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{Vegan} Spicy Thai Curry Stew

I combined a few different recipes to end up with this. It was super easy to throw together, and can be made in a crockpot, or just on the stove. I It's a great way to pack in lots of veggies, and enjoy lots of flavor! It's vegan too! This recipe did have quite the kick to it, which my husband loved. But you could leave out the serrano peppers, and it would still be very yummy.

What you will need;

1 large onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3-4 large potatoes, cut into large pieces
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut
1 can diced tomatoes
2 serrano peppers, seeded and diced*
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons red curry paste, or curry powder
32 oz low sodium vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Limes and chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)

If making on stove top;

Sautee onions and garlic in a bit of water (to prevent sticking) over medium-high heat, 3-5 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, ginger, chili powder, and curry (paste or powder). Stir together, coating the veggies with the curry as much as possible. Add tomatoes, serrano peppers, broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Serve garnished with lime juice and chopped cilantro.

If making in crock pot;

Add onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, ginger, chili powder, and curry (paste or powder) with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Stir together, coating the veggies with the curry as much as possible. Add tomatoes, serrano peppers, broth and coconut milk. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4, or until potatoes are soft. Serve garnished with lime juice and chopped cilantro.

*For me, the serrano peppers were very hot! Maybe that's because they had been sitting in my fridge all week, I'm not sure. I would advise to only use one, or skip them entirely if you don't like the heat.

Adapted from Forks Over Knives and PlantBasedCooking.com 

Meal Planning

This is the first time in our marriage I have ever really made meal plans and stuck to them! I am still working out some of the kinks, but it makes meal time a lot easier. We aren't perfect and still go out to eat here and there, and my meals aren't always the healthiest, but I really am happy with how far I have come along. I searched and searched and searched for help and advice on meal planning and never found anything that I felt like worked for us. This isn't perfect, and maybe this won't work for you either, but here is what I have been doing the past few months that has been working pretty well.

I don't really plan breakfast or lunch. For breakfast, we always have cereal, pancakes, eggs, or stuff for smoothies on hand. Lately, I have been drinking Crio Bru which curbs your appetite, so I'm not even hungry for breakfast. For lunch, we usually have leftovers, sandwiches, or quesadillas, whatever is quick and easy to throw together.

I try to only go to the grocery store once every two weeks. Sometimes this is hard, but this helps avoid impulse purchases. We have a hard time going to the store to get just one thing, and actually just getting one thing. I usually go Saturday morning, like 8:30 am, so it's not too busy, the stores are usually still pretty empty at that time. And then I wrap up at 9, just in time to grab a fresh donut on my way out, hahaha...

Our goal is to eat mostly vegetarian, and try to become vegan. These upcoming meals are mostly not vegan, but most of them could be edited so they are. You will probably notice the glaring cheat meal; cheeseburgers. We have become kind of obsessed with homemade burgers. I make some pretty amazing burgers, if I do say so myself, and I can throw them together in about 10 minutes. We only make them once or twice every two weeks, and they are certainly not healthy, but I am sure far far healthier than if we were to go out and get some. 

Friday the 14th, I will do an updated post talking about how well, or poorly, we stuck to the meal plan. Please let me know in the comments what you do, or if you have found any apps or websites that have helped you in your meal planning! 

Meals Planned;
Thai Curry (To be combined with a Forks over Knives Curry Recipe)
Chipotle Chicken Soup (>Trying to make with jackfruit)

What I already Have;
Chicken Thighs (I buy a huge bag at Costco for about $13 and it lasts us 3-4 weeks)
Canned JackFruit x6 (Bought in bulk at Asian food store)
Soy Sauce
American Cheese
Sour Cream
Assorted Seasonings
Brown Rice
BBQ Sauce
Chicken Broth
Zucchini x2
Bell Pepper x1
Red onion x2
White Onion x1

What I forgot:
Avocados x5
Coconut Milk (Getting this later at Trader Joe's for about half the price)

What I bought:

HEB 10/3/16
Total $80.88
HEB Sparkling Water
Garbanzo Beans x2
Corn x2
Black Beans x4
Diced Tomatoes
Diced Tomatoes w/ Green Chilies
Greek Yogurt x4
Laundry Detergent
Body Wash
Paper Towels
Lysol Cleaner
2% Milk Gallon
16 oz Ground Chuck
1/2 lb sliced turkey
Mexican Blend Cheese
5lbs Russet Potatoes
Red Onions x2
Sweet Potatoes x5
1 lbs carrots
Green Cabbage
Yellow Squash x2
Limes x6
4 Fuji Apples
3.35 lbs bananas
10 Roma Tomatoes
Jalapeno x1
Green Bell Peppers x3
Serrano Pepper x2
Green Bell Peppers x3 (packaged)
Romaine Hearts
Hamburger Buns
Donuts x2
20 ct small Tortillas
10 ct large Tortillas
Whole Wheat Loaf
Coke Zero x2

Chipotle Chicken Soup

Now thThis recipe is one of our all time favorite soups. This recipe does have a good kick to it thanks to the Chipotles, but if you can handle the heat, it is so easy to throw together and is packed with flavor! 

Here's what you will need;

1 onion, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced 
2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, chopped
4 Chipotle chilies and 4 tablespoons adobo sauce*
6 cups chicken broth 
1 can corn, drained 
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups heavy cream
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
1 avocado
Sour cream
Crushed Tortilla chips

*the Chipotle chilies are really quite spicy, so you can half this to lower the heat

In a large pot or dutch oven add onion, garlic, olive oil, and saute. Push onion and garlic to the side of the pan and add chicken and cook. Once golden, add chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, corn, black beans, chicken broth, and heavy cream. Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Add lime juice. You can add the chopped cilantro at this point, or wait to add it to each serving along with sour cream, avocado and tortilla chips.

And that's it! Enjoy!

Best Eats Virginia : Part 1

I had a few people request some of my favorite restaurants in Virgina and DC, so I thought I would share a few. I've been putting off working on this because I knew it would make me miss all the food there so bad! But, here we go, I will torture myself to share with you the best places. I have so many favorites, so this will probably end up being a 2 or 3 part series. This list is going to start from west to east, so these first locations will be rather far from DC, but worth a road trip if you are up to it! 

BBQ Exchange

102 Martinsburg Avenue Gordonsville, Virginia 22942

This place was voted #1 BBQ in Virginia. It's way out in the middle of nowhere, in a little town called Gordonsville, 2 hours from DC, but guys, it's so good! And the drive is so pretty! I never had anything I didn't like. But I recommend their brisket or their ribs. Since you made the drive all the way out there, get ALL THE SIDES. Everything is so good! Their slaw was simple but so yummy, tasty mac and cheese, perfect hushpuppies, and I was obsessed with their french fries! Seriously, so good. Check out what desserts they have too! They are always different, but always yummy.

The Brick at Black Bear Bistro
32 Main St, Warrenton, VA 20186

Warrenton was one of my all time favorite towns in Virginia. It's such a cute, quaint little town, and their main street has so many cute old shops and restaurants. Our favorite was The Brick at Black Bear Bistro. The Bistro is supposed to be really good, but we never tried it. The Brick is in the basement, and has the most amazing gourmet pizza! So good! Their BBQ chicken was our ultimate favorite. Their BBQ sauce is house made and has the most amazing smokey flavor. It tastes like it waas made over a campfire. Make sure to check out their seasonal stuff too. Some of the best things we had were from their seasonal menu. Everything is farm to table, and locally sourced. The best! 

Tony's Pizza

5361 Merchants View Sq HaymarketVA 20169

This place is a little hidden. It's right near a gated community and golf club, and if you didn't live there, chances are, driving by, you would have no idea it was there. But hands down, this is the place I have craved the most since moving away from Virgina. We lived really close, so we went just about once a week. The food is cheap and the portions are huge! I don't think I ever had something I didn't like. It seems to all be run by one family who yell orders at each other in Italian. If you think you love Italian and that Olive Garden is the best it gets, let me tell you, you are so wrong! You have to come here and be blown away. 

