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Appetizer

Rosemary & Garlic Smashed Purple Potatoes

June 12, 2014

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The posts are starting to dwindle down to once a week around here while the weather warms up and I take more and more breaks from my computer. I’ve had more evenings filled with evening hikes and less evenings spent wrapped in a blanket on Pinterest. I sometimes think I need to stay focused and spend less time wondering but I’m mostly just enjoying the much needed break from the interwebz.

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Did I tell you I inherited a boat? It’s a sweeeeeeet 1961 vintage, turquoise, motor boat that fits 4-6 people on its dark wood seats. It’s old and has needed a lot of work but we spent all last weekend cleaning it out, adding new lights to the trailer, replacing the gas tank, and getting it back into a usable state. It’s in pretty darn good shape for being 50 years old since my dad has housed it in the garage for the last 30 but there are still a few minor tweaks still needed before we can hit the water. All hard work aside, it’s been a fun summer project that has helped us get our hands dirty and reminded us of the rewarding benefits that come with physically putting effort into something.

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Spinach & Radicchio Salad with Broiled Citrus Vinaigrette

May 5, 2014

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I know, I know. You are all over winter citrus and have moved on to asparagus and ramps. However, I can’t resist a beautiful blood orange and had to pick up the last few at our local co-op since these are what I can only assume to be the last batch of the season.

I discovered the technique of cooking citrus this past winter and am basically hooked. There is a completely new, sharp flavor that the citrus takes on when caramelized slightly and its not to be overlooked. I recommend using broiled, roasted, and grilled citrus in something that will let the fruit flavor shine instead of burying it under a dish chocked full of too many ingredients. You can count on there being lots of outdoor grilling days ahead with grilled citrus over the open coals.

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We are dangerously fast approaching salad season here at the Blue Bush (that is the term for our bright blue house that we reside in). Our kitchen doesn’t have air-conditioning so we tend to live off of raw foods for much of the warmer months. Oh and grilling – did I mention how much Midwesterns love a good cookout? Yup, salads for lunch and grilling for dinner. That is our summer routine.

Although air conditioning would be super rad, I’m not too mad about it. This will be our third summer here and I’ve learned to really appreciate the diversity that can be made with a big bowl of raw veggies and some wonderful dressing.

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Gingerbread Syrup /// DIY Gifting

December 9, 2013

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Yikes, another sweets recipe? The holiday season has once again taken over and I can’t seem to get my mind to focus on anything else. I feel a little guilty about how sugar-laden VV has been over the past month (I’m not exaggerating. don’t believe me? Look here. and here. and even here). I feel like I’m setting a bad example after I went on that long rant last week to you guys about how switching to a vegetarian lifestyle is a healthy choice. So, I guess, what I’m trying to say is that for every sweets recipe I post on here, there are 10 salads being eaten in the days between which are not getting photographed / recorded. And that being a vegetarian is not an excuse to skip dinner because there is meat in it and jump right into dessert. But… do you know what is an excuse for that? The holidays! And they are here – so why don’t we just indulge for a little longer? Come on – what do you say? Well stuff our faces with fresh lentil soup and kale smoothies come the New Year – I promise!

My initial thought when deciding to make this syrup was that I could use dates as the sweetener and do a little bit of healthy twist on it. But I also wanted to make this syrup for far-away friends and I was worried about the dates not being able to travel halfway across the country without spoiling, ya know? What an awful greeting to an old friend – ‘Hey! Here is a package of spoiled baked goods for you! Enjoy! Hope ya don’t get too sick’. It just didn’t seem worth the risk. So, instead, I stuck to the good ‘ole fashion recipe that we’ve been making every year around this time. Silky and sweet – so you only need a few teaspoons. Perfect in your hot cocoa or morning cup of coffee. A great addition to a festive cocktail or to drizzle over baked goods. When deciding that I wanted to make some festive care packages for old friends, I couldn’t think of a more versatile gift.

In addition to this syrup, I’m including some homemade vanilla extract (that has been aging for 5 months now), my Sweet & Salty Curry Molasses Popcorn, and Baker Royale’s Cookies & Cream Bark (which was really just an excuse to buy another package of Newman-Os) in the goodies I’m sending to friends.

Next up – family packages! What are you DIY gifting this year? I need some more inspiration!

***REMINDER: Don’t forget to enter to win the book bundle I am giving away! Entries will be accepted until next Sunday so hop on over here and sign up!***

 

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Milk Stout & Sea-Salt Caramels

November 25, 2013

 

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To speak the obvious, the holidays are upon us! We’ve got Thanksgiving and the start of Hannakuh this week. And Christmas is exactly a month from today. Are you ready? Yeah, me neither. So even though I have not got around to getting gifts and roasting a giant tofurkey, at least I won’t come empty handed because I’ve got these caramels!

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These little candies are the perfect accompaniment for all your holiday gatherings. Going to a Thanksgiving where the host has already agreed to make EVERYTHING? Bring these instead of (or along with) that bottle of wine – it’ll be more personal and they are so perfectly petite that you don’t have to feel guilty about munching a few down before the big feast.

Or these would be wonderful to have on the table during a winter gift wrapping party (am I the only one who has those? It’s really the best excuse to make mulled wine and listen to Christmas records with friends). Or to bring to that ugly sweater party. Or really just to have out on the table all December long while you prep for the holidays.

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Hosting A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

November 21, 2013
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(Although I wish this was my own feast that I was muchin’ down on, it is not. As a change of pace on VV, I’ve borrowed most of the photos in this post so please click on the images to check out more beautiful photos from the original authors)

 

I’m a total planner. Anytime my boyfriend mentions he’d like to go on a trip somewhere, I’ll have a full day by day itinerary wrote up and emailed to him by the following evening. He usually has forgot he even mentioned anything by the time he receives the email but I know he has to smirk a little in that moment he opens it to find days (usually by the hour) planned out with restaurants, museums, sights, road stops, forests, and campsites. At least, I know I smirk a little when I re-read those emails. I don’t realize I’m doing it but I’m being exactly like my father in those moments. He would take us all (my brother, my three cousins who lived with us, and my step-mother) on a two week vacation every August when I was growing up. For the months leading up to it, he would pull out the atlas after dinner and compare tourist books (this was before the internet was a real big thing) to what was along the route. I remember how playful he always was in those planning moments and he’d tease me with comments like ‘should we go gambling in Vegas or take that 7 mile hike all uphill to see the rock that resembles a monkey head?’ (as if either of those things were appealing to a 10 year old).

