Well, the first week into being 25 has been quite the unfortunate whirlwind; It’s bizarre how this crazy world works. Two Fridays ago, Wyatt and I were enjoying our last day at the cabin with an early morning canoe trip. The air was slightly crisp, the water completely calm, and not a soul was in sight; the whole experience reminded me of a family summer vacation we took when I was 7 up to the boundary waters for a week of backpack camping. The feeling of awe and excitement that I felt as a little kid on that trip was all rushing back to me that morning as I scanned the rocky shores that drifted by parallel to the canoe. All these memories from the trip that I hadn’t thought of in at least a decade were coming back — bathing in the ice cold Canadian waters with endless wilderness as our backdrops, stopping for lunch on islands along the canoe route, giggling as my brothers attempted to chase a family of moose, and watching the sunsets over the wild wilderness along the shores of our campsite. On that early morning canoe trip, I felt overwhelmed with gratefulness that I was able to have those experiences growing up and so proud that motion of paddling felt more natural than driving a car. That morning, I was thinking of the family I had spent that canoe trip with: my mother whom had grown up in the city but had come to love the wilderness due to marrying my stepfather, my brother who can get me more annoyed than anyone on the planet but who I suddenly missed terribly, my stepbrother whom I had drifted apart from almost a decade earlier, and my stepfather who was always so strong and the leader of the bunch on our outdoor adventures.
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.
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.
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.
Last year I waited until the very last minute to do a Valentine’s day post so I figured we’d just get this out of the way this year. Yup, it’s February so it’s totally acceptable to start talking in the rhythm of a haiku and dreaming in red and pink.
I’m starting to feel like this sweets thing is never going to end. There was the month long baking marathon of festive cookies that leads up to Christmas. And then my boyfriend and best friend both had birthdays in January (which means 2 cakes each. Hey, it’s the one month out of the year I have an excuse to make a cake so I tend to go a little overboard). And now it’s february which is yet another excuse to eat chocolate covered everything and pink tinted sugar. So, I guess what I am trying to say, is that after this Valentine’s Day post I’m going to cool it on the sweets. No, I’m not doing it for you – I know you enjoy every sugar laden treat I post on here. I’m doing it for myself because you can’t feel in control of your health when you are on a constant sugar high. Ya know?
I’m jumping all over the place with this intro but there is so much to cover in such a short amount of time (+an over-share of photos = an unnecessarly long post so stay with me!).
There was so much inspiration from all over for this recipe. First off, I’ve been dying to make Linda’s Blood Orange Curd that she posted on her site The Tart Tart since the blood oranges finally started pouring into the Midwest. I halved the recipe and manipulated it a little bit to fit with the amount of egg yokes leftover from the meringue. All I can say is…Damn, I am SO bummed I halved that recipe. It was the perfect amount to fill the meringue bites but I really wish there was leftovers to lather all over pancakes or toast or oatmeal or whatever else would be within reach. This was my first try at curd (and my first experience tasting it homemade) and I’m completely hooked. It’s a wonder I’ve gone all these years without it. Move over jam – citrus curd is my new #1.
MERRY CHRISTMAS [EVE] (or, to all of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, HAPPY TUESDAY!). I love Christmas eve just as much as I love Christmas day. This is because, growing up, my parent’s were divorced so we always had Christmas with my Father ‘s family on the 24th and then had ANOTHER Christmas with my mother’s family on the 25th. I never could relate to those kids who were so excited to get to open ONE present on Christmas Eve to hold them over – I always received DOZENS of gifts on Christmas eve followed up lots more gifts on Christmas day. As I’ve aged, I’ve toned down a little (just a little!) on my excitement for a double dose of gifts but have learned to find joy in so many other wonderful aspects of having two Christmases in a row. Double the santa cookies. Double the Christmas movies. Double the Yule log playing in the background on your tv (speaking of that, I’ll be playing Lil Bub’s yule log video this year – if my family doesn’t think thats too weird).
