Greek Goddess Celebratory Nachos

April 1, 2014

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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.

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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.

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Marbled Paper DIY

March 25, 2014

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Well, hello there! It has been a minute, hasn’t it? I’ve been in a little food lull the past few weeks with the seasons changing (still too early for asparagus here but all the delicious citrus is also gone), my boyfriend still slowly recovering from food poisoning (not sure why he thought getting eel in this landlocked city was a good idea), and putting all my creative energy into my magazine project, Driftless.

Did I mention that trying to create your own magazine is a TON of work? Theres so much time and energy that goes into fielding submissions, building a website, creating a brand, laying out the print issue, and figuring out where to get it printed. We’ve finally gathered all the content for the magazine and are now in the process of laying the magazine out. I made some marbled backgrounds over the weekend for filler pieces in the magazine and thought it might be fun to share a tutorial for them here.

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Baked Vegan Maple Bacon Donuts

March 10, 2014

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I’d like to think I live in a pretty progressive town for it being smack-dab in the middle of cornfields (also known as the ‘meat-and-potato region’). Bloomington, Indiana is home to around only 40,000 people (80,000 if you count the students from the university) yet we have 4 co-op grocery stores, an entire street dedicated to ethnic restaruants, a vegan diner, numerous international grocery spots, a bike trail that runs the length of the city, and bakery dedicated to only serving vegan goodies.

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I bring this up because our local vegan bakery specialized in baked (or cake? I’d like to think they are the same thing but my boyfriend said this is 100% false) donuts. Theres always an array ranging from traditional toffee to more unique lavender-lemon. My usual go-to (after the huge cinnamon rolls and buckeyes) is always their maple bacon donut. They are wonderfully sweet with a hint of smoke from the coconut bacon.

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Curried Carrot Soup With Maple Roasted Chickpeas

March 5, 2014

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I’d like to start off by apologizing if this recipe looks faintly familiar. I may have made a super similar one over here but its been slightly updated for an even more delicious experience. I guess I could have omitted the chickpeas or swapped them out with croutons for more of a variety but, if we are being honest here, the maple chickpeas are what made this dish.

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We picked up the cutest little carrots at the Farmer’s Market on our trip to Marco Island. The market made me so gitty and very homesick for summer days. We have a market here in Bloomington in the winter but it’s in a gymnasium and I can’t seem to get myself excited about it. Perhaps the gymnasium part reminds me too much of being at a children’s christmas bazaar or the lack of sunshine in the building brings a whole new gloom to dirty vegetables. Either way, it will never compare to the exciting hustle and bustle of the summer outdoor market.

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This recipe is forever adaptable so please don’t feel limited by the ingredients and instructions listed below. Feel free to substitute some coconut milk for the broth or swap out whatever herbs you have on hand or toss the chickpeas in whatever spices you are craving at that moment. This soup is never the same for me because I always switch it up to fulfill my cravings at the time. As long as the soup is flavorful and the chickpeas are crispy then it’s probably going to be pretty darn delicious.

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In Search of Sun

March 2, 2014

It feels a bit inappropriate to be sharing these island photos with you while it’s currently pouring freezing rain outside my window but these photos are keeping me sane. They are keeping me sane in the dozenth winter storm we’ve had this year and I hope that they can maybe also give you a little bit of hope with all their sunshine and greenery.

A few weeks back we headed down to Marco Island to visit family and explore the sun. Here are a few photos from our adventures:

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We actually spent the week with my entire family on my mother’s side even though all these pictures are only of Wyatt and I. Perhaps this is because I forgot to lug my camera around during most of our adventures and the few pictures I did take were during our long walks around sunset.

Honey Roasted Citrus & Thyme Popsicles

February 23, 2014

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As mentioned in my previous post, we’ve been in Florida for the last week as an attempt to relieve ourselves from the negative temperatures that the Midwest can’t seem to shake. The week has been filled with lazy mornings at the beach, afternoons by the pool, and early evenings were spent exploring the Everglades.

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More on our adventures later this week after I finish editing all the photos I managed to snap. As for now, I tried to spend the whole week relaxing but couldn’t resist the urge to document these popsicles to share with all of you. I received both an ice cream maker and popsicle molds for Christmas and although I’ve played around with a few recipes, the Midwest ground has been covered in snow since December and our home has maybe seen the sun half a dozen times since the new year. Thus, ice cream cravings have been at a standstill (well, at least until last week when we headed to the coast).

