Everything’s Bigger In Texas

kick-ass sunset

{port aransas, tx}

Well look who’s back from the dead!

That would be me.

When I started this blog I thought to myself, “how hard could it be?” I love cooking.  I love writing. So combining the two seemed like a no-brainer.

Until I met a little thing called, writer’s block.

Some of you may think that’s a B.S. excuse, but I don’t care. It’s true. With so many changes going on in my life right now, I was struggling to find the inspiration. Family health & relationship problems, financial instability (with the threat of losing my job–but don’t worry, I didn’t!), and one long vacation, I think all had something to do with it. The vacation part was definitely a great distraction from life, and a very positive one at that!

I have some family roots in Texas, and I’ve been visiting Austin and Port Aransas, Texas since I was a young teen. My parents are primarily located there now, so ever since Chris and I got married and moved from our home state of Michigan, we make it a point to vacation there once a year.

This year was extra special. My grandmother, Betty (mom’s mom) spent the entire 12 days with us! I previously wrote before about my grandfather passing away during the May Foodie Reveal, and that I only have a handful of memories with them because we always lived so far away. So it was such a gift to be able to spend some much-needed time with my grandmother, especially during such a difficult time for her.

We flew into Austin, stayed there three nights. Then headed down to the coast for the rest of the time. I anticipated great difficulty in resisting all the seafood once we got there, but to my surprise I only ate fish once the entire trip. And it was in Austin. As for the rest of it, I had some cheese here and there, but 80% of the time I was able to keep a completely plant-based diet.

Aren’t you so proud?? 🙂

Typically, vacations are filled with over indulgent foods, laziness, and if you’re into it, some adult beverages (which I am). The thing I love about vacationing at someone’s house, is that when it comes to food, you have the free range to cook and eat how you want to. For a vegetarian/vegan, that’s a major plus. Sure, we had the option to dine out at the many delicious restaurants, but the majority of the time we stayed in and cooked great meals together. And our leftovers? They rolled into the next day’s meals.

So, to avoid boring you with a description of every meal, I’ve decided to throw a slew of pictures at you! If you’ve been in a rut…well….I hope they inspire you.

First up! I made my pancakes, minus the green, citrus & ginger, plus the blueberries…

blueberry pancakes!

 That night was an array of goodness on a plate. I made two batches of my Quinoa Corn Bake (which everyone devoured), a potato salad I threw together, black beans, and guacamole & salsa with chips. Paired with a nice glass of white wine.

an array of goodness

Before we left Austin, we ate at one of our favorite restaurants called Z’ Tejas.  It’s the first and original location in an old Victorian house for the southwest grill, and they have delicious food. We started with their salsa trio, which included an amazing avocado salsa!  

a trio of salsa

Even with all the BBQ pits and honky-tonks, Austin is known for catering to vegetarians and vegans at their restaurants. I found their vegetarian enchilada on the menu and asked the server if he could omit the cheese and sour cream. He immediately asked if I was “vegan,” to which I hesitated and said “yes.” Then told me the sauce was not vegan, so he would ask the chef to use their tomato based sauce! I was so excited. It was full of sautéed veggies, and came with a huge side of rice and black beans. Yum.

bean & veggie enchiladas

We made it down to Port Aransas, TX, where we spent the next 8 days lounging, taking walks on the beach, boating, dolphin watching…

adorable dolphins

And yes, lots of cooking! Here are some green split pea tacos, topped with chopped peppers, onions and salsa, and stuffed inside a homemade corn taco shell with rice and a side of pinto beans.

split pea tacos

My grandmother Betty, who is Hungarian and speaks it, was raised on a farm and told stories about her childhood. She also made her famous homemade spinach pasta (has eggs) which was to die for…

Betty's pasta

Rolling out the pasta.

Betty rolling pasta

All prepped and ready to be baked! Who’s grandmother doesn’t have a killer bread recipe?!? And like me, I’m sure you think it’s the best bread you’ve ever tasted. Except her bread really is. So back off.

alotta dough

Chris made his own version of enchiladas that were even better than what I ordered in the restaurant. He made fresh seafood enchiladas for the group, and made a few black bean and veggie enchiladas for his one and only. I made Oh She Glows Enchilada Sauce to cover the whole batch when he baked it.   

chris' enchiladas

Our last night in Texas was also our 3 YEAR wedding anniversary! So we celebrated by having dinner with my parents…

celebrating 3 years!

and listening to some live music on the patio.

last night in texas

{chris, me, my dad, my mom}

We were sad to say good-bye, but after being away from our pup for almost two weeks I was kind of glad to be going home. How could you not miss this face???

don't leave me 
So as everything does, our trip came to an end, and I leave you with one more picture. Sometimes when we’re going through a tough time or the waters get choppy, it’s easy to miss out on the beauty in life. And if there is no beauty in your life, then create it. You have the power to change things for the better with your attitude alone. One of my favorite quotes (said by some big shot athletic coach) goes something like this…

“Life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it” 

Being a stubborn and temperamental person, this resonates with me a lot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the ‘poor me’ attitude, when really I have nothing to complain about. It’s easy (and to me very selfish) to get stuck in that mind-set. So I hope that quote strikes your fancy like it does mine!

Now, enough of that. I need to get my behind moving into high gear.

I believe I owe you all a plethora of recipes…


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