November. November. November. No matter how many times I say it, I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that it is already November. Instead of rambling on in an attempt at trying to catch you up on everything that has been going on lately over here with me, I decided to take the time to sit down and edit all the photos I’ve accumulated over the last 2 months; I decided it would be more interesting to tell you through these photos. It’s been a whirlwind of freelancing, road tripping, hiking, completing another issue of our magazine, and continually trying to find myself through it all. Here are a few glimpses from the more scenic moments of the last two months:
Man, all this talk about getting older, family members passing away, and animal cruelty is exhausting. How about we keep this one light today, cool? Cool because I’m about to overload you with photos from our trip last month!
People always talk about apple picking this time of year but what about camping? For some reason, camping gets lumped into summer activities but have you ever tried to go camping in July? If the heat doesn’t eat you alive then the bugs will. So many people I talk to won’t go camping after Labor Day even though this is the best time of year to be outside. What is better than spending all day hiking around in the woods while the leaves change colors? And what is better than getting a huge fire going to keep you warm in the evenings and to roast your ‘mallows over? And what is better than zipping two sleeping bags together so you have to snuggle really close to your significant other to keep warm at night? Not much if you ask me.
Today I am excited to pair up with the fine folk over at Vlasic Farmer’s Garden to bring you a healthy, delicious, and nutritious vegetarian grilling recipe! This veggie burger is not like your typical freezer bean patty – this burger has the base of fresh vegetables and beans, an irresistible tanginess from the pickles, and is stuffed with a southern classic: pimiento cheese.
For anyone unfamiliar with pimiento cheese, let me fill you in: the south knows what it’s doing. Fried pickles, gooey macaroni and cheese, and tangy pimento dip are all American staples due to southern home cooking (or at least that is what I’ve been told from my time living in Nashville, TN). Pimento cheese dip is super basic: creamy mayonnaise, sharp cheddar, cubed pimientos, and tangy pickles. That is it. Yes, you can add in some scallions for color or some salt/pepper for seasoning but don’t go overboard with too many other flavorings. There is an indulgence richness to southern specialties that is not to be ignored and pimento cheese is no exception. You may be tempted to half the mayo in the recipe for a healthier version or look for low fat cheese but please don’t – honor the richness of the dip and go all out! Heck, the chickpea base is pretty darn healthy anyways so why not splurge a little on the tablespoon of dip stuffed in the burger?
It only took me 10 years of being a vegetarian to ditch processed veggie burgers. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to living off of frozen, store-bought black bean burgers during those first few summers with a side of roasted vegetables and a layer of bbq sauce over it all. A few winters back, I got in the habit of whipping up a batch of veggie burgers and then freezing them for quick lunches during the week. They were so simple and healthy to throw in a pan with a little ghee and cook on each side until browned. After that winter, I tried bringing a pack of veggie burgers to a grill out only to find I couldn’t stand the dense, crumbly store-bought versions anymore.
The solution seems simple: make your own veggie burgers moving forward. Although this is easy to accomplish when you’ve got a frying pan at your disposal, grilling them at your friend’s bbq is another story. I’ve been through many recipes that fall apart at the sight of a grill and end up causing more embarrassment by the host trying to flip them than your taste buds are worth. It took a good 3 summers of trial and error before I mastered a sturdy burger and they still don’t always turn out to be the easiest things to grill. My tips for grilling these are to make sure they are chilled before placing them on the grill (this will help them keep their shape) and make sure you are using a large spatula to flip them. If they do fall apart, use the spatula to lightly smash them back together and they should be fine.
If you are having trouble keeping them together than feel free to go with a steaming method by wrapping them in tin foil and grilling them wrapped up. This will create a softer burger and the outer layer won’t get crispy but it’s still delicious. And if all else fails then there is always the fool proof stove top method which is cooking them in a frying pan with a bit of ghee (works every time).
I’d like to pretense this story by mentioning that I am turning 25 this year. With that in mind, I’ve received an Easter “basket” every year of my life (that I can remember) from my mother. Even after I moved out at 18, my mother always managed to ship a box full of colored confetti and festive treats in the form of candy, money, cookies, or whatever else I was into at the time. This year was no exception.
Our doorbell rang bright and early on Thursday morning when our UPS man dropped off a large package that was over-nighted from Seattle, Washington. I opened it up to find an array of spring foraged foods in the form of ramps, black garlic, blood oranges, palm heart, and mushrooms. This immediately prompted a ‘thank you’ text to my mother which was replied to with a comment about ‘I guess you are officially an adult when you get excited about receiving vegetables in your Easter basket’. That statement would almost be true if it wasn’t for the fact that I was so excited to receive these vegetables so I could play with them. I’d like to think I play with my food as much now, if not more, than when I used to receive dinosaur shaped gummies and candy necklaces (which were my favorite, by the way. I think I may have even rocked those up until the end of middle school).
