Disclosure: I’m so happy to be able to give you all a peek into The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright. Thanks for letting me share this beautiful cookbook with you!
This past week I had to say goodbye to my beautiful, smart and sweet dog, Sheri.
I found Sheri (or “Dingo” as I liked to call her) at the Oakland Animal Shelter in 2010. Her previous owner had committed suicide and she was abandoned there by the other members of his family. She was melancholy, skittish and a little aggressive when I first met her, but I knew instantly that we were right for each other. Over the years, she developed into a happy, more relaxed dog. And because of her, I developed into a happy, more relaxed human.
Sheri was my trusty companion for almost seven years. We traveled across the country together three times. We walked over 10,000 miles. And we ate all the things.
She also healed my heart after countless breakups. And she gave me strength in more ways than I ever could have imagined. I knew that adopting Sheri from the animal shelter would improve (and ultimately save) her life. But I couldn’t have predicted how much she would improve mine.
I never treated Sheri like a person. And to claim her to be a domesticated dog even seemed like a stretch at times. She was wild to the core. And she was happiest when she was outside, running full speed and hunting anything that moved. She wasn’t keen on snuggling. And she preferred dog treats over peanut butter. But still, she was MY PERSON. And the sadness that I feel without her is profound. There is a crushing silence in my house and a void my heart.
The next few weeks are going to be all about being kind to myself (something I usually suck at) and getting into a new routine. There are no more walks to go on. No specific times that I need to be home. And no happy face to greet me at the door. It all feels very strange.
So right now I’m focusing on doing the one thing that I know how to do: cook.
Laura Wright’s cookbook, The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons, arrived at my doorstep back in February. As I opened the box and flipped through it’s pages for the first time, I audibly swooned. Because the photographs are THE MOST gorgeous and the recipes are THE MOST delicious.
I’m giving away one copy of The First Mess Cookbook. Scroll down to enter!
I also enjoyed a heightened sense of giddy-ness as I held the book in my hands. I’ve admired Laura’s blog for many years now, so it kind of felt surreal to be deemed cool enough to receive an advanced copy of her first cookbook. It was like I had achieved some level of food blogging greatness.
Laura has a magical touch in the kitchen. Her recipes are both luxurious and approachable. And she has a way of creating complex flavor profiles without the need for a long ingredient list or complicated cooking techniques. It’s nourishing, wholesome food that you can make and eat everyday. The fact that everything also happens to be vegan seems like a footnote. It’s not vegan food that’s trying to be something else. It’s just good food being good. And frankly, I can’t think of anything better than that.
I’ve made several recipes from Laura’s book so far (all winners!). And I even had a different one photographed and ready to share with you today. But then I made these Roasted Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowls over the weekend and they provided me with so much comfort after the loss of my Dingo, that I knew this was the recipe that I should share instead.
I eat tofu fairly frequently when I’m out at restaurants. I always order it in my pho. And no vegetarian stir fry is complete without it. But as I prepared to make these Roasted Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowls, I suddenly realized that I had NEVER actually cooked tofu at home. Shocking, right? But now I feel like a total tofu VIP, because with Laura’s recipe I nailed it on the first time (hooray for crispy edges!). And I didn’t even have to do any messy pan frying. That is a major win as far as I’m concerned.
The lime and oil mixture has three jobs in this recipe: it coats the tofu, it coats the broccoli and then you use the leftovers to drizzle over the final dish. I ended up making slightly more than the original recipe called for, because it was so tasty that I knew I wanted to make sure I had an extra dose for the end. If you’re a “sauce person”, I suggest you do the same.
Laura finishes this dish with sunflower sprouts, but I couldn’t find any in my grocery store so I used pea shoots instead. Any small, fresh sprouts or shoots that you can get your hands on would be lovely here. Grain bowls are usually pretty forgiving in that way. Which is why I love them so.
I’m thrilled to have The First Mess Cookbook in my kitchen. I feels like it could be the last cookbook I ever own and I’d be happy. So of course, I’d love for one of you to have a copy as well! So I’m giving away a copy of The First Mess Cookbook to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave me a comment below, telling me your favorite Spring vegetable. The giveaway will be open until April 3, 2017. After which I will randomly select a winner and notify them by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to me with their shipping address (United States and Canadian residents only, please) or I will select an alternate winner. Good luck! Update: This giveaway had ended and a winner has been selected. Thank you to everyone who participated!
