Mushroom “Beef” & Broccoli

Mushroom “Beef” & Broccoli

There is no Chinese food quite like the kind you will find in St. Louis. Period. Hands Down. Other cities can’t hold a candle to it.  It’s so delicious it’s indescribable, but I will try to do it justice.

For all intents and purposes, I will be referring to the Asian cuisine as “Chinamen” from here on out. It is the politically incorrect term of endearment that us St. Louisans use to describe our beloved hometown staple. And no, we’re not talking P.F Chang’s or Panda Express..We’re talking about the mom & pop shops nestled between liquor stores and nail salons. We’re talking about eateries equipped only to place & receive orders, where seating is minimal and the soy sauce packets are plenty.

So, what makes “Chinamen” so good here in the STL?

1. FRIED RICE

When we say fried rice, we mean business. If your fried rice is light brown with peas & carrots in it..your rice is NOT from the Chinamen. No ma’am. Veggies or not, the complexion of your fried rice must be similar in color to a salted caramel or darker. Real Chinamen fried rice is still delicious sans soy sauce..and if you don’t get high cholesterol just by looking at it…that ain’t the rice for you, boo.  

2. FRIED ANYTHING REALLY

As if the fried rice isn’t already heaven, a true Chinamen will also have an artery-clogging assortment of deep fried items to choose from..many of which are not necessarily considered chinese food to begin with. Fried chicken, fried shrimp, fried fish, fried crab sticks, fried mozzarella sticks.

Hell, depending on the place, if you ask them to batter & deep fry a whale’s scrotum they might just do it for you.

3. ST. PAUL SANDWICHES

Ahh, a Missouri delicacy. The St. Paul sandwich is so unique it’s earned itself it’s very own Wikipedia page (no joke, just google it). It’s an egg foo young patty topped with pickles, onion, & mayo on two slices of white sandwich bread…cause you know..buns are for those uppity restaurants. If you really want to intensify this eating experience…ask for it with cheese!

If you ever decide to cross the Mississipi & come to St. Louis, immediately upon seeing the Gateway Arch you need to stop what you’re doing, find yourself a black friend, and have them escort you (during daytime hours of course) to the nearest poverty stricken, borderline gentrified, predominately African-American neighborhood for some Chinamen.

It’ll be the best thing your taste buds will have ever known.

CHINAMEN…GONE MEATLESS?

One day my love and I decided to get dinner from our Chinamen of choice, and I realized that with my meatless lifestyle I had to forego my regular order and (gasp) try something new. I settled on a Veggie St. Paul sandwich with cheese. Never one to leave me feeling left out, my husband decided to also try something new on the menu. He settled on Beef & Broccoli. He loved it so much it got my wheels turning. I just KNEW I had to find a way to make a meatless version of his new fave.

I’ve told you all once before…I’m incredibly lazy. That being said, your girl was not about to create her own beef substitute measuring out & kneading mixtures of coconut flour, nutritional yeast & what not. That’s just not my ministry.

Enter…MUSHROOM CAPS!

I’ve always been a fan of mushrooms, but when you take a portobello cap, slice it and season it a certain way..it’s very reminiscent of beef. I mean, I’d already done something similar with my Mushroom Burgers, but this time, I knew I was on to something.

Now, this here recipe STILL ain’t got nothing on real St. Louis Chinamen, but if you want to stay in the house and save a few coins, give this recipe a try:

Mushroom “Beef” & Broccoli

mushroom beef n brocc.jpg

 
SAUCIN’..I’m SAUCIN’…I’m SAUCIN…on you..

THE SAUCE PREP

sauce..beef n brocc

1⁄2 cup beef broth

2 tbsp Soy Sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

THE GOODS PREP

1 tbsp Olive Oil

2 Portobello Mushroom caps, thinly sliced

Salt & Pepper

1 white onion, chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

1 broccoli crown, cut into florets

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, make your sauce by whisking broth, soy sauce, brown sugar and cornstarch. Set Aside
  2. In a large wok or skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat
  3. Add mushroom caps and saute with salt & pepper until fragrant
  4. Remove mushrooms from the skillet and set aside
  5. To the skillet, add onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes
  6. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds
  7. Add sauce and broccoli
  8. Cover and cook until broccoli is bright green
  9. Add mushroom caps back into the pan:
  10. Stir well and cook for another 2-4 minutes

And enjoy!

