Coconut Curried Carrot Soup with Spiced Chickpeas

February 21, 2013

carrotsoup

 

This is usually the part of winter where I get fed up. At this point, I am over root vegetables and kale salads and chili and stews. At this point, I’m usually throwing in the towel and ordering take out, frozen pizzas, or milkshakes for dinner. It’s that last leg before spring food hits the produce isle and I can’t help but find it hard to stay inspired after four months of the same thing being in season.

Not this year. This year I was determined to not get bored with dinners. This year, I constnaly have been reminding myself how much I long for minestrone or curry when it’s 90 degrees out. This year I’ve added fun new techniques to my winter routine – like my tagine and slow cooker. I’ve added things into my soups to make them more interesting – like those insanely delicious goat cheese croutons.

And now I’m back with another soup recipes with a fun addition: spiced chickpeas. These chickpeas are…woah. It was hard to save them for dinner because there was so much munching I should have been making the soup. Wash the vegetables, eat a few chickpeas, simmer, eat a few chickpea, season, eat a few chickpeas. You get the idea. So addicting.

I’m pretty excited to start adding these chickpeas to my afternoon snack routine. It will be a nice change from greek yogurt or nuts. I found this great resource of different seasonings for your chickpeas over at MPMKs – cannot wait to try them all!

 

 

thaicarrotsoup

 

Coconut Curried Carrot Soup with Spiced Chickpeas

  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 1 15 ounce can of coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • Salt / Pepper, to taste
  • Feta, optional

 

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash of salt

 

To make the chickpeas: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the ingredients together and put in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.

 To make the soup: Heat olive oil over medium in a large saucepan. Add onions and saute until translucent (about ten minutes). Add the carrots and cook for another five minutes. Pour in the stock, coconut milk, ginger, and curry powder. Cover and cook for about ten minutes (or until the carrots are soft).

Once all the vegetables are soft, remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Season with salt, pepper, and maybe a little hot sauce (if you like a kick). Top with feta and chickpeas.

 

Butternut Squash Mac N’ Cheese with Gingersnap Crust

February 19, 2013

…And we are back from Nashville, Tennessee. Wyatt played a show down there with is band over the weekend so we decided to round up a group and cruise down in his big red van. The weekend consisted of tacos, live music, day drinking, and sooo much exploring. All the pictures I took were with film so I’ll have to wait to get them developed before posting a real re-cap.

Nashville was oh so much fun but now that I am home, I can feel myself craving comforts. The comfort of not sleeping on a tiny couch in a 17 bedroom co-op. The comfort of knowing exactly where my food is coming from and what I am putting into my body. The comfort of eating massive quantities of macaroni and knowing I have a [clean] floor to hibernate on after. The comfort of spinning the new[ish] TSwift album and watching ‘Girls’ on my laptop without being judged by every hipster in the neighborhood.

Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food for me. I made a Baked version after returning from Portland / Seattle last spring and made a delicious Vegan version over the summer after we moved into our new home. This dish makes a great side but don’t hesitate to be like me and eat it for dinner right out of the pan [while on the floor listening to teen pop albums AND watching terribly dramatic sitcoms - at the same time]. It’s nice to be home.

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Butternut Squash Mac N’ Cheese with Gingersnap Crust

adapted from LickMySpoon
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 pound of pasta (I used shells)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sage, minced
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 cup grated Gouda
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 cup crumbled gingersnap cookies
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Salt / Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the butternut squash with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and a dash of salt / pepper. Let roast for 20 minutes or until the squash has started to brown. Remove from oven and let cook.

Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook for five minutes (or until translucent). Add the garlic and sage and cook for a minute. Next, add in the flour and stir. Add broth and milk; turn heat up and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the cheeses and mustard (you can also add a little cayenne or hot sauce at this point if you’d like a kick). Add in the roasted squash and use a whisk or wooden spoon to break up the squash (a few chunks are fine!) and stir until everything is combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and toss in drained pasta. Pour into a 9×9 baking pan and top with the gingersnaps / pecans. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve warm to all your favorite people!

 

Song Pairing:

Searchable Saturdays

February 16, 2013

   

 

1. LEARNING /// I’ve been knee deep in researching home cleaners this week. It’s for an article I’m working on for Chickpea Magazine. I’ve always loved house plants but am now official convinced they are the answer to all my health problems [ exaggeration ]. More on this in the coming weeks…

2. LUSTING /// Our landlord finally [ kind of ] agreed to us getting a second dog. We love love love our boxer puppy but he definitely has a lot of energy and needs a playmate. I have my eyes set on a French Bulldog….

3. CRAVING /// Have you ever seen vegetables look so beautiful? I am blown away at the thought of how delicious this gorgeous stack of Lemon-Rosemary flavored veggies probably are. And lay them over some lentils? Oh goodness – irresistible.

4. ADVENTURING /// We are heading down south to Nashville, TN for the weekend. I am sooo excited about this over due trip because I spent several summers living there and cannot wait to go back after 2 years. Nashville has always brought me a sense of excitement and hope. I guess it’s a place that I spent a lot of time “finding myself” and really enjoy the comfort of knowing it’s always there if I ever need inspiration.

 

Well, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I’m off to do some exploring in warmer parts of the country!

