Traveling Home, Getting Back Into My Routine, & Delicious Recipes!

weekly recap post, tomato soup, matcha latte, avocado toast, gluten free, homemade granola, delicious, weekly, reap, healthy lifestyle, what I did this week, cooking at home, fall, winter, December, november

Good evening & happy Monday!

First off, it feels good to be home. I enjoyed every minute away, but I missed my dogs, Kyle, and my regular routine. I figured I’d jump back into the norm by sharing a recap post from the past few days. Since I skipped an entire night’s sleep on the plane, I’m jumping back into the proper timezone rather smoothly. For all of you who messaged me on Instagram for the roasted tomato soup recipe, I’m sharing the details in this blog.
brother, simply taralynn, Kona, hawaiiLast Tuesday, I had to say goodbye to T.C. and his amazing girlfriend, Abby! They spent a few days out in Hawaii with me, and it was the best time ever! My brother and I live on entirely different coasts, and we don’t get to hang out much, so being together in Hawaii was a blast. They are coming to the Carolinas for Christmas this year, which I’m so so so excited for. Truly, I think he wants to visit so he can be apart of vlogmas πŸ˜‰Β pad thai, vegan, gluten free, tofu, healthy, food to eat, dinner ideas, easy, brown rice, tofu
I have been on a tofu pad thai kick. I made it for my brother, again for my friends in Hawaii, and my parents when I got home. This has been one of my favoriteΒ go-to meals, and I’ve been trying to perfect the recipe before blogging it. I’m going to also add it to my meal prep for one of my vlogmas videos.

To get the tofu crunchy, I heat the oven to 450-degrees, toss the extra firm tofu in avocado oil (i cut it up small), and bake for 40-minutes! I sprinkle the baked tofu with sea salt and pepper to flavor it up. I could eat the tofu just like this without the pad thai because it’s so delicious when crisp. When I made this recipe for my mom and dad, I knew it was a longshot. Whenever I say the word “tofu,” they cringe. Well, after they tried this recipe, I had my mom texting me the next day asking which tofu to buy.Β pad thai, vegan, gluten free, tofu, healthy, food to eat, dinner ideas, easy, brown rice, tofu
The cool thing about pad thai is that you can make it so many different ways. You get to choose your protein, add as many veggies as you’d like, or make it extra spicy. I think I finally got the pad thai recipe perfected, and I’m excited to share! I could eat it every night, and it’s even better the next day.
traveling to hawaii, packing, homeI packed up all of my stuff on Thursday before heading to the airport. I was so proud of myself for managing to only bring a carry on for the three weeks. I ended up buying two adorable tops from a local boutique there, and a couple of packages of dark chocolate macadamia nuts for the family. From now on, carry-on is going to be my travel go-to!

I left Hawaii at 2 pm on Thursday. It was a 5 1/2 hour flight to LAX, where I had a three-hour layover.Β traveling to hawaii, packing, home
It was pretty late in L.A. I thought about finding a spot to work, but also knew I’d get super hungry on the flight to Chicago. I decided to do something that was out of my comfort zone. Instead of grabbing a fast-food salad and some chips to eat in the corner on top of my carry on, I grabbed a good dinner and a glass of wine by myself at a restaurant. I’m one of those people that isn’t a fan of eating alone at a table. I know it’s not a big deal, but it’s something I hate doing. I feel silly for admitting that, but I bet others feel the same. The more you put yourself in that situation, the less uncomfortable it gets, and to be honest, I loved having my meal alone. I enjoyed the most delicious red wine, seared salmon, broccoli, and french fries! It was a great way to spend the next three hours at the airport.Β traveling to hawaii, packing, home
My next flight was at midnight out of LAX to Chicago landing at 6 am in Chicago. The flight was miserable.

I made the mistake of just sticking with economy. I should have just paid the extra $100 for the upgraded leg room. This was the first flight I’ve ever had with a man sleeping in my lap and my knees touching the seat in front of me. It was colder than 52-degrees on the plane, and I was so tired, but so uncomfortable so I could not sleep. The T.V.’s on the flight were broke, so I just sat there for four hours playing candy crush. I felt pretty miserable and so ready to come home.

