May Wrap Up

May 31, 2012

Woah, can you believe it is the last day of May already? This month FLEW by!! Luckily it was because I was having so much fun over here.

Here is a wrap up of my favorite recipes from this month:


1. Veggie Sloppy Joes. These brought a whole new meaning to what I thought a sloppy joe could be. They were flavorful, stocked full of nutritious ingredients, and oh so easy to whip up! This is becoming one of my new ‘go to’ recipes for sure

2. Cherry Beergaritas: It’s a bit embarrassing how many times we’ve whipped these up since discovering this cocktail. It’s ridiculously refreshing on a hot summer day and the simplest drink to mix up when you have a crowd!

3. Tofu Thai Lettuce Wraps: These wraps are as fun to eat as they are delicious. We ate them on the porch so that we didn’t make a mess but assembling them is half the fun!

4. Summer Pasta Dish: there is nothing better than fresh produce being the reason a dish stands out so much. This pasta dish is light, colorful, and packed full of flavor.


As for favorite adventure this month? Well, I would say it would HAVE to be our trip out West (or..well, maybe Graduating- that is kind of a big deal as well!)

My biggest lust this month? I am crazy about these Chasing Delicious posters that tell you when fruit//veggies//herbs are in season. Would those not be adorable//useful hanging in the kitchen??

Well, enough looking back! How about what we have in store for June?! I am very very excited for this month; Wyatt and I move into our new home (expect lots of pictures updates of the remodeling process!), my brother is graduating from Grad School (which means road trip to Chicago), and I am just too excited for all the new things I will be learning from the Blogging Your Way E-course which starts tomorrow!

Dinner Picnic Part 1: Southwestern Inspired Quinoa Salad

May 30, 2012

Well Memorial weekend has come and gone which means summer is officially in full swing. To me, this means fresh produce and delicious salads! I am not a big fan of having just a salad as a meal but I do love them as a side and to compliment my main entrees. I am particularly fond of grain salads (wheat berry, quinoa, polenta, oh my!) so please let me know if I begin to get carried away in the coming months!

On Monday we piled 5 people, a dog, and a grill into my roommate’s tiny civic and off we went to spend the afternoon at the lake. It was 90 and sunny here in Bloomington so the water could have never felt better! I whipped this salad up to go with our grilled goods; what made me think to make this one was that I didn’t want a mayo based salad sitting in the heat all day! So I turned to my flavorful quinoa salad that doesn’t’ need to be lathered in thick dressing to be flavorful. This salad is lime juice based which means a little sun won’t hurt anything!

Also, I made a double recipe so that we would have leftovers for the week. Since I was just not into getting back to routine, I made Wyatt (and Tuko!) have a dinner picnic with me last night in our favorite garden. The main course recipe is coming in a post later this week (stay tuned!) but we had this salad again as a side. Such perfect picnic fare!

Southwestern Inspired Quinoa Salad

adapted from Mom De Cuisine
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno, chopped (use less if you don’t like spicy)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt/pepper
  • cilantro, for garnish

Cook quinoa according to package directions (if no directions- wash thoroughly with cold water and then boil the quinoa for about 15 minutes or until soft).

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.

Once the quinoa has cooled completely, combine the quinoa, bell pepper, black beans, corn, jalapeno, and onions in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the whisked dressing.

Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving so that all the flavors can mend together deliciously. Serve cool and while at a picnic/grill out!

Summer Pasta: Pesto Linguine with Spinach, Edamame, Lime, and Toasted Pecans

May 29, 2012

I am both excited and a bit embarrassed to admit that I am about as nerdy as they come! Not even two weeks into finishing up my 16 years of schooling, I signed up for another class! Luckily, it’s an online blogging course put on by Decor8! I am so excited to expand my blogging skills and see what new thing I can absorb from this. I already have so many goals for VV this summer that I am hoping this course will push me to reach in ways I would have not thought of otherwise. If you’d like to learn more about it (or become my classmate! haha), hop on over to Blogging Your Way.

Anyhow, back to the point at hand: easy pasta dish! This dish has it all – protein from the edamame, nutrients from the fresh spinach (and maybe-sorta the corn?), and energy packed into the whole wheat pasta and pecans. Not to mention it’s delicious, colorful, and can be made in under 15 minutes. What more do you want? Yeah, maybe some garlic bread and red wine but those things are so easily solvable as well!

