Browsing Tag

bread

Farmer’s Garden Stuffed Pimiento Cheese Veggie Burgers

July 10, 2014

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Today I am excited to pair up with the fine folk over at Vlasic Farmer’s Garden to bring you a healthy, delicious, and nutritious vegetarian grilling recipe! This veggie burger is not like your typical freezer bean patty – this burger has the base of fresh vegetables and beans, an irresistible tanginess from the pickles, and is stuffed with a southern classic: pimiento cheese.

For anyone unfamiliar with pimiento cheese, let me fill you in: the south knows what it’s doing. Fried pickles, gooey macaroni and cheese, and tangy pimento dip are all American staples due to southern home cooking (or at least that is what I’ve been told from my time living in Nashville, TN). Pimento cheese dip is super basic: creamy mayonnaise, sharp cheddar, cubed pimientos, and tangy pickles. That is it. Yes, you can add in some scallions for color or some salt/pepper for seasoning but don’t go overboard with too many other flavorings. There is an indulgence richness to southern specialties that is not to be ignored and pimento cheese is no exception. You may be tempted to half the mayo in the recipe for a healthier version or look for low fat cheese but please don’t – honor the richness of the dip and go all out! Heck, the chickpea base is pretty darn healthy anyways so why not splurge a little on the tablespoon of dip stuffed in the burger?

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It only took me 10 years of being a vegetarian to ditch processed veggie burgers. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to living off of frozen, store-bought black bean burgers during those first few summers with a side of roasted vegetables and a layer of bbq sauce over it all. A few winters back, I got in the habit of whipping up a batch of veggie burgers and then freezing them for quick lunches during the week. They were so simple and healthy to throw in a pan with a little ghee and cook on each side until browned. After that winter, I tried bringing a pack of veggie burgers to a grill out only to find I couldn’t stand the dense, crumbly store-bought versions anymore.

The solution seems simple: make your own veggie burgers moving forward. Although this is easy to accomplish when you’ve got a frying pan at your disposal, grilling them at your friend’s bbq is another story. I’ve been through many recipes that fall apart at the sight of a grill and end up causing more embarrassment by the host trying to flip them than your taste buds are worth. It took a good 3 summers of trial and error before I mastered a sturdy burger and they still don’t always turn out to be the easiest things to grill. My tips for grilling these are to make sure they are chilled before placing them on the grill (this will help them keep their shape) and make sure you are using a large spatula to flip them. If they do fall apart, use the spatula to lightly smash them back together and they should be fine.

If you are having trouble keeping them together than feel free to go with a steaming method by wrapping them in tin foil and grilling them wrapped up. This will create a softer burger and the outer layer won’t get crispy but it’s still delicious. And if all else fails then there is always the fool proof stove top method which is cooking them in a frying pan with a bit of ghee (works every time).

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Grilled Pretzel Panzanella Salad + A Summer Stock Up Giveaway

June 30, 2014

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If you are located here in the states then you are probably having a hard time getting into the groove of this week knowing it’s going to be a short one. With Friday being a national grill-copious-amounts-of-food holiday (oh and a celebration of the countries birth), I’ve got grilling (and eating. and watching fireworks. and swimming) on the mind.

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Living in a smallish town has it’s perks – it is easy to walk to the local co-op to grab vegetables for dinner. Taking a nightly bike ride is never interrupted by honking cars. You don’t ever have to wait for a table at your favorite local eatery and weekends are spent swimming at the neaby lakes and quarries. The downside is that sometimes resources can be limited – in this case, pretzel bread. I love making homemade bread but it’s not the first activity I get excited about when it’s already 90 degrees in my kitchen. My lack of success after adventuring to 3 grocery stores, 2 co-op stands, and our local bakery to find pretzel bread only made me more determined. If only we had a Trader Joes around here… I kept thinking, which just enraged me more. Finally, I took a deep breath, pulled out my rolling pin, and whipped up 6 mini-loaves of pretzel bread.

Do you need to make fresh bread for this recipe? No. In fact, I may even advise against it since you’ll need to then let it sit for several days to become stale enough to truly be panzanella. But, if you are feeling overly ambitious or lack pretzel bread in your town, like me, then feel free to start on this a few days early with the bread and come back to it when the bread has become slightly stale.

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Hosting A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Caramelized Cranberry & Brie Pull-Apart Bread

November 12, 2013

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

 

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Summer Recap Zine // Vegetarian Ventures Issue 1

August 29, 2013

 

I already showed this on VV’s Facebook and Pinterest yesterday but I wanted to share it with all of you. I created a short Summer recap zine with some of my favorite highlights for what has been going on around VV this past season.

I am totally hooked on independent magazines right now. Having articles published in Chickpea, Incadenscent, and Remedy Quarterly has made me realize how fun it is to see your work in print. There is something so satisfying about being able to stack your pieces of creative work on a shelf instead of in a hard drive. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the internet but there is nothing better than being able to flip through pages of inspiration over and over again.

In addition to hoping to write a small recap zine every season, I’d really love to start making a collaborative publication in the near future. I really enjoy the community that is built around having a blog and would love to expand it beyond guest posts and re-pins. You know, something physical [eventually] and filled with recipes, adventures, tricks, tips, guides, drawing, a cute name (Toast? Hibiscus?), and (of course) beautiful photography. I realize that will mean recruiting a co-op of writers, adventures, photographers, taste-makers, bakers, and designers (these people could be YOU. Yes? No? Maybe?). Until then, I’ve got my VV recap zine to get my technique down.

What independent zines have you been lusting over lately? I’ve been SO into Kinfolk, Pure Green Magazine, and Weekend Almanac.

CHIMICHURRI Ramps Bread with Lemon Thyme Butter

April 25, 2013

 

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I came across ramps for the first time at the farmer’s market two weeks ago. The nice man who sold them to me explained that they are a type of mild wild garlic and grow in the early spring. The first recipe I tried was a Lemon Risotto from The Kitchn and I was instantly hooked. I went back the next week and picked up another bundle.

This time around I wanted to create my own recipe. When researching ideas, I came across chimichurri and knew I had to try it. Chimichurri is an Argentina sauce that is usually lathered all over meat. If you’ve ever read ‘The Butcher and The Vegetarian’ than you probably can recall the wonderful ways she described chimichurri. She spoke of it making her dizzy from the fresh flavors and needing more. That was enough for me to know I wanted to try it.

But…my adventures with chimichurri didn’t stop there. After lathering it on anything in sight, I wanted to also cook with it. Traditionally it’s rubbed on meat…which isn’t an option for me so I decided to do something completely different – through it in the loaf of bread I had planned to make anyways! And dayuuum…. not only was it beautiful with streaks of green running through it but the bread was soft and so flavorful that you could eat the whole thing plain. Or make some simple lemon thyme butter to dab on top.

 

 

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Chimichurri Ramps Bread with Lemon Thyme Butter

Chimichurri:

  • 1 bunch of ramps (about 10 stalks)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 red pepper flakes
  • dash of pepper

 

For the bread:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan

 

For the butter:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • Zest from half of an organic lemon

 

To make the chimichurri: Rinse the ramps and cut off the roots and any rough tips.  Slice into big chunks. Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until a smooth paste forms. Lather all over slices of baguette or roasted veggies or proceed and make delicious bread out of it…

 

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To make the bread: Combine the warm water and yeast in the large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes or until it becomes frothy. Next, add in the flour, salt, and olive oil and mix until combined. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for ten minutes (you can also do this in a stand mixer with a bread attachment – sadly, my mixer gave out on me last month so I’m going old school). Transfer kneaded dough to an oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for an hour.

Next, turn the dough out onto floured surface and roll into a rectangle (about 18 by 12 inches). Top with the chimichurri. Roll the long side of the dough towards you and pinch the ends closed (the same way you roll cinnamon into cinnamon rolls). Slice down the middle lengthwise, twist both pieces, and use the two parts to bread the bread by twirling around each other. Transfer to a greased baking sheet and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 and bake for roughly 25 minutes or until golden on top.

 

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To make the thyme lemon butter: Mash the lemon zest, softened butter, and thyme together. Serve soft or wrap in parchment paper and stick in the fridge until firm.

 

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Kale, Tomato, & Garlic Breadsticks

March 19, 2013

Kale, Tomato, and Garlic Breadsticks

These breadsticks are a product of a frustrating juicer clean up experience. And by frustrating I mean the twenty minutes I spent scrubbing it’s inside parts trying to get green stains out. And then the other twenty minutes I spent scrubbing the kitchen counter to remove the orange carrot stains. And then finally the last ten minutes which consisted of scorching my hands with hot water trying to get all the last bits of color off of my own hands. Through this process I kept thinking to myself ‘Never again will I wait until my lunch break to clean up my morning juice’ which then was followed by thoughts of ‘these stains are crazy. Does it stain the inside of my stomach like this?’ and then ‘I bet this is how they make that fun colored pasta’ and finally ‘wait..I bet I could make fun colored doughs!’

And there you have it. The next day I set out of make dye juices out of carrots, kale, and beets. I didn’t end up following through the the beet one though…I know it would have made the most beautiful color dough but I couldn’t do it. I can not stand the smell of beets (let alone the taste) and knew the sticks would go straight to the trash if I even attempted to try it. And then my hands would smell like beets. And my beet stained hands would be reminders of the horrible earthy smell [sorry, beet lovers. I can not relate to you on this one]. I also ended up wanting a deeper red than the carrot juice gave so I ended up using tomato paste which worked wonders. And lastly, I played around with all sorts of toppings – poppy seed, garlic, parmesan, sesame seeds, and fresh herbs. The results were an array of fun colored breadsticks all with individual flavor profiles. No two sticks the same…which made it challenging to not want to sample them all.

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All in all – my favorites were the kale poppy seed, tomato paremsan, and garlic thyme ones. These would make pretty party appetizers or go along perfectly with pizza. In fact, the basic dough recipe is my favorite pizza dough so you could totally just double that part and use half the dough for pizza. Just saying – I’ll take any excuse to eat pizza.

Make these thicker if you like your breadsticks doughy and soft. I personally was going for a cracker feel so I made them thin and let them sit out for a few hours.

 

Kale Tomato Garlic Breadsticks

 

Garlic, Tomato, & Kale Breadsticks

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3+ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • a bunch of kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • assortment of toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, parmesan, garlic, herbs, spices, etc)

Whisk together the yeast, 1 Tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water and let stand for ten minutes or until the yeast has become a thick foam.

Stir together 1 1/2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture and the rest of the water (3/4 cup) and stir until smooth. Add another half a cup of flour and mix. If the dough is sticking to your hands then it’s too moist so add a bit more flour and if it’s too dry then add a bit more water (try to keep on the stickier side since you’ll be adding a bit more flour as you knead).

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let dough rise for an hour or until it’s doubled.

While it’s raising, press washed kale through a juicer to create a few tablespoons of juice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and keep the two parts you aren’t working with covered in the bowl (this will help the dough from drying out).

On a floured surface, fold in the minced garlic to the first part of the dough. Knead the dough until garlic is speckled throughout. Roll the dough into a 9×13 rectagle and use a cookie cutter to cut 5 long strips. Pick up a strip, twist it, and transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the strips.

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On a very floured surface (this is important because we are going to be adding more liquid to the dough which will make the dough sticky and will most likely need to be adding more flour), place another 1/3 of the dough and pour 1 tablespoon of kale juice over it. Start folding the dough into itself and add more kale juice (1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough is at your desired color consistency. Make sure to add more flour if the dough starts to get too sticky.

Roll out the dough into a 13×9 rectangle and cut into 5 strips with a cookie cutter. Twist each strip by hand and transfer to your greased baking sheet.

Lastly, knead 1 tablespoon at a time of the tomato paste into the rest of the dough. Knead until the color is evenly distributed (adding more paste if you want a darker color) and roll out into a 13×9 strip. Cut into 5 pieces, twist each piece by hand, and transfer to a greased baking sheet (you may need to start a second sheet at this point).

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Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top of the sticks and top with desired toppings. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden at the top.

Serve warm or let sit overnight for a cracker-like texture.
Song Pairing:

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:

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!

 

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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:

 

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 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!

 

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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

 

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November Wrap Up

November 30, 2012

…And there goes another month. Isn’t it crazy how fast time seems to be going by? Thanksgiving has come and gone, the Christmas shopping is underway, and holiday cookies are on the mind. How about a quick recap of the past month before we jump into cookie cutters, green/red sprinkles, and chocolate covered everything?

 

Some favorite highlights from the past month:

     

1. Rosemary Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread – Fresh bread and a hearty vegetable soup. Cannot think of a better way to bring in the cold evenings.

2. Cranberry Mojito – Festive and delicious! This drink was the perfect starter at our Friendsgiving party.

3. Pumpkin Dog Biscuits – Tuko turned 1 so I had to spoil the crap out of him with homemade biscuits and a new sweater. Believe me, I will be making these again very soon for Christmas gifts for all the adorable pups in my life.

4. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones – they were an extra amazing breakfast treat! The flavor was rich and complex with a flaky texture that was pretty much irresistible!

 

And that sums it up!

 

Moving forward… here are a few winter goals I am planning to tackle in the dark, cold months ahead:

1. Make homemade ricotta cheese (this has been on my list forever and I am going to do it this time!)

2. Get into a morning yoga routine

3. Make more homemade salad dressings

4. Work on my photography skills // work on lighting

5. Learn basic CSS (or at least enough to get my logo up in that corner where the V is!!)

6. Get into Twitter

7. Make homemade cleaning supplies

 

Okay, that is a start. Should keep me busy for awhile [I hope]. What you are hoping to accomplish this winter?

 

Parker House Dinner Rolls

November 19, 2012

Morning, Morning! Are you ready for this week? It’s Monday but it feels like it’s Wednesday since most of us (US folks) have Thursday and Friday off. So really…it’s already hump day! Yay!

Anyhow, Wyatt and I hosted a wonderful “Friendsgiving” potluck over the weekend. I was amazed and overwhelmed by all the delicious food that everyone brought! We are already having turkey (well…Wyatt is. I’m holding off for my Tofurkey on Thursday) leftovers and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! I will admit, having a Thanksgiving celebration a week early did kind of throw me off…I woke up Sunday ready to put on my favorite Elvis Christmas vinyl and wanting to put the Christmas tree up.

We made lots and lots and lots of food for the potluck. First up – Parker House Rolls. I’ve heard a lot about these things little bundles of dough – from instagram pictures of people cradling them (kind of weird) to the Joy The Baker podcast last week…seems like these are a MUST for the Thanksgiving table. After much research (thanks, Wikipedia), I discovered that they were first invented in Boston at the Parker House Hotel and traditionally are served folded in half. I went simple with mine (no folding, thanks) and they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Soft, salty, and begging to be lathered in gravy.

 

 

Parker House Rolls

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed (to about 100 degrees)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter + 4 more tablespoons (all of it should be melted)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

 

In a large mixer with a dough hook, combine the warmed milk and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes so that the yeast can activate and foam. Next, add in the flour, butter, salt, and sugar. Turn mixture on low until everything is combined and then increase speed to medium high. Let mix for about ten minutes or until the dough is very soft.

