Food — the month when bloggers, Instagramers, and the like pledge to blog as much as possible and fill the internet with delicious vegan food. And this year, there are fun daily themes! Today’s theme is “Recreate a Meal From Your Childhood.”

So technically, I didn’t create a meal. I created a dessert. But hey, dessert can be a meal, right? Don’t try to tell me you’ve never had cake for dinner. Just cake. Lots of cake. All by yourself, over the sink so you don't make a mess with the crumbs. I've been there. You've been there. We've all been there. Don't judge.

If you can make a meal out of cake, you can make a meal out of rice krispie treats. When I was a kid, I loved when my mom would make rice krispie treats. I don't remember it being all that often, but when she did, they were awesome. My mom made amazing meals every single day, so I could have recreated any of them. But honestly, I had some Dandies that needed using. So I made Cookies 'n' Cream Rice Krispie Treats with Semi-sweet & White Chocolate Drizzle.

Okay, so my mom didn't make cookies 'n' cream krispie treats. She just made the regular kind with marshmallows, butter, and rice krispies. And those simple treats are fantastic. But y'all don't need a recipe for those! So I figured I'd step it up a bit. Dandies sent me some vegan marshmallows to develop recipes with, so I whipped this up. I used the new cookies 'n' cream Oreos (yes, they're vegan!), but regular old Oreos would work just fine. For the topping, I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and vegan white chocolate chips. I brought these to a non-vegan potluck, and they were a huge hit! Paul loves them too.

As y'all may know, I'm working on a retro vegan cookbook right now. And turns out rice krispie treats have quite a history. It's believed that they were invented in 1939 by Malitta Jensen and Mildred Day at the Kellogg Company home economics department as a fund-raiser for the Camp Fire Girls, the first secular, multicultural organization for girls. How cool is that? So I'm definitely including this recipe in my cookbook! Oh, and Oreos debuted in 1912, so those home-ec ladies totally could have snuck some into their rice krispie treats.

Well, without further ado, here's the recipe! This one's for you, Mama Crunk! Thanks for keeping me fed all these years.

Cookies 'n' Cream Rice Krispie Treats
Yields 12 treats

3 Tbsp. vegan margarine
1 10-ounce bag Dandies vegan marshmallows (about 3 1/2 cups if using the minis)
6 cups rice crispy cereal
10 Oreos, roughly chopped
1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips
1/4 cup almond milk, divided

Spray a 9x13-inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt the margarine in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until they melt, about 8 to 10 minutes. Vegan marshmallows melt a little weird, just keep stirring. They won't liquify. They'll stay in a melty blob, and that's okay. Just make sure the marshmallows are melted down and have lost their shape. Stir the entire time! Turn off heat.

Add the cereal one cup at a time, stirring to incorporate each time. As you add more cereal, it will be harder to incorporate. But put some arm work into it. Make it a workout! 

Once the cereal is all mixed in, add the crushed Oreos and stir to incorporate. 

Press the cereal into the casserole dish, spreading to all the corners and sides of the pan. Press down to make it even all the way around. Set aside.

In a double boiler, add the semi-sweet chips and 2 Tbsp. of the almond milk. Melt the chips slowly, stirring often. When they're melted, allow to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a pastry bag or a ziploc bag. If using a ziploc, trim the end with scissors and drizzle over the treats.

In a double boiler, add the white chocolate chips and 2 Tbsp. of the almond milk. Melt the chips slowly, stirring often. When they're melted, allow to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a pastry bag or a ziploc bag. If using a ziploc, trim the end with scissors and drizzle over the treats. Not all vegan white chocolate is created equal. Some melts better than others. I've had great luck with Vegan Sweets chips. They melt a little clumpy, and the color changes from white to off-white, but that's okay. When it dries, it will be white again. 

Cut treats into 12 equal-sized pieces. Eat!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Vegan Mofo: Rise & Shine!

It's the first day (or I guess it's night now) of Vegan Mofo 2015! Vegan Mofo stands for "vegan month of food." The month changes a bit from year to year, but this time, it's in September. Vegan bloggers, Instagrammers, tweeters, and other social media users will be attempting to break the internet with daily posts of mouth-watering vegan food porn. And this year, there are themes for every day. Most years, I stick with my five-day-a-week blog schedule during Mofo, but this month, I'm blogging EVERY SINGLE DAY. And I'm going to do my best to follow all the recommended daily themes. So please stop by often!

So let's get started. The first Mofo theme is "Rise & Shine: Tell Us About Your Breakfast." So, without further ado, here's what I ate for breakfast today — Grilled Tex-Mex Tofu Migas from the new issue of VegNews.

