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Weekly Vegan Meal Plan {Week 3}

Check out this week’s vegan meal plan. With pictures, recipe links and reviews, hopefully you will find something tasty to make! This week’s menu includes a pizza, ramen soup, a veggie burger and more….and a lot of fries!

Sunday: Nacho Pizza – Our Nacho Pizza was inspired by this recipe, but we really didn’t follow it all. Instead of homemade guacamole, we used prepackaged guacamole from Aldi’s. We topped the guacamole with the leftover quinoa taco “meat” from earlier in the week instead of using the taco meat recipe. We were due for a grocery trip and didn’t have many veggies left, so we topped it with some bell pepper and olives (on half – for Dana and me). Overall, this was just “eh” for us. It was more of a use-it-up recipe. However, with more toppings, I think it has potential.

Monday: Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes with Cheese Sauce and Avocado Arugula Cherry Tomato Salad – I chose these two recipes from the same blog. While the potatoes were baking, I made the cheese sauce and started the salad. I used frozen broccoli that didn’t roast very well in the oven. I recommend using fresh broccoli. The recipe made a ton of cheese sauce. The potato recipe was just okay. The kids don’t like sweet potatoes, but with the broccoli and cheese didn’t complain too much about eating it. The salad was a great complement to the potatoes. We all loved the salad and I see it being made a lot over the summer. I only used one carton of cherry tomatoes and one avocado, instead of the recommended two of each, and I thought the salad had enough “stuff.”

Tuesday: Spicy Sofritas Tofu Bowls – Have you had the Sofritas from Chipotle? This recipe is supposed to be a copycat of that. I was cautious in not making the sofritas too spicy, since I wanted to make sure the kids could eat it. I only used one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and one tablespoon of the adobo sauce in the sofritas sauce. This ended up being the perfect amount of heat for them. I may have broken the tofu up too much, as it looked like mush. But it was very flavorful! I made rice bowls with black beans, lettuce, tomato and salsa. Guacamole would have been a great addition, but we used it up on the Nacho Pizza.

Wednesday: Asian Chick’n Wrap with Spicy Tahini Sauce – This was a quick and easy, barely any cooking type of recipe. The original recipe called for Beyond Meat “Chicken” strips, but I have never seen these at my grocery store. I used Franklin Farms Chickenless Seitan. We realized only when putting the wraps together that we should have gotten two packages. So, these wraps were heavy on the salad and light on the “chicken.” Shoprite was out of tahini when we went grocery shopping and we never made it back this week to try and get more. We made the sauce with peanut butter instead and it was still delicious. We served the wraps with fries.

Thursday: Coconut Curry Ramen – Dana took a trip to HMart this week and picked up the noodles, shiitake mushrooms and bok choy that I used for this recipe. While the tofu baked, the rest of the recipe came together. So, this was made in about 30 minutes. We have made ramen before, but the addition of curry powder gave this ramen a unique flavor profile. We all enjoyed this dinner!

Friday: Lentil Sloppy Joes – Dana chose this as his recipe for the week. Neither me nor the kids really like lentils. But, when it’s your night to cook you get to pick the recipe. Dana made this in the Instant Pot, but there are also directions for cooking it in a slow cooker or on the stove top. We do not have liquid smoke so ours were missing the smoky flavor. When we did the grocery shopping Shoprite didn’t have coleslaw mix, so our sloppy joes were missing that as well. These weren’t bad, but we weren’t raving about them, as 3/4 of us don’t like lentils. We had these with some kettle potato chips.

Saturday: Veggie Burgers – We have eaten A LOT of veggie burgers over the past couple of months. However, my son was the first of us to tackle making homemade ones. This recipe was easy to make with a black bean base. Since any diced veggies of choice can be added, we added sauteed onion and zucchini. The recipe says it makes 4-6 burgers. However, we only got 3 burgers out of it. Luckily, we had enough ingredients to double it, so we ended up with 6 burgers. The burgers are good. They are soft and were falling apart a bit. But, they were tasty! We served these with fries.

Recommended Dinners of the Week: Coconut Curry Ramen, Asian Chick’n Wraps and the Avocado Arugula Cherry Tomato Salad.

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Weekly Vegan Meal Plan {Week 2}

Check out this week’s vegan meal plan. With pictures, recipe links and reviews, hopefully you will find something tasty to make! This week’s menu includes meatballs, tacos and breakfast for dinner.

