pretty in pink vegan

pretty in pink vegan

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moving Week Food Dump

So for those of you that don't know my blogging absence has been because I have been moving into my new home. ( More on that later) I haven't moved in almost 4 years and I forgot that when you move very little if any cooking is done. So for the past week I have been packing, moving and unpacking and Keithon and I have been doing way more than our fair share of dinning out. So to fill my blogging void here are a few pics of the food I did remember to take a picture of. Sadly Comcast has not connected my Internet so I am sitting here at Imagine blogging my little heart out. (shout out for the free wifi)

Now the night that I did the paperwork for my new home was a call for a semi fancy dinner and of course my choice was Asian food. So Keithon, Karen , her son and I headed to Osaka for sushi! The woman stated that they do not use eggs in their Tempura so I took her word for it. I also ordered all the vegan sushi they have on the menu which sadly isn't much but if I recall correctly I was an avocado roll, a veggie roll and a tofu roll.

Of course Keithon and I made more than a few trips to Imagine. So many trips that I have now stolen Bianca's Mayorship on Foursquare. She told me she will earn it back while I am in Japan. ( Good luck my friend) Now we all know I love Imagine because its like being with family. Everyone knows everyone and the place just has good vibes. Last Thursday Keithon and I went by for lunch and while we were there another fellow Imaginer told me that he would bring me a drink. I honestly thought he was kidding until he came back with a drink!!! It seems he lives right next door to Imagine. This man went to his house, made drinks and brought them back. This drink did nothing for my packing efforts. After Imagine I went home and took a nap. 

Now don't  worry I did eat along with my lovely pink drink. Keithon ordered the meatball marinara and I ordered the veggie plate. I picked the side salad, corn bread, brown rice and black beans. Because Megan and Nigel love me they put the black beans on top of the rice.

Now Monday I was able to do a little cooking and when I say cooking I mean I dumped some things in a pot and made soup. This soup is loaded with veggies, chickpeas and barley. My kitchen is still not completely unpacked and it is so hard for me to cook cook with my stuff in boxes. Hopefully this weekend I will be completely settled in. 

Last night was our monthly Vegan Drinks Meet up at The Deli and the group this month was crazy big. I love that more people are learning about the group and coming out. It also seems that they were having a tasting for a new beer company  and as a result they had the beer on special as well as with the purchase of the beer you got to keep the glass. Right now I am thankful for any cup I can get my hands on. I'm not a beer a drinker so I choose my beer based on its name, Namaste. It was a light beer kinda close to a Corona. 

I've gone to The Deli more than a few times in my non vegan days but this was my first trip as a vegan and they have quite a few vegan options. This makes me happy that a bar has more than just hummus to eat. Don't get me wrong I love hummus but when I go out Mama wants more than hummus but my dear child ordered the hummus plate. Their presentation is AMAZING! I had the hummus for lunch today and it is super creamy and spicy. I will be ordering this again. I ordered the Tofu Pita this pita was filled with fried tofu, cucumbers, tomato and sprouts and of course a side of fries. The Deli is known for their fries so I couldn't turn them down.  

Now somewhere during this moving adventure I had ice cream from TCBY. For those of you that don't know TCBY now carries Silk soft serve and on this day I loaded it up with Oreos, mango's, blueberries, 3 Sour Patch Kids and 1 cherry. Yes I asked for 3 Sour Patch Kids and 1 cherry, it s my ocd.  

Now we are all moved in and hopefully I can get back to my love of cooking but before I get back to cooking I have to bake for the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale this Friday. If you are in need of vegan treats meet us downtown in front of Grawemeyer's at 520 South Main from 6pm to 9pm. The weather is going to be great and all proceeds go to the Memphis Humane Society. So stop by, pick up a treat and say hi!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hold Tight I'm Coming Back

Fear not vegan readers, I have not given up on blogging or eating. This month has been filled with a lot of AMAZING changes for me. One of the bigger ones is a new home! So in the prep of moving the wifi is off for now but I move on Saturday so I have hopes that I am back up and running by Sunday.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And Then You Turn 11

I know I said that I would announce the winner to the cookbook give away on Friday but I was worn out by three 11 year old boys. Why you ask because this is my baby's birthday weekend and I decided to be a Power Ranger and take the boys to Sky Zone, I also let him have his first sleepover. For those that don't know what Sky Zone is it is a indoor trampoline park. Being the big kid that I am I joined in on the fun. I only lasted 30 minutes but I burned almost 500 calories. That place is the best workout ever. Sadly in my old age it took me 2 days to recover. Keeping up with 3 preteen boys will wear you out.

