I think this may be my first ever meat recipe I’ve posted… Most of the time Mike and I don’t eat meat at home but do make exceptions when people come over for a meal. Long story short for this creation: I had leftover chicken from a dinner party and I wanted to create a simple to make, weeknight recipe for two.
With only 5 ingredients, there isn’t a ton of prep work required. I loved the kick from the hot sauce, that the boiled chicken didn’t add unneeded oil or butter, the crunch from the carrots & celery, and the tang + light taste the Greek yogurt adds vs. mayo.
This chicken salad was flavorful enough to stand on it’s own, and can be easily eaten over some greens for a filling lunch or dinner salad. It also wasn’t runny at all which GROSSES ME OUT about some other chicken salads.
Note that it is messyyy so I actually suggest wrapping it up in a tortillas vs. putting it on bread like I did. (Although how good is a freshly toasted piece of sourdough bread!?)
Lightened up chicken salad
2 chicken breast, boiled and shredded
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
Greek yogurt (varying amounts based on how you like it – I used about 2 large spoonfuls)
Hot sauce (as much as you like it spicy – omit if you prefer)
Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix
Scoop out onto a wrap, toasted bread, or on top of a salad
This recipe came to life after our housewarming party (all the way back in March… that’s how far behind I am in posting recent recipes).
For as much as I love to be in the kitchen, I am a lazy host. I almost never throw an elaborate dinner party. I prefer to host brunches, BBQs, or get togethers with nothing but finger food.
Things that are on the simpler side are my jam; like toasting bagels and throwing some berries in a bowl for a simple brunch, or grilling chicken and zucchini pairing with a crusty baguette and a good olive oil for dinner.
For our housewarming party, we went the heavy appetizer route and Trader Joe’s was our third host. I bought salsa, guac, hummus, and veggies; we did a simple cheese and salami plate; some focaccia and balsamic + olive oil; baked some taquitos and called it a day. (Aside from the homemade meatballs and tortillas chips that my arguably better-at-hosting husband made.)
After everyone came and ate, drank, and toured the house, we had a few leftovers. Namely a jar of corn salsa that I had never bought before… what to do, what to do with you? I thought as I crammed it into the fridge with our other leftovers.
Later that week I was eyeing a bag of spinach we had and thought, maybe… maybe some leafy greens, corn salsa, and black bean pasta will go well together?
And oh how well they do go together! The combo was such a hit I’ve picked up a few jars of that TJs corn salsa since and have made many more dinners of Party Pasta. This recipe is gluten free and can be vegan if you omit the parmesan cheese. It is the real MVP in our house and so simple that is just might make it into the lazy-host rotation for our next shabang.
Cook black bean pasta according to the package and then drain cooking water
Add pasta back into the pot with spinach (the heat will wilt the spinach if fresh or defrost it if frozen) and corn salsa (we really like the flavor of the salsa so I am generous with the amount I use)
Dish and garnish with parm and freshly cracked black pepper
This past week has been freezing in the Bay Area. Like, we got snow in some areas cold. Not used to it and not really about it.
My Canadian fiance, of course, jokes that I don’t know what cold is and to this I ask, is it possible that coldness is relative? I’m not used to the frigid weather – where he is experienced in frosty temps – so it must be actually colder for me, right? RIGHT??
Anyway, the (only) good thing about chilly nights (past Christmas when it’s festive, not cold) is soup. Comforting, yummy soup. So, to warm up tonight we made a vegan French onion soup.
Actually, decidedly it was just onion soup since we didn’t add the bread or cheese. We are getting married in almost 3 months after all…… (Shred before the wed)
This soup is good but I’m not going to lie to you, the cheese and bread are the best parts of French onion soup.
With my favorite meal in Chicago as my muse, we paired our soup with a mezze platter of sorts. The hummus, fluffy pita bread, Greek salad, and turkey meatballs really rounded out the meal this time. However, if I make this soup again I will definitely be adding some gooey cheese and carby bread.
All in all this recipe is worth the work. It’s a nice way to end the weekend and warm up. Give it a try!
3 large white onions
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or another oil with a high smoke point
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
4 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups water
Slice 3 onions and add to heated soup pot with 1 tablespoon of oil
Add dried thyme and the other tbsp of oil on top of the onions, stirring occasionally for the next 45 minutes to 1 hour until the onions are caramelized (a nice golden brown color) *note: I didn’t realize my thyme didn’t have a cap with holes on it and accidentally put too much of in the pot. I’m actually unsure how much you should put in but I would guess about one teaspoon…
After after onions are caramelized, add the balsamic vinegar to continue caramelizing for about 15 minutes and to add a greater depth of golden brown to the onions
It’s been a busy few weeks for us because, as the title of this post suggests, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!