I whipped this up for a date night we had a few days back because when you are planing to spend your whole evening with that special cutie, who wants to waste the first two hours slaving away in the kitchen? Although, if its a FIRST date, I might recommend holding off on the garlic bread (or bringing a toothbrush!- just sayin’).

Summer Pasta

  • 8 ounces of linguine
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups edamame, cooked according to package
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, cooked according to package
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice

Prepare the linguine according to the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, add the chopped pecans to a small skillet. Saute on low for 5 to 10 minutes or until they are toasted.

Drain the pasta and toss with the pesto and lime juice. Fold in the edamame and corn. And finally, top with the toasted pecans!

Serve with garlic bread (I just took two pitas and put butter/crushed garlic on top and stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes) and red wine!


No Moody Monday

May 28, 2012

Good Morning! No Mood here! We spent the last two days up north visiting Wyatt’s parents. It was a very relaxing break from the usual routine. We went to their local farmer’s market, visited a very cool music store (that we, at work, distribute to!), took naps in the hammock, drank margaritas, grilled out, and had a bonfire. A perfect first half to Memorial weekend!


Well, I am off to make a quinoa salad for a grill out at the lake today. Be back tomorrow with the usual (and delicious) recipe posts! Have a great Monday!

Grill Time

May 27, 2012


Hope everyone is having a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Saucy Saturdays: Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

May 26, 2012

And Saucy Saturdays is back! After a three-week hiatus because of our little road trip to Arizona (and our lake trip last weekend), I refused to let another busy weekend get in my way! To be honest, I am actually probably on my way to Northwest Indiana as you read this post but knew I should write it ahead of time or else it would never happen.

I don’t know about where you live but it’s managed to get hot and muggy (suppose to hit the 100′s here – helloooo….May?) so I thought something light would hit the spot!

Strawberries are also popping up everywhere! Wyatt has a bunch of wild strawberries (they are so little and adorable!) growing in his backyard (AKA Tuko’s playground). Nothing like fresh strawberries (particularly when they are in season) and one of my all time favorite salads is a simple spinach salad with pecans, strawberries, and balsamic.

This sauce is super simple and great to drizzle on top of a spinach salad or just enjoy on top of some fresh fruit!

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Dash of Salt/Pepper

Whisk together in a sealable jar and VIOLA! Fresh and homemade dressing for all your fruit and green eating needs!

Have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend!


Cookie Wars Goodies

May 24, 2012

I had a very enjoyable lunch that consisted of me running home to make a quick sandwich and finding a beautifully wrapped package on my doorstep. Come to find out, there are amazingly delicious homemade dark chocolate and pecan (dark chocolate is my favorite!) cookies inside! It was my “prize package” from the 2012 Cookie Wars! It was absolutely adorable and I wanted to send out a thank you to Ms. Baker Betties for the delicious treats.



Now the only problem is deciding what to spend my Crate & Barrel gift card on…looks like I have the rest of my afternoon figured out for me! Thanks again, Kristin!

DIY Delicious: DIY Buttermilk /// Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

May 22, 2012

This was originally posted on this morning. It’s a new blog that my good friend, Kristin, and I are collaborating on. Don’t worry – I’m not cheating on you, VV. It’s just a new outlet for me to express my thoughts on things outside of food…like DIY projects, shopping lists, decor suggestions, etc.

It’s still very new and in the experimental stage (we still don’t even have a bio made yet!) but feel free to go check it out if you have a few minutes!



Oddly enough, I’ve been using this trick for years for vegan baking but never really caught onto what I was actually doing. My introduction to vegan baking was in high school when I picked up Isa’s Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Almost all of the cupcake recipes start with mixing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of almond milk and end with amazingly moist, flavorful cupcakes.

Anyhow, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve bought the smallest possible carton of buttermilk, used half a cup, and then let it go bad in my fridge swearing to myself, I’ll use it up next time. It’s just one of those staples that I never go through in my house (and I bet a lot of you are the same way).

This led me to research about buttermilk substitutes…and discover great news from it! You can actually make buttermilk with 2 simple pantry (fridge) staples in less than 10 minutes! Wah? I almost feel upset about discovering this because of all the times I’ve wasted soooo. much. buttermilk.

Here’s how it goes:

DIY Buttermillk

  • 1 cup of milk (any kind you like – whole will give you a closer texture but use soy if you like it vegan!)
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar

Mix together in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes [this will cause the milk to "curdle"]. Mix into all your favorite buttermilk recipes and that’s it!

And…by favorite…I mean recipes like the following:

Perfect to 2

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1 cup flour (+ more if the batter is too runny)
  • `1/2 cup oats
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • Sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl and mix together. In a large bowl, add in all the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet into it. Fold the dry into the wet until a thick batter forms. If the batter is too thin for your liking, add a bit more flour.

In a large skillet, melt a dollop of butter or oil over medium heat. Use a 1/2 cup measure as a scooper. Scoop batter onto the skillet and put two to three pancakes on at a time. Cook for two to three minutes on each side (will depend on how hot your skillet is). Repeat with the rest of the batter.

In a small saucepan, place the pecans and saute for 5 minutes on low. Next, add in 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup. Cook on low until all the syrup has stuck to the pecans.

Enjoy the pancakes lathered with maple pecans, sliced strawberries, butter, and lots of maple syrup!

Eat while sipping on your favorite coffee and watching some morning cartoon classics.

Moody Monday: Summer Sun

May 21, 2012

Good Morning, Monday! This weekend came and went much too fast. Although, I have to admit that this is the first time in 6 months that I did not have homework looming over my shoulder all weekend (Yay for having two full days to do whatever I want – minus some laundry doing)!

Anyways, I spent those glorious two days in the sun and at the lake with friends. We grilled out for dinner BOTH Saturday and Sunday. And I made some amazing [mango and pineapple] sangria to go with our Saturday funsies which went over fabulously.

Altogether a successful weekend! If this wasn’t enough to get me through the week, I also have a 3 day weekend coming up! What to do with all that free time? Host a cook out? Take a mini trip to Nashville, TN? Organize a group camping trip to Turkey Run? Oh, the possibilities!

Tofu Thai Lettuce Wraps

May 20, 2012

Continuing with my “health kick” this week, I decided to whip up these lettuce wraps for a refreshing and light dinner. I use to live in Nashville, TN and would go to the PF Chang (sorry- I am USUALLY not a chain girl) just to get the tofu lettuce wraps appetizer. This is my version of those and it’s fantastic; stocked full of refreshing veggies and flavorful sauces and then wrapped in a light lettuce leaf. There is something about the kick from the chili powder followed by a cool down from the lettuce that counteracts each other perfectly.

And if eating these because they are delicious and healthy weren’t enough, they are so much fun to assemble and munch down on! It’s like you’ve been given permission to play with your food (for once!). Also, if you are feeling like these won’t fill you up, think about adding some Scallion Wonton Bites as a side.

PS Omit the egg if you’re vegan!

Tofu Thai Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 block of tofu, drained and cut into small “match-like” sticks
  • 1 carrot, cut into small “match-like” sticks
  • 6 small mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 a head of red cabbage
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • dash of chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • dry roasted peanuts, for garnish

In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute. Next, add in the tofu, carrot, mushrooms, cabbage, and spring onions and saute another minute (if the pan gets try add a little water). Mix in the lime juice, soy sauce, chili powder and Teriyaki sauce.

Push ingredients to the side and crack the egg in the skillet. Stir quickly to break the yoke and then incorporate the egg with the rest of the mix. Once the egg is cooked, remove from heat and add in the bean sprouts.

Assemble by filling a whole piece of lettuce with 2 or 3 tablespoons of mixture and then sprinkle peanuts on top.

It’s probably impossible to tell because of the long hair but this is Wyatt munching down on some lettuce wraps! Mmmmm.

Cherry Beergaritas

May 17, 2012

On my trip last week, I made a list of summer goals! I have not had a summer without classes in almost 4 hours and I decided I better start giving myself some things to work on before I waste the whole summer playing in the sun (okay, to be honest, that would not be so bad either).

Anyways, I shall post my summer list here so that I can slowly cross it off with that handy little font tool that wordpress has!

Summer Goals

1. Learn to like Mushrooms

2. Make homemade marscapone and ricotta cheese

3. Pickle my own grown cucumbers

4. Take some time to do a little yoga everyday

5. Try new cocktails

6. Make my first recipe zine

7. Get my Etsy shop up and running

8. Make Homemade dog biscuits for Tuko

9. Go camping at Turkey Run and Hoosier National Forest

10. Eat Vegan once a week (I think I will be making it every Wednesday)

Okay, that is enough of a list. I also have ‘decorate my new house’ on my list but that is going to have to happen regardless of whether I make it a goal so I’ll leave that off.