 

Butterfinger Bites

February 15, 2013

I know, I know. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and how could you possible want more chocolate in your life? Well, I meant to post this ON Valentine’s Day but thing got busy (I’m sure you can relate). These little bites were my V-day gift to Wyatt. We play this little devilish game – we both WANT to eat fresh and organic but have our vices. Mine are those little booty puff popcorn things…do you know what I’m talking about? They have the texture of Styrofoam but are REALLY addicting regardless. Wyatt’s vice? Butterfingers. And like clockwork, every time I polish off a bag of those puffs within 20 minutes, I get that disapproving look from Wyatt. And every time we take a walk to the gas station and he picks up a butterfinger, I have to give my ‘you are going to get THAT?’ comment.

In turn, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy him a butterfinger for V-day. I could just imagine that ‘oh..you got me THIS’ comment when I handed it to him. So I made a Plan B – make my own. I have never really made candy before…mostly because I’m scared of the whole baking with corn syrup. But, after much research, I’ve come to the conclusion that corn syrup is NOT the same thing as high-fructose corn syrup that you find in packaged candy bars and that I will not be turning to the dark side if a put a small amount into a treat.

These little bites turned out wonderful. I mix between a Butterfinger and a Reese’s cup…how could it be bad? You will need a candy thermometer for this because it’s super essential that you get the sugar heated high enough so that it hardens but not so much that it burns. Makes sense? Cool. Let’s get candy-making!

 

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Butterfinger Bites

adapted from Not Without Salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water

 

  • 1 18 ounce bag of chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

Grease a  9×6 pan (I used my bread pan) and set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Turn onto medium-high heat and let cook until the temperature reaches 290 degrees.

While that temperature is rising, place the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt in a double boiler. Let water simmer under the bowl while the peanut butter creates a creamy, smooth paste.

Remove the sugar mixture from heat AS SOON as it reached 290 and stir in the peanut butter mixture. Pour into prepared pan and let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Remove from fridge and cut into bit side pieces. Heat the chocolate and milk in a double boiler until melted and combined. Dip the butterfinger bites into the chocolate and coat all sides. Transfer to wax paper and repeat with the rest of the bites.

Let cool in the fridge for another 30 minutes. Enjoy cold or let them come to room temperature.

 

ButterfingerBites

 

For you…

February 14, 2013

I made you this vegetable / animal / flower / toast collage for Valentine’s day. Thanks for hanging around here. I really like that and I really like you.

valentinesdaycollage

 

 

Cue music:

Citrus Pisco Negroni

February 13, 2013

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I don’t have a very sophisticated palette when it comes to alcohol. When sampling something, I would know the difference between red and white. Between gin and vodka. And between spiced rum and whiskey. That is about it. It’s not by choice…I love the idea of knowing how to tell where a wine is from based on the type of grapes that were used. Or being able to predict how old a whiskey is based on the bite it gives. It’s just not a skill that I have activity seeked out [ yet? ].

So I was pretty excited when Wyatt received a nice bottle of Pisco as a birthday gift (Thanks, Ma!). Pisco?! What’s that you ask? It’s a Chilean (or Peruvian) grape brandy that is usually clear or yellowish in color. How sophisticated does that sound? I can already sense my alcohol knowledge expanding as I type this.

We’ve tried a couple cocktail recipes and this one is by far my favorite. It’s very alcoholic yet mild tasting (if that makes sense). I like to add a splash of sparkling water because I’m a wimpy drinker (which my Mother likes to remind me every time we have a family gathering. Thanks, again, Ma..) and I like a bit of fizz in my cocktail. Wyatt prefers the drink without the water so feel free to adjust depending on how strong you like your cocktails.

Whip these up for guests next time you feel like showing off to your guests. “Ohh, I just can’t get over how much I’ve been into this Peruvian grape brandy lately…”

 

Citrus Pisco Negroni

Serves 2
  • 6 Tablespoons Pisco
  • 1/4 cup Campari
  • 1/4 cup sweet vermouth
  • 8 drops orange bitters
  • sparkling water, optional
  • cherries, for garnish
  • Orange peel, for garnish

Add Pisco, Campari, sweet vermouth, and bitters to a shaker. Shake well. Fill 2 glasses with ice and add Pisco mixture. Add a splash to sparking water and garnish with cherries and an orange peel.

 

-2

 

 

 

Pre-Valentine’s Day Hike

February 12, 2013

Just tryin’ to get outside whenever possible. Wyatt and I weren’t sure if we were going to have that much time on Thursday so do Valentine-esque things so we went on a little hike over the weekend. There is nothing I love more than hanging out with my favorite person and favorite puppy in one of my favorite places. Pure bliss.

 

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Chocolate Chai

February 11, 2013

chocolatechai

 

Hello, Monday. I can’t say I was entirely prepared for you. Can’t say I’m really that crazy about you in general. Sooo….how to make Monday a little less gloomy? How about adding some chocolate to our morning chai? WOAH, what a magnificent way to treat yourself! If I do say so myself…I’d have to call this a ‘YOLO’ moment. I can feel a new Monday tradition coming on…

 

chocolatechai33

 

Chocolate Chai

  • 2 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 inch of peeled ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 bags of black tea (or loose leaf black tea)
  • 3/4 cup milk (I like to use unsweetened almond milk to keep it vegan)

Place cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks, cocoa powder, black peppercorn, cloves, anise, and ginger in a small saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring water to a boil and then let simmer for about 15 minutes (more or less depending on how strong you like your chai). Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Let tea steep for about 5 minutes.