The recipe is by The Sexy Vegan Brian Patton. And they're so good! First, you grill up some veggies — tomato, peppers, scallions. I used my indoor grill. And then you scramble those with tofu, and because this is migas, you toss in a some chopped corn tortilla bits. Melt a little vegan cheddar. Scoop into a corn tortilla. Add some avocado, and, if you're me, you add Yellowbird Jalapeno Sauce. I enjoyed these with a side of sweet summer watermelon with pink salt. 

After Vida Vegan Con in Austin back in May, I noticed that most of my blogger friends couldn't stop eating tacos when they got home. So many posts were about tacos! But as much as I love tacos, I needed a break from them for awhile. But I'm back on tacos now, big-time. 

While we're here, can we just talk about how great it is that VegNews is back?! I got my new Food Issue in the mail last week, and it was such an awesome surprise! And now Colleen Holland is running the mag, so you know it's going to be great again. You can find this breakfast taco recipe and more in the new issue!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Stuff I Ate (and Stuff I Did)

So September 1st begins Vegan Mofo!! For those who don't know, "Vegan Mofo" stands for "Vegan Month of Food," and for the whole month, vegan bloggers, Instagrammers, tweeters, Facebookers, and users of whatever other social media is out there will be blowing up the internet with pictures of delicious vegan food.

It's been going on for years, and I've participated every year (I think). But I'll be honest — I've never been all that excited about Mofo, at least not for my own blogging. I love reading everyone else's posts, especially my blogger friends who don't blog as often the rest of the year. But for me, since I already blog five days a week, it's always been kind of the same thing I always do. And some bloggers choose a theme, but I could never commit to one for a whole month. But this year, I'm going ALL THE WAY. And I'm very excited. I'll be following the official Mofo daily prompts, which are new this year. But more on that tomorrow! Tonight is a pre-Mofo photo dump.

But before we get to the stuff I ate, I wanted to share with y'all what I've been doing for the past couple weekends. Memphis held its first-ever Ren Faire — the Mid-South Renaissance Faire — at Shelby Farms Park, and I went both weekends. The first weekend, I went with a traditional dress and long wig. And it was SO HOT and SO HUMID! My wig hair was all sticking to me. But I looked pretty cool.

Here I am with my friend Pam and her kid Lily. 

The Ren Faire had a Fairy Grove, so that first weekend, as I was sweating my ass off, I decided that the following weekend (which was this past weekend), I would go for a much more minimal look as a faery! It was still very hot, but I was much more comfortable.

But you're here for the food, not my nerdiness! I've been eating lots of good stuff, as usual. I've been doing a ton of eating out, so I haven't had much in the way of leftovers for lunches since I've not cooked much. And that means lunches of Amy's soups and frozen burritos. One day last week, I had this Amy's Vegetable Barley Soup with Hummus Toast.

Speaking of eating out, I'm making it a point to visit Cassi's new place, Pink Diva Cupcakery, once a week for lunch. She was doing themed daily menu specials, but now she's got a small menu so people can choose. Last Wednesday, my co-workers and I stopped in for big ole plates of BBQ Tofu Nachos!! So good!!

My friends and I have been brunching almost every Sunday at Imagine Vegan Cafe for years (since they relaunched brunch a year ago and during the original brunch run several years ago). We brunch so much that I've started ordering off the regular, non-brunch menu to mix it up. Yesterday, I got the Southern Staple — brown rice, black beans, collard greens, garlic sauce and cornbread on the side. Love all that garlic sauce! Plus, I added sriracha, like I do.

The Sunday before last, I went with a more traditional brunch of Vegan Sausage & Cheese Quiche with Salad and a side of Mac & Cheese. Stephanie makes the quiche, and it's to die for. Our friend Pam orders it EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

Last Tuesday was Vegan Drinks night! And we met at Memphis' newest Ethiopian joint, The Blue Nile. Mmmm ... injera bread. I ordered the Vegetarian Platter and a Lagunitas IPA, and I'm proud to report that I cleaned my plate. No leftovers here. 

Y'all remember that vegan pizza special I mentioned last week? My neighborhood pizza joint, Midtown Crossing Grill, was offering a vegan cheese pizza called The Goodman as a test item last week. Of course, I had to stop in and get one! This has two kinds of vegan cheese — mozzarella and cream cheese — and potatoes, spinach, and mushrooms. Ridiculously good!

That's it! See y'all tomorrow for Mofo!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Upton's Naturals Jackfruit!

It's here! It's here! Upton's Naturals Jackfruit is here! The makers of the world's best seitan (in my humble opinion) are now the makers of the world's best jackfruit meal starters.

If you're not familiar with jackfruit, it's this stringy fruit that resembles pulled pork or carnitas in both taste (if it's seasoned well) and texture. Vegans use the unripe jackfruit flesh for savory dishes, so even though it's a fruit, it's not sweet. Of course, people all over the world eat the ripe, sweet fruit, too. But for vegan purposes, we're talking about the not-so-sweet, unripe fruit. 

