Double Layer Beefless Nachos

We love Mexican food.  Tacos, burritos, bowls, nachos…you name it, we like it.  As in, the whole family will eat it.  No one complains when I suggest a Mexican dish for dinner.  I like it because usually it ends up being a quick meal.  Last week, when we were visiting Sky in Saint Augustine, I wanted to cook for her as much as possible.  It’s the one thing I know she really misses about being away from home.  We threw some ideas around until I came up with Nachos.  Everyone jumped on board quickly, even Sky’s roommate up for it. I gathered up the ingredients and got started.  I am highlighting the olives because they are THE BOMB on nachos.  😀

 

I missed a few things in the photo above, because I had already started making the crumbles.  I added olive oil, finely chopped onion, and Beyond Beef Meaty Crumbles to a hot pan and fried until the crumbles were nice and brown all around. Then, added the Taco Seasoning per directions.  While Bruce stirred the crumbles, I chopped the tomato into small pieces.

Once your taco meat is ready, it’s time to layer your nachos.  I made two layers since it was for dinner and not just a snack.  Chips, meat mixture, shredded vegan cheese…then the same order again.  I didn’t use much of my shredded cheese on the bottom layer, so I went crazy on the top layer.  🙂

That pile of awesomeness goes into a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Trust me, it doesn’t take long for vegan cheese to melt and the meat is already hot.

When it comes out, top it off.  I put tomatoes on the entire pile, but the black olives only on half.  Skylar doesn’t like them.  On top of that goes finely shredded iceberg.

That is one giant pile of nachos, but between the four of us, we finished it off.  I like mine with tofutti sour cream, but I leave that as a side, because not everyone in the family does.  Okay, so the photo on my plate doesn’t do the dish justice.  It may not look as pretty as I would like, but it tasted delicious.


Mandarin Chick’n Buddha Bowl

I have been seeing Buddha Bowls for years and have always admired how beautiful and healthy they look.  But for one reason or another, I never got around to trying them until this last month.  Honestly, I think the tipping point was all the amazing photos I have been seeing every day on Instagram.  I was literally liking ALL of the posts I saw, and finally decided to try making one for myself.  My go-to for recipes is always Pinterest, so I went in search of recipes and ideas to try.  This recipe is my first attempt with the concept.  I actually made this for lunch for myself last time I was visiting my daughter in St. Augustine.  She saw it and asked if I would make her one as well.  She must have really enjoyed it, because she requested it again while I was in town for Mother’s Day weekend.  This time I remembered to take photos of the process, so you guys could try it.

Buddha Bowl’s are called that because of the top of the bowl.  It’s supposed to be nice and rounded like a Buddha Belly.  In other words, don’t skimp on what goes in!  After looking around, I realized the concept isn’t hard and it makes for a quick, easy, and delicious meal.  You can also be super creative with your ingredients.  There are so many options to try!

You need 5 things to really make your Buddha Bowl tasty.  Here are a few ideas to start with:

  1. Starch: Rice, Quinoa, Sweet Potato, Rice Noodles, Couscous…
  2. Veggie Protein:  Tofu, Edamame, Tempeh, Gardein Chick’n, Peas…
  3. Veggies: Broccoli, Carrots, Asparagus, Avocado, Cukes, Lettuce, Sprouts…
  4. Toppings: Pistachios, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Cranberries…
  5. Sauce:  Eel Sauce, Goddess Dressing, Vinaigrette, Balsamic Glaze, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice…

I obviously have listed the tiniest bits of the available options.  If I tried to list them all, we would both be exhausted.  What I tried to do with this bowl, was to pick a theme and run with it.  The idea for this one came from two places.  First, I found the Ready to Serve Minute Rice in a two pack of individual serving sizes.  All you have to do is pop the top and microwave for 60 seconds (90 seconds for two).  I know, I know…not the healthiest way to make rice, but I need quick and easy sometimes.  Then, I saw the gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n which I have been wanting to try, but haven’t.  I immediately put the two together in my head and decided to go in an Asian direction.

First step, prep ingredients according to package directions. I used the pan fry option.  Be sure to use medium low heat for the Chick’n or it will burn on the outside and still be cold on the inside.  Also, put the sauce in at the VERY end after the chick’n is browned on both sides and ready to come off the heat. If not, it sticks to the pan terribly.  I popped the rice and edamame in the microwave to prepare.  The edamame ended up a little wrinkly, so steaming would probably be a better option there.  I did steam the broccoli for a few minutes.