I think this is pretty amazing on it’s own but you can always pair this with fried rice, but regular rice works too. 

Stay (mostly) meatless!

-A

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Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

ER-MAH-GERRRD!! You guys, I had no clue how delicious these things would turn out. I’d never made asparagus before, the sound of the word alone made me turn up my nose.

I’d seen people wrap their asparagus in bacon before. Though it seemed tempting for a second, pork and I just don’t agree. So what’s a girl to do with a new piece of produce?

Cover it in cheese & roast that bad boy!

I received my asparagus as part of another veggie haul from a friend of the family. I’m glad I got it when I did because I’d just finished paying bills, and I had about $7 to my name. While I’m certain that my love would have no problem at all bringing home a pizza, I just cringe when I see too many food purchases on the bank statements, especially when there’s a kitchen full of food. Y’all know how I am about my coins, so I figured hey…time to make a miracle happen in this kitchen.  

PREP TIME

My asparagus was right on the edge of going bad, so if this ever happens to you, know that you can still salvage it by washing off the liquid really well in the sink, and cutting off the stems and tips. Be advised, produce going bad (especially the green stuff) will stink. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  

ROAST IT BABY

This one took no time at all. I ended up pairing it with a zucchini/squash casserole that I’d previously made on Sunday, and some honey garlic potatoes. Definitely making this simple side dish again!

parm asp 2

Ingredients

(I didn’t really measure anything this time, so use your best judgment on what works for you)

parm asp 1

Asparagus

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Olive Oil

Shredded Parmesan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prep Asparagus by washing and cutting down to size
  3. Place asparagus spread out on greased cookie sheet
  4. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes
  6. Remove from oven
  7. Sprinkle shredded parmesan over asparagus
  8. Return to oven for another 10 minutes

And enjoy!

Stay (mostly) meatless!

-A

Carrot Chips – 2 Delicious Ways!

Carrot Chips – 2 Delicious Ways!

You guys…it happened. I almost gave in. It was just before pay day, my stomach growled and I ransacked my cabinets looking for a fix.

It was like a cruel & surreal joke..cereal, no milk…peanut butter, no jelly. What was I to do? My cup of hunger-induced tears ranneth over.

It doesn’t help one bit that I live next door to a McDonald’s, and the smell of chicken nuggets rose throughout my building. As much as I like to avoid McDeath, that chicken nugget smell really takes me back..

Then I found it.. a small mostly eaten bag of veggie chips. The blend included sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, YOU NAAAAME IT!…

But for some reason, I just wasn’t feeling it. I’d already picked out a majority of the sweet potato chips, my favorite of all the chips in the bag.

Bruh..

Remember that gargantuan, donated bag of carrots I mentioned in my  ‘Brown Sugar Baby Carrots’ post?

Behold my loves, Carrot Chips!

carrot chips prep

They’re so easy to make. I recommend making a bunch at one time because once you start snacking it’ll be hard to put these babies down. Be advised these are super delicious so prepare yourselves.

If you happen to find yourself binge eating carrot chips, no worries! They’re lower in calories and fat than traditional potato chips.

So “romaine” calm & “carrot” on. (haha, I couldn’t help myself with that one)

Pack some for your lunch or keep them in the car to keep you from pulling into the drive thru after work.

 

And for added measure, I’ve given you 2, count em..TWO seasoning options.

So whether you prefer a savory snack, or if you’ve got a sweet tooth, these are sure to satisfy either way.

carrot chips finished
Carrot Chips! It beats buying a can of Pringles

Carrot Chips 2 Ways

 

Ingredients:

2 or 3 large carrots

Olive Oil

Seasoning Options

  1. Salt & Pepper, Parsley for garnish
  2. Cinnamon & Nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Using either a knife or mandolin slicer, cut carrots into circular disks
  3. Toss carrots in olive oil & whichever seasoning option you like (see above)
  4. Spread evenly across greased baking sheet
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes

Enjoy! Leave a comment & let me know if you love it!

-A

Brown Sugar Baby Carrots

Brown Sugar Baby Carrots

I have a close friend of the family who is like a mom to me. Lately, she’s been receiving an abundance of leftover produce from her employer, items that regularly would go bad or be thrown out. Luckily for me, she had me in mind. She will call or text me at work to let me know that she has another haul of veggies and that she’s headed my way.

First of all, y’all just don’t know how this generosity blesses me AND my wallet. That’s grocery shopping I don’t have to do! (Cues shout music)

fresh carrots
Ehh..what’s up doc?

Her most recent haul included a large bag of carrots. This bag was huge, and a bit overwhelming. Now I couldn’t be out here in these streets on my Bugs Bunny ministry, chomping down on these bad boys, so I took some time to prep said carrots & came up with a game plan.

I’ll be real with you guys, prepping your produce is a pain, but it’s definitely worth it because it ends up saving you time during the week. I’ve found that if I don’t buckle down and get on with my prep, I’m less likely to ever touch that piece of produce during the week, and it ends up sitting in the crisper until it’s not salvageable. How many times have you all done the same exact thing? Bought a bunch of fresh produce, put it in the fridge, and never touched it again?

Yeah, I’m not about that life.

For me, prepping fresh carrots means thoroughly washing them in the sink. Then I cut off the stems and tips using a large knife. Next, using a potato peeler, I’ll peel each carrot so that it’s void of any brown spots or imperfections. Depending on the recipe, I’ll then cut the carrots down to size

cut carrots

Of course, you can always just buy a pack of baby carrots, but preparing them yourself can save you a few coins. I just so happened to receive mine completely unprocessed, so some sort of prep was necessary. Honestly, I’ve got more carrots than I know what to do with, so bear with me because carrots might be the star of the show for the next few recipes I post.

Haters gon hate, but I don’t really carrot all. (lol see what I did there?)

 

Stumped & in need of a side dish? Check out this easy carrot recipe using only 5 ingredients. 

Give it a try & drop a comment to let me know if you love it!

brown sugar baby carrots

Brown Sugar Baby Carrots

Ingredients:

  1. 1 package baby carrots, or regular carrots cut to size
  2. 1/2 cup butter
  3. 3 tablespoons honey
  4. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  5. Chopped dill

Directions:

  1. Wash, peel, and cut carrots if necessary
  2. Place carrots in large pot of salted water
  3. Bring carrots to a boil, about 10-15 minutes
  4. Drain
  5. Return empty pot to stove
  6. Melt butter
  7. Stir in honey & brown sugar
  8. Add carrots and stir to coat
  9. Allow carrots to cook another 5 minutes
  10. Garnish with dill

Stay (mostly) meatless 🙂

-A

Banana Oat Pancakes (Dairy & Gluten Free)

Banana Oat Pancakes (Dairy & Gluten Free)

If you’re just now catching up with me, welcome to my (mostly) meatless world!

Now what kind of woman would I be if I didn’t give you guys a post with a recipe? That’s what you’re here for right? (and of course to take in all of my awesomeness, jk jk) 😉

And what better way to kick off the recipes than with…BREAKFAST?! (woot woot!)

This recipe has me so excited I just couldn’t wait to share.

Pardon my midwest slang, but I can eat breakfast food ALL DAY, ERRDAY. Lol.

Seriously though, I live for all things breakfast, brunch, all of that. Of course, the usual breakfast template for the western world is riddled with high-fat processed meats and meat byproducts. We don’t have to limit ourselves to this alone though.

I’m here to tell you: Sausage, Bacon, & Steak, does not a breakfast make!

(Not always, at least)

I promise you can have an amazing, fulfilling, easy to make breakfast, without any of these western breakfast staples.