Today is Keithon's actual birthday so we had a mommy and me day. First stop was breakfast. Keithon is the breakfast person in the house so since it is his birthday what Keithon wants Keithon gets. Sadly finding a vegan breakfast in Memphis is a bit hard but after a Internet search I found out that Three Angels Diner had a nice vegan spread that I was sure would make Keithon happy. We ordered almost every vegan option on the brunch menu. We had the tofu scramble, biscuits and gravy and vegan sausages. The tofu scramble was loaded with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and smoked paprika. ( I added a bit of hot sauce because I like mine spicy) 

Since breakfast was out of the way I surprised Keithon with a trip to Sweet Noshings to let him be will a kid in a candy store. Sadly he did not get as excited I thought he would. He took his time looking at every case. He was trying to figure out which candies were vegan and which were not. For an 11 year old he did pretty well and since it was his birthday I allowed him to get WHATEVER  he wanted. ( what made his candy non vegan was the beeswax that Jelly Belly uses to make the jelly beans shinny and the glaze on the candy corn)  He also found a soda that is suppose to taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

Just like his mama Keithon likes to drop hints of what he likes to do and last week he dropped the hint about Rio 2 coming out. So unknowing to him after the candy store we were headed to see Rio 2.  We saw the 1st one so the 2nd one was pretty easy to follow but heaven help my non movie loving soul it was the longest movie in the world.  Long or not it was a good movie and I always love the hidden messages in Dreamworks movies. I won't spoil it for those that haven't seen it yet. As you can tell by this picture Keithon was over the whole mommy taking his picture thing. 

All in all my one and only had an awesome birthday. His friends now think his house is pretty cool because he has a pinball machine in the living room and inflatable furniture. The boys even enjoyed the vegan pizza and cheese dip I made them. Now on to the winner for Fillet of Soul Afro Vegan.... the winner is Sarah Kate. Sarah I will email you to get your address to ship your book!! 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Good Food, Good Wine, Good Friends and A Give Away

 In my head I have reached the blogger holy land. Why you ask, because a few weeks ago I was contacted to do a cookbook give away! Nothing warmed my little vegan soul more than to know that my blog was read and considered worthy of having a contest. So of course when they asked would I do it I said yes, a million times yes! So tonight I will be sharing a review of Wheeler del Torro's newest book Fillet of Soul Afro Vegan.

Some of you may know Torro from his previous book The Vegan Scoop, now if you loved Vegan Scoop be prepared to fall in love with Afro Vegan. It is filled with beautiful color photos, stories of his international travels and recipes from each of the regions he traveled International cooking may seem a bit scary but Wheeler makes it a breeze to do. Along with the beautiful pictures he even includes directions on how to garnish the dish! When I received this book I fell in love with it, to the the point when I slept with it in the bed with me. I already have a few recipes bookmarked to try later.

Now the hardest task for me was to choice a recipe to cook. There are recipes from Paris, Jamaica, Senegalese, Ethiopia and even a chapter on Southern cooking. Being a Southern girl I know cooking from the Southern chapter would be "cheating" so I ventured outside my comfort zone and went for a recipe in the Senegalese chapter. I settled on the Avocado san Crevettes, sounds fancy huh. Don't freak out I was able to make this dish in less than 30 minutes and it used ingredients that are readily available. Reading the plating directions I knew that this would be a bit more food than Keithon and I could handle so I called over Aisha and Bianca to help me eat, give me feed back as well as have a little girl talk. This is dish is the best of the food world. It has a salad element, a protein base from the black eyed peas and the avocado adds a healthy fat. The most interesting part of this recipe was the prep for the avocado. It calls for avocado, non dairy yogurt and of course lemon. I have never thought to try avocado with yogurt but the two together made the avocado amazing and it also give the black eyed peas a totally different taste. I don't care for black eyed peas but tonight I almost went back for seconds. I love the bright colors of this dish.