Transfer dough to a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for one hour (or if making the dough ahead of time – let rise for an hour and then put in the fridge overnight. The next morning, bring dough back to room temperature before continuing with the recipe).

Next, grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and move the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for a minute or until all the extra air is released. Divide the dough into 24 balls and place in the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and Brush rolls with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Cook for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Brush with remaining butter and a little bit of salt.

Serve warm with gravy or butter or jam or all three!

 

Searchable Saturdays

November 17, 2012

 

Good Morning! Do you have big weekend plans? We are hosting a Friendsgiving this evening so I am planning to spend the rest of the day cooking, baking, photography, and cleaning [when did I become so domesticated?]. Anyhow, here are a few links I found to get my creativity going this week:

1. I have been developing a mood board to better try to understand what VV’s photography aesthetic should be. I found this beautiful food photography blog while doing some research for the board this week. So gorgeous!

2. Make your own flavored coffee? I’m in.

3. Vegetarians live, on average, 8 years longer than meat eaters? I’ll take that!

4. Freckled Mag is my new favorite online magazine. The photography is stunning and the art is beautiful. Very inspiring!

5. An informative (and not overwhelming!) intro to Illustrator. Love it!

6. Finally! I super easy widget for instragram that updates the feed as you post.

7. VV was on TheKitchn this week! How cool is that?!

8. This Dulce Delight video!! Everything from the bright colors to the beautiful typography to that accent! So good!

 

For more inspirational links, check out VV on Pinterest!

 

Rosemary & Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread

November 13, 2012

Well, I think I’ve finally accepted that winter is here and we won’t be experiencing any more 70 degree days. Ah, this a very bittersweet realization. On one hand, it means endless cups of chai tea, lazy mornings under the covers with favorite novels, all day bake-a-thons, and soup soup soup. On the other hand, this means six more months before lake adventures, cross country road trips, and waterfall picnics.

And with this new acceptance comes a soup recipe! I’ve already made a few soups this season (see: curried butternut squash soup) but the weather had me craving a hardly soup packed full of starchy potatoes and earthy flavorings. This soup did the trick! Along with some simple (and delicious) rustic bread, this soup filled us up and will be making leftover appearances for the next two days!

As for the rustic bread…so simple and soft with a crisp outer crust. I’ve discovered (after trying it for the first time with my Muesli Bread) is the trick to REALLY delicious bread baking is to have a pot of steaming water under the bread while it’s cooking. This helps keep the bread soft and full of moisture. Oh so delicious! Perfect side to this soup. And let’s be honest, the only reason we even make soup is for an excuse to make homemade bread to go with it. Right? Or is that just me?

So what I am are trying to say is you should embrace that the cold and darkness is forcing you to stay inside and spend a few hours in your kitchen…perhaps whipping up this comforting and hardy dish?

 

 

Rosemary & Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread

For the bread:

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon of active yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water

 

For the soup:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 springs of rosemary
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes (14 ounces)
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped (with stems removed)
  • Salt/Pepper

 

Start with the bread: In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water and let sit for five minutes (this will give it some time to start foaming and activating). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the water/yeast mixture. Mix until combined (the batter will be VERY sticky – don’t worry! It’s suppose to be like this). Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for an hour. [Start on the soup while this is rising]

Once it has doubled in size, knead the dough a few times and move to an oiled baking sheet. Let rise on this sheet for a half an hour. Sprinkle with flour and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a cast iron skillet or pan on the bottom rack of the oven and let it heat during the preheating process. Once the oven is ready, place the dough (on the baking sheet) on the top shelf of the oven and pour a cup of warm water in the skillet below (it will steam and this is exactly what we want to happen). Let cook for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the soup: Heat the olive in a large stockpot over medium. Add in the onions and cook for about five minutes (or until translucent). Next, add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add cubed potatoes and celery and then season with salt / pepper. Next, combine in the tomatoes, rosemary (throw them in whole and then take out the twigs at the end), white wine, water, and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a bowl, cover, and lower to a simmer. Let simmer for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Once ready to serve, chop the kale and add at the last moment (this keeps the kale a little crispy) and season again with salt/pepper.

Serve warm with fresh bread!

 

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones

November 12, 2012

Morning, Morning! Let’s start out by having me fill you in on a few things, shall we? If you are an avid read of VV then you may have noticed the inconsistency of VVs’ regular columns as of lately (Moody Mondays, Searchable Saturdays, etc). This is because this whole redesign has triggered us stepping back and re-evaluating our style around here. As I was updating the Recipes/Archives page (man, I’m only about 1/5 done with putting in our back catalog of recipes! HTML is a TEDIOUS process…), I noticed that a lot of the pictures were all over the place and VV does not necessarily have a specific ‘style’ or ‘branding’ technique (does branding sound too official? Yeah, I think so too. Maybe this is all just an excuse for me to start another pinterest board…). So, as I spend more time on the redesign of VV, I am also going to try to develop more of a signature style/aesthetic. This may mean eliminating some regular columns or adding some or doing the exact same thing we have always done around VV [who knows at this point? I certainly don't]. Anyhow, just wanted to fill you guys in on all the shifting happening around here.