I heard a song once called “Banana Pancakes” by a guy named Jack Johnson. It’s the perfect Saturday morning lazy song. And up until I heard it, I’d only ever tasted pancakes made from a mix of flour, eggs, & milk. Ihop & Aunt Jemima could do no wrong in my eyes. The song alone was catchy, but when I figured out how to make pancakes out of bananas….oh, baby it was on like popcorn!

If you’re lazy like me, don’t worry, the base recipe only calls for 3 main ingredients.

*If you like fluffier pancakes add about ¼ tsp baking powder

Banana Oat Pancakes

Ingredients:

  1. 2 Very Ripe Bananas (the blacker the better, you’ll need the mushiness)
  2. 1 Cup oats
  3. 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Mash Bananas with a fork
  2. Place mashed bananas in a blender
  3. Add Oats and Vanilla extract to blender
  4. Blend
  5. Heat skillet with oil
  6. Pour mixture into skillet
  7. Top uncooked pancake with your add-ins (See Below)
  8. Flip and cook the other side
  9. Once finished cooking on both sides, transfer to plate & enjoy!

The best part about this recipe is that you can add in whatever you want to the base recipe.

A few flavor combinations to try include:

  • Shredded Carrot & Walnuts
  • Chopped Apples & Cinammon
  • Chocolate Chips & Raspberries
  • Pineapples & Coconut flakes

Or my personal favorite…Blueberries!

3 ingredient no egg pancakes
Banana Oat Pancakes with Blueberries. Issa win!

 

You can pair these beauties with some syrup, honey, agave, Nutella, cookie butter, or even fresh fruit.

And that’s breakfast, baby!

Give this quick breakfast recipe a try & let me know if you love it.

Stay (mostly) meatless  :-*

-A

How Sway?! : 3 Ways To Stay Meatless While on the Move

How Sway?! : 3 Ways To Stay Meatless While on the Move

Shortly after graduating high school in 2009, my best friend of 15+ years started her own theater company. I’ve never been much of a visionary, but I’ve always been kind of a worker bee…a get-it-done type of girl. You give me a task, and I’m on it! Now, I’ve always had a love for the arts, so when my friend told me what she’d set out to do, I knew I wanted to be front & center to help her bring her dream to fruition.

 

madame director lady stg mgr
Opening Night with  Lauron Cosby, Artistic Director  of TLT Productions, LLC

 

Around the summer of 2014, she asked me to serve as Stage Manager for her upcoming stage play. I had never stage managed before, but I quickly found out that I had a certain knack for it. If the saying goes “all the world’s a stage”, then the Stage Manager is God. Lbvs!

They are responsible for lighting & sound cues, placement of props on the set, carrying out the director’s vision, and making sure all actors are where they’re supposed to be.

Three years later, and now I’ve stage managed shows working with award winning lighting designers, and local start-up organizations. 

stage manager 2

Which brings me to say this: It is sooooo hard to eat meatless while on the move!

During the weeks leading up to opening night of a show, I will typically leave work, go straight to rehearsal, and not get home until well after 10 or 11 pm. I don’t always have the time or the energy to meal prep beforehand, and by the time I’m leaving rehearsal there’s nothing open except for fast food restaurants.

So how do I keep from giving in to a late night trip to Jack-in-the-Crack?

Here are 3 ways I’ve learned to stay Meatless while on the Move:

1) Utilize Gas Stations

QuikTrip is my absolute go-to gas station. If I’m on a road trip I refuse to stop for gas unless there’s a QuikTrip nearby, mainly because I just KNOW their bathrooms are the cleanest by far. But before I went meatless, the hot dogs alone were heaven. Now they have the nerve to launch the QT Kitchen?! Just take all my money, QuikTrip! Just take it!!  Lol. But seriously, I love heading to QuikTrip after late night rehearsals because they’re always open, and they always have salads, sandwiches, wraps, and fresh fruit cups….amongst the Slurpees, ice cream, snack cakes, and other guilty pleasures. I mean, where else can you get 2/$1 bananas at 11:30 pm with no grocery store in sight? So,  if you’re trying to remain meatless, it’s late at night, you’re in a bind, and you have enough self-control to bypass the donut section, by all means, please find a QuikTrip.