Most of these trips I plan are just ideas – tucked away in email folders – never to actually be carried out. Sometimes I wonder if I have more fun planning adventures then actually taking them. There is just something comforting about these plans being there – comforting in the sense that if we did ever decide to sneak away to the Smoky Mountains or Lake Powell or Montreal at the last second, we wouldn’t miss a thing because I’ve got an itinerary for that!

Anyhow, I bring this story up because I planned out Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is sort of like a trip – you spend months planning and prepping only to have it carried out in one big meal. The funny thing is I’m not even hosting Thanksgiving this year. We always have Thanksgiving at my parent’s house up north and all I do is pick out a few recipes to make the day of and demand a Tofurky. However, even though I’m not hosting Thanksgiving, I still made a Thanksgiving menu. You know, just in case I ever feel like throwing a Thanksgiving dinner on a non-Thanksgiving holiday or something? Okay, that sounded crazy. I just mean that I did it because I enjoy planning. Planning can be a hobby, right?

So, to get to the point, if you are looking to host a Vegetarian Thanksgiving this year or just still need a few ideas on some sides, here is how I envision the perfect Vegetarian Thanksgiving:

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Savory Pumpkin Hand Pies

November 19, 2013

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Being a vegetarian at your boyfriend’s family Thanksgiving can be madly intimidating. Or going home and explaining to your family for the first time that you no longer will be eating your aunt’s legendary roast. Although it’s never fun having to repeat yourself over and over to every person at the gathering about why you aren’t diving into that meat, it’s something all of us vegetarians (and vegans!) have had to endure. Instead of spending your entire evening avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room in an attempt to avoid that ‘dietary needs conversation’, whip up a batch of these hand pies to win everyone over. No meat lover will miss the meat in these little pockets of savory deliciousness and they might just agree that these would make a better main course (or appetizer or side or all 3).

Although eating a giant turkery for Thanksgiving is ‘traditional’, I say the hell with it! Let’s make our own tradition!! You aren’t constrained to eating that one meat that is ‘traditional’ and you can play around with any food you enjoy. And, in my opinion, I think these little pockets of pot pies are better than any dried out turkey I was served as a child.

 

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Hop on over to DeSmitten Design blog for the full recipe and learn more!

 

Caramelized Cranberry & Brie Pull-Apart Bread

November 12, 2013

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Are you guys ready to talk about Thanksgiving? Excellent because it’s been on my mind a whole bunch lately and I am wearing my excitement on my sleeve. Holidays weren’t something I truly appreciated until I moved away and spent months upon months away from my family (it also helps that, in the more recent years, I’ve become obsessed with food as well). These days, it seems like I get more and more excited about the holidays sooner and sooner. Hell, I was ready to start talking about stuffing at the end of September!

 

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Blueberry Pistachio Parfait with Quinoa Granola and Maple Cashew Cream [Vegan]

September 1, 2013

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There is so much fall going on around Pinterest these days; I find it to be both appalling and kind of exciting. Maybe it’s this streak of 90 degree weather or my longing for copious amounts of curry in my stomach or the desire to wear knee high socks but I am feeling ready for it. [Heck, maybe I even already bought a can of organic pumpkin for vegan fall baking].

My brain feels so fried from this heat that I’ve managed to stumble into a mundane food routine of salads for lunch and veggie sandwiches for dinner. That is about it….Well, almost it. The other summertime food that has been a regular lately is greek yogurt and homemade granola. So much so that I am starting to think we may need to take some time off from each other soon or we may not be able to stay friends.

Thus, in an attempt to keep yogurt off my long list of hated foods (right next to beets and jello), I decided to try cashew cream in my breakfast parfaits. I originally made the cashew cream to lather on eclairs (…more on that in the coming days) but haven’t looked back at yogurt in weeks.

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The cashew cream only takes a few minutes to whip up and usually lasts me 3 to 4 servings of breakfast. It’s sweeter than yogurt but not so much that you feel guilty about enjoying it for breakfast. Feel free to enjoy with whatever granola you have on hand but I highly recommend trying out this quinoa version. The toasted quinoa gives the granola a crunchy texture unlike any kind of granola I’ve had before. And it’s a complete protein so you’ll be really ready to start your day right. ‘Nuff said?

 

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Blueberry Pistachio Parfait with Quinoa Granola and Maple Cashew Cream

Inspired by Gourmande in the Kitchen & Cashew Cream adapted from Oh, Ladycakes

For the granola:

  • 1 cup tri-colored quinoa (or 1/2 cup red + 1/2 cup white), rinsed super well
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • dash of cinnamon & nutmeg
  • vanilla bean, seeds removed and pod discarded (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or any baking oil you’d prefer)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (or more maple syrup to keep vegan)
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, divided & lightly crushed

For the maple cashew cream:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight
  • 4 dates, pitted
  • 2-3 Tablespoons maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want to make it)
  • about 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pint blueberries

Submerge cashews in water and let soak overnight.

Remove pits from dates and let soak with the cashews 30 minutes prior to making the cream.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine the quinoa, rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the vanilla bean seeds in a mixing bowl. Fold in the oil, maple syrup, and honey. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread out as much as possible. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to keep from burning. After 30 minutes, add 1/4 cup crushed pistachios to granola and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Drain cashews / dates and place in a food process or blender. Add the maple syrup and 1/4 cup water. Blend. If too thick, gradually add more water a tablespoon at a time until a desired consistency is reached (I like mine at the consistency of greek yogurt – thick and sustainable but a little fluffy).

To assemble: Layer the cream followed by the cooled granola followed by blueberries and garnish with crushed pistachio and cinnamon.

 

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Chickpea Cobb Salad Cups

July 21, 2013

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It has been hot hot HOT here in the Midwest. It’s hard to get motivated to eat copious amounts of food (let alone turn your oven on) in this heat. I’m not complaining… this is always the time of year that I start to master my salads. When  you start eating the things three times a day, you are bound to get creative with them. Corn relish, seasoned chickpeas, baked goat cheese, preserved lemons, stuffed tomatoes, polenta croutons…the options with salads are endless!