I landed in Chicago at 6 am, ran to my gate to catch my next plane, which took off at 6:35 am! Luckily, I made it (almost stopped for Garret’s popcorn!) I landed in Charlotte at 10:30 am, my Dad picked me up, and I headed straight to their house to hang out and catch up on a ton of last-minute projects that were reaching their deadline.

After working, I finally fell asleep at around 3 pm and woke up at 6 pm when my mom got home from work. I made them the pad thai (surprise!) which they loved, my mom and I stayed up watching the movie, Intruder, which I highly recommend, and then I was out for the next ten hours.
living kitchen, matcha latte, vegan, healthy, coconut milk, caffeine, healthy order, Charlotte nc, dairy free,
I was so excited because Kyle was coming on on Saturday afternoon!

It was raining all day, so my mom and I headed to the mall to look at dresses. One of Kyle’s best friends is getting married in a few weekends, and I wanted a warmer dress to wear for a winter wedding. I found the PERFECT dress, and I can’t wait to wear it. I’ll share the details when it arrives!

After shopping, we headed to Living Kitchen for lunch and to kill time before Kyle landed. He was in Germany for work the entire time I was in Hawaii. I started with a coconut milk matcha latte and ordered my favorite fire and brimstone veggie burger to go.Β homemade granola, vegan, gluten free, no added sugar, easy to make, so healthy and yummy

On Saturday night, I made my homemade granola recipe. I put them in little containers for Kyle and packed one up for Becca. She’s not a fruit fan, so I used Lily’s no added sugar vegan chocolate chips for hers. I’m telling you if you haven’t made this granola yet, you must. It’s pretty much crack! My mom has already made as many batches as I have.
Charlotte nc
I did love the warm weather in Hawaii, but I was excited to put on the jeans, a sweater, and my boots to get in the holiday spirit. I met up with Becca in the morning to work on a new project.
lights juicery, coffee, toast, avocado, healthy eating, Charlotte nc, where to eat, vegan cafe, healthy restaurants CharlotteAfter working for a bit, we headed to our favorite spot, Light’s Juicery & Cafe.

We always split the gluten-free avocado toast because it’s super delicious, even when you’re not hungry! The avocado is still so fresh, and they give you a big serving. I had their ginger shot, and also ordered some cinnamon apple power balls to take home with me.
Ina garten , tomato soup, vegan, gluten free, healthy soup, roasted tomato soup, fall, dinner, gluten free grilled cheese, vegan grilled cheese
When Kyle and I were talking about what we wanted for dinner, we both decided on grilled cheese and tomato soup. I’ve wanted to try the Ina Garten roasted tomato soup for so long, so I figured it would be the perfect chilly evening to do so. Football and soup? Yes, please! The Ina Garten recipe is so perfect because it can easily be made vegan, and it’s already super healthy. There’s no heavy creams or sugar added to it. It’s super fresh, and the basil flavors make it decadent.Β 
I never wanted to make homemade tomato soup because I thought there was so much to it, but it was rather simple.

  1. I roasted the tomatoes in the oven with avocado oil, salt, and pepper for 45-minutes at 400-degrees!
  2. Sauteed the onions, avocado oil, garlic (I doubled the garlic), salt, pepper, red chili flakes together with vegan butter until onions and garlic were lightly browned.
  3. Mixed in roasted tomatoes, thyme, basil, and vegetable broth (recipe calls for chicken broth) & let simmer for 40-minutes
  4. Added all of the ingredients into the blender, and then back into the pot to serve!

THAT EASY! (the full recipe is here!)
For the grilled cheese, I used Udi’s gluten-free sandwich bread, Follow Your Heart vegan American Slices, and Earth Balance vegan butter. This was the first grilled cheese I’ve had in years since becoming dairy-free, and it did not disappoint, especially with the tomato soup. This is one of my all-time favorite meals, especially around the holidays.

We had so much soup leftover, so I’ll be eating that for the next few days!
After dinner, I tried on my new Christmas pajamas that Becca and I got for Vlogmas. We are doing a fun scene for the intro with matching pajamas 😊

Around 9 pm, I was ready to wind down for the night, so I decided to do a hot bubble bath with my calm spray. This always helps me fall asleep faster and better. The bubble baths help with body temperature and relaxation. It’s my nightly go-to every winter. I actually can’t wait to close this laptop and head upstairs for my bath.Β I woke up pretty late this morning. My body is still a bit confused about what timezone I’m in. It was so cute, though, because when I woke up, my coffee was made, the dogs were walked, the dishes were put away, and there was a cute note next to my coffee machine. I truly got lucky 😊

I had my coffee and enjoyed my last few days of fall decor. On Wednesday, the Christmas decorations are going up!

