Browsing Tag

breakfast

Blood Orange & Quinoa Muffins with Crystalized Ginger-Thyme Butter

February 1, 2015

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It’s already that time again where you can’t step into a store without seeing the huge display of heart shaped candy boxes and pink / red themed decorations. The hints to Wyatt started as soon as that first rose-shaped candy hit the shelves: “Oh, I love my chocolate boxes to have a variety in them but hate the jelly filled ones.” “Don’t the bigger shaped heart boxes just look so much more special?” “I wonder where you are taking me for Valentine’s Day this year…”. All of these hints (if we can call them that since they are pretty obvious) have been met with rolled eyes and silence as if I hadn’t said anything at all. Usually I am annoyed by the silent treatment and meet it with even more snarky comments. However, it hit me one evening when I was contemplating making my hints more obvious or if I should just straight up tell him what I wanted him to do…why does he have to do anything? I mean, it would be rad if he did but Valentine’s Day is about showing your love so why am I planning what HE should do instead of planning what I should do for him? I got even more excited by this thought when I realized that Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year so I have all day to plan out a fancy meal and cook up something delicious for us.

Turning the conversation a bit, I had the pleasure of spending this past Saturday creating a delicious Valentine’s Day brunch menu for you with Sonja and Alex from A Couple Cooks. They have the most gorgeous kitchen (which they recently re-did and you can see images of the redo on their blog!) that I was almost as excited about cooking in as I was about cooking with them (ha!). We first connected through our shared passion of food and Indiana a few years back and have since worked together on Driftless and now through our blogs. They are some of the most inviting people I’ve ever met and it was so inspiring to see them create their beautiful brunch dishes. Here is the menu we created for your practical yet delicious Valentine’s Day spread:

  • Blood Orange Rosemary Sparkling Water (Recipe coming later this week on A Couple Cooks)
  • Blood Orange & Quinoa Muffins with Crystalized Ginger-Thyme Butter (recipe below)
  • Two-Potato Hash with Soft-Boiled Eggs

If we hadn’t been so chatty, this spread could have easily been whipped up in an hour and maybe even a little faster.

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Chocolate Espresso Almond Biscotti

January 18, 2015

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2015 has been very good to me so far. We signed a new lease for a house that has the most gorgeous natural light and a kitchen that actually has heat and air conditioning in it (!!!), we spent the first few weeks of it exploring the Everglades and lounging on the beaches of Florida, and we’ve spent every weekend with friends and family that remind us how important it is to have human connection in our lives. I don’t want to jinx it but I have high hopes for 2015; I’ve struggled with anxiety holding me back in the past but am feeling a clear vision for myself right now and am really hoping to project that into the future. I am determined to let 2015 be the year that my anxiety doesn’t hold me back from collaborating with more people (perhaps even taking a little trip to Asheville to mingle with so many of my favorite bloggers), from saying yes to new opportunities I haven’t experienced yet, and making sure to make time to physically be with the people in my life. It’s so easy to fall into the routine of work, work, work (especially when freelancing, as there aren’t any set hours) and then you realize you haven’t spent time with friends in weeks..or months. I’m taking this recharged energy from our vacation as a sign that I need to step back and do it more often. Sometimes I schedule myself so heavily that the anxiety of getting it all done becomes too much and I don’t realize that the best solution would actually be to take a break instead of pushing through and feeling miserable and like a failure while doing it.

Stepping outside of my usual routine has been a great reminder that time does need to be set aside for friends and for movies and for midnight walks. That is what I want 2015 to be about. I want it to be about working but having fun while doing it and letting myself step away if I need to. I want it to be the year that I say yes to getting out of my comfort zone and no to overbooking myself on the same old routined gigs. Here’s to 2015 and here’s to hoping it’s as marvelous as I imagine it will be.

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This recipe was inspired by some biscotti that my aunt brought over during the holidays. I was worried that the coffee grounds might not work into the dough and end up grainy in the final product but that wasn’t the case at all. If you are feeling fancy then I bet these would be magnificent dipped in caramelized white chocolate or dark chocolate but they are honestly great without it.