Roasted Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowls
- 1 block (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
- 2 tsp. lime zest
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup fresh sprouts or pea shoots
- 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Drain the tofu of it’s packing liquid and pat it dry with a kitchen towel. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, lime zest, garlic power, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Gently toss the tofu cubes in the lime and oil mixture. Then using your hands, remove the tofu cubes from the bowl and place them on your parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Try to reserve as much of the lime and oil mixture as possible. Transfer the baking sheet to your pre-heated oven and roast the tofu for 15 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from your oven and carefully flip the tofu cubes over. Toss the broccoli florets in the reserved lime and oil mixture and then transfer them to the same baking sheet. Return the baking sheet to your oven and roast the tofu and broccoli for 20 minutes. Remove from your oven and set aside.
- Whisk the basil into the remaining lime and oil mixture.
- Divide the brown rice evenly between your serving bowls. Top with the roasted tofu and broccoli. Add some sprouts/pea shoots, sunflower seeds and a drizzle of the basil-flecked lime and oil mixture. Enjoy immediately.
Reprinted with minor adaptations from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright.
Oh I’m so sorry to hear. Dogs are a part of the family and losing them is incredibly hard. Sending you good vibes for lots of self care this week. Thanks for sharing
Thanks, Karlie. XOXO.
Awww, Liz….even in your pain, you use your talent to give. Sending you much love, beautiful woman. And happy to tell you I crush on asparagus hardcore every spring. xo
Thanks, Jen. And asparagus is one of my favs as well!
So glad to see you playing with tofu! I so need some good recipes and will try this one. When spring finally gets here I’m all about local arugula. Sheri wouldn’t have been impressed with either of these foods! Keep your head up. Sheri was you. 100%! Keep thinking about all those good memories.
Thanks, Jaimie. We were definitely meant to be!
Liz– you already know how much I feel for you and understand love for dogs. Not much I can say will make you feel better.. but I’m sure some adult outings to beautiful places in our area could help!
And speaking of fav spring veggies– we can seek out fiddleheads!! Mmmm
Oh yes! I love fiddleheads. They are so fun!
Looks delicious! Can’t wait to try the recipe!
Laura’s recipes are the BEST for when you need a little extra comfort. I’m sending you all the love, hugs, and comforting vibes this week. So many hugs to you friend. xoxoxoxo p.s. Keep an eye on your mail, there’s a little something heading your way.
Thanks, girl. I can feel the hugs from over here.
I am sorry for your loss! I love arugula but my husband is a big fan of asparagus.
I am interested in trying this recipe. I have not had a lot of luck with tofu but this looks pretty tasty.
I hope you give it a try. It’s so easy and delicious!
My favorite spring vegetable is asparagus, of course.
Asparagus is definitely one of my favorites too!
I love leeks this time of the year.
I love anything with leeks or asparagus during the spring !!
Oh yes! Perfect salad toppers!
So sorry to read about “your person” my dear. ((Hugs to you))?I can truly sympathize with you…I’ve been there before and I know initially it’s not easy. But day by day it will get a little better. And their memory will forever be with you…**the positive. ** Be kind to yourself…and do things that you wouldn’t normally do during this time. <3 On a different note…this recipe looks fabulous and I love Laura's work. I enjoy all veggies, but during the spring I love Leeks and I also adore adding pops of color with beets(yellow, orange, red, and chioggia).
Thank you for all the love and support. I appreciate it. XOXO.
I’m looking forward to Laura’s book. This recipe looks sublime… quick and easy (I’m a tofu lover!)… Tight hugs to you Liz… our fur babies lives are way too short. Take it slow, one day at a time and be patient with yourself. Allow time for grieving.. give yourself space. Although time will help with pain, you’ll always have that special place in your heart. I still cry for Claire. It’s been two years. My heart is in bits for you. Sending courage, strength and much love. xo
Thank you, Traci. You are such a great friend and I really appreciate you. I can feel the hugs from way over here!