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Headed to the Coast

February 15, 2014

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I’m going to be MIA for the next week or so as I road trip halfway across the country to the coast for some much needed sun, swimming, popsicles (which are always better in 70 degree weather) and greenery. Feel free to follow along on my adventure via instagram and I’ll see you back here in a few weeks!

 

***REMINDER: If you are interested in submitting something for our Midwest Magazine, Driftless, the deadline for full articles, illustrations, and photo submissions is Friday, February 21st! Can’t wait to see what you all come up with!***

 

*Photo is not actually of the coast but from last summer at my favorite place in the world: Lake Monroe

Blood Orange Smash

February 11, 2014

 

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This may sound like an odd question for February but have you been keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions? Yup, I’m still asking. I realize that most of us stop thinking about them after the first two weeks of January but setting these intentions are meant to be carried out throughout the year, no? I still have three light-hearted ones that are less serious (and going strong): naming 5 things I’m grateful for every night before falling asleep, going bra-free (this will probably have to change when it starts getting warmer and I have to actually wear things besides oversized sweaters. Was this an over-share? If so, I’m sorry. It’s not an act of feminism but just out of pure comfort), and hosting people more often. We’ve had friends over almost every weekend since the New Year and it’s been a blast – watching movies, playing games, and drinking cocktails (mostly this one).

 

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We are pretty obsessed with our cozy house but didn’t share it much last year. It’s so easy to get into a groove of laying around with our boxer pup and watching the X-Files (Or Seinfeld or New Girl). That is fine and all but having people over motivates us to keep the house clean, make fun appetizers, and play games that aren’t focused around a screen.

 

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Naturally Dyed Pink Meringue Cookies with Blood Orange Curd [Valentine's Day Edition]

February 2, 2014

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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.

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

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Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Biscuits [Vegan Option]

January 31, 2014

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I’m not sure why everyone is so hung up on dip and mini corndog recipes this week? Let’s be honest – do you even really like sports? When is the last time you sat down and watched a football game? I guess it’s the excitement of it all pulling us in. I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t really understand sports at all. However, I do still get excited about Superbowl Sunday. There is one game I’ll be transfixed watching on Sunday but it won’t be the Superbowl. You’ll find me over on Animal Planet watching The Puppy Bowl. Yup, have you seen the line-up of puppies up for adoption this year?! Everything from the baby boxer to the husky / lab mix pulls at my heart strings. I’m sorry – am I gushing? I can’t help it – they are just so darn cute.

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Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble

January 26, 2014

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I knew this was going to be a tough post to write when I spent over an hour debating on just the title. It went a little something like this: Is this recipe a cobbler or crisp? What even is the difference between a cobbler and a crisp? Is Huffington Post an accurate source for telling me what to name my recipe? Well, if it is an accurate source then neither of these names are correct. According to the good old Huff’ Post, a cobbler must have individually dropped biscuits while a crumble is a fruit based dessert topped with an oat mixture and a crisp is similar to a crumble but won’t have any oats involved (Did you get all that?). Huh, who would have known? Do you believe them? Yeah, I don’t know if I do either but I also don’t have the answer so we are sticking with it.

Well, now that we are talking about the title of this post, why not keep going? What else were we even going to chat about today? I can’t seem to remember anymore either. You are wondering what makes this a breakfast recipe? Cool. Let’s chat about that.

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Breakfast, for me, is a pretty routined affair. During the week I eat granola/yougurt or oatmeal and during the weekends it’s usually biscuits & gravy (per the boyfriend’s request). That’s it. And maybe a boiled egg or banana mixed in there every once and awhile for variety. So why, you ask, did I make this breakfast cobbler (whoops – I mean ‘crumble’)? Well, it wasn’t really intended to be a breakfast thing at all. I’ve been trying to incorporate more whole foods into my diet and fruit has been a particularly challenging one. Every time I eat an apple or orange or any fruit really, it reminds me of apple dumplings or crumb cake or cobbler. My body has obviously been neglecting fruit in its original state because all fruit triggers a craving for some sort of baked good.