Sunday: Cauliflower with Chimichurri Sauce, Tostones, Sauteed Zucchini and Rice and Gandules. This was my requested Mother’s Day Dinner that the family cooked for me.

Monday: Vegan Burritos – This was my son’s recipe for the week. I helped him, but it was actually easy to make. He made the seasoned corn and beans while I made the pico de gallo. We used store bought guacamole and cooked the rice in the rice cooker. We did not make the sundried tomato basmati rice and used plain white rice. These were easy and tasty!

Tuesday: Vegan Cauliflower Meatballs with Pasta – My daughter’s favorite meal before becoming vegan was spaghetti and meatballs. I’ve tried a couple of different meatball recipes but still haven’t found, “the one.” These required a bit of prep work and I thought I’d be turned off by the use of oats. The kids said that it reminded them of stuffing, which was a result of the Italian seasoning blend that we used. Overall, these get a not bad. I served with pasta and marinara sauce.

Wednesday: Vegan Breakfast Hash – Another breakfast for dinner recipe! The only change I made was omitting the vegan sausage. This was easy to cook. Vegetarians can add an egg on top. I served this with buttered toast. Everyone enjoyed this.

Thursday: Sticky Orange Tempeh with Maple Thyme Roasted Vegetables – Dana had to run out to the store Thursday morning to find some tempeh for me to make this. This was an easy to make recipe for those who like tempeh. However, after tonight we won’t be making tempeh again. It has nothing to do with this recipe. I may even try the sauce on tofu. It’s just that we’ve already tried tempeh several times and finally agreed that none of us actually like it!

Friday: Quinoa Taco Meat – This was Dana’s recipe of the week. I have to say, I’m not a fan of quinoa, as I find it to be a bit mushy. But after the quinoa is cooked in this recipe, it gets baked, which firms it up a little bit. Plus, it gets mixed with salsa, which gives it some flavor. Once we added all the toppings, it was a tasty taco. He made a cilantro lime rice to go with it.

Saturday: Tofu in Indian Simmer Sauce (Vegetarian, Not Vegan) – So, we didn’t actually “cook” tonight. We simmered tofu in a store bought, jarred sauce. And the sauce wasn’t vegan since it contained milk. We served it with naan, samosas and leftover cilantro lime rice for a super easy, lazy weekend dinner.

Recommended Dinners of the Week: Vegan Burritos and Vegan Breakfast Hash

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Five on Friday {Still Here….}

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Happy Friday. Yes, I took a three week long hiatus from the blog….I have not been motivated to sit down at the laptop to write after sitting and working on it all day. And…..I needed a break. But I came back strong with three posts this week (who am I?!)! I do enjoy writing, so hopefully, I’ve gotten my momentum back. I did realize while typing this post that I didn’t take any pictures this week, minus dinner photos! I hope all you moms had a wonderful Mother’s Day last Sunday! Here are five from this week:

1. Celebrations – This week we celebrated my mom’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, my niece’s birthday and Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, none of my family lives nearby so we weren’t able to have any socially distanced visits. Just three zoom calls this week to sing happy birthday and catch up.

2. Watching – This week our family binge watched Upload on Amazon Prime. The show takes place in the future, where when people die they can choose to be uploaded into a virtual afterlife. Nathan has died and ends up forming a friendship with his angel, Nora. It’s part sci-fi, part comedy and even part mystery. It is rated MA and there’s some language and sexual references. But the four of us loved this show!

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3. Reading – I think I’ve hit another reading slump. The last book that I finished was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. But that was almost a week ago and I am nowhere near finishing another book anytime soon. This is one of Moriarty’s older books that I hadn’t read. I enjoyed this book and have found that I like her older books more than her newer stuff.

4. Home Projects – So what have I been doing in the past three weeks? Well, we decided to tackle a bunch of house projects. My daughter decided she wanted to redo her room, which includes painting her walls. We are making her do it (with some help from Dana). In the meantime, Dana has been working on giving the kids’ bathroom a face-lift – some new paint, hanging some bead board, new trim, a new vanity, new lights, taking out the medicine cabinet that’s been there since we bought the house, etc. This has been a slow process since he is working during the day. But, it looks like we have plenty of time!