I’m so glad to hear that cooking is giving you comfort right now. Laura’s book is SO gorgeous, and this dish sounds like the perfect kind of healthy comfort food. Sending so many hugs! I’ve been squeezing and hugging my dog a little harder this past week, thinking of you. Sheri was lucky to have you, and I know you feel lucky to have had her. I truly hope you can find a new and happy routine soon. xoxo
Thanks for the kind words, Sara. And for the virtual hugs!
After a long winter, there are so many fruit and vegetables that I’m excited to see making their way onto my plate. I absolutely cannot wait for fresh peas. It’s pretty incredible how the life force that is spring can be embodied in such a perfect little vegetable. When they are perfect, peas need little more than butter, flaky salt, and some fresh mint.
Yes, I agree completely! Spring peas really are perfect little gems! Thanks, Emily!
sorry for your loss!
not a big tofu fan until i started trying some of your recipes!
my favorite spring veggie is the artichoke!
Artichokes are such a treat! I love them, too!
So sorry to hear about uour loss… when you’re ready.. maybe another rescue dog could help heal your heart… it did mine when i lost my 2 beloved little buddies within 6 months of each othet… ❤
My favorite spring veggie is asparagus… take care
I’m sure I’ll get another rescue dog someday. I’m a dog lover thru and thru!
I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was deeply loved, and loved deeply in return.
I’ll join the crowd with the vote for fresh asparagus. Thank you for the chance to win!
Thank you, Ashley. The people sure do love asparagus!
Even do asparagus (in any shape and sizes) gives an “special ocassion” twist to meal, my heart melts when antichokes are around! I love them!
For your little chuchu, I can totally relate w/your feelings. I lost mine 2 years ago after 16 of enchanted moments… Hope the best for a new routine and Who knows? Maybe unexpected surprises will knock at your door!
Thank you, Julia. The loss is definitely hitting me hard. But yes, hoping for something good to come out of it.
so sorry for your loss?
so very sorry…
I love your blog…you inspire me!
I’m a BIG asparagus lover…my ? loves them too!
Thanks for the kind words. And YES to all the asparagus!
I am so sorry to hear about your loss, it’s never easy. Time is the best healer.
My favorite vegetable in spring would probably be Asparagus.
Thanks, Cathy. XOXO.
I absolutely love asparagus! I only wish their season was longer.
Asparagus is one of my favorites, too!
First, I am so sorry about your dog. Our beloved Wheaten Terrier, 13 years old, is sick and I KNOW that in the next few months he will no longer be with us. Right now, we are doing everything the vet says and more. As long as he keeps eating and drinking, we are good. So, again, I am so sorry for you.
My favorite spring vegetables has to be Asparagus. We have an amazing farmer at our Farmers Market and he has such pride in EVERYTHING he grows- all organic, all handled with love. So whatever he has in the spring is beautiful.
A better question is spring FRUIT!! STONE FRUIT is the real joy of spring… all of them! I am lucky to live in LA where we have great produce at the farmers market, and perhaps it all arrives a bit earlier than most. This is the best time of the year!!!
Thank you for the kind words. And I’m jealous of all your California produce right now. We still have a long ways to goes before stone fruits come around here!
So sorry for your loss…we lost our loved dog of 14 years just before Christmas! One day at a time you’ll find your peace again.
I checked out this beautiful cookbook from the library and would love my own copy! My favorite spring vegetable are peas!
Thanks for the kind words, Amanda. And Spring peas are the best!
Ugh, that sucks so intensely. Sending you all the hugs!
Thanks, Joanne. XOXO.
Definitely, asparagus would be my favorite.
I’m sorry about your dog — I’ve been there so many times and it never gets easier
Another asparagus lover, there’s so many ways to make it yummy. And sorry to hear about your doggy, they are parts of our family.
Thanks, Sara. And yes to all the asparagus!
Asparagus? Peas? Or rhubarb? I guess I will have to go with the rhubarb. For a pie! I’m making this recipe today for my vegetarian daughter-in-law while we chow down on grilled NewYork Strips!
Sounds good, Gerry!
Fresh peas are my favorite spring vegetable.
Fresh peas are great!