This quiche has an Asian flair to it with the fermented garlic giving almost a soy sauce scent. The saltiness of the garlic leaves no room for cheese so I’d suggest leaving it out (just this one time) and let the vegetables shine. If you having trouble finding ramps in your area then feel free to substitute them with chopped spring chives or caramelized onions. The black garlic (also known as fermented garlic) might be the trickiest of ingredients to find on this list but it will be worth the hunt – check your local farmer’s market or asian food market if you are having trouble finding it at your usual stops.
These aren’t just any nachos – these are celebratory nachos! These are ‘I just got nominated for a Best Food Blog Award’ by Saveur Magazine and am gonna treat myself to nachos and ice cream for dinner. I still remember the first time I voted for Saveurs BFBA three years ago and felt like I had such a strong opinion on who should win every category because I knew one blog per category. And I remember the first time I saw Oh, Ladycake’s badge on her site and was like ‘Wow. That would look mighty nice on VV’ (ha!). Fast forward several years and I can honestly say I follow 80% of the blogs nominated and consider a large portion of them dear blog friends of mine.
I guess what I am trying to say is that, if you are feeling it, you should hop on over and vote for VV in the ‘special diet category’ on Saveur’s site. But honestly, its okay if you don’t because I’m just happy to be a part of the club and mentioned among so many talented writers and photographers. I’m thinking of it as a win-win since I’ll be munching on Laura’s Quinoa Onion Rings if The First Mess wins and this Orange Chocolate Tart if Happyyolks is sent to Vegas.
These nachos are like no nachos you’ve probably ever munched on before. According to Food52, the most important elements for nachos are quality ingredients and strong layering ethic. We’ve got both of those bases covered here. These are a mix between eating a greek pita sandwich and a faleffel burger.
I’d like to start off by apologizing if this recipe looks faintly familiar. I may have made a super similar one over here but its been slightly updated for an even more delicious experience. I guess I could have omitted the chickpeas or swapped them out with croutons for more of a variety but, if we are being honest here, the maple chickpeas are what made this dish.
We picked up the cutest little carrots at the Farmer’s Market on our trip to Marco Island. The market made me so gitty and very homesick for summer days. We have a market here in Bloomington in the winter but it’s in a gymnasium and I can’t seem to get myself excited about it. Perhaps the gymnasium part reminds me too much of being at a children’s christmas bazaar or the lack of sunshine in the building brings a whole new gloom to dirty vegetables. Either way, it will never compare to the exciting hustle and bustle of the summer outdoor market.
This recipe is forever adaptable so please don’t feel limited by the ingredients and instructions listed below. Feel free to substitute some coconut milk for the broth or swap out whatever herbs you have on hand or toss the chickpeas in whatever spices you are craving at that moment. This soup is never the same for me because I always switch it up to fulfill my cravings at the time. As long as the soup is flavorful and the chickpeas are crispy then it’s probably going to be pretty darn delicious.
It’s 13 days into the new year – are you still kicking strong with your new years resolutions? So far 2014 has not just been about being conscious of what I am eating but why I am eating it. Why is it so important to get that green smoothie in every morning? How is my body benefiting from consuming greens, carrots, greek yogurt, and honey? I recently picked up The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murry and can’t seem to put it down. It’s a hefty thing ranking in at a whopping 900 pages (Hey… it does warn you with the word ‘Encyclopedia’ in the title and is often times used as a textbook in holistic nutrition courses) but is brimming with wonderful food insight on every page. The bulk of the book is split up by specific foods and tells you the history, health benefits, research conducted on that food, and potential harmful effects of pretty much any whole food you can think of (spices, fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, etc).
All this new found knowledge has gotten me really excited about eating whole foods. After a breakfast of avocado toast and blueberry oatmeal, I notice myself immediately running to the book to find out the benefits of avocados, oats, blueberries, maple syrup, and almonds (from the homemade almond milk). And then again after lunch. And after my afternoon snack. And so on.
So, as you probably expected, I can’t wait to share all the wonderful benefits of this veggie-centric dish with you (but please remember, I am not a certified health expert of any sorts and all insight shared here is to merely share a few of the engaging health benefits outlined in Healing Foods).