Once your ingredients are ready, start filling your bowl.  I chose to add a bed of spring mix lettuce on the bottom. I like what happens to lettuce when you add warm things on top.  The slight wilt actually makes it easier for me to digest.  Skylar, however, did not like the lettuce at all.  Use it or don’t, it’s all personal preference.  If you hate wilted lettuce, definitely don’t use it.

On top of the lettuce, I dumped the rice cups upside down.  I thought it actually looked pretty cool in that shape.  Around the rice, I added the broccoli, mandarin chick’n, and edamame.  After that I drizzled eel sauce over the top…eel sauce is vegan…who knew?  I just found out this month. I haven’t eaten it in years, so I was super happy to be able to enjoy it again.  At the very end, I sprinkled the top with sesame seeds, salt and pepper.

Remember, people eat with their eyes first, so try to make it look pretty.  Don’t just toss the broccoli in; set it so the floret is up and the stem is down. Pile the chick’n in a pretty pile, and when you put the edamame on, leave a bit of the rice showing through.  It looks pretty that way and people know exactly what they are getting.  And don’t just dump some sauce on top of your bowl!  Drizzle it…make a nice pattern.  Make it pretty, even if you are making one bowl just for yourself.  You deserve delicious looking and tasting food.

As always, leave a comment.  Let me know what you think.  Did you make any changes?  Did you explore an entirely different theme?  I am always looking for delicious new options, so your feedback is appreciated!

 

 

 


Marketing Mastery Event Orlando Florida

Good afternoon, Blog Peeps!  I had the opportunity to join some of the people I work with online at an event at Coronado Springs Resort at Disney in Orlando Florida for a few days so I jumped at the chance.  Online marketing has changed my life and provided me with the financial freedom I had always wanted, and I only want to get better at what I do.  In order to do that, I am surrounding myself with gurus, mentors, coaches, and other like-minded people.  Luckily, I get to do that in a beautiful location! This is my amazing team at the Meet and Greet with the founder of the company.

Being at the event means I won’t be posting again until the weekend, since my days are full of amazing speakers.  I’m taking a ton of notes, and my brain is desperately trying to soak up all the information.  I am writing this over lunch break, and still have about 45 minutes before I need to be back for the next speaker.  Since I have the time, I am going to talk about lunch today.

I ate at Las Ventanas inside Coronado Springs main building.  It is one of five restaurants at the resort.  There are three other eateries in the immediate vicinity of Las Ventanas and one at the main pool.  Disney always provides at least one vegan option on their menus, or at the very least a vegetarian option that can be modified to accommodate vegans.  Last night at the Meet and Greet the chef was kind enough to make me veggie skewers since there were no vegan options available at any of the stations.  I have to apologize for forgetting to take a photo of them.  They were quite pretty and delicious.  Each had a tomato,  an artichoke heart and an olive.  I was enjoying the party, and didn’t get a photo.  I will do better!

Back to lunch, the Soba Noodle Bowl I chose was good.  I will not say great, because it just wasn’t.  I did enjoy the fresh herbs and jalapeno slices, since they really brightened up an otherwise dull and boring dish.  I would have really enjoyed some kind of vegan protein like tofu or tempeh, but the restaurant doesn’t have it as an option.  I am going to contact Disney about that, because I know they want their customers to have the best experiences, and I feel like they will respond positively.  Since it is the only thing on the menu that is vegan friendly besides salad, I guess I will recommend it; but it’s not a dish I will rave about to anyone. I will rave about the resort and the event though.  I’ve had so much fun, met great people, and learned a ton in the last day and a half!  I am so grateful to have found such a amazing, people oriented company to work with.


Vegan in Marsh Harbor

Today, I am following up with the post I mentioned before about where to purchase vegan food in the Abacos, specifically Marsh Harbor.  While there are two grocery stores in Treasure Cay, I usually head to Marsh Harbor because there is more selection.  The three main stores to find vegan groceries in Marsh Harbor are Maxwell’s, Abaco Asian Market, and Healthy Way Nutrition Center.