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Caramelized White Chocolate & Dark Chocolate Covered Oranges

January 12, 2015

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As I posted about on instagram a few weeks back, we visited a citrus grove when we were in Florida over the holidays. My grandma lives on a small island down near the Everglades and we’ve gone down to visit her at least once a year since I was a little kid. Most of our trips have always consisted of laying on the beach, seeing movies at the local diner-style movie theatre, and taking boardwalk adventures through the Everglades. All those activities were up there on my list this time around but I also wanted to try something new; this time I wanted to pick some legendary Florida citrus. The idea came after reading Forager: A Subjective Guide To Miami’s Edible Plants this fall. The book is filled with adventure photos of foraging in the tropics which was so different than the mushroom and apple picking I am used to here in the Midwest. I wanted to be able to forage in a sundress instead of a sweater and to walk away with my hands smelling of sweet orange.

I was able to pull my reluctant mother and boyfriend away from the beach one morning and convinced my grandma that there are things worth getting off the island for. We drove off the island and a good hour into the inland of Florida. I should let you know that driving in the ‘country’ of Florida is not like any other countryside I’ve been to in America.  It doesn’t take long for the coastal mansions and condos to fade and before you know it, you’re on a small dirt road that is wedged between vibrant swamps. We drove through the swamps for an hour before we started to see citrus groves dotting the landscape a few acres at a time. Finally, right when I was starting to get to the point of being nervous that I dragged my family out into the very wild south, we came upon the citrus ranch I had mapped out. The farmer’s were similar to Midwest ones (in fact, they were originally from Michigan but had moved down to Florida to retreat from the winters) but the landscape could not have been more the opposite. This was the kind of place where they told stories of rattle snakes getting too close to your dogs and pesticides ruining your bodies; this was the kind of place you won’t find without really looking for it. This is the kind of place where you find real adventures and discover where your food comes from.

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Tropical Mini Breakfast Muffins + Forager

October 15, 2014

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As a food blogger, it’s not uncommon for me to be sent promotional food books on the regular. I usually enjoy flipping through their pages, finding inspiration in their recipes, and connecting with the writer in print and online. However, I was blown away and pleasantly surprised when that routine was shaken up with Forager: A Subjective Guide to Miami’s Edible Plants. In Forager, there are no recipes but they aren’t even missed next to all the insightful facts on picking tropical edibles in South Florida. The gorgeous images and clean aesthetic has me yearning for a trip to the tropical state to do my own foraging.

The book is divided by items foraged and gives you facts on where you can find it, what its nicknames are, the time of year it can be foraged, and its nutrient benefits. For example, I used a banana in the recipe below and the book talks about how bananas have a sugary, buttery, and floral taste to them and that the commercial variety we are used to see in grocery stores is the Grand Nain, which is a cultivator of the Cavendish banana. However, if you are foraging your own in Miami, you can find an array of other varieties that won’t appear in your local grocery shop including Cuban Red, Manzana, Hua Moa, and many others.

This is one of the most unique field guides I’ve come across and can’t recommend it enough. It’s been on my coffee table all summer and I can’t bring myself to put it away since I find a new page I’m in love with every time I pick it up. It is the kind of book that doesn’t make you want to turn to your kitchen for inspiration but turn to going outside and exploring your surroundings.

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Fresh Squeezed Heirloom Harissa Bloody Mary

August 25, 2014

 

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Today I’ve paired up with the fine folks over at Williams-Sonoma to share my favorite Bloody Mary recipe with all of you!

Hmmm…end of August. I almost went all season without posting a tomato recipe which would basically make me the worst food blogger on the interwebz. Some people look forward to tomato season for the margerita pizzas and others for the buscetta but me? I look forward to tomato season for the fresh squeezed tomato juice and the killer Bloody Mary’s. I’m not much of a hostess (“we have water and uh…we have some open bottles of tequila and whiskey”) but I never skimp on the Bloody Mary’s during tomato season.


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Most drinks you can tolerate if they are watered down or a little off but not Bloody Marys. Bloody Marys are such an unusual concoction to begin with that you really need to make sure it’s damn good or else it could easily be inedible. I personally think the secret is to have that kick – sriracha is my spice of choice usually but I ran into a huge deal on hot peppers at the market yesterday so harissa felt like a great replacement to experiment with.

