Moody Monday: Paint Party

June 18, 2012

Well, I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend filled with a surplus of delicious food and play time in the sun. Although my weekends usually consist of a great deal of both those, I actually had a very different type of productive weekend. We received the keys to our new house on Friday which meant all weekend was spent painting and cleaning. Painting is not something I do often and I was surprised to find it rather therapeutic and very satisfying.

The house is exactly what we had wanted. A two bedroom (an extra room for our art studio), a large and fenced in backyard for Tuko, high ceilings and within walking distance to our favorite co-op grocery store. There were, however, some drawbacks – like the hideous dark feather painted walls and the rusted bath tub (with no shower extension?!? I guess the house was built in 1933…); we decided it would be best to tackle these problems before we started actually moving our things in. We managed to pick up some beers, crank up the local classic rock station, and crank out painting three rooms in 2 days. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

As for what’s left? We just need to do the kitchen and we’ll be ready to move in! Do I see an Ikea trip in my near future? I think so!


Pictured Above: A light mint in the living room to go with these funky 70′s chairs that Wyatt insisted on getting. Checkered tile in the sun room- can’t wait to add some plants for an accent of green. Bedroom has managed to only be filled with my dresser and typewriter. And lastly, Tuko’s new playground (AKA our backyard).


I ended the weekend with a corona and some light reading. I HIGHLY recommend Make Your Place for all you DIY (and Zine) lovers out there! Next up? Can’t wait to dig into Barefoot & In The Kitchen and Homesweet Homegrown!

Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadilla

June 14, 2012

So I wanted to talk to you guys about this ‘Food is the New Rock’ podcast. I’m not sure if you are into podcasts but I’ve come to enjoy listening to them while I workout or am laying in my sun-room. I’ve become super into this specific podcast that mixes food and rock music…they show all the similarities and talk a lot about how the two are connected (and then interview chefs about music and musicians about food). This concept is sooooo fantastic for me because I obviously am super into food (having a foodblog and all) but my day job is working at an indie record label distributor…match made in heaven? I think so. If you’re into this sort of thing, I highly recommend checking it out here.

Ah yes, back to recipes! I’m not really sure where this goat cheese and black bean combination came about but I highly approve. I remember my old (old) roommate use to make a similar (and absolutely delicious) taco when I lived with her a years ago. Then I ran across a recipe with the black bean/goat cheese combo a couple of days back which sparked my memory for these ‘dillas. I had remembered really enjoying them but I think my love affair for goat cheese has grown even stronger in the last 3 years; this means these were even more mouthwatering-awesome them I remember.

Since I’ve been trying to use up what is in my pantry/fridge (moving begins TOMORROW), I tweaked this recipe to what I had on hand. I used the leftover chevre from the Veggie Polenta Lasagna and the kick of spice from the jalapeno was tamed perfectly from the smooth cheese. Can’t wait to make these again with some Beergaritas!


Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadilla

Makes 2 ‘dillas
  • I can (15 ounce) of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 4 ounces of chevre or goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 4 large tortillas (or 8 small)
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • salt/pepper
  • Olive oil, for cooking

Spread half the cheeses on a tortilla. Top with half the beans, corn, jalapeno and cilantro and then place another tortilla on top. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.

Heat a dollop of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium. Cook the tortillas on each side for about 5 minutes (or until they start to brown).

Serve warm while the cheese is gooey!



Berry Mango Yogurt Popsicles

June 12, 2012

Okay, I did it. I’m sorry but I totally jumped on the popsicle bandwagon. I realize there are currently 10 billion popsicle recipes circulating the blog world right now but I wanted to add my two cents on the conversation, oookkay?

To be completely honest, what I REALLY wanted this summer was a turquoise ice cream maker to whip up this vegan Salted Caramel Pretzel treat but my boyfriend forbid it; he claimed it would end up in the pile of other specialty kitchen tools (like miniature pie molds, 500 cookie cutters, winter thermos picnic set, donut pan, etc) that we only pull out once or twice a year (although- I love having ALL of these things, thank you very much).

Anyways, I compromised on these popsicle molds because not only are they smaller and cheaper but you can make sooo many healthy summer treats with them! I actually picked them up with the gift card that BakerInRecovery (Formerly Baker Bettie) sent more for my cookie recipe.