How is your 2014 so far? Are you finally feeling back to normal after a 3 day hangover from all that sugary champagne? I, surprisingly, did not drink that much on New Years this year and woke up feeling recharged and ready to start a fresh new year. My college self would be so bummed at how ‘lame’ I’ve already become at 24 but sometimes a girl just wants to snuggle inside with her dog and boyfriend to watch the ball drop with Carson Daly. Oh wait, or are you a Ryan Seacrest kind-of-person? If so, I feel so so so very sorry for you.
Just like every American this time a year, I’m taking another stab at eating health[ier]. I’d like to think we don’t eat terrible around here (no heart-clogging meat, minimal processed foods, no sugary drinks) but there is always room for improvement. I’m particularly bad about incorporating fresh vegetables into our diets this time a year – a salad feels very unappetizing (and usually pretty unnatural when its 10 degrees out and the produce was shipped in from 5 states over) so most of our vegetable intake is in the form of stews and soups and curries. And because of that, I can’t help but notice that our leafy green in-take has slowed down to a minimum. So alas, I decided to start the year off with a recipe that could highlight raw vegetables in another form other than smoothies and juice cleanses (since, you know, sometimes it’s so cold outside and the thoughts of downing a ice cold smoothie is about as appetizing as eating yellow snow).
If possible, choose cornmeal that is whole and not degermed to gain as much nutrition of it as possible. Whole cornmeal is chocked full of amino acids, vitamins (b-6, K), minerals (potassium, zinc, copper), and have been linked to benefiting your colon.
These crepes can be stuffed with whatever you are feeling but I highly recommend trying out this savory version and picking a few favorite vegetables to chop up for the insides. I choose spinach because of it’s well known benefits of having a high ratio of nutrients to calories (we are talking vitamin A, K, D, and E as well as omega 3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory antioxidants).
I’ve also been on a curry kick lately but feel free to use whatever sauce you are feeling – perhaps a cilantro sirarcha sauce? Or even a peanut lime sauce for a protein boost?
Remember when I posted that wonderful staple recipe for homemade vegetable stock over at Livia Sweets last month? Well, Claire from Livia Sweets has been kind enough to build on that and create a wonderful tutorial for me to share with all you VV readers. I am so excited to say that she has the secret of how to make delicious pureed soup without a recipe and is here sharing it with all of us today!
That’s right – a healthy recipe! You have to be getting a tooth ache from looking at all those sweet recipes all over the internet right now! Here is a nice break and cleansing meal idea to enjoy between woofing down sprtiz cookies. Enjoy!
(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:
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.
Hop on over to DeSmitten Design blog for the full recipe and learn more!
When reflecting on past gardens, I can’t help but be grateful for the fact that I was able to have an inground garden this summer. In years past, I’ve always moved in August and had failed attempts with transplanting tomato plants and herbs. This means that the last time I had a real garden was when I was little and my parent’s let me pick out what I wanted to grow. And that was gourds – I remember distintcly only wanting to grow gourds and my parents thinking that was a little funny (although I wouldn’t understand why until many years later… when I realized they are really not very useful in the kitchen).
But anyhow, this year… this year I was able to go all out. No more of that half assing tomato and basil plant in a few pots. Nope, Nope. This year I wanted a garden both in the back and side yard (one for full sun and one for part). We planted tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, scallions, lemongrass, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapeños, rosemary, sage, and so on. Some of them flourished (lemongrass, scallions, kale, tamotoes) and some of them never quite got off the ground (potatoes, cucumbers…). But whether they grew to monstorous portions or stayed micro size, we tried to harvest and enjoy them. We harvested everything in September but the swiss chard and lemongrass.
I’m not sure what I was waiting for with the swiss chard but I knew I was ignoring it until a sign occured. Whether that sign was a must-try recipe or the first frost biting at it’s leaves, I knew I needed a sign. Perhaps it was because the leaves were coming in so beautifully with the colored veins speckled through out them. Whatever it was, I knew I didn’t want to waste these greens by burying them at the bottom of a recipe.
You know, I was so proud of myself for thinking about using that can of pumpkin before October rolled around. I was like ‘damn, I’m going to beat the pumpkin craze this year for sure!’ and then I waited 3 days to post this. And now this recipe is in the dead middle of all the pumpkin blondies and nutmeg dutch babies. Oh well. This was my attempt to create a ‘savory’ dish with the pumpkin instead of the sugar overload that October tends to bring (helloooo Halloween!).
I know you were starting to worry. You were starting to wonder if my diet really could consist of sugar and alcohol based on the recipes that have been posted on VV the last month or so. So, in an attempt to show you a some-what ‘normal’ side of my diet, I’m posting this dumpling recipe which is an evening go-to in our home. Curry is always welcome around here and we tend to make it about once a week in the cooler months. I like this recipe because it breaks up the usual vegetable-sauce-rice ratio and has protein-rich dumplings cooked right in. Also, the best part about the dumpling literally steaming into the sauce is that it doesn’t take any longer than it would for you to simmer a pot of homemade curry sauce.