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Citrus Biscotti with Hibiscus Glaze

May 31, 2014

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Let’s start the weekend with a cup of strong black coffee and a sugary biscuit, shall we? The small pauses of silence around here have been a sign that I’ve been completely over-extending myself lately dipping into large projects outside of VV… whether that be creating a magazine or guest posting or working on secret assignments that I can’t reveal to you (just yet) – there has been a lot going on behind the scenes over here! Thus, can we please just take this Saturday morning off, sit around the kitchen table marveling in leisure conversation, strong drip coffee, and warm baked goods? Please? We can?! Thank you – this is exactly what I needed.

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After we enjoy this lazy morning around the table, I’m going to take a weekend vacation from my computer and go hiking, do some quiet baking, and probably watch some overly angsty 90′s movies.

Enough about me – what are you doing this weekend? If you are looking for some weekend entertainment, why not consider pre-ordering a copy of Driftless Magazine? Driftless is the new magazine that I’ve been promoting the sh*t out of while I try to get you all obsessed with how amazing it really is! The digital version is being released TOMORROW, June 1st so it’ll be in your inbox in time to wind-down with it before having to get back into the work week. (sorry – last time I’ll bug you about it for awhile – I’m just too excited about the magazine not to have it on the mind all the time!)

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Baked Vegan Maple Bacon Donuts

March 10, 2014

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

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

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Honey Roasted Citrus & Thyme Popsicles

February 23, 2014

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

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

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Chai-Spiced Citrus & Apple Breakfast Crumble

January 26, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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Spinach & Avocado Stuffed Cornmeal Crepes with Curry-Lime Cream

January 5, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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Gingerbread Syrup /// DIY Gifting

December 9, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Vanilla Bean & Espresso Granola

November 3, 2013

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Keeping it simple for today’s post. Sometimes you have the energy to make a 20 step breakfast recipe and other times you just want to be able to throw something together in five minutes, stick it in the oven, and crawl back into bed with your coffee for another hour. Yeah, I don’t care if that makes me sound lazy. You think I’m lazy now, just wait until the frigid months of January and February roll around. Ha, no but on a serious note – I’ve just been super busy getting some really great guest posts together for the month of November (more on that in the coming weeks).

I actually made this granola recipe back in September and am just now getting around to posting it. I originally had made it for my stepdad’s birthday (I made him a bunch of baked goods and sent out a little care package). However, I had been putting off posting this because I really wanted to make my own coffee extract first. Have you ever made coffee extract? I’ve only ever made vanilla but it seems silly to not experiment with other ones. Unfortunately, so far I’ve been pretty un-enthuised with the end results for my coffee extract. I really wanted to be able to make an extract out of leftover coffee grounds but have been unsuccessful as of now. So, for the time being, I am sticking with using part of an espresso shot in the recipe below.

 

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Maple Apple Bars /// Apple Picking

October 27, 2013

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I know, I know. Every food blog out there right now has gorgeous pictures up of them apple picking. But what’s one more?

Apple picking is a sign that the air has become crisp and the days shorter. We usually go apple picking at the same place every year but found this new gem of a farm this fall. It’s huge with windy isles filled with dozens and dozens of apple flavors. We adventured right around dusk while the lighting was magical and the the farm was void of families.

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Nutmeg Banana Carrot Muffins /// Some Words on Sugar Substitutes

September 29, 2013

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Today is Sunday, September 29th. Today is a very very special day. Or should I say tonight? Yes, tonight is a very very very special night. Tonight is the season finale of Breaking Bad. It is when three (four?!) years of pain-stakingly frustrating tension is finally resolved (or at least we hope it will be). There is only one problem: we don’t have cable. How did we watch all the other 61 episodes then, you ask? Well you can stream them on the network’s website the followig day after an episode has aired. Which I am usually totally fine with. But this is the season finale of the whole series. And I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t want to go into work tomorrow and have to keep my ears shut the whole day. Or spend the next 24 hours avoiding my newsfeeds on facebook and twitter. I want to experience it along with the rest of America.