 

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When imagining these cups, think Americanized lettuce wraps (and not the kind you get at P F Changs). These little cups are filled with a vegetarian Cobb inspired salad. You can fill the cups with goodies before hand or put all the toppings in individual bowls and let people pick and choose how much of everything goes into their cup. Or you could even do it lettuce wrap style and mix the salad ingredients together in one bowl and then let your guests scoop the desired amount into little raddichio leaves.

If you’ve never had raddichio before, it’s a must try (especially for any salad lover). They look like mini red cabbages but have a flavor profile closer to the endive. Raddichio is slightly bitter and is part of the chicories family along with endives and escaroles. You can mellow out the slightly spicy / bitter taste by roasting the vegetable but I personally think it gives the perfect raw edge to this, otherwise pretty tame, Cobb salad.

 

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Cantaloupe Caprese

July 1, 2013

It’s July…just barely but still July. July means I’m entitled to consuming copious amounts of juicy, flavorful, plump tomatoes. And all the cravings that go along with it…cravings for say… salsa and tomato jam and  bruschetta and Caprese salad. Yup, Caprese salad. That is what I’ve been craving the most. An excuse to buy those irresistible bite-size fresh mozzarella balls that end up half gone before you can even put them on a stick. And basil so fresh that you can still smell the herb on your fingertips from the leaves being picked only a few minutes earlier.

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But…oh wait. There’s one problem. The tomatoes aren’t ready…they are plump and round but mockingly green. The green is a glaring reminder that they are so close…but not close enough. So what’s a girl to do when she impulsively bought a big tub of mozzarella thinking she’d come across heirloom tomatoes at the market? Eat them anyways, of course!

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This is a sweet twist on the caprese salad appetizer that you so often times see around the later summer months. It’s still a juicy excuse to splurge on fresh mozzarella and douse your food in balsamic. It’s just a bit of a sweeter excuse.

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PS – Yes, I did take the time to make these into shapes so it spelled out ‘Vegetarian ‘Ventures’. To be fair, it was a rainy Saturday and I didn’t have much else planned (besides sunbathing at the lake…which I repeat…it was rainy). So, you obviously can just cut these up into little squares or use a mellow scooper to make them circles. Or take the time to cut out cute shapes using cookie cutters you obtained from an antique shop. Whatever suits your fancy.

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Cantaloupe Caprese

makes about 2 dozen Caprese kabobs
  • 24 chunks of cantaloupe (from one small melon)
  • 24 fresh bocconcini (bite-size mozzarella) balls
  • 24 basil leaves

 

  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 12 kebob sticks (I broke mine in half for smaller kebobs)

 

Let kebob sticks soak in water for an hour before preparing.

Stick two of each cantaloupe piece, bocconicini, and basil leaf on a kebob stick in whatever order you’d prefer. Repeat with the rest of the pieces and sticks.

Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar before serving.

Doesn’t get much easier than that, huh?

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Coriander Hummus

June 17, 2013

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Did everyone have a fantastic Father’s day? What wonderful thing did you do for our Father? I drove eight hours to see Fleetwood Mac in Chicago with my Father on Friday (although…he paid for the ridiculously over-priced tickets so we are probably even). My father ALWAYS had a Fleetwood Mac album on in the car when I was little and it’s one of the rare moments I remember singing and dancing with him. It was awesome growing up on Fleetwood Mac, I’ve always wanted to see Stevie Nicks in person and she did not disappoint.

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Here’s a simple hummus recipe for you. I decided to put the ‘flavoring’ in the top and keep the hummus itself super basic (mmmm garlic garlic hummus). You don’t HAVE to peel the chickpeas but I read about doing it over at Smitten Kitchen a few months back and am totally hooked. I’ve ruined 2 blenders by overheating them when making hummus and this takes the majority of the work off the blender. Plus, it leaves your hummus so smooth that you’ll never need the store bought stuff again.

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Coriander Hummus

  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup olive oil

 

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds, toasted and crushed (instructions below)*
  • 3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped

 

Peel the chickpeas by lightly pinching the bean and the outer shell should come right off in one big peel. Repeat with the rest of the chickpeas. Transfer the beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, water, and olive oil in a blender (or food processor) and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt, pepper, or more lemon juice. Transfer hummus to a big bowl.

Place the coriander seeds in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir constituently for about two minutes or until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a mortar and pestle to crush. Sprinkle crushed coriander seeds over the hummus followed by sprinkling the cilantro.

Serve with pita and fresh veggies.

 

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Maple Almond GORP // The Adventure’s Food

May 31, 2013

As mentioned on Tuesday, we spent last weekend exploring the forest wonders of Wisconsin. We went hiking and can0ing and swimming (Yes, Wyatt’s brother has cheetah hair)…

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It was a beautiful and relaxing adventure. However, traveling with a group of Midwestern families, I was nervous about the eating situation. There are still many places that don’t realize ‘vegetarian’ means not eating fish or chicken. And Midwest fast food doesn’t necessarily cater to vegetarians with their bland ice burg lettuce salads and sugar drenched parfaits. I decided to take the situation into my own hands by whipping up some homemade chex mix, stuffing as many sparkling water cans into my purse as possible, and baking a pan of GORP.

Why GORP? I don’t have fond memories of preparing it at summer camp or munching on it during Girl Scout outings. We never backed it during family road trips or enjoyed a big bowl at 4th of July. I guess this lack of GORP in my childhood made me curious of what I was missing out on. Plus, a friend told me that my Cinnamon Quinoa Granola reminded them of GORP – portable, high-protein granola? I’m in.

Say hello to my new favorite road trip snack. This stuff lasted me the whole four days since a big scoop is pretty filling. I would suggest this for anyone going on a long car ride, camping trip, hiking, or anyone in need of a high-protein snack. I put coated chocolate in this recipe (hey, I was on vacation after all) which I found helped the chocolate from melting. Feel free to adjust this anyway you see fit. For me, I’m not a big raisen person so I snuck dried cranberries in there instead.