So my desire for fruity baked goods grew every time I enjoyed another apple for a snack or a banana as a post-lunch dessert. The desire grew and grew until I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I didn’t want to shatter all this healthy whole food eating with a thick sugary dessert so I set out to make a ‘healthified’ version. One that could be made almost completely out of unrefined sugar and loaded with tons of oat fiber and fruit nutrients.

This crumble was the outcome. It doesn’t have the gooey inside consistency that most traditional crumbles have but it’s still packed full of just as much flavor while leaving you feeling lighter than any traditional recipe. To compensate for the lack of gooeyness, I mixed in part of the oat mixture with the apples to create a creamy oatmeal consistency while still topping the cobbler with the rest for a crispy oat outer layer.

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Midwestern Lovers NEEDED!

January 18, 2014

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There are so many moments that lead up to me wanting to start an independent (maga)zine about the Midwest. Reading Midwest Living and not understanding why they think everyone in the Midwest is a woman over the age of 60 who prefers to go antiquing for American-flag-themed wood decor and make ‘easy’ recipes out of boxed mixes. Swooning over The Kinfolk Table from front to back and being a little bummed when I got to the end to realize they extensively covered creative artists from both the West coast and East Coast but there was not one profile from anyone in-between. Agonizing over what I could make the next zine I worked on about – knowing I wanted to be an expert on the topic but also realizing there are DOZENS of beautiful zines already about both my day job and hobby (food and music). And then it struck me – I’m constantly surrounded by creative friends (artists, designers, photographers, yogis) and I didn’t have to move to Portland to find these people. They were right here. Right here in the Midwest.

I read independent magazines religiously – anything from Kinfolk to Weekend Almanac to Pure Green to Chickpea to Cereal (the list goes on and on and on). And heck, I even love a handful of majorly distributed magazines as well – Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Whole Living (which is sadly, no more..), etc. The idea for this magazine is to take a little inspiration from all of these – sleek, simple design that will let the images do the talking while feeling cozy and relatable to all types of people.

Though the first issue will be some what of a ‘test-run’, I have some small experience dabbling in making zines (remember that Summer VV zine I made? Yeah, that was cool, right?) and have been itching to make more. It’d be wonderful if you joined along on this journey with me as we work together to figure out the kinks and rewarding benefits of the print world.

I’m looking for anyone who is interested in contributing. We’ll need recipes (get creative – we have to be known for more than sugar pie and buckeyes!? Although if you have a damn good buckeye recipe then I’ll take that too), destination stories (Did you have an amazing experience in Chicago once? Or camping in the UP?), photo essays (Great Lakes, you are gorgeous. I know there has to be some gorgeous photos of you out there), childhood memories (I couldn’t have been the only one who played Hide & Seek with friends in the nearby cornfield!), innovative Midwest company profiles, and anything Midwest related. It doesn’t stop there – anyone interested in being an editor, designer, or distributor should also get in contact. You don’t have to live in the Midwest currently but just have a positive story or experience from it.

Please email me at vegetarianventures@gmail.com with any inquiries.

In case you are totally oblivious of this “fly over-country” then here is a reminder of the parts of America that are considered the Midwest:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Wisconsin
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota

Let’s get creating!

 

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UPDATE: You guys are all freaking amazing! I’ve had so many emails pour in over the last 24 hours that I am both overwhelmed and SO excited! To keep things managable  I am accepting open submissions for articles, illustrations, recipes, and photos until February 21st. Please send all submissions (and questions / concerns / excited notes) to vegetarianventures@gmail.com. Also, still in need of some designers and illustrators so shoot me an email if you’d like to be given an assignment!

 

Fresh Spinach Pasta with Roasted Carrot Almond Pesto

January 13, 2014

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It’s 13 days into the new year – are you still kicking strong with your new years resolutions? So far 2014 has not just been about being conscious of what I am eating but why I am eating it. Why is it so important to get that green smoothie in every morning? How is my body benefiting from consuming greens, carrots, greek yogurt, and honey? I recently picked up The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murry and can’t seem to put it down. It’s a hefty thing ranking in at a whopping 900 pages (Hey… it does warn you with the word ‘Encyclopedia’ in the title and is often times used as a textbook in holistic nutrition courses) but is brimming with wonderful food insight on every page. The bulk of the book is split up by specific foods and tells you the history, health benefits, research conducted on that food, and potential harmful effects of pretty much any whole food you can think of (spices, fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, etc).

