Wake Up to the Smell of Delicious – Crock Pot Oatmeal

It’s Monday morning and usually I am cowering in the corner dreading facing the day.  However, on this lovely Monday morning I’m having a healthy, hearty and delicious breakfast while I sit, type and procrastinate getting dressed for work. I don’t mean to post about breakfast two days in a row but this was just too good not to share. Plus you have the rest of the work week to try it!

Disclaimer – I have no idea if it is actually a lovely Monday – I have not checked the weather nor have I been outside.  It snowed here yesterday, snowed.  It is almost freaking April 1st!

We’ve been talking about making crock pot oatmeal for about a week.  So last night we made a bet on the UNC v. South Carolina women’s basketball game.  Loser makes the crock pot oatmeal…not that it is hard…we’re just not very motivated evening people.  Even though South Carolina lost, we made the oatmeal together.  Weekday breakfast for me is usually on the go and not very healthy and sometimes non-existent.  As you may have gathered from yesterday’s post, Lisa is a smoothie kind of girl…drinks them every day…It’s just not my thing.  Getting up extra early to prepare a well-balanced breakfast is also not my thing…and let’s be honest – we all have a little snooze button in us…So this crock pot oatmeal is genius. I don’t know who the first person to this was but I’m sure they enjoyed an extra 15 minutes of sleep as well.

The batch we made last night was TheYummyLife.com’s Overnight, Slow Cook, Banana and Coconut Milk Steel-Cut Oatmeal – long in title but pretty straight forward ingredients.  We, of course, always tweak slightly so those comments are in red.

INGREDIENTS
2 medium ripe bananas, sliced (approx. 2 cups)
2 (14 oz) cans light coconut milk* (we substituted one can with a can size full of regular rice milk)
1/2 cup water
1 cup steel-cut oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces, optional (omit or substitute margarine for lactose-free, vegan) (Earth Balance)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon ground flax-seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional garnishes: additional sliced bananas, chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts, toasted coconut, maple syrup, additional brown sugar, additional coconut milk or butter

DIRECTIONS
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours. Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.

Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour.

*Find coconut milk in the Asian aisle of your grocery store.

We have a rather large slow cooker so you’ll notice on Yummy Life that there are directions for setting up a double boiler in your slow cooker.  We made our oatmeal this way and it worked perfectly!

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Oh crap, it’s after 7:00 AM!

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It’s the Freakin’ Vegan Weekend! I’m about to have me some BREAKFAST!

Hungry?!? Good, because this is one Big Vegan Breakfast blog post! And if you’re reading the title in any other way than to the tune of R. Kelly’s Ignition (Remix), you’re doing it wrong.  So read it again, correctly!

One of the last meal’s of the day we mastered in our house was breakfast.  I’m not sure why – There is just so much more to life than a kale smoothie (my LMS would probably disagree).  As a kid I remember looking forward to the weekend – no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks – at least for two days…And Saturday morning cartoons.  I woke up early to start my binge watching and didn’t stop until something for grown ups came on at noon which if I remember correctly was a poor quality local weekend news show.  My breakfast of choice then was cereal or Jiffy muffins.  Super healthy, right?

Looking back, I guess it’s better that I really didn’t like what the big Southern breakfast consisted of anyway – eggs, meat products and dairy – OH My!  As a vegan though, I welcome a big breakfast and so do my taste buds!  When Lisa and I have the weekend off at the same time we always make a good homemade breakfast. Last summer one of our friend’s brought us some Adluh stone ground grits straight from Columbia, South Carolina.  Of course, we needed something to go with those grits –