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MAPLE ALMOND GORP

  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • 1 cup candy coated chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the maple syrup with the split vanilla bean in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let the vanilla bean steap for ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove vanilla bean.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut flakes, almonds, oats, cranberries, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour maple syrup mixture over everything and stir to combine. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes.
Let cool completely before folding in chocolate. Store in an airtight container or plastic bag and adventure away!

 

 

Mango Cucumber Salsa

May 22, 2013

It’s finally time! After five loooong, cold months – fresh produce is back! And I’m not talking about those root vegetables that taste like dirt (sorry, beets. You just don’t do it for me). I’m talking about spinach that was picked earlier that day and strawberries that were carried on a truck from down the street.

This salsa is great in it’s simplicity. It’s wonderful when produce is so fresh that you don’t need a ton of added ingredients. Dip this salsa in tortilla dips or use as a topping for tacos, veggie burgers, or anything else that sounds delicious!

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Cucumber Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango, peeled and diced (pit removed)
  • 1 red chili pepper, diced
  • 1/2 english cucumber, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • juice from half a lime
  • 10 mint leaves, chopped
  • squirt of sriracha (optional, add if you’d like to add a hint of heat)

Combine the mango, pepper, cucumber, cumin and mint in a bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over the salsa and stir until everything is coated. Season with salt and sriracha.

 

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Angel Food Cupcakes with Brandied Strawberries

April 20, 2013

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If you are a regular around here you may have noticed my usual ‘Searchable Saturday’ post missing these last two weeks. I am currently re-vamping that weekly column and will hopefully have it back in the coming weeks. To hold you over until it’s back, feel free to find my weekly inspirations over on Pinterest.

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I learned all my baking techniques backward. Instead of learning the basics right off the bat – I dove right into vegan baking after moving into my first kitchen. This means I can whip up a Vegan Chia Latte cupcake like no one’s business but often times still feel lost when trying to make a traditional cake…like one that involves 4 sticks of butter and 3 pounds of powdered sugar (do people actually put that much butter in a single recipe?!).

I’ve begun working backwards and am try to get a grasp on as many aspects of baking as possible (branching out from vegan and gluten free). So, while wondering through the bakery section of my co-op the other day, I realized I’ve never made angel food cake from scratch. It’s something that has always been so easily accessible to me going up that I never really gave a thought to where it came from. Perhaps from a box? Or from the grocery store bakery? But what about homemade – had I ever really had homemade angel food cake? I was beginning to doubt I had. And something needed to be done about it.

I began doing research (AKA searched google) and discovered my challenge for making angel food cake would be whipping the egg whites until ‘soft peaks formed‘. I had read that term before and only accomplished it one other time – when making The Butterscotch Roll Up Cake for this little blog’s birthday. I remember being SUPER intimidated by this term and watching many youtube videos before trying it myself. I had successfully accomplished making those ‘soft peaks’ but had pretty much steered clear of any recipe with this step in it since. However, the rest of making angel food cake seemed SO simple with its few ingredients and minimal steps that I knew I could shy away no longer.

In the end, the soft peaks term was nothing to fear. I used this handy visual guide from TheKitchn to make sure my egg whites were whipped properly and boom – the cupcakes turned out light and fluffy! Oh, and delicious. The chocolate chunks sank to the bottom because of the light batter but it made an amazing angel food sandwich – with dark chocolate on the bottom, boozy strawberries on top, and angel food cake in the center.

 

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Angel Food Cupcakes with Brandied Strawberries

Brandied Strawberries:

  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon brandy

For the cupcakes:

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 dark chocolate chunks (or regular chocolate chips)

For the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons milk

 

Slice the strawberries and place them in a bowl with the brown sugar and brandy. Cover and place in the fridge while you prepare everything else (try to let them sit in their for at least an hour).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and slightly grease a 12 muffin pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Set aside.

Add the 5 egg whites to your stand mixer bowl and beat until foamy. Next, add the cream of tartar and salt and turn the mixer up to high. Gradually add in the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and then vanilla extract. Beat until soft peaks form.

Next, fold in the flour mixture in three additions. Try to keep the batter as light and fluffy as possible and doing it in three additions will help not to weigh it down. Keep folding until everything is incorporated.

Transfer batter to the prepared muffin tins and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. You can tell they are done if the center is browned and bounces back slightly when you touch it.

Remove from heat and transfer to a cooling rack (I’ve read that you should place them face down on the cooling rack so they don’t sink – I didn’t have a problem with them sinking but would recommend you do this step just in case).

To make the frosting: Use a mixer to beat the butter until creamy. Next, add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue beatings on medium speed. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Drain the strawberries of any excess sugar liquid (or reserve it to drizzle on top).Once the cupcakes are cooled, frost them and top with brandied strawberries.

 

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Homemade Mustards: Honey Curry & Beer Thyme

April 16, 2013

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As spring approaches, I get the “grilling craving”. You know what I’m talking about – where not only the smell of blooming flowers is in the air but also the smell of charcoal and kabobs. This is usually also the time of year that I  get the urge to make a new condiment. For me, condiments will always be associated with summer outdoor cookouts. A veggie dog is just not the same without relish, ketchup, and mustard. But woah, have you seen all the preservatives that reside in your standard ketchup bottle? Its a sight for sore eyes!

This is usually why I like to make a few batches of homemade condiment to last me through the summer. Two years ago I posted about Ketchup, last spring was Barbecue Sauce, and this time around I am trying my hand at Mustard. The idea, for me, is that if I make it in the spring then I’ll have the condiments around in the fridge for grill outs and social gathering all summer long.

I’m pretty excited about this mustard because it will last in your fridge for up to 3 months. That means months of veggie dog toppings and Brie Grilled Cheeses! In addition, it makes plenty to share and you get to show off your fancy cooking skills to all your friends. What’s a better conversation starter than ‘Oh, here is where I put that homemade mustard. Yup, I said homemade’ ?

