Category Events

Whole Foods to the Rescue – Valentine’s Day 2013

* Alright. I’m going to start by saying that locking myself into five posts a week with specific topics just won’t work. I have a busy, active life and the moment this project becomes too much of a job I disappear for weeks at a time. I’d rather post 2-3 times a week with solid material than show you photos, events or recipes I don’t care about.

So in the spirit of being as true to myself as possible here is how I spent the weekend before Valentine’s Day with Jason. We went to Whole Foods for a Chocolate, Wine and Beer Extravaganza. They had many tables set up with tons of tastings. In the spirit of being accommodating and wonderful store they are they were sure to pull out a box of vegan chocolates for me to have with the pairings- it really was a lot of fun. We made sure to sign up for an upcoming beer class too.

I am still getting used to having my new camera. I absolutely love it but there is a large adjustment period from the XTi I used to have and the 5D Mark II. Bear with me while I get back on my feet. :)

olives blog

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sushi blog

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Special Edition – Jason turns 28!

We celebrated Jason’s 28th birthday last night. It was kind of an impromptu gathering, as we had had a small get together with our friends Erika and Jared the night before (remember the pre bday dinner feast I prepared?), but we had a good time. Originally we had thought to make some collard greens, get some Beyond Meat salad from Whole Foods, and then we would do dessert with Mom and Dad. This idea quickly snowballed into drinks, dinner at Gino’s and dessert at the house.

Now, this restaurant holds a certain bit of history with my family. At age two and a half I was adopted. The son of the owners of Gino’s ended up doing the adoption for my parents and we have been going back ever since. It’s neat to connect the places and people that participated in that event and it was equally as exciting to be able to share that with Jason for the first of his birthdays we have spent together. I enjoyed the whole night (even if I looked like I’m the mash up of a gamer gone UFC fighter in my Portal hoodie and Affliction t-shirt, but I was feeling a little under the weather).

mom and dad

Aren’t my Mom and Dad the absolute cutest people you’ve ever seen?!

jason and i

vegan spinach fettucine with veggies and diavolo sauce

Eventually I am going to need to get to Gino’s with my good camera and do a proper review. They are so good at what they do I want to make sure to mark them down as a “Tampa place to eat”, especially for vegans because they are so accommodating. 

bday candles!
(Mom made vegan red velvet cupcakes and they were delicious!!)

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Wordless Wednesday; The week leading up to 2013

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Vegan Thanksgiving 2012 – Apple, Mushroom, Sage “Stuffing”

Holiday stuffing. Dressing. Whatever you want to call it. It’s one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving (well, other than the mashed potatoes of course!). This Thanksgiving, being my second meatless, meant I was in for a whole new treat: homemade stuffing.

Last year I just didn’t have the time to prepare as I had gone vegetarian less than a week before the feasting day, but this time would be different. Now, I’ve never made stuffing before, other than StoveTop Turkey stuff, which clearly would not sit on my table this year. Instead I did some research and decided to do an Apple, Sage and Mushroom Sourdough stuffing.

I used a Whole Foods recipe (with sausage) to start, but modified it to get rid of the meat products. Ultimately I loved how it turned out and so did my family. I did a batch of stuffing “muffins” and then a pan, though there was a bit of an accident (see below, haha). I think I might keep making this to have as a side dish, even outside the Thanksgiving season. It’s earthy, savory and super, super simple. Let me know if you try it, I always love to hear about people’s experiences!

Apple, Sage and Mushroom Sourdough Stuffing

What you’ll need:

- 1 loaf sourdough bread, cubed (approximately 8-9 cups)
- 8-12 oz of sliced baby ‘bella mushrooms
- 1/2-3/4 large onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 granny smith apples, diced
- 1 1/2 c veggie stock
- 1/2 c almond milk
- 1/3 c chopped sage
- 1 tbsp vegan butter, + more for buttering baking dish
- salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread bread cubes out on two baking sheets and bake until dried but not browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add apples, celery, onion and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until apple and vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes more. Add to the bread. Stir in broth, almond milk, sage, salt and pepper.

3. Bake in a buttered casserole dish (or muffin tins!) until lightly browned and crisp on top, 50 to 60 minutes.

Okay, so apparently if you use a small toaster oven, like me, and you put glassware too close to the heating elements you will crack your dish and burn your food. Please keep that in mind. (Jason laughed at me a good bit, saying, “I thought I should say something when you did that, but I figured you knew what you were doing.” I just sighed heavily and reminded him I never really know what I’m doing.)

Anyway, point is, things get messed up, no matter how much time you spend in a kitchen you have accidents, but in the end learning, growing and sharing is the important part. :)

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Product Review – Gardein Holiday Roast

What you need to know:

gardein holiday roast
* Vegan
* 8 servings
* 170 calories per serving (with included gravy)
* 0 cholesterol
* Found in most Whole Foods stores
* Runs about $15-20 per roast

How to cook, *****:

I used the package directions exactly. Stuck the roast in a casserole dish and into the oven under a piece of foil for about an hour. Took it out ten minutes early and let a little butter melt over it. Was brilliantly simple. Gravy was thawed in a bowl of hot water and microwaved to finish it off. It could not have been a more simple process.

What the above description does not tell you, ****:

Gardein has become a regular in my hous. Until now Jason has been hesitant to give up things like chicken, which has caused a lot of frustration on my end (the chick’n scallopini ended that dispute). So for Thanksgiving I knew I would going to need something really attractive for him to forego the turkey my parents had made. As soon as I said, “Gardein actually makes a holiday roast, though I’ve never ha-” he cut me off and said that would be the one. He did not want anything named “tofurky” and the field roast one just “didn’t look good”.

He continued, “Besides, you already know I like that garden one, so why even bother with anything else?” I giggled at him a little, “gardein” to “garden” I could understand and sympathize. So for my very first vegan Thanksgiving that’s what we got!

At the dinner table, ****:

I always look a bit like an outsider these days, with an additional few plates to make sure I know what’s in all of the things on the table. So Jason and I showed up with the roast, gravy, apple/sage/mushroom stuffing muffins, mashed potatoes and steamed fresh green beans and dill.

When I started slicing into the roast my brother was standing over my shoulder, you know, “just to see what it looked like”- he ate at least two pieces (and loved the gravy!). Mom was also willing the try it, as did Jason, of course.

Overall thoughts, *****:

I finished dinner with the entire roast completely gone. What had originally been meant for eight people had been taken down by a family of meat eaters (other than myself) with all of them sating, somewhat surprised, that was “actually really good”! The wild rice and cranberry stuffing and gravy really sold it for everyone though. Danny, my brother, actually ended up using that on his potatoes rather than the homemade turkey gravy Mom had made!

This is an item that will also be on my table this Christmas dinner as well, plans are already being made.

My only request is that Gardein would start selling extra gravy on the side- we could not get enough!!!

(For the rest of my Thanksgiving meal and additional photos have a look at the Giving Thanks in 2012 post.)

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