Strain liquid into a mug and discard leftover spices (or save them for a later use). Rinse out the saucepan and add milk to it. Let the milk come to a simmer and use a whisk to make the milk frothy. Top off the chai with milk and serve warm.

chocolatechai

 

Feeling a little bratty this morning:

Searchable Saturdays

February 9, 2013

Hellooooooo, Weekend! What to do with you? I’m planning to turn our heat and humidifier way up to pretend like I’m in Florida. Or maybe I’ll embrace the cold and build a fort / drink gallons of hot cocoa? Hmmm, choices choices!

Anyhow, here are some inspirations from the week…

 

      

 

1. Vacationing has been on the mind. I’ve already started planning all of our summer camping trips. I’m thinking 3 day weekend to the Smoky Mountains and a 9 Day trip out West (Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Colorado Monument, Santa Fe, etc). And then, as always, our yearly weekend trip to Turkey Run.

2. Another trip I’ve been planning is Florida…and, by planning, I mostly just mean clothes / accessory shopping. I want a high-waisted swim suit SO bad but am worried about weird tan lines? Oh no…functionality or fashionable? Sounds like I’ve got some real life problems here.

3. Salted Honey Almond Butter. Do I need to say more? A lovely commenter suggested making your own almond butter for my No Bake Salted Dark Chocolate Almond Bites and I could not agree more!

4. You have no idea how much I really really really want new glasses and I really really really want these! Yes, please.

 

Okay, a whole lot of lusting over places, items, and wants this week. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I’m off to try to calm this consumerism craving with some homemade cleaning supply making.

 

My Mikal Cronin crush is becoming a problem:

Heart Shaped Polenta Crostini with Roasted Tomato & Goat Cheese

February 8, 2013

Heart Shaped Crostini with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

I’m not very into doing ‘holiday themed posts’…or…. maybe I’m just not good at them? ‘Ms. Bah! Humbug!’ over here. I’ve done a few Thanksgiving recipe suggestions and a Christmas post here and there but as for anything else? Meh, not really. St. Patrick’s Day? When is that again? Labor Day? Too busy playing at the lake to worry about the internet. 4th of July? I’ll be the girl preppin’ tofu with a beer in hand by the grill (and not a laptop in sight). It’s just never been my thing to make a recipe based on it’s color scheme (hello red, white, and blue… fruit salad?!), shape (4 leaf clover cut outs aren’t even that cute! What is that…a pot leaf?), or any other gimmicky food trend. Buuuut…on that note, here I am with a Valentine’s day post. Why? I honestly don’t know. When pink everything started showing up on my Pinterest feed a few weeks ago, I was totally appalled. ‘Oh noooo. Heart and pink everything? No way. Nah uh.’

But then I kind of started getting obsessed with the idea. I started imagining all my food in heart shapes… the marshmallows in my hot cocoa, the setian cutlet I served for dinner. And then the pink and red hallucinations started coming… pink colored orange juice and red oatmeal. I finally came to terms with the fact that this was my mind subconsciously telling me ‘You are taking on this Valentine’s Day challenge and you will come up with something clever to try’. Okay okay okay. So I opened up my pantry and this is what came out…

But, wait..before we go any farther, I should warn you that I’m a bit bitter when it comes to Valentine’s Day. I have a boyfriend…a boyfriend I’ve had for the past 3 Valentine’s days which is…I guess cool and all. BUT there are so many fun ‘single ladies’ activities that go down on February 14th that I cannot help but feel a bit left out. Last year I lived with 4 single girls and they decided to throw a ‘Single Ladies Party’. Guess who was the only one NOT invited? Yup, that’s me. And you know what? If I was invited then I would have made these. Because these are the perfect little bites for a party and they are cute and themed and oh so delicious. Those girls’ lose, obviously. Anddd…if anyone feels like inviting me to their Vday celebration this year, I will leave my boyfriend at home and come baring a tray full of these.

Just sayin’. It might be fun. And you won’t be disappointed by these little bites. Or my company. Hopefully.

 

Heart Shaped Crostini with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

 

Heart Shaped Polenta Crostini with Roasted Tomatoes & Goat Cheese

  • 1 tube of prepared polenta
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ~1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 Tablespoon sage, chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Salt / Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together the tomatoes, 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil, and a little salt / pepper. Put on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on how soft you like your tomatoes).

Cut the polenta into 15 slices and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out the heart shapes. Set aside the leftover plenta for another use (goes perfect under eggs).

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, and milk (you may have to add more milk depending on how stiff the mixture still is. You want it to be thin enough to spread). Set aside.

In a large skillet, Heat olive oil over medium. Add the polenta hearts and cook until browned (time will depend on how hot your skillet it). Flip over and let brown on the other side.

Remove from heat and place on a tray. Top each polenta heart with goat cheese mixture, sage, a little more pepper, and one roasted cherry.

Serve warm and to all your lonely friends [or loving couples].