We’ve been searching for about a year, putting in offers here and there, but sadly always got outbid; upwards of $100K! Bay Area real estate, man!!
I’ve heard time and time again that moving in winter is the cheapest time since most people don’t want to move in the cold, or they have kids and don’t want to uproot them in the middle of the school year. Well, based on our experience, I’m saying this is true. We finally had an offer expected in late December!
We were over the moon at the prospect of owning our first home, and even better, in the city and location we’ve been pinning for. A lot of the initial paperwork we had to do was when we were in Canada visiting Mike’s family for the holidays. I’m sure all of the forms would have been relatively stressful even if we were home, but having to deal with it all while traveling was a lot (for Mike! I really didn’t do much when it came to securing the loan, getting home insurance, etc).
We knew there was the possibility of everything falling through but, brimming with excitement, we basically told everyone we were in the stages of buying a house over the holidays. What a blow it would have been if it didn’t work out!
Luckily everything went through (THANK YOU MIKE!) and we closed on January 9th, not even a month after we found out our offer was accepted. Suffice to say with the general madness of the holidays and the added To Dos of buying a house, it’s been hectic. (Hectic in the most exciting way, of course.)
We are officially out of our condo now and mostly unpacked. We’re getting used to living in a place with 2 floors (“damn, I left my cellphone upstairs again“) and having 2 bathrooms (so much storage space!). We’re constantly talking about renovations and all of the things we have to do. We’ve already had to deal with 2 leaking pipes but we’ve also had a lovely evening having a glass of wine with a neighbor. This weekend we hosted our first overnight guests and spent a cozy Saturday curled up by the fire (we have a gas fireplace, win!) and watching YouTube videos (we also have pretty poor WiFi for some reason and have to use Chromecast vs. our regular smart TV in the living room). We went for a bike ride this morning on a nearby trail and will be hitting up the Farmer’s Market next week. Our carpets are shaggier that I would like (can’t wait for that reno!) and the garage needs a rescue mission but I’m delighted that we own a home.
To celebrate our first night in the new house, I pulled inspiration from my trip to Spain and made us a meal of potatoes with spicy vegan cheese*, melon and prosciutto, and Spanish cheese. It was easy to prep this ahead, which was important mid-move, and a nice splurge with seemingly hundreds of boxes surrounding us. Of course we also toasted with a nice bottle of champagne and really just basked in our purchase.
We’re looking forward to having our friends over for a house warming / “before” party to showcase the new digs / show what it looks like before we tear up everything and bring our house into the current era. 😉
I’m particularly looking forward to a costume closet and a cozy little library-inspired nook in our bedroom. Stay tuned for Before and After pics. 🙂
*I followed Oh She Glows All-Purpose Vegan Cheese Sauce basically step by step but added paprika to give it some kick. This was the last thing I made in our condo the Friday before we moved, so I can vet that is stores and reheats well.
The new year. January first. So many aspirations and goals tied to one day.
It seems like people are generally moving away from setting up huge year-long goals of drastic change and personal renovation. Instead, we’re doing things like intention setting and focusing on more realistic, small self improvements.
In the era of Wellness Warriors – where self love, understanding, and forgiveness are the new ways of life; along with mediation and warm morning lemon water – we are still constantly striving to be better but also allowing for large doses of grace and acceptance when we inevitably slip up.
Gone are the days of swearing off sugar for 365 days and setting alarm clocks to sound before the sun for a workout. We want consistency and manageability now. At least I do.
Today is just like tomorrow will be. There isn’t the same novelty to the first day of the new year anymore. Each day is simply another chance at being better. Of course there will be some days when a second glass of wine will be poured or a savasana will be missed. More often than we’d like, living in the moment will fall under the shadow of impatience. Judgment and negativity will sneak into our lives when we are tired and feeling scattered.
There will be back-stepping but hopefully mostly forward moving. Hopefully, with strategic and achievable goals in mind, your progress will be better than you’ll believe. (…Literally like this pasta sauce recipe. I thought it would be too thick with little flavor but it turned out to be a dream!)
Better-than-you’ll-believe creamy squash pasta sauce
This sauce is vegan, diary and gluten free. The coconut milk and roasted delicate squash blended together make it creamy-dreamy. The roasted garlic adds a comforting savoriness. Serve over your pasta of choice with an added green for a complete meal.
