Chilly weather chili

I’ve heard from multiple men (read my husband and grandpa) that their biggest gripe with finding recipes on blogs is the long stories that come before the actual ingredients / directions. I personally love the extra context but to appease the divos of the world 😉 I’m bringing you this recipe with barely any background about the cold day I whipped this chili up on.

All I will say is that, the hack in this recipe is a chili game changer. TRY IT!


Chilly weather chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 large can or 2 cans of fired roasted tomatoes
  • zucchini to chop
  • corn (as much as you like)
  • spices: cumin, garlic powder, and oregano
  • optional: avocado and green onion for garnish
  • optional: sweet potato as a base

Directions:

  • *HACK* Blend pinto beans and 1/2 of the fire roasted tomatoes (this will make your chili the perfect consistency)
  • Add your blended mixture with the rest of the fire roasted tomatoes (if you have some tomatoes around the house like I did, you can chop these up and add them too) in a large pot
  • Add strained and rinsed black beans and kidney beans + chopped zucchini and corn
  • Add spices (as much or as little as you like, I personally love cumin and garlic but went easier on the oregano), stir, and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and let simmer for at least 30 minutes

Mike doesn’t LOVE chili like I do, so I steam and mash sweet potatoes to use as a base. This makes it less of a “soup” consistency and more of a hearty meal.

I also serve with chopped green onion and some avocado on top to round it out. Enjoy!


Lightened up chicken salad

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

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix
  • Scoop out onto a wrap, toasted bread, or on top of a salad

Party Pasta

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.


Party Pasta

Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of black bean pasta
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s corn salsa
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach or 1/2 bag frozen
  • optional: parmesan cheese as garnish

Directions:

  • 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

Sunday onion soup

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!


Onion Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 large white onions
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or another oil with a high smoke point
  • Dried thyme*
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water

Directions:

  • 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
  • Add veggie broth and water and bring to a boil
  • Lower heat to simmer and cover for a half an hour

Home owners! [+ spicy vegan cheese recipe]

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.)

The day we got the keys!

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.

The living room was the first space to be unpacked

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.

All of the unpacking mess behind Mike

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.

Better-than-you’ll-believe creamy squash pasta sauce

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

prep time: 30 minutes | cook time: 30 minutes | serves: 4

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • Nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

  • 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)
  • Pour out over pasta

Cheap & easy bbq jackfruit

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.

img_20180924_171049

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.

img_20180924_171759

img_20180924_174905

img_20180924_182402


Cheap & easy bbq jackfruit

Prep time: 5 minutes – Cook time: 40 – Servings: 2 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can jackfruit (note: it seems like most people on the internet freak out about the jackfruit in brine but that’s the one I used both times and it was fine – just be sure to rinse it!)
  • 5 -6 scallion roots, chopped
  • A small amount to oil of your choice to saute the scallions in
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Trader Joe’s organic brown sugar one)

Directions:

  • Drain and rinse your jackfruit
  • Leave your jackfruit to strain and chop the scallions
  • Add oil and scallions to a pan over high heat and saute until translucent
  • Add strained jackfruit and water to pan, reduce heat to medium/low, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Once jackfruit has tenderized, use tongs to shred (should resemble pulled pork)
  • Add BBQ sauce, mix, and transfer mixture to a baking sheet
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Take out, stir, and enjoy (preferably on a sandwich:)

img_20180924_182737

img_20180924_182716.jpg

*Some of my favorite concoctions to recreate are this soup, this sauce, and this meal

Black bean and breadcrumb burgers

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.

img_20180731_181604


Black bean and breadcrumb burgers

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 5 – 7 minutes | Servings: 6  *freezes well*

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs of cumin
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs

Directions:

  • Rinse and strain your black beans
  • Pat them with a paper towel to make sure they are completely dry
  • Mash them with a fork until they are a paste consistency
  • Add breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, and cumin
  • Mix together and mold into patties
  • Freeze for later (I suggest defrosting in the refrigerator the night before using them) or pan fry to cook
  • Serve protein style* with fresh tomato, lettuce, and a yummy side 🙂

*Because of the breadcrumbs already in there, I didn’t want to eat these on a bun

img_20180725_185106
Black diamonds, black beans

img_20180725_190136
All of the ingredients together in one bowl

img_20180725_191022
The finished product, ready to freeze

 

Friday Favorites – June [Crispy Tofu Strips recipe]

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.


Pool parties 

img_20180603_181434

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.

img_20180612_203517img_20180612_203538img_20180612_205652


WINE COOLER

IMG_20180628_215626.jpg

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.

img_20180516_184309

Ingredients:

  • 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

img_20180516_172713

Directions:

  • 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
  • Serve with a veg and dipping sauce 🙂

img_20180516_172818img_20180516_174150img_20180516_174442img_20180516_174936img_20180516_184302


Other Friday Faves:
January
February
March
April
May

2017
Friday Favorites #5
Friday Favorites #4
Friday Favorites #3
Friday Favorites #2
Friday Favorites #1

Filoli Gardens [+ iced London fog recipe]

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.

IMG_20180512_135656.jpg
My favorite flower; California poppies!

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.

IMG_20180512_135452.jpg

IMG_20180512_135439.jpg

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.

IMG_20180512_140022.jpg

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.

IMG_20180512_144530.jpg

IMG_20180512_144416.jpg

IMG_20180512_144514.jpg

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!

IMG_20180512_151447.jpg
A fireplace we could have fit inside

IMG_20180512_152053.jpg
A hidden little bar

IMG_20180512_152015.jpg

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).

IMG_20180512_153147.jpg
The pastry room!

IMG_20180512_152525.jpg
Honey, I’m home! I loved the teal cabinets (and the handsome guy looking out the window;)

IMG_20180512_152922.jpg
The 2nd kitchen

IMG_20180512_152946.jpg
But first… coffee

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).

IMG_20180514_134523.jpg

  • Sprinkle in some cinnamon and stir.

IMG_20180514_135034.jpg

  • Pour over a tall glass of ice and enjoy!

IMG_20180514_140622.jpg