Now of course you can't have dinner without dessert and with the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale coming up I need to test my cookie again before offering it to the world. The actual cookie I am making is from my cookbook that I am hoping will be published. I was out of almonds and coconut so I just used the chocolate chips I had in the pantry. The girls thought they were good just the way they were. I still may tweak the base of the cookie just a bit more. 

Now on the contest!!! Some of you may recall that I am heading to Japan in a month and the food over there is amazing. So for an entry leave me the name of your favorite international dish and come back on Friday when I announce the winner of a signed copy. But if you don`t win make sure you pick of a copy of Fillet of Soul Afro Vegan it won't disappoint. 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Evergreen Rocks and So Do Things That Come From A Truck

The weather is slowly starting to warm up here in Memphis and with warm weather comes outdoor events. Last week was a bit of a stressful week for me so when I saw Fuel Cafe  post that the food truck was heading to Evergreen Montessori School  for a family friendly event called Evergreen Rocks, Keithon and I stopped by to see what it was all about. Evergreen Rocks was more of an open house to showcase the school as well as give the community a afternoon of fun. Along with tours of the school they also had T-Shirts for sale as well as a student who couldn't be more than 5 playing the drums and singing Eye of The Tiger.

My main reason for going to Evergreen Rocks was to check out Fuel Cafe Food Truck. Saturday was also the opening day of our Downtown Farmer's Market, which is where you can find Fuel's food truck along with other local food trucks. Sadly I couldn't take part in opening day but the market runs til October so there will be plenty of Saturdays for me to venture to the market. When I first became vegan along with Imagine's menu, Fuel's vegan burgers saved my veganism. These patties were created by Fuel's owner Erik and are also available at our local Whole Foods in the deli case. Now the burger is not available on the food truck but they do offer the perfect hand held food. TACOS! The fuel vegan burger is crumbled and served in locally made soft corn tortillas topped with vegan cheese, lettuce, salsa, red onion, cilantro, and  vegan sour cream. It has been 6 months since I was able to have one of the babies and I was over joyed when my name was called letting me know my order was ready. These tacos are stuffed to the brim with vegan goodness so if you are not a trained professional you may need a fork.

Another thing I love about Fuel's food truck is the array of crazy hot sauces they have and yesterday I found a new one that is the Whole Foods version of my beloved Sriracha called Ninja Squirrel. It is not a spicy as Sriracha but the bottle was just too cute!! I may just buy a bottle because it is so adorbs.

Before Keithon and I stuffed our faces with tacos we headed over to my favorite camper photo trailer. Yes you heard me right trailer. Amurica is the brain child of Memphis local Jamie Harmon and where ever there is a Memphis you will find Jamie with trailer in tow. This is not your typical photo booth in the Amurica photo both you will find all types of props to enhance your photo experience so if you are looking for a zany, memorable photo track down this trailer. Check out these pictures. 

So all in all Saturday was a great day. I was able to have a my beloved taco, have  a new picture for my desk at work and a really good friend helped take a big weight off my shoulders. If you can't check out the Fuel Food Truck on Saturdays at the Farmer's Market check out their Facebook page to get updates on where it will be during the week. Hey its a food truck do you really expect it to sit still but if you don't want to chase down the truck check out the brick and mortar. The same goes for Amurica as well as the trailer they also have a studio and both are located in Midtown. Yet another reason Cassi loves Midtown.  

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Never Joke With A Vegan

Everyone goes through that "get to know you" stage when you first start dating. You know the basics, what do you do for a living, what type of music do you listen to, what are your favorite foods, etc. So of course "Jack" and I went through this stage and then we hit the food conversation. Lucky for me he is accepting of my veganism and more brownie points for him because he knows how to cook and not just food that come out of a box. Everyone that knows me knows that my favorite food is cupcakes. My entire kitchen is dedicated to them. Some how we got on the topic of squash and his ability to make squash casserole and of course I asked what he puts in it. He went through the list of ingredients, we were doing good until he added the meat. So he  told me that he would make me a squash cupcake. I told him keep joking I will make a squash cupcake and make you eat it. He called my bluff, NEVER CALL CASSI'S BLUFF. I will always deliver.

