Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jazzy Vegan Eatin'

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Laura Theodore's The Jazzy Vegetarian podcast. We talked about my upcoming cookbook (this was before Cookin' Crunk came out) and tips on creating vegan meals from menu items at non-vegan restaurants. It was my first exposure to the podcast medium (I didn't even really know what a podcast was back then!), and Laura was soooo nice.

These days, Laura is a public television cooking show host! She stars in the kitchen on the Jazzy Vegetarian show, and she's got a few cookbooks under her belt. Her latest one — Vegan-Ease — just came out, and today is my stop on the book's blog tour.

This hardcover, full-color book is just lovely. There are pictures with most of the recipes. And as the book's name suggests, the recipes are all super-simple. She's organized the dishes by Ease Factor with 1 being the easiest and 3 being more challenging. But really, they're all pretty easy.

The food is contemporary cuisine and comfort food —red lentil curry soup, vegan lox & bagels, lots of pasta dishes, walnut & quinoa-stuffed portabella mushrooms, seitan piccata, peanut butter chocolate mousse, blueberry cheeze-cake squares. And the recipes are made with whole foods and very little oil.

I started with the Spinach-Tomato Vegan Omelet because I'm sort of on a quest to make every vegan omelet in every book ever.

LOVE vegan omelets. This one is tofu-based, and it's baked rather than cooked on the stove. The fillings — thyme-laced tomatoes and baby spinach — are placed in the bottom of the baking dish. And then the eggy tofu mixture is spread on top. It's baked for 45 minutes until the tofu is eggy firm. Then you flip it out of the pan, stuff with vegan cheese (optional, but of course I opted for it!), and fold. It makes two servings, so you get a thick omelet. Very hearty and filling for a weekday breakfast! It was a level 3 on the ease factor, and it was still pretty darn simple.

I also tried one of her Ease Factor 1 recipes — Potato-Hummus Canapes. Because potatoes and hummus!

All you do is bake a potato, chill it, slice it, and top with hummus, olives, and dill. I added seasoned salt to the potatoes too. There's a hummus recipe in the book, but I went for the easiest route and purchased some Roots Roasted Garlic Hummus. Amazing. I'd never had potatoes and hummus together before, but they're really a match made for one another.

Vegan-Ease would be perfect for a new vegan who's just getting started and wanting some simple, healthy dishes. And it's great for folks looking to add more whole foods to their diets. I'm a self-professed junk food vegan, and even I'll admit that it feels good to eat clean some of the time. Something has to balance out all that beer and vegan cheese pizza and Oreos.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vegan Drinks: Asian Fusion Edition

We had our monthly Vegan Drinks meetup at Mosa Asian Bistro tonight. It's a cute, casual fusion cafe with Chinese, Thai, Korean, and Japanese food. Here's the gang, minus a couple who showed up later.

It was happy hour, and house wine was $5 a glass. So I started with some red wine and a Veggie Spring Roll. I was starving, and I needed something to tide me over. This roll was perfectly crisp and stuffed with delicious seasoned cabbage.

For my entree, I went with Pad See U, a Thai dish with wide rice noodles, broccoli, garlic sauce, and fried tofu. Any time I see Pad See U on a menu, that's what I get because it's pretty much my fave thing ever. Pam, who eats at Mosa weekly, encouraged me to order this with extra tofu, so I did. There's just something about wide rice noodles that makes me happy. 

Mike got the Tofu Fried Rice. I took a bite of his, and it was delicious. It had that cooked-in-a-hot-wok flavor. You know what I'm talking about.

Jennifer went with the Sapporo beer and Singapore Curry Noodles, which would have been my second choice if Pad See U wasn't on the menu. This is made with a coconut curry sauce and rice noodles. 

Megan ordered wine to drink — happy hour stuff!

And she ordered the Hunan Tofu. Looks good and saucy! I love that Mosa offers brown rice as an option.

Pat ordered a true fusion meal — Mosa Wraps! Fried tofu and veggies with tortillas for wrapping. Weird. But it looks delicious.

Nathan always goes with beer. Tonight, it was a Sam Adams Boston Lager. 

And he and Susan both ordered the Rainbow Panang Curry for their entree. I tasted the sauce, and wow. Just wow. Thai coconut curry with lemongrass, lime leaves, and panang curry. I will definitely get this next time! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vegan S'mores Ghosties!

