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:

Winter Bruschetta

January 16, 2013

winterbruschetta

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!

 

winterbruschetta3

 

Winter Bruschetta

  • 1 fresh baguette, sliced into 1 inch thick pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato or small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (omit to make vegan)
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped + divided
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste

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:

 

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

January 15, 2013

HoneyBourbonBarbecueSauce

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!).

 

Honey-bourbon-barbecue-sauce

 

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • dash of hot sauce, optional
  • salt, to taste

 

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.

 

honey-bourbon-barbecue-sauce

 

 

Because Nobunny is both saucy and probably a bit alcoholic (yeah -  not really sure what that means either):

Sweet Potato and Mascarpone Ravioli with Caramelized Onions

January 14, 2013

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!

 

homemaderavioli

 

Sweet Potato and Mascarpone Ravioli with Caramelized Onions

For the pasta dough:

 

For the filling:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt

 

Topping / Sauce:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

 

  • Parmesan

 

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.

 

homemaderavioli4

 

Follow the Kitchn’s recipe on how to make the dough (follow through step 8).

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.

 

homemaderavioli5

 

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.

 

homemaderavioli3

 

Track of the day:

Wake up with Mascarpone: Breakfast Bowl & Breakfast Sandwich

January 10, 2013

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!

 

MascarponeBreakfastBowl

 

Mascarpone Breakfast Bowl

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.

 

MarcaponeBreakfastSandwich

 

Mascarpone Breakfast Sandwich with Nutella & Fresh Fruit

  • 1 slice ciabatta bread
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Nutella or any hazelnut spread
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Fresh fruit

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:

Homemade Mascarpone

January 9, 2013

Homemade-Mascarpone

This post has been a long time coming. I promised myself I would make homemade cheese back on my [cringe] summer to do list. And then again [eeeep!] in the fall…and then I stuck it on my winter one. And guess what?! I FINALLY DID IT! And although making my own cheese was both enjoyable and delicious, it kind of made me hate myself more. It was so ridiculously easy to make…probably easier than 80% of the recipes on here…that it really really bugs me to know it took 6 months to get around to making it.

Before you start, make sure you have a candy thermometer and cheese cloth. It’s very important to keep the milk at a stable temperature so it doesn’t burn or not stay warmed up long enough. But other than that, you only need 2 (yes, 2!!) ingredients. Doesn’t it kind of make you mad to think you’ve spent all that money on mascarpone in the past?

Anyhow, this recipe is oh so easy! Just make sure you give yourself enough time for the cheese to strain overnight. I’ve been mixing my mascarpone into almost everything! I stuck it in some homemade ravioli, pasta, and even with my morning cup of granola and fruit! So creamy and delicious!

 

Mascarpone

 

Homemade Mascarpone

  • 2 cups heavy cream (NOT ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

 

In a small saucepan, slowly bring the heavy cream to a small simmer (the temperature should climax at 180 degrees and the goal is to try to keep it around there). Let simmer at 180 degrees for about 3 minutes and add in the lemon juice. Simmer for another 3 minutes and then remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature (best to just step away for a half an hour).

Fill a small strainer with several (I used 3) layers of cheesecloth and put a small bowl under the strainer. Pour the cooled mascarpone mixture into the strainer and stick in the fridge overnight (mine only strained a few tablespoons of whey but the mascarpone came out thick and creamy in the morning).

Add to your pasta, granola, or elaborate desserts! Store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a week.

 

 

Homemade Mascarpone

 

Song inspiration (classy but still a bit scandalous):

Wanderlust

January 8, 2013

Southwest-Road-Trip

photo from our Southwest Road Trip last May

I’ve been feeling a bit…uninspired by my actions around VV lately. Can you tell? It just seems like I get into a groove and then get bored with the formula after a few months. Perhaps it’s the prospect of the temperature getting into the 60′s (!!!) this weekend that has sparked my winter dormant self to feel energized with ideas. You know…the feeling where you want to stop wearing that same black sweater and pull out those high-waisted shorts and crop tops. The same self that wants to get lost in the woods and go skinny dipping in the lake. And pull out my 35mm and take a cross country road trip. You know, the feelings that makes your heart race and lets you feel alive? Those feelings.

Something else that sprung this feeling was reflecting on my life and music [sounds like the beginning of a cheeeeeezey memoir]. I went to school for music and then chased my dreams down to Nashville to try to pursue the music industry. I used to read music books non-stop in my free time (which has now turned into food books), watch rock documentaries with my morning coffee, go to shows every other night, and only date musicians. As time passed, I settled into working for a music distribution company that distributes dozens of independent labels. Pretty cool, right? Well, yes and no. Now it’s my job to go to shows every time our bands come through. And it’s my job to read Pitchfork and StereoGum daily. And it’s my job to schmooze with other musicians in our music scene. Somehow, when you stop doing things because it’s your hobby and you start doing things because you have to, they become less fun.

So, as we turn a new leaf [the year changing and all], I’m going to make it a goal to get back into music. Whether that means listening to a new album everyday or going to 1 [non-work related] show a month. Whatever it takes. I’m going to take my music taste back and stop being so knee deep in the daze that is popular indie rock.

Now, the weird part. How in the world do I incorporate that into my blog? Skinny dipping doesn’t exactly make my soup shots look more appetizing. Or adventuring cross country doesn’t give me more time to expand on what I’m doing here. And music certainly does not give my kitchen better lighting. Well, I’m not exactly sure how to incorporate all these feelings but I think I am going to start with matching a song to the recipes I post about. And posting more pictures from random adventures [which also means I will need to start taking more random adventures - score!]. And using some more color around here…and perhaps a new, hipper font? Caviar dreams – you don’t ALWAYS inspire me like you should. And stop looking for so much inspiration in other food blogs [which usually just leads to criticizing my own]… instead looking to travel blogs, vintage stores, and art exhibits. 2013, I am ready for you!

 

 

Song of the day:

Mini Winter Fritattas with Sweet Potato, Onion, & Parmesan

January 7, 2013

I’m a big quiche fan and would be lying if I didn’t mention that I was rather hesitant to get on the ‘fritatta’ bandwagon. But as I cook with eggs more and more, I realize comparing a quiche and fritatta is like comparing whole wheat oatmeal cookies and double chocolate chip cookies. Quiches are rich and full of heavy cream and eggs piled on top of a buttery crust. Fritatta is like the healthy crustless sibling to the quiche with its easy preparation and delicious vegetable filling.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE me a cheesy and buttery quiche. But frittatas have been making their way into my daily routine more and more because of their simplicity. I don’t have to spend time making a crust or hoping I have heavy cream on hand (which I usually don’t). I can just stick in whatever vegetables I may have on hand and whisk up some eggs. So simple!

 

winterfrittata2

 

Continue Reading…

Harissa Paste

January 4, 2013

Happy Friday! Any big plans for the weekend? I didn’t start my work week until Wednesday so this week kind of feels like cheating…did I really earn weekend already? I could get use to this 3 day week thing! As for my weekend? The only thing I have planned to to make some homemade ravioli (now if I could only decide on ONE filling option…).

Continuing with my New Years resolution to eat less processed food, I decided to make my own harissa paste instead of heading to the specialty market to pick up a bottle of it. I needed some harissa paste because I received a beautiful Tagine for Christmas and have been cooking in it non-stop. It’s such an easy, delicious, and ridiculously healthy way to whip up a batch full of hearty veggies drenched in flavorful Middle Eastern or African spices.

So what exactly is harissa paste? It’s a condiment made out of chiles that will have varying ingredients depending on location. It’s been known to be used in African, Moroccan, and several other Middle Eastern countries. I added a few teaspoons of it to a butternut squash, raisin, and shallots combination I made the other day and it was delightful. I plan to use the leftover paste as a condiment on sandwiches (adding a little bit of honey bring the spice level down without compromising the wonderful flavor). I’ve also heard of peopling dipping fresh bread into it or adding it to cooked couscous.

This recipe can also be made with fresh chiles (just omit the soaking process). I am eager to grow some in my garden this summer so we can experiment more!

 

 

HarissaPaste

 

Continue Reading…

Homemade Pumpernickel Loaf

January 3, 2013

As I mentioned yesterday in my post on Pear, Brie, and Spicy Brown Mustard Grilled Cheese, this is the first time I have ever tackled making homemade pumpernickel bread. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor complexity that went into this bread. Whoever first invented this must have either seriously known what they were doing or was trying to clean out their kitchen cabinet in the form of throwing everything into a loaf of bread. I like to think it may be my second theory.