Now I had a spaghetti squash left over  in the kitchen that  needed to be use before it went bad now of course I couldn't make my normal sweet chocolate type cupcake so I decided to use more spices versus more sugar. Since squash is in the same family a zucchini  I based it on zucchini bread but a tad bit sweeter. Bam Squash cupcakes.

The texture is that of a cupcake and you can't taste the squash but if you break it apart you can see the strands of squash. I had my co workers and Amy try it and they approved so I guess I did ok turning a joke into food. My original plan was to make cupcakes but the batter was a bit thick so I decided to use a mini loaf pan for the test batch. It was super moist with just a bit of spice. Check out the recipe.

What You Need:

Cooking spray
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup stick vegan butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
2 tablespoons almond/soy milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup  cooked spaghetti squash

What You Do:

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat small loaf pan with cooking spray, set pan aside.
Combine vinegar and baking soda in a small plastic bowl. Mix well and set aside. Beat sugars, margarine, ginger, and cinnamon at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Stir in milk, vanilla, and vinegar/baking soda mixture; beat at low speed of mixer until well-blended. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Stir in sugar mixture and squash. Spoon into prepared cake pan, spreading evenly.
Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan; carefully peel off wax paper. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Cure For Writer's Block

For the past few weeks Sunday in my house has had the same routine. I sleep until my Pandora alarm wakes me up, I put on my robe and I sit at the kitchen table and I work on my cookbook and proposal. Today I only had 2 sections to complete before finalizing everything and sending off to publishers, the market research and concept synopsis. I really should have started on the creative part first rather than the research. I felt like I was back in college. I was a fact checking, note taking nut basket. Needless to say after about 3 hours of research my brain was fried and I was having the worst time switching my mind back to the creative side. Its a blessing and a curse. So what better way to get back into my creative frame of mind than to cook a new dish.

I had no clue what I was going to cook once I stepped in the kitchen. Yesterday I told Keithon that we were going to make hummus to munch on through out the day but when I got into the kitchen I changed my mind and wanted something new. I remembered that I still had a ton of Bob's Red Mill chickpea flour in the pantry and on the back of the package was a recipe for falafel. Sadly Middle Eastern Food is my weakest area in the kitchen but what better way to get out of the research mode than to work on a new dish.

For the recipe I thought that I would have to use a can of chickpeas along with the flour but the recipe only called for the flour. So I set to work on the recipe but just like many recipes I had to cut the recipe in half because it was too many servings and I don't have time or food to waste. ( this is the main reason for my cookbook, small families need small recipes) Another great thing about the recipe is that the patties are pan fried and not deep fried. This southern is not keen on deep fried foods. I also tried my hand at Tahini Sauce. Keithon didn't complain so I guess I did OK. I definitely will try this recipe again.

After cooking lunch my plan was to watch cartoons on Hulu but I figured to get me back in cookbook mode watching cooking shows would do the trick. The only trick that it did was remind me that I have a trip to Japan coming up so I ended up watching a ton of documentaries on Japan and for the bulk of the afternoon I have been watching this show called Viva! Tokyo. If you can get past the child like narrations and the sexual jokes it has a lot of good info. So of course after hours of Japanese culture of course tonight's dinner was going to be Japanese. Since New Year's Day Keithon has fallen in love with Soba Noodles which does my heart proud because its a great source of protein. So I settled on a Soba Noodle soup using some leftover fried tofu and fresh veggies we have in the fridge.
When ever I make an Asian soup I always but the raw veggies in the bowl and then pour the broth over them, that way they stay extra crispy and retain a lot of the nutritional value. 