Anyhow, I figure since I eat greek yogurt every morning anyways, why not make a popsicle out of it so I have an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast? It’s genius, really! And on top of that, they turned out delicious and I have no guilt at all knowing all the healthy ingredients that goes into them. Mmm! Cannot wait to experiment with other flavors this summer!

Berry Mango Yogurt Popsicles

  • 1 mango, peeled and cut off the pit
  • 1 banana
  • 5 large strawberries, washed and tops cut off
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used coconut flavored but feel free to use whatever)

In a blender, mix all ingredients until well combined. Taste and add more honey if it’s not sweet enough for you.

Pour into popsicle molds and let freeze for 3 to 4 hours.

Enjoy on the humid porch watching the sunset or on your way to work for a delicious breakfast!

Moody Monday: Pool Party Weekend

June 11, 2012

Monday, I cannot believe you are here again already! I feel as though I am starting off the week on an off note because we did not get back from our weekend trip until late last night and I am not prepared for the week. However, this is okay because we had a great time at my parent’s house and going into Chicago for my brother’s graduation.

This week is going to be crazy busy with my etsy shop finally getting rolling, packing, Tuko getting neutered, and more packing. We are (!!!) finally moving into our new house on Friday which means several things for VV:

1. there should be some VERY interesting recipes within the next few days while I attempt to use up what we have in our pantry so we will have less to move into our new place

2. Things may be slow around here (hopefully not) recipe wise as I transition into my new kitchen. However, that may mean posts will be substituted with fun glimpses into our moving/decorating process…which could also be exciting!

Anyhow, hopefully memories of an awesome weekend by the pool (with blueberry cocktails and my amazing family) and having our new home to look forward to will get me through this week!


Oh and here is an adorable music video to get you through your morning!

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Weekend Adventure // What’s In My Bag?

June 8, 2012

Hey everyone! Hope that you are having a fantastic friday and getting geared up for the weekend. We are going on ANOTHER weekend trip to Chicago which means pool day tomorrow, sunsets at Lake Michigan, and adventuring in the city on Sunday!

The only drawback to this is that we have to drive 4 hours North first. Luckily, I have my travel bag packed full of supplies! Although this includes cards, CD mixes, and magazines..I will only show you a glimpse of the snacks I am bringing (hey…this is a FOOD blog, after all).

1. Primal Strips. These things are my FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE snack food. They are so freaking delicious! It’s like having teriyaki flavored beef jerky without all those gross thoughts about ‘what really is beef jerky?‘. They come in a variety of flavors (and other brands but none that I have found with as much flavor and appealing texture). This hits my savory craving every time.

2. Hummus! It’s the perfect snack for summer because it’s relatively healthy and very fillings without making you feel bloated. And the variety of flavors are endless!

3. Although I prefer my hummus with warmed pita, unless you are willing to stick the pita on your dashboard to heat up, these pita chips are a pretty darn good substitute. They are super crispy and contrast the smooooooth hummus perfectly.

5. Can’t have all this savory without a bit of sweet! We packed some Pocky for our sweet treat but that is sometimes substituted with homemade muffins or cookies (depending on how much time we have before-hand).

And we’re off! Hope everyone has a wonderfully delicious weekend and we’ll see you Monday!

Polenta and Veggie Lasagna

June 7, 2012

This was one of those recipes that spawned from me standing in front of the pantry going “what can I make for dinner with what I have?”. It’s a rather daunting question and there have been many failed meals that ended in last-minute pizza ordering because of this question. That however, was not the case this time around. Using the basic structure of what you could put in lasagna, I managed to whip up this twist on the famous Italian dish and may never look back.

‘Grits’ was always a bad word for me growing up. I would always have visions of white mush that was pushed out-of-the-way at ‘Crack Barrel’. Polenta, however, was a different story. Polenta meant slices of warm and crusty Italian deliciousness fried up on a skillet by itself or layered out under a pile of cheesy breakfast eggs.

I don’t know exactly how to pin my finger on it but there is something so amazingly satisfying about the comfort of vegetables cooked in olive oil and the savory flavoring of warm polenta. From the very first bite, this recipe pulled at my ‘comfort strings’ and left me craving for leftovers for the rest of the week.