Back to number 5. I have already starting trying so many new cocktails this summer and absolutely love the learning experience that comes with seeing what mixes so well with what. I’ve also learned that I am not really an Old Fashioned kind of gal but do love me a Dark and Stormy. However, there is one super easy cocktail that I have already revisited about half a dozens times this summer…the good ol’ Beergarita. Beergaritas taste a lot like margaritas but the soda gives them an extra frizz similar to what you get when you drink a mimosa. The recipe I use is a revamped one that turns the traditional beergarita into a Cherry version that is so satisfying when sitting on your porch and soaking up the sun.

  • 1 – 12 ounces corona
  • 12 ounces of tequila
  • half a tube of limeade concentrate (should in a frozen tube in the freezer section)
  • 12 ounces of Cherry Sprite
  • Ice
  • Maraschino Cherries, for garnish
  • a splash of maraschino cherry juice, for color

Pour the corona into a pitcher. Use the empty corona bottle to measure out the same amount for the tequila and sprite. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve over ice to all your friends!

And perhaps with some guacamole or corn salsa (you’ll probably need these snacks after the tequila sneaks up on you!).

Veggie Hoagies

May 16, 2012

So vacation was awesome but I am feeling a little sluggish from all the gas station munchies and PB&J road sandwiches. I’ve decided to dedicate this whole week to “cleansing” my body and trying to pack it with as much veggies as possible. So far this week, every morning has started off with a Green Monster [smoothie] and a big veggie sandwich for lunch. I am hoping to post about my Green Monster creations soon- as soon as I can get an appetizing picture of green slushiness (maybe this won’t be anytime soon..)

Anyways, as an attempt to keep my boyfriend from breaking up with me from a veggie overload, I’ve tried to expand and get as creative as possible with our sandwiches this week. The other day I whipped up these oven toasted hoagies and they will for sure become a new staple in my lunch routine. So perfect because you can use whatever veggies you have on hand and then load them with the melted cheese and tangy dressing.

As usual when I post a sandwich suggestion, feel free to substitute whatever veggies and cheeses you think sound good.



Veggie Hoagies

  • 2 ciabbata buns
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 5 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 Tablespoon fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 Tablespoon fresh)
  • 4 slices of Swiss cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer- omit if vegan)
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing
  • salt/pepper
  • tin foil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the sliced ciabbata rolls on a ungreased cooking sheet and stick them in the preheating oven for 5 minutes (or until they start to become toasted).

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onions and saute for about five minutes. Then add the peppers, mushrooms , basil, oregano, salt, and pepper and saute for another 10 minutes or until all the veggies have softened.

Divide the cheese and dressing between the two rolls. Top with the veggie mixture and the tomatoes. Spray tin foil with cooking spray and wrap the sandwiches in two pieces.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has completely melted.

Serve warm with chips or coleslaw or whatever sounds yummy!


Rustic Cakes with Red Wine Onion Relish

May 15, 2012

I pulled out this recipe book the other day because I had stumbled upon this Vegan cookbook when I was at Powell’s in Portland a few months back. The pictures are gorgeous and I am just in love with the fact that he adds a little play list to go with every recipe. Anyways, this is the only recipe I’ve tried out of the book so far and I was blown away. These little cakes are soooo delicious. I lathered them with this caramelized onion relish for dinner and then ate the leftover with maple syrup the next morning (honestly, I can not tell you which version was better- they were fantastic both savory and sweet!).

I’ll admit- I’m biased when it comes to breakfast food (and particularly when it comes to being able to serve it for dinner without any regrets). But to be completely honest, I think that the onion relish may have been my favorite part about the whole thing. Although the cakes are super delicious by themselves, the onions practically melt in your mouth and have the most beautiful color from being soaked in the red wine. I’d recommend putting this relish on everything- crackers, sandwiches, rustic cakes, imitation meat, etc.

Also, I upped the corn meal a lot so that the batter was easier to work with. This made the cakes denser so if you like yours thin then feel free to use a little less cornmeal when making your cakes.