Heart Shaped Polenta Bites

 

 

 

Song Pairing:

Salted Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Bites (Vegan)

February 7, 2013

nobakesaltedchocolate2

These are what I call the ‘I just did my taxes and need some chocolate’ cookies. They were a little ‘guilt free’ reward that was needed after sifting trhough document and papers and receipts and bank statements. It’s a shame really…I went to yoga right before sitting down to do my taxes in hopes that it would leave me in a state of calm. But after all questions after questions about loans / checks / wages…I needed some chocolate.

I decided to go the healthy and lazy (no bake) route with these. A whole lot of protein with a bit of sweet (from the dates) and some natural fats (from the nuts). They are totally indulgent but not in a ‘oh shit, I’m going to have to spend an extra 3 hours on the treadmill’ sort of way. They are rich and gooey but also filling and…dare I say, practical? As a vegetarian, I can pretty much convenience myself that anything with 5+ grams of protein is an acceptable snack / breakfast / lunch / dessert.

 

nobakesaltedchocolate copy

 

Salted Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Bites (Vegan)

Inspired by The Sprouted Kitchen and Oh, Ladycakes
  • 1 cup nuts (I did 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup almonds)
  • 1 cup dates, pitted (soaked in water for 10+ minutes)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (or peanut or sunflower or cashew, whatever you are feeling)
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Sea Salt, to garnish

 

Throw everything into a food processor and pulse until a thick dough forms (if its crumbly then add a tiny bit of water). Roll dough into tablespoon size balls and place on waxed paper. Smash the dough balls down slightly with clean fingers or a fork. Sprinkle with  sea salt . Stick in the fridge for an hour or enjoy them right away [in their prime gooeyness].

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits

February 4, 2013

The title of this post is a bit misleading. These biscuits are not actually stuffed with real vegans…unlike how you probably read it the first time. There was just no easy way to throw a title together for this. I could have put ‘Stuffed Breakfast Biscuits’ but then people would have wondered where the eggs and sausage was? Or I could have wrote ‘Tofu Scramble Scones’ but that would have seemed like the tofu goes along side the scones… which is not correct either. What I really wanted to put was ‘Peppered Gravy & Tofu Hash Scramble Stuffed Biscuits That Are Vegan’ but oh goodness…look at how long that title is. I don’t think that title would have fit on one line…and maybe not even on two. So I settled for ‘Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits’…I am sorry if it’s misleading and you conjure up thoughts of cannibalism instead of wonderfully flaky, warm biscuits oozing with peppered gravy and filling tofu goodness. See!? Do you see why it took me 20 minutes to settle on a title for this post?

I guess it makes up for the fact that it took about 20 seconds to know that I wanted to make these. I love the Morningstar breakfast sandwiches as a treat every now and then but couldn’t help but wonder…could I make fresh ones that are probably 10000xxx times better? After searching around on the web and failing at finding any recipes that matched the vision in my head, I decided to make it up myself. This recipe is a mutant product of my favorite tofu scramble recipe and tomato scones recipes found in Isa’s Vegan Brunch. And a simple peppered gravy recipe that we often times to turn when we need some thick and flavorful gravy in a hurry. And then I threw in some hashbrowns because…welll…what is breakfast without hash browns?

So…in turn, this recipe is Delicious? Yes. Freezable? Yes. Easy to prepare the night before? YES. Portable? YES. Everything you’ve ever wanted in a breakfast rolled into one pocket of deliciousness? YESSS. Why would you not make these for a vegan potluck or freeze a batch for a quick breakfast on the go?!

 

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Scones

 

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits

For the Gravy:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1+ teaspoon salt / pepper

 

For the Tofu Scramble:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • Salt / Pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, optional (because I like lots of veggies)

 

For the Biscuits:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

 

  • 1/2 russet potato, diced very small

 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in the potatoes. Cook until they are soft but not mushy (about 10 minutes depending on how small you diced them).

To make the scramble: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add onions and saute until soft (about five minutes). Add garlic and saute for another minute. Next, crumble the tofu and add into the skillet along with the cooked potatoes. Saute until the tofu has browned and add in the water, tumeric, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and cumin. Saute for another five minutes or until the water has evaporated (if the tofu seems dry then add a bit more water and let it cook down). Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes.

To make the gravy: combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until thickened (about ten to fifteen minutes). Season with more pepper (if necessary) and pour over the tofu scramble. Mix until everything is combined.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Vegan Breakfast Biscuits

To make the biscuits: Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add wet ingredients. Fold dry into wet until a soft dough has formed. Flour a surface and roll out half of the dough into an inch thick (make sure to keep everything very well floured because the dough is super sticky). Cut out desired biscuit sizes using a biscuit cutter and then flatten the dough to about 1/2 inch (you can use your rolling pin or your hands here). Place a heaping tablespoon of the tofu/gravy mixture in the center and fold the edges into each other until you’ve made a sealed round ball. Transfer to a greased cooking sheet. Roll out the rest of the dough and repeat.

[This is where you can wrap them in an airtight container and stick in the fridge overnight if you are preparing ahead of time]. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are firm and the insides are warm.

Enjoy hot or freeze for later breakfasts!

 

Vegan Brunch Biscuits

 

 

Winter Wandering

February 3, 2013

Hope everything is having a relaxing Sunday! We’ve spent the day trying to enjoy the snow and laying around with our puppy. Here are a few snap shots I took of Wyatt / Tuko on a winter walk earlier (minus the last one – Wyatt obviously took that one since it’s of me). Not a bad day. Not at all.

P.S. Check back tomorrow… there may just be some fresh biscuits-stuffed-gravy-goodness coming your way.

 

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winterbluebush

Searchable Saturdays

February 2, 2013

Mornin’! Happy Saturday. This post is coming a bit later than usual because I had a much needed sleep in session. I hope you aren’t mad? Good. Here are a few things that really inspired VV this week….

 

      

 

1. I am in love with aesthetics of this poster. Everything from the mix of shapes to the color combination to it’s simplicity. Not that I’m planning on doing a re-design anytime soon but am always on the look out for inspiring design ideas.

2. Twin Peaks has been on the mind lately. We are finally getting close to finishing the series for the third (yikes) time. I’m thinking I may have to make a cherry pie for the finale (we already made donuts / coffee for our viewing pleasure awhile back).

3. I have tried SOOO many vegan Macaroni & Cheese recipes but never one as beautiful as this! It’s going on my list of things to cook this weekend.

4. On the hunt for a cool vintage hanging plant for the bathroom. Any suggestions? I’m thinking maybe a spider plant or some sort of vine?

 

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! It’s supposed to be cold and snowy here all day so I plan on catching up on a bunch of cooking, reading, and snuggling with my puppy.

Leblebi // Chickpea Stew

January 31, 2013

Chickpea Stew

The fascination with my Tangine has really morphed my cooking this past month. I didn’t even use the tagine for this recipe but was drawn to it since the recipe is so similar to the other Tunisian dishes I’ve been playing around with. Who knew 2013 would be the year of preserved lemons, harissa paste, and spicy stews? Well, the first few months of 2013 at least. Can’t predict past that.

I am sooo in love the contrast that is created when you mix spicy harissa paste with sweet honey and lather it all over vegetables / beans. Oh my goodness! Do you know what I’m talking about? Well, you should. And here is a perfect starter recipe for it. Harissa paste is super easy to make (check out the recipe here) or you should be able to find it at any international market store. As for preserved lemons? It took me a long time to come around to them and I would recommend slicing them VERY thin until you get use to their intense flavor. But with that said, they really do add a depth of flavor that could not be achieved by this simple stew without them.

 

Chickpea-Stew

 

Lablabi / Chickpea Stew

Serves 2

  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans drained)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, sliced thinly
  • 1 roasted bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 teaspoons capers, rinsed
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • dash of salt
  • Day old Bread

Simmer the chickpeas in the vegetable broth until heated through. Whisk together the olive oil, honey, garlic, cumin salt, and harissa paste in a small bowl. Fold in the capers, lemon, and red pepper to the dressing.

Tear the bread into large chunks and divide between two bowls. Spoon the chickpeas and broth over the bread and top with dressing / lemon mixture. Serve right away so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

 

Quinoa Nuggets

January 30, 2013

I don’t handle cold weather well. Period. If it’s below 50 degrees then I don’t want to go outside. I just don’t. And the idea of taking off my slippers // long underwear? Oh no. No way am I having any part in that. So, needless to say, the winter encourages a lot of ‘vegging out’ time. And by ‘vegging out’ I don’t mean consuming my weight in healthy dark greens and carrot sticks (I wish). I mean sitting on the couch for more hours than I am going to admit and snacking on anything within reach.

My solution to not gaining [too much] extra weight in these dark months? I don’t buy potato chips. Or mozzeralla sticks. Or anything that was once fried and then frozen / packaged (for that matter). If I want a snack then it means I am going to have to get off my butt and make something. The usual options are fresh popped popcorn or hummus. But sometimes I feel inspired and get really creative with my snacks. This was one of those instances. And guess what? It was totally worth the extra work.

These little nuggets are crispy, easy, delicious, and super filling. Feel free to play around with the filling and experiment with what you have in your fridge. I dipped them in my honey bourbon barbecue sauce but I bet some homemade ketchup or aioli would be fantastic as well.

 

 

quinoanuggets

 

Quinoa Nuggets

  • 1 1/2 cups of dried quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh sage, minced (any herb will do)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • Salt/Pepper

 

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two cooking sheets. In a large, beat the eggs. Add in the remaining ingredients (including the quinoa) and mix until incorporated. Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture onto cookie sheets and repeat with the rest of the batter.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Serve with some yummy sauce!

 

Center Zine

January 29, 2013

Center Zine

 

Sorry to hound you with ANOTHER post not related to food (is this even a food blog anymore? Just joking!) but I’ve been busy spending the last few days organizing. I finally updated the VV facebook page (the old one was a little bit…okay, a lot outdated). And I also organized my 10,000+ (eeep!) photos from the last few years.

This leads me to the topic of this post. I am sort of a Film nut. I know digital is all you need these days with filter programs like instragram and vsco but there is something about 35 mm film that I cannot give up. The whole experience of traveling the country with a few disposable cameras is like no experience that an Iphone can replace. Within the last two years, Wyatt and I have traveled North [Lake Michigan], East [Maine, Pennsylvania], South [Florida, Austin], and West [Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Portland, Seattle] and every time we bring our Fisheye, Holga (for double exposures), and expired disposable cameras (we usually pick these up from goodwill for a buck). This has caused the product of dozens and dozens of beautiful (film) photos. I have no many that I didn’t want to just make…a Facebook folder out of them (LAME) so I created this little online zine. It’s nothing special (I am no designer by any means) and won’t ever be in print but it’s a nice little zine of my favorite film pictures. Check it out here!

 

‘Detox Affair’ Juice

January 28, 2013

jjuicing

 

EVERYONE in my office is sick and it makes me crazy paranoid. I feel like I can’t even go to the bathroom without fearing that I’ll catch the plague. I know it’s not a big deal but being sick really brings me down (as it does most people, I’d assume). And it makes me feel like I “lost” – I know that sounds crazy but I try so hard to take care of myself and my body. It just seems like my body would be telling me ‘Nope. You failed!”. Arg, shut up body and keep absorbing that Emergencee (Vitamin C tablet) I fed you an hour ago!

Anyhow, I know what you are thinking… “A Juicing Recipe, REALLY? How trendy are you?!”. But guess what…I live in the middle of the Midwest and Juice Bars have not taken over yet. Most people don’t even juice around here [yet] so, technically, I am still ahead of you, Midwest!

Also, I’m not here to tell you that juicing will change your life. Or that you should go on a juicing cleanse. Or that you should spend your entire paycheck (which I would probably have to) in order to juice 4 times a day. In fact, I don’t even know if I’m that crazy about juicing yet. I mean there is soooo much fiber that is lost in the process and it seems like a good chunk of the fruit / vegetable is wasted.

Soooo…if I’m so skeptical then why do I do it? Well, for one, I LOVE green smoothies but can’t seem to handle / bring myself to enjoy the heaviness / texture / cold of them in the dead of winter. With juicing, it’s light and packed full of flavor and easy to down in 5 seconds. Plus, I have x10 more energy in the morning if I start with this drink.

This is what I call my ‘detox affair’. I usually whip it up if I wake up feeling a sore throat coming on, drink a little too much the night before, or am having mad anxiety about getting the plague.

Interested in learning more about juicing? I find this post and this post to be particularly helpful.

 

 

 

jjuicing2

 

Wash everything and make sure to use organic produce. Peel the citrus and core the apple. Stick everything through a juicer. Perfect for one big glass or two small ones.

 

Something to juice to:

Searchable Saturdays

January 26, 2013

Searchable Saturday’s Time! Here are some inspirations from the week…

 

     

 

1. Chocolate and [sweet] Potato Chips?! Ohhh mannnn. These are gonna be awesome!

2. I’ve got planning my garden on the mind and have been daydreaming constantly about fresh picked tomatoes, basil, lavender, and cucumbers…

3. Long hair has made me super lazy and I feel like I only ever wear it down. Not anymore! Starting this week I am going to take back the fun parts of having long hair and play around with it!

4. I started on a crazy time consuming and oh so awesome project this week. There are so many photos from traveling to Maine, Austin, Portland, Colorado, Utah, and Florida over the last year and a half that I’m determined to do something about it. I’ve embarked on creating an online zine of all my favorite FILM photos and cannot be more excited. I’ve posted a few of them on pinterest so hop on over there for a preview. More details on this soon!

 

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I’m off to the greenhouse to pretend like it’s tropical and humid out [and maybe take some 35mm photos while I'm feeling inspired].

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Peppered Sage Gravy

January 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Biscuits and Sage Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy are a pretty re-occurring theme here on VV (see here. And here. And here). It’s not my fault… It’s my boyfriend’s favorite food to ever exist. And it’s pretty much the only way I can get him to help me in the kitchen. He LOVES making the gravy (probably because it means that I won’t get the chance to change it up). However, that gives me authority over the biscuits and an opportunity to experiment on that end.

Each time I choose a different biscuit recipe, I make a goal…last time I was determined to make sky high biscuits that rise for days. This time? I was feeling biscuits that were big (always an essential for biscuits) and moist. Flaky can sometimes lead to dry and I was determined to have none of that. I had recently read that cooking with potatoes help to keep bread moist… and needed to find out for myself. The verdict? OOOOH YEAHHH! Sky high, flaky, and moist?! Absolute heaven!

Oh, and as for the gravy…my boyfriend knows what he likes and refuses to do anything else besides this sage recipe. I’ve posted it on the blog several times (here and here) but he still claims its a hassle to find so I’m going to post it again. It is pretty delicious…and it’s ridiculously easy. Even your kitchen-illiterate boyfriend will be able to handle it.

PS: If you aren’t into sage then you could try out this mushroom or chickpea gravy!

 

Sweet Potato and Peppered Sage Gravy

 

Sweet Potato Biscuits and Peppered Sage Gravy

For the Sweet Potato Biscuits:

  • 1 small sweet potato, cut into small chunks (the smaller they are the faster they will cook)
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I made my own)

 

For the Peppered Sage Gravy:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups almond milk (or regular)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the sweet potatoes and cook until you can pierce a fork into them (the amount of time will completely depend on how small you diced the potato…mine took about 15 minutes). Drain and use a fork to mash. Measure out 1/2 cup and reserve the rest for another use.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Use your hands or a pastry knife to cut the butter into the dough until a coarse meal has formed. Fold in the mashed sweet potatoes and buttermilk (the dough will be very sticky – that is okay).

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for about five minutes. Continue to add a little more flour if the dough is sticking. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits. Transfer to a greased cast iron skillet or pan (make sure the biscuits are close together so they will rise). Bake for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are browned on top. Serve warm.

 

Sweet Potato and Sage Gravy

 

To make the gravy:  Whisk the flour, nutritional yeast, and milk together in a large skillet. Whisk until a smooth consistency and then add in all the spices. Place the skillet over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Next, add in the butter and reduce to medium low. Whisk often until the gravy has reached your desired thickness. Remove from heat and season to taste.

 

Sweet Potato and Peppered Sage Gravy

 
Track of the day:

Cilantro Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrots & Chickpeas

January 23, 2013

I have had a seriously absurd addiction to couscous lately. Ever since I received that tagine for Christmas, I’ve been throwing everything over the stuff. My go to for dinner is often times roasting whatever veggies / beans / tofu I have on hand with garlic then throwing it over some type of starch. It used to be rice or pasta but lately… it’s been all about the couscous. This has actually caused a battle in our house…Wyatt is a basmati rice lover and he has not happy about all this couscous trend. It’s been a fun challenge to see who can get to the simmering water first and what gets thrown in.

I ate this salad warm and also cold the next day (which was probably even more flavorful the couscous and veggies absorbed the dressing). This salad is a ridiculously delicious lunch and super portable (cannot wait to start bringing it on picnics). Feel free to substitute whatever veggies you have on hand and experiment! Root vegetables seem to be the appropriate option this time of year but I cannot wait to try a summer version with roasted tomatoes, corn, and basil.

The carrots are roasted in olive oil and honey which helps bring out the tiniest hint of sweet in the overall salad. The chickpeas are a great addition (warm or cold) and help to keep you feeling full for longer. Feel free to experiment with other beans you have on hand as well.

 

CoussousSalad

 

 Cilantro Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrots & Chickpeas

  • 4 carrots, sliced into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (or agave to make vegan)
  • 1 preserved lemon, skin only and sliced very thinly (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked
  • 1 cup couscous

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, divided
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 1/8 cup olive oil (may need a little more to thin out the dressing)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • dash of paprika
  • salt/pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combines the carrots, 3 garlic cloves (whole), half the olive oil, honey, and a dash of salt in a bowl. Spread out into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until the carrots are browned and tender (I like mine with a little crunch but keep in for longer if you like them more roasted). Remove from oven and let cook slightly. Once cool enough to touch, squeeze out the garlic from the outer cloves and mix in with the carrots.

Make the dressing while carrots are roasting: In a small food processor, blend together half the cilantro (1/4 of a bunch), cumin seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic clove, and paprika. Pulse until a smooth paste has formed. Add in more olive oil if it is too think. Season to taste and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a small saucepan over medium. Add in the couscous and cook until toasted (about five minutes – stir frequently). Add in 1 cup of boiling water and simmer for about ten minutes or until the water is absorbed and the couscous is cooked all the way through.

Combine the couscous, carrots, chickpeas, preserved lemon, leftover cilantro and dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy warm or stick in the fridge for a refreshing snack later.

 

couscous2

 

Caramelized Banana Scones with Whiskey Chocolate Drizzle

January 22, 2013

If you follow VV on facebook then you heard me lusting over scones yesterday. I LOVE LOVE LOVE scones and am always finding new inspiration for flavor combinations. Last time I made those [drool] Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones and this time I continued with the chocolate /// fruit theme. We’ve got chunks of sugary and melt-in-your-mouth caramelized banana s topped with boozy dark chocolate drizzle. Think of these as a fantastic mix between your favorite morning banana pancakes (you know that texture – where the bananas start to caramelize on the bottom of the pancake) and that chocolate covered banana that you always crave after watching Arrested Development. Oh.. and then throw a warm and flaky scone into the mix [and maybe some coffee on the side]. BOOM. So amazing.

 

bananascones4

 

Caramelized Banana Scones with Whiskey Chocolate Drizzle

basic scone recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
  • 2 bananas, peeled and cut into chunks + 1 Tablespoon sugar + 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar + more to sprinkle on top
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg

For the drizzle:

  • 2.5 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup milk (+ a few more tablespoons to thin it to desired consistency)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey

Start by caramelizing the bananas: Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium low in a small skillet. Roll the bananas in the tablespoon of sugar and transfer to skillet. Let the bananas caramelize until they start to brown and break down but remove from heat before they become mushy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Use your hands or a pastry knife to incorporate the butter until a coarse dough as formed. Mix in the egg and milk until just incorporated (don’t overmix!). Fold in the bananas and transfer dough to a floured surface. Flatten dough and make an inch thick dough. Cut the dough into 6 pieces (like a pie!) and transfer to a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and cook for 30 minutes or until firm.

 

bananascones2

 

To make the drizzle: In a double broiler, melt the chocolate, milk, and sugar. Whisk constantly until everything is combined and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature and whisk in the whiskey. If too thick to drizzle, add a little milk (a teaspoon at a time) until your desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over warm scones.

 

bananascones3

 

Track of the day:

Veggie Dogs & Winter Fires

January 20, 2013

No recipe post today. Just an adventure in the woods geode hunting, roasting veggie dogs, listening to tapes, and playing around a fire.

 

hotdog

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. It was so nice to step away from my stove and cook over an open fire. To drink a few beers before 3 pm. To wonder in the woods on a brisk day. To watch the sun set over the water. To go on an outdoor adventure in the middle of January.

 

 

 

Searchable Saturdays

January 19, 2013

Mixing up the format again for Searchable Saturdays…because I can. Let me know what you think. Cool? Cool.

 

 
     

 

1. I’m constantly looking for inspiration in new forms and ordered this quarterly publication this week. I LOVE low-fi photography and cannot wait to get this in the mail! Ordered their summer issue but the winter one is on sale right now for 11 bucks. Go check it out!

2. I’ve had the worst spring fever this week and it has sparked a lusting for high-waisted shorts and round sunglasses. Check out my spring style board on pinterest for a look into all the fashion lusting I’ve been doing.

3. This picture may have made me drool a little bit. Lettuce, Avocado, Cucumber, and Peanut Sauce?! Yes, please!

4. With spring fever comes a small feeling of stir-crazy. I am SO ready to road trip and go swimming and go canoeing and sleep under the star. Gah!

Well, I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend! I am off to drag Wyatt on a hiking and winter picnic excursion because 50 degrees is warm enough for my stir-crazy to demand an adventure.

Gluten Free Caramel Pecan Tart with Chocolate Genache & Mascarpone Drizzle

January 18, 2013

ella

This is Ella. She is one of the best things in my life. She has put up with my nonsense for more years than I would like to admit. She didn’t strangle me after us living together for a year and she still encourages my crazy adventures (like moving down to Nasvhille to chase my music dream. And starting a food blog. And adopting a puppy even though I can hardly take care of myself). Oh, and did I mention she makes me bruschetta… bruschetta that looks like this…

 

bruschetta

 

..every September. It’s oh so amazing. It’s also what sparked my Winter Bruschetta post yesterday. But anyways, monday was her 24th birthday (Hey, Ella…we are getting old!) and she doesn’t know where she will be in 4 months. Maybe it’s still here with me in Bloomington. Or maybe she will disappear into the wilderness that is Wyoming or maybe she’ll serve a non-profit programs in Washington, DC. Whatever she chooses…I plan to support her since she supported me all those year. And I didn’t want to support her in the form of gifting another thing to carry across the country. Instead, I made this tart. And I made it gluten-free because I am also trying to encourage her gluten-free food adventures! So much support and encouragement around here, huh?

 

Chocolate-Pecan-Caramel-Tart

 

So here it is. Ella’s birthday tart. The Gluten-Free Caramel Pecan Tart with Chocolate Genache & Mascarpone Drizzle (WOAH. SUCH A MOUTHFUL). I started with an almond flour crust…which gave it the tiniest hint of nutty flavor and then did a date/caramel layer followed by a VERY rich chocolate genache and a mascarpone drizzle. Dayum. It was intense and oh so delicious.

Lastly, I’d like to note that this tart LOOKS daunting because there are 4 components BUT you only cook the crust and there are a lot of repeated ingredients. Do not fear – with a little bit of time and a few fresh ingredients, you will have a delicious and decadent tart in no time! Okay, enough chatting…let’s get baking!

 

Caramel-Pecan-Tart

 

Caramel Pecan Tart with Chocolate Genache & Mascarpone Drizzle

a weird love child of this recipe and this one

For the crust:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

For the filling:

  • 10 dates, pitted and soaked in 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped (+more for garnish)

For the genache:

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup / agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 vanilla bean

For the drizzle:

  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • ~1 Tablespoon milk (dairy or un-sweetened nondairy)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Combine the dates with 1/3 cup of water and let soak for one hour.

Make the drizzle first so that the mascarpone has time to absorb the vanilla/honey flavors. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrap out the seeds. Discard the pod and set half the seeds aside for the genache. Whisk together the mascarpone, honey, and vanilla bean seeds. Stick in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the tart.

To make the crust: Whisk together the almond flour and salt. Add in the agave/maple syrup and coconut oil and whisk until a crumbly dough forms. Grease a 4×14 tart pan (with removable bottom) and press the dough into it. Use a fork to pierce the dough through-out the pan. Transfer to the fridge and let chill for 30 minutes.

CaramelPecanTart

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake 15 minutes (or just until it starts to firm up and turn slightly brown). Remove from oven and let cool completely.

In a small food processor, combine the dates (including the water they were soaking in), vanilla, and salt. Pulse until well combined and then fold in the pecans. Pour into the prepared crust and stick in the fridge while you prepare the genache.

To make the genache: In the small food processor, pulse together the coconut milk, cocoa powder, vanilla seeds, and maple syrup / agave nectar. Pour over the caramel mixture and smooth with a spatula. Stick back in the fridge for at least an hour (so that all the layers can set).

Right before serving: Whisk a tablespoon of milk (1 teaspoon at a time) into the mascarpone filling until its thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over the tart and garnish with chopped pecans.

 

Caramel-Pecan-Tart

 

Serve to all your chocolate and pecan loving friends!

 

ellaandme

Ella —– Me

 

 

Something for you to dance to while baking: