March Madness Indeed

I was getting myself all ready to write about how I’d been having a tough week–yet more snow on Monday, kids driving me crazy with their bad eating, fights about this awesome dinner (I thought) I made, feeling like there was no way this was going to work because my kids pretty much just want to eat meat–when I realized that this had actually been a pretty good week!¬† I probably have about five posts that I could do based just on this week alone ūüôā

First, there was the awesome Big Ten Championship basketball game–Michigan State v. Michigan.¬† I wouldn’t say I exactly bleed green, but I am every bit a Spartan.¬† Not only was it a great game, but the boys and I had a great time watching together.¬† We don’t watch a ton of tv, we watch even fewer sports on tv, and you don’t get a ton of MSU games living in Philly, so I don’t think they’ve ever seen it before.¬† It was so cute to see the little one mimicking my reactions to everything, and the big one just got into it in his own way.¬† He’d say, “Oh man!” every time Michigan even touched the ball.¬† Eventually he came up with, “Oh, barnacles!”¬† What?!¬† All three of us had a huge laugh over that one.

The game ran¬†into our normal dinner time¬†and my husband, not being the sports fan, was not-so-subtly showing that he was more concerned about dinner than he was about the outcome of the game.¬† I had been planning to make a gnocchi soup and he was quite sure that would not be happening so he started to wonder what he could make.¬† The recipe I’d planned seemed way more complicated than I wanted it to be, let alone what I had time for.¬† But, not being one to admit I’d made a mistake, I asked him to start some vegetable stock and I’d figure it out from there.¬† By the time the game (and our celebration) was over, the stock was boiling.¬† I added¬†a package of vegan gnocchi, let it cook for a few, added some vegan scape pesto we had in the freezer, then a few handfuls of kale.¬† I let the kale wilt a little, and voila!¬† Totally delish.¬† The recipe is at the end of this veeeeeerrrry long post.

Thursday night is noodle night in our house, generally, so I had planned to make Pasta Italiano from Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook.¬† Her header says that it’s so good, Italians use it as a barometer of friendship, as in whether the person is a good enough friend to eat pasta and beans with.¬† I figured it would be a fine dinner, nothing special.¬† Oh my gosh was I wrong!!¬† It’s this creamy pasta with asparagus, white beans, and cherry tomatoes.¬† The cream sauce is out of this world.¬† I was actually a little disappointed that I wasn’t home this afternoon to have the leftovers for lunch.

But there wasn’t much room for disappointment about lunch.¬† The boys and I took a trip into the city to visit my parents and see their new apartment.¬† The last time I’d been to the city, last fall, my son and I had ended up at HipCityVeg.¬† It’s right near Rittenhouse Square, and it’s good that it opened after I stopped working because¬†I probably would have wanted to go there every day.¬† The first time I went, I had this Crispy¬†HipCityVeg ¬†Ranch, and the big guy had Chick’n Nuggets.¬† They were so good and the texture was so like meat, I really started to wonder if I’d made a mistake.¬† But no mistake, it’s fake and it’s fabulous!¬† I told my parents about it and, now that they work and live near that area, they were curious to try it so we planned to head over there for some take out before checking out their new place.

As I said, I was feeling like I was in sort of a bad mood this week, so I have been craving a burger like it’s nobody’s business.¬† I can’t say exactly why, because it’s not like I was even a huge burger person when I did eat meat, but I was just imagining all of that juicy goodness.¬† Wanting it made me feel bad, but the though of not having it made me feel almost as bad.¬† The visit to HipCityVeg was definitely well timed!¬† I had the classic burger and it satisfied every single burger craving I had.¬† The patty isn’t quite crumbly the way a burger is, and I didn’t have any juice (we all know what that is…yuck!) running down my arms, but it’s probably better that way anyway.¬† The bun was delish, lovely lettuce and tomatoes, some red onion, a few pickle slices, ketchup and mustard…what more do you need?

My dad had the Buffalo Bella–portabella with slaw, tomato, and buffalo sauce.¬† I tried a bite and it had a really nice spice to it.¬† Usually when you order those types of things, they’re never all that spicy.¬† But this sandwich had a nice heat.¬† Not enough to knock you over or anything, but it was a nice surprise.¬† My mom had the Bistro Bella–portbella with Dijon, tapenade, lettuce, tomato.¬† I didn’t try hers but she really liked it.¬† We all agreed that it’s nice to have a place where you can satisfy some of those junk food cravings without that, “ugh, I feel sick, why did I do that,” feeling at the end.¬† I’m not saying this is health food, but it’s nice to satisfy a craving in a lighter, kinder way.¬† It’s probably not a tourist destination-type place, not like Vedge or anything, but it’s a great little vegan joint.¬† And if you find yourself visiting the City of Brotherly Love and¬†are overwhelmed by all of the cheesesteak joints, this place is definitely a¬†port in a storm.

The only bummer, for me at least, is that they only have sweet potato fries.¬† I’m not a sweet potato fan and I thought they were kind of mushy when I had them on my first visit.¬† They come with a delicious black bean dipping sauce, but even that wasn’t enough for me to get over the sweet potato.¬† I decided to skip them on this trip.

This isn’t even all of the goodness of the week, but the rest is for another time.¬† Until then, Go Green!!

Pesto Soup with Gnocchi and Kale


4 c. vegetable stock

8 oz. vegan gnocchi

1/2 c. prepared vegan pesto (I used a scape pesto I had in the freezer but I have no idea what my recipe was!)

4 c. chopped kale (about 1 bunch)


1.  Bring the stock to a boil in a large pot over high heat.

2.  Add the gnocchi and cook according to package directions.

3. When the gnocchi are approximately 4-5 minutes from being done, add the pesto and stir to combine, then add the kale.  Stir the kale into the soup, allowing it to wilt to desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a big chunk of crusty bread.