Asparagus and baby zucchini are my favorite springtime veggies. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Animals provide the most unconditional love of all beings and they make us better people for it. I have just discovered your blog and will be adding it my list of those I follow. Thanks for sharing this beautiful recipe.
Thanks for the kind words, Beth Ann. And so glad you’re following now!
I’m so sorry :(. hang in there girl. <3
The spring veggie that i look forward to most… is pea shoots and fresh peas! I'm not even positive if those are truly spring vegetables but they feel so bright and fresh and springy to me, I get so excited to use them!
I love pea shoots, too. Their frilly appearance is so cute!
There is something so special about a dog. Sorry to hear about your loss. ?
As for my favorite spring vegetable, that’s a hard one, I would have to say that I love using dandelions in salads and asparagus is an all time favorite. Thank you for all that you share, I love your recipes. So please keep cooking up great recipes ?
Oh dandelions! I don’t think I’ve ever put them in my salads before. I’m going to have to try that.
Aw, Liz.. I am teary eyed reading this. I am so sorry! How amazing though of the great life you gave her, and in return at all of the many things she helped you with. Animals are truly gifts and losing one is always such a miserable time in life. Positive vibes coming your way! xoxo
Thanks for all the kind words and positive vibes. I appreciate it. XOXO.
Just catching up on emails. I am so sorry to hear about your friend! Been there and its always tough. They say time heals all wounds so hang in there. My favorite spring vegetables are peas and asparagus.
Thanks for the kind words, Hope.
Sorry to hear about your sweet doggo. They really become a part of the family. <3
I'm excited about asparagus being in season! Yum!
Thanks for the kind words. And yes to asparagus!
So sorry about your dear dog.
I love spring peas! – Martina
I’m very sorry to hear about your dog.I only met her once last year at your birthday. Your dog had an excellent personality and was way to young to past. I know you must have done everything possible to help your dog .Like you I work out of the house often and know how much a dog can become your best friend and companion
I feel your pain
Thanks for the kind words, Walter. I appreciate it.
I’ve recently gotten very excited about arugula, especially atop a freshly baked pizza 🙂
Sheri seems like she was a really wonderful companion, loving you well yet still wild. Don’t we all need a little of that wildness in our lives? I hope your heart is healing ❤️
Thanks for the kind words. XOXO.
I just came across your website and like some of the recipes I’ve seen so far!
So sorry to hear about the loss of Sheri. Losing a beloved pet is so hard. She obviously had a very happy, good few years with you though and was much loved.
I live in the UK but I share shelter animals’ details on Facebook frequently, and most of those animals happen to be in American shelters (those are the ones that are always posted by other crossposters on my page on there so I re-share them as much as I can!). I frequently share details of dogs (and cats) at the shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island in NY. One of those dogs, who I was immediately smitten with (from 3,000 miles away!!) is Seymour. He has been at Brooklyn Shelter in NY since SEPTEMBER 2016 – almost 7 months now – and that is a VERY high kill shelter. They often ‘get rid’ of animals after only a few days.
Seymour was found abandoned on the streets and was very emaciated and neglected when he was brought into the shelter. Also, he had poorly eyes and he wasn’t great with other dogs. He has since filled out, his eye condition is gone and they gave him counter-conditioning sessions so he is now OK with other dogs too! He has also become a shelter favorite and the volunteers all adore him and are desperate for him to be rescued and given a great home. Here’s his page on the Urgent Part 2 – Urgent NYC dogs page: http://nycdogs.urgentpodr.org/seymour-a1090338/
Just saying ! 🙂
Aww..thank you Cathy! I will surely get another dog someday, but I’m just not ready yet. When I do get another dog, I definitely plan to adopt from a shelter again!
This household feels your pain, we recently lost our little boy, pink and grey galah. Murphy was amazing and we miss him. We are pleased you shared your pain, we all love our pet friends. Thank you for your blog, I have followed it and loved it for ages.
Thank you for the kind words, Gina. I appreciate them. XOXO.
I’m so sorry…..Your heart is broken now…but visit the Shelter once again when you’re ready. There is another
heart mender waiting there just for you who needs you .
Love love love sugar snaps.
Thanks, Nanette. Hugs.