This recipe is traditionally prepared by frying the dumplings but I’ve chosen to steam them in the tomato sauce instead for both time and health sake. Think of it as an Indian-curry version of chicken and dumpling stew. Except the sauce plays a much more flavorful part than in our traditional comfort stew. The dumplings end up gooey and steaming them in the sauce lends to the dumplings soaking up the flavors around them.
We serve ours over basmati rice but you can make it a little bit healthier by substituting brown rice. We also like to top ours with greek yogurt for an extra creamy consistency but it’s plenty flavorful without the yogurt if you are trying to keep it vegan.
Wyatt is off at a Black Sabbath concert tonight . No, I’m not sure why – he’s not a 60 year old fan or a metal head of any kinds [but this is beside the point]. The point is that I’m here alone tonight. I decide to have a sort of girl’s night…with myself. Yoga, red wine, and a chick flick (Bridesmaid to be exact…hey, don’t judge! Everyone ALWAYS references it and I have no idea what they are ever talking about). This is a special treat because I’m usually get suckered into alien, death-centric, action flicks and a case of beer.
This also meant I was on my own for dinner this evening. Any normal American would have probably just got chinese take-out but I was excited by the thought of not having to worry about another person’s needs / preferences. Both polenta and chickpeas are two things Wyatt isn’t really that crazy about – and I totally disagree. I personally don’t think there could ever be anything wrong with a big bowl of corn creaminess that takes on the subtle flavor of whatever cheese you decide to melt into it. And as for chickpeas – give me them anyway you’d like: blended, roasted, sautéed, or panfried.
Needless to say, I’ve settled in for the night with this big polenta bowl and my boxer dog, Tuko. If you need us – we’ll be over here watching some girls relieve themselves in wedding dresses because of some bad Mexican food they ate (gross! Sorry, Bridesmaid reference?)
When pan frying the chickpeas, make sure you use just a big enough skillet so that they can lay evenly in one layer but not so big that you have to use half your bottle of oil. And as for the pesto, I’ve been into using kale (since it grows like wildflowers in my garden) but went with basil on this one since it’s finally basil season – feel free to use whatever leafy green you have on hand!
Goat Cheese Polenta with Basil Almond Pesto & Pan Fried Chickpeas
- 1 cup dried polenta
- 4 cups water
- 1 ounces goat cheese (or more if you are like me)
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt / pepper
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (from a can or from dried)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- salt / pepper
- oil (I used olive but you could use vegetable as well)
In a food processor or very powerful blender, combine all the pesto ingredients and blend until a smooth paste forms. Add more olive oil if needed to reach your desired consistency. Set aside.
In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add polenta and lower heat to medium low. Whisk continuously until the polenta has become thick enough that it won’t stick to the bottom. After fifteen minutes of simmering, stir in the cheese and remove from heat. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium. Add chickpeas, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Sauté for ten to fifteen minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined tray. Let sit for a few minutes to crisp up.
Mix the polenta, chickpeas, and pesto all together and enjoy!
Soup?! Really? But it’s SPRING. Soup season is over. Or so I thought. This past rainy and chilly Saturday sparked my desire for one last soup for the season. My stepfather and Ma had dropped off a 10 pound bag of onions from Shriners earlier in the week week. TEN pounds. Do you know how many onions that is for two people? A lot. I racked my brain trying to think of recipes that used more than 1 onion in it…stuffed onions with couscous and goat cheese? Or Pickled onions with beets and coriander? And then Wyatt suggested onion soup. Of course!
I’ve only made quick french onion soup but the rain challenged me to spend the afternoon in the kitchen caramelizing the onions. And don’t get me wrong – the quick method is delicious but it’s not even comparable to traditional french onion soup. This method leaves you with melt-in-your mouth, sweet slices of onion amaziness. I wish I had caramelized all ten pounds of onions to throw onto of everything (pizza, pasta, salads, …ice cream?).
Try this method of making french onion the next time you are stuck inside because of the weather or come home after a long day and need some serious cooking therapy.
French Onion Soup [Revisited]
- 7 cups sliced onions
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 4 springs of fresh thyme
- 8 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- fresh baguette, cut into 1 inch thick pieces
- 1 cup grated Swiss or gruyere (or a combination of the two)
- Salt/Pepper, to taste
Melt the butter and oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepans. Add the sliced onion and toss until coated with butter / oil. Cover, lower heat to low, and let cook for 15 minutes untouched (go play with your puppy, eat some almond butter, read a magazine, etc).