Maxwell’s is a pretty large grocery store located off the main strip.  They have a large selection of fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, etc. They also have a large selection of Bob’s Red Mill Products.  I also can find quinoa, couscous, etc. at this store.  If you ask, they won’t know what you are talking about, but it’s there; just take your time to search the shelves and you will be pleasantly surprised.  The boat that brings supplies to Maxwell’s comes in on Wednesdays, which means the store is pretty well stocked Thursday through Saturday.  By Tuesday, the shelves can be absolutely bare depending on the time of year you visit.  They carry non-dairy milk and creamer, but if you absolutely need your coffee creamer take some with you when you go.  I couldn’t find Silk Creamer the first two weeks of my current stay.  It would come in and be completely gone before I could buy any.  Luckily, I took two boxes of Silk Soy (Vanilla nor Original) with me, so I didn’t have the grumps for two weeks.

Another thing about Maxwell’s is they do not carry a lot of vegan protein substitutes.  They also do not carry vegan butter.  They have plenty of Morning Star products, but MS products are vegetarian, so it doesn’t do me any good.  They do have vegan Boca burgers, black bean burgers and tofu, but that’s about it.  I personally pack a cooler if we are going to be there for longer than a weekend.  It gets filled to the top with Silk creamer, Gardein, Tofurkey, Beyond Meat, and Daiya Cheese (unfortunately, I forgot cheese this trip).  This is particularly true when we know we will be staying for a month or longer.

If I run out of vegan protein subs, I can find canned versions at Healthy Way Nutrition Center.  They aren’t great, but they are edible in a jam.  The shelves look very bare when you walk in, but don’t be discouraged.  Look through her selection, and you will find vegan protein shakes and more.  She also carries Earth Balance butter, though I wouldn’t rely heavily on this since it is often out of stock.  Another thing I like about this place, is that she always has prepared hot vegan food in her little cafe.  She makes soups, lasagnas, and more.  Her menu changes all the time.  Last time I was there she had vegan banana bread for sale, and it was pretty tasty.

A store I recently discovered is the Abaco Asian Market, run by Johnny Cash and his wife, Rapeepan.  According to Johnny, the store was Rapeepan’s idea.  She is an amazing cook and gardener.  Her kim chee, soups, and spring rolls are available for purchase in the store, just verify ingredients before purchasing! They also have an assortment of fresh vegetables grown in her garden in the back.  This is where I found the canned jackfruit for my BBQ sandwiches (see earlier post).  They also have a large stock of rice, gluten free food, and a decent selection of vegan snacks.  For updates on what is happening in the store, you can visit them at www.facebook.com/abacoasianmarket

I hope this post is helpful for vegans planning to visit the Abaco island chain in the Bahamas.  If you have not been to the Abacos, I highly recommend it.  There are plenty of hotels and beach house rentals.  Boat rentals are also easy to come by for those of you who enjoy snorkeling off of Great Guana Cay or want to head to No Name Cay to feed the pigs.  Dive excursions are available, and the beaches are beautiful.  Please comment if you have any questions, or if you have been to the area and have other suggestions for finding vegan food in the area.

 


Fluffy Vegan Yeast Rolls

It’s overcast and raining in the Abacos today.  A cold front is fighting with a warm front (and winning).  This is the first day I have had to close windows since we got here.  The wind was blowing the blinds around and rain was getting in.  So, I cranked them closed.  I have to admit though, I am so happy it’s raining today.  I told Bruce last night that I needed a down day, and then the weather showed up this morning.  For me, rainy days are perfect for reading, baking, and making soup…rainy day = down day.

Bruce ran into town to pick up a few things, so I put the hammock away and pulled the shade canopy down.  The forecast is calling for gale force winds, and I didn’t want the canopy to rip.  I stacked chairs against the SUP, so it wouldn’t get knocked over either.  Once I was sure everything was secure, the dogs and I watched a few episodes of Cupcake Wars.  The thing is, I can’t watch Food Network without needing to cook or bake. So, I made myself a fruit salad to snack on, and scrolled through www.Pinterest.com looking at recipes.

 

I have been craving home cooked yeast rolls for a couple weeks now, ever since my sister baked some and sent me pictures.  I have to admit, I was terrified of recipes with yeast in them until last year.  Even though I watched my mom bake TONS of bread when I was a kid, I just wasn’t confident enough to try it for myself.  The temperature has to be just right or the yeast won’t work; too cold and it won’t activate, too warm and it dies.  It sounds scary, right?  I finally worked up the nerve to try a yeast bread recipe about a year ago and it actually worked!  I was stoked.  Since then, I have gotten pretty good at baking with it.

So, here I am with no almond milk, but a driving need to bake.  I finally found what looked like a quick, easy yeast roll recipe that I could veganize and I actually had all the ingredients for. This is what I love about Pinterest, there are so many recipes to try!  The link took me to a blog called www.thebakerupstairs.com.  I’ll include a link directly to her yeast roll recipe at the bottom of this post, so you can check it out.  There were lots of comments from people saying they had tried subbing ingredients with success, so I decided to try it.  The only thing in the recipe that isn’t vegan is the butter and sugar.  I followed her recipe for the most part, with the following substitutions and changes.

I used Earth Balance butter and Florida Crystals Organic Sugar as substitutes, and once I had shaped the dough into rolls, I let it rise a second time.  I did this because I thought it would make them even fluffier, and also because my grandma always let hers rise a second time.  Her rolls were the absolute bomb.  No one in the world makes rolls like my grandma did, so I figured why not?  Lastly, I was supposed to get 20 rolls out of this.  I quite obviously did not, because I rolled them way too big.  I didn’t even get an even number.  Look at that pan.  I have 11 rolls in there.  Can you tell I am not a professional baker? I don’t even care.  That’s how many I rolled from the dough I had, so that’s how many I baked.

The best part, it didn’t matter at all…they are delicious.  The recipe really did give me soft and fluffy rolls that took close to an hour, even with the second rise.  My yeast got foamy in about a minute, so I was able to mix it up super fast.  I only kneaded for about 3 minutes before covering the dough and setting it on top of the stove with a cover over it.  I like putting it there because the heat from the oven underneath seems to help it rise nicely.  It only took about 10 minutes to punch and form into rolls, probably because I wasn’t being super picky with the process.  Another 20 minute rise, then 15 minutes in the oven. Let’s see…about an hour and 15 minutes from beginning to glorious end.  Bruce came home to a house that smelled of freshly baked yeast rolls. He complained for a moment that he was going to get fat if I keep baking for him, and then proceeded to eat two in a row.  ha!

Instead of rewriting the recipe, I am just going to post the link to Alicia’s blog.  Hey, it’s a down day, and I already explained how to veganize it.  I’m going to curl up with a good book and the boxer.  The link for the recipe is here:

http://www.thebakerupstairs.com/2015/09/soft-and-fluffy-one-hour-rolls.html

Let me know how yours turn out!


The Restaurant at Orchid Bay

We eat out quite a bit.  I love trying new food, and it’s nice not to have to cook all the time.  I also find it is a really good way to get to know an area.  Unfortunately, when you are vegan, it’s not always easy to find food that you can eat when dining out.  Since we are in the Bahamas, we headed out on the boat the other day.  The weather was phenomenal, and the wind had died down after the front moved through.  It’s always fun to explore the other islands in the Abaco Island chain and one of our favorites is Great Guana Cay.  It’s only a 2o minute boat ride across the Sea of Abaco on a calm day, and the water between where we are staying and Guana is so pretty!

I was in absolute heaven.  They say it’s better in the Bahamas and it really was on Saturday.  Just look at that water.  There is no filter on these photos.  No matter how many times we come to the Abacos, this water never ceases to amaze me.

Anyway, our neighbors recommended a restaurant at the marina that we had not tried before.  They said it was nice, and we were pretty excited about it.  The wind was light and variable and it was cool in the shade, so we sat on the front covered patio to enjoy the view with lunch.  I could have sat there all day.  Really, it was that nice.  Look at that view.  Look at it.  (The angels are singing right now.)

There is never a large selection of vegan items on any menu in the Bahamas, so I felt pretty lucky to find a garden salad and a veggie wrap.  I ordered both and asked for no cheese, please, on the veggie wrap.  The waitress brought my salad and I happily dug in.  It was super fresh and delicious, and I would definitely order it again.  Then my wrap and Bruce’s burger came out, and boy did my plate look yummy!  I went straight for the “spicy” fries, and killed about half of those before grabbing my wrap and taking a huge bite.  Well, guess what….cheese.  UGH!!!!  🙁  Yep, cheese.  I usually check BEFORE taking a bite, but I had been so specific and I know the waitress heard me.  When she came over and I told her, she was super upset and took it back to the kitchen.  The cook told her she had certainly not put any cheese IN the wrap.  She had simply put cheese on the outside flap to hold it together.  For really??????  The poor waitress was beside herself, so I couldn’t be mad at her.  *sigh

My lunch ended up being the salad and most of the french fries.  I know I can’t be the only vegan this has happened to.  It just goes to show that no matter what, you have to double check your food before taking a bite.  I would say “especially when you are in the Bahamas” or “especially when out of the United States”, but we all know this happens quite often right in our own neighborhoods, so I can’t even say that.  At least the fries and salad were good, and I really enjoyed the new Sands Pink Radler I tried.  🙂

 


Quick and Easy Chili

While we aren’t living in the RV full-time yet, I decided to post this recipe because I know it’s exactly the type of food that will be easy to make once we are on the road full-time.  I love to cook.  I like developing flavorful dishes.  I especially like cooking with fresh onions and garlic, but right now, we are on the island of Great Abaco in the Bahamas, and I can’t get everything I am used to finding at Publix back in Florida.  The ship only comes in once a week to stock the shelves at Maxwell’s (Marsh Harbour, Abaco), so many days the shelves are somewhat bare.  What that means for me is that I have to use spices like garlic and onion powder sometimes.   It’s been cool over here, so I was in the mood for a hearty bowl of bean chili.  I grabbed the following canned goods at Maxwell’s.

As you can see, I don’t really care what brand I choose as long as I get what I want, also it’s hard to be choosy when selection is limited.  I chose the diced tomatoes from Hunt’s because they already had basil, garlic, and oregano in them.  Like I said, it can be hard to find fresh herbs over here.  I chose the Del Monte Fiesta Corn because it already has green and red peppers in it.  The Green Giant Cream Style Corn thickens and sweetens chili, plus Bruce likes a lot of corn in his chili.  So, I always make sure I add plenty if he is going to be sharing it with me.  The Progresso cannellini beans were chosen for him, as well.  He doesn’t care for red kidney beans, so I either mix one can of white and one can of light red, or just stick to white kidney beans.  Of course, if you prefer red kidney beans, they would work just as well!

One thing I love about the kitchen here is this gorgeous cast iron pan!  I use it for so many dishes.  I’ve even baked cornbread in it.  Speaking of cornbread, I need to post my recipe for that, too.  Anyway, I had a half an onion left in the fridge from another meal, which I diced and added to the oiled pan followed by garlic and onion powder.  I told you I like a lot of flavor!  After the onions browned up, I threw the can of whole kernel corn and the packet of chili seasoning in.  Give the corn a moment to really char up and absorb the chili flavor.

Quick side note, this was the first time I used this particular seasoning packet.  I did my usual ingredient check, and threw it in the cart.  What I didn’t realize was how very spicy it was!  Holy wow.  Only use this particular one if you like spicy chili. I can usually tone spice down with some Daiya cheddar cheese or Tofutti sour cream, but neither of those are sold on the island.  Bruce is not vegan, so he shredded about a cup of cheddar cheese over his bowl and dove right in.

Okay, back to the recipe… after you have the seasoning packet in and it’s absorbed into the corn and onions, it’s time to start dumping the rest of the ingredients in. Seriously, just dump them in, in no particular order.  Add the creamed corn, tomatoes, and beans and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes and dinner is ready.

Unless you want cornbread with your chili, and really who doesn’t??  I grew up eating chili over cornbread, but maybe that’s weird.  I’ll get my cornbread recipe posted soon, just not today.  Look at this delicious pot of vegan bean chili.  Doesn’t it just warm your soul?

Quick and Easy Chili

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 TSP garlic powder
  • 1 TSP onion powder
  • 1 packet vegan chili seasoning
  • 1 can whole kernel corn (Fiesta Style, drained)
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (pick one with flavor already in it)
  • 1 large can kidney beans (white or red, drained)

Heat oil in pan on medium-high heat, add onion, garlic powder and onion powder cook until edges of onions are browned. Add can of whole kernel corn and chili seasoning packet, cook for a minute or two.  Add the remaining ingredients, turn heat to medium-low, cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy!