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.
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.
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…”
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.
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.
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…
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.
Feeling a little bratty this morning:
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:
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.
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].
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.
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].
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?!
For the Gravy:
For the Tofu Scramble:
For the Biscuits:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 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].
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.
For the Sweet Potato Biscuits:
For the Peppered Sage Gravy:
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.
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.
Track of the day:
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.
For the dressing:
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.
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.
For the drizzle:
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.
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.
Track of the day:
No recipe post today. Just an adventure in the woods geode hunting, roasting veggie dogs, listening to tapes, and playing around a fire.
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.
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!
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.
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…
..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?
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!
For the crust:
For the filling:
For the genache:
For the drizzle:
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.
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.
Serve to all your chocolate and pecan loving friends!
Something for you to dance to while baking:
Oh man, I have been hit with spring fever. Between planning a March getaway trip and drooling over spring fashion, I am ready to be on a warm beach with a beergarita! And let me tell you – this is the worst possible time to be struck with this spring fever. Not only is vacation still 2 months away but it’s also been in the 20s here all week (and plans to stay that way).
So how in the world do I cope with this spring fever without quitting my day job and moving down to Austin, Texas where the sun always shines (that is a bit of an exaggeration but you know what I mean)? Well, let’s figure this out. What do I miss? Fresh Bruschetta, high-waisted shorts, laying in the grass with our tape player, and lake days. I can’t really think of a way to imitate laying in the grass…unless, of course, if I wanted to snuggle my hair into our huge cacti collection that resides in the kitchen (OUCH!). But I can drag Wyatt on winter lake picnics with warm soup and Mexican hot cocoa. And I can layer up with some tights and knee high socks under my shorts. Done and done. Now, onto the bruschetta? Gahhh…could you imagine traditional bruschetta in January? So filmy and flavorless…yuck. But what if we used winter vegetables? Like sweet potatoes and onions? And still stuck it on a warmed and buttered baguette? Now we are talking!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large oven safe pan, toss together the sweet potato or squash, onion, garlic cloves, half the sage, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the squash/potato can be pierced nicely with a fork (but does not become mushy). Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the bread.
To prepare the baguette: Brush the remaining olive oil on the baguette slices and top with cheddar cheese. Place under the broiler for a minute or two or until the cheese / bread is toasted. Top the bread with the potato/squash mixture and serve warm. Garnish with leftover age or, for a sweeter version, drizzle with honey.
Let’s get through the winter with Mikal Cronin:
If close up pictures of french fries doesn’t make you want to ditch your soup dinner plans and run out to the nearest diner then I do not know what does. Sorry that I just ruined your diet with this photo. Don’t worry, you can start again tomorrow.
I grew up a firm believer that ketchup was for eggs and barbecue sauce was for french fries. Although I’ve grown out of lathering ketchup all over my morning scramble, I still cannot resist a big side of tangy barbecue sauce to accompany my french fries and tofu nuggets (yes, I am guilty – I do enjoy those processed fake chicken nuggets that you can find in you organic freezer section at Kroger).
Although I am known to still down the occasional fry or chicken-less nuggets, I do try avoid the processed and high-fructose packed condiments that fill our grocery stores. Have your REALLY looked on the back of that condiment jar in a while? It’s a rather upsetting sight. Instead, I usually whip up a batch our this barbecue sauce and it usually holds me through all summer (and I participate in A LOT of grill outs every summer).
I decided to mix it up and try a new bbq sauce this time around. It’s definitely not the traditional bbq sauce you are used to (I’d suggest using this recipe if you are looking for that) but it’s a great sauce to use for special occasions. It’s a wonderful way to add new flavor to your condiments or to fancy up a side of fries at a party. The bourbon gives it the inevitable and sophisticated alcoholic aroma while the honey helps sweeten and tone it down.
I made this in my slow cooker so I could walk away and not worry about it. But it would probably be made just as easy in a saucepan by throwing in all your ingredients and letting it simmer down to your desired consistency (bet it wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes!).
Heat the olive oil over medium in a small skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent (about five or so minutes). Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and turn the slow cooker on low. Let cook for 8 hours. If the sauce is too thin after 8 hours, remove the lid and let cook down to desired consistency.
Use an immersion blender to blend into a smooth sauce or leave the small chunks of onions (they are delicious!).
Serve right away or transfer to an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. If you’d like to keep it longer, freeze it in ice cube trays for easy access to later.
Because Nobunny is both saucy and probably a bit alcoholic (yeah - not really sure what that means either):
Did I tell you about Christmas? I received so many wonderful kitchen tools and they have been filling my free time with cooking inspiration. First, I received a Tagine which is a wonderful Moroccan clay pot that I’ve been using to cook up flavorful veggie strews. Have you ever cooked with preserved lemons? Or harissa? I had not until I discovered the wonderful world of tagine cooking and now I am hooked!