 

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All this new found knowledge has gotten me really excited about eating whole foods. After a breakfast of avocado toast and blueberry oatmeal, I notice myself immediately running to the book to find out the benefits of avocados, oats, blueberries, maple syrup, and almonds (from the homemade almond milk). And then again after lunch. And after my afternoon snack. And so on.

 

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So, as you probably expected, I can’t wait to share all the wonderful benefits of this veggie-centric dish with you (but please remember, I am not a certified health expert of any sorts and all insight shared here is to merely share a few of the engaging health benefits outlined in Healing Foods).

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Currently Lusting: Pink Patisserie

January 9, 2014

Currently Lusting is a bi-weekly series which features blogs that VV finds particularly inspiring / creative / beautiful or probably all three. Although we’d like to pretend that all ideas spring from these wonderful brains of ours, that is just simply not the truth. We pull so much inspiration and ideas from other blogs that I think it’s really important to acknowledge these people and the hard work they put into their virtual spaces. Want to create a truly gorgeous blog? One of the biggest steps is having an inspiring set of other blogs that constantly makes you want to make yours better.

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Pink Patisserie is one of those blogs that I’ll have pinned 4 of her photos and be struck by how delicious a recipe looks before even realizing where it came from. Then I’ll be going through my blogfeed later on, see those photo and be like ‘ah ha! Of course this was the work of Maria!’. This has happened at least a half a dozen times. I can usually pin point a photo from most of my favorite blogs because they stick to a similar aesthetic… but not Pink Patisserie. Maria is constantly surprising me with her ever growing photography talent and each photo I stumble upon seems to only be more gorgeous than the last. Just when I think she’s mastered it, she creates a new post with even more inspiring photos and recipes. And that is what keeps me always coming back to Pink Patisserie.

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Spinach & Avocado Stuffed Cornmeal Crepes with Curry-Lime Cream

January 5, 2014

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How is your 2014 so far? Are you finally feeling back to normal after a 3 day hangover from all that sugary champagne? I, surprisingly, did not drink that much on New Years this year and woke up feeling recharged and ready to start a fresh new year. My college self would be so bummed at how ‘lame’ I’ve already become at 24 but sometimes a girl just wants to snuggle inside with her dog and boyfriend to watch the ball drop with Carson Daly. Oh wait, or are you a Ryan Seacrest kind-of-person? If so, I feel so so so very sorry for you.

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Just like every American this time a year, I’m taking another stab at eating health[ier]. I’d like to think we don’t eat terrible around here (no heart-clogging meat, minimal processed foods, no sugary drinks) but there is always room for improvement. I’m particularly bad about incorporating fresh vegetables into our diets this time a year – a salad feels very unappetizing (and usually pretty unnatural when its 10 degrees out and the produce was shipped in from 5 states over) so most of our vegetable intake is in the form of stews and soups and curries. And because of that, I can’t help but notice that our leafy green in-take has slowed down to a minimum. So alas, I decided to start the year off with a recipe that could highlight raw vegetables in another form other than smoothies and juice cleanses (since, you know, sometimes it’s so cold outside and the thoughts of downing a ice cold smoothie is about as appetizing as eating yellow snow).

If possible, choose cornmeal that is whole and not degermed to gain as much nutrition of it as possible. Whole cornmeal is chocked full of amino acids, vitamins (b-6, K), minerals (potassium, zinc, copper), and have been linked to benefiting your colon.

These crepes can be stuffed with whatever you are feeling but I highly recommend trying out this savory version and picking a few favorite vegetables to chop up for the insides. I choose spinach because of it’s well known benefits of having a high ratio of nutrients to calories (we are talking vitamin A, K, D, and E as well as omega 3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory antioxidants).

I’ve also been on a curry kick lately but feel free to use whatever sauce you are feeling – perhaps a cilantro sirarcha sauce? Or even a peanut lime sauce for a protein boost?

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A Look Back & New Goals /// 2013 Round-Up

December 29, 2013

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The small gap between Christmas and New Years has always been a time of reflection. A time to sit back in awe and amazement that another year has gone by. A time to shuffle through all the things you’ve clung onto for the past year. And a time to let go of all the items on your list that weren’t checked off. It’s even easier for us bloggers to do this since we’ve got a whole website dedicated to documenting our year – whether its through the food we ate or the clothes we wore or the products we lusted over..these actions tell a story that make up a chapter of our lives.

