Last week was our 18th wedding anniversary and we decided to do something that we have been avoiding for the past few years. Driving in Bucharest. Well, that’s not entirely true as we did spend some time in 2021 there in order to get some tattoos, but in general it is a huge headache and something that was just…ick.
But there are some tourist attractions that I really wanted to see and figured I could pull the Anniversary Card to make it happen. It worked like a charm.
The plan was simple; spend the morning sightseeing and stop at some kind of cafe for a coffee or a drink and then finish off our day of sightseeing at Ceauşescu Mansion and then a nice vegan dinner. But then we both remembered that this is Romania and things rarely work out the way you planned, especially in Bucharest.
The good news? We did manage to get in some sightseeing so you’ll have some pretty and historic sights as well as some delicious vegan food!
Let’s start with this beautiful tapestry made by an unknown Romanian artist for Ceauşescu Mansion.
Last week I meant to add a bonus post because I’ve been so spotty lately while working and writing my new novel, not to mention taking in all the sights Romania has to offer. I didn’t get to it because I had a really trippy dream last week and it put me off while I dealt with the after effects of that, so I’m giving you a Friday freebie post/recipe.
Last week the Hubs and I decided to take a trip to the mountains but instead of going in the car, he wanted me to experience the Bucegi Mountains on the back of his motorcycle. I was on board–mostly–but there’s always a bundle of anxiety when it comes to being on a two-wheeled vehicle. Still, I promised him we would go so I sucked it up and put on my gear and we hit the road.
Of course, there was the promise of a vegan lunch at Snow in Sinaia which soothed my frazzled nerves by about 10% which any sufferer of anxiety knows isn’t basically nothing. But the Bucegi Mountains are beautiful and the scenery is magnificent so that alone was worth it.
We’ve been to Snow Restaurant many times and you can see the post about it here. The vegan sausages with grilled mushrooms, cabbage and mamaliga is wonderful but this time there were NO mushrooms–boo, hoo–but the food was decent.
We split the sausages, mamaliga and cabbage along with a vegan burger & fries meal. The vegan burger was tasty as were the toppings (lettuce, tomato & red onion) but the bun was entirely too big for the burger and not warmed so it totally fell apart as we each ate our halves.
With that in mind I decided to share with you a vegan meal that I’ve made a few times, Fully Vegan Full English Breakfast while also enjoying a great view in Sinaia of the Bucegi Mountains.
The thing I love about salad is that that you can do so much with it. You can toss together a quickie salad that looks pretty much what people think vegans eat, or you can go all out and make a proper salad that fills you up with food and nutrients.
Guess which one I enjoy?
If you guess a big ass salad, you are correct, my friend.
Sometimes I enjoy what call it a hot & cold salad because I like to mix fresh raw ingredients with cooked ingredients, especially when it comes to burrito bowls, taco salads and Buddha bowls. Grab your favorite raw veggies, any kind of vegan protein you want and cooked veggies if you’re feeling spunky.
Today’s vegan taco salad is similar to dozens of vegan salad recipes I’ve made over the years but the difference is that I jumped out of my comfort zone and made something that I have yet to have a good experience with: peach & cucumber salsa.
It’s always been a hate-hate relationship with non-tomato salsa because I just don’t find the combination of peaches or nectarines with cucumbers all that pleasant to my taste buds. Today I decided to do it again just to see if my mind or my palate has changed.
So let’s dig into this black bean and corn taco salad.
If you’ve been following this blog for the past year or two or three (has it been 3 years already?) then you’ll know that the town where I live in Romania, Ploiesti, has very VERY limited options when it comes to vegan food. I mean, sure, you can eat anywhere if you don’t mind eating a basic salad, French fries and other items on the ‘side dishes’ list. But if you want something to satisfy your appetite? Well, look outside Ploiesti.
Things have gotten better here, at the grocery store anyway. But everywhere else we’ve gone like Constanta, Cluj and Sinaia have all had incredible options for vegans.
So, imagine my surprise when I decided to torture myself by seeing if there were any new vegan options in Ploiesti because I was feeling a little sluggish and I hadn’t been outside for a few days and I was in the mood for some yummy vegan food on a sunny terrace. And guess what pops up?
It’s in the city center which was nice–except for the traffic–and the place was great. This was our experience.
One of my favorite things to is travel to new places and explore new cultures, history and art. I love to see how people live all over the world and whenever I can find time I like to go pretty much anywhere that has a few items of interest.
My partner and I had been planning a trip to the Danube Delta and then COVID struck and we postponed it. Twice.
But we finally got there and we took a rather circuitous route, starting with Constanța to see the port and the Black Sea, which is a place my husband and his family often spent summers when he was a kid. The day was nice and warm and we walked around the city before taking in the Museum of History and Archeology which was incredible. There really is a lot of Roman history to be found in Romania, in addition to the Austrian and German influences found throughout their history. It was a wonderful day of sun and history and exploration.
So we started with Constanta and if you don’t know it is the birth place of tennis player Simona Halep and actor Sebastian Stan! Just a little bit of fun trivia for ya.
When the weather is nice and the greens are fresh and crispy, nothing is better than a big ol’ satisfying salad.