Uncover, turn the heat back up to medium-low and add in the sugar and a dash of salt. Cook for about an hour and stir frequently. Cook until the onions have become a deep brown and are irrisistable sweet.
Add the flour and cook for a minute. Next, add in the wine, broth, and thyme springs. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and use a spoon to scoop out the thyme stems.
Transfer soup into your desired amount of ovenproof soup bowls. Top each with a thick slice of baguette and grated cheese. Stick under the broiler until the cheese has melted and is just started to brown.
My daily posts have turned more into weekly posts as thing have become a bit hectic around here. There are so many things I’ve wanted to share without over sharing on a food blog…which then usually just turn into not sharing them at all. So, instead, I’m just going to give off a short list of excuses that have been both tearing me from this blog and keeping me occupied in my “real” life:
1. I got a new day job / promotion. I was promoted from indie-rock-princess to indie-rock-queen. Hah, no. But I did go from a glorified secretary to being in charge of over 200 of our music client accounts. So, needless to say, I’ve been working 9+ hours a day trying to figure out everything that goes along with this new job.
2. It’s spring! And I’ve been putting most of my free time energy into prepping my garden. What good is a food blogger who can’t even grow her own produce to write recipes with?
3. My grandma passed away. I realize that this is a normal occurrence for people over the age of 80 but that does not make it any less unsettling. I don’t care how old you are – it’s very upsetting to watch a wonderful person have everything ripped away from them.
4. My boyfriend is obsessed with the X-Files. And not only is he obsessed but he is determined to watch EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. So starting at season one in Februaray, he has constantly had that on the TV…which has been…very distracting. Do you know how many episodes of the X-Files there are? HUNDREDS. There are NINE seasons. Do you realize how many hours have been wasting getting sucked in by that when I could have been cleaning my stove-top or seasoning my cast iron or making butterscotch cookies?!
Okay, enough about me. Let’s talk about YOU! I have an ice cream recipe for YOU. Yup, that is right – homemade ice cream. And it’s filled with the most delicious…well I can’t tell you. But it’s sweet and savory and creamy and Middle Eastern. And it’s going to be posted on VV soon…how soon? I can’t tell you that either (can’t ruin the fun now!) – you’ll just have to check back.
Now back to ramps. Yes, that is right. I am posting ANOTHER ramps recipes. Two in a row, really? Well if we compare it to how many pizza or tofu recipes I’ve posted then it’s really not that bad. Ramps are new to me…and I’m pretty obsessed. I know they are going to start disappearing from the Farmer’s Market just as quickly as they appeared. This means, I’ve been cooking them up like crazy while I can!
Cornbread Waffles with Roasted Veggies & Chimichurri Ramps
Makes 2 generous servings
Cheddar Cornbread Waffles:
- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cups cornmeal
- 1 Tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 cups milk
- 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- An assortment of your favorite vegetables to roast (I used 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 diced onion, 1/2 diced small sweet potato, 2 chopped carrots)
- 2 springs of fresh thyme, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch of ramps (about 10 stalks)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 red pepper flakes
- dash of pepper
To roast the vegetables: Preheat oven to 400 and toss the veggies with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Lay in a even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and just started to brown.
To make the chimichurri: Rinse the ramps and cut off the roots and any rough tips. Slice into big chunks. Blend all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until a smooth paste forms.
To make the waffles: Preheat your waffle maker. Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yokes, milk, and butter. Fold the dried ingredients into the liquid until incorporated. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff but not dry peaks form. Fold the egg whites and grated cheese into the batter.
Ladle 1/2 cup (more or less depending on how big your waffle maker is) of the batter onto your preheated waffle iron and cook according to manufacture’s instructions (mine usually takes around 3 minutes).
Pile high with roasted veggies and chimichurri.
Lentils are known for being a good source of protein, increasing energy, helping with digestion, maintaining good cholesterol, and so many other important dietary needs. So, of course, these inciting benefits make me want to cram as much lentil’s into my diet as possible. Although I enjoy a big bowl of Lentil soup now and then, my palette often longs for some variety. So I’m on a new hunt to conquer more lentil recipes without taking the easy way out and making soup. This recipe was my first attempt on this new journey. And damn – it is delicious!
I made a sub out of these with delicious meatballs but I don’t plan on stopping there. With the leftovers there are talks of spaghetti and ‘meatballs’ or ‘mostacholi’ bakes. Also, I cannot wait to make these again in appetizer form and serve them on cute little sticks with a Sweet Pepper Aoili or a cilantro dipping sauce. The options are endless with these little balls!