Oh! One last thing, tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the Country Crock Giveaway so don’t forget to hop on over and leave a comment. I mean, let’s be real, who DOESN’T want free kitchen bake ware?!

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Saturday I woke up to the sun shining through the blinds, a warm breeze, and the birds (!!!) chirping. This morning, I woke up to pitch black and snow. What. Is. Going. On?! I’m not complaining about being able to hang out at the lake in November but my body is in shock. All that sun-induced serotonin needs a replacement ASAP or else I might find the winter blues coming early this year. Answer to it be being cloudy? Chocolate. Answer to it being coldy and cold? Dark Chocolate with raspberry chunks. Answer to it being cloudy, cold, and snowy? Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones lathered in butter. Check.

These little scones are the answer to any weather-induced-bummer-mood. They are warm, speckled with caffeine, and bursting with chunks of chocolate/raspberry. I feel like I don’t even need to say anything else. But if I really must, they are so flaky and buttery that they even melt in your mouth when fresh from the oven.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones

 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (+ more for sprinkling on top)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground espresso
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 3 ounces of dark chocolate with raspberry chunks (or any flavor you like), chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup Almond milk (any milk will do)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used my homemade kind)

Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and espresso. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse meal (I just use my hands to do this and work the butter between my finger tips until everything is combined). Next, fold in the chocolate.

In a small bowl (or just use the measuring cup you poured the milk into), whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and pour wet ingredients in. Fold dry into wet until everything is combined (don’t over mix!).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about an inch thick (make it thinner if you like them crispier and thicker if you like them big and fluffy – just keep it consistent with whatever you do!) and use a biscuit cutter to cut circular shapes. Place on the prepared parchment paper and repeat with the rest of your dough. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar.

Cook for about 20 minutes or until the top has browned.

Serve warm with butter or jam or by themselves while watching the snow fall.

Moody Monday // Bannock Bread

November 5, 2012

So I started my day a bit bummed out. In addition to it being Monday (yuck), I also received some news that my designer working on the new blog layout had some family things come up and she will not be able to follow through on my redesign! It’s a total shame and sort of got me down (I had been looking forward to this redesign since September!). However, after much consideration, I have come to the conclusion I was meant to do this one myself. I started this blog as a creative outlet and for me to hand off one of the biggest parts of the creative process for a blog (designing it!) seems a bit silly. Yes, it’s going to take many hours of drinking ginger-lemon tea and watching youtube videos to figure out how to transfer all my information into a self-hosting site and to learn what the html code is…for well, pretty much everything…. but it will be a rewarding learning experience. I had been feeling in a bit of a blog rut lately and this will be good to step back from my daily posting routine and a chance to get creative on a different level.

 

 

Anyhow, enough about that – how was your weekend? I picked up the What Katie Ate and Homemade Winter (I made those delicious Gingerbread muffins from her last book!) for some weekend inspiration. This recipe for bannock is out of the Homemade Winter book and it was oh so delicious with some butter and strawberry jam. Think a hybrid of a savory scone and crumbly pancake. Got it? Now you want to make some? Okay, cool. Here is the recipe:

 

 

Bannock Bread

adapted from Homemade Winter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, cold and sliced
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Next, cut in the butter and slowly add the buttermilk until the mixture is just combined (don’t overmix!).

Heat a skillet over high heat and melt a tablespoon of butter and then turn down to medium-high heat. Form the sticky dough into a large ball and place on the skillet (flatten it a bit but not so much that it’s touching the edges). Let cook on that side for about 5 minutes (turn down the temperature a little bit if it’s cooking too fast – I almost burned mine the first time around) and then flip to cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool slightly. Serve with butter and jam or cream cheese or syrup or whatever you can find that looks tasty in your fridge!

October Highlights

October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween! I usually do my monthly wrap ups on the first but VV is participating in a virtual potluck tomorrow (more on that…well…tomorrow) so let’s talk October today. Cool? Cool.

Did everyone have a wonderful October? I don’t know what it is but my only association with Fall is Late September/October. I am really hoping that the crisp fall feeling doesn’t fade into winter just yet…oh November, you sound so…dark. Am I the only one feeling this way? Well, in an attempt to hold onto my favorite season as long as possible, I will be keeping the pumpkin recipes coming! At least until I have to pull out my winter jacket…
And now for some October Highlights!

 

 

1. Muesli Bread – by far my favorite recipe from the month of October. Not only was this bread melt-in-your-mouth delicious when fresh out of the oven but it was also loaded with healthy (and yummy!) pumpkin seeds, almonds, and dried cherries!

2. Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons – Goat cheese croutons might be the best winter food ever to exist. Bringing these into my world has opened up so many new ways to jazz up ordinary soup.

3. Spicy Jalapeno Corn Hummus – Hummus has been my go to snack for years now and my recent attempts to play with its flavors have been delightful. The extra kick that the jalapeno gives really brings new flavor to standard hummus

4. Homemade Caramel Corn – Your movie nights will never be the same again! The recipe makes a lot but it’s the perfect snack for a crowd or if you are craving some seriously delicious caramel treats in your life.

 

Lastly, don’t forget to check out my collaboration with Dishes Undressed on Bread Pudding and the October Giveaway that VV is hosting (ends Friday!).

