Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Yumz in my Tumz

What follows is a long post of various delicious weeknight creations! I love doing thematic posts, or product reviews, but sometimes I make a great dinner and it seems silly to just post one picture of a great dinner and that's all. So, lately I keep a little draft blog post going where I can load up any share-worthy culinary experiences... and then I just wait until the post gains some critical mass. Viola, here we are! 

roasted goodness with grains and fresh microgreens and creamy dressing

I love this Orange-Miso Dressing Power Bowl from the Oh She Glows Cookbook, but I hadn't made it for a while. It's orange season again on our orange trees, so I thought of this recipe... and we both loved it as much as ever. Just looking at this picture makes me want to make it again. I really love that Orange-Miso Dressing on its own too. It makes a great dip for raw veggies or dressing to pour over steamed veggies. Sadly for me, Butternut Squash season is winding down, but I have a couple left on my counter so maybe I'll make this one more time.

Roasted Butternut rounds are so delicious, and also they are special to me because they were one of my grandmother's favorite foods. They always remind me of her and make me feel a little closer to her. I like that feeling.

romantic heart salad! 

We usually have a Giant Salad at least two nights a week. Sometimes we have kale salad, and sometimes we have a green salad. They're both great, but also always the same. I made this salad a little fun and special by using my set of heart-shaped cookie cutters. All the non-heart-shaped greens and veggies were hidden under the cute veggies, ha ha.

nom nom nom nom-a-long-a-ding-dong

Speaking of special salads, sometimes we mix it up. This was the Caesar Salad from the new Oh She Glows app (it's also here on her website). Sakes alive, this was good - greens, cashew parm, chickpea croutons... such a delicious combination of flavors and textures. The greens are a mix of kale and romaine lettuce which was something I don't do often. For whatever reason - probably just my own limited salad imagination - I usually either have kale salad or lettuce salad. We both loved this salad.

my regular weeknight cooking scenario
sometimes on weekdays, i cook dinner in the middle of the day, since I often am teaching at night. Then I can come home from teaching and have dinner all ready to go. I love that. 

leftovers combined into a satisfying lunch. I've noticed lately how a good sauce can really tie things together and make it feel like I've eaten a proper meal. Whereas if I just had some steamed greens and some baked tofus separately, it wouldn't be as emotionally satisfying. You know what I mean? 

This was a simple lunch thrown together with odds and ends from the fridge, but it was also a great combo together: steamed curly kale, grilled herb tofu, and some Afghani Cilantro sauce that I had made. I know that not every one appreciates cilantro, but I do. In fact, I think it might be my favorite fresh herb of all. I prefer cilantro pesto to basil pesto, believe it or not. I think my two favorite uses for loads of cilantro are Georgian Cilantro Sauce (which I also made recently) and Afghani Cilantro Sauce. Such strong and delicious flavors!

Deceptively fancy Weeknight Dinner

This glorious spread looks so beautiful and fancy, but actually this was a super quick and easy dinner to throw together. I wasn't in the mood to cook something from a cookbook... so I made a batch of hummus and based dinner around that. The hummus was topped with olive oil, nigella seeds, and some zaatar. Next I cooked up some broccolini and red onions on the stove top, warmed some lavash from the freezer, and chopped up a bunch of fresh herbs and veggies. I think we ate pretty much all of this between the two of us. Ha ha. It felt super fancy and couldn't have taken more than 30 minutes to throw together. I love that!

summer time is on its way!

Now that we're getting more and more sunny days, it's also time to bust out the grill. One of Mr. VE&T's favorite dinners of all is simple grilled veggies. I marinated a bunch of veggies and tofus and then threw it all on the grill. Grilling takes a little bit of time and monitoring, because some areas of our grill cook veggies more quickly than others... but it's super easy and overall it's still pretty quick. Plus, this dinner doesn't take a lot of mental energy, which I appreciate -- and double plus, Mr. VE&T gets all super excited and raves about it the whole time, which is certainly rewarding for me! 

In general, I must say, I feel super lucky that Mr. VE&T loves my cooking so much. He is such an enthusiast and always shows great appreciation when he likes what I've made. It makes it so much more fun to cook for him. Every once in a while it happens that I make a dud, or just that he doesn't care for what I've made. But even on those occasions, he thanks me for being adventurous and always trying new things (and then he goes to the kitchen and gets something else to eat, ha ha!). Mr. VE&T isn't a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but he also happily enjoys vegan food and loves trying all the new things I make. I appreciate it so much! 