The trick for these recipes is to use enough vinegar that you get a bit of tang with each bite but also don’t use so much that the vinegar becomes overpowering (which can happen pretty quickly). Also, another thing to note, is that whole mustard seeds are super spicy. Like…way more spicy than most people ever realize. This means that you may need to add LOTS more sweetener at the end to get the desired flavor profile you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to mix in some more honey or agave to make it sweet. Or even more curry powder or thyme if you aren’t tasting the added ingredients as much as you’d like. Homemade cooking is all about experimenting so play around with this recipe and figure out what works best for your taste palette.

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Homemade Honey Curry Mustard

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (plus more for the end)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon curry powder
  • salt

Homemade Thyme Beer Mustard

  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • salt

For both or either recipes: Place all ingredients for each recipe into two separate bowls (or just use one bowl if you are only making one of the mustards). Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day, transfer everything to a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached (I like to keep a few mustard seeds whole but do whatever fits your fancy). Taste to season and add more honey if it’s too spicy or salt/pepper to help bring out the flavors.

Eat right away or transfer to an airtight jar and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.

*Please note that the mustard seeds are like a sponge and will absorb any liquid around them so if your mustard becomes dry from sitting in the fridge, just add a few teaspoons of water to reach your desired consistency again

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Macaroni Salad

April 10, 2013

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For me, the biggest parts about giving up certain foods is the association. I doubt any [sane] person would pass up a piece of their favorite chocolate cake. Why? Because that slice taste more than just delicious. It triggers a reminder of the gitty feeling they used to get when they woke up on their birthday as a child. It triggers that memory of friend and family standing around while they opened presents. It triggers the smell of their grandma after giving her a big hug goodbye. It’s so much more than about the endorphins that our bodies create from the chocolate. It’s about the associations.

That is why I could never give up macaroni salad. It is what we always ate at grill outs when I was a child. There was something about the unique tang from the mayonnaise that has always stuck with me. For me, it triggers those memories of being around friends and family. And catching fireflies in my jar at dusk. The smell of the grill and of the sunset. It’s a calming feeling that comes over me when I take a bite and its a feeling I don’t want to forget.

Perhaps for me, the reason the association is so strong is because I don’t “cook” with mayonnaise very often. Or eat it in my daily diet at all. That is to say, when I do taste it then it brings me back to those summer days.

I was tempted to call this ‘healthified’ macaroni salad but I decided that would be misleading. It would still be healthier to munch down on some slices of fresh fruit. Or some grilled veggies and hummus. Or a big spinach salad with sliced almonds. But it is slightly healthier than the one you are going to pick up from the deli. I didn’t want to alter this recipe too much or remove the mayonnaise (probably the unhealthiest part) because I wanted it to taste exactly like I remember it. With that being said, I did only make HALF the amount of dressing most recipes called for and the pasta still absorbed the flavor just as well. And I added a few extra veggies for good measure. But other than that, this recipe is going to taste exactly like it did back when your father would pick it up from the deli.

Don’t worry – there will be lots of ‘new’ and seasonal salads to come in the summer months here on VV but I had to get this traditional one out of my system. Go on, why don’t you whip this up and feed your inner child as well?

Do you have any associations with food that you could never let go off?

 

macaronisalad

 

Macaroni Salad

adapted from Old Time Cooking Recipes
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat and couldn’t tell)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (tip: let the chopped onion sit in water for 10 minutes to take the bite out of it)
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons pickle relish
  • 1 cup mayonaisse (I like the Mayo made with Olive Oil but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar (keep the sugar out in case you want to add more  at the end if you like it a little sweeter)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

To make the hard boiled eggs: Place the eggs in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let simmer for one minutes and then remove from heat. Cover and let sit in the warm water for 12 minutes.

Combine the macaroni, onion, celery, eggs, bell pepper, and carrots in a large serving bowl. In another bowl, make the dressing by combining the relish, mayo, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, and celery seeds. Fold the dressing into pasta/veggie mixture. Stick in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Once chilled, check for flavor. Adjust flavor by adding more salt, sugar, or pepper.

Serve at your next grill out or bring to a friends house (this serves 4+).

macaronisalad3

Kale, Tomato, & Garlic Breadsticks

March 19, 2013

Kale, Tomato, and Garlic Breadsticks

These breadsticks are a product of a frustrating juicer clean up experience. And by frustrating I mean the twenty minutes I spent scrubbing it’s inside parts trying to get green stains out. And then the other twenty minutes I spent scrubbing the kitchen counter to remove the orange carrot stains. And then finally the last ten minutes which consisted of scorching my hands with hot water trying to get all the last bits of color off of my own hands. Through this process I kept thinking to myself ‘Never again will I wait until my lunch break to clean up my morning juice’ which then was followed by thoughts of ‘these stains are crazy. Does it stain the inside of my stomach like this?’ and then ‘I bet this is how they make that fun colored pasta’ and finally ‘wait..I bet I could make fun colored doughs!’

And there you have it. The next day I set out of make dye juices out of carrots, kale, and beets. I didn’t end up following through the the beet one though…I know it would have made the most beautiful color dough but I couldn’t do it. I can not stand the smell of beets (let alone the taste) and knew the sticks would go straight to the trash if I even attempted to try it. And then my hands would smell like beets. And my beet stained hands would be reminders of the horrible earthy smell [sorry, beet lovers. I can not relate to you on this one]. I also ended up wanting a deeper red than the carrot juice gave so I ended up using tomato paste which worked wonders. And lastly, I played around with all sorts of toppings – poppy seed, garlic, parmesan, sesame seeds, and fresh herbs. The results were an array of fun colored breadsticks all with individual flavor profiles. No two sticks the same…which made it challenging to not want to sample them all.

-5

 

All in all – my favorites were the kale poppy seed, tomato paremsan, and garlic thyme ones. These would make pretty party appetizers or go along perfectly with pizza. In fact, the basic dough recipe is my favorite pizza dough so you could totally just double that part and use half the dough for pizza. Just saying – I’ll take any excuse to eat pizza.

Make these thicker if you like your breadsticks doughy and soft. I personally was going for a cracker feel so I made them thin and let them sit out for a few hours.

 

Kale Tomato Garlic Breadsticks

 

Garlic, Tomato, & Kale Breadsticks

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3+ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • a bunch of kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • assortment of toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, parmesan, garlic, herbs, spices, etc)

Whisk together the yeast, 1 Tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water and let stand for ten minutes or until the yeast has become a thick foam.