Anyways…I hope you all have the best week! Please make sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel to get ready for all the Vlogmas! I was hesitant about doing it this year because of all of the long hours it took, but I’d feel so sad if I didn’t do it. It means a lot when you all take the time to watch, comment, and give me your feedback! I can’t wait to hang out with you over there this December, and no worries, I’ll continue to do recaps and all the blogs too! Xo xo

Questions for you!

  1. What is one homemade meal you love cooking in the winter?
  2. Have you ever tried Ina Garten’s tomato soup?
  3. Will you be watching the new Bachelor?



  • Allison Long

    Can you share your Pad Thai recipe! It looks incredible

    Reply to Allison Long
  • Blay

    I love your photography!

    Reply to Blay
  • Courtney

    So so excited for Vlogmas! I’m glad you decided to do it again. I always looked forward to new videos last year πŸ™‚

    Reply to Courtney
  • Stara

    Hi Taralynn,

    What is your favorite healthy restaurant for a nice dinner in charlotte?

    Reply to Stara
  • Shannon

    On my flight this past fall to go to my dad’s celebration of life I sat next to a guy that wore to shortest shorts and NO UNDERWEAR!! Then to make matters worse he spread his legs wide while sitting next to me. It was obscene!!! The guy next to him (that horrid guy was in middle) told him to shut those legs. I’m so glad my girls were sitting in front of me and not next to him. EEEKS

    Carry on is the way to go so muc easier.

    Have an awesome holiday season.

    1: I make italian wedding soup and really any soup and homemade bread at least once a week in fall and winter ( and spring and summer πŸ˜‰ I’m a soup girl)

    2: I love and have tried lots of tomato soup recipes

    3: Nope don’t watch reality tv.

    Reply to Shannon
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Shannon!

      OH MY GAWDDD. I would have lost it if I were on that plane, but hopefully, it’s something you can laugh at now!

      Italian wedding soup is great. I haven’t had it in so long!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
      • shannon grififn

        Big laughs now. Bad thing was he was wearing his Air Force badge on his arm in a arm band so I’m sure he was giving the military a bad name. I really think he just wanted everyone to see his whole leg tattoos but trust me none of us remember that about him πŸ™‚ haha

        I need to make some it’s been a while. I try to make it lighter with chicken sausage. Once I was really lazy and didn’t make the meatballs and just browned up the meat loose it was just as delicious and I’ll probably do it that way from now on. πŸ™‚

        Reply to shannon grififn
  • Susie

    Glad you made it back safe and sound. . .there’s no place like home!

    I LOVE tomato soup, it’s my favorite with grilled cheese of course, and I hate to admit that I often pay $8 for a cup. Lunch in San Francisco can be pricey. Will definitely have to try Ina Garten’s version. Also, can’t wait for the tofu pad thai recipe! Oh, and I’ve decided that I’m making your granola, storing in cute mason jars with lids and gifting to my co-workers for Christmas. Can’t wait for Vlogmas!!

    Reply to Susie
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks, Susie! & you’re so right about that!

      If you love tomato soup you have to try Ina’s recipe!! You’ll love it!

      omg that’s EXACTLY what I’m doing for my Christmas treats this year!!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Brittany

    Oh my gosh Taralynn you are making me so excited for Christmas!! It’s great to see that you both made it home safely and are getting back into the swing of things πŸ™‚ I am going to be driving across the country starting tomorrow.. so I hope I bounce back quickly as well!

    And OH MY GOSH that tomato soup!! I have been obsessed with TJs tomato soup lately.. so I might need to try making one from scratch instead πŸ™‚

    Anywho, excited for vlogmas! Love the pjs (go Becca!!)!

    Reply to Brittany
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks so much, Brittany!!

      I’ll say a prayer that you have a safe trip and a fantastic Thanksgiving!! Please stay safe!