1. Biscuits

Now there is nothing quite like a homemade biscuit.  Check out this recipe from the Minimalist Baker.  These biscuits will make you wonder what you’ve been doing with your life because it was empty before they came!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (we sub 1 cup with home ground flour, so our biscuits are slightly nutty)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 Tbsp non-dairy, unsalted butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup unsweetened PLAIN almond milk + 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (We use rice milk)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Add cold butter and use fingers or a pastry cutter to combine the two until only small pieces remain and it looks like sand. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, stir gently while pourIMG_4099ing in the almond milk mixture 1/4 cup at a time. You may not need all of it. Stir until just slightly combined – it will be sticky.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with a bit of flour and then very gently turn the dough over on itself 5-6 times – hardly kneading.
  6. Form into a 1-inch thick disc, handling as little as possible.
  7. Use a 1-inch thick dough cutter or a similar-shape object with sharp edges (such as a cocktail shaker) and push straight down through the dough, then slightly twist. Repeat and place biscuits on a baking sheet in two rows, making sure they just touch – this will help them rise uniformly. Gently reform the dough and cut out one or two more biscuits – you should have 7-8.
  8. Next brush the tops with a bit more of melted non-dairy butter and gently press a small divot in the center using two fingers. This will also help them rise evenly, so the middle won’t form a dome.
  9. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until fluffy and slightly golden brown. Serve immediately. Let remaining biscuits cool completely before storing them in an airtight container or bag.

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2. Vegan Tempeh Facon

I hated bacon as a meat eater…even the smell of it grossed me out…especially first thing in the morning.  Then entered tempeh facon. I’ve been making this item the longest.  It started as a fix for Lisa’s love of BLTs. The LunchBoxBunch.com‘s recipe is very easy to make – Of course, over time I’ve taken some liberties with the recipe and they have thus far worked out! This is a great recipe that can be altered to the type of tempeh bacon you want.  I prefer to have a very strong maple flavor and I’m a heat wimp so I can’t take more than a sprinkle of cayenne. I’ve added my notes in red.

Tip: I always double this recipe still using only 1 pack of tempeh.  I like the extra flavoring and I don’t feel like I’m stretching the mixture to make it work. 

Tip:  Steam your tempeh before making this recipe. I just take the tempeh out and cut it to fit in my steam basket, then steam for 10 minutes or so – just until it gets soft and looks a little expanded. It cuts some of the bitterness but if you love tempeh you probably didn’t notice anyway.  For a more technical approach check out – Vegansaurus!

Tempeh Bacon, Vegan Facon
makes about 1/2 cup
*a nice stack for 1-2 sandwiches

INGREDIENTS

5 ounces tempeh (2/3 a standard 8 ounce pack)
1-2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup (Always use 2)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
a dash of cayenne
1 tsp liquid smoke (opt’l) (Never used, never missed)
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp thick black pepper (More like 1/8 to a 1/4)
for pan: 2 tsp olive oil (Use a non stick pan and don’t use oil in pan)
*if you don’t have liquid smoke use these BBQ spice combos
(garlic, pepper, paprika and onion) (Never use this option either)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Very thinly slice the tempeh.IMG_4106

2. As thin as you can slice it without it falling apart

3. Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish.

4. Soak tempeh in marinade for 1-2 minutes.

5. Turn saute pan on high, add 1-2 tsp olive oil. Lay the tempeh flat on skillet. One layer only. Drizzle a bit of excess marinade onto skillet-it should be sizzling a lot now.

6. Allow to cook for 1 minute, then flip. Allow to cook for another minute on other side-or until both sides are crisp and browned.

7. Lay cooked tempeh on parchment paper to cool. Sprinkle with black pepper and thick sea(Drizzling extra marinade is key in my opinion salt to taste. (I never add pepper and sea salt)

8. For a crisper tempeh bacon, do not pour excess marinade in skillet, and allow all liquid to steam off of pan while cooking.

3. Grits

This is not something I’ve always loved.  Growing up I was not fond of grits unless they were loaded with cheddar cheese and butter. However, this past summer my friend Dianne brought us some Adluh grits up from South Carolina.  We started making grits to accompany our tempeh bacon and couldn’t stop.  Locally we pick up a back of Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits.  I’m not going t post directions because we just follow directions on the bag then add salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and occasionally some Daiya cheese. We also like to just put the slices of tempeh bacon right on top.

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4. Tofu Scramble by Happy Herbivore

IMG_4104Lastly, scramble up some tofu and veggies for a nice egg substitute. It strikes me as strange to say substitute or replacement but I’m a former omnivore so my first encounter with dishes was not as a vegan.  You may not be able to tell but our Happy Herbivore cookbook has seen some meals.