Stir together 1 1/2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture and the rest of the water (3/4 cup) and stir until smooth. Add another half a cup of flour and mix. If the dough is sticking to your hands then it’s too moist so add a bit more flour and if it’s too dry then add a bit more water (try to keep on the stickier side since you’ll be adding a bit more flour as you knead).

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let dough rise for an hour or until it’s doubled.

While it’s raising, press washed kale through a juicer to create a few tablespoons of juice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and keep the two parts you aren’t working with covered in the bowl (this will help the dough from drying out).

On a floured surface, fold in the minced garlic to the first part of the dough. Knead the dough until garlic is speckled throughout. Roll the dough into a 9×13 rectagle and use a cookie cutter to cut 5 long strips. Pick up a strip, twist it, and transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the strips.

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On a very floured surface (this is important because we are going to be adding more liquid to the dough which will make the dough sticky and will most likely need to be adding more flour), place another 1/3 of the dough and pour 1 tablespoon of kale juice over it. Start folding the dough into itself and add more kale juice (1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough is at your desired color consistency. Make sure to add more flour if the dough starts to get too sticky.

Roll out the dough into a 13×9 rectangle and cut into 5 strips with a cookie cutter. Twist each strip by hand and transfer to your greased baking sheet.

Lastly, knead 1 tablespoon at a time of the tomato paste into the rest of the dough. Knead until the color is evenly distributed (adding more paste if you want a darker color) and roll out into a 13×9 strip. Cut into 5 pieces, twist each piece by hand, and transfer to a greased baking sheet (you may need to start a second sheet at this point).

-3

Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top of the sticks and top with desired toppings. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden at the top.

Serve warm or let sit overnight for a cracker-like texture.
Song Pairing:

Parmesan Thyme Sweet Potato Fries

March 15, 2013



sweetpotatofries4

I go through phases with food. I’ll make General Tao Tofu for dinner once a week for a month straight and then forget about it for a year. Same goes for Chili. And Enchiladas. And sweet potato fries. My problem with sweet potato fries is that I love them so much that I’ll eat an entire sweet potato in one sitting. I will be in love with every bite. And then start to feel a little stuffed. And then a little pain. And then swear to myself that I’ll never make them again because I can’t resist eating all of them.

My reasoning last night was to make them for both Wyatt and I…so I would have no choice but to eat a portion controlled amount. But then Wyatt was late for dinner…and I started picking at the fries. And before I knew it there was only a time portion left. So then I had to eat them all to cover up the fact that I even made them to begin with [let alone the fact that I ate 80% of them]. So, alas, my plan backfired. And I will probably not make these for another 6 months because I tell myself I have a good amount of self control. And then these come into my life and that goes right out the window.

 

sweetpotatofries

Baked Parmesan Thyme Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into long chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt / pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded parmesan (depending on how cheesy you like your fries)

 

[If you have the time then I recommend soaking the sweet potato chunks in water for about an hour and pat dry. This helps wash out some of the starch and results in crispier fries.]

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss with the sweet potatoes and then transfer to a baking sheet. Cook for 30 minutes or until crispy (flip halfway through). Cooking time will vary depending on how think you cut your fries.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with parmesan and thyme. Let sit for five minutes or until the parmesan has melted onto the fries. Serve with ketchup or a tangy aoili sauce.

 

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Heart Shaped Polenta Crostini with Roasted Tomato & Goat Cheese

February 8, 2013

Heart Shaped Crostini with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

I’m not very into doing ‘holiday themed posts’…or…. maybe I’m just not good at them? ‘Ms. Bah! Humbug!’ over here. I’ve done a few Thanksgiving recipe suggestions and a Christmas post here and there but as for anything else? Meh, not really. St. Patrick’s Day? When is that again? Labor Day? Too busy playing at the lake to worry about the internet. 4th of July? I’ll be the girl preppin’ tofu with a beer in hand by the grill (and not a laptop in sight). It’s just never been my thing to make a recipe based on it’s color scheme (hello red, white, and blue… fruit salad?!), shape (4 leaf clover cut outs aren’t even that cute! What is that…a pot leaf?), or any other gimmicky food trend. Buuuut…on that note, here I am with a Valentine’s day post. Why? I honestly don’t know. When pink everything started showing up on my Pinterest feed a few weeks ago, I was totally appalled. ‘Oh noooo. Heart and pink everything? No way. Nah uh.’

But then I kind of started getting obsessed with the idea. I started imagining all my food in heart shapes… the marshmallows in my hot cocoa, the setian cutlet I served for dinner. And then the pink and red hallucinations started coming… pink colored orange juice and red oatmeal. I finally came to terms with the fact that this was my mind subconsciously telling me ‘You are taking on this Valentine’s Day challenge and you will come up with something clever to try’. Okay okay okay. So I opened up my pantry and this is what came out…

But, wait..before we go any farther, I should warn you that I’m a bit bitter when it comes to Valentine’s Day. I have a boyfriend…a boyfriend I’ve had for the past 3 Valentine’s days which is…I guess cool and all. BUT there are so many fun ‘single ladies’ activities that go down on February 14th that I cannot help but feel a bit left out. Last year I lived with 4 single girls and they decided to throw a ‘Single Ladies Party’. Guess who was the only one NOT invited? Yup, that’s me. And you know what? If I was invited then I would have made these. Because these are the perfect little bites for a party and they are cute and themed and oh so delicious. Those girls’ lose, obviously. Anddd…if anyone feels like inviting me to their Vday celebration this year, I will leave my boyfriend at home and come baring a tray full of these.

Just sayin’. It might be fun. And you won’t be disappointed by these little bites. Or my company. Hopefully.

 

Heart Shaped Crostini with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

 

Heart Shaped Polenta Crostini with Roasted Tomatoes & Goat Cheese

  • 1 tube of prepared polenta
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ~1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 Tablespoon sage, chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Salt / Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the tomatoes, 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil, and a little salt / pepper. Put on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on how soft you like your tomatoes).

Cut the polenta into 15 slices and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the heart shapes. Set aside the leftover plenta for another use (goes perfect under eggs).