These do take a little time because there are several rounds of cooling processes but it’s totally worth it. And these freeze super well! The recipe below easily feeds 4-6 so if there are only 2 of you then I’d suggest freezing the rest for an easy spaghetti weeknight meal.
Lentil Meatball Subs
Adapted from The New York Time’s Wellness Blog
For the meatballs:
- 2 cups lentils
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tablespoon fresh thyme
- 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
For the subs:
- Tomato Sauce (I used my homemade sauce)
- Gouda Cheese (fresh mozzarella would be wonderful too)
- Fresh basil or oregano, for garnish
Place the lentils in a saucepan with 8 cups of water. Let the water come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft but not falling apart. Remove from heat and drain. Let cool.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and let cook for about ten minutes (or until they begin to brown). Next, add in the garlic, thyme, and a little bit of salt. Let cook for another minutes. Add tomato paste and stir for three minutes. Then add in the mushroom and continue to cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.
Combine the cooled lentils with the cooked vegetable and add the Parmesan, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 13×9 inch pan. Using clean hands, roll the mixture into golf ball size (smaller if you want to use them as appetizers) balls and place on greased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the batter.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs start to brown on top.
To assemble: Take two pieces of baguette and slice them down the middle (but leave a little piece at the bottom still attached). Press the baguette open and stick slices of Gouda on each bottom followed by meatballs and sauce. Stick under the broiler for a minute or until the cheese has melted. Top with fresh basil or oregano and server fresh!
I served mine with Parmesan Thyme Sweet Potatoes and it was fantastic!
Good afternoon! Before I get to the monthly recap, I wanted to share my excitement with you guys about receiving the new Chickpea Quarterly in the mail yesterday. I have an article on DIY Kitchen Staples (Homemade Vegetable Broth, Vanilla Extract, and Almond Milk) in it. Also, It’s chocked full of vegan recipes, beautiful photography, and oh so much inspiration that I am grinning from ear to ear just looking at it. I thought I was ready for winter to be over but the magazine has re-sparked my cold weather senses. Here are a few highlights (and yes, those are BOURBON CHOCOLATE CAKE POPS pictured below…)
Okay, enough drooling over my favorite magazine – it’s time for a recap! No offense but I am SO glad that February is only 28 days long. With spring on the mind since January 1st, I have been having trouble getting through this month while still feeling present. Instead, my mind has been wondering to beaches, beeragritas, and long bike rides. Here are a few recipes that have helped me kick the winter [mind] wandering..
1. Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Gingersnap Crust – Comfort food with a fancy twist. And by fancy, I mean crumbling cookie bits on top of my already insanely indulgent dinner. Not bad…not bad at all…
2. Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits – these were my ‘pride and joy’ of the month. One of those ideas that comes to you at a completely random time and you start to obsess over it until the recipe is executed. Veggie Sausage or Bacon? Scones or Biscuits? Cheddar or Tomato Scones? Southwestern or Indian Tofu Scramble? Mushroom or Pepper Gravy? So many combinations to choose from and the product was an irresistible combination of everything amazing that comes to mind when you think ‘Vegan Breakfast’.
3. Heart Shaped Polenta Crostini with Roasted Tomato & Goat Cheese – Three of my favorite things all in one bite. And SO simple to make. How can it get any better than that?
4. Cinnamon Quinoa Granola – New breakfast go to. Chocked full of fiber, protein, and antixidents. The texture from the quinoa bring a whole new level of granola and this stuff keeps me filled all morning long.
Okay, well GOODBYE February and HELLOOOO March. I’m thinking [hoping] March will be filled with more outdoor adventures, road trips, and garden prepping. Yesss!
…And we are back from Nashville, Tennessee. Wyatt played a show down there with is band over the weekend so we decided to round up a group and cruise down in his big red van. The weekend consisted of tacos, live music, day drinking, and sooo much exploring. All the pictures I took were with film so I’ll have to wait to get them developed before posting a real re-cap.
Nashville was oh so much fun but now that I am home, I can feel myself craving comforts. The comfort of not sleeping on a tiny couch in a 17 bedroom co-op. The comfort of knowing exactly where my food is coming from and what I am putting into my body. The comfort of eating massive quantities of macaroni and knowing I have a [clean] floor to hibernate on after. The comfort of spinning the new[ish] TSwift album and watching ‘Girls’ on my laptop without being judged by every hipster in the neighborhood.
Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food for me. I made a Baked version after returning from Portland / Seattle last spring and made a delicious Vegan version over the summer after we moved into our new home. This dish makes a great side but don’t hesitate to be like me and eat it for dinner right out of the pan [while on the floor listening to teen pop albums AND watching terribly dramatic sitcoms - at the same time]. It’s nice to be home.
Butternut Squash Mac N’ Cheese with Gingersnap Crust
adapted from LickMySpoon
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 pound of pasta (I used shells)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup vegetable broth (I used homemade)
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 Tablespoon sage, minced
- 1 cup grated cheddar
- 1 cup grated Gouda
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 cup crumbled gingersnap cookies
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- Salt / Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the butternut squash with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and a dash of salt / pepper. Let roast for 20 minutes or until the squash has started to brown. Remove from oven and let cook.
Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook for five minutes (or until translucent). Add the garlic and sage and cook for a minute. Next, add in the flour and stir. Add broth and milk; turn heat up and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add the cheeses and mustard (you can also add a little cayenne or hot sauce at this point if you’d like a kick). Add in the roasted squash and use a whisk or wooden spoon to break up the squash (a few chunks are fine!) and stir until everything is combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and toss in drained pasta. Pour into a 9×9 baking pan and top with the gingersnaps / pecans. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Serve warm to all your favorite people!
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 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].
The fascination with my Tangine has really morphed my cooking this past month. I didn’t even use the tagine for this recipe but was drawn to it since the recipe is so similar to the other Tunisian dishes I’ve been playing around with. Who knew 2013 would be the year of preserved lemons, harissa paste, and spicy stews? Well, the first few months of 2013 at least. Can’t predict past that.
I am sooo in love the contrast that is created when you mix spicy harissa paste with sweet honey and lather it all over vegetables / beans. Oh my goodness! Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, you should. And here is a perfect starter recipe for it. Harissa paste is super easy to make (check out the recipe here) or you should be able to find it at any international market store. As for preserved lemons? It took me a long time to come around to them and I would recommend slicing them VERY thin until you get use to their intense flavor. But with that said, they really do add a depth of flavor that could not be achieved by this simple stew without them.
Lablabi / Chickpea Stew
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans drained)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 preserved lemon, sliced thinly
- 1 roasted bell pepper, sliced
- 3 teaspoons capers, rinsed
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- dash of salt
- Day old Bread
Simmer the chickpeas in the vegetable broth until heated through. Whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, cumin salt, and harissa paste in a small bowl. Fold in the capers, lemon, and red pepper to the dressing.
Tear the bread into large chunks and divide between two bowls. Spoon the chickpeas and broth over the bread and top with dressing / lemon mixture. Serve right away so the bread doesn’t get soggy.
Did I tell you about Christmas? I received so many wonderful kitchen tools and they have been filling my free time with cooking inspiration. First, I received a Tagine which is a wonderful Moroccan clay pot that I’ve been using to cook up flavorful veggie strews. Have you ever cooked with preserved lemons? Or harissa? I had not until I discovered the wonderful world of tagine cooking and now I am hooked!
We also received a pasta maker and ravioli press. It’s a tradition for my Ma and I to make homemade pierogies once a year so I am very acquainted with their pasta machine. But to have my own?! The options are endless! I started my adventures with this ravioli. There is something so wonderful about the creamy mascarpone that pairs nicely with the sweetness of the potatoes and then the savory garlic and onions.
Before we get started I have to tell you that I did a total no-no. In my recipe, I posted a link to ANOTHER recipe so you have to [gasp] follow two recipes at the same time. I know this is both annoying and could possibly even be confusing. BUT, I promise I did it for a reason [and that reason was NOT laziness]! This was my first time making homemade pasta on my own and I am no where near an expert. Thus, I didn’t really feel like it was right trying to tell you how to make it since I am still in my learning phase of this process. And instead, I sent you to a REALLY informative and easy to follow link that I used to make the dough for this recipe. So, I know you are wondering, why even post this recipe at all? Well because the ravioli filing / combo was totally my own inspiration and I found it too damn delicious not to share on here! So, don’t be mad! And I promise I’ll hopefully have my own step-by-step tutorial on homemade pasta one day. Until then, The Kitchn is a wonderful guide. Now, let’s make some ravioli!
Sweet Potato and Mascarpone Ravioli with Caramelized Onions
For the pasta dough:
For the filling:
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
Topping / Sauce:
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
To prep the filling: Bring a large saucepan full of salted water to a boil. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and add to the boiling water. Let boil until a fork can easily pierce through them (about 25 minutes). Drain the potatoes and let cool. While that is cooling, slice the vanilla bean in half and scrap out the seeds. Once the potatoes have cooled, mash with the vanilla seeds (discard the pod), mascarpone, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
Once the dough is rolled out to your desired consistency, lay across your ravioli press and fill each pocket with a tablespoon of filling. Lay another sheet of dough across the top and use a heavy rolling pin to gently roll back and forth over the ravioli until its sealed. Repeat with the rest of the dough / filling.
Bring a large saucepan full of salted water to a boil. Add the prepared ravioli (only doing about 6-8 at a time, depending on how large your pot is) and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until they float. Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with the rest of the ravioli.
To make the topping / sauce: Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium low. Add in the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until they become translucent. Add in the garlic, turn the heat down to low, and let cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until caramelized. Finally, add in the thyme, boiled ravioli, salt, and pepper and turn the heat back up to medium. Saute for about five minutes or until the ravioli just starts to brown.
Serve warm with shaved parmesan.
Track of the day:
Usually when I purchase mascarpone, I use it up in one sitting by making a fruit dip or smothering on top of cookies. However, this time I’ve been savoring it by throwing a tablespoon or two into pretty much ever meal. Pasta? Sure, why not!? Granola. Yes, please! blondies? Why not dip them in mascarpone? It’s been wonderful to open up the fridge and wonder “what can I douse in mascarpone today?”.
This intention has caused the creation of two delicious, quick breakfasts. I am the type of person who wakes up 20 minutes before she has to leave for work and needs a breakfast FAST. The first one is an indulgent twist on my usual morning granola and yogurt. And the second is a bit more YOLO (do you say that? I don’t actually say that…I just could not think of a better describing word. Thank you mainstream media for RUINING MY VOCABULARY).
Let me elaborate a bit more on my contrast between these two breakfasts. I have a [wonderful] boyfriend who is so skinny that you could probably see threw him when he turns to the side. This really irritates me when we eat 80% of the same foods (the other 20% is him getting a side of fries when I get a side salad) and it’s like he is getting skinnier as I am getting bigger! This is good in the aspect that it strives for me to constantly eat better as to not become the husky one in this relationship. But, at the same time and out of frustration, it also makes me want to down an entire jar of nutella when he is not looking. So this week’s breakfasts have consisted of ‘Morning bebe. Here is a big bowl of Granola / Mascarpone / Fruit that I made us for breakfast” and “Oh, you aren’t awake yet? Well I’m downing this Nutella / Ciabatta / Mascarpone sandwich before you get up” [I mean the Nutella has been in that cabinet for far too long...it could go bad soon! I'm only eating this as to not waste food...maybe...no, not really].
So, whether you are feeling like treating yourself or giving your body a good foundation for the day, one of these breakfasts should satisfy your needs. I’d suggest you whip up a batch of your own mascarpone so you can have yummy, creamy breakfasts to look forward to all week as well!
Mascarpone Breakfast Bowl
- 1 cup homemade granola (I used my pumpkin granola but use whatever you like)
- 1/4 cup fresh mascarpone
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- drizzle of honey
- fresh fruit
Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrap out the seeds. Discard the pod and transfer seeds to small bowl with the mascarpone. Whisk until combined and then pour in granola. Top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey.
Mascarpone Breakfast Sandwich with Nutella & Fresh Fruit
- 1 slice ciabatta bread
- 2-3 Tablespoons Nutella or any hazelnut spread
- 2-3 Tablespoons fresh mascarpone
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Fresh fruit
Slice the ciabatta bread in half and spread the Nutella on one side and the mascarpone on the other. Sprinkle the cinnamon on both sides and spread a single layer of bread. Fold the two pieces into each other and set under the broiler for a minute (or until your desired warm/crispiness is achieved). Eat immediately [preferably before anyone else sees you or else you may have to make more].
Daily dose. Why wake up slowly? Let’s get this day going:
One of my 2013 goals was to eat less processed food so I started my new journey today with some homemade bread. And not just any homemade bread – pumpernickel bread! Have you ever made pumpernickel bread before? I always knew that the flavor was complex but I was blown away by the flavor profile of this bread. We are talking coffee, chocolate, cornmeal, and molasses all going into this wonderfully delicious loaf. I’ll be posting the recipe for the bread tomorrow so make sure to check back if you are interested in making your own!
As for today? How about a seriously dangerous grilled cheese recipe? Like peanut butter and jelly, pumpernickel bread and spicy mustard were made for each other. There is something about the tangy mustard that lightens up the complexity of pumpernickel perfectly. Then throw in some sweet pear and melty brie? Irresistible! I thought keeping brie around the house was hard enough…now with this sandwich option it is going to be straight up impossible.
This recipe is like the winter version to my fall Apple, Brie, Arugula and Fig Grilled Cheese but with a bit more tang and less sweet. It still hits the spots with the salty/sweet pulling at your tastebuds and leaves you wondering why you would ever make a grilled cheese without brie again.