You can buy whole jackfruit in Asian markets, but they're HUGE. And it looks like it would take an experienced jackfruit butcher (did I just coin a new term??) to hack into it. I typically buy plain already-chopped jackfruit packed in brine in a can. And then I season it with whatever sauce I'm using and slow-cook it until tender.

But Upton's Naturals has done all the work for you! These two new jackfruit meal starters are so freakin' handy. You just open the package, heat in a skillet, and serve. They sent me two packages to try and review, and I absolutely love them both.

I used the Chili-Lime Carinitas Jackfruit to make the first tacos I've eaten since Vida Vegan Con in Austin last May. And boy did I miss tacos! These were so very good.

The jackfruit has a strong lime flavor and a mild hint of chili. Think taco meat with taco seasoning in it but with added lime. I sauteed it with some hot peppers to step up the heat. And then I topped with an easy slaw made with shredded cabbage, rice vinegar, olive oil, diced chiles, salt, and pepper. That's topped with spicy guacamole and Yellowbird Jalapeno Sauce. Since every component was spicy, these tacos made my nose run a bit. But that's the way I like it. Spice-aphobes can have a totally mild taco with this jackfruit if they don't add any spice.

Tonight, I used the Bar-B-Que Jackfruit to make a classic 'cue sandwich with coleslaw on a whole wheat bun.

This jackfruit was my favorite of the two, but that's only because I'm a Memphis girl through and through, and I love me some barbecue. The jackfruit comes coated in a vinegar-heavy sauce, and I like mine just a tad sweeter. So I added a tablespoon of Muddy Pond Bold Barbecue Sauce, a regionally made sauce that gets its sweetness from Southern sorghum. For the slaw, I just mixed some shredded cabbage with Just Mayo, salt, and pepper. 

With both of these starters, dinner was on the table in 15 minutes. And that's only because I had to mix up some coleslaw. I'm so glad Upton's has made jackfruit easier and more approachable! Now, I just hope my local Whole Foods will start carrying it!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Gluten-Free Crackers & Cookies!

I'm not gluten-free. But I enjoy eating gluten-free foods occasionally because they offer a different taste and texture. And because they're made with different grains and non-wheat flours, I feel like gluten-free products help me vary my diet. As a bonus, I can take a gluten-free, vegan dish to a potluck and pretty much everyone can eat it!

Mary's Gone Crackers is one of the leading names in gluten-free crackers and other treats. And they sent me a bunch of stuff to try and review! All of their crackers and treats are gluten-free, non-gmo, and vegan.

On the savory side, there were Italian Herb Thins and Original Crackers.

The Italian Herb Thins were my favorite of all the products they sent. These crisp, thin crackers have a light crunch, and they're packed with herb flavor. The rosemary, basil, and oregano stand out the most, and although I don't see it in the ingredients, there's a hint of tomato flavor. They're made with a blend of flours that includes tapioca starch, brown rice, quinoa, mesquite, sprouted black bean, and sprouted buckwheat. 

The Original Crackers are much more heavy than the Thins. Rather than being baked with gluten-free flour, these crackers are made with whole grains. The first ingredient in the list is organic brown rice, followed by quinoa, flaxseed, sesame seed, and so on. They're crunchy and chewy at the same time. Although not raw, they have a similar taste and texture to raw flax crackers. And they're quite delicious with hummus! These also come in so many other flavors, like Black Pepper, Caraway, and Jalapeno, to name a few.

Next up are the Sea Salt Pretzels.

These are like the Original Crackers but in pretzel form. They have basically the same ingredient list, although the pretzels have some extra stuff like amaranth, millet, and chia seeds. Also excellent for hummus dippin'. They also come in Chipotle Tomato (yum!) and Everything. I'd love to try the others!

Mary's Gone Crackers makes more than crackers though! They also make cookies! And they sent me two kinds to try — Cocoa Minis and Ginger Snap Cookies.

The Cocoa Minis remind me of a healthier, gluten-free version of Teddy Grahams. Remember those? Maybe they still make them. I don't know. But I used to eat them all the time when I was a kid. These are made with a gluten-free flour blend, and they're sweetened with prune extract and tapioca syrup. I'm not gonna lie. They definitely taste like health cookies. And that gluten-free taste is detectable. But they're good. Maybe not if you're looking for junk food. But perfect for those times when you want something sweet that won't make you feel guilty. Also, they come in fun celestial shapes! Other flavors include Graham and Vanilla.

The Ginger Snaps Cookies are amazing! Granted, I'm a little biased because I love me some ginger snaps. But these don't taste overly healthy, and if you hadn't told me, I'd have never guessed these were gluten-free. The ginger flavor comes from organic ginger root puree and powder, so it's quite strong and doesn't taste artificial. They're super crispy and perfect for dunking in chia tea, which is how I enjoyed these this afternoon. The cookies also come in Double Chocolate, N'Oatmeal Raisin, and Chocolate Chip.