Monday, May 02, 2016

Learning about Korean Food! Chung Jung One Gochujang Sauce

I really don't know anything about Korean food, but when Chung Jung One offered to send me a jar of their Gochujang for review, I jumped at the chance to explore something new. Gochujang is a hot, thick, slightly sweet, and sticky fermented Korean chili sauce. It's not overwhelmingly spicy-hot, but definitely brings some heat. Also, it turns out, Gochujang is super delicious.

my new pal

Chung Jung One's sauce is gluten-free and vegan, which I gather is not always the case. It's sweetened with cane sugar and brown rice syrup. The fermented aspect of the sauce gives it a nice, rich umami power, which I always appreciate in vegan food. Also, I think their website is pretty cool - it has some recipes for inspiration, some info about the sauce, and a gallery of people's instagram pictures featuring their sauce. I love their idea of adding this sauce to hummus!

bibimbap! fun to say!

So, since I'm essentially a Korean cuisine noob, I started with a dish I've made once before, a long time ago: bibimbap. This time I used a great recipe from the New York Times. This recipe was easy to veganize. Obviously, I left off the egg. I also reduced the oil by quite a bit, increased the amount of rice vinegar-sesame oil seasoning in the carrots. There were many components to the meal, but none of them were complicated and overall this dinner was actually pretty easy to prepare. It was unlike anything I make with any frequency, and we both totally loved it! The greens, mushrooms, and tofus were all cooked, and the carrots and cukes were raw but dressed with seasoning. The hot-and-slightly-sweet gochujang sauce was definitely a key ingredient -- tying each bite together with a complex kick of sweet heat. So good!

I was feeling quite inspired after our first success, and so when Cadry posted her recipe for a Bulgogi Bowl, I knew I wanted to try it out! This bowl has grilled tofus marinated in a rich marinade (featuring Gochujang sauce, of course!), lightly seasoned spinach, rice, and kimchi. This was my first time finally having kimchi -- even though everyone talks about it all the time. The brand I got was quite yummy, but also quite spicy, so I enjoyed just a little nibble with each bite, like a condiment. I don't think I'll be eating it by the spoonful! ha ha. On the other hand, those Bulgogi Tofus were outta sight. Oh man. They are really, really good. I ate the leftover pieces straight outta the fridge the next day. I'll definitely make these regularly. I loved grilled and baked tofu, and I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy it -- this flavor profile was new to me and I instantly fell in love.

I look forward to putting my gochujang sauce to more uses, so far I'm a definite fan. Got any recipe suggestions for me?? Bring 'em on! Teach me about yummy Korean food!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Cooking Hiatus!

vegan bolani
a super simple breakfast: A store-bought lentil bolani, a banana, some salsa, and the mandatory cup of hot coffee. I love these bolani breads so much, and I think the lentil one is my favorite right now. They're made with whole wheat flour and filled with lentils. They've got a lot of protein and they really feel like a satisfying and complete eating experience. Also, that salsa is seriously delicious. Thanks for the salsa tip from my friend Erika!

Obviously, I really love to cook. I probably wouldn't have a food blog otherwise. Two nights a week, we have giant salad for dinner, and I pretty much always cook dinner the other nights. Sometimes I make an old favorite recipe, but a lot of the time I make something new that I've never made before. I love trying out new recipes, and sometimes I'm cooking from a new cookbook that I've been sent to review. I'm sure you can tell that I really enjoy reviewing cookbooks too!

vegan ramen
Koyo Lemongrass Garlic Ramen, supplemented with kale sauteed with leeks and green garlic and grated carrot. Actually quite YUMz

vegan eats and treats

And yet, last week I just wasn't feeling it. I was sitting on the sofa, thinking about what to make for dinner for the new few nights... and all I really wanted was just to blow it off. So I did! Woo hoo! Such a luxury! I spent several days and nights just scrapping up various meals with things from the pantry and random veggies from the farmers market. Mr. V&ET always appreciates my culinary creations, but he was also such a good sport about fending for himself for a little while. So, I made myself various little odd ball creations and he would get take out or something pre-made from the grocery store -- and then we would eat dinner together.

ha ha - glorious culinary creation

Many meals were like this - steamed veggies, some fresh veggies, and some yummies to go with the veggies. In this case it was some canned refries from the pantry, some salsa, and some spicy Heidi Ho cheese sauce. Simple, super easy, and actually quite satisfying!

simple eats, vegan
A similar creation: sauteed broccoli rabe, refries - salsa - spicy Heidi Ho, sliced avocado, and an Obi probiotic "soda." A great dinner and super simple to make. I actually eat lunches like this fairly often, but I don't often also eat like this for dinner. I usually follow a recipe and make something more "cohesive" for dinner. 

