pretty in pink vegan

pretty in pink vegan

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.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up

My girls mean the world to me so whenever I can support them or celebrate them I am all over it. This weekend my was my chance to support  Bianca from Vegan Crunk. Saturday Bianca did a food demo at our annual Southern Woman's Show, where she made Black-Eyed Corn Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. Check out the post here. She did an amazing job, as always and I even got a taste of demo fame. Mainly because I was on stage to help plate while she cooked

After the demo was over the girls and I checked out a few of the vendors and even played a round of Purse Bingo. Sadly we left with only the purses we came with but who doesn't love a good game of bingo. My favorite part of our outing was the photo booth that was hosted by Q107.5. Give us props and a camera and we go crazy. 

After we finished playing glamour girls we headed downtown to DeJaVu for dinner. I love this building, its so New Orleans. By the time we sat down to dinner we were starving because sadly there were not to many vegan options at the Southern Woman's Show. I was only able to eat a pretzel. I wanted to get a "purkle" but Aisha wouldn't let me because I refused to pronounce pickle correctly lol. So for dinner I settled on the Curry Tofu with a side of Roasted Potatoes and Citrus Spinach. There was so much food even starving I couldn't finish it. 

Sunday was an off day for me food wise. Not because of Daylight Saving Time but because my baby bear is out of town this week. So its just me and Hollywood this week. Most people would turn cart wheels when they don't have to cook but not me, I actually like cooking. So when I don't have anyone to cook for I don't cook. For breakfast I added a bit of coconut milk and fresh veggies to my left over tofu and BAM breakfast. Now dinner went downhill fast. I hate to say it but I had cookies for dinner. Yep cookies for dinner. Hey who was going to stop me. In my defense it is a cookie recipe I am testing for the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale next month. 

I am still hard at work on a project that I hope to be able to reveal this Sunday. While Keithon is gone I'll be using my time to focus on the final touches of project and I promise I will try to best to eat dinner at night because if I don'lt eat I can't post. There is another recipe that I am working on that started out as a joke but I hope to knock out this week as well. So stay tuned.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Oh Ye Of Little Will Power

So it seems that Cassi can not stop eating out. I gave it my best effort but Tuesday night Keithon and I went to Imagine for dinner and sadly I cut into next week's grocery money to do it. I had every intention of staying the course but Monday there was this crazy sleet/snow mix that shut down the city and knocked out power to a lot of the city, including myself. Keithon and I were in the dark from 9am until about 2:30. It sucked but lucky for us we have a gas stove so I turned on the eyes as well as the oven and shut of the parts of the house we didn't need and wrapped up in blankets. Lucky for us the house didn't get below 63 degrees before the power came back on. So after being "trapped" in the house for 3 days straight being in the kitchen was not on my to do list. Plus my poor stove needed a break.

 I love going to Imagine aside for being able to eat ANYTHING  on the menu, they know me by name and they genuinely care about you. Imagine has a massive menu and you would think that I would be able to order a dish that is listed right. Nope, my name is Cassi and I like what I like. If you have seen me eat or snack for that matter, I sort my foods. Yes I have to eat like foods together and I hate for my foods to touch but my favorite two foods are soups and nachos. Go figure right. Sadly my all time favorite food is not on the menu. They have a nacho dish but it doesn't have all the madness that I need to make nachos nachos. So I order the Taco Rita minus the rita add chips. This is what the Taco Rita should be:

The Taco-Rito
-It’s the soft taco meets burrito. Bean and “meat” mix, topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa and served with black beans over brown rice

When I get through this is what it looks like. I love it. Its big, its messy and it makes me happy.

I have also decided to end this  no spending freeze. I am free of credit card debit, my car is also paid for and aside from my trip to Japan my money is mine to spend. I have learned that my 75 dollar mani pedi are not a requirement  but mama will continue to get her nails done just not at such a crazy price and I can spend money I will just not go balls to wall and buy whatever I want when I want. So things can wait. I will get to Japan in May so there is no need for me to live like a popper.  Since I ended my spending freeze I decided to come back to Imagine and order the Taco Rita as is.

On another note if you are in the Memphis area head to the Southern Woman's Show to check out Bianca from Vegan Crunk. She will be there doing a food demo at 2:30pm

Monday, March 03, 2014

Budget Grocery Shopping

 Some of you know that I have put myself on a spending freeze. It has gotten to the point that I cut off my debt card so I can't swipe it or buy anything online. My will power sucks. On some no spend challenges they say you only have 5 or 10 a week to spend on groceries but I have a 10 year old boy and he has to eat so I made my grocery budget $15 bi weekly. So Friday morning when I got paid I pulled $30 out. Saturday morning I took stock of the pantry and fridge to see what it was that I truly needed and set off to the store. I don't know why it was so scary to go into a store with a budget, I do it all the time. I guess it was the lack of a safety net that scared me.

I normally go to four grocery stores to get my shopping done but I knew that with a $15 budget Whole Foods sadly was out as well as Kroger so I settled for Cash Savers and the Viet Hoa. I shop at Cash Savers for my produce because its cheaper. When produce are close to sale by dates they mark them down.... drastically. One a good day I can get my mushrooms for 99 cents and other produce for 49 cents. Last week I got a BAG of blood oranges for $1.08. You can't beat that.

I go to the Viet Hoa for the same reason the produce is super cheap. There reason for cheap produce is because their traffic is so heavy and they stock only in season produce. I can get cilantro 4/1.00, limes 10 for $1 and roma tomatoes 79 cents a pound. Plus they stock all the Asian foods I need. Check out my receipts. I did go over my budget by about 27 cents but I can make that up next week.

Check out my haul. I was impressed with all the food I was able to get. I did buy on impulse items. I'm still not sure what I am going to do with it. Its an apple crumb topping. Hey I'll figure it out later.

That bag of green beans cost me 49 cents and the carrots 55 cents!! Crazy right. Since I took stock of the pantry before I left I saw that we had black beans and tortillas so I decided on DIY burritos. 

My post may be a little limited due to the fact there will be a lot of leftovers and I am working on a new project. I will have a big announcement in about 2 weeks so wish me luck.