I still haven't gotten my creative juices flowing again and the day is winding down so I've decided that I will attempt to finish the final part of my proposal this week and then its off to the publishers for acceptance.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Meeting Of The Minds

 Any time that I can get out in the city and meet new people I am all about it. I love networking events and not because it's a chance to make connections in the business world but because I love talking to other people and seeing what I may be missing out on in the city. Plus it's a chance to meet new people and brainstorm. You never know where your next great idea will come from or who will be able to get you over a hump you may be having. So yesterday while I was playing around on Facebook I saw that my friend Aisha was going to a meet up hosted by Memphis Young Creatives. This month it was going to be hosted at GreenCork. So I decided to attend. Why not, I live in Memphis, I'm young , I'm Creative this sounded like the perfect group for me.

Here is a little background on the group.

Memphis Young Creatives is a meet-up comprised of young professionals in Memphis in various creative fields, such as marketing, promotions, PR, photography, web design, music, and more. The group meets monthly to talk a little shop (and non-shop too), share tips and advice, and support each other in a relaxed, after-work climate. Meetings are held at a different local restaurant each month, to help support local small businesses, where conversation is shared over drinks and appetizers.
The group was founded in the Spring of 2013 by Elizabeth Cawein (Signal Flow PR), Cheryl Hurley (The Stylist Quo), and Shannon Little (Huey’s/Shannon R. Little Communication).
Events are announced each month via Facebook and Twitter and are open to the public.

This month's meet up was pretty informal which was great, it gave me the chance to talk about something other that debt collection and Mindcraft. I meet some really cool people and found out about a few events that are going on next month. Its nice to go to a networking event where people are not trying to one up each other.

Now of course I couldn't go to Greencork and not have a glass ( or two) of wine. They are in the process of changing out wines and Miles let me sample a wine that hasn't made it to tap yet, called Chocolate Shop. I am a chocolate lover but being vegan chocolate can be pretty hard to come by so I knew I had to try this wine. It smells and tastes just like Tootsie Rolls! It was not overly sweet like you may think but it was just sweet enough with just a bit of a bite at the end. I can't wait until this wine is in rotation.

One of the ladies I met asked how do I eat out at places that don't have vegan options on the menu. I told her I can always find something on the menu and if I can't find anything I just ask if they will make me something. This is another reason I love GreenCork, Mrs Robin will ALWAYS make sure that I have something to eat. I have yet to be disappointed with anything she gives me and last night was another hit. She prepared a spread of carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, olives, grapes, strawberries and my favorite, stuffed grape leaves. On the side there was an amazing fig jelly, brown mustard and a balsamic vinegar.  I tend to believe that Mrs Robin really loves me because she feeds me so well.

 If you haven't been to GreenCork yet please check it out and tell Mrs Robin I sent you. Also if you want to check out Memphis Young Creatives email Shannon Little for updates.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Busy Vegan Bee

Sorry for the lack of posting, since Spring has Sprung I have been on the go none stop, between my cookbook, Keithon and Hollywood and hanging with my awesome group of friends my blogging has taken the hit. Sorry but never fear I am back with lots of things to share as well as a recipe!!
  If you have been following me for awhile you know about our monthly Vegan Drinks Meet Up, this month the group headed to A-Tan. Now if you live in Memphis you know A-Tan is known for one thing, their signature drink the Flaming Volcano. This drink is massive, so massive that Bianca and I opted to share it. I love that it is served with fire in the center. ( it's the pyro in me plus who doesn't love booze that is one fire) Sadly I couldn't tell you for the life of me what is in the drink other than ice, fruit and yummy boozy goodness.

Back tracking a few nighst before that, my friends and I got together to check out a play at  The Circuit Playhouse called The Great American Trailer Park. What I love about my friends is we love to have fun and don't care what others think. So to fit with the theme of the play we all went dressed in you guessed in trailer park gear. I had to make sure my outfit was trailer park perfect so I had Bianca give me the once over, she approved. Her shirt says Tipsy and mine says I heart Duck Density. ( don't worry I will never wear that shirt again)  I loved the refreshments they served at Playhouse because it fit the theme of the play, boxed wine and Frito's. High class I tell you. 

Sunday I started on the proposal part of my cookbook project. My recipe list was finalized or so I thought, thanks to Keithon Bryce I now have another recipe to add. I still haven't decided what chapter it will go under or if it will be an add on or replace a recipe I'm on the fence about. Yesterday on the drive home Keithon asked what we were having for dinner and I told him Chili Mac. The blank stare he gave me was priceless. Then I explained  it to him, "remember that stuff you use to eat long time ago that came out of a can?"  Yet another blank stare. So I got home and set to work in the kitchen . The main reason I decided on Chili Mac was because there were meatless crumbles in the fridge and an opened box of elbow macaroni in the pantry that we needed to eat through. After Keithon realized that he would not be eating dinner from a can he was all in. Plus I love cooking for my son because he is my taste tester, that child can't lie to save his life and if a taste is off he will say "mommy I don't want to upset you but something is missing"  Cooking is my form of art, like fellow vegan Erykah Badu says " I'm an artist and I'm sensitive about my shit" so I take great pride in my cooking and I will not rest until it is perfect and after a few tweaks I got this recipe right. (some recipes have ended in tears and will never see the light of day)

Chili Mac
What You Need:

1 1/2 cups cooked elbow macaroni
2 cups frozen meatless crumbles
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 teaspoon dried onion
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup of water
pinch of salt ( optional)
crushed red pepper (optional)

What You Do:
Cook pasta according to package. While pasta is cooking in a large saucepan combine remaining ingredients excluding meatless crumbles. Bring to a simmer stirring occasional, when sauce starts to bubble add in meatless crumbles continue to stir until crumbles are coated with sauce. Once pasta is cooked and drained add to sauce mixture, stir and serve.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Celebrate Vegan Times

Yep you read that right today is my 1 year Veganversary!!! Today marks one year that I decided to really focus on what I put in my body. Now before I made the vegan leap my diet was not a bad one. I didn't eat any red meat, fast food turned my stomach, and fried foods were my least favorite.  A lot of people think my leap to vegan was because of my friendship with Bianca and yes she tried to convert me but that is not the reason I made the change. When I decided to make the leap it was in the beginning of my weight loss journey and an icy day in Memphis.  The weather was super crazy we had a mixture of ice and snow that decided to fall at the same time, which is nothing new for Memphis but it is by far the worst type of weather to drive in. We were allowed to leave work earlier and I attempted to take the safest route home, the expressway. They looked pretty clear on the camera so I took a chance. In my journey home I forgot about the overpass I would have to take to get to the express, the Walnut Grove overpass. If you live in Memphis you know that even in the best weather that area is a death trap and they there is a light at the top of the overpass. As I was slowly crossing the bridge to ease onto the expressway the light turned red so of course I had to stop well let's just say my car decided it was a good time to spin. Once I was done spinning my car was on the other side of the road facing the way I came from and still in one piece. The was not one car in my way. I didn't hit the curb, the bridge or another car. There was an angel in the car with me that day. Once I finally made it to where my child was located my nerves were shot to shit needless to say. It took me at least 30 minutes to collect myself. After I got myself together I decided to watch a few weight loss doc on Netflix and I learned a lot that day about the chemicals they put in our foods that are killing our bodies. Then I decided to watch Vegucated. If you haven't seen it please watch it. I even called sent Bianca texts as I watched it. Of course she asked are you going to become vegan now, my answer was still nope. I liked my cheese and my seafood. ( I learned later way I loved cheese and ice cream so much) The vegan bug hit me when a few days later when I was eating dinner. I made a turkey meatloaf and after eating it I felt sick and bloated, so I made myself a green juice to settle my tummy. The juice helped a lot but then it hit me my body was rejecting meat so I still screw it I'm done eating it but Cassi can never do ANYTHING easy and if I was going to become vegan I was going to be a RAW vegan. I damn near died!! Memphis is not the place to because a raw vegan especially in March!! IT WAS FREEZING AND I WANTED SOUP! I cold and hungry and none of the tips Bianca gave me were working , I wanted soup. So I ditched the raw route and just stuck with being a vegan.  Check out my before and after pictures. I look old pictures of myself and it turns my stomach that I ever let myself get to that point. 

