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2018 RVA VegFest

I have to be honest.  I get so jealous when I see all the amazing offerings at the really large vegan festivals like Eat, Drink, Vegan in Los Angeles, CA.  Seriously, check it out here. Since I am deathly afraid to fly, I have to settle getting in my tasty vegan treats locally.  Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate that I have a festival so close. But the vegan supply on the West Coast is drool worthy for sure.

This past weekend was our third year attending the Richmond VegFest which takes place in Bryan Park.  The weather was beautiful even though Richmond was recovering from a lot of rain and even some flooding in some parts.  Thankfully, the rain stopped before the start of the event!  I was so excited to wake up on Saturday morning and get on the road and was even giddier as we approached the Veggies Ahead signs leading the way.  They are the signs of my people.

We got to the park a few minutes after it officially opened and walked in with people and animals alike with the same goal – eating some delicious vegan food!  I don’t get the opportunity to go many places where I don’t have to ask questions about everything on the menu or do hours of research ahead of time trying to find something that meets my goals.  It’s such a freeing feeling knowing that I can walk in to park and eat ANYTHING in sight! This is truly what dreams are made of, people!

We walked into the park specifically looking for one particular booth – Nu Vegan.  Of course, it was easy to spot since it had the longest line!  Nu Vegan is a restaurant that is opening up its third location which will be located on Grace Street in Richmond on June 30, 2018.  Their other two locations are in the Washington DC area.  They are known for making traditional comfort food like mac and cheese, but cruelty free.  What could be better in life than having a heaping bowl of vegan mac and cheese?

We waited in line for approximately 20-30 minutes.  Don’t worry – it was totally worth it.  While we patiently waited, we reviewed the options and made our choices.  I couldn’t believe what the food looked like when it was finally our turn.  They had four offerings (fried, buffalo, BBQ, and jerk) of vegan “chicken wings” complete with a “BONE” and two sides – collard greens or mac and cheese.  We chose to try the traditional fried, buffalo, and BBQ wing with a heaping side of mac and cheese since I can get the best collard greens made by my grandmother anytime I want.  The wings were delicious and chewed similar to chicken without the creepy parts like cartilage.  The “bone” was made of a wooden dowel so you could actually eat it like a traditional wing if you desired – how creative!  The mac and cheese was also amazing!  They made the “cheese sauce” out of tofu!  This was by far the creamiest and most decadent version of mac and cheese that I’ve ever tried.  I would even say it was better than some “real” mac and cheese dishes I’ve had in the past – and I LOVED cheese.  I am looking forward to making a copy-cat recipe for the blog in the future so keep your eyes peeled for it coming later in the summer!

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around reading up on the local sanctuaries and browsing the booths with catchy phrases to increase awareness.  I did miss a lot of my favorite booths that we purchased from in previous years, but it seemed like there were less booths to purchase products this year.  We did purchase a few products that I will be sampling in the weeks to come as well as some gifts for family and friends.  Overall, it was a very successful and tasty day!

Bye y’all!

Yesterday’s – A Present Favorite

A few years ago, a good friend of ours moved back to her college town – her second home.  The very first time we had the opportunity to visit in her element, she introduced us to one of her all time favorite places to be where everyone knows her name.  That place is Yesterday’s.

The first time I visited, I did still eat meat, but I was in the “cutting back phase” of my journey and only eating meat or eggs about two meals a week.  I heard stories about Yesterday’s for years throughout our friendship before actually enjoying the restaurant so my mouth was watering before I even walked in the door.  I ordered a classic southern staple, Shrimp & Grits, which used to be one of my all time favorite meals, but my husband ordered a unique variation of the classic – Buffalo Chicken & Grits.  He loved it so much that he still orders it every time we have the opportunity to visit!  I have changed up my orders a little bit now.  During our last visit, I tried their Veggie Mushroom Burger which was delicious as always, but you have to ask for no mushrooms since they are sauteed in butter.  It’s worth noting too that even though it is a southern comfort food restaurant, they have made an effort to accommodate vegetarians/vegans as well as those that follow a gluten free diet.  Their menu is clearly labeled which items are vegetarian and the staff is well versed in what items have hidden non-vegan items like butter, milk, and eggs.

Fast forward a few years and I see food a little differently now.  When I dine out for a meal, I think “Can I make that vegan?” when reading through the non-vegan portions of the menu.  My husband and I will toss around ideas while waiting on our order.  This is where some of my inspiration comes when planning my blog posts as well.  When I was planning out my meals for this week, I was craving this dish and knew instantly that I could easily make this vegan.  Check out my easy and quick version below!

Vegan Buffalo Chicken & Grits

1 pack of Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders

1 cup of Grits

4 cups of water

Salt & Pepper to taste

Vegan Butter to taste (I used Earth Balance)

Optional – Vegan Cheese will add a creaminess to the grits.  I recommend Follow Your Heart Parmesan.  For this recipe, I only seasoned them with salt, pepper and vegan butter.

 

Buffalo Sauce:

1 cup of your favorite hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)

1 tablespoon of Vegan Butter (I used Earth Balance)

 

 

  1. Bake the Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders per the instructions on the package.  I baked mine a few minutes longer than the package instructions.  This really paid off because the chicken stayed crispy after it was tossed in the buffalo sauce.
  2. While they are baking, you can get started with the grits and buffalo sauce.  I used stone ground yellow grits in this recipe, but you could use polenta or even instant grits.  I used 1 cup of grits and 4 cups of water which makes about 6 servings.  Adjust your ratio based on how many servings you need.  I’ll be having the leftovers for lunch and grits are never wasted in my house.  Again, depending on what type of grits you are having, this will affect your cooking times.  After they are done, I like to add some vegan butter for a more creamy consistency and salt & pepper to taste.  For the buffalo sauce, melt the tablespoon of vegan butter in a saucepan with a cup of your favorite hot sauce (Only Frank’s Red Hot will do in our house!).  Simmer to make sure the butter is well combined and transfer to a bowl to toss the chicken.
  3. Once the chicken is done cooking, simply toss the chicken in the buffalo sauce and assemble your plate.  To kick it up a notch, you could drizzle a little bit of vegan Ranch dressing on top to cool down the heat.  Enjoy!

Bye y’all!

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