This past weekend I attended the IACP Conference (aka. the International Association of Culinary Professionals.) I spoke on a panel with Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking about brand/blogger relationships. (That makes me sound like a bigger deal than I am.) It was incredibly fun and enlightening and scary.
But what was even better than all of the seminars were the people. Conferences are fun because they draw all of us food bloggers out of our homes and into public. We put on real people clothes. Sometimes we even put on makeup. And we hug each other. Oh, do we hug each other.
You may or may not know that the food blogging world is actually filled with incredibly kind and genuine humans. We get together in a room and there is rarely a competitive feeling, instead there are so many compliments and the afore mentioned hugging. Meeting Sonja of A Couple of Cooks was no exception.
I have admired Sonja and Alex’s blog for quite some time, so meeting IRL was very special for me. They just released their new cookbook (where you can find this veggie supreme paella recipe and more) full of vegetarian whole-food ingredient recipes that are both simple and beautiful. Hence the title: Pretty Simple Cooking. Their cookbook did not fail to please. It’s got tons of healthier recipes that feel very do-able.
I know for me, I was not sure I’d ever approach making my own paella. Mostly because I’m not into shrimp with faces, but also because it just seemed hard. But this veggie supreme version was more than doable. It was easy. And delicious. I can see it being a great go-to meal for larger families, because it makes 6 servings. It would also be an amazing dish to serve for an easy dinner party.
This version is vegan, but I could totally see adding shrimp, clams or sausage to this and it being a hit for meat-eaters. It’s always nice to start with a base of veggies and add from there. It ensures you’re at least getting a healthyish meal. And that’s what really counts. AMIRIGHT?
Excerpted from A Couple Cooks | Pretty Simple Cooking: 100 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes to Make You Fall in Love with Real Food by Sonja Overhiser and Alex Overhiser. Copyright © 2018. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Order here.
Veggie Supreme Paella
A healthier version of the original - this Veggie Supreme Paella from the Pretty Simple Cooking Cookbook is plant based and packed with flavor!
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 large cauliflower, cut into florets
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 3 ounces green beans, ends removed
- 1 large roasted red pepper, sliced (from a jar)
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups dry white arborio rice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Peel and dice the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Chop the cauliflower into florets. Brush any dirt from the mushrooms, remove the stems, and slice the tops. Remove the ends of the green beans. Thinly slice the red pepper. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
In a large skillet (at least 12 inches) or paella pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Add the green beans and sauté for 2-3 minutes until bright green, slightly tender and charred in parts; remove from the pan and set aside.
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the hot pan, and sauté the onion until just translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, cauliflower, and mushrooms, and sauté for about 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the tomatoes with their liquid, and cook until all the liquid is reduced, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Stir in the rice, smoked paprika, turmeric, and kosher salt. Stirring constantly, cook for about 1 minute until the rice is well coated.
Add the broth and chickpeas and stir to combine. Arrange the green beans on top, slightly pressing them into the rice, then sprinkle the red pepper strips over the top. Bring to a simmer.
Allow the liquid to slowly absorb at a medium simmer, gently bubbling; do not stir. Avoiding stirring allows a bit of a crusty rice on the bottom and edges of the pan, while the remainder of the rice stays tender. Cook until the rice is al dente and all bubbling has stopped, about 25 to 30 minutes depending on the pan. Take care that the simmer is gentle; if the heat is too high, the rice on the bottom may burn. When the rice is done, remove from the heat and serve immediately.
Speaking on this panel about “the business of being an influencer” this past weekend did two things for me. (1.) It made me feel like a #girlboss for a moment and, being a Leo, I love that feeling. But it also did something else – something softer. (2.) It reminded me of the core values of Brewing Happiness. It reminded me why I do what I do.
I was sitting on stage talking about my “deal breakers” when it comes to working with brands, as well as how I choose who to work with, and it all came flooding back to me. All of the reasons I put in the hard work. All of the tenants that started this site. They are still in me. They still guide me everyday.
It struck me that since the business side of this blog has gone from zero to 60 in the span of a couple of years, I probably haven’t told you recently what my guiding principals are. So I thought it could be nice as a refresher for me to talk about my values. I always want Brewing Happiness to be an open an honest place for everyone. That has to start with me.
You should know why I do what I do. You should know where you fit into this internet space.
So here are my top 5 guiding principals…
- Health is not just about what you eat. Health includes mental and spiritual health too. It’s why I started the Soul Food section of my site. It’s why I try to be as honest with you as I can about my mental health. It’s why I’m not always on my phone and might take longer to answer your DMs. I will never stop fighting for balance in my own life, and I will never stop advocating for self-care in yours.
- I will NEVER include a calorie count. I come to food from a disordered eating background, and fought very hard to be comfortable with food and my body. I want this site to be a safe space for anyone who comes from a similar background. That’s why there will never be nutrition labels or calorie counts on my recipes. I will never talk about weight loss here. You are safe here. Your mind and heart have a place to heal here.
- I want to work with brands that have products you’ll love. I work with brands that I love. I work with brands that I think you’ll love. My hope is that whatever their product is it helps make the journey to health-ier easier/more delicious. The same goes for the cookbooks I promote. I’ll only recommend cookbooks that I think will make your health journey easier. And usually I love the authors as humans – so that’s a plus.
- I’m here to make healthy easier. I want to make health food less scary. I want to make it feel more doable. I want it to feel less overwhelming. I also want to show you that it doesn’t have to cost a million dollars. Healthy isn’t a lofty goal – it’s just some small steps that you take everyday.
- I am here for your heart. Email me. DM me. Tweet at me. Whatever. Being a human is hard and if I can help support you in your humanness somehow, I want to try. We’re all in this weird, wild journey together – so we might as well talk about it. So let me know if you have a question or just need a virtual hug. I’ve got your back. Your heart is safe here.
So that’s it. I wanted you to know what the core of Brewing Happiness is, so you can know just where you fit in. (HINT: right in the middle.) The internet can be weird and mean and scary. Just know that however bad it gets out there, you have a home here.
Let’s journey to health-ier (and make paella) together. xo.