Entries Tagged as 'cooking'

Currently Lusting: Pink Patisserie

Posted on: January 9, 2014

Currently Lusting is a bi-weekly series which features blogs that VV finds particularly inspiring / creative / beautiful or probably all three. Although we’d like to pretend that all ideas spring from these wonderful brains of ours, that is just simply not the truth. We pull so much inspiration and ideas from other blogs that I think it’s really important to acknowledge these people and the hard work they put into their virtual spaces. Want to create a truly gorgeous blog? One of the biggest steps is having an inspiring set of other blogs that constantly makes you want to make yours better.

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Pink Patisserie is one of those blogs that I’ll have pinned 4 of her photos and be struck by how delicious a recipe looks before even realizing where it came from. Then I’ll be going through my blogfeed later on, see those photo and be like ‘ah ha! Of course this was the work of Maria!’. This has happened at least a half a dozen times. I can usually pin point a photo from most of my favorite blogs because they stick to a similar aesthetic… but not Pink Patisserie. Maria is constantly surprising me with her ever growing photography talent and each photo I stumble upon seems to only be more gorgeous than the last. Just when I think she’s mastered it, she creates a new post with even more inspiring photos and recipes. And that is what keeps me always coming back to Pink Patisserie.

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Spinach & Avocado Stuffed Cornmeal Crepes with Curry-Lime Cream

Posted on: 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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A Look Back & New Goals /// 2013 Round-Up

Posted on: December 29, 2013

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The small gap between Christmas and New Years has always been a time of reflection. A time to sit back in awe and amazement that another year has gone by. A time to shuffle through all the things you’ve clung onto for the past year. And a time to let go of all the items on your list that weren’t checked off. It’s even easier for us bloggers to do this since we’ve got a whole website dedicated to documenting our year – whether its through the food we ate or the clothes we wore or the products we lusted over..these actions tell a story that make up a chapter of our lives.

I’m very pleased to report that my reflections this year have been SO much more positive than last years. 2012 had been a year of huge change and a complete year of doubt. I had graduated from college halfway through and had spent my whole life in confidence before that point. After graduation, I was left feeling lost and vulnerable – left with complete doubt in everything I did (everything from where I was living to what food I was putting into my body to coming to terms with getting older). But – let’s stop there and not reminiscent down that rabbit hole.

It feels so good to read that old post and know that I’ve grown into my ‘adult’ skin so much in this past year. Yes, I still have a lot of growing to do and I still have a long list of irrational fears (who doesn’t?) but it’s been such an improvement since then. I’ve come to really love the small Midwest town I call home – not because there is that punk house that used to serve us drinks underage during shows or those spider-ridden rocks where we could day drink on the lake all day without being bothered. No, I’ve learned to look at this city with fresh eyes and appreciate being able to walk a few blocks to our local co-op grocery store to buy ‘hard to find’ flour blends and local produce. I’ve learned to love the lake for it’s beautiful trails that you can spend a whole Saturday afternoon getting lost in (sober!) and making your dog’s day by taking him for long walks through the centuries old neighborhoods.

I don’t think I’ve changed too much in 2013 but my outlook certainly has. I’m so very excited to evolve more come 2014. Here were my 2013 goals:

1. More adventures close to home

2. Less doubt, More Risk

3. Less processed foods

4. Work on photography

5. Keep moving forward & always improving

6. Continue to surround myself with positive people

 

I think it’s safe to say I can check all of those off my list. Although, everything on that list are all things that are still a ‘work in progress’ and I do want to continue with these goals in 2014. Here are a few more light-hearted goals to add to the 2014 mix:

7. Get our asses to Montreal. It’s time – this IS our next big trip.

8. Spend as many lazy Saturdays as possible on the vintage turquoise boat I inherited

9. Rent a summer home on Lake Michigan and spend a weekend on the beach

10. Make my own print magazine / zine (whether it be a collaboration or just all VV – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and needs to happen)

10 feels good. 6 BIG ongoing goals from last year and 4 new fun ones. Yeah, I feel good about this. I’m ready for you 2014!

 

And finally, as I continue with my reflection of 2013, I thought I’d share some of my favorite VV memories with you..