So, how will I do this, you ask? Well, I’m not sure. But I sure as hell want to be prepared with baked goods when I figure it out. I’m thinking…bribing frineds with these muffins? Or the bartender to turn it to AMC with these little handheld cakes. Or maybe even going over to our new neighbors house and using these muffins as a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ peace treaty right when the show is starting (that way I can peep in the door and see if they are watching it. ‘OH! You guys are watching Breaking Bad?! We were just about to put it on. Maybe we should all watch it together. I also have some local cider and whiskey I can bring over, if you’d like….’). You know, those kinds of things.

 

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Oh no. This post was supposed to be a distraction from thinking about Breaking Bad. Okay, what were we talking about before I so rudely changed the subject to a drug-ring-themed-pop-culture-television-drama? Oh yeah, muffins. And not just any muffins – muffins exploding with nutritional benefits like dates (fiber, iron, calcium), bananas (potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C), nutmeg (iron, magnesium, calcium), and carrots (vitamin A). These are nutritional enough for breakfast but satisfying enough for dessert. And even scrumptious enough to bribe your friends with.

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Blueberry Pistachio Parfait with Quinoa Granola and Maple Cashew Cream [Vegan]

September 1, 2013

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There is so much fall going on around Pinterest these days; I find it to be both appalling and kind of exciting. Maybe it’s this streak of 90 degree weather or my longing for copious amounts of curry in my stomach or the desire to wear knee high socks but I am feeling ready for it. [Heck, maybe I even already bought a can of organic pumpkin for vegan fall baking].

My brain feels so fried from this heat that I’ve managed to stumble into a mundane food routine of salads for lunch and veggie sandwiches for dinner. That is about it….Well, almost it. The other summertime food that has been a regular lately is greek yogurt and homemade granola. So much so that I am starting to think we may need to take some time off from each other soon or we may not be able to stay friends.

Thus, in an attempt to keep yogurt off my long list of hated foods (right next to beets and jello), I decided to try cashew cream in my breakfast parfaits. I originally made the cashew cream to lather on eclairs (…more on that in the coming days) but haven’t looked back at yogurt in weeks.

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The cashew cream only takes a few minutes to whip up and usually lasts me 3 to 4 servings of breakfast. It’s sweeter than yogurt but not so much that you feel guilty about enjoying it for breakfast. Feel free to enjoy with whatever granola you have on hand but I highly recommend trying out this quinoa version. The toasted quinoa gives the granola a crunchy texture unlike any kind of granola I’ve had before. And it’s a complete protein so you’ll be really ready to start your day right. ‘Nuff said?

 

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Blueberry Pistachio Parfait with Quinoa Granola and Maple Cashew Cream

Inspired by Gourmande in the Kitchen & Cashew Cream adapted from Oh, Ladycakes

For the granola:

  • 1 cup tri-colored quinoa (or 1/2 cup red + 1/2 cup white), rinsed super well
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • dash of cinnamon & nutmeg
  • vanilla bean, seeds removed and pod discarded (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or any baking oil you’d prefer)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (or more maple syrup to keep vegan)
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, divided & lightly crushed

For the maple cashew cream:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight
  • 4 dates, pitted
  • 2-3 Tablespoons maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want to make it)
  • about 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pint blueberries

Submerge cashews in water and let soak overnight.

Remove pits from dates and let soak with the cashews 30 minutes prior to making the cream.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine the quinoa, rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the vanilla bean seeds in a mixing bowl. Fold in the oil, maple syrup, and honey. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread out as much as possible. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to keep from burning. After 30 minutes, add 1/4 cup crushed pistachios to granola and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Drain cashews / dates and place in a food process or blender. Add the maple syrup and 1/4 cup water. Blend. If too thick, gradually add more water a tablespoon at a time until a desired consistency is reached (I like mine at the consistency of greek yogurt – thick and sustainable but a little fluffy).

To assemble: Layer the cream followed by the cooled granola followed by blueberries and garnish with crushed pistachio and cinnamon.