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, and milk (you may have to add more milk depending on how stiff the mixture still is. You want it to be thin enough to spread). Set aside.

In a large skillet, Heat olive oil over medium. Add the polenta hearts and cook until browned (time will depend on how hot your skillet it). Flip over and let brown on the other side.

Remove from heat and place on a tray. Top each polenta heart with goat cheese mixture, sage, a little more pepper, and one roasted cherry.

Serve warm and to all your lonely friends [or loving couples].

Heart Shaped Polenta Bites

 

 

 

Song Pairing:

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits

February 4, 2013

The title of this post is a bit misleading. These biscuits are not actually stuffed with real vegans…unlike how you probably read it the first time. There was just no easy way to throw a title together for this. I could have put ‘Stuffed Breakfast Biscuits’ but then people would have wondered where the eggs and sausage was? Or I could have wrote ‘Tofu Scramble Scones’ but that would have seemed like the tofu goes along side the scones… which is not correct either. What I really wanted to put was ‘Peppered Gravy & Tofu Hash Scramble Stuffed Biscuits That Are Vegan’ but oh goodness…look at how long that title is. I don’t think that title would have fit on one line…and maybe not even on two. So I settled for ‘Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits’…I am sorry if it’s misleading and you conjure up thoughts of cannibalism instead of wonderfully flaky, warm biscuits oozing with peppered gravy and filling tofu goodness. See!? Do you see why it took me 20 minutes to settle on a title for this post?

I guess it makes up for the fact that it took about 20 seconds to know that I wanted to make these. I love the Morningstar breakfast sandwiches as a treat every now and then but couldn’t help but wonder…could I make fresh ones that are probably 10000xxx times better? After searching around on the web and failing at finding any recipes that matched the vision in my head, I decided to make it up myself. This recipe is a mutant product of my favorite tofu scramble recipe and tomato scones recipes found in Isa’s Vegan Brunch. And a simple peppered gravy recipe that we often times to turn when we need some thick and flavorful gravy in a hurry. And then I threw in some hashbrowns because…welll…what is breakfast without hash browns?

So…in turn, this recipe is Delicious? Yes. Freezable? Yes. Easy to prepare the night before? YES. Portable? YES. Everything you’ve ever wanted in a breakfast rolled into one pocket of deliciousness? YESSS. Why would you not make these for a vegan potluck or freeze a batch for a quick breakfast on the go?!

 

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Scones

 

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits

For the Gravy:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1+ teaspoon salt / pepper

 

For the Tofu Scramble:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • Salt / Pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, optional (because I like lots of veggies)

 

For the Biscuits:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

 

  • 1/2 russet potato, diced very small

 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in the potatoes. Cook until they are soft but not mushy (about 10 minutes depending on how small you diced them).

To make the scramble: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add onions and saute until soft (about five minutes). Add garlic and saute for another minute. Next, crumble the tofu and add into the skillet along with the cooked potatoes. Saute until the tofu has browned and add in the water, tumeric, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and cumin. Saute for another five minutes or until the water has evaporated (if the tofu seems dry then add a bit more water and let it cook down). Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes.

To make the gravy: combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until thickened (about ten to fifteen minutes). Season with more pepper (if necessary) and pour over the tofu scramble. Mix until everything is combined.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Vegan Breakfast Biscuits

To make the biscuits: Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add wet ingredients. Fold dry into wet until a soft dough has formed. Flour a surface and roll out half of the dough into an inch thick (make sure to keep everything very well floured because the dough is super sticky). Cut out desired biscuit sizes using a biscuit cutter and then flatten the dough to about 1/2 inch (you can use your rolling pin or your hands here). Place a heaping tablespoon of the tofu/gravy mixture in the center and fold the edges into each other until you’ve made a sealed round ball. Transfer to a greased cooking sheet. Roll out the rest of the dough and repeat.

[This is where you can wrap them in an airtight container and stick in the fridge overnight if you are preparing ahead of time]. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are firm and the insides are warm.

Enjoy hot or freeze for later breakfasts!

 

Vegan Brunch Biscuits

 

 

Quinoa Nuggets

January 30, 2013

I don’t handle cold weather well. Period. If it’s below 50 degrees then I don’t want to go outside. I just don’t. And the idea of taking off my slippers // long underwear? Oh no. No way am I having any part in that. So, needless to say, the winter encourages a lot of ‘vegging out’ time. And by ‘vegging out’ I don’t mean consuming my weight in healthy dark greens and carrot sticks (I wish). I mean sitting on the couch for more hours than I am going to admit and snacking on anything within reach.

My solution to not gaining [too much] extra weight in these dark months? I don’t buy potato chips. Or mozzeralla sticks. Or anything that was once fried and then frozen / packaged (for that matter). If I want a snack then it means I am going to have to get off my butt and make something. The usual options are fresh popped popcorn or hummus. But sometimes I feel inspired and get really creative with my snacks. This was one of those instances. And guess what? It was totally worth the extra work.

These little nuggets are crispy, easy, delicious, and super filling. Feel free to play around with the filling and experiment with what you have in your fridge. I dipped them in my honey bourbon barbecue sauce but I bet some homemade ketchup or aioli would be fantastic as well.

 

 

quinoanuggets

 

Quinoa Nuggets

  • 1 1/2 cups of dried quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh sage, minced (any herb will do)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • Salt/Pepper

 

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two cooking sheets. In a large, beat the eggs. Add in the remaining ingredients (including the quinoa) and mix until incorporated. Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture onto cookie sheets and repeat with the rest of the batter.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Serve with some yummy sauce!

 

Winter Bruschetta

January 16, 2013

winterbruschetta

Oh man, I have been hit with spring fever. Between planning a March getaway trip and drooling over spring fashion, I am ready to be on a warm beach with a beergarita! And let me tell you – this is the worst possible time to be struck with this spring fever. Not only is vacation still 2 months away but it’s also been in the 20s here all week (and plans to stay that way).