5. Podcasts – Recently, I have been listening to ALL the news podcasts: The Daily (New York Times), Start Here (ABC News), Up First (NPR), The Journal (WSJ) and The NPR Politics Podcast. I like information and facts. Social media is horrible and I’ve found that these podcasts keep me informed and up-to-date on the what’s going on in the world, usually in 30 minutes or less.

ICYMI this past week:

Tuesday I shared my April reads.

Thursday I shared our first weekly vegan meal plan.

Sharing with Friday Favorites. Have a great weekend!

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Weekly Vegan Meal Plan {Week 1}

Our family has been vegan now for almost 5 months now. Way back when, I used to post our weekly meal plans. I’d share them a week behind, so I could post pictures and give a short review – did we like the recipe?, what changes we made, etc. During this pandemic, besides working from home, most of our time has been spent in the kitchen cooking. So, I thought that I’d start sharing our weekly vegan plan. With the current meat shortage, I feel like more people will be cooking meatless dinners a little more often. I am not here to convert anyone. We became vegan for health reasons. If you are already vegan, maybe you haven’t tried some of these recipes. And if you’re not, maybe some of these vegan dinners will appeal to you and make you want to try one for your next Meatless Monday!

Sunday: Mediterranean Vegan Eggplant Roll Ups – This meal was pretty labor intensive, which is why I chose to make it on a Sunday. I served it with a side of pasta. In my opinion, the end result wasn’t worth all of the effort. My daughter didn’t like the cauliflower rice (and she usually likes everything!). Not worth repeating.

Monday: Simple Crispy Vegan Falafel Bowls -This was my son’s recipe for the week. Our family loves falafel and probably have it at least once a month. This particular recipe called for red pepper flakes which gave the falafel a little kick. We cooked these in the air fryer. They came out crispy on the outside but a bit mushy on the inside. I think we may have to try frying the falafel to get them really crispy.

Tuesday: Vegan Caramelized Mac n’ Cheese – We are huge cheese fans, and it’s definitely one of the foods that I have been missing since becoming vegan. I’d rather omit the vegan “cheese” in a recipe since it does not taste anything like the real thing. This particular recipe intrigued me because it uses eggplant as the base of the sauce, with the promise of the sauce not tasting like the vegetable. Well, we did not agree. We all could taste the eggplant, which wasn’t bad, but it doesn’t pass for mac and cheese. The kids were not fans at all. Not worth repeating.

Wednesday: Vegan Bombay Potatoes – We have made a variety of different Indian inspired dishes since becoming vegan. This dish is made of chickepeas and potatoes in a spiced tomato sauce. I served it over rice with a side of naan. This was one of my daughter’s favorite meals of the week and she’s already asked me to make it again!

Thursday: Vegan French Toast – My daughter does not enjoy finding recipes, nor does she enjoy cooking….baking is a totally different story. We are such opposites! On her nights to cook she tries to find the easiest recipes she can. Breakfast for dinner has always been a hit with the fam. This week she chose french toast. Instead of the ciabatta the recipe called for, I had her use a regular loaf of white bread. While she cooked the french toast, I made sauteed apples that we served on top. This was the first time that we had french toast in months. It was tasty and we will be making it again.

Friday: Black Bean Vegan Empanadas – Dana chose this for his recipe of the week. The recipe made enough for each of us to have two empanadas….although we all could have eaten at least two more! These were really tasty and we can’t wait to try different types of fillings using the phyllo dough as the empanada dough. He served these with sauteed garlic spinach.

Saturday: Taco Pasta – I switched dinners on the meal plan mid-week and didn’t realize that I ended up with two dinners back-to-back with similar flavor profiles. I also didn’t realize when I went to make this that I was out of taco seasoning. So I used fajita seasoning instead, which definitely changed the flavor a bit. Overall, this was an okay dish and one of the few taco pasta recipes that I found that didn’t call for some type of plant-based “meat.”

Recommended dinners of the week: Black Bean Empanadas, Vegan Bombay Potaotes and Vegan French Toast.

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April Reads {2020}

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Another month, another book link up. Once again, I’m sharing my April reads with Steph and Jana. This month’s reading was filled with books off my own shelf and kindle books. It was a pretty good reading month and while May has been off to a slow start, I hope to keep up the reading momentum. Here are my April reads:

3 stars:

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Collision by Jeff Abbott – Ben Forsberg, a private corporate consultant, and “Pilgrim,” a former CIA agent end up working together to find out who has set the two of them up and tried to kill them both. While I enjoy fast-paced, action, thrillers, I realized that I would have enjoyed watching this as a movie, versus reading it.

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Somebody’s Daughter by Rochelle Weinstein – Emma and Bobby Ross live with their twin daughters, in “The Ross,” the hotel that they own. The book opens on the night of their daughters’ 15th birthday party. On this night, they learn that a private moment between Zoe and a classmate was videotaped and has gone viral. This event has a tremendous impact on each of the family members as they try to recover and seek justice. I thought this book was relevant in portraying the dangers of social media and was an okay read.

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The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan – (c/o Netgalley) Ally Anderson is adopted. Her daughter, Kylie, suffers from severe allergies that may be genetic. In order to help her daughter, Ally takes a DNA test and discovers that she has an aunt that lives nearby. Ally and Kylie end up befriending Micki and her family, while Ally gets to learn more about her past and seek treatment for Kylie. I felt like there was too much going on in this book, with Kylie’s autoimmune disorder, Ally connecting with her biological family, oh and did I mention the divorce she is currently in the process of getting?!

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Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin – This nonfiction book follows Greg Mortenson from his failed attempt in the early 90’s to climb K2 to building over 50 schools, health centers and women’s centers. This book had been on my to read list for a long time. We have a mini free library at work and a coworker saw this book on the shelf and recommended I read it, which was the catalyst of me finally giving it a try.
I did enjoy learning more about Afghanistan and Pakistan and I do believe Mortenson has good intentions. However, this book was way too slow for me and then I read about the inaccuracies and controversies of the book.

4 stars:

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Before the Fall by Noah Howley – A private jet on its way from Martha’s Vineyard to New York crashes into the ocean. The only two survivors are Scott Burroughs, a painter, and 4 year-old J.J. who are both thrown into the spotlight as authorities try to figure out what happened. The story switches back and forth pre and post crash as well follow the different characters who were on board the plane. It was an engaging read that my husband, teen daughter and I have all now read.

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The Best of Friends by Lucinda Berry – (c/of Netgalley) Lindsey, Dani and Kendra have been best friends since they were children. Now, they all have boys the same age. Except after a sleepover gone bad, one boy is dead, one boy is brain dead in a coma, and the only boy who knows what happened that night has become mute and is in the midst of an emotional breakdown. As the story unfolds, lots of secrets are revealed as the parents and police try to figure out what happened that night. There was almost too much going on and I felt the ending was unfinished. However, I found it to be an riveting read. I read an ARC copy of this book from Netgalley, which comes out in August. This was my first Berry book and I didn’t realize that she has written so many others. I will definitely be checking out some of her other books.

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Long Bright River by Liz Moore – Kacey and Mickey grew up being raised by their grandmother, after their mother dies of a drug overdose. Kacey is a drug addict and lives on the streets. Mickey is now a cop, working the streets of Philadelphia while also trying to keep tabs on her sister. There’s a series of murders that Mickey is working on and when she realizes that she hasn’t seen Kacey in awhile, she becomes obsessed with finding her. As the story unfolds, there are so many layers revealed. It’s a dark and heavy, bu really good read!

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Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood – This is the autobiography of Mei-Ling Hopgood. She was adopted from China at 8 months by Rollie and Chris Hopgood. Her parents also adopted two boys from South Korea and they all grew up happily in Michigan. As a young adult, during a visit with Sister Maureen, the nun who helped facilitate Mei-Ling’s adoption, it is brought up that she can likely find her birth parents. Eventually Mei-Ling takes Sister Maureen up on her offer and is contact with her birth parents and family. What follows are trips abroad as she gets to know her biological family. I don’t know if this book was so compelling to me because, I myself am adopted from South Korea. However, I enjoyed seeing how Mei-Ling was able to balance both worlds and families.

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On Dublin Street by Samantha Young – Joss Butler made a home in Scotland, after her parents and baby sister died and she was old enough to leave the United States. Ellie is looking for a roommate to share her beautiful apartment with and she and Joss become fast friends. Unfortunately, Ellie’s brother Braden happens to be very good looking and used to getting what he wants. Joss falls for his charm and the two end up in a friends with benefits arrangement. But will it become serious? I got this book way back when Fifty Shades of Grey was big and it’s been sitting on my shelf since then. I finally decided to read it and found it was an addicting, steamy, contemporary romance.

Five on Friday {Just Another Friday….}

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Hello Friday!  Hope everyone is still doing well during these uncertain times. Obviously, there’s not a lot going on here or likely anywhere! Here are five from another unexciting week:

1. Birthday Celebrations –   This week we helped celebrate two more birthdays.  One was a birthday parade for my daughter’s friend and the other was for our neighbor. 

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2. Reading – This week I finished reading Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood.  This is a non-fiction book about the author, who was adopted as an infant. She is able to track down her birth parents and travels to Taiwan to meet them and her siblings.   

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3. Watching – This past week Dana and I binge watched season 1 of Jack Ryan.  I wrote about this on Wednesday’s Happy List because it was my first true binge watch in forever (eight episodes in 24 hours).  We haven’t started season 2 yet (hopefully this weekend!) because I will not want to leave my couch until I’ve watched every episode.

I may have a thing for John Krasinski, but if you haven’t seen his show, Some Good News (SGN) on Youtube, I HIGHLY recommend! It highlights all the positive things going on during this time……and John Krasinski!! I linked the first episode here. I literally laugh and cry during every episode.

4. Cooking – This week’s menu included Ratatouille Pasta, Veggie Teriyaki Stir Fry Noodles, Basil Chickpea Curry, Smoky Sweet Potato Tempeh Scramble Tacos and Vegetable Vegan Lasagna. 

5. Family Game Night – We take turns picking shows to watch as a family and games to play on game nights. My husband chose Monopoly Ultimate Banking. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a game of Monopoly in my life. We set a 1 hour time limit for the game and were fine when it was over. The good thing about this game is that it’s electronic so there’s no paper money to have to deal with.

ICYMI: My Happy Lists for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sharing with Friday Favorites!  Have a great weekend!

Happy List {April 22, 2020}

A mid-day Happy List! Here’s three things making me happy today:

1. Some Good News Episode 4 – Have you watched this show yet?! If not, what are you waiting for?!!

2. Jack Ryan Season 1 – I don’t know what box I was living in, but I didn’t realize that John Krasinski plays Jack Ryan! I can’t believe that I haven’t posted this on my happy list yet. I can’t remember the last time that I did a binge watch of a show….like a real binge watch. But this past weekend my husband and I watched all eight episodes of season 1 of this show in 24 hours. It’s a little violent and I have to not watch the screen. But it’s action and suspense and a perfect escape.

3. Earth Day – Happy Earth Day! While we have all this craziness going on, Mother Earth is benefiting from us all staying inside. Plus, all of the signs of spring give us hope that there will be brighter times ahead.

Happy List {April 21, 2020}

Another afternoon happy list. Here are today’s three!

1. Clearance Easter candy – I had to run to Walmart last night to try to find Tylenol (score!). While I was there, they had Easter candy for 75-90% off. I might have bought a bag of twix and m&ms for the family.

2. Family Walk – Normally, my husband and I take a daily after work walk (weather dependent). Yesterday, the whole family enjoyed a walk together.

3. Netflix Documentaries – I’m always looking for something new to watch and I am a documentary fan, if I find the subject interesting. I’m going to have to check out some of these. I already watched Miss Americana and it was so good!

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Happy List {April 20,2020}

Well, it appears that I’m taking the weekends off from posting a Happy List! Here’s a late edition for today!

1. Life Is Good – I can add to this I have my family and I have good health. Just this small reminder everyday, is worth being happy about.

2. Cats Making Bad Decisions – I’m a cat mom of two and yes, cats can make bad decisions! If you are a cat lover, this post will hopefully make you smile too!

3. Lip Sync Battle – So, if you haven’t noticed yet, I may have a thing for John Krasinski. Seeing this video of him lip singing Proud Mary definitely made me smile!

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Happy List {April 17,2020}

Happy Friday! We made it through another week. Here is today’s happy:

1. Mocktails – For my daughter’s birthday we made virgin strawberry pina coladas. The kids were so excited about their special drinks that I realized this is something that we will have to make more of in quarantine.

2. Family Game Night – I had my son pick the family activity yesterday and he chose Apples to Apples. We hadn’t played this one in awhile, so it was a fun time.

3. Saved By the Bell – I grew up watching this show and now it’s getting a reboot! Although an air date has not been released yet, the show will eventually stream on NBC’s new Peacock streaming service sometime later this year. With many of the original cast returning, I’ll have to check this out!