 

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VV Turns 2 /// Spicy Double Chocolate Cookies with Cappuccino Frosting

August 17, 2013

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Yay – today Vegetarian Venture’s has officially been around (and active!) for two years! It seems both unreal and yet two years doesn’t seem that long. I can’t remember my life without this creative outlet and can’t imagine what I did with all my time before baking, cooking, photography, styling, and playing with food?

The world as I know it has changed drastically since 2011. Two years ago, this guy didn’t exist:

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And I didn’t live in our blue house with this guy:

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Two years ago I was going to school part time and working at a local co-op grocery store. The co-op had this wonderful shelf in the fridge called the ‘chump shelf’ and was filled with any sort of unsellable item that were up for grabs – day old baguettes (perfect for french toast), pints of berries with one moldy piece, two day old tabbouleh (everyone know it’s better after it’s aged a bit), blemished organic produce, bulk bags of grains that people bagged up and then decided against buying, etc. As a student trying to live cheapily and still obsessed with food, this was the most amazing shelf for me. I would come home beaming every night with bags full of free food and feed my entire house full of college roommates. The food I brought would often times be a weird mix of ingredients and that was what sparked searching through recipes and blogs and eventually starting VV to document my adventures.

Two years later and I do not still work at the co-op (but still live right down the street from it and shop their almost everyday), have graduated college, and don’t have a house full of roommate to feed. I do, however, still love blogging and spend most of my free time cooking for my boyfriend / boxer.

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Pacific Coast Exploring – Part 2 (Oregon)

July 31, 2013

…And here is Part 2 of our coastal exploration (check out Part 1 here). These pictures are mostly all taken in Oregon and on the way to Portland. I wish wish wish wish wish I had an excuse to move to Portland – I would be so close to the ocean, mountains, Redwoods, waterfalls, rivers, drip coffee, blueberry bourbon basil donuts (Yup – that’s right. Thank you, Blue Star), and so many other things.

 

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The Blue Bush

July 12, 2013

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I had so much fun reading Baker Bettie’s post on their new home that it inspired me to give you guys a little peak into our lives.

It’s been one year since I started the ‘post college’ stage of my life that I’m currently knee deep in. It’s been a year since I moved into The Blue Bush with Wyatt and our peanut butter loving dog, Tuko. The Blue Bush (as we like to call it since…well…the outside of the house is bright blue) is a cozy little Midwest home that was built in 1910. Yup, that’s what the records say…1910. So, as you can imagine, the place isn’t exactly in tip top shape. We’ve worked hard to transform it into a home that reflects us and it’s been fun to watch the process unfold. I’ve collected quite a few pictures of the last year so I was thinking this could be a good time to show you around.

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This also means it’s been one year since we owned a microwave or a dishwasher. Can you guess which one we miss the most? What my nails wouldn’t do to have a rest from being drenched in soapy dish water for just ONE night.

As for the microwave… I always just forget they even exist these days. I still remember the look on Wyatt’s face when I first purposed not having a microwave in our new home…the look of bewilderment followed by complete disbelief. But he agreed and it’s been wonderful. I’ve learned SO many new things since having to go back to cooking ingredients the way they are supposed to be cooked (i.e. using a double boiler, boiling water over the stove top, etc). My favorite part about not having a microwave is that you always have to work for your food around here. Sure, if you REALLY want to just eat a frozen dinner of (veggie) nuggets then that’s fine…but you’ll have to bake them for 20 minutes in the oven which means you could just whip up some polenta / sautéed veggies in that same amount of time. It really has helped me to not take short cuts and prepare real food in the kitchen.

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We’ve filled the house with lots of vintage furniture…

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…And vinyl records..

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..And have filled our sunroom with house plants (which is a perfect little hideout full of green in the middle of winter)

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This is the studio room…

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<— Wyatt’s desk and (can you tell who is the clean one in this relationship? ahem, definitely not me…) and my desk —>

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We spent a lot of our time in the backyard. I’ve managed to build two gardens…one with herbs and one with vegetables. The cucumbers and zucchini have been going crazy and it’s finally time for the tomatoes to start ripening (!!!).