So how in the world do I cope with this spring fever without quitting my day job and moving down to Austin, Texas where the sun always shines (that is a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean)? Well, let’s figure this out. What do I miss? Fresh Bruschetta, high-waisted shorts, laying in the grass with our tape player, and lake days. I can’t really think of a way to imitate laying in the grass…unless, of course, if I wanted to snuggle my hair into our huge cacti collection that resides in the kitchen (OUCH!). But I can drag Wyatt on winter lake picnics with warm soup and Mexican hot cocoa. And I can layer up with some tights and knee high socks under my shorts. Done and done. Now, onto the bruschetta? Gahhh…could you imagine traditional bruschetta in January? So filmy and flavorless…yuck. But what if we used winter vegetables? Like sweet potatoes and onions? And still stuck it on a warmed and buttered baguette? Now we are talking!

 

winterbruschetta3

 

Winter Bruschetta

  • 1 fresh baguette, sliced into 1 inch thick pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato or small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (omit to make vegan)
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped + divided
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large oven safe pan, toss together the sweet potato or squash, onion, garlic cloves, half the sage, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the squash/potato can be pierced nicely with a fork (but does not become mushy). Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the bread.

To prepare the baguette: Brush the remaining olive oil on the baguette slices and top with cheddar cheese. Place under the broiler for a minute or two or until the cheese / bread is toasted. Top the bread with the potato/squash mixture and serve warm. Garnish with leftover age or, for a sweeter version, drizzle with honey.

 

Let’s get through the winter with Mikal Cronin:

 

Cheddar Corn Biscuits

December 5, 2012

How has your week been going? Mine has been fine but I know it’s been a little quite around here. I’ve done a bit of traveling this week and have more to go which is a nice change of pace but can also be exhausting. It’s the type of exhausting that makes me want to just curl up on the couch with my leftover chili and watch Veronica Mars (corniest 90s show ever but we are addicted) all night. Sorry VV, you take up too much energy for me right now.

But I promised and I usually like to be a girl of my word. So here I am! And as I promised, here is the buttery and addictive biscuit recipe that complaints that healthy Black Bean & Wheatberry Chili recipe perfectly. If you missed the chili recipe, it’s featured on The Kitchn today so hop on over and check it out!

We even used leftover biscuits to make biscuits and gravy with Wyatt’s favorite Sage Gravy! Mmmmm. And I have a feeling that breakfast sandwiches are in our very VERY near future. Breakfast for dinner? Well hello evening plans!

 

 

Cheddar Corn Biscuits

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup frozen corn (or fresh!)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own out of the milk I had on hand)

Grease a baking sheet (it may take 2 sheets depending on how thick you make the biscuits). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, black pepper, baking powder, and baking soda. Next, add in the butter and use your hands to incorporate the butter into the dough until it resembles a coarse meal.

Next, fold in the cheese, onions, and corn. Finally, add the buttermilk and mix until just combined (don’t over mix or the dough will become tough).

Transfer dough to a slightly floured surface and roll out to about an inch thick (more or less depending on how you like your biscuits) and use a cookie cutter or glass to circle cut outs. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Stick the cookie sheet (with the prepared dough) into the fridge and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Let the biscuits chill while it is preheating because the cold butter will help to make the biscuits flakier.

Bake for about 25 minutes (mine took 30 but my oven ALWAYS takes longer than what a recipe recommends so check often).

Serve warm with soup or gravy or by themselves with a little butter!

 

 

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

November 26, 2012

Did everyone [From the US] have a wonderful long weekend? Are you all busy Cyber Monday shopping for the best holiday deals instead of working right now? Don’t worry. I won’t tell! I would be as well but I spent all my money on Black Friday (yup – I’m one of those that goes out at Midnight to save myself 50 bucks). Ah well. It’s all part of the adventure, right?

Oh! Please disregard the shamble that is my ‘recipes’ page right now. It’s in the process of being re-vamped and should hopefully be back to normal tomorrow. Cool? Cool and thanks for being so patient!

Anyhow, wanna talk hummus? Remember when I made that amazing Spicy Jalapeno Corn Hummus? Damn, that stuff was sooooooo good. Well, I’m back with more funky flavors and this one might take the cake. The soft sweet potatoes create the perfect texture for a creamy and flavorful dip. Seriously, this stuff is crazy good. And smother it on top of those homemade Sesame and Poppyseed Crackers and you are golden!

Impress your guests at your next holiday party with not only homemade crackers but homemade dip as well! Or save it all for yourself….that is what I did.

 

 

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (I made mine from dried beans but feel free to use canned)
  • 4 Tablespoons tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (you may need more if the hummus comes out thick)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of cinnamon
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lower to medium low and add in the sweet potatoes. Cook until softened (about 10 to 15 minutes). Strain and let cool.

In a large blender or with a food processor, blend all the ingredients together until a desired consistency is reached. Taste and add more olive oil if dry, more sriracha if not spicy enough for you, or more lemon juice to bring out the flavors more.

Serve with homemade crackers!

 

 

 

Sesame & Poppyseed Crackers

November 23, 2012

…And it’s over. All the planning, cooking, over-eating, and family time is done. Now…time for a detox. Haha, Just kidding! Time to start planning for December holidays!

These crackers are awesome with some homemade hummus (sweet potato hummus recipe to follow soon!), baba ganoush or with that leftover brie from Thanksgiving (who are we kidding…who ever has leftover brie?!).

 

 

Anyhow, these make several dozen so plan to serve them at a holiday party (Ugly Sweater party, anyone?) or nibble away at them slowly as long as they are stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Easy, right?

Also, feel free to get creative with the seed combinations. I used Sesame and Poppy because that is what I had on hand but feel free to use all sesame or flaxseed or sunflower…whatever you are feeling!

 

 

Sesame & Poppyseed Crackers

adapted from Salty Snacks
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/8 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Combine the flour, seeds, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the water and olive oil. Fold dry ingredient into wet until combined (don’t overmix or it’ll become tough!)

 

 

Roll out in sections (I divided my dough into 4 parts) using either a rolling pin or your pasta maker. If using rolling pin, I would just roll as thin as possible or until desired thickness. Cut squares out of the dough using a cookie cutter and move prepared squares to the baking sheets.

 

Working in batches, cook for 12 minutes or until browned and crisp. As this round is baking, prepare more crackers with the rest of your dough. Repeat until all the dough has been prepared and cooked.

Let cool completely, serve with dips, or transfer to an airtight container for up to two weeks.