Browsing Tag

butter

Vegetarian Ventures Guilt-Free Gift Guide

December 17, 2014

 

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Sure, it’s already the middle of December but do you really have all of your holiday shopping done? Oh, you do? Well dang – cheers to you for being way more on top of it than me and this conversation can just go ahead and end right now. Oh wait, what was that? I misheard you? Phew – I was beginning to think I was the irresponsible one in this friendship!

Are you one of those people who agonizes over where your product was made, the material that was used to make it, the animal products (or lack there of) that went into it, and the foot print it took to have it shipped to you? Well then you are pretty damn picky and exactly like me! You could just do two click shopping on Amazon and hope it all shows up at your doorstep next week or you could make sure that the money you spend is an example of what you believe in and who you think you should support. We have all learned to vote with our money by shopping at the local farmers market and support local farmers but what about everything else we purchase? What about the furniture you decide to fill your home with? Was it made in a sweat shop on the other side of the world? What about the toys you purchase for your niece and nephew? And the shoes you got on sale at a department store last week?

I don’t know where you live (thankfully – that could get creepy!) so I can’t tell you where to shop locally but I do have a few gift ideas that are perfect for any location. Hopefully these products will help you get off that fence you were dangling on with what to get your boyfriend, niece, wife, etc:

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Creamy Peanut Butter “Pupsicles”

August 10, 2014

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As I mentioned via Facebook a few days ago, VV is turning 3 this month (!!) so I’ve celebrated with doing a huge site makeover. It started out as an idea to maybe get a logo designed and ended 2 weeks later with a whole new layout, color scheme, and aesthetic. I’ve been tackling it all myself which means I change my mind about things every 5 minutes so don’t be surprised if you continue to see some tweaking (TWEAKING. Not twerking – I don’t participate in that cultural dance move, sorry guys) happening around here for the next few weeks. I’ll probably be posting even more pictures than I already do (like the ones above -what do they have to do with this post? Nothing really – I just like hanging out in my backyard shooting with my DSLR and film) since all the photos are now HUGE (YAY!).

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Anyhow, this post isn’t about site re-designs or gardens so let’s get to the point. This post is actually about having a ridiculously spoiled dog that enjoys all of his treats homemade and gets half the popsicle mold reserved for him in the summer. Meet Tuko (pictured above. He only looks at the camera to scowl at it…) – he is a 2 year old boxer that we treat more like our own kid than a family pet. You may have already met him here or here or here but I don’t hold you accountable for remembering since those posts were so long ago and you haven’t seen him in awhile. When he is not sleeping on the couch or bed, he enjoys hanging out in his “room” (AKA our backyard – pictures above), racing Wyatt on his skateboard, and whining while looking longly at his leash.

Boxers are known for having trouble with extreme weather – their hair is too short to keep them warm in the winter and their short snouts are a handicap for them in the summer when the only way to stay cool is to pant it out. A simple solution could be just to keep them inside during the summer or make sure that they have ice water provided for them at all times. I tend to like to take the fun route though and keep a stack of these peanut butter popsicles (also known as ‘pupsicles’) in the fridge at all times for Tuko to enjoy after a long day at the lake or after our afternoon walk.

 

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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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Loaded Vegetable Spring Quiche

April 23, 2014

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I’d like to pretense this story by mentioning that I am turning 25 this year. With that in mind, I’ve received an Easter “basket” every year of my life (that I can remember) from my mother. Even after I moved out at 18, my mother always managed to ship a box full of colored confetti and festive treats in the form of candy, money, cookies, or whatever else I was into at the time. This year was no exception.

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Our doorbell rang bright and early on Thursday morning when our UPS man dropped off a large package that was over-nighted from Seattle, Washington. I opened it up to find an array of spring foraged foods in the form of ramps, black garlic, blood oranges, palm heart, and mushrooms. This immediately prompted a ‘thank you’ text to my mother which was replied to with a comment about ‘I guess you are officially an adult when you get excited about receiving vegetables in your Easter basket’. That statement would almost be true if it wasn’t for the fact that I was so excited to receive these vegetables so I could play with them. I’d like to think I play with my food as much now, if not more, than when I used to receive dinosaur shaped gummies and candy necklaces (which were my favorite, by the way. I think I may have even rocked those up until the end of middle school).

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This quiche has an Asian flair to it with the fermented garlic giving almost a soy sauce scent. The saltiness of the garlic leaves no room for cheese so I’d suggest leaving it out (just this one time) and let the vegetables shine. If you having trouble finding ramps in your area then feel free to substitute them with chopped spring chives or caramelized onions. The black garlic (also known as fermented garlic) might be the trickiest of ingredients to find on this list but it will be worth the hunt – check your local farmer’s market or asian food market if you are having trouble finding it at your usual stops.

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Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Biscuits [Vegan Option]

January 31, 2014

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I’m not sure why everyone is so hung up on dip and mini corndog recipes this week? Let’s be honest – do you even really like sports? When is the last time you sat down and watched a football game? I guess it’s the excitement of it all pulling us in. I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t really understand sports at all. However, I do still get excited about Superbowl Sunday. There is one game I’ll be transfixed watching on Sunday but it won’t be the Superbowl. You’ll find me over on Animal Planet watching The Puppy Bowl. Yup, have you seen the line-up of puppies up for adoption this year?! Everything from the baby boxer to the husky / lab mix pulls at my heart strings. I’m sorry – am I gushing? I can’t help it – they are just so darn cute.

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Chocolate & Spiced Chai Biscotti

December 24, 2013

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MERRY CHRISTMAS [EVE] (or, to all of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, HAPPY TUESDAY!). I love Christmas eve just as much as I love Christmas day. This is because, growing up, my parent’s were divorced so we always had Christmas with my Father ‘s family on the 24th and then had ANOTHER Christmas with my mother’s family on the 25th. I never could relate to those kids who were so excited to get to open ONE present on Christmas Eve to hold them over – I always received DOZENS of gifts on Christmas eve followed up lots more gifts on Christmas day. As I’ve aged, I’ve toned down a little (just a little!) on my excitement for a double dose of gifts but have learned to find joy in so many other wonderful aspects of having two Christmases in a row. Double the santa cookies. Double the Christmas movies. Double the Yule log playing in the background on your tv (speaking of that, I’ll be playing Lil Bub’s yule log video this year – if my family doesn’t think thats too weird).

But, to be completely honest, this biscotti has nothing to do with Christmas and I really just chatted about Christmas Eve because I’m just so darn excited its finally here. This biscotti is actually about having 11 days off of work in a row – which is the longest vacation time I’ve had in 2013. It’s about finally having lazy mornings after lazy mornings of sipping coffee in bed and enjoying a favorite magazine while munching some biscotti. It’s all about mastering the technique of getting the biscotti soggy enough in your coffee that it doesn’t crumble all over your sheets but firm enough that it’s still crunchy when take that first bite. But don’t worry, it’s okay if it takes you a few days to master this technique – we’ve still got loads more days off ahead of us!

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Dark Chocolate Cappuccino Thumbprint Cookies with Maple Pumpkin Butter

December 15, 2013

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Have you started counting down yet? 9 days! That means only 9 more days of being able to listen to your favorite festive Christmas vinyl. And 9 more nights to get in all the must-watch Xmas movies starring Chevy Chase and Will Ferril. 9 more days to make every cookie recipe you see on Pinterest. We must hurry, guys! No time to waste here!

Christmas is known as a holiday to bring people together but it has built a barrier between my boyfriend and me. Instead of growing more cheerful the closer it gets, I notice him retreating more and more into an annoyed and irritated state. I’m not sure why or how but he hates Christmas decorating, making cookies, festive music, and holiday themed movies. I know, I know – I don’t understand either. This last month has been a battle for the radio, where in the house I can squeeze in a tree without him moving it back into the closet, and a struggle for who is going to put a movie on first.

I want to watch Christmas Vacation, he wants to watch Dune. I want to listen to Sufjan Steven’s Christmas boxset, he wants ambient new-age noise. I want a fragrant and fresh wreath, he wants to use that money to go out to brunch. I wear ugly sweaters almost all December long, he only wears black.