 

And as for November? Well, I am hoping (have I said this before?) to have my new blog makeover up and running this month! And will probably send the next 3 weeks drooling over Thanksgiving recipes. Ah yes, it won’t be such a bad month after all!

Muesli Bread

October 23, 2012

I know I push making homemade staples on you guys (see: DIY ketchup, Vegetable Broth, Pumpkin Granola, etc etc etc) but I only do it with the best intentions in mind. It’s healthier, you know exactly what is going into your body, and it often times taste better. I totally get that you aren’t going to always have time to make everything from scratch but you really should make some time now and then to make homemade bread. It may sound unnecessary when you can walk down the street and pick up a loaf for 4 dollars but let me tell you…nothing compares to homemade bread. There is something so satisfyingly addicting about fresh, steamy, buttered bread hot out of the oven. It’s more addicting than that chocolate you sneak after dinner… than that giant triple espresso latte your body tells you it needs in the morning…this stuff is probably more addicting [and healthier] than crack [although I have no real life experience to testify this - sorry!].

Anyhow, cooler weather means we can turn our oven on for more than 20 minutes without fainting..or worse yet, feeling guilty about having it on. It means we stay in doors more [unless you are a skier...then you are gearing up for your most busy season. Luckily, my brother go the skiing bug in my family so I can safely say I prefer the indoors during the cooler months] so we have more time to prep the dough, we have more excuses to heat the house by turning the oven up, and we have more reason to “carb-up” [probably not a word but I'm using it] so our bodies can use those calories to keep us warm. Okay, maybe I am over exaggerating a bit…it is still 60 degrees out there but when you are dealing with something as amazing as fresh bread, you NEED to extend the bread season as long as possible. So put your slippers on, turn that oven up, and start shivering so your body can crave those carbs!

Last “bread season” I tackled Garlic Naan, Breadmaker Jalapeno Cheese Bread, Pretzel Bread, Fall Focaccia, and Oatmeal Honey Buttermillk loaves (my personal favorite) – to name a few. This season, I am starting it off with this breakfast Muesli Bread! I am really gonna have to go big this season because this bread is already one of my favorites! Not only is it gorgeous to look at but it’s bursting with flavor from the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit! We ate this for breakfast with a thin layer of butter and strawberry preserves…oh. my. goodness. I wish breakfast could be this indulgent all the time!

Muesli Bread

adapted from Minimalist Baker
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 1/4 cups flour + more for dusting
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 Tablespoon fast acting yeast
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries (or any dried fruit you’d prefer)
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped

In a small measuring cup, combine the warm water and yeast and set aside (this will give the yeast a few minutes to ‘activate’ and start foaming). Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Slowly add the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined (this will either take a sturdy spatula or maybe even your hands…the dough will be very sticky).

Once the dough has formed a ball, place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Look sit for 1 hour in a warm spot and then transfer to the fridge for an hour.

Once the dough is ready, remove from the fridge and transfer to a floured counter top. Knead the dough a few times and then add in the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cherries. Knead until everything is incorporated (try to keep the add-ins as much in the middle as possible because they tend to burn if they are sticking out on top).

Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Adjust your oven racks so there is one on the lowest spot and then one in the middle. Place a metal or cast iron (NOT GLASS) pan on the bottom shelf and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Let dough rise for about 20 minutes or until the oven has preheated. Stick the dough into the preheated oven and pour a cup of warm water into the metal pan (it’ll steam – don’t worry! It’s suppose to!) and cook for about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven once the top is browned and serve warm with butter // jam.

Spiced Bread Pudding // Collaboration with Dishes Undressed

October 16, 2012

Happy Tuesday! I’m here today with another collaboration with Angie from Dishes Undressed and this one is our dessert edition! I had her try out my vegan cobbler cake [which sure does look delicious!] and she had me tackle this mouth-watering bread pudding.

Okay, so let’s talk pudding. The REAL kind of pudding…not the stuff you get at the store that is in powder form and you add milk [or something to that nature] to make it come alive [do people still do that? I remember my Dad making us pistachio pudding a lot like this when I was a kid]. I’m talking about the traditional puddings which are created from recipes filled with generations of memories. I never grew up on those puddings and have sort of been making up for lost time. Earlier this month, I whipped up my first ever persimmon pudding and have enjoyed several batches of the stuff since. And now, here I am, trying out bread pudding for the first time. Who knows what’s next! Maybe I’ll try to conquer rice pudding  [again, do people eat that stuff?]. Do you have a favorite pudding recipes? I think I might just have to go on a pudding kick to find mine!

So…my first experience with bread pudding. I was a bit unsure of what to expect but was smitten by the idea that the ingredients were so similar to my favorite breakfast food ever: french toast. I mean, anything that encourages eating french toast more than just before 10 AM is a keeper in  my book. Anyhow, so the result was similar to baked french toast but soften. It was moist, spongy, and full of spices. The warm jam with the perfect sidekick to bring out the sweetness of the pudding. I adapted mine slightly from Angie’s recipe to accommodate what I had on hand.

 

PS- One last thing! I am a total instagram, bloglovin, and facebook addict [do you follow me on all these things??]. I am, however, totally clueless when it comes to Twitter but I’ve decided it’s time to make the plunge! That is right, VV is offically going to be on Twitter so please hop on over and…say Hi or whatever you do on Twitter. [Username: ShellyWester]

 

 

Spiced Bread Pudding

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 8 thick slices of stale bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • fig jam, optional

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange the bread pieces on a small pan.

Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrap out all the seeds. Discard the pod and place seeds in a small saucepan with the milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, immediately remove from heat and let cool.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar. Once the milk mixture is completely cooled (we don’t want the eggs scrambling now!), slowly add it into the egg mixture and stir until combined.

Pour over the bread pieces and let sit for ten minutes. Pop it into the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the top is browned and crusty. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a small saucepan, warm the jam until it becomes runny. Swirl into the bread pudding and enjoy right away! Perhaps along side a big mug of chia tea or with a blanket on your hammock.

 

 

 

Feta and Chives Beer Bread

October 8, 2012

I’ve been feeling very inspired today. Do you ever have those days where you go to check your “inspiration feed” [mine is bloglovin' but any sort of RSS feed is what I am referring to] planning to look for ten minutes and then one blog leads to another which leads to an idea which leads to lots of online “reasarch”? Of course you do…I mean you are on a blog right now reading this and there is a good chance if you stumbled upon VV that you were also on some sort of blog journey at one point.

Anyhow, I stumbled upon ‘Going Home To Roost’s’ monthly membership (that is only 5 dollars, might I add) where you get weekly newsletters filled with tutorials, e-courses, designs, etc. This led to me (of course) signing up and reading her e-courses triggered thoughts of the classes that I’ve taken in the past (Blogging Your Way and A Beautiful Mess) so the afternoon turned into lots of reflecting on concepts and ideas that were brought up in those classes. Anyhow, I bring this up because you should hop on over to Going Home To Roost if you are looking for some inspiration and consider signing up for her monthly plan. A lot of bloggers say that paid subscription for extra content in the way of the future for bloggers. It’s sort of a cool concept (who doesn’t like exclusivity?) and at 5 bucks a month…I bet we could handle it!

 

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And now, let’s talk about food. This is probably one of the easiest recipes I have/will ever posted. I’ve actually made beer bread way more than any food blogger should EVER admit [ but it's totally not my fault!]  I could make the fanciest truffle pasta or elegant french soup with Gruyere croutons and Wyatt would reply “are we having beer bread with that?”. Seriously, anything that you can dip bread in…he requests beer bread as the side. I’ve made fresh baguette and seasonal Foccaccia but he always goes back to asking about the beer bread. And so here we are, it’s probably the trashiest American bread to ever exist but it’s SO easy (no rise time) and actually can be rather addicting.

Another thing that is great about beer bread is its super versatile. I added feta and chives because that is what I had on hand but in the past I’ve added sun-dried tomatoes, basil, oregano, sage, cheddar, etc etc. The options are pretty endless! All you have to do is think of a combine that goes well together and do it!

So whip this up next time you are planning to spend hours making a soup (so then you don’t ALSO have to worry about an elaborate bread to go with it) or need some spongy bread for warm gooey grilled cheese.

 

 

Beer Bread with Chives and Feta

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 12-ounce beer
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a small loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add in the beer and stir until just combined. Fold in the feta and chives.

Cook for 50 minutes or until the top is crusty.

Serve warm with soups and sandwiches!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnanom Rolls with Maple Glaze

September 25, 2012

 

Ah, Tuesday. Sometimes I feel like Tuesday is worse than Monday because you’ve already got back into the swing of things but still have so much more time before it’s the weekend. But there is a cure for the Tuesday blues and that cure is Cinnamon Rolls! [How could you possible be down when you have a fresh, warm and gooey cinnamon roll in your belly?] What about cinnamon rolls with an extra kick of pumpkin in them? Oooooh yeah! I’m sold. I became hooked on what I called cinnamon roll “spin-offs” after I made those Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls. Oh goodness. Nothing like taking something already delicious and making it even better.

And so, it’s officially fall for me because I cooked with my first pumpkin of the season. Ah, I love it! How can you not get excited about a season that features pumpkin, cinnamon, apples, and cider?!? I just don’t understand.

These were amazing but I will, however, add more pumpkin next time around. You could definitely taste the pumpkin but it was subtle. Also, don’t forget to prep these SEVERAL hours before you want to indulge since they take two rounds of rising (I started them the night before and then let them rise all night which worked as a perfect way to cut out an extra hour and half in the AM.

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from EatLiveRun
  • 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch + 3 Tablespoons water (mix together so that a gel forms)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

 

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

 

For Maple Glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Almond Milk

 

Heat the butter and almond milk over low in a small saucepan until the butter has melted and is incorporated. Remove from heat and wait for the mixture to cool slightly (should be able to touch the milk with your finger and not be uncomfortable) and add the yeast. Let sit for five minutes or until the yeast becomes foamy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch/water mixture with the pumpkin. In the bowl of your stand mixer (with the dough attachment) combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Add in the pumpkin mixture and turn the mixer onto medium until everything is combined. Next, add in the yeast mixture and let the dough knead for about five minutes. The dough should end up elastic and firm.