My go-to order was a slice of Caprese. Funny story, the other night Dave was talking in his sleep and said, "Can I get a slice of Caprese, and um..." And then he trailed off and was quiet. Haha, but really guys, Caprese is the pizza of our dreams! And if I was hungry enough I would order their ravioli with rosé sauce. I don't think it's even on the menu, I've looked and I can never find it. But order it, and they will know what you are talking about. I usually do not like ravioli, but theirs is so fresh and yummy, and their rosé sauce, OMG that stuff... I took some friends there and made them try it and they literally were scraping their plate clean, I'm not kidding. It's basically a mix of alfredo and marinara. So good. It must be a family recipe of theirs, because I can't find any recipes online that look even remotely close. The hunt for a copycat recipe continues... Their ravioli also comes with a side of garlic bread, and a salad. Ask, instead of the garlic bread, for cheese bread on focaccia. Trust me. Seriously, I can't rave about this place enough.

The Bone
8045 Stonewall Shops Sq GainesvilleVA 20155

This place is again, a little hidden in a strip mall, but is so worth checking out. Amazing BBQ; my favorites were their honey bourbon wings (OMG I'm obsessed with anything bourbon, cooked off, obviously.) Their mac and cheese is oh so creamy and so amazing. Dave doesn't normally like mac and cheese but he likes theirs. It's heaven. And lastly, their pulled pork nachos. Oh nelly. Those things are so good. Topped with their amazing pulled pork, queso, pico, sour cream, and guacamole. SO GOOD. Certainly check this place out if you are in the area. And be sure to check out Wegmans while you are there since it's in the shopping area. Wegmans is the most amazing grocery store, I miss it so much! Just go, if you are foodie, or love cooking like me, you will love it. Check their bakery to see if they have coconut danishes (they sell out quick though, sometimes they are gone by 10am!)

MOD Pizza
13941 Promenade Commons St, Gainesville, VA 20155

I usually avoid chains, but this one is the exception. They are originally from Seattle, and I am so excited, they are opening two in San Antonio, one just 15 minutes from my house! This was another place we would go to just about once a week, from the day they opened! They are really so good. I haven't ever had anything there that I didn't like. This place is similar to Chipotle, or Cafe Rio, where you go down an assembly line, and tell them exactly what you want on your pizza, any toppings, as many as you want! You can order off their menu, I recommend being brave and trying something off their seasonal menu, which you can always customize, or you can create your own.  My favorites are the Caspian (BBQ pizza), add bacon and ask for a side of ranch! Or their Dillion James (Margarita), add chicken, mushrooms, and artichokes. The Dominic (Alfredo) is really good too. Honestly, everything is good!  

Katerina's Greek Cuisine 
9212 Center St ManassasVA 20110

Lots of people think Manassas is sketchy. Some call it Manassty. But old town Manassas is downright adorable. There is maybe 4 or 5 blocks of cute shops and restaurants. Our favorite of which is Katerina's. This is another family owned placed. The place is TINY. The seating is snug. And if you come on a Saturday for dinner, there is a good chance you will have to wait 30-45 minutes for a table. But guys, it's so good. Hands down the best bruschetta I have ever had, so flavorful and tasty. My favorite main course is their Tour of Greece; three mini pitas with chicken, lamb and gyro meat. So yummy, and so filling! Also, every time we go we ask if they have Ekmek Kataifi. They had it our first time we went there, and told us they rarely make it. I don't know why, maybe it's hard to make? But it was AMAZING. It is a Greek dessert made with layers of kataifi dough baked until crispy and golden, bathed in lemon syrup, topped with creamy thick custard, whipped cream and garnished with cinnamon and pistachios or almonds… So good. One day I will try to make it.

Well, I'm sure I've made you hungry enough. I have many other places to share, but I will save them for another post! Check back soon!