Polenta and Veggie Lasagna

  • 1 cup dried polenta
  • 8 ounces chevre cheese (or goat cheese)
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan
  • 1/8 cup Gouda (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 5 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1- 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • handful of fresh basil or oregano, for garnish
  • salt/pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and cooked the polenta for five minutes. Once cooked, pour onto a cookie sheet lined with tin foil (to create a “sheet” of polenta). Set aside while you prepare the veggies so that it can harden up (or stick in a 350 degree heated oven for about 10 minutes if you want your polenta a little crispy- this will also help it harden faster!).

In a large skillet (or saucepan), heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook for about five minutes or until they begin to soften. Add in the garlic and cook for another two minutes.

Next, add in the pepper, zucchini, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 15 minutes or until everything has softened up.

In a small bowl, whisk together the stock and tomato paste until well combined. Add to the cooking veggies and bring to simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has become very thick. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Grease the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan. Cut the polenta in half and place a sheet of it snuggly in the bottom of the pan. Using half the goat cheese/chevre, spread a layer of it on top of the polenta. Next, layer on half of the veggie mixture. Repeat with another layer of polenta, chevre, and veggies. Finally, top with gouda, parmesan and fresh basil/oregano.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until everything is heated throughout.

Serve warm with garlic bread or by itself! Enjoy while watching an episode of ‘Mad Men’ or listening to your favorite David Bowie album.

PS You should consider following me on Facebook for updates about new posts! I am currently trying to branch out with my social network skills!

Tuko Turns .5: DIY Doggy Biscuits

June 6, 2012

Although we have only had Tuko (also sometimes referred to as Taco, Teekee, and Tofu) for 4 months, I can hardly remember not having the little guy around. He is always right there whimpering for attention, sleeping in my lap, licking my face, or begging to go outside. Although he was a real handful at first, he has already mellowed greatly since the bewildered puppy that first arrived at our door step from the farm-like upbringing he was born into.

Although this is a bit late, he turned 6 months last week and I felt like we had to celebrate his excelled maturity in some way….so I made him some dog biscuits! I thought about cutting them out with cookie cutters and finding a frosting recipe but he was whimpering for me to play with him the whole time I was making these things. Needless to say, I figured my attention to him was more important than making his next snack look pretty.

Anyways, these treats are SUPER easy to make and I really like the concept of knowing exactly what is going into his food. He doesn’t need to be eating that processed stuff any more than we do.

DIY Doggie Biscuits

originally from Dog Treat Kitchen

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredient together. Add in the peanut butter and slowly add in the warm water while mixing together.

Roll out into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for an hour to firm up.

Feed to your puppy as a reward, for a snack, or just to see the excited tail wag!

Summer Potato Salad

June 5, 2012

I finally (!!) made it to the Farmer’s Market this weekend for the first time in a month. Oh, what a wonderful experience! Last time I went there was loads of vegetable and herb plants but not so much actual produce yet. But this time…this time there were endless rows of fresh basil, lettuce, spinach, beans, strawberries, potatoes, scallions, local honey, and homemade cheeses. What a beautiful site! (sorry- I get a little over excited about these things! I mean…I did work at a co-op grocery store for a few years so this is obviously the type of thing I like to surround myself with). Anyways, I restrained and only snatched up some cherry tomatoes, red potatoes, and green beans (well.. and a delicious broiche from a local bakery but that’s besides the point).

So it came as no surprise that I immediately wanted to whip something up with my new and fresh produce! We were having people over for a grill out later that day and it seemed only appropriate I made potato salad with my new goodies. This is actually a really funny statement because I have only made potato salad a total of (maybe) 3 times before. I LOVE potato salad but for some reason, I am always trying to find new and interesting recipes to cook up instead of experimenting with the traditional classics.

Of course, knowing me, I started to immediately search around for vegan and “healthified” versions of potato salad. However, I saw Wyatt’s face drop when I mentioned making this salad without ‘mayo’; that was when I decided that sometimes you just have to make a recipe the way you remember it as a child. End of discussion.

This recipe was an outcome of all the favorite things I remember biting into when eating potato salad  as a child. It was a bit of an experiment but well worth jumping into the unknown. It turned out fantastic- maybe even BETTER than I remember it growing up. Feel free to add more (or less!) of whatever you prefer and make ahead of time (if possible) so the flavors can mend together in the fridge for an hour or so!