 

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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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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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Homemade Pumpkin Pasta with Goat Cheese Whip & Browned Butter Sage

September 27, 2013

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You know, I was so proud of myself for thinking about using that can of pumpkin before October rolled around. I was like ‘damn, I’m going to beat the pumpkin craze this year for sure!’ and then I waited 3 days to post this. And now this recipe is in the dead middle of all the pumpkin blondies and nutmeg dutch babies. Oh well. This was my attempt to create a ‘savory’ dish with the pumpkin instead of the sugar overload that October tends to bring (helloooo Halloween!).

 

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Vanilla Bean & Fig Shortbread Drizzled with Honey Glaze

September 8, 2013

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This past week has been wonderful. It was my birthday on Wednesday and I’ve been spoiled silly by so many wonderful people. Packages in the mail, trips to the city, visits from my mother, late night dinners. All this positive attention reminded me that I can also spoil myself a little -I decided I was entitled to as much sangria and shortbread as I please during this week. I whipped up a big batch of sangria and peach shortbread last Sunday and spent the week picking away at it. Heck, I even ran out of shortbread by Wednesday and whipped up another batch; this time I whipped up these fig shortbread bars.

Sometimes you are kind of nervous about getting older and the only cure is large amounts of butter and sparkling wine. Oh and having amazing people in your life.

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Searchable Saturdays

May 25, 2013

…And we’re back! After almost a month long break from ‘Searchable Saturday’s'! Is everyone geared up for the long weekend? I’m already (hopefully) halfway to Wisconsin by the time you guys are reading this (Thank you, wordpress scheduler) and will be spending the weekend in the woods exploring. What are you doing for the long weekend?

       

 

1. CRAVING /// Rhubarb is everywhere right now! If you are looking for something a little more exotic than my Ginger Strawberry Rhubarb pie, how about this delicious looking Rhubarb Brown Butter Bourbon tart from The Bojon Gourmet? It has bourbon so you know it’s fancy!

2. LEARNING /// Also, I know I mentioned this link earlier this week but I still can’t get over my micro greens! They have a subtle but irresistible flavor profile to them and they are SO simple to grow. Check out this post from Livia Sweets on how to grow your own.

3. MUNCHING /// Memorial weekend is the ultimate cookout weekend. How about a glass of these Oh Joy!’s Smoothie Cubes to go with your grilled kebabs and potato salads? I think so!

4. EXPLORING /// I’m really hoping that I get my WANDERLUST out of my system this weekend because it’s been bad. The vet advised us against doing too much hiking and camping because ticks are bad this year but it’s all I want to do. ALL THE TIME.

 

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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Berry Brioche Muffins

April 9, 2013

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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.

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Basics: Homemade Tomato Sauce

March 7, 2013

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I’m not going to lie to you. It’s the last leg of winter and I am feeling as uninspired by food as is heavenly possible. I’m over root vegetables. And citrus cakes. And winter squash curry. At first, I was pretty bummed out by this realization. But in retrospect – it happens and it’s a good learning experience to look for inspiration in more than just pretty produce and cleverly flavored recipe combinations.

So, I am taking this lull as an opportunity to hone in on basics in the kitchen. If you’ve ever owned a food blog then you’ve probably noticed that there are certain standards that are expected of you. You’ve probably been at a gathering or in a kitchen with someone while they were cooking and everyone turned to you for advice. “Oh! Shelly owns a food blog – ask her!”. I mean, yes, I have an unhealthy obsession with food but that does not make me the best cook in the kitchen. Heck. The whole reason I started this blog was to push me to become a better cook.

Sometimes the goals off VV can get lost in the trends of fun flavor pairings and exotic ingredients. So, as mentioned, this is my opportunity to hone in on basics ranging from nut butter to standardizing a soup recipe to making pasta sauce. The Kitchn recently posted a few articles about recipes you should know by heart. Do you have a basic pizza dough recipe you always turn to? Or minestrone recipe? Or a mindless recipe work that you can just whip up without having to read through 3 pages full of instructions? Knowing a few recipes and basic kitchen skills will help you to be confident next time everyone turns to you in the kitchen.

Often times we get so used to the convenience of buying things at the store that we forget about how simple they really are. I was reminded of this when making vegetable stock and again with this pasta sauce. Did you know you can make your own pasta sauce in about the same amount of time it will take to boil that big pot of water and cook your pasta? Crazy! And you can probably make it with ingredients right from your pantry.