2) Portion Out Your Lunch

I’m very blessed to receive free lunches through my employer. The head cook knows me so well, he’s begun to bring me extra vegetables rather than throw them out. If he makes lasagna, he always has a small veggie version available for me and I love him so much for it. On rehearsal days, I’ll order a soup & a salad, but if I know I won’t have time to stop for food later, I’ll eat my soup & a piece of fruit, and save my salad for later. The same strategy can work for you though, even if you don’t get your lunch free from work, just read on to #3

3) Don’t Be A Stranger to Delivery

If you happen to have your lunch delivered to you at work, order a large enough portion that you can split it in half for later. That way when you’re leaving work and riding past your fave fast food joint, you won’t mindlessly pull into the drive through because you know you already have a meal option that you enjoyed from earlier.

I will also order my favorite meatless foods to be delivered to me at the theater during rehearsal. My absolute faves for nights like those is Jimmy John’s and Snarf’s. JJ’s has a really tasty vegetarian sandwich (#6 I believe), and they really are freaky fast! But my absolute faves from Snarf’s are the Eggplant Parmesan and Mushroom Provolone sandwiches. Both are meat free and absolutely delicious! For portion control, I’ll request that they cut my sandwich in four parts, rather than two. Doing so forces me to chew my food more, which helps me to feel fuller faster.

Of course, nothing beats a good ‘ole meal prep, but let’s be real..life happens and we don’t always have the will to do it. These 3 strategies have been my lifesavers, especially during long hours of rehearsals, and especially during tech week.

Give these 3 strategies a try during your busy days, and even on your not-so-busy ones. And if you happen to give in and go for a QT hot dog, don’t beat yourself up about it…just grab a salad on your way to the register 😉

‘Til next time guys, stay (mostly) meatless.

-A

Married To A Meat Eater: Keeping the peace in my fridge & my marriage

Married To A Meat Eater: Keeping the peace in my fridge & my marriage

My husband and I met in 5th grade. Of course, it sounds really cute & romantic, but I promise the process was anything but magical. We each had many obstacles to overcome during our adolescence and early adult lives, but thanks to the rise of social media networking and parents who paid the phone bills, we were able to cultivate our relationship throughout the years. We broke up & made up many times. We dated other people and tried to carry on our lives apart. Our love grew and matured like a well cared for plant. Eventually, we would always come back to each other. And once some of those obstacles were removed permanently, we headed right down to the courthouse & got married.

15183877_1285190118167971_490116181_o

It was one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life.

A friend reminded me not too long ago that people search this whole world searching for the kind of love we have. That being said I had an epiphany:

LOVE MAKES PEOPLE FAT

Yep, I said it. Love makes people fat. Nevermind genetic predisposition, the overabundance of processed foods, lack of nutrient-exercise balance, or whatever else they’re saying these days. Never fear my fellow foodies, I have found the real culprit to all the fatness!

(In my Jilly from Philly voice) “Ooooooooh ooooooh…It’s Looooooove.”

I mean, think about it…when you first start dating….

  • You don’t go for a 5k run & a movie do you?NO! You go out for DINNER and a movie.
  • You don’t wake up after a night of Netflix & chill to a granola bar in bed, right? NO! You wake up to a real BREAKFAST in bed (unless he’s a douche btw)
  • And when he starts messing up & wants to get back on your good side, do you think he’s bringing you flowers and a fruit cup? NO MA’AM! Flowers & CHOCOLATE it is!

Now I recognize that we are a society that interacts and bonds with each other over food. I mean, the sure fire way to make sure that everyone comes to the office party is to at least have a potluck, or a chili cook-off, or a cake walk, hell SOMETHING!

I was a residential advisor and a member of a sorority in college. And I guarantee you that if the events we organized did not contain food…oh, baby the attendance was sure to be low! Guaranteed!

And if you’ve ever been to ANY urban black church function, you grit your teeth through the half-day long sermons knowing that the program explicitly stated that “Refreshments Will Be Served Following Service”. And you go, not just to fellowship, but because refreshments usually means a restaurant sized to-go plate stuffed with the main dish, at least 2 sides, a roll or biscuit, a dessert AND a drink.

Jesus Christ himself, the ultimate example of unconditional love,  even said “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20 ESV)”

Don’t let those 40 days & nights of fasting fool you…Jesus got hungry too, boo!

LOVE FOR FOOD, FOOD FOR LOVE

For my husband and I specifically, food has always held a special place in our hearts… It is the running joke amongst friends that the few most intense arguments we’ve had have been over food. They ain’t wrong though. To this day, I won’t let him live down our epic frosted animal cracker quarrel or the grilled cheese fiasco of 2013. That was a dark time for us, but God delivers. SHONDOOO!!!!

So for me to make the decision to go meatless, oh honey he was NOT having it!

I would make these full plates of garden-grown deliciousness..really thinking I was doing the dang thang..only to find McDonald’s, Rally’s, & Taco Bell listed on the bank statements multiple times.

Now as a single girl it was nothing for me to live on oatmeal & salad, but I realized real quick that if I wanted us to both benefit from a healthier lifestyle, I had to think of ways for us both to find more variety. When you’re raised on the cooking of a Mississippi-born grandmother, healthy eating literally puts your system in shock. I had to figure out how to cook in a way that ensured we received great nutrition without having to feel like we’re eating unseasoned air.

YouTube was and still is my saving grace. If there’s a piece of produce I’ve never heard of before in my life, you’d better believe YouTube has the tea on how to cut it, how to cook it, and all you’d ever care to know about its nutritional value. Like rutabagas…what the HELL do you do with a rutabaga?

YouTube be like “It’s cool boo, I got you. Now click on a video, any video”.

He couldn’t stand them before, but my husband now eats mushrooms.

Thanks, YouTube!

KEEPING PEACE IN THE FRIDGE

“So how do y’all meals go if he eats meat & you don’t?”

It’s surprisingly easy, actually. Western society has somehow conditioned us to believe that our meals won’t be satisfying and fulfilling unless they contain a meat, a bread, a veggie, and maybe a dessert. It’s just not true. You can be fully satisfied without following this formula. As for me, when I cook I’ll fix it up exactly how I ate before I went meatless..it’s tempting to nibble but I’ve trained myself to just make my plate omitting everything I can’t have and loading up on the rest to compensate. For example, if I make loaded sweet potatoes, I’ll top his with cheese, green onions, tomatoes, & bacon. Mine will have the exact same toppings, minus the bacon.

Or, if I have an abundance of ingredients, I’ll make two versions. One for me, one for him. This option is a little harder if you’re short on cash or short on time, but it is an option nonetheless.

As for eating out, I’ve found that ordering the vegetarian versions of my favorite foods is actually a money saver. A chicken bacon ranch foot long at subway will easily run you about $7-$8. But that veggie delight? 5 or 6 bucks, easy! (That’s 1 or 2 extra dollars you can put towards some subway cookies, fyi 😉

Speaking of cookies, I will say this… Don’t think that being meat free always means being healthy. A vegetarian eating 5 bags of potato chips in one sitting is no healthier than a meat eater polishing off a Double Rallyburger with bacon. Junk food is just that. Junk.

Now I’ve learned that the best way for me to keep myself from junk is to make it hard to access. I’m quite lazy, to be honest. And it’s particularly difficult for me to part with my money, especially around pay day. So I make it a point to fill our fridge with fresh produce. That way, if it’s late at night & we are craving fried chicken, I have to ask myself if I really feel like putting clothes on, and getting in my car, wasting my gas, just to go buy a 2-piece when I can make a veggie wrap at home? More often than not, the veggie wrap wins. I’d rather eat up everything I’ve already bought, rather than let the produce go bad and shell out even more coins at the drive thru.

But hey, if it’s a splurge day I’ll be front & center at that same drive thru loading up on the meatless side items  like…”Lemme get a uhhhh….green beans..potato wedges..hell, throw in a fried pickle if you got it…and uh……”

Y’all pray my strength. I’m a work in progress.

-A