Rustic Cakes with Red Wine Onion Relish

For the cakes:

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cup almond milk
  • Coconut oil (for frying)

For the onion relish:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onions, thinly sliced 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine
  • 1 tablespoon water

Combine, all (except the coconut oil) in a bowl and mix until a thick dough forms. Stick in the fridge for ten minutes or until it’s chilled.

Warm the olive oil over low to medium low in a small skillet. Saute the onions for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are browning and starting to caramelize. Add the sugar, wine, and water and bring to a bowl. Let it simmer over low until the wine has evaporated.

In a large skillet, warm a thin layer of coconut oil. Make golf ball size dough balls and small down. Place 3 to 4 cakes in a skillet and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side (depending on how hot the oil is).

Serve warm with the onions piled on top and maybe some asparagus on the side.

Oh! And don’t forget to eat your leftovers the morning after with maple syrup!

Moody Monday: Back From the Wild Wild West

May 14, 2012

And I’m back! After a much needed week-long adventure to Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, I am back at work and back into the routine.

The trip was absolutely amazing and we experienced soooo many amazing things including camping on the beach, hanging out in mountain logging towns, and exploring New Mexico thrift shops.I am hoping to have a full post of pictures later this week so stayed tuned!

As for Moody Monday, it’s not so moody around here with all the exciting happenings (still on cloud nine from my trip and officially starting my full-time job at Secretly Canadian Distribution today).

Hope to be back into action with recipe posts tomorrow! Happy Monday!

Southwest Road Trip

May 6, 2012

Hey Everyone! Just letting you know I will be MIA for the week because we are taking our annual cross country road trip.

Be back in a week or so! I will be documenting a lot of my trip through instragram so feel free to follow me (username: shellywest) if you’d like to follow along!

Veggie Sloppy Joes / Summer Picnic

May 4, 2012

I had my last final yesterday afternoon which meant I was going to study all day…or at least that was my plan until it decided to be 80 and sunny outside. So, to compromise, we had a picnic in my backyard to take a break from my studies (which eventually turned into my just studying outside the rest of the day).

We were, surprisingly, able to enjoy our sloppy joes in peace because Tuko was too distracted by all the squirrel action going on in the trees around us.

Wyatt was so into his Joe that he managed to scarf down 3 in a row (hungry boy).

Veggie Sloppy Joes

Adapted from A Couple Cooks
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 celery stock, diced
  • 1- 15 ounce can of kidney beans
  • 1-15 ounce can of pinto beans
  • 2 cups of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • squirt of srichacha sauce
  • dash of fresh ground pepper
  • buns
  • garnish with [vegan] cheese

In a skillet, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute for about five minutes or until they start to soften. Then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until it has reached a desired consistency.

Lather in between a bun and top the mixture with cheese.

Serve with chips or corn on the cob or coleslaw. And enjoy on a fun colored blanket outside with your favorite people (and animals)!

Roasted Balsamic Carrots

May 2, 2012

I totally get why people insist on creating super elaborate dishes with dozens of ingredients; I myself have made plenty of recipes that hit that description on the head but for some reason I always come back to the simple ones. Roasting vegetables is probably the first thing you learn in cooking 101 but yet there’s nothing better than the bold, natural flavors that come from roasting. These carrots only have five ingredients but every ingredient is important and you can taste the delicious chemistry that is created when these ingredients are cooked together.

Anyways, I am going to keep this short because I have been writing papers all week for my finals and more writing just seems like a chore (which is never what this blog should feel like!) However, now that I’ve managed to write such a passionate previous paragraph about these flavorful carrots, you should probably just try them out for yourself and not take my word for it.

Roasted Balsamic Carrots

  • 6 carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 425. Combine the nutmeg, cinnamon, balsamic, and olive oil in a bowl. Toss the carrots in the mixture and then lay in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Cook for 10 minutes. Flip and then roast for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy as a delicious side or an afternoon snack.


Moody Monday: Graduation

April 30, 2012

This Monday is a bit strange for me. It does not really feel like a Monday at all because I have been busy all weekend writing papers and getting ready for my post graudation trip (we are taking Tuco on his first camping trip to Arizona!). Anyways, what is going to get me through the week is knowing that after 4 years of this routine, I will officially be a graduate next weekend. Yikes!