      I think you’ll love the Ina Garten tomato soup!!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Breeanna

    I’ve been on a soup kick lately. I like making homemade chicken soup with bone broth and kale, but I also like making a veggie-packed meatless chili. I use zucchini or other kinds of squash, cauliflower rice, tomatoes, bell peppers, hominy (corn), or sometimes just whatever veggie I have around.

    I’ve not tried the soup but I’d be interested in it!

    I love those pajamas! They are so cute and I am excited to see whatever projects you guys are working on.

    Reply to Breeanna
  • Kelsey W.

    Welcome back to the east coast! πŸ™‚ My favorite fall & winter meal I’ve been cooking from scratch on repeat is chicken and dumplings! It is SO good and so simple to make. I always buy high-quality organic ingredients so it feels like I’m feeding my soul whenever I eat it. I’m sure there’s a way to make the dumplings gluten-free, but I use regular flour. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving! πŸ™‚ xo Kelsey

    Reply to Kelsey W.
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks, Kelsey! 😊

      ohhhh chicken and dumplings were my favorite as a kid. My mom would make the Bisquick dumplings and I thought she was the best chef (still do πŸ˜†)I may have to try a gluten-free recipe although I don’t think it’ll ever be the same!


      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Kelly

    Hi Tarlynn!

    Welcome back home!
    OMG where did you get those PJs!?!?!? they are so cute!!

    I need to try that soup recipe! Ina Garten is fabulous so I’m sure her soup is too!

    Reply to Kelly
  • Kasia

    Tarallyn can you share the pad Thai recipe? I very often use your recipe and I feel like I am missing on something amazing!:)

    Reply to Kasia
  • Jaime

    I love to make tortellini soup! I honestly thought I had to give it up when I went vegan but I just tried making it with Kite Hill’s tortellini and it was so amazing!

    I am going to make that tomato soup tonight! My husband loves tomato soup but I thought it would be more complicated!

    No bachelor watching for me but I’ll read about it so that I’m not totally behind on the gossip at work haha! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Reply to Jaime
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Jaime!

      I want to try that tortellini so bad but it’s not gluten-free, i may have to do a homemade version with their cream cheese! LOVE kite-hill

      OMG let me know what you think of the soup!!!

      xo xo xo

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Katelyn

    Thank you for the tomato soup recipe! I can’t wait for Vlogmas! πŸ’š

    Reply to Katelyn
  • Lauren

    Hi Taralynn!

    I am glad you and Kyle had safe trips and are back in the same time zone!

    1.) I love making chili – I have used your recipe a few times and I love it! But sometimes I gotta go back to the old fashion meat chili πŸ™‚

    2.) I have never tried homemade tomato soup – but after seeing yours I need to! When you posted that I thought you got like take out from somewhere! Lol

    3.) YES! I will be watching the new Bachelor. I saw a post yesterday about Hannah surprising Peter and honestly I will not be happy if she is really on the show….

    I am so excited you are doing Vlogmas this year!! I think you are going to have a great audience – your vlogs were the best! To be honest I didn’t even know what vlogmas was last year, so I was late in the game watching yours….but I have been super excited waiting!!

    Reply to Lauren
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Lauren!

      Me too! 😊

      MMMM Chili is the best! I love having it throughout the week.

      TAKE OUT?! haha love it. Ina Garten recipes NEVER let me down!

      She is literally ON EVERY show on ABC! like…come on!

      THANK you so so so so so much!!!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Ann

    Happy Thanksgiving πŸ¦ƒ
    Congrats on all the fun news in your life as well, excited to see you’re new house!
    I have made Ina’s tomato soup, years ago, and it’s was the most delicious soup! Was just talking about it to my coworker she the other day.
    Where did you get the cute dark gray sweater from? (The one you’re wearing with your black boots), love it!
    Enjoy the holidays!

    Reply to Ann
  • Katie Meshko

    Love this post!! I need to know where you got those cute jammies! They look so cozy!! πŸ™‚ My favorite meal to make in the Winter is chili and also Zuppa Toscana soup.. soo good. Looking forward to your blogmas videos girl!

    XO, Katie |

    Reply to Katie Meshko
  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    My stomach is growling now! I feel so hungry after seeing all your delicious food photos, haha! πŸ™‚ I love roasted squash or sweet potatoes in winter. Oh, and tomato soup too! ❀️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Reply to Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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