vegan eats and treats

I know eating whatever you want from the pantry is normal living for most of you, but it's so rare for me. I lead a pretty structured life, which usually works pretty well for me. Twice a week, I sit down and go through my cookbooks and pick out recipes for the next several days, and then I religiously follow my list, and cook my pre-determined meals on the appointed days. Ha ha. It makes me sound like a nut, but it helps me to be organized like this because then I don't end up buying a bunch of random veggies and then watching them rot in my fridge. All that said, it felt super luxurious to just eat weird little combos of whatever I randomly found in the fridge and pantry. Somehow these didn't seem like meals worthy of feeding to someone else, so Mr. VE&T was happy to fend for himself.

vegan mexi wrap
One of my more excellent creations during my cooking boycott: A wrap made with: canned refries with lime juice / avocado / salsa / Heidi Ho / cilantro / more kale sauteed with leeks and green garlic /  all semi-rolled in some leftover lavash from the freezer. Quick and delicious!

some of the fun things I did with my extra time!

It was fun and relaxing to have so much extra time in the evenings since I didn't have to cook whole meals. In fact, I think I might take little cooking boycotts more often, just the joy of a break in routine, a chance to catch up on odds and ends in the fridge/pantry/freezer, and for all the free time it opens up. I enjoyed my little holiday! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Jambu! Jambu! Cute Vegan Shoes

 little flower designs on my shoes, little flowers in my garden

 It's always such a joy to find the perfect pair of shoes AND have them be vegan! For a while now, I've been wanting a pair of shoes that met a few specific criteria.  I was looking for something along the lines of a "substantial sandal," not too clunky to wear with skirts or shorts, but also secure enough that I could use them for a quick spin on my bike or a long walk with the dogs. When Jambu reached out to me about reviewing a pair of shoes from their new line of spring shoes, I had no idea I was about to find my missing mystery shoe!

Jambu makes a bunch of shoes, and only some of them are vegan, but they are always coming out with new designs even in their vegan line. I first stumbled across Jambu brand many years ago at a local sporting goods store. I found a super cute pair of shoes there, and then couldn't believe my eyes when they were actually vegan! It even said the word "vegan" on the label. So Cool. I've been a Jambu fan and loyalist ever since then.

Cruising through the Jambu spring line up of women's vegan shoes, I decided to try out the Deep Sea Vegan Sandal in Charcoal color. They also have some cute little slip-ons that look super comfortable. I'm glad I made the choice I did though, because I really love these shoes!

feeling snazzy!

It turns out that these Deep Sea Vegan Jambus are just exactly what I was looking for. First of all, I think they're really cute. I like the cute out flower designs, and the little floral print on the ankle strap, and the contrast stitching. So I feel fun and sassy when I wear them. The upper part of the shoe is made with a comfortable feeling and nice-looking vegan leather.

this is usually what happens on a leash walk with the doggies - two pulling in one direction, one pulling in another direction! ha ha. Stevie loves to go-go-go, and Snoopy and Dottie love to sniff and pee! These are great walking shoes.

They're also super comfortable. The inserts are made with memory foam, so they're smooshy and luxe-feeling on my feet. As soon as I got them, I got all excited and wore them for a dog walk. Of course I got a little blister on my pinkie toe (you'd think I'd know by age 42 about the art of breaking in a new pair of shoes), but the soles of my feet felt great. Now that my feet are used to these shoes, I don't get that blister anymore either. 

joy ride with jambus! wooooot! 

Lastly, I really like how these shoes feel like a sandal, but are secure like a shoe. I mostly wear flip-flops, but supposedly that's not great for your feet. Also, sometimes Mr VE&T and I like to go for little joy-rides on our bikes, and I don't necessarily feel like using my fancy bike shoes and "clipping in," especially since he just has a basic cruiser for a bike. I don't love riding in my flip-flops because my darling little toes feel so vulnerable and exposed. But these shoes are great for joy rides! They stay on nice and firmly, and also with the closed toe - my little toes are protected and looking cute all at the same time!

doggies helping me with my shoe pics

The local store where I used to be able to find Jambus went out of business, but luckily, Jambus are easy to find online, like at Planetshoes. The internet is pretty cool for a lot of reasons, including reading vegan blogs and shopping for vegan shoes. Plus! The folks at Jambu created a 10% coupon code for VE&T readers: the code is jambuveganeats and it's valid from now until May 31. Yippee! Let's be shoe twinsies.