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Well, I just wanted to take the opportunity to show you around a little. It’s crazy it’s taken a whole year to get around to telling you about my obsession with house plants, my love for vinyl records, and show you a peak of our little cozy home. Thanks for reading!

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Cornbread Waffles with Roasted Vegetables & Chimichurri Ramps

May 1, 2013

My daily posts have turned more into weekly posts as thing have become a bit hectic around here. There are so many things I’ve wanted to share without over sharing on a food blog…which then usually just turn into not sharing them at all. So, instead, I’m just going to give off a short list of excuses that have been both tearing me from this blog and keeping me occupied in my “real” life:

1. I got a new day job / promotion. I was promoted from indie-rock-princess to indie-rock-queen. Hah, no. But I did go from a glorified secretary to being in charge of over 200 of our music client accounts. So, needless to say, I’ve been working 9+ hours a day trying to figure out everything that goes along with this new job.

2. It’s spring! And I’ve been putting most of my free time energy into prepping my garden. What good is a food blogger who can’t even grow her own produce to write recipes with?

3. My grandma passed away. I realize that this is a normal occurrence for people over the age of 80 but that does not make it any less unsettling. I don’t care how old you are – it’s very upsetting to watch a wonderful person have everything ripped away from them.

4. My boyfriend is obsessed with the X-Files. And not only is he obsessed but he is determined to watch EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. So starting at season one in Februaray, he has constantly had that on the TV…which has been…very distracting. Do you know how many episodes of the X-Files there are? HUNDREDS. There are NINE seasons. Do you realize how many hours have been wasting getting sucked in by that when I could have been cleaning my stove-top or seasoning my cast iron or making butterscotch cookies?!

5. Remember that Lemon Thyme Butter I posted about last week? OH MY! I’ve discovered that it’s pretty much amazing on everything. Melt it over pasta or spaetzle and thank me later. You’re welcome.

Okay, enough about me. Let’s talk about YOU! I have an ice cream recipe for YOU. Yup, that is right – homemade ice cream. And it’s filled with the most delicious…well I can’t tell you. But it’s sweet and savory and creamy and Middle Eastern. And it’s going to be posted on VV soon…how soon? I can’t tell you that either (can’t ruin the fun now!) – you’ll just have to check back.

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Now back to ramps. Yes, that is right. I am posting ANOTHER ramps recipes. Two in a row, really? Well if we compare it to how many pizza or tofu recipes I’ve posted then it’s really not that bad. Ramps are new to me…and I’m pretty obsessed. I know they are going to start disappearing from the Farmer’s Market just as quickly as they appeared. This means, I’ve been cooking them up like crazy while I can!



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Cornbread Waffles with Roasted Veggies & Chimichurri Ramps

Makes 2 generous servings

Cheddar Cornbread Waffles:

  • 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cups milk
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Roasted Vegetables:

  • An assortment of your favorite vegetables to roast (I used 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 diced onion, 1/2 diced small sweet potato, 2 chopped carrots)
  • 2 springs of fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt/Pepper

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

 

To roast the vegetables: Preheat oven to 400 and toss the veggies with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Lay in a even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and just started to brown.

To make the chimichurri: Rinse the ramps and cut off the roots and any rough tips.  Slice into big chunks. Blend all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until a smooth paste forms.

To make the waffles: Preheat your waffle maker. Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yokes, milk, and butter. Fold the dried ingredients into the liquid until incorporated. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff but not dry peaks form. Fold the egg whites and grated cheese into the batter.

Ladle 1/2 cup (more or less depending on how big your waffle maker is) of the batter onto your preheated waffle iron and cook according to manufacture’s instructions (mine usually takes around 3 minutes).

Pile high with roasted veggies and chimichurri.

 

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Berry Brioche Muffins

April 9, 2013

Berry-Brioche-Buns

I love making bread. On any given rainy Sunday, you will most likely find me in the kitchen kneading up something delicious. Whether it’s beer bread or pumpernickel or cinnamon rolls will all depend on my mood. There is something I find soothing about watching the dough slowly rise. Or kneading the batter with your bare hands. Or feeling like you are conducting a science experiment in your kitchen. Or starting with a huge pile of flour and ending with a crusty ball of deliciousness. Whatever it is, it soothes me and I find myself turning to bread making in moments where I crave relaxation the most.