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Dark Chocolate Cappuccino Thumbprint Cookies with Maple Pumpkin Butter

Posted on: 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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On Being Vegetarian + A Giveaway!

Posted on: December 5, 2013

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I’d like to think I’m not a preachy vegetarian. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a very meat-centric family that would have half a cow in their freezer at all times (from the farmer down the street) and a family who found my eating habits to be bizarre. Or maybe it’s because I can’t help but roll my eyes at every new food trend that comes onto the market and the media’s excuses for why you should try it out. Or maybe it’s because I met a lot of pushy people who wanted to tell me why ‘meat is the answer’ and I realize how annoying it can be to have another diet pushed on you. And perhaps more because I hate explaining my dietary reasoning to everyone. ‘Is it because of health? It it for animal rights? It is environmental excuses? religion?’

To be honest, it’s because of a lot of things but mostly because of the animals and my health. I used to hate getting those ‘Oh, so do you work for PETA or something?’ looks when explaining I didn’t approve of commercial farming or that I couldn’t stomach the texture of fatty meat in my mouth. I used to usually just say it was for my health (which, in part, is true) and explain that I lost a lot of weight and gained so much energy when I transitioned to vegetarianism. Although, I was also 12 and going through puberty so who knows which helped out more? Being a vegetarian for 12 years, I sort of forgot why I did it until a few months back. Being vegetarian has become such second nature that I never ever even think to glance at a meat item on the menu or compromise on a chicken based broth at a restaurant.

I didn’t realize my animal morals were so strong until my boyfriend went hunting with his father a few months back. It being his first time and his excuse was to get out into the woods / meditate so I didn’t really think much of them actually killing anything. Oh but they did. They came home with big grins on their faces and a giant dead deer in their trunk. I remember seeing the look of smog on their faces when they broke the news and I had to hold back crying. For a few days, I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so upset – people have been hunting for thousands of years and it’s very natural. I finally realized that my opinions on killing & eating animals were more passionate than I had previous thought. I was so angry at how selfish the whole situation was; he’s been eating a sustainable and delicious vegetarian diet the 3 years we’ve been together and it bummed me out that he could so selfishly take a life for a ‘morning of fun’. It’s one thing when you need it to survive but it’s another thing when we can so easily live off of plants and nuts. It all just seems so selfish when removed from the ‘meat and potato’ American stigma we are used to.

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What sprung putting my vegetarian thoughts down on paper was receiving a copy of The Vegetarian Cookbook For Beginners which is divided into a informative section as the first part and recipes as the second. I was amazed at how much I learned about the different religious, moral, and health reasons that provokes people to go veg. I was also fascinated to learn about all the health benefits, the history of vegetarianism, and some of the many challenges that come along with switching to a new lifestyle.

I know that not all of you come to VV because you are vegetarian. Perhaps some are here for the creative recipes and clean aesthetic? Or some are just interested in what it is like to be a vegetarian? Or some of you prefer to eat a few vegetarian meals a week? Or some just really enjoy my sweets posts that have nothing to do with any dietary restrictions. Whatever your reason is for being here and reading this, if you have any interest in vegetarianism at all, I suggest you check this book out.

 

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And now for the giveaway! In addition to giving away the Vegetarian Cookbook For Beginners, I am also giving away some of my favorite spice grinders. Do you remember when I did a shout out to JR Watkins during that Pumpkin Pie with Salted Molasses post (pictured above)? Well I’m obviously a huge fan of their spices and they were kind enough to send me some grinders. And these aren’t just any grinders – they are lemon pepper and garlic salt. Both goes fantastic with literally everything! I’ve basically replaced them with my usual table salt / pepper because they had such a wonderful extra bite (except in baking – garlic and sweets don’t usually go together).

 

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And the last part of the giveaway are some Vegetarian ‘Ventures magnets. Yup, I made magnets. I don’t know why? Probably because my boyfriend and all his friends make band swag in the form of buttons, t-shirts, and cassettes so I wanted to have a little blog swag. Why not, right? I love these little magnets – I wish I could just send one out to every single one of you! They are seriously SO cute and awesome.