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love playing dress-up. Love witches and ghosts and goblins. I delight at my neighbors' elaborate yard displays with tombstones and bones sticking up from the ground like dead hands rising from the earth. Love blood and gore and spooky stuff. Love the night when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead are thinnest, when we can make connections with ancestors and spirits.

So yea, of course I love to make Halloween-themed treats. But I kept it simple this year some easy-peasy three-ingredient Vegan S'mores Ghosties!

Dandies sent me some bags of their jumbo and mini marshmallows to experiment with, and I knew I wanted to do something Halloween-y with the jumbo mallows. I googled around and found lots of ideas, but most involved dipping marshmallows in dyed white chocolate or colored Wilton candy melts. I do have some vegan white chocolate, but it doesn't melt all that well. And Wilton melts aren't vegan. And there just wasn't time in the week to make homemade white chocolate.

But then I stumbled upon this super-easy recipe for S'mores Ghost Marshmallows on Blondie and Brownies. I used that for inspiration, but I made the recipe vegan and decided to use chocolate for the eyes rather than Wilton markers (because I'm not sure if they're vegan). There are only three ingredients!

Note: I've been having trouble finding vegan graham crackers lately since all the ones sold here contain honey. So I've started buying the Kroger brand graham cracker crusts (which are honey-free!), and then I just crush them up. One crust makes more than you'll need for the recipe, but you can save extra crumbs for another recipe.

Here's the easy recipe (adapted from Blondie and Brownies).

Vegan S'mores Ghosties
1 bag Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Place the graham cracker crumbs into a bowl.

Carefully dip the bottom of each marshmallow into the chocolate and then into the crumbs. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment and allow the chocolate to cool and set.

Take the leftover melted chocolate and spoon it into a plastic baggie. Cut a very tiny hole in one corner of the baggie, and use that to carefully squirt eyes onto the ghosts. Eat!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Miyoko's Buffalo Mozzarella!

I'll be honest. I don't really miss cheese that much. I did for quite awhile after going vegan, but it's been 11 years now. And I honestly think the vegan cheeses — Miyoko's Creamery nut cheeses, Daiya shreds, Chao slices, Kite Hill cream cheese, etc. — are better than the dairy cheeses I remember. But there was one cheese that I just never found a good substitute for — buffalo mozzarella.

I didn't discover these fresh, soft balls of mozzarella until college, and I went vegan a few years later. So they weren't in my life for long, but they were up there on my list of fave cheeses. I tried making the recipe for fresh mozzarella (using cashews) in Miyoko's Artisan Vegan Cheese, but it was the one recipe from that book that I've tried that just didn't work out. I'm sure the error was mine. But after that, I gave up on finding a sub for buffalo mozzarella.

Until last week! That's when a review sample of Miyoko's Creamery Fresh Buffalo-Style Mozzarella arrived at my office. Unlike Miyoko's Creamery's wheels of aged cheeses, the mozzarella doesn't come in a box. It comes in a plastic tub.

Inside are four soft, white balls of cashew-based vegan buffalo mozzarella floating in water, just like fresh dairy mozzarella.

They're really soft though. So you have to be careful when removing them. As for flavor, they have a mild aged flavor that really does taste like dairy mozzarella. There's a slight tang that comes from the cultures. And the cheese practically melts in your mouth. It's so smooth and creamy!

Miyoko's Creamery's website says the fresh mozzarella melts well, and I almost put some on a pizza. But then I remembered that fresh mozzarella is best enjoyed fresh, so you can really appreciate the flavor and texture. I considered making a caprese salad, but that seemed so obvious. So I googled around and found this recipe for Buffalo Mozzarella with Balsamic-Glazed Plums, Pine Nuts, & Mint from the Food 52 website. And then I veganized it!

I'm not going to reprint the recipe because I didn't change anything, except for substituting the vegan Miyoko's Creamery mozzarella for dairy mozzarella. You can find that recipe here. But in a nutshell, you basically reduce balsamic vinegar until it forms a thick, sweet syrup. Then you add some sliced plums and cook them down in the syrup just a tad. Slice the mozzarella, drizzle with the glaze and plums, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, and top off with a little olive oil and mint. I served mine with some crusty garlic bread for sopping up the yummy glaze.