This bread is not for the impatient. It has 2 rising cycles so I recommend whipping this up on the weekend when you are planning to be hanging around the house anyways. Or even if you weren’t planning on hanging out around the house all day maybe this can be your excuse? Don’t want to go visit that weird uncle you’ve been putting off seeing in St. Louis? Tell him you’ve got some bread to make that just can’t wait another weekend. He will…probably not understand but at least you’ll get some amazing bread out of it and your home will smell like a fresh bakery!

 

pumperbread

Continue Reading…

Pear, Brie, & Spicy Brown Mustard Grilled Cheese on Pumpernickel

January 2, 2013

pear grilled chee

One of my 2013 goals was to eat less processed food so I started my new journey today with some homemade bread. And not just any homemade bread – pumpernickel bread! Have you ever made pumpernickel bread before? I always knew that the flavor was complex but I was blown away by the flavor profile of this bread. We are talking coffee, chocolate, cornmeal, and molasses all going into this wonderfully delicious loaf. I’ll be posting the recipe for the bread tomorrow so make sure to check back if you are interested in making your own!

As for today? How about a seriously dangerous grilled cheese recipe? Like peanut butter and jelly, pumpernickel bread and spicy mustard were made for each other. There is something about the tangy mustard that lightens up the complexity of pumpernickel perfectly. Then throw in some sweet pear and melty brie? Irresistible! I thought keeping brie around the house was hard enough…now with this sandwich option it is going to be straight up impossible.

This recipe is like the winter version to my fall Apple, Brie, Arugula and Fig Grilled Cheese but with a bit more tang and less sweet. It still hits the spots with the salty/sweet pulling at your tastebuds and leaves you wondering why you would ever make a grilled cheese without brie again.

 

Pear Brie Grilled Cheese

 

Continue Reading…

Quick & Easy Lentil Soup

January 1, 2013

Did you have a wonderful New Year?! Did you get to kiss that special someone at midnight and maybe drink a little too much bubbly? Yeah, me too. Ah well. How about we start off the new year right with this super healthy and delicious lentil soup?

I usually make dinner for Wyatt pretty much every night and this has been going on for well over a year now. However, I just recently found out his favorite soup is lentil soup. That means all this time I’ve been making these elaborate and time consuming (and delicious… see Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons and Rosemary Soup with Rustic Bread) when I could have just made this simple lentil stew. Go figure!

This soup is not only easy but it’s packed full of vegetables and protein. Not bad, eh? And this recipe made enough for us to enjoy for two meals plus some for me to freeze for later! It’s dairy free so it freezes super well and will go perfect with a big salad or crusty bread or grilled cheese.

 

Lentil Soup

  Continue Reading…

A Look Back at 2012

December 31, 2012

No food post today. Just a small reflection 2012 and thoughts on opening the door to 2013. 2012 was a year of change…for both the better and the worse. I graduated from Indiana University, moved in with Wyatt, scored a full time job working with indie rock music, adopted Tuko, and continued to blog almost daily here on VV.

Graduating from college was both exhilarating and a let down. I had spent my whole life dreaming of moving away and going to school but graduating made me realize that I probably should have dreamed bigger. I came out of college feeling lost and restless and full of doubt. Scoring a full time job out of school should have probably made me proud but instead it left me feeling empty and wondering if this was the climax of my life. It’s been six months since I graduated and I am in a much better place then I was but am still hoping 2013 will bring a bright and fresh outlook.

Despite being filled with so much doubt, 2013 was also an amazing year of learning and discovery. We had wonderful year raising our oh so hyper puppy Tuko, I took up yoga, many friends moved away and I met many new ones, we moved into our first official ‘home’ for me to decorate all by myself, we finally adventured to the southwest, and my cooking and photography continued to grow.

As we move into 2013, I am hoping for more adventure and new discoveries.  I tend to make goals every season but still wanted to make a few 2013 resolutions…here is what I’ve got so far:

1. More adventures close to home

2. Less doubt, More Risk

3. Less processed foods

4. Work on photography

5. Keep moving forward & always improving

6. Continue to surround myself with positive people

 

Hope everyone rings in the new year with their favorite people. And I hope you continue to follow VV in 2013… I’d like to think it’s only getting better every day! Annnnd to end the post, here are a few favorite photos from the year:

 

 

 

2012 Recap

 

Happy Holidays from VV

December 22, 2012

 

No ‘Searchable Saturdays’ today because I am headed home for the holidays. I hope everyone has a wonderful break from their usual routines and enjoy some quality time with wonderful people!