We also received a pasta maker and ravioli press. It’s a tradition for my Ma and I to make homemade pierogies once a year so I am very acquainted with their pasta machine. But to have my own?! The options are endless! I started my adventures with this ravioli. There is something so wonderful about the creamy mascarpone that pairs nicely with the sweetness of the potatoes and then the savory garlic and onions.
Before we get started I have to tell you that I did a total no-no. In my recipe, I posted a link to ANOTHER recipe so you have to [gasp] follow two recipes at the same time. I know this is both annoying and could possibly even be confusing. BUT, I promise I did it for a reason [and that reason was NOT laziness]! This was my first time making homemade pasta on my own and I am no where near an expert. Thus, I didn’t really feel like it was right trying to tell you how to make it since I am still in my learning phase of this process. And instead, I sent you to a REALLY informative and easy to follow link that I used to make the dough for this recipe. So, I know you are wondering, why even post this recipe at all? Well because the ravioli filing / combo was totally my own inspiration and I found it too damn delicious not to share on here! So, don’t be mad! And I promise I’ll hopefully have my own step-by-step tutorial on homemade pasta one day. Until then, The Kitchn is a wonderful guide. Now, let’s make some ravioli!
To prep the filling: Bring a large saucepan full of salted water to a boil. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes and add to the boiling water. Let boil until a fork can easily pierce through them (about 25 minutes). Drain the potatoes and let cool. While that is cooling, slice the vanilla bean in half and scrap out the seeds. Once the potatoes have cooled, mash with the vanilla seeds (discard the pod), mascarpone, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
Once the dough is rolled out to your desired consistency, lay across your ravioli press and fill each pocket with a tablespoon of filling. Lay another sheet of dough across the top and use a heavy rolling pin to gently roll back and forth over the ravioli until its sealed. Repeat with the rest of the dough / filling.
Bring a large saucepan full of salted water to a boil. Add the prepared ravioli (only doing about 6-8 at a time, depending on how large your pot is) and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until they float. Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with the rest of the ravioli.
To make the topping / sauce: Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium low. Add in the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until they become translucent. Add in the garlic, turn the heat down to low, and let cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until caramelized. Finally, add in the thyme, boiled ravioli, salt, and pepper and turn the heat back up to medium. Saute for about five minutes or until the ravioli just starts to brown.
Serve warm with shaved parmesan.
Track of the day:
Usually when I purchase mascarpone, I use it up in one sitting by making a fruit dip or smothering on top of cookies. However, this time I’ve been savoring it by throwing a tablespoon or two into pretty much ever meal. Pasta? Sure, why not!? Granola. Yes, please! blondies? Why not dip them in mascarpone? It’s been wonderful to open up the fridge and wonder “what can I douse in mascarpone today?”.
This intention has caused the creation of two delicious, quick breakfasts. I am the type of person who wakes up 20 minutes before she has to leave for work and needs a breakfast FAST. The first one is an indulgent twist on my usual morning granola and yogurt. And the second is a bit more YOLO (do you say that? I don’t actually say that…I just could not think of a better describing word. Thank you mainstream media for RUINING MY VOCABULARY).
Let me elaborate a bit more on my contrast between these two breakfasts. I have a [wonderful] boyfriend who is so skinny that you could probably see threw him when he turns to the side. This really irritates me when we eat 80% of the same foods (the other 20% is him getting a side of fries when I get a side salad) and it’s like he is getting skinnier as I am getting bigger! This is good in the aspect that it strives for me to constantly eat better as to not become the husky one in this relationship. But, at the same time and out of frustration, it also makes me want to down an entire jar of nutella when he is not looking. So this week’s breakfasts have consisted of ‘Morning bebe. Here is a big bowl of Granola / Mascarpone / Fruit that I made us for breakfast” and “Oh, you aren’t awake yet? Well I’m downing this Nutella / Ciabatta / Mascarpone sandwich before you get up” [I mean the Nutella has been in that cabinet for far too long...it could go bad soon! I'm only eating this as to not waste food...maybe...no, not really].
So, whether you are feeling like treating yourself or giving your body a good foundation for the day, one of these breakfasts should satisfy your needs. I’d suggest you whip up a batch of your own mascarpone so you can have yummy, creamy breakfasts to look forward to all week as well!
Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrap out the seeds. Discard the pod and transfer seeds to small bowl with the mascarpone. Whisk until combined and then pour in granola. Top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey.
Slice the ciabatta bread in half and spread the Nutella on one side and the mascarpone on the other. Sprinkle the cinnamon on both sides and spread a single layer of bread. Fold the two pieces into each other and set under the broiler for a minute (or until your desired warm/crispiness is achieved). Eat immediately [preferably before anyone else sees you or else you may have to make more].
Daily dose. Why wake up slowly? Let’s get this day going: