We are getting serious about cooking lately! I've cooked so much from my cookbooks in the last few weeks that I feel like I might actually run out of recipes to make! Just kidding, that could never happen... But I've made a ton of stuff from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen, like this pasta titled, "You-Won't-Be-Single-For-Long Pasta Carbonara with Shiitake Bacon." I don't know why it's so fun for me to say the name of it. I just like saying it. It's something I might normally balk at. But for some reason I like it, which seems strangely out of character.
Anyway, this was delicious and the sauce was tofu-based rather than cashew based for a change, so I'm into that too. The shiitake bacon was a nice crunch, but really it just tasted burned to me. I still loved this, and it took 2 seconds to make. Plus look how pretty it looks :)
My fried Amey, from Vegan Eats and Treats, has blogged a few times about how much she loves this dish from Appetite For Reduction which is the Chipotle Chili with Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato. It sounds like an odd combo for chili, but it was so totally great and I'd definitely make it again. I had to make cornbread because, like how can you eat chili without it???
One night I made the Pomegranate BBQ Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance 10th Anniversary and it was so great! I even poured some of the sauce over the baked potato I made. This tofu is baked first, then smothered in the sauce. I really love baked tofu. It sort of changes everything about tofu and makes it really succulent (?) and amazing. I feel like succulent is just a plant... Am I wrong about that?
This dish was the biggest winner for me. The Pesto Mac and Cheese from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen is just so great. The mac on it's own is a little bland, but when mixed with the pesto, it's like the most perfect combo you ever tasted. Also, I've learned that it's worth lugging out the food processor to make pesto instead of just using your vitamix which is already out on the counter. The food processor gets it the right texture and consistency. The vitamix just pulverizes it and makes like a pesto sauce, as smooth as your smoothie. But I love a good textured pesto with little bits of garlic and walnut in it. It's definitely worth the clean up, and trust me, I hate cleaning the food processor.
We went back to our hometown for a day to see David Bazan play a "living room show", something we've always wanted to see. This host had his own freestanding library/recording studio next to his house, so David just played there. Alex and I were trying to count the times we have seen him play, and it's probably something like 10 times. It was amazing and I'm so happy we got to see him in our hometown.
After the show we went out to dinner with my parents. Alex and I got the veggie burger, which has been good in the past, but really not so great anymore. It's dry and pretty flavorless, and I took a picture so you guys can see how to properly handle a sub-par veggie burger:
Settle for no less than half an avocado, and go absolutely nuts with the mustard, be it dijon or yellow.
The next day we got back to New York and went immediately to Champs, as one does, and got the Soltero Bowl with guac and chipotle sauce. I can never decide if I want something really healthy or something really unhealthy when I go there. I usually land somewhere between this and the awesome bowl. I have phases. I've been a breakfast burrito person, a breakfast enchilada person, even during my salad days I was a buenos días salad person for a time. Who's to say what phase will follow?
After a pasta-heavy week I decided to make some salads for the few days ahead. I made the Pomegranate Holiday Tabouli from Salad Samurai and the Brussels Sprout Salad with Grilled Miso Apples, also from Salad Samurai. The brussels sprouts salad was great, I never thought to use sprouts as a salad green, but they were great! The apples give it enough attitude to be a salad I'd make again. The pomegranate tabouli was just eh. It had lentils, and not enough dressing. I think it would benefit from avocado or baked tofu, and maybe then it could stand alone. If I'd only made the tabouli, I'd have been hangry by the time I finished.
Both salads had toasted walnuts in it, which definitely improved each salad. Toasted walnuts are special. They are softer, nuttier, toastier... Just better. Just nod so that I know you know.
I haven't made chana masala since probably 2011, when this dish debuted on Isa's blog. Lucky for everyone, it was published in Isa Does It, and now we can make it on the reg. The house smelled so spicy and nice for days after I made this. There's nothing like a spicy curry on a cold and rainy day.
Now, the main event, I decided to finally get a Vegan Cuts Beauty Box subscription! Two factors led to the inevitable decision to sign up for this box, besides me just wanting one: I started having problems with my skin, and I started realizing most of my bath/body/skin care products aren't even vegan. It's really shitty of me to have been vegan so long without paying attention to the products I buy for body/skin/beauty care, and I don't see (now) how it's any different from products I'd buy to eat. I'd hear about some product being vegan and just look for that kind but I always struggled to figure out on my own whether a product either has ingredients in it derived from animals, or has been tested on animals. I also have struggled to find vegan products that work (I'm talking to you, Tom's of Maine deodorant). Luckily, for me, I'm vegan in 2015 and the nice people of the vegan community and interwebs have already done the legwork of compiling a list of vegan companies who make and sell vegan beauty products. I am trying to replace all of my skin/beauty/body care items with vegan ones, but as you know, vegan products can be expensive. I found some affordable brands, and some not so affordable, but at least I know where to find them. The beauty box is great because it includes trial sizes of these products from companies you probably have never even heard of. This way you get to try out a product before committing to spending the $54 on it, or not. I am super psyched to try all these products and support vegan businesses trying to make a living the ethical way.
Each box contains between 4 and 7 items to sample and a handy card to tell what's what.
This is a calming botanical facial steam pack by Bohemian Beauty Co, which you pour into a bowl that you then cover with boiling water, and inhale the steam that comes off from the bowl, inhaling the scents and relaxing. It has a lot of common "zen flowers" in the packet, like chamomile and lavender. I'd never thought of using a product like this, but I will definitely give it a try.
Next is Moisturizing Hair Milk with Shea Butter by Shea Radiance. From reading the description of it, it seems to function like a detangler. No woman with long hair could say that they'd not benefit from some detangling spray, though I don't like to generalize. I'll just say that I will totally use up this product and put it to the test with my tangles. Especially in scarf season.
I never really thought of nail polish as being vegan or not. Well, it turns out I have about 25 bottles of non-vegan nail polish and if you want to take some of it off my hands I have the colors of the rainbow and beyond. I have one vegan color now! This is "Galaxy" by Mineral Fusion. It's hard to tell from this picture I guess, but it's a sparkly dark blue. I will put it on my toes in the near future.
Today my parents and in-laws came for the day and came to the shop-up with us and it was great! My parents especially liked Monks Meats sliders, the winner of the spread we put before them. I ate about 5 macarons so far, and I accidentally ended up with 12 more, so yeah. Not a bad Saturday.