Miyoko's Creamery is currently sold out of the Fresh Buffalo-Style Mozzarella. But check back soon (here's the site) because this stuff is awesome!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cheezy Jalapeno Tomato Chips!

I met my friend Monica for lunch on my birthday, and she gave me a bag filled with some of the last juicy summer tomatoes from her garden. They had so many, and they didn't know what to do with them all. And then, a couple days later, when I went to my parents' house to celebrate my birthday with them, my Granny gave me even more fresh garden tomatoes. I wasn't sure what I'd so with so many tomatoes, but I knew I'd figure it out.

It so happened that one of my birthday gifts — from my friend Greg — included a bag of Just Pure Foods raw tomato chips. Like kale chips but made with tomatoes. I'd never tried tomato chips, but one taste, and I was hooked. But there were only two servings in the bag he gave me. That's when it hit me — I can make my own tomato chips and put those tomatoes to good use!

So I pulled out the dehydrator and threw together a similar cheezy cashew base to the one I use when I make kale chips. I slathered the cashew mixture onto the tomatoes and dehydrated for hours. And hours. And hours. And then out came these yummy, crispy, Cheezy Jalapeno Tomato Chips!

I'm not sure how long they'll keep, but since they're dehydrated, I'd guess a good long while. Kale chips last forever (well, they would if I didn't eat them all right away!). Here's the recipe. You'll need a dehydrator for this one.

Cheezy Jalapeno Tomato Chips
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup water

Place the slices of tomato on a paper towel, side by side (don't stack them). Place another paper towel on top of the slices, and press slightly to soak up any liquid. Leave the slices on the towels for 5 to 10 minutes to drain out more of the tomato liquid.

While the tomatoes are draining, drain any excess water off the soaked cashews, and add them to a food processor. Add the nutritional yeast, vinegar, jalapeno, garlic, salt, and water. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Place the tomato slices into a mixing bowl. Pour the cashew mixture into the bowl and gently stir to coat the tomato slices, being careful not to break the tomato slices. You may need to get your hands in there and slather the mixture onto the slices.

Place the slices side by side on a Teflex dehydrator sheet and set the dehydrator to 115 degrees. Allow to dehydrate for 8 hours. Open the dehydrator and remove the trays. Gently remove the slices from the Teflex sheet, turn them over, and place them back onto the dehydrator trays without the Teflex. Dehydrate for another 5 to 6 hours or until the tomatoes are crispy. They may be a little chewy in the thicker places, and that's okay, so long as they're mostly crispy. If they're not crispy enough after the 5 to 6 hours, dehydrate for another hour or so, checking for doneness every once in a while.

Store in an airtight plastic container. I like to add those little "Do Not Eat" packets to the container to ensure freshness.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Stuff I Ate/Stuff I Did

I typically just post some random meals I've eaten lately in my "stuff I ate" posts, but I wanted to start this one with a couple pics of something I did recently. I was invited to teach a vegan cooking class at Whole Foods in early October.

It was a two-hour class on Southern vegan cookin'! Here I am with Sue (the guru of the Salud cooking school) and our volunteers.

And here's what I made (except the Toasted Pineapple Cream Pie dessert isn't pictured) — Red Beans & Quinoa, Creamy Potato Soup with Veggie Bacon, Stewed Okra & Tomatoes, and Vegan Deviled Eggs.

I took a vacation day from work that day and went into Whole Foods in the early afternoon to help Sue with prep. We had a little time after prep before the class was set to begin, so I grabbed some dinner from the Whole Foods Flex Venue (which changes it's menu concept every month or so). For October, they were serving bratwurst. I got a Vegan Beer Brat (you can't see it but it's a Tofurky one, and it's buried under my toppings) with Daiya cheddar, grilled peppers & onions, spicy mustard, sauerkraut, and pickles. 

My friend Jordan's birthday was in early October, and we had a low-key game night at his house to celebrate. His boyfriend bought a grocery store cake, which wasn't vegan. But he kindly stopped at Muddy's Bake Shop and picked up a Vegan Almond Cherry Cupcake for me. My friends are the best!

I went to a neighborhood watch meeting at Midtown Crossing Grill, the pizza joint across from my house. As I've mentioned before on this blog, they have a banh mi sandwich named after me. The Bianca Banh Mi has tofu, hummus, pickled carrots and onions, jalapenos, and cucumber slices. Comes with salad or chips, but I opted for the salad this time. The non-vegan guy next to me ordered one too, just because he's been trying to eat healthier. He liked it. That made me happy.

After my runs this week, I've been enjoying these Pineapple Strawberry Smoothies made with Vega One Natural protein powder and lemon juice.

This was a weird but tasty breakfast — hot barley cereal with hummus, tempeh bacon, and cherry tomatoes from my garden.

Speaking of weird meals, here's one that wasn't that great. I had some Gardein Fishless Filets and some corn tortillas, so one day when I didn't have leftovers to eat for lunch, I thought "I'll make fish tacos!" But I didn't have any cabbage for slaw, so I made some Raw Carrot Tuna Salad using carrot pulp from my juicer. And then I put peach salsa on the tacos, which was weird. Just an odd combo. Okay I guess, but wouldn't try that again. On the side, though, I'd picked up some of the Fried Avocado Wontons from Pink Diva Cupcakery, and those were delicious. They're wontons stuffed with guacamole and they're served with a sour cream sauce.

Another quick meal, but this one was tasty — Amy's Split Pea Soup (from a can) with homemade garlic croutons.

I mentioned on Sunday night that my mom made burgers for my birthday. Had a leftover burger — Light Life Black Bean Burger — at my desk one day this week. With Daiya cheddar, sriracha mustard, lettuce, and tomato. On a white bun. Mmmmm. I love that special occasions mean getting to eat white bread.

Something that definitely wasn't on white bread was this BLT that I had for lunch one day this week. Made with Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon (the best vegan bacon out there!), sriracha mayo, tomato, and lettuce on sprouted grain.

Our vegan meetup group met up at Two Vegan Sistas on Tuesday night. Two Vegan Sistas is an awesome high-raw cafe that I don't get to often enough. It's way out in Bartlett, but their food is amazing. I had this Live Meatloaf (made with nuts, sundried tomatoes, and mushrooms) and Sweet Potato Fries (not raw, but baked instead of fried).

For dessert, I got an Almond Butter Cup to go. Mmmm. It's made with carob and chopped almonds. So good. I love carob so much.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


I have a spiralizer that just doesn't get much love. I've used it to make raw zucchini noodles for live pasta dishes, and I've made some beet noodles for a salad before. But most of the time, my white, plastic Paderno brand spiralizer just sits on a shelf in my kitchen closet. So I was thrilled when Book Publishing Company asked me to review Spiralize! by Beverly Lynn Bennett. I figured it'd give me fresh ideas for putting the old spiralizer to use — ideas beyond just raw pasta.

And it did! This thin book — part of the Alive Natural Health Guide series — is loaded with recipes for breakfasts, soups, salads, main dishes, and sweets made with spiralized zucchini, beets, carrots, turnips, sweet potato, and more.

I chose to try the Golden Vegetable Noodle Soup, made with spiralized squash noodles and chopped carrots, onions, celery, and garlic.

It's like a chicken noodle soup but without the chicken and with gluten-free squash standing in for the noodles. It's super low-calorie and yet hearty and filling. For the broth, I used some homemade veggie stock that I made from cooking down my veggie scraps. And it's thickened and seasoned with nooch, turmeric, thyme, poultry seasoning. I had this with some potato-hummus canapes on the side (a tester for another cookbook review).

So far, this is the only dish I've tried. But I'm super-impressed. I've got my eye on the Southwestern-Style Tofu Scramble (with spiralized sweet potato), Carrot Cake Muffins (with spiralized carrots), Raw Caramel Apple Delight (with spiralized apples drizzled with date syrup), Miso Soup with Daikon Ramen Noodles (the noodles are made from spiralized daikon radish!), and Raw Pad Thai (with carrot and zucchini noodles).

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Goddess Provisions

The founders of Vegan Cuts have a new subscription box company, and it's right up my alley. It's called Goddess Provisions, and each month, subscribers get a box filled with 4 to 6 full-sized items to help us "connect with our divine feminine and grow our spiritual practice." Stuff like crystals, oils, teas, candles, and chocolate.

I've been a Vegan Cuts Beauty Box subscriber for over a year, and I love getting the mix of full-sized and sample-sized makeup, skincare products, and other beauty treats in the mail every month. But when I learned about Goddess Provisions, I knew it was an even better fit for me. I immediately signed up for the first box, which I received yesterday! Sadly, I had to cancel my Beauty Box since I can't afford both. Goddess Provisions is $33 a month, while the Beauty Box is only $20. But you get more full-sized items in the Goddess box.