So, instead of tackling that daunting step-by-step on how to make your next elaborate meal…why don’t you take an evening to perfect your own tomato sauce recipe that can be replicated over and over again?

 

 

[Oh and side note. I’ve also been taking this time to do a little clean up around VV. I’ve put some energy into giving VV’s Facebook Page a small makeover and started re-doing my ‘Recipe’ page [which is a loooong ongoing process]. If your into random recipe suggestions, links to weird / funny / encouraging articles, and the occasional puppy pic – then head on over to Facebook and like VV. Okay, that was my oooonly and last plug-in for the day. But…to be fair, I don’t have any annoying advertisements flashing all over my pages so a quick suggestion won’t ruin it. Maybe? Hopefully? Please, don’t leave!.]

Basic Tomato Sauce

  •  1 16 ounce can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme – dried or fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • red wine , optional

 

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Step one: Chop and prepare your veggies / herbs.

 

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Step 2: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add onions and saute until translucent (about five minutes). Add garlic and saute for another minute.

 

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Step 3: Add wine (if using) and turn heat up to high. Let the wine simmer until almost all the liquid is evaporated. Next, add in the tomatoes and use your [clean hands] to break apart the tomatoes (I like my sauce chunky but it all depends on personal preference). Let simmer under the sauce is thick and has reached your desired consistency.

Serve over pasta, ravioli, gnocci, or on homemade pizza!

 

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Cinnamon Honey Almond Butter

March 5, 2013

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As I continue the journey with my 2013 resolution of less processed food, I can’t help but continue to be amazed at how easy it is to make staples for your kitchen. From fresh bread to vanilla extract to vegetable broth; all of these staples can be made using only a few ingredients and a bit of patience.

Almond butter, however, may even be the easiest of them all.

I’m pretty much an almond butter addict. Being a vegetarian, I usually let myself have endless amounts of protein rich nuts regardless of the calorie content. I can always seem to justify needing more protein in my diet. So almond butter has become my go-to. If I need a snack before dinner or a sweet dessert, a spoonful of nut butter always does the trick. As is the case for breakfast and even those moments when I’m not hungry but still want to eat (you know what I’m talking about).

However, this stuff is not cheap at the store. And is still, sadly, processed. So why not try making your own?

 

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Honey Cinnamon Almond Butter

  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 2 teaspoons honey (add up to a tablespoon if you like your butter sweeter)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

First, roast the almonds. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and transfer almonds to a baking sheet. Let roast for 10-12 minutes or until they release a nutty aroma. Remove from oven and let cool.

Toss the cooled almonds in a food processor and let the processor run for 10 to 15 minutes. It’s important to be patient because the almonds go through many stages so you may even want to set a timer. In the first 3 minutes, they will form almond meal that you may have to stop the processor for a few times to scrap the sides. After 5-7 minutes a thick paste will form. And then finally at 10-15 a super creamy butter will develop.

Once creamy, add in the honey and cinnamon and pulse for another 30 seconds.

Serve right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge for later.

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…)

Chickpea Quarterly

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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:

Butterfinger Bites

February 15, 2013

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

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

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

 

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Butterfinger Bites

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ButterfingerBites

 

Salted Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Bites (Vegan)

February 7, 2013

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

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

 

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Salted Dark Chocolate & Almond Butter Bites (Vegan)

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

 

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

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:

Homemade Pumpernickel Loaf

January 3, 2013

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

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

 

pumperbread

Continue Reading…

Searchable Saturday

December 15, 2012

 

A few inspirations from the week…

 

1. Have you ever wondered how much gingerbread it would take to build a life size gingerbread house? Yeah, me neither. But it’s still kind of fun to read about.

2. Pickled cherries? Talk about a snazzy way to jazz up those Shirley Temples and Tequila Sunrises!

3. Simplest homemade body butter ever. I’d add a little lavender oil for a nice aroma!

4. Young and wanting to start a business? NPR used Bloomington kids as examples in this article…I must have that Bloomington syndrome. The last statistic in the article makes me soooo sad though…

5. Eggnog AND cheesecake?!?! Yes, plz!

6. Awesome tutorial on how to make a super unique mood boards

 

And now I’m off to pick up our CSA, make some rum balls, and get ready for my Christmas work party tonight. Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Peppermint Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

December 11, 2012

We put our tree up the Saturday after Thanksgiving but my Christmas spirit didn’t really kick in until I whipped up these cookies. There is something so calming about waking up on a sunny, snowy day and hiding from the cold in your warm kitchen with the lingering smell of butter cookies. We haven’t had any snow yet here but the weather was certainly chilly enough for me to stay inside and bake this past weekend.