Summer Potato Salad

  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • 1 pound of green beans, trimmed
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/8 cup chopped sweet pickles
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • Salt/Pepper

Bring both a large pot and a medium saucepan to a boil with salted water. Place the potatoes in the large pot and the green beans in the saucepan. Let the potatoes boil for about 15 to 20 minutes or until you can easily pierce a fork through them. Cook green beans for about 10 minutes or until they are softened. Drain both the beans and potatoes and set aside to cool. When cool enough, chop the potatoes into large chunks and the beans (if they are super long).

Hard boil the eggs any method you prefer (I just stick them in a small saucepan full of water and let the water come to a boil. Once rapidly boiling, I remove them from the heat and let sit in the warm water for about 12 minutes.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the chopped goodies! Next, fold in the mayo, celery seeds, and mustard. Season (generously) with salt and pepper.

Stick in the fridge until it’s munch time!

Moody Monday: Exploring Cedar Bluffs

June 4, 2012

Well good morning! It’s Monday again and to make matters worse- it’s super gloomy and rainy as well! Gross. Let’s talk about happier things…like the weekend! Okay?

Anyways,this weekend was the first time in about a month that we were not out of town for it and it was perfect. I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen cooking (much needed therapy cooking session- felt like it had been forever) followed by a grill out with a couple of our friends. And then on Sunday we took a hike at Cedar Bluff which was absolutely beautiful. This small hike gives you a bit of everything- stroll in the woods, walk along a creek, and climbing up some huge limestone mounds to reveal a great view!

We had originally planned to go to the lake on Sunday but we go to the lake a lot and I was feeling like exploring. I’ve lived in Bloomington for almost five years now (eep!) and I use to explore all the time. We have gorgeous lakes, forests, and waterfalls surrounding the area and yet we always seem to go to the same spots for leisure activity. Yesterday reminded me how fun it is to explore a new spot and do a fun little day trip.



Oh! And I knocked two things off of my goal list this weekend!

7. Get my Etsy shop up and running

8. Make Homemade dog biscuits for Tuko

Done and done!

Dinner Picnic Part 2: Southwestern Veggie Sliders with Avocado Mayo

June 1, 2012

Continuing on with our discussion from Dinner Picnic Part 1, let’s chat about the main course! I don’t know about you guys but for me summer means sangria, grill outs, picnics, and veggie burgers. I love Morningstar’s Black Bean Burgers when I am in a hurry but I find too much processed food to be a big no-no for my diet. This has led me to experimenting loads with veggie burgers and often times ending up with negative outcomes. I mean, I understand what kind of veggie combination I enjoy but getting the correct consistency with a veggie patty is wayyyy harder than you’d think! I’ve made sweet potato burgers which where so mushy that I should have served them as mashed potatoes and I’ve made really damn good chickpea burgers (but I had to have them sit in the fridge overnight to firm up – very time consuming). After many discouraging endeavors, I discovered the perfect ratio between vegetables, beans, and the ingredients that mend everything together (with a bit of help from this recipe).

These sliders are going to be my new go-to burgers when it comes to grilling. Not only is the patty absolutely delicious and stays together firmly, but the avocado mayo is amazing lathered on it them (and on pretty much everything else you happen to be serving!).

Southwestern Veggie Sliders with Avocado Mayo

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drain and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup salsa OR salsa verde
  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 12 Hawaiian rolls
  • pepper jack cheese, sliced

For the avocado mayo:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 or so minutes or until they start to soften. Add the bell pepper and saute for another two or so minutes.

Remove from heat and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the corn, carrot, black beans, bread crumbs, and cornmeal. Fold in salsa until everything is combined.

Divide the mixture into 12 equal parts and form patties. Heat another 2 Tablespoons of olive over medium heat and cook each side of the patty for about (depending on how hot your skillet gets) 2 minutes on each side.

To make the sauce: mash together the avocado, mayo, garlic, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

To assemble: Slice each roll in half. Lather the avocado mayo on the bottom with a slice of cheese and then stick the patty on. Feel free to top with tomatoes, lettuce, or whatever else you’d like. Enjoy warm and on a beautiful porch or blanket outside!

PS Or feel free to cook these on the grill outside as well!

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!