Goddess Provisions is gonna be awesome. I'm so glad I signed up! Check out what was in my first box. The theme for the introductory box is the Third Eye Chakra, our center of intuition.

There's Third Eye Chakra Tea by Buddha Teas, a Pura Botanica soy candle in Oh-So-Citrus, Balanced Guru Intuition energy mist, skin repair balm by Meow Meow Tweet, raw white chocolate with blueberry lotus essential oil by Chocolita, and an amethyst point mined from Vera Cruz, Mexico. Amethyst is great for meditating with when you're working with your third eye chakra.

The tea is an herbal blend of eyebright, jasmine, spearmint, star anise, and passion flower, and while I'm not the biggest fan of anise, I actually liked this tea once brewed. It has a strong licorice smell, which turned me off at first. But that smell dissipates after it's brewed, and then the anise just adds a natural sweetness. I'm really getting into teas lately (after years of trying to love tea!), so I was excited to have this new herbal blend.

I had some of the tea this morning while I did a moving meditation online yoga class. And before the class began, I sprayed on some of the Intuition energy mist, a blend of palmarosa, rosemary, lavender, lemon, roman chamomile, and pine designed to boost intuition, insight, and imagination.

And I burned my candle during yoga. It has a nice energizing citrus scent, great for morning yoga!

At the end of my practice, while in savasana, I placed the amethyst over my third eye and just repeated a little mantra —"My mind is clear and agile, I am open to the wisdom within me." 

As for the repair balm, I'm using that every night on my dry feet, hands, and face (yes, my face gets as dry as a desert in the winter). I love that the Goddess Provisions box still includes a little skincare.

And today, I had half of the Chocolita Blueberry Lotus chocolate. OMG!

This looks the color of regular chocolate, but it's actually raw white chocolate. It just has a brown-ish color, probably because it's all natural. But the taste is out of this world. I haven't really had good white chocolate since going vegan. I've had a few brands of white chocolate chips, but they're more sugar than anything. But this was mostly cacao butter, and every bite just melted in my mouth. It's infused with blueberry lotus essential oil, which is a meditation aid. 

Love, love, love my Goddess Provisions box! By the way, I didn't receive this box to review. I paid for it, and I'm happy to be a subscriber. I've signed up to be an ambassador for Goddess Provisions, but the process isn't complete yet. I am an ambassador for Vegan Cuts though, meaning I make a few cents when someone buys a Vegan Cuts product after clicking on an ad from my blog. I can't wait until November for my next box. I'll probably dedicate a post to the Goddess box each month, just for fun!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Festival of Souls

Every year in mid-October, usually on my birthday weekend, I attend at least one day of the four-day Festival of Souls — a Samhain festival for earthy types from all over the Mid-South. It's held at Meeman Shelby Forrest Park, a state park on the outskirts of Memphis. And even though it's right outside the city, it's a beautiful escape to nature.

And this time of year, it's the perfect place to observe the leaves changing from green to red and gold. The park is situated on the Chickasaw Bluffs, some of the only hilly land in the otherwise very flat Mid-South. The festival features workshops, and I usually attend a few. But I always make a mid-day escape into the woods to hike the nature trails on my own. This time, I found these awesome stairs!

And this fallen tree ...

But back at the camp, there was plenty of vegan food! Cynthia, the head "kitchen witch," prepares meat dishes, vegan dishes, and gluten-free dishes so she can accommodate as many diets as possible. It's a big change from when I first started going to the festival 13 years ago. Back then, I was lucky to get a veggie side put back before the meat and butter went in! But now, the vegan options abound, and they're delicious. 

I missed breakfast since I arrived around noon. But I was just in time for lunch. We had the most amazing Pumpkin Gnocchi with Kale. This was definitely my favorite meal of the day. Super garlicky puffy little pumpkin pillows!

And there was Vegetable Soup with finely minced carrots and greens.

Most people also had dairy grilled cheeses, but Cynthia always makes me specially ordered Vegan Grilled Cheeses! And I always get two because two sandwiches are better than one. I love that they're served on white bread that's loaded with vegan margarine. It reminds me of the super buttery grilled cheeses I ate as a kid. These days, I typically only buy sprouted grain bread at home, and my homemade grilled cheeses are just way too healthy.