Now on the the celebration food!! Last night was our monthly Vegan Drinks Meet Up ( I'll post about that later) and Pam ordered a Lo Mein dish that everybody took interest in because it was vegan!! Lo Mein is normally egg noddles but at A-Tan they use Ramen noodles and ya'll know mama loves her ramen. So tonight I decided to recreate it for my cookbook. It didn't turn out exactly the way I wanted but that is because I was rushing and I second guessed my noodle to sauce ratio. ( next go round I'll only use 2 noodle rounds I used 3)  I used the ramen noodles I picked up at the Viet Hoa and I love these because the calorie count is so low. They are only 230 or 320 calories per round. I forgot the exact because I threw away the bag but if you eat ramen you know that most bags start at 400 calories and can go as high as 1000 and the sodium is through the roof but because I made my own sauce I controlled the sodium, calories and MSG. ( I hate MSG) Also on my next go round I will drain the noodles more. Taste wise they were great but I'm still not happy with the presentation. 

Of course a celebration is not a celebration without dessert and instead of cupcakes I made cookies. ( Testing yet another recipe) Chocolate chip cookies are the simplest cookie to make but vegan chocolate chip cookies are super expensive because of the chips you have to use. The sugar angels were in my corner during a recent trip to what Bianca and I call the Ghetto Kroger. That Kroger is a vegan person's nightmare BUT they are finally remodeling and adding in better vegan options and look at what I found on close out. VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIPS!!! These has to be chunked in the back because they I have not seen them in my 2 years of vegan baking. The only option I had was the Simple Truth Brand at almost 5 bucks a bag. Highway robbery I tell you but these chips were only $1.79 a bag!!!  I need to go back and get more because they are out of my life forever. 

So instead of regular chocolate chip cookies I made chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Its a celebration so why not indulge. As I am typing Keithon sampled one and told me that they were good. I trust him because if a flavor is off he will tell me. 

Now tomorrow night is my real celebration. My girls and I will be headed to Imagine for dinner and drinks at Greencork. So if you are in the area we will be a Imagine around 6:30 so come by and say hi!  


Monday, March 17, 2014

Drum Roll Please

Now some of you may have noticed that my postings have been cut down a little but trust me it has been for a really good reason but I will get to that later. Tonight I am full of announcements! I stated back in January that I planned on taking a trip to Japan and as of Friday I obtained my ticket!! It has now become real. Cassi is going to Japan!!! When my purchase was complete I sat at the computer shaking not because I was scared but because I set a goal for myself and I achieved it. I can't wait to shop, eat and visit the temples. This will be the best Mother's Day ever!

Now for my second announcement, since November I have been busy at work in the kitchen creating recipes and veganizing classic family recipes. Why you ask because I have been working on a cookbook. I am now in the proposal stage meaning that the book is finished and I am ready to submit it to publishers. The theme is a cookbook with simple, starter vegan recipes, geared toward single parent households that want healthy, child friendly dishes all using pantry ingredients. So the total servings will be small and dishes simple enough to whip up in less than 45 minutes from start to finish with basic ingredients that should still be in the pantry from prior meat eating days. Waste not want not is my motto. My hopes for this book is for it to become a vegan transitional cookbook, a starting point for the new vegan family.  

I have the most awesome friends in the world. They have come over to taste new recipes, push me to try a recipe again when it didn't turn out how I wanted and for dealing with all the cookbook and recipe talk  for months on end. I would say the journey is over but it has just began because once the book is published there will be book signings and cooking demos.  For the past year or so I have attended the bulk of Bianca's cooking demos and from backstage it looks like a cake walk but after Amy put my through a mock demo in my kitchen, I felt like I was on The Next Food Network Star. She asked questions about the ingredients and the process. If I could sub this for that. It was crazy!! But I pulled through like a champ questions and all. Here she is making what will be one of my signature dishes, Spring Rolls. They are fast, healthy and they scream Cassi. I always find a way to work them into any party I have.