This is also the reason I often times make the same cinnamon rolls or beer bread. When relaxing, I don’t want to have read through a 3 page recipe four times over. I want to be able to get lost in stirring and pound of my frustration through kneading.  I had come across a brioche recipe in a Food Network cookbook a few months back and it was 5 pages long. FIVE. The ingredients list was extensive and there were several randevues with the mixer (sorry but I prefer the old fashion way. This both makes me lazy because I don’t want to clean the mixer and a BA because I knead the dough by hand). It left a bad taste in my mouth and made me write off sweet brioche as too much work.

That was until Pinterest told me last week that I could make brioche in a slow cooker. In a slow cooker, really? How hard could a slow cooker recipe be?! So that triggered lots of brioche research (AKA google searching) and I came across Artisan Bread in Five. It’s a wonderful resource for any breadmaker and lays out some of the best instructions on how to make delicious bread I’ve ever come across. I’ve only gawked at their blog but am very excited to try out some of their cookbooks as well. I can only imagine!

I suggest making the dough the night before so you can just let it rise for an hour in the muffins pan the next day and bake them right up. That will cut down on 2+ hours of rising time.

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Berry Brioche Buns

Dough adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoon yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Mixed berries
  • 1/4 sugar

Mix the yeast and warm water in a bowl. Let sit for five minutes or until it starts to foam. Add in the salt, eggs, honey, and butter. Add 4 cups of flour and mix with a spoon until incorporated. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for two hours.

After it has risen, chill the dough so that it is easier to work with. I let mine chill overnight but feel free to just let chill for an hour or so.

Grease a 12 muffin pan and divide the dough evenly between the tins. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press a few berries into each muffin (make sure to really get them in there so they don’t pop out) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until the brioche is brown on top.

Remove from oven and let cool. Sprinkle with cocoa powder or powdered sugar.

Berry-Brioche-Buns

Chickpea Magazine Winter 2013 /// February Recap

February 28, 2013

Good afternoon! Before I get to the monthly recap, I wanted to share my excitement with you guys about receiving the new Chickpea Quarterly in the mail yesterday. I have an article on DIY Kitchen Staples (Homemade Vegetable Broth, Vanilla Extract, and Almond Milk) in it. Also, It’s chocked full of vegan recipes, beautiful photography, and oh so much inspiration that I am grinning from ear to ear just looking at it. I thought I was ready for winter to be over but the magazine has re-sparked my cold weather senses. Here are a few highlights (and yes, those are BOURBON CHOCOLATE CAKE POPS pictured below…)

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Okay, enough drooling over my favorite magazine – it’s time for a recap! No offense but I am SO glad that February is only 28 days long. With spring on the mind since January 1st, I have been having trouble getting through this month while still feeling present. Instead, my mind has been wondering to beaches, beeragritas, and long bike rides. Here are a few recipes that have helped me kick the winter [mind] wandering..

 

   

 

1. Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Gingersnap Crust – Comfort food with a fancy twist. And by fancy, I mean crumbling cookie bits on top of my already insanely indulgent dinner. Not bad…not bad at all…

2. Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits – these were my ‘pride and joy’ of the month. One of those ideas that comes to you at a completely random time and you start to obsess over it until the recipe is executed. Veggie Sausage or Bacon? Scones or Biscuits? Cheddar or Tomato Scones? Southwestern or Indian Tofu Scramble? Mushroom or Pepper Gravy? So many combinations to choose from and the product was an irresistible combination of everything amazing that comes to mind when you think ‘Vegan Breakfast’.

3. Heart Shaped Polenta Crostini with Roasted Tomato & Goat Cheese – Three of my favorite things all in one bite. And SO simple to make. How can it get any better than that?

4. Cinnamon Quinoa Granola – New breakfast go to. Chocked full of fiber, protein, and antixidents. The texture from the quinoa bring a whole new level of granola and this stuff keeps me filled all morning long.