After lunch, I did some shopping at the vendor booths. Got some goddess-shaped soaps and some of Champagne's homemade Hawthorne Apple Lemon Nutmeg jelly. And then our friends Trevor and Buck got married out in the field. It was a short but sweet ceremony. Love wins!

The vegan option at the dinner feast was loaded with veggies! Here's my plate — portabella mushroom steak, dinner roll, cooked carrots, mashed potatoes, sauteed garlic kale, and stir-fried broccoli & cauliflower.

The meat-eaters got pot roast, so the mushroom was a great stand-in for that. And the kitchen staff even prepared some of the roasted veggies without the pot roast, so I got a bowl of Balsamic Mushrooms, Turnips, & Carrots.

I heard there was dessert later in the night, and there was probably a vegan option. But I'd been there all day, and by 10 p.m., I was ready to get home to my warm bed. But it was a lovely Saturday in the park, and now, I'm prepared to deal with autumn. It takes me a few weeks to get adjusted to fall, and I protest and whine a lot about summer ending. But eventually, usually after Festival of Souls, I accept that autumn is here to stay for awhile, and I might as well get used to it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My 35th Birthday!

I turned 35 on Friday! I guess that makes me a real adult, since I now have to check off a new age bracket on surveys and stuff. And I'm legally able to run for president if want. But I don't feel old. I have very few responsibilities aside from work (which, after 13 years in the newspaper business, still feels more like fun than work) and a few bills. Oh, and I have, like, nine fur kids to take care of, but that's fun too.

Speaking of fur kids, check out this awesome tee that my friend Greg gave me for my birthday! It says CATARCHY!!!

I took a vacation day from work on my birthday because I don't believe in working on birthdays. So I slept in a bit, and then I went for a run in Overton Park on the Old Forest trails. After my run, I drove over to I Love Juice Bar for an Energizer essential oil shot (wild orange, peppermint, & coconut water) and a Berry Good Smoothie (blueberries, banana, cashews, lemon, and coconut milk).

A few hours later, I met my friend Monica at Imagine Vegan Cafe for a birthday lunch. I went with the Philly Cheezesteak and French Fries (with ranch for dippin').

I had to run a few errands, and then I headed home to binge-watch Lost until dinner time. At 7 p.m., Paul and I met up with my friends at Crazy Noodle for a birthday dinner!

I ordered my favorite menu item — Mandu Ramen. It's ramen with vegetable dumplings. So good!

Stephanie made my birthday cupcakes! They're Irish Cream Cupcakes — chocolate stout cake topped with whiskey buttercream, ganache, and caramel drizzle. So good! I had almost a dozen leftover (she made 24!), so I'm eating one in my PJs while I type this post.

After dinner, most of us went to the Rec Room, an arcade bar, for a couple hours. My friends are just the best! And they know how much I love presents (hey, no shame ... I'll admit it). So I got all this cool stuff — Catarchy shirt, sparkly miniskirt, kitty mug, cat lady car stickers, a unicorn in lederhosen Christmas ornament, wine, a sparkly skull wine stopper, some raw tomato chips, a dog bracelet, green earrings, an Amazon gift card, and a 5-pack of sticky rollers (that was from Stephanie, who knew how much a crazy cat lady like me needs those things!). Not pictured are my Pink Diva gift cards from Cassi and the Etsy gift card from Paul.

That was my actual birthday, but I got to celebrate again on Sunday with my parents. I drove to Jonesboro to have dinner with my parents and my grandmas. My mama made burgers, and I had this Black Bean Burger with Daiya Cheddar, French Fries, and Pasta Salad.

Instead of making cake (cause lord knows I have plenty of leftover cake), mama made this Apple Crumble Pizza, which I had with some So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk ice cream. So light and delicious.

My parents got me a new MacBook Pro a few months ago as an early birthday gift since my old one was starting to crap out. And they gave me a deep freezer a few weeks ago, too. But today, I got a few smaller gifts from them — workout clothes, a cute gray sweater, and a Starbucks gift card. Plus, an "All Guests Must Be Approved By the Dog" doormat from my me-maw and money from granny.

Yay!! Such a fun (and delicious) birthday! Now I've got some Etsy and Amazon shopping to do!