 So I am asking for positive energy and positive vibes as I submit my soon to be best selling cookbook!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Adventures In Dating

  Last month I made the statement that I was going to venture back into the world of dating, well I am still doing it but the last few dating partners have been, how do I say this.... duds. Not their fault not my fault every date isn't suppose to lead to a trip down the aisle. They are just dates and Megan from Imagine Vegan Cafe summed dating up best. "We are just awkward people trying to find our match." I never thought of it that way but she hit it right on the head. So last week while Keithon was on spring break Mama Bear had a little free time on her hands so I enlisted the help of my girl Aisha to find me a date. (Yep I basically let her pimp me out.)  We seriously went through her Facebook friends, like it was the Toys R Us catalog. Those that know me know I am super picky and honestly would rather stay at home and read a book than date but after a few nos and by few I mean a lot. She said hey go look at "Jack's" page. ( names are hidden to protect the innocent, I give them nicknames based on their personality and so my girls can keep them in order. Bianca, Aisha and I decided on the name Jack because he is a jack of all trades. ) Looking at his page I laughed so hard I snorted... a few times, this man is hilarious. Aisha thought I completely cracked up but once I regained my composer, I told go ahead hook it up.  Any man that can make me laugh so hard I snort is someone I want to cross paths with. Laughing is my biggest turn on. Make me laugh and I'm yours.

This is Jack.The pillow he is cuddling with is mine but for blackmail purposes we will say its his. (There is also a video to go with the picture)

My second requirement for dating is food based. After making me laugh you have to be able to feed me, accept my food choices and not make fun of me because of it. ( It has happened before I dated a guy that made fun of me being vegan. No worries he's gone now) So for our first official date we decided on a in date meaning we grabbed food and stayed in. It takes some of the pressure off... for me. Bonus points for him, he let me pick the meal. So I had to think what do guys like to eat... PIZZA. To me the best home style vegan pizza is served at Imagine. I ordered the black olive and mushroom pizza and paired it with a red wine I had at the house. I was going to go with beer but Aisha said wine. I guess wine is more date like. We were suppose to have dinner at his place but when I pulled up there were fire engines everywhere. There were 2 fires in the building so yeah we headed to my place for dinner. (fyi the building is fine, I guess they were just small fires)

I seriously held my breath as he took the first bite because vegan cheese is a hard sale but he actually liked it and not the I like it because I want to get in your pants like it. He had real questions about it and he even thought there was meat on it because of the mushrooms!!! I told him mushrooms are one of the veggies I use a lot of because of the vitamin D and the meaty texture it gives foods.

So after we ate a little to break the ice I suggested we play a game. I am a big kid and have a ton of board games. Since I wanted to get to know him a bit more I suggest we play Moment of Truth. It is a lie detector game based on a TV show that came out in 2008. To play the game you pull a card and you pick one of the three questions to ask and the person answers and then puts their finger on the button and it decides if you are tell the truth or not. Corny I know but it is a great ice breaker and a way to find out dirt on the other players. More bonus points because he actually played with me willingly. 

Fast forward to Saturday, everyone knows that I have the worst sweet tooth in the world and by far my favorite sugary treat is ice cream. I will eat it in the dead of winter. It doesn't matter to me. Hold on here comes the girly stuff my dream date is to go out with a guy for ice cream. Yes I know this is not the 1950 and there was no sock hop to go to but hey there is just something sweet about a guy taking a girl to get ice cream. So guess what we did Saturday morning. Yep you guess it we went for ice cream! ( insert swoon here) We headed to Yolo to get ice cream. My favorite thing about Yolo is the add ins. I love to create stuff plus they have more than a few vegan add ins as well as sorbet on tap so we vegans don't feel left out.

I went for the pink lemonade sorbet and topped it with Oreos , blueberries, Kiwi syrup and  Popping Boba pearls. Yes it looks crazy but it made me happy and he didn't question one add in.

So it seems that the one date that I asked the universe for has turned in to a week of dating. Don't worry I'm not complaining because I like it. Dating is pretty cool, when I get my nerves out of the way and just enjoy the process. Plus this guy is cool with my veganism and makes me laugh so I plan on seeing more of him.