 

Okay, well GOODBYE February and HELLOOOO March. I’m thinking [hoping] March will be filled with more outdoor adventures, road trips, and garden prepping. Yesss!

 

Song Pairing:

Baked Blueberry & Lemon Donuts

February 27, 2013

Okay, so I totally lied to you guys. I told you that I would have this donut recipe for you yesterday and it did not happen. It’s not my fault – Tuesdays are my downfall and I should have known I wasn’t going to have the time to post about donuts. I’m sorry. Forgive me? Cool.

What I won’t apologize for are these donuts. Yes, they are chocked full of sugar and flour. BUT, they are ALSO full of blueberries (antioxidant heaven), cinnamon (regulates blood sugar), lemon zest (vitamin C), and are BAKED. See, why not look on the positive side here before you get worried about starting your day on a sugar high. But really, if you are concered, these make great afternoon snacks, lunchtime dessert, 2nd breakfast treat, and nightime dessert. So versatile too – I know! Crazy.

These donuts are a product of what was once a breakfast loaf. Filled with lemon and blueberries (as mentioned above), I topped these little guys with cinnamon and sugar to give it that streusel style topping. Pretty much irresistible anytime of the day, I’d suggest whipping up a batch of these the next time you get a sweets craving.

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Baked Blueberry Lemon Donuts

Makes 6 baked donuts (or 12 small baked donuts)
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • zest from 1 lemon

 

topping:

  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a donut pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugars, and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir until just combined. Add in the melted butter and then fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Baked for 20 minutes or until the tops have browned (baking time will vary greatly depending on the size of the donuts / your oven). Once browned, remove from oven.

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Dip the donut tops in the sugar/cinnamon mixture while they are still warm. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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Song pairing:

Cinnamon Quinoa Granola

February 22, 2013

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Every winter, I become less into making oatmeal for breakfast than I had been the previous winter. Truth is – it’s just too time consuming (I know, I know – Ms. Lazy) in the mornings and I end up quickly going back to my granola. The transition to year round granola has urged my need to get creative with the stuff. Eating the same thing ever day? Booooring.

And let me tell you…oh my goodness. I can not remember the last time I was this obsessed with a granola. Bringing quinoa into the equation changes everything. It adds a texture depth that goes beyond anything I’ve experienced in granola. Even if your cinnamon oats end up soggy then you are still left with crunchy and toasted quinoa bits. This recipe can, of course, be adapted to your liking. Add more fruit or spices depending on what you are into.

I’ve played around with quinoa dozen of time (see: Southwestern Quinoa Salad, Quinoa Nuggets, or Fall Quinoa Salad) but have never been as excited about it as I am with this recipe. Toasting quinoa? Who would have thought! And the extra protein quinoa brings into this breakfast will help you feel full longer [which means no more 10:45 munchies runs to the vending machine in need of some Cheetos].

Don’t forget to rinse your quinoa SUPER well – you want to make sure all of that bitter outer coating is removed for maximum indulgence potential. This recipes makes about 3 cups so store  leftovers in an airtight container. Or be a good friend and share a bag. Or even freeze the stuff if you won’t use it in a timely fashion. Love granola but hesitant about this quinoa business? Then maybe you should start with this Spiced Pumpkin Granola instead.

 

 

 

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Cinnamon Quinoa Granola

 

  • 2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and patted dry
  • 3/4 cup pecan, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, in liquid form
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Cook for 30 minutes and stir 3 times throughout the cooking process. Remove from oven and let cool completely before moving to an airtight container.

Serve over yogurt, milk, or fruit. Or just eat it by the spoonful.

 

Song Pairing:

Chocolate Chai

February 11, 2013

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

 

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Chocolate Chai

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

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

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

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Feeling a little bratty this morning:

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits

February 4, 2013

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

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

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

 

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Scones

 

Vegan Stuffed Brunch Biscuits

For the Gravy:

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

 

For the Tofu Scramble:

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

 

For the Biscuits:

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

 

  • 1/2 russet potato, diced very small

 

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Vegan Breakfast Biscuits

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

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

Enjoy hot or freeze for later breakfasts!

 

Vegan Brunch Biscuits