1 medium delicate squash
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water (or as needed for consistency)
4 -5 garlic gloves (still in bulb to roast)
2 – 3 Tbs of avocado oil
Salt and pepper
Cut delicate squash into 1/2 inch pieces (not you don’t need to peel the skin off of delicate squash) and coat with avocado oil, salt + pepper, and nutmeg to taste
Spread squash out on a baking sheet and add your garlic bulb in tinfoil with a small amount to avocado oil drizzled on the top to the same sheet
Roast both at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
Once roasted, transfer into your blender with 3/4 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup water (adding more if needed)
Blend and scrape down the sides as needed until creamy (remember to vent your blender for the steam to escape)
I’m hesitant to admit this but I don’t test my recipes multiple times before posting. Mostly because this isn’t my full time job and I don’t have the bandwidth to try and tweak things. But also because my version of cooking isn’t fussy. It’s about using whole ingredients, using what I have on hand, and not wasting food.
When I’m making something that I think will be good, I’ll snap photos during and, if it turns out delicious, I’ll post it. Veg-vibes is far from professional though. Some strangers and some friends have asked if I plan to dedicate more time to my blog to get more of a following. To this, I (mostly) jokingly answer: I just don’t have the time to be famous right now… 🤷♀️
BUT I still love blogging. I like being able to go back and see how I made that one thing that was really good* or sending blog posts to people when they ask for recommendations about a place I’ve been to. Heck, sometimes I’ll scroll through my own blog just because I’m bored. You know, low-key lurking …yourself status.
I find joy in posting recipes I’ve created and travel recaps for friends, family, and the occasional internet passer-by to read but, veg-vibes mostly serves as an artifact for me.
And when it comes to what I create in the kitchen, I’m not about elaborate recipe tests or special trips to the store. My posts are short and simple without a whole lot of prep.
…But of course, there is an exception to that rule: jackfruit.
Y’all. I was intimidated by attempting to make the all-trendy BBQ jackfruit in lieu of pulled pork. Uncharacteristically, I even recipe tested and made it once before actually posting.
I’m happy to report that both times it turned out pretty damn good. And, at $1.99 a can from Trader Joes, jackfruit is a lot cheaper than pork! I highly recommend you give this recipe a try. It’s in line with the veg-vibes’ way and is actually really easy to put together; although more time intensive than most of the meals you’ll find in this corner of the internet.
Feel free to double the recipe and freeze half (defrosting in the refrigerator the night before) for a quick lunch or dinner in the future.
Some people like stocking their cabinets with a lot of food. A whole bunch of canned goods and snacks waiting there to be eaten. I don’t know why but having a brimming pantry oddly just makes me a bit anxious… A part of it could be that we don’t have a ton of space to store food. Living in a smaller condo, I basically have 3 shelfs that I keep my non-perishable items on and I don’t like them jam packed. Is this weird?
Anyway, all of this to say, I had 2 cans of black beans and some breadcrumbs I was itching to get rid of. A quick look in my refrigerator confirmed there were also 2 eggs ready to use. Time for some homemade black bean burgers, y’all.
This recipe is only 5 ingredients and can easily be made in bulk to freeze and heat up again later. These black beans burgers are the best non-meat patties I’ve made so far. The egg and breadcrumbs bind the beans well so they don’t fall apart when you’re cooking or eating them.
I added some cumin for flavor and they were perfect. Although I’m not sure they are cheaper than buying already made veggie burgers, I love that I know exactly what is in them.
Oh, hiii. I’m sneaking this blog post in before we pack up and fly down to San Diego early tomorrow morning.
So, what am I loving this month? One word. Summer!
Read on to hear about some of the very summery things that have been going on over here.
Who doesn’t love a good backyard pool party with the fam? During the first weekend of the month we all got together and enjoyed a BBQ and some fun in the pool. Including baby bro’s first little dip in the water.
Barenaked Ladies concert
Mike and I went to a Barenaked Ladies concert mid month at (I think) the best venue in the Bay Area; the Mountain Winery. Omg this place is pretty!
Better Than Ezra opened for them. I hadn’t heard of them before but their music was catchy and they were funny. Which makes live shows way better.
Barenaked Ladies were also really funny and just generally great to see live. Such a good night in a gorgeous setting! We spilt a bottle of wine and chilled out listening to the music. Talk about a perfect summers night.
We’ve started to get a few engagement gifts (always fun) and this week we came home to a pretty good one. A wine cooler!! It fits perfectly beside our bar and I can’t wait to have a chilled glass of wine soon. I’m looking at you, Barb!
Crispy Tofu Strips
I don’t think there is a single tofu recipe on veg-vibes. Although I avoid cooking meat at home, tofu isn’t a staple in my kitchen. I guess it’s just never been my jam. And while I doubt tofu will be in the regular rotation, I did like this recipe for baked crispy tofu strips.
1 package extra firm tofu
1 cup milk (nut or regular)
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbs corn starch
2 Tbs onion salt
1 Tbs cumin
1/2 tbs chili powder
Wrap tofu in a clean dishtowel and place under cookbooks for about 20 minutes to get most of the water out
While your tofu is sitting, mix together breadcrumbs, corn starch, and spices + pour milk into a bowl
After your tofu is dry, cut it into ~1 inch strips
Coat strips with milk and then place them into the breadcrumb and spice mixture
After coated, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
For Mother’s Day this year, I took my mom and grandma to Filoli Gardens. Despite growing up in the Bay Area, I’d never been to Filoli. At $22/person, I thought it was a decent price for an afternoon spent wondering around beautiful flowers and greenery.
Filoli was built between 1915 and 1917 by the wealthy William Bourn. The name of the estate are the first 2 letters of Bourn’s credo.
FIght for a just cause; LOve your fellow man; LIve a good life.
In 1936, Filoli was sold to the Roth family, where they lived until 1975 when Mrs. Roth donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. There are 16 acres of gardens to wonder through; plus the house that both families lived in when they resided in Filoli. You can pay an additional $5 for a garden tour and $5 for a house tour but we decided to go self-guided.
We explored the garden first. There are different sections of the garden and they are all gorgeous. When you first enter, you see a little pond area; which, let’s be real, is impressive enough on it’s own (I would be happy with just that tiny section as my entire garden). Then you wonder through some hedges to the pool.
The pool was put in by the Roth family after Mr. Roth had a stroke. He would go into the pool for exercise to help with recovery. But it was also a favorite hangout for the family during the summers.
The Woodland gardens were next. A shady area with twisty curvy trees. The tennis courts were located up some stairs there, where we sat for a bit to enjoy some afternoon desserts.
We strolled through the rose gardens and fruit trees after. How nice must have it been to live on that property? I would love to just stay there for the weekend and enjoy a morning cup of coffee (and an evening glass of wine) walking around the garden.
After seeing all of the garden, we wondered into the house. When we first entered, there were A TON of people crowding the door but as we weaved through the rooms, the crowd dispersed. I wish I read more of the plaques with information about the house and history but there was so much to see, I didn’t get to everything!
My favorite part of the house was the kitchen! I find most old house tours never show you the kitchen and that’s what I’m always the most interested in.
Filoli had 2 fully stocked kitchens (as you do), plus a pastry room (that is legit the size of my actual one kitchen).
Or tea! As a little added something in this post, I wanted to share an iced London fog recipe I’m obsessed with. My inspo for this came from Pick Up Limes but I made my beverage iced instead. It’s the perfect afternoon pick me up for a spring afternoon (if you’re lucky, you can sip it strolling through a garden).
I used almond milk instead of regular milk because I simply prefer it but feel free to sub any milk of your choice. You can also add a few drops of vanilla or a splash of agave syrup. Get crazy!
All you need to do is bring a cup of milk to a boil and add your earl gray teabag (I actually ended up adding another teabag since I was making mine iced).
I have a feeling it won’t be cozy soup weather much longer in California. With this in mind, I took full advantage of some canned food I had in my cabinet and made a coconut lentil soup recently while my grandma, mom, and little brother were at my house. I love having family over and cooking for them!
This soup actually turned out better than I thought it would! The coconut milk made it creamy dreamy but, with the added (homemade) veggie broth, it wasn’t too heavy. I ended up using 2 cans of lentils for more volume and less liquid, which worked perfectly.
Note: I omitted onions because my grandma’s not a fan. If you’re in the mood, I suggest adding them. Although, since I also used jarred garlic, I have to say it was pretty sweet not having to chop anything for this recipe.
Add garlic into a pot and heat up for 1 minute (I didn’t put any extra oil in so this step was fast; plus I was using jarred garlic — if you use fresh, wait until the garlic turns translucent in some OO)
Add canned tomatoes, lentils, and coconut milk + veg broth
Stir in spices
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered
Take off heat and add spinach, stirring until wilted
Serve and enjoy (this would probably also be delicious over a scoop of brown rice)