When it comes to making salad, I don’t like to stand on ceremony, I like to paint outside the lines by using vegetables not traditionally associated with a boring salad, such as buffalo vegan chicken. Don’t just limit yourself to tomatoes and cucumbers, which are incredible by the way, but they aren’t the only way to make a salad.
For today’s vegan salad recipe, I decided to go with a rainbow theme. Why?
Because the more colors in your salad, the more nutrients you’re giving your body, it really is just that simple.
Remember to rinse all of your ingredients before you eat them!
Whether you’re having a birthday or anniversary party, Super Bowl or Australian Open party, you’ll need to be able to feed a crowd. Feeding a crowd a bunch of vegan appetizers is easier than you might think, as long as you stop thinking of party food in traditional ways.
The first party I threw after going vegan was to celebrate Wimbledon (Hello, I am a tennis nerd! :P) and I was thinking like an animal eating party thrower. My mind immediately went to things like meatballs and buffalo wings, spinach & artichoke dip and all those other party snacks filled with dairy and flesh. No bueno.
As time went on, I became more comfortable just thinking about vegan appetizers and ways to veganize old school party foods. That was (almost) five years ago and now, I feel like a pro.
I mean, I’m not a pro but I feel less stressed when making food for a crowd. Then again that could be because I haven’t attended many crowded events for…some time now.
Feeding a mixed crowd of vegans and non-vegans isn’t something I worry about. Why? Because my husband and I are both vegans and so is our household. If you come to our house, you should expect to be served vegan food. Period.
But you know what? Even if it’s just you and your family, however big or small that is, vegan appetizers are a great way to have a snack fest all day on special days. This particular spread of vegan party food was for me and the hubs on New Year’s Eve.
I know, I know, it’s barely September and here I am with a stew recipe. The weather is still nice but has cooled dramatically after the super warm summer we’ve had all over Europe (and home in the US too, no?), which makes it the perfect time to hop on the stew train. Or if you prefer, the soup train?
Not to mention the fact that black eyed peas are very difficult to find here so when I found them (jarred, boo) I grabbed them, held on tight and knew I had to make a southern style vegan bean stew.
Why? Both of my grandmothers have southern roots–Alabama & Tennessee, respectively–which means I have eaten my fair share of bean soups, stews and the mysteriously named soup beans. Sometimes, when my longing for time with my grannies gets too strong, this is one of my go to recipes. Or when it’s a little bit chilly and I’m making an excuse to eat soup. Or just because the mood strikes.
This is a very hearty stew which means, in my opinion, it doesn’t require bread or crackers or anything else on the side. You’ve got spinach for dark leafy greens, onions and potatoes for fiber and tons of other nutrients. Just season well and let this big bowl of vegan goodness do it’s thang.
With this unbelievable and sometimes, unbearable, heat, I have been working to up my salad game.
We’ve all heard the vegan jokes about munching on lettuce nonstop to fuel our malnourished bodies, but the truth is that if I’d known how amazing I could make salads in my pre-vegan days, my life might be very different today. Thank goodness, I didn’t figure it out until now.
I know, I know. Beans and sausage are both proteins and totally unnecessary in one desk. I know. Really, I do. In fact, most nights of the week I’ll be the annoying vegan making that argument. But a deal is a deal and when we decided, ages ago, that as long as we had the ingredients and the know-how, we would make the dish the other person requested to the best of our ability.
And we’d just bought some Verdino brand vegan sausages, and there are ALWAYS beans in the pantry, so I had no excuse not to do it. Other than being difficult, of course, which I am always happy to do.
But, I didn’t. Bummer.
But, life goes on.
He asked for Sausage & Bean casserole with mashed potatoes and this is what I came up with.
Before we get to the yummy smells and full bellies, we need to gather our ingredients.
Ingredients: Cannellini beans Vegan sausage Onion Garlic Potatoes Bell pepper Dried chili peppers Red wine Tomatoes (fresh or crushed) Vegan butter Plant milk (I used almond, unsweetened) Thyme Bay leaf
You can cook the vegan sausages in the pan to start if you’d like, but I cranked the oven up and cooked them in there, turning every 3 to 5 minutes until good & crispy on all sides. It’s a good way to multi-task and a better way to make this a no oil added vegan dish.
Take a minute to get your potatoes boiling so everything finishes around the same time.
Next, heat up the skillet and add the onion, dried chilies and bell pepper, cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, cook until fragrant.
Then, add the red wine and simmer until it starts to reduce.
Add beans and cover, simmer 10 to 20 minutes, or until a thick sauce starts to form.
When potatoes are tender, drain and reserve some of the starchy water in a measuring cup. Add the vegan butter to the same hot pot you used to boil the potatoes until it sizzles. Toss in the minced garlic until brown & fragrant, turn down heat and remove the pot to a sturdy, flat surface so you can give the potatoes a proper mashing.
Use plant milk and starchy water to get the consistency you’re going for and return to heat until its warmed through.
Take the vegan sausages from the oven and toss with the bean sauce, serve on top of the potatoes.
This meal is perfect when you want red wine in your dinner instead of with it, when the weather gets cold, which it seems be doing whenever it feels like for the past few weeks, or when you’re in the mood for a protein-heavy vegan meal. It’s pretty much perfect any way you look at it.
Enjoy and if you try this recipe, I’d love to hear/see it, so hit me up on Instagram.