Transfer dough to a greased mixing bowl and cover. Let rise for an hour (or overnight).

Go do some yoga. Turn the vinyl over. Dance with your puppy. Or take a nap. Or whatever you like to fill your time with.

Transfer dough to a flour surface and roll out to form a large rectangle shape. Mix the filling together in a bowl and sprinkle on top of the dough. Roll dough by taking the long ends and forming a long cylinder. Cut in the middle and then cut each of those pieces into thirds (you should end up with 6 rolls). Stick in a greased 8×8 cooking pan and cover. Let rise for another 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake rolls for about 30 minutes or until the tops are browned. Remove and let cool.

While cooling, prepare the glaze! Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until it starts to gel. Pour over the rolls.

Enjoy warm and with tea or coffee.

 

Panzanella

September 19, 2012

Okay, so I feel a bit behind the times posting a {gasp} tomato-themed recipe while the rest of the blog sphere is bustling with pumpkin flavored baked goods and spiced ciders. I guess this probably tells a lot about my character. I spent all summer dragging my feet and then the crisp, fall-feeling air kicked in last week was a slap in the face. It was a reminder that there are still plenty of summer produce recipes I wanted to conquer. So…here we are…scrambling at the last minute trying to fit every last possible heirloom tomato, sliver of basil, and piece of zucchini bread into my diet before the first frost comes. And thus, I am asking you to stick with me…give me THIS week (and maybe weekend) to get summer out of my system and I promise I will start fresh next week with pumpkin infused everything. Cool? Cool.

Anyhow, the main reason I probably took so long to make these recipe was coming to terms with using my day old bread in a salad. Don’t get me wrong….I loooove salads but old bread is meant for french toast. Everyone knows that! And the struggle between making a salad and french toast…was well not really a struggle for most of the summer. Sorry arugula but cinnamon and butter win every time. Well…every time up until now. After making this last week, I wish I had been more open to sharing my stale bread all summer long…maybe stocking up on twice as much bread to distribute evenly between sweet and savory. We could have come to some compromise had I known this was going to be pretty much the best salad ever to exist.

This recipe reminds me of a salad form of bruschetta (probably for good reason…you smart smart Italian chefs!). This is a huge relief for me because I LOVE the flavors of bruschetta but am not allowed to make it myself. I can’t make it myself because my old roommate and very very good friend makes the best bruschetta ever to exist. And this is probably due to the fact that she lived in Italy for a short period (and Belgium and South Africa and Jordan…sheesh, putting my cultural experiences to shame). Sooo… it’s awesome having a friend who can make pretty much the best summer dish ever but it means that my attempts are just pointless. And thus, this is a great alternative to trying to get my bruschetta fix without having to actually compete with Ella’s bruschetta.

 

Panzanella

  • 1/2 loaf of old bread, sliced into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into 1 inch cubes and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon capers
  • 1/3 cup basil, roughly chopped

 

dressing:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt/pepper, to taste

 

To make the dressing: whisk all the ingredient together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add the bread and toss until it is completely coated. Saute until browned and crispy on all sides. Add salt and toss to coat. Remove from heat.

In a large salad bowl, combine the pepper, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, capers, and toasted bread. Fold in the capers and salad dressing right before serving.

Munch down.

How easy was that?

 

Caprese Breakfast // Recipe Inspiration from Dishes Undressed

September 6, 2012

And now it’s time for part 2 of the collaboration that I am doing with Angie from Dishes Undressed. She has been inspiring such fun and fresh recipes that I would have not stumbled upon otherwise. I love stepping outside of my comfort zone to try new things in the kitchen!

This recipe was basically meant for me. We started out this spring with massive ambitions for our garden. We planted lavender, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, oregano, basil, mint, corn, rosemary, and spinach. But between the extensive heat wave that was July, moving into a new home halfway through the summer, and Tuko’s digging habits…we pretty much ended up with basil and tomatoes. Ah well, better luck next year.

With that being said…I love the flavor combination of tomato and basil so when she sent me this recipe, I knew I was going to love it. Using fresh herbs and vegetables from the backyard make the meal even more satisfying.

I tweaked it a bit from the original recipe that Angie sent. She originally had it set up as an appetizer but it was the only one eating so I figured I would make it into a meal for one and throw everything onto a piece of delicious, crusty bread.

This is one of those recipes that you can tweak to your liking…if you love tomatoes then put extra tomato and not so much cheese or vice versa. I’m not going to give amounts so you can totally take charge and make this recipe your own.

 

Caprese Sandwich

  • 1 piece of crusty bread (I used a slice of whole wheat from a local bakery)
  • Cream cheese
  • tomato, sliced
  • basil, sliced
  • Fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced
  • balsamic vinegar + olive oil (mix equal parts together to make sauce)
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste

 

Toast the bread to your liking. Spread cream cheese and then top with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Drizzle with balsamic/oil mixture and salt/pepper.

Enjoy in the morning with a cup of tea or as an afternoon snack.

Mmmmm.

Make sure to check out Angie’s mouth watering blog and expect more delicious recipes to come soon from this collaboration!