This is something my LMS prepares.  We don’t have it that often but when we do it is delicious!

INGREDIENTS

1 pound extra-firm tofu
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Drain excess water off of tofu and place it in the center of a non-stick or greased skillet.Using a spatula, break tofu up into thick cubes. Cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the tofu release its water. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Continue to cook and stir for another 5-10 minutes, breaking tofu chunks into smaller pieces so the consistency resembles scrambled eggs. Add a splash of non-dairy milk or lemon juice if the tofu starts to dry out or stick to the skillet. Once the tofu has the right consistency, is yellow in color and is thoroughly warm, add additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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I think this vegan breakfast proves that no matter how you were raised, where you’re from, or where you end up – compassion is possible and anything can be veganized!

 

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Dear American Idiots: A Rant and Rave Review

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I would like to start this blog with a letter to the people sitting next to me…<clears throat>

Dear People Sitting in Row V seats 103-106 on Thursday evening (2/20):

First, I’d like to thank you for arriving 20 minutes into the play.  I am sure whatever you were doing was more important than being on time.  If we’d known you were going to be tardy to the party we would have asked the cast, orchestra/band, production crew, ushers and theatre staff to hold the play.  Second, thank you for drawing a ton of attention to yourselves from me, the people behind you, and in front of you because I know whatever you were talking about as you sat down was super poignant and needed to be stated right then. Third and lastly, thank you for letting everyone around you know how insanely bored, uninterested, or whatever displeasure you were feeling, it was really no bother to lend one ear while the other was concentrated on the performance we paid to see.  I am writing because I wanted to make sure you were OK. You just seemed like you had a rough evening….I hope you had a better Friday and that your weekend is a respite from the cruel world of elegant DC dinners and theatre subscriptions.

On second thought, you probably should have been paying attention.  The behavior you exhibited – sighing, chatting, resting your head on the seat in front of you, groaning – you were literally exhibiting the characteristics of an American idiot. I’m sure some where at home you have your own disaffected youth.  I have no doubt they’ve received many lessons on entitlement and petulance right there at home.  When you first entered the theater, my guess was that you had enjoyed dinner so much that you were late and slightly tipsy which I can forgive.  However, your behavior became rude and inconsiderate.  If you were disappointed in the performance in any way, that’s unfortunate.  I was recently at a performance of a band that I found to be terrible but I sat there quietly (I probably didn’t look overjoyed) but I focused on the happy people around me dancing to the unbelievably bad music and watched the sign language interpreter who kicked complete ass.  I mention that to relate to you that there are better ways of channeling your frustration.

You didn’t ruin my theater experience…by the time you arrived I was enthralled and emotionally invested…the music grabbed my heart and didn’t let it go.  What you didn’t know was that for  1 1/2 hours my brother was alive in that room and I was flooded with love and more emotion that I can adequately describe.  My wish for you is that you open your heart to different types of experiences….don’t let yourself be limited because you will miss something beautiful if you’re not careful.

Yours musically,

Row V Seat 107

IMG_4067Now that the unpleasantness is over – Seeing American Idiot on Thursday night was a last-minute decision.  The play was on my radar while on Broadway and then when I heard the tour was coming to National Theatre….I must have mentioned my desire to see it 100 times.  However, my elopement, a destination wedding, a reception and a honeymoon makes a girl feel guilty about spending a couple hundred bucks on theatre tickets.  Enter Goldstar – luckily I do read most of my emails for deals around town because they had Orchestra seats for $55 bucks!  I’m glad I clicked that button because Thursday night was one of the most moving performances I have ever seen.

Green Day and I go back 20 years. Dookie came out while I was in high school…when I was at my grungiest…Ok I wasn’t grunge – I maybe wore some plaid while trying to channel my inner Angela Chase.  So as a Green Day fan and musical theatre fan – Worlds collided and it wasn’t a disappointment!  Unless you’ve been in a music black hole for the past ten years you’ve heard Wake Me When September Ends, American Idiot, 21 Guns  and Boulevard of Broken Dreams…they’re on mainstream radio…digestible for the rock god in all of us.  There is no time for recovery once the music begins – you’re pulled in and with little dialogue the lyrical journey doesn’t let up.

The entire cast was strong from vocals to choreography but there were a few stand out performances.  Mariah MacFarlane as Heather stole the show vocally for me.  She was clear and crisp – and the subtle humor of her storyline was delivered flawlessly.  Another outstanding vocal performance came from Casey O’Farrell as Will.  When he opened his mouth each time my head immediately whipped away from whatever else was happening on stage to look at him. AND Andrew Humann (hopefully it’s the right guy) embodied Billie Joe Armstrong – I’m not sure if was intentional or not but that dude has studied the body movement and facial expressions of Billie Joe and it was amazing to watch…Slightly distracting but in a good way.  It really is unfair just to call out these three because it is truly an outstanding cast…and I must give a nod to Dan Tracy – he was excellent as Tunny and liked my picture on Instagram.  There truly isn’t a weak element to the show from the music to the choreography to the band to staging – it’s really incredible to watch.

I have a history of being overwhelmed emotionally at theatre performances – Wicked brought tears to my eyes and I think I got misty during If/Then and I definitely cried during an entire Idina Menzel performance – In fairness to myself on that one, I had just been delivered some bad news.  I don’t cry often – I leave in theatre seat – It’s just musical theatre that does it to me, I swear!  There is no other way to put it – I cried.  I cried like a little girl.  I don’t think that is the general reaction most people will have but – Green Day reminds me of my brother.  He passed away in 2005 – I wanted to play Good Riddance at his funeral but instead I sang Amazing Grace…He was a disaffected youth…his alter ego St. Jimmy won.  So what I saw on stage was in part real life…life I’ve witnessed and life I’ve lost.  For my brother’s would be 30th birthday I had music notes from Good Riddance tattooed on to my foot. The song reminds me of both him and a video montage in college using that song with a picture perfect for an album cover of myself and some friends walking across bright green grass.IMG_4068 So it should come to no surprise to you when I say that I think every musical should end with the entire cast playing acoustic guitar and singing Good Riddance!  That was an amazing surprise and well executed!

While I do think this is a show for adults of all ages to me it probably holds more meaning and connectivity to the late 20s to early 40s crowd…I’m giving people in their late 20s the benefit of the doubt…because I really wanted to say early 30s. Musical purist and theatre snobs – please open your ears, hearts and minds and give this piece a chance to move you – don’t just occupy your subscription seat with apathy.

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Happily Ever After, Romantically speaking

I met her in January 2008…that’s right I said her…at a bar…meeting someone at a bar…is it cliche or is it impossible?  I think there is a division on the topic but this impossible cliche happened to me!

I knew three things were for sure the first night I saw her…

1. My love for argyle was deep. That argyle sweater she was rocking completely complimented her dark rimmed glasses and alternative lifestyle haircut.

2. As she removed that argyle sweater revealing a white t-shirt and tattoo of a daisy on the under side of her bicep…I knew tattoos were definitely not tacky and white trash…they were hot.

3. And I needed to know her.

I think it is important to announce on this blog that….I ELOPED!  Almost three months ago…One thing that was missing from this blog was personality – mine…I was finding it hard to write because I was leaving bits and pieces of my little world out…Namely my wonderful partner and now legally married spouse, Lisa.  With this new revelation and life event…I’d like to renew my vows to blogging about music, being vegan, life and now married life…

It’s hard to say when happily ever after begins, romantically speaking, of course.  Is it the moment you meet the person you’re going to spend your life with or the day you say “I do”?  There are thousands of moments in the middle of those two events that are amazing and life changing…not to mention the pitfalls and broken hearts while kissing all those frogs…Could one of those moments have triggered ‘happily ever after’?…Maybe we don’t need to mark our happily ever after date…In Disney movies, the princesses always lives ‘happily ever after’ at the end of the movie…we don’t get to see it…it begins after the movie ends.

I took some other big steps in 2013 like coming out to my parents – fear had me a holding pattern for a long time.  I didn’t do everything perfect nor did I say all the right things…my only regret is that I missed out on some love and support that I thought I would lose.  So whenever happily ever after officially began, I look forward to sharing it with you!

HeatherLisa (23)

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Take Alcohol to Drink on Your Flight

I’m pretty sure this is the best thing I’ll read all day!

I'm a Travel Ninja

I was recently tipped off to one of the most unbelievable travel tricks ever. In this day and age of insane security, invasive procedures and removal of freedoms, here’s a bright ray of sunshine. With an unintentional loophole (maybe intentional with some of the drinking habits in Congress), you have the freedom to take the alcohol (or non-alcohol) of your choice on your flight with you.

I first had a discussion with a TSA supervisor about this a couple of months back. My clarifying question was in regards to the 1 qt bag of liquids you are allowed to take through security. The rule is that you can take as many containers that are less than 100ml (~3 oz) each that you can fit in a 1 qt Ziploc style bag. I then specifically asked if alcohol was allowed. The answer was a resounding “Yes!” In fact, he was enthusiastic…

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Vegan Cornbread Of My Dreams

My mother’s pantry always had Jiffy mix inside…cornbread muffins, blueberry muffins, apple cinnamon muffins…  It was a staple…And on Thanksgiving my mother cleared the shelves down at the Bi-Lo of all their Jiffy cornbread mix to make her ma-ma’s cornbread dressing…Of course, the ease of the directions meant as a kid I got to accomplish baking Jiffy muffins of all types frequently.  My mother always said the muffins tasted so much better when I made them…and even though I’m pretty sure you can’t mess up a Jiffy recipe – I ate up the praise and believed I had a special talent for Jiffy muffin baking…I certainly had a talent for eating half a tin of muffins slathered in butter…And even though now I’m a vegan my tastes haven’t changed much…I still need that sweet cornbread that I grew up eating…so I was disappointed to learn that the Jiffy mix of my childhood contains animal shortening –

INGREDIENTS: WHEAT FLOUR, DEGERMINATED YELLOW CORN MEAL, SUGAR, ANIMAL SHORTENING (CONTAINS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING: LARD, HYDROGENATED LARD, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED LARD), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: BAKING SODA, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, SALT, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID.

CONTAINS: WHEAT

 

 

 

 

 

What’s a vegan girl to do?  She hits the internet and starts looking for other Southern vegans with recipes for sweet cornbread like momma used to make straight out of the box with the Jiffy label!  I tried a few recipes before finding Savvy Brown’s Vegan Cornbread!  The recipe is easy and really is the closest thing to a Jiffy corn muffin but no animals were harmed!  It’s great with chili and even makes a great cornbread dressing (for another post)!

Sweet Vegan Cornbread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal (I like the real stone ground stuff, not Quakers)
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5tsp Ener-G egg replacer plus 2 tbsp of warm water*
  • 1 cup soy milk or almond milk (I use rice milk and the recipe worked fine.)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray or grease a 9 inch round cake pan or cast iron skillet (I like using my mom’s old skillet for this!)
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder.
  3. Ina small bowl pour warm water into egg replacer and stir until well blended and thick (like batter)
  4. Stir egg substitute mixture, milk and vegetable oil into dry ingredients until well combined.(Don’t over mix! The batter will be a little lumpy) Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

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Doggie Date Night – Dedicated to Stella

Poe and her sista from another mist Malli!

Stella and her sista from another mista Malli!

Wednesday night has been deemed Doggie date night in my house….It started a year or more ago when LC was working most Wednesday nights…The dogs and I would have dinner together, watch some TV and have special treat…just some alone time with my two fur kids…LC doesn’t work too many Wednesday nights anymore so we’ve welcomed her to our special night.

IMG_1326Originally, I tried watching an animal themed moved like Beverly Hills Chihuahua but they felt I insulted their intelligence….so now we watch Criminal Minds and Law & Order SVU.  As I type, I’m listening to Poe drink out of his bedside cup, yes, I typed cup…the dog likes a big cup to drink out of at night…Sasha is piled up in her bed fast asleep no doubt exhausted from her busy schedule of napping on her two different beds and the many rugs in the house…

IMG_1327Poe is a rescue dog – neglected and then tossed aside by someone…for no reason that would ever be good enough to forgive in my eyes…When he arrived at my house…he had no hair, mange and was under weight…Four months old…and didn’t know a day without hunger or feeling afraid…the first few months he and I bonded over warm antibiotic baths…and doses of medicine with meals.  His life is much different…he’s fat, happy and usually sprawled out on a piece of furniture…like he’s king of the castle.  I can’t imagine life without him and Sasha girl…I am lucky to have two healthy fur kids!

The past two weeks I’ve been following the story of my friend Libby’s rescue puppy Stella – a very cute and tiny white boxer baby…Unfortunately, Stella’s health problems cannot be fixed with baths and simple antibiotics…she’s already had one surgery and has had to spend much of her time at the animal hospital…Her young life hasn’t been easy…but Libby has opened her heart, house and wallet for this rescued baby…but the amazing thing about rescue dogs is that they rescue you right back…the feeling looks a lot like when the Grinch’s heart grows…I’m posting the link to Stella’s You Caring site that has been collecting donations to cover costs since last week.  As Stella still fights the good fight the bills are mounting up quickly…I know I wouldn’t be able to afford this kind of care on my own…so if you find yourself reading my blog…check out Baby Stella’s page. You can also now find Stella on Facebook – Help Stella Get Her Groove Back!

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What to do with all this plastic?

As I sit here inspecting my CD collection to trade in at the local FYE, I realize that this collection has been growing since middle school …which was before CD players came standard in cars…I stopped buying CDs a few years ago…uploaded the one I have to my ITunes library but have yet to part with them…CDs aren’t as cool as vinyl and I’m doubting anyone would Ooooh and Ahhhh over my mountain of shiny plastic cases…especially since it contains such gems as Nick Lachey’s Soulo and The Cutting Edge soundtrack…But as I sit here reflecting on my music taste through the years, I pause to question how I would store all of these in my car if blue tooth audio didn’t exist…

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My inspection has only yielded me about 20 odd CDs to trade-in…the observation that I have made is that any CD I bought before my IMG_2297ability to drive a car and after the invention of the IPod…is in near perfect condition…Unfortunately, changing CDs in a car was about as safe as texting and driving…just picture pressing the eject button slipping that CD between your lips while you open the next case while keeping one hand on the wheel and eyes on the road…it was a messy situation…little round discs flying every which way…so most of those got tossed in the seat or on the dashboard…Sure they invented that little visor storage system but you had to stare up at the visor to see the titles and sticking them back in while driving was near impossible…My Pieces of You by Jewel is scratched and smudged so it skips when played…those scratches and smudges remind me of my freshman year of college….sitting in Amber’s dorm room singing Foolish Games at the top of my lungs…the broken cases and worn out jackets let me know that this music was listened to over and over again…taken from car to house to dorm room to friend’s house and beyond…The DC Talk album Jesus Freak is in the worst condition…but it got me through college and my twenties…Pulled out when all hope seemed lost and I needed to find my way back to center….

Music has always been my safe space and emotional outburst…I still make mix CDs and I check ITunes on Tuesday mornings like a kid on Christmas for new music.  My stroll down my musical memory lane has given me a few hidden treasures…I will be listening to Garth Brooks before they day’s end.  Only one question remains….

What do I do with all of this plastic?

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Vegan Valentine’s Day Menu

Schedule a last-minute Valentine’s date with a vegan girl or gal you met last night?  Need a last-minute menu for your vegan Valentine?  Just realized you really want to go vegan today because your heart is so filled with love?  Well have I got a menu for you!

Tonight’s Valentine’s menu stars two new favorites from and inspired by Jason Wrobel’s vegan special on the Cooking Channel – Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta and Chocolate Avocado Pudding. Last night I did some prep work for my Valentine’s dinner – mostly so preparing dinner didn’t take the whole evening and partly because I wanted to post pictures.

Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta

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ingredients

 PASTA:

  •  1 tablespoons olive oil
  • One 8-ounce box regular or gluten-free angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup black olives, pitted and quartered, plus more for  garnish
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup raw  pumpkin seeds

PESTO:

  •  2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup  extra-virgin olive oil, preferably cold pressed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced  garlic
  • 2 teaspoons nama  shoyu or  tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon  sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch  cayenne pepper
  • Hemp seeds, for garnish

Directions

For the pasta: Bring a large pot of filtered water to a rapid boil. Add the olive oil and pasta to the water. Return to a boil. Cook uncovered until al dente, 6 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl and fold in the olives, bell peppers and pumpkin seeds. Mix well to combine and set aside.  For the pesto: Place the basil, olive oil, cilantro, pine nuts, lime juice, garlic, nama shoyu, salt, pepper and cayenne in a food processor. Process until semi-smooth, with a little bit of a chunky texture. Combine the noodles and pesto sauce with your hands and mix vigorously. Top with a sprinkle of hemp seeds, the reserved black olives, basil and pine nuts.

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The above recipe is straight from the cooking channel website – you can click the title and it will take you straight there.  The recipe is perfect as is but because I am me and we all have different tastes – I modify!

Notes and Modifications:

  1. This is a perfect dish for those trying to please non vegans
  2. I don’t add the cayenne (personal preference)
  3. Olives are frowned upon in half of my house so I skip the olives.
  4. Additional vegetables are nice – mushrooms, zucchini, squash, whatever you fancy!
  5. I like to put the entire pasta dish in a small pot just to heat up the pesto – not cook it.  Then Serve!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

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So Jason Wrobel made an amazing Chocolate Avocado Pudding on his special How to Live to 100 but when i started gathering ingredients I did not have hemp seeds on hand and was impatient to try an avocado pudding…so I stumbled upon a Five Minute Avocado Chocolate pudding on Kirbie’s Cravings.  The recipe on Kirbie’s Cravings is not vegan but with a simple modification from nonfat milk to non dairy milk of your choice – Vegan magic is made!

Ingredients:

1 ripe small or medium avocado 1/4 cup cocoa powder 1/3 cup raw agave nectar 1/4 cup Almond/Soy/Coconut Milk

Directions:

Blend all ingredients into a blender until smooth and creamy. You may need to add more agave nectar depending on the size of your avocado. It’s ready to eat immediately or you can also refrigerate.

Notes and Modifications:

  1. You can easily use Jason Wrobel’s recipe to make your own milk
  2. Top with coconut shreds, nuts, blueberries, etc.
  3. Add a teaspoon of vanilla to enhance chocolate flavor or use vanilla flavored milk
  4. This dessert will quickly become a staple

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and I hope you are spending it with the one or ones you love!

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Happy Blogiversary

I started this blog on the 2nd day of 2012…my intention was to chronicle the lengths I would go to and my attempts to pay off my law school loans because I was sure it was going to be comical…and I was sure that I’d have tons of time to work extra gigs and such…but turns out that there aren’t that many hours in a day…I did try my hand at being a part-time process-server, a recreation assistant for seniors and even some personal assistant work…I played the lottery…entered sweepstakes contests…filled out store surveys offering cash prizes but to no avail…so I quickly grew bored with my personal tragedies…and moved on to the fun things in life-like – vegan food, music and sharing life’s little moments…the name “Vegan Though You’re Not” really came from an angsty place…a friend was really negative about my choice to go vegan and it really frosted my vegan cookies…so my blog was reborn!  I’m not sure that friend even knows the blog exists or that I was even bothered by her words…and that’s OK because I think the blog has surpassed its angst ridden ways…hopefully it has improved my creative writing skills which have been sorely lacking the last few years due to that four-year stint using only legalese…I wouldn’t say I am the world’s most consistent blogger…vowing to do better will do me no good…it will serve to only ensure that I stop blogging all together…so I resolve to be happy with what I’ve created!

One milestone – I did get almost 200 hits one day because Chely Wright retweeted a post I wrote…my first celebrity retweet too!

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I look forward to sharing more…Thank you for reading…

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