My pictures for the post are a picture of me with friends from each year I have been in school. I usually try to not be so self absorbent (by posting so many pictures of myself) but it was just too much fun to see the changes over the years. I feel like a completey different person than I was four years ago and it’s so strange to imagine that I am about to start a new and different growth period in my life. Anyways, this post was suppose to be fun and to see the evolution over the years (top left is freshman, top right is sophomore, bottom left is junior, and bottom right is this year). Exciting things!

Hope everyone has a fantastic week!

Saucy Saturdays: Sweet Pepper Aoili

April 28, 2012

To continue on with our ‘Saucy Saturdays’, I’ve decided to make a dressing that is perfect both as a dip or lathered on veggie sandwiches. Aioli is just really a fancy word for ‘flavored mayo’ but it really does bring new meaning to mayonnaise. I never have been a big mayonnaise fan until I discovered garlic aioli to dip onion rings in or spicy aioli to dip carrots into.

This dip was ridiculously easy to make and I was hoping to save it for upcoming lunch sandwiches this week but I already ate half of it with wheat thins! I used some mini sweet peppers I had lying around but feel free to use regular sweet peppers instead (I’d say use two). This sauce would be really great on grilled burgers or hot dogs and I can only imagine that this will be made again and again this summer.

  • 6 – 7 small sweet peppers, any color (I stuck with red so that the end product would be a solid color)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • dash of salt/pepper

First, roast the peppers: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place bell peppers on a foil lined baking sheet and brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto the peppers. Roast for 10 minutes on each side (or until each side is very browned). Place in a plastic bag for 5 minutes and then remove skins.

Add the peppers along with the rest of the olive oil, mayo, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper to a small food processor (or blender). Pulse until everything is well incorporated (about five minutes). Season more with salt/pepper.

Serve with french fries, crackers, vegetables, on sandwiches, or whatever you have lying around in your fridge that needs a layer of sauce on it!

a few ideas of what to dip into it.

Nacho Night – Buffet Style

April 27, 2012

We are in the full swing of Spring which means unpredictable weather is upon us! It’s been rather crazy this year…usually I just plan on it raining for 2 months straight but we have been struck with many random sunny warm days followed by cold 50s. It’s a bit out of the norm and makes planning even harder.

When a random cold spell hit us last week, I decided to stay in and have a movie night with a few friends. I love popcorn but sometimes you just have to spice things up! We ended up doing a small ‘nacho bar’ instead because it’s so customizable that you are able to cater to even the pickiest of eaters. The nacho night went over perfectly and it was fun to be able to share food and a movie with people without having to worry about picky eaters or breaking the bank!

Also, at this ‘nacho night’ I discovered Beergaritas for the first, official, time and ooooooh man! I don’t even know where to begin. Expect a post in the next couple of days with a recipe but we made some delicious (and surprisingly simple) Cherry Beergaritas to go with our themed evening. There is just something about adding a little fizz to the traditional Margarita recipe that makes that drink just so darn refreshing!

This was so simple to plan and create that it will definitely be added to my future dinners when I need something quick or am looking to entertain a large group on a budget.

Vegetarian Nacho Buffet:

Nachos should never be an exact science so here are some suggestions to add to your plate:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Doritos
  • cheddar cheese (or dairy free cheese to make vegan!)
  • sour cream
  • jalapeno
  • onions
  • red bell peppers
  • vegetarian meat crumbles + taco seasoning packet (follow packet directions)
  • corn
  • black beans / pinto beans
  • salsa (fresh, store bought, corn salsa, mango salsa, wateverrr)
  • scallions
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • avocados
  • lime juice / lime wedges
  • cilantro
  • tomatoes
  • olives
  • shredded lettuce

Layer it all together in a big bowl and enjoy with a Beergarita!

Pizza Party: BBQ Tempeh Pizza vs. Creamy Purple Potato Pizza

April 25, 2012

I live about two blocks from my favorite house in Bloomington. This house is actually a HUGE old historic home that was converted into 4 businesses. The business in the basement is a coffee shop that is just too quirky not to love; I probably owe my degree to this place since it gave me a place to actually enjoy going to when I had to write awful papers for classes. Soma is filled with old TV-turned-fish tanks, mannequin’s dressed as 80′s drag queens, and map murals all over the walls. I find all of it’s charm to be very inspiring and often times write these blog posts there to get the juices flowing!

Anyways, in the “attic” is a very awesome consignment shop that has shelves and shelves of cute vintage clothes. And next to that is a stone shop that sells adorable jewelry and gems. Lastly, there is a burrito shop called ‘Laughing Planet’. This place only serves local meat and everything is organic. On top of these healthy ingredients, they always come up with the most creative combination for burritos. For example, for Thanksgiving they have a burrito that is filled with mashed potatoes, corn, vegan gravy, turkey or tempeh, green beans, and served with a cranberry salsa. Sounds weird…which it is but also surprisingly delicious.

Oh yeah, the point of this story? I was eating lunch there last week with Kelsey and we decided to try their special of the week which was a ‘grill out’ themed burrito. It was filled with sweet potatoes, kale, corn, bbq tofu, and black beans. Absolutely delicious. And this burrito was the first thing I thought of when I realized how much homemade bbq we had leftover from Kristin and I’s cooking adventure the other night.

I wanted to do something besides Mexican since we just made tacos the night before so I decided to try to turn it into a pizza! This, for some reason, led to Wyatt wanting to compete with my pizza idea and make it into a competition.  So off we went to Bloomingfoods and he managed to snatch up some beautiful purple potatoes and locally made Alfredo sauce for his pie.

Both the pizzas turned out delicious. I have to give Wyatt some credit for coming up with such a delicious recipe on a whim (and one that definitely photographed better). Neither of us would budge on which pizza was better so you guys will just have to whip these pizzas up and decide for yourselves!

Pizza Dough

  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups of flour
  • corn meal, for dusting

In a mixer with a dough hook (or a large mixing bowl if you don’t have a mixer), combine the yeast, sugar, and water and let sit for 10 minutes (this gives the yeast time to start reacting).

Next, add in the salt and olive oil. Turn the mixer in low and start adding the flour a half a cup at a time (or use your hands to mix in the flour). Start with 3 and a half cups of flour but add more if the dough is still too sticky that it’s not turning into a ball. Mix on high for five minutes.

Place in a oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for about an hour or so.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dust your surface with cornmeal and use a rolling pin to roll out two pizza crusts with this dough. Place on an oiled cooking sheet and set aside while you prepare the toppings

BBQ Tempeh Pizza

  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce
  • 4 oz tempeh, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 cup Gouda, shredded

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium. Add the tempeh and saute for about five minutes. Mix in 1/4 cup of bbq sauce and cook for about a minute. Remove from heat.

Bring a large pot to a boil. Boil the sweet potato chunks for about five minutes or until they become a little soft (cooking time will depend on how big or little you made the chunks – make sure you don’t let them get mushy though!).

Lather the rest of the bbq sauce on the pizza. Top with the tempeh, kale, frozen corn, sweet potato, and gouda. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the cheese has browned.

Creamy Potato Pizza

  • 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
  • 3 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup cheddar, shredded
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dried Dill
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of fresh pepper

Lather Alfredo sauce on top of dough. Then top pizza with everything else and stick in the oven for 15 minutes or until cheese has browned.

Vegan Chickpea Gravy

April 24, 2012

So I have this loooong list of things I’d like to do to make my eating lifestyle better (only eating organic, making homemade condiments, etc) but all these things take just a little bit of extra effort so I’ve been slowly trying to incorporate them into my kitchen habits.

Along those lines, I finally conquered cooking beans from scratch instead of using old canned bean. I’ve seen my roommate do this dozens of times but it always seemed so time consuming (soaking the beans over night and then cooking them on the stove top for houuurs). However, I found a super easy trick and the secret is using a crock pot! All you have to do is wash the beans, put them in the crock pot with a few extra inches of water, and let it cook while you are sleeping or at work! And then you can come home to yummy, fresh beans waiting to be eaten/cooked with.

And with these fresh cooked beans I made some yummy gravy to go on mashed potatoes. I don’t know what has been up with my gravy addiction lately but it’s bad…I guess at least I’m been making my gravies as healthy as possible, right?

Crockpot Chickpeas

  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas
  • water

Wash the chickpeas thoroughly. Place in your crockpot and cover with water. Make sure the water goes up about 2 to 3 inches past the beans.

Cook on low for six to seven hours.

Drain and enjoy the beans fresh or add to yummy recipes!

Vegan Chickpea Gravy

Adapted from Isa’s Vegan with a Vengence
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast

Start by heating up the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and mustard seed and saute for about ten minutes or until the onions start to brown.

While those cook, whisk together the 2 cups of water and flour and set aside.

Add in the minced garlic to the skillet and saute for another 30 seconds. Next, put in the chickpeas and use a masher to mash they into small pieces. Then mix in the spices, lime juice, and soy sauce. Turn the heat down to low and add in the flour mixture. Stir until a thick gravy forms. Sprinkle in the nutritional yeast and add a tiny bit more water if it’s still runny.

Whisk until it has reached a thick and desirable consistency.

Remove from heat and lather on mashed potatoes, egg sandwiches, vegetarian “meat”, or whatever you are feeling.

Moody Monday: Baker Bettie’s Cookie Wars 2012 / Hazelnut Shortbread with Marscapone Frosting

April 23, 2012

Oh…Hi, Monday. Did anyone go to Record Store Day on Saturday? I went to support my local store and listen to one of my co-worker’s DJ. Also, I picked up the newest Nobunny album as a house warming gift to Wyatt and I and got an exclusive Record Store Day 7″.

Anyways, my monday has not been SO moody so far because I am still on cloud nine from finding out I won Baker Bettie’s Cookie Wars yesterday! Yay! It is the first food (or blog) contest I have ever entered (I am the LEAST competitive person you will ever meet) but it was a super fun challenge to create something within the guidelines of the contest.

Soooo…for my Moody Monday post I am going to celebrate my cookie creation by posting the recipe and some pictures!

Make sure to go check out what everyone else who entered made because there are some serious creative cookies in there. I can’t wait to try the Passion Fruit Goat Cheese Mint Cookies or the Chili Dipped Coffee Biscotti. Mmmmm!


For the cookie:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped hazelnut

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds only
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • dash of vanilla extract
  •  Blackberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, blend the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Then mix in the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar fixture. Fold in the hazelnuts. Spread dough (you can try to roll it but it’s a bit crumbly) onto a floured counter top and cut out desired shapes. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges brown (this will depend on how thick you make the dough).

Remove from oven and let cool.

To make the frosting: Take out the vanilla seeds by slicing the pod in half and scraping a knife along the inside of the bean. Whisk together the mascarpone, vanilla seeds, honey, and vanilla extract. Spread on the shortbread and top with a blackberry!


Saucy Saturdays: DIY Barbecue Sauce

April 21, 2012

I’ve been wanting to start ‘Saucy Saturdays’ for while now because I am a veggie sandwich nut. I eat one for lunch everyday and my pooooor poooor boyfriend has to deal with the same thing to eat all the time. I try to mix it up with different veggies, bread, and condiments but I feel like we’ve tried every bread in Bloomington and I’m weary about the hidden calories (and preservatives) in a lot of condiments. So, as a goal for this summer, I am going to try to make a new sauce/dressing every week to bring variety of flavors to my fresh salad and sandwiches. We shall see how long I keep this up but I am excited to try to knock off another healthy goal on my summer list.

Anyways, I begin with the first sauce as a homemade version of my absolutely favorite type of  sauce ever: BBQ! There is something about bbq that just compliments so many things…the fact that it’s tangy and can be sweet or spicy just counteracts all those hardy grilled goods. This version is exceptionally tangy with a subtle kick of sweet.

I have a new blog (as a side project to this one, of course!) on the horizon that I am collaborating on with my friend Kristin. We had a meeting last night which actually just turned into us making this barbecue to lather all over Mexican style tempeh tacos. Mmmmm, Not only did the tacos turn out amazing but this recipe made enough sauce for us both to walk away with about 4 cups each. So you are warned…this sauce makes a lot and be prepared to be cooking with it for weeks after! Or whip this up when you have a big grill out coming up to serve to your guests. Nothing is better than fresh condiments on grilled goods!


DIY Barbecue Sauce

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • I can of tomato paste, 6 ounces
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin

In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over low and add the onions and garlic. Cook for ten minutes or until the onions are translucent.

While those are cooking, mix together all the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Add the mixture to the onions when they are ready and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes.

Lather all over tacos, pizzas, veggie burgers, and everything else.

Store in the fridge if using within a couple of weeks or freeze some for future use (or give some away to your amazing Ma or grumpy neighbor or whoever’s day you are trying to make).