But, to be completely honest, this biscotti has nothing to do with Christmas and I really just chatted about Christmas Eve because I’m just so darn excited its finally here. This biscotti is actually about having 11 days off of work in a row – which is the longest vacation time I’ve had in 2013. It’s about finally having lazy mornings after lazy mornings of sipping coffee in bed and enjoying a favorite magazine while munching some biscotti. It’s all about mastering the technique of getting the biscotti soggy enough in your coffee that it doesn’t crumble all over your sheets but firm enough that it’s still crunchy when take that first bite. But don’t worry, it’s okay if it takes you a few days to master this technique – we’ve still got loads more days off ahead of us!
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!
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.
(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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
I don’t know about you but the term ‘enchilada sauce’ doesn’t exactly conger up fresh and summery images. It mostly makes me think of that dark, musky isle in the already dingy international grocery store where you have to brush the dust off the can before picking it up and throwing it into your cart. This off-putting imagery doesn’t happen with all mexican food. In fact, tamales conger up wonderful memories of watching my step-mother whipping up several dozen in our kitchen when I was little. And tacos make me think of fresh grilled pineapple and strong margaritas. But I don’t know – there’s something about that enchilada sauce…something about the old-fashioned design on the cans that make me think it’s been on the shelf since that art was in style in the 80s (maybe even 70s?).
That was until I decided to start making my own. And everything changed in the enchilada world for me. It doesn’t taste like the enchilada sauce from the can…it taste so much fresher. And though it’s not the flavor your tongue is expecting at first, you will glow with the realization that this is how enchilada sauce is supposed to taste. Fresh and spicy. A little tomatoey, peppery, and full of heat. Of course, the amount of heat you’d like to create is up to you. Different peppers will result in different spice levels so go ahead and get acquainted with what peppers work for you (okay, so maybe that link is a little over-kill but it’s sort of fun to realize that all these peppers exist..)
This recipe isn’t challenging but there are lots of little steps – mostly simple ways to remove the outer peels from the tomatoes and peppers to create a creamier sauce. Don’t feel discouraged by the wordy directions below – it won’t take long and you’ll have deliciously fresh enchilada sauce in no time!
PS – Oh…and it’s vegan!
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 2 fresh red chilis, sliced in half with the seeds removed
- 1 1 /2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
- 2 large tomatoes, cut a large X in the bottom of both
- 2 jalapeños (or 1 poblano pepper)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
- salt/pepper, to taste
Add vegetable broth to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chili peppers and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat but DON’T drain the broth. Set aside.
Chard the jalapeños by placing them directly over a gas burner flame until blackened on all sides (or broil in your oven). Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a plastic sandwich bag. Let steam in the bag for about 15 minutes and peel the skins right off. Cut in half and remove seeds. Set aside.
Bring another saucepan full of water to a boil and get a bowl full of ice water ready. Add tomatoes and blanch for a minute or two or until the skins peel right off. Remove from heat and transfer tomatoes to the bowl of ice water. Peel tomatoes and then dice.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent (about 7 minutes). Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chillis with the vegetable broth liquid, jalapeño, oregano, and cumin. Let simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Once slightly cooled, transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.
Use right away or store in the fridge for up to four days.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
…And time for some inspiring links from around the web:
1. ADVENTURING // Headed to the west coast at the end of July to join a friend on her cross country road trip. I’ll be tagging along on the part from San Fran to Portland which means I’ve been going a little crazy with planning. We are definitely hitting up the Redwoods and ocean. Anyone have any recommendations for San Fran / Portland / anything in between?!
2. INSPIRING // Look at this salad from Gourmande in the Kitchen! Don’t all the wonderful colors, textures, and shapes make you want to eat this for every meal? Love Love Love feeling inspired by vegetables. Now, the only problem I need to get over is my dislike for beets…they are so beautiful…why can’t I just like them?!
3. CREATING // I’ve been familiarizing myself with dreamweaver and Issuu a lot lately in hopes to start making my own VV online magazine / zine. This has triggered hours and hours of flipping through magazines and online design books in the name of “research”.
4. CRAVING // Milkshake Strawberry Banana Cake?! Yes, please. This ‘milkshake turned baked goods’ trend has been popping up all over Pinterest but no one has done it quiet as beautifully as Hungry Rabbit.
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend planned! I’d like to do some adventuring to the lake but the forecast calls for storms all weekend. It might be a sign that I’m overdue for a day getting lost in the kitchen…
I totally get why eating healthy is so important. You feel great after, it gives you energy, makes your skin glow, wards of sickness, and keeps the extra pounds at bay. But sometimes, and just sometimes, you just want a big pile of french fries lathered in gravy. And no matter how much you try to convince your taste buds otherwise, they don’t listen. No matter how many salad ingredients you pull out of the fridge, your hand still reached for those big hunks of cheese you were ‘reserving’ for a special occasion.
This is what happened to me on Monday night. I had everything prepped and ready to go for a big ‘ol taco salad dinner. But the drooling happening in my mouth was demanding poutine. Demanding it so fiercely that I knew if I ignored my desires, I’d end up eating a pint of ice cream later because I’d be left unsatisfied. So, my mind and stomach battled it out for about 10 minutes before we settling on making BAKED Sweet Potato Poutine….not a salad but also not deep fried starch. A fair compromise, I told myself.
And, to be honest…it blew a salad out of the water. A big pile of baked fries lathered in peppered gravy and big hunks of gooey cheese was exactly what my Monday night needed. The only thing that made it even better was serving it with a Gin & Tonic and re-runs of the X-Files.
If you are new to Poutine, you need to try it! We are pretty used to eating Chinese and Middle Eastern food in America but how often do you try out some Canadian food? Traditional poutine consists of deep fried fries, gravy, and cheese curds. It’s traditionally made with meat gravy so unless you have a wonderful vegan restaurant that serves up a vegetarian version, (Thanks, Owlery!), you’ll want to take a stab at making your own.
Baked Sweet Potato Poutine
- 1 large sweet potato, cut into wedges
- 1 medium russet potato (or another sweet potato), cut into wedges
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Peppered Thyme Gravy:
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 cups almond milk (or regular)
- 3 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 cup cheese curds
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss potato wedges in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on two baking sheets (don’t crowd them or they won’t cook evenly). Bake for fifteen minutes, flip fries, and make for an additional 15 minutes or until fries are crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a large skillet, whisk the flour, nutritional yeast, and milk together. Once it is a smooth consistency, add all the spices. Place the skillet over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Next, add in the butter and reduce to medium low. Stir constantly until gravy thickens. Adjust to taste with salt/pepper.
Assemble by drizzling gravy over your huge mound of fries and topping with cheese curds.
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.
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.
- 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.
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)…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I came across ramps for the first time at the farmer’s market two weeks ago. The nice man who sold them to me explained that they are a type of mild wild garlic and grow in the early spring. The first recipe I tried was a Lemon Risotto from The Kitchn and I was instantly hooked. I went back the next week and picked up another bundle.
This time around I wanted to create my own recipe. When researching ideas, I came across chimichurri and knew I had to try it. Chimichurri is an Argentina sauce that is usually lathered all over meat. If you’ve ever read ‘The Butcher and The Vegetarian’ than you probably can recall the wonderful ways she described chimichurri. She spoke of it making her dizzy from the fresh flavors and needing more. That was enough for me to know I wanted to try it.
But…my adventures with chimichurri didn’t stop there. After lathering it on anything in sight, I wanted to also cook with it. Traditionally it’s rubbed on meat…which isn’t an option for me so I decided to do something completely different – through it in the loaf of bread I had planned to make anyways! And dayuuum…. not only was it beautiful with streaks of green running through it but the bread was soft and so flavorful that you could eat the whole thing plain. Or make some simple lemon thyme butter to dab on top.
Chimichurri Ramps Bread with Lemon Thyme Butter
- 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
For the bread:
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
For the butter:
- 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- Zest from half of an organic lemon
To make the chimichurri: Rinse the ramps and cut off the roots and any rough tips. Slice into big chunks. Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until a smooth paste forms. Lather all over slices of baguette or roasted veggies or proceed and make delicious bread out of it…
To make the bread: Combine the warm water and yeast in the large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes or until it becomes frothy. Next, add in the flour, salt, and olive oil and mix until combined. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for ten minutes (you can also do this in a stand mixer with a bread attachment – sadly, my mixer gave out on me last month so I’m going old school). Transfer kneaded dough to an oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for an hour.
Next, turn the dough out onto floured surface and roll into a rectangle (about 18 by 12 inches). Top with the chimichurri. Roll the long side of the dough towards you and pinch the ends closed (the same way you roll cinnamon into cinnamon rolls). Slice down the middle lengthwise, twist both pieces, and use the two parts to bread the bread by twirling around each other. Transfer to a greased baking sheet and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 and bake for roughly 25 minutes or until golden on top.
To make the thyme lemon butter: Mash the lemon zest, softened butter, and thyme together. Serve soft or wrap in parchment paper and stick in the fridge until firm.
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.
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
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
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
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?
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+).
A few weeks back I was spending my days soaking up the sun on the beach and my afternoons checking out hidden restaurant gems in Delray Beach. One of the places we stumbled upon was an all natural, organic cafe that had both healthy and intriguing flavor combinations. At the time, the idea of consuming a big bowl of hot soup after sitting on the beach for 4 hours was not appealing to me. But when I returned back to the Midwest and snow was covering everything, I couldn’t help but have my mind wonder to that menu and this soup.
This soup is pretty sweet so I recommend pairing it with a tangy grilled cheese or some hearty toast. You can also fancy it up by substituting the greek yogurt for crème fraîche or roasting the pumpkin seeds in spices. It also makes wonderful leftovers and can be reheated for weekday lunches.
Oh…and did I mention that it’s chocked full of protein and vitamins (specifically B6 and C)? How can you go wrong?
Maple Sweet Potato Soup with All Spice Greek Yogurt
- 3 Sweet Potatoes, washed and cut into cubes
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 4 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
- Salt / Pepper
- 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons all spice
- Toasted Pumpkin seeds, for garnish
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook until translucent (about five minutes). Next, add in the sweet potatoes and maple syrup. Let cook for 15 minutes or until everything has browned. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are soft (time will vary depending on the size you cut your sweet potatoes).
Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. If the soup is too thick then return back to stove and add a little more broth (about 1/4 cup at a time). Cook over low until a desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine the greek yogurt and all spice in a bowl. Garnish the soup with it and some toasted pumpkin seeds.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
…And we are back. After 6 glorious days of soaking up the sun on Atlantic beaches and sipping on Bloody Marys at the pool. It’s was wonderful and short lived. I was oh so saddened to come back to this 30 degree and rainy weather. Spring, where are you? Last year I was prepping my garden by this time.However, this year I don’t see the snowy slush temperatures breaking anytime soon. Ah well. At least I have my slight [sort of, not really] tan to hold me over for another month.
Anyhow, the trip was great but I am glad to be back to my kitchen. And my usual eating routine. Vacations often time becomes an epic eating marathon. This is fine when you are hiking for 5 hours a day but when you are just sitting around the pool sipping on Bloody Mary’s…this can be a bit of a negative thing. I also find myself eating out of boredom on long car rides. So, if not prepared then I end up gurgling down three bags of cheetos, a milk shake from Sonic, and endless snickers bars. The sugar high is always met at the end with a feeling of regret and stomach aches.
This time around I made sure to pack the car with goodies so I wouldn’t be tempted with processed candy bars and thick spoonfuls of dairy. This chex mix recipe isn’t lacking all together in processed foods but it is much less processed than buying a bag of it the gas station. And it lasts for a good week so you’ll still have it to munch on long after your hummus has warmed and your carrots start to smell funky from the heated car.
Feel free to play around with ingredients you have on hand and any seasonings you are super into. Although, I would suggest staying away from any seasoning that are lacked with MSG because we don’t want you dosing off at the wheel now!
Side note: I also picked up a copy of Vegan Eats World during my travels so expect some fun international dishes in the coming weeks. EVERY recipe looks amazing and I cannot wait to dig into it!
Homemade Chex Mix
- 3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
- 3 cups Corn Chex cereal
- 2 cups pretzels
- 1 cup bagel chips (I used sesame flavored), broke into bite size pieces
- 1 cup cheddar cheese crackers
- 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons worchestshire sauce
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used sriracha sauce)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix together the chex cereals, cheese crackers, bagel chips, and pretzels. Drizzle the butter and fold in all the seasonings.
Pour the mixture onto a large baking sheet (or two small ones). Let cook for about an hour and stir every 15 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and let cool completely.
Store in an airtight container or munch down immediately.
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.
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.