We had a few friends over on Sunday night to watch ‘Christmas Vacation’ and I made these cookies to go with it. Nothing like a Christmas comedy and overloading on sugar to get you ready for the holidays! The movie put me in the spirit and I am now ready to Christmas shop, wrap gifts, and drink peppermint lattes. Hmmm… if only my family would tell me what they want already….

 

 

Peppermint Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies

  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup), divided & at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box of peppermint candy canes, unwrapped and crushed
  • 8 ounces of white chocolate

Start by browning half (one stick) of the butter. Place butter in a small saucepan over low heat and let cook until small brown flakes form. Stir often so the bubbles don’t bubble over the pan or so that it doesn’t burn. Once the butter has browned, immediately pour it into a glass cup and let cool completely.

Beat together the butter (browned and regular) and the brown sugar. Next, add in the flour and salt and continue to beat until a thick ball of dough forms. Wrap dough (with parchment, wax paper, etc) and let chill for at least 30 minutes (this will help keep the dough together).

Once chilled, transfer dough to a floured surface and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or the top of a round glass to cut out circular shapes. Transfer to a greased cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place the cookies in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes while the oven preheats (this will help the cookies keep their shape). Cook cookies for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown around edged. Let cool completely.

Crush the peppermint candy canes anyway you see fit. I put mine in a ziploc bag and went to town using a meat tenderizer (also known as the kitchen hammer!) until they were in tiny pieces.

Melt the white chocolate in either your microwave or over a double boiler. I don’t have a microwave so I used the double boiler method which consisted using one saucepan inside the other and letting water simmer under the first pot while I constantly stirred the white chocolate over it until melted (this was a terrible explanation. If it is your first time using a double boiler, use this as a reference). Once melted, dip half the cookie into the chocolate and then roll in the peppermint chunks. Place on wax paper (this prevents sticking) and repeat with the rest of the cookies. Let cookies chill in fridge for 15 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened.

Enjoy with a peppermint latte or some eggnog and baileys!

Cheddar Corn Biscuits

December 5, 2012

How has your week been going? Mine has been fine but I know it’s been a little quite around here. I’ve done a bit of traveling this week and have more to go which is a nice change of pace but can also be exhausting. It’s the type of exhausting that makes me want to just curl up on the couch with my leftover chili and watch Veronica Mars (corniest 90s show ever but we are addicted) all night. Sorry VV, you take up too much energy for me right now.

But I promised and I usually like to be a girl of my word. So here I am! And as I promised, here is the buttery and addictive biscuit recipe that complaints that healthy Black Bean & Wheatberry Chili recipe perfectly. If you missed the chili recipe, it’s featured on The Kitchn today so hop on over and check it out!

We even used leftover biscuits to make biscuits and gravy with Wyatt’s favorite Sage Gravy! Mmmmm. And I have a feeling that breakfast sandwiches are in our very VERY near future. Breakfast for dinner? Well hello evening plans!

 

 

Cheddar Corn Biscuits

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup frozen corn (or fresh!)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own out of the milk I had on hand)

Grease a baking sheet (it may take 2 sheets depending on how thick you make the biscuits). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, black pepper, baking powder, and baking soda. Next, add in the butter and use your hands to incorporate the butter into the dough until it resembles a coarse meal.

Next, fold in the cheese, onions, and corn. Finally, add the buttermilk and mix until just combined (don’t over mix or the dough will become tough).

Transfer dough to a slightly floured surface and roll out to about an inch thick (more or less depending on how you like your biscuits) and use a cookie cutter or glass to circle cut outs. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Stick the cookie sheet (with the prepared dough) into the fridge and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Let the biscuits chill while it is preheating because the cold butter will help to make the biscuits flakier.

Bake for about 25 minutes (mine took 30 but my oven ALWAYS takes longer than what a recipe recommends so check often).

Serve warm with soup or gravy or by themselves with a little butter!