I’m very pleased to report that my reflections this year have been SO much more positive than last years. 2012 had been a year of huge change and a complete year of doubt. I had graduated from college halfway through and had spent my whole life in confidence before that point. After graduation, I was left feeling lost and vulnerable – left with complete doubt in everything I did (everything from where I was living to what food I was putting into my body to coming to terms with getting older). But – let’s stop there and not reminiscent down that rabbit hole.

It feels so good to read that old post and know that I’ve grown into my ‘adult’ skin so much in this past year. Yes, I still have a lot of growing to do and I still have a long list of irrational fears (who doesn’t?) but it’s been such an improvement since then. I’ve come to really love the small Midwest town I call home – not because there is that punk house that used to serve us drinks underage during shows or those spider-ridden rocks where we could day drink on the lake all day without being bothered. No, I’ve learned to look at this city with fresh eyes and appreciate being able to walk a few blocks to our local co-op grocery store to buy ‘hard to find’ flour blends and local produce. I’ve learned to love the lake for it’s beautiful trails that you can spend a whole Saturday afternoon getting lost in (sober!) and making your dog’s day by taking him for long walks through the centuries old neighborhoods.

I don’t think I’ve changed too much in 2013 but my outlook certainly has. I’m so very excited to evolve more come 2014. Here were my 2013 goals:

1. More adventures close to home

2. Less doubt, More Risk

3. Less processed foods

4. Work on photography

5. Keep moving forward & always improving

6. Continue to surround myself with positive people

 

I think it’s safe to say I can check all of those off my list. Although, everything on that list are all things that are still a ‘work in progress’ and I do want to continue with these goals in 2014. Here are a few more light-hearted goals to add to the 2014 mix:

7. Get our asses to Montreal. It’s time – this IS our next big trip.

8. Spend as many lazy Saturdays as possible on the vintage turquoise boat I inherited

9. Rent a summer home on Lake Michigan and spend a weekend on the beach

10. Make my own print magazine / zine (whether it be a collaboration or just all VV – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and needs to happen)

10 feels good. 6 BIG ongoing goals from last year and 4 new fun ones. Yeah, I feel good about this. I’m ready for you 2014!

 

And finally, as I continue with my reflection of 2013, I thought I’d share some of my favorite VV memories with you..

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Chocolate & Spiced Chai Biscotti

December 24, 2013

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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!

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Dark Chocolate Cappuccino Thumbprint Cookies with Maple Pumpkin Butter

December 15, 2013

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Have you started counting down yet? 9 days! That means only 9 more days of being able to listen to your favorite festive Christmas vinyl. And 9 more nights to get in all the must-watch Xmas movies starring Chevy Chase and Will Ferril. 9 more days to make every cookie recipe you see on Pinterest. We must hurry, guys! No time to waste here!

Christmas is known as a holiday to bring people together but it has built a barrier between my boyfriend and me. Instead of growing more cheerful the closer it gets, I notice him retreating more and more into an annoyed and irritated state. I’m not sure why or how but he hates Christmas decorating, making cookies, festive music, and holiday themed movies. I know, I know – I don’t understand either. This last month has been a battle for the radio, where in the house I can squeeze in a tree without him moving it back into the closet, and a struggle for who is going to put a movie on first.

I want to watch Christmas Vacation, he wants to watch Dune. I want to listen to Sufjan Steven’s Christmas boxset, he wants ambient new-age noise. I want a fragrant and fresh wreath, he wants to use that money to go out to brunch. I wear ugly sweaters almost all December long, he only wears black.

 

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How To Make Pureed Soup Without A Recipe /// Guest Post by Livia Sweets

December 12, 2013

Remember when I posted that wonderful staple recipe for homemade vegetable stock over at Livia Sweets last month? Well, Claire from Livia Sweets has been kind enough to build on that and create a wonderful tutorial for me to share with all you VV readers. I am so excited to say that she has the secret of how to make delicious pureed soup without a recipe and is here sharing it with all of us today!

That’s right – a healthy recipe! You have to be getting a tooth ache from looking at all those sweet recipes all over the internet right now! Here is a nice break and cleansing meal idea to enjoy between woofing down sprtiz cookies. Enjoy!

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Gingerbread Syrup /// DIY Gifting

December 9, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

 

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On Being Vegetarian + A Giveaway!

December 5, 2013

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I’d like to think I’m not a preachy vegetarian. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a very meat-centric family that would have half a cow in their freezer at all times (from the farmer down the street) and a family who found my eating habits to be bizarre. Or maybe it’s because I can’t help but roll my eyes at every new food trend that comes onto the market and the media’s excuses for why you should try it out. Or maybe it’s because I met a lot of pushy people who wanted to tell me why ‘meat is the answer’ and I realize how annoying it can be to have another diet pushed on you. And perhaps more because I hate explaining my dietary reasoning to everyone. ‘Is it because of health? It it for animal rights? It is environmental excuses? religion?’

To be honest, it’s because of a lot of things but mostly because of the animals and my health. I used to hate getting those ‘Oh, so do you work for PETA or something?’ looks when explaining I didn’t approve of commercial farming or that I couldn’t stomach the texture of fatty meat in my mouth. I used to usually just say it was for my health (which, in part, is true) and explain that I lost a lot of weight and gained so much energy when I transitioned to vegetarianism. Although, I was also 12 and going through puberty so who knows which helped out more? Being a vegetarian for 12 years, I sort of forgot why I did it until a few months back. Being vegetarian has become such second nature that I never ever even think to glance at a meat item on the menu or compromise on a chicken based broth at a restaurant.

I didn’t realize my animal morals were so strong until my boyfriend went hunting with his father a few months back. It being his first time and his excuse was to get out into the woods / meditate so I didn’t really think much of them actually killing anything. Oh but they did. They came home with big grins on their faces and a giant dead deer in their trunk. I remember seeing the look of smog on their faces when they broke the news and I had to hold back crying. For a few days, I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so upset – people have been hunting for thousands of years and it’s very natural. I finally realized that my opinions on killing & eating animals were more passionate than I had previous thought. I was so angry at how selfish the whole situation was; he’s been eating a sustainable and delicious vegetarian diet the 3 years we’ve been together and it bummed me out that he could so selfishly take a life for a ‘morning of fun’. It’s one thing when you need it to survive but it’s another thing when we can so easily live off of plants and nuts. It all just seems so selfish when removed from the ‘meat and potato’ American stigma we are used to.

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What sprung putting my vegetarian thoughts down on paper was receiving a copy of The Vegetarian Cookbook For Beginners which is divided into a informative section as the first part and recipes as the second. I was amazed at how much I learned about the different religious, moral, and health reasons that provokes people to go veg. I was also fascinated to learn about all the health benefits, the history of vegetarianism, and some of the many challenges that come along with switching to a new lifestyle.

I know that not all of you come to VV because you are vegetarian. Perhaps some are here for the creative recipes and clean aesthetic? Or some are just interested in what it is like to be a vegetarian? Or some of you prefer to eat a few vegetarian meals a week? Or some just really enjoy my sweets posts that have nothing to do with any dietary restrictions. Whatever your reason is for being here and reading this, if you have any interest in vegetarianism at all, I suggest you check this book out.

 

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And now for the giveaway! In addition to giving away the Vegetarian Cookbook For Beginners, I am also giving away some of my favorite spice grinders. Do you remember when I did a shout out to JR Watkins during that Pumpkin Pie with Salted Molasses post (pictured above)? Well I’m obviously a huge fan of their spices and they were kind enough to send me some grinders. And these aren’t just any grinders – they are lemon pepper and garlic salt. Both goes fantastic with literally everything! I’ve basically replaced them with my usual table salt / pepper because they had such a wonderful extra bite (except in baking – garlic and sweets don’t usually go together).

 

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And the last part of the giveaway are some Vegetarian ‘Ventures magnets. Yup, I made magnets. I don’t know why? Probably because my boyfriend and all his friends make band swag in the form of buttons, t-shirts, and cassettes so I wanted to have a little blog swag. Why not, right? I love these little magnets – I wish I could just send one out to every single one of you! They are seriously SO cute and awesome.

 

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The giveaway starts today and will run through next Sunday. I will be shipping out the winner their goodies the following Monday. Thanks for entering!

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Milk Stout & Sea-Salt Caramels

November 25, 2013

 

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

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

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

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Hosting A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Savory Pumpkin Hand Pies

November 19, 2013

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

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

 

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

 

Caramelized Cranberry & Brie Pull-Apart Bread

November 12, 2013

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

 

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