 

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The giveaway starts today and will run through next Sunday. I will be shipping out the winner their goodies the following Monday. Thanks for entering!

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Milk Stout & Sea-Salt Caramels

Posted on: November 25, 2013

 

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To speak the obvious, the holidays are upon us! We’ve got Thanksgiving and the start of Hannakuh this week. And Christmas is exactly a month from today. Are you ready? Yeah, me neither. So even though I have not got around to getting gifts and roasting a giant tofurkey, at least I won’t come empty handed because I’ve got these caramels!

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These little candies are the perfect accompaniment for all your holiday gatherings. Going to a Thanksgiving where the host has already agreed to make EVERYTHING? Bring these instead of (or along with) that bottle of wine – it’ll be more personal and they are so perfectly petite that you don’t have to feel guilty about munching a few down before the big feast.

Or these would be wonderful to have on the table during a winter gift wrapping party (am I the only one who has those? It’s really the best excuse to make mulled wine and listen to Christmas records with friends). Or to bring to that ugly sweater party. Or really just to have out on the table all December long while you prep for the holidays.

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Hosting A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Posted on: 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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Homemade Pumpkin Pasta with Goat Cheese Whip & Browned Butter Sage

Posted on: 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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Goat Cheese Polenta with Basil Almond Pesto & Pan Fried Chickpeas [For one]

Posted on: August 21, 2013

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Wyatt is off at a Black Sabbath concert tonight . No, I’m not sure why – he’s not a 60 year old fan or a metal head of any kinds [but this is beside the point]. The point is that I’m here alone tonight. I decide to have a sort of girl’s night…with myself. Yoga, red wine, and a chick flick (Bridesmaid to be exact…hey, don’t judge! Everyone ALWAYS references it and I have no idea what they are ever talking about). This is a special treat because I’m usually get suckered into alien, death-centric, action flicks and a case of beer.

This also meant I was on my own for dinner this evening. Any normal American would have probably just got chinese take-out but I was excited by the thought of not having to worry about another person’s needs / preferences. Both polenta and chickpeas are two things Wyatt isn’t really that crazy about – and I totally disagree. I personally don’t think there could ever be anything wrong with a big bowl of corn creaminess that takes on the subtle flavor of whatever cheese you decide to melt into it. And as for chickpeas – give me them anyway you’d like: blended, roasted, sautéed, or panfried.

Needless to say, I’ve settled in for the night with this big polenta bowl and my boxer dog, Tuko. If you need us – we’ll be over here watching some girls relieve themselves in wedding dresses because of some bad Mexican food they ate (gross! Sorry, Bridesmaid reference?)

When pan frying the chickpeas, make sure you use just a big enough skillet so that they can lay evenly in one layer but not so big that you have to use half your bottle of oil. And as for the pesto, I’ve been into using kale (since it grows like wildflowers in my garden) but went with basil on this one since it’s finally basil season – feel free to use whatever leafy green you have on hand!

 

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Goat Cheese Polenta with Basil Almond Pesto & Pan Fried Chickpeas

  • 1 cup dried polenta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ounces goat cheese (or more if you are like me)

 

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt / pepper

 

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (from a can or from dried)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt / pepper
  • oil (I used olive but you could use vegetable as well)

In a food processor or very powerful blender, combine all the pesto ingredients and blend until a smooth paste forms. Add more olive oil if needed to reach your desired consistency. Set aside.

In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add polenta and lower heat to medium low. Whisk continuously until the polenta has become thick enough that it won’t stick to the bottom. After fifteen minutes of simmering, stir in the cheese and remove from heat. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium. Add chickpeas, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Sauté for ten to fifteen minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined tray. Let sit for a few minutes to crisp up.

Mix the polenta, chickpeas, and pesto all together and enjoy!

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

Posted on: 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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Currently Crushing

Posted on: August 11, 2013

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In an attempt to not completely fall off the grid during the ‘dog days of summer’, I thought I’d fill you in on a few things I’ve been up to aside from cooking. With my kitchen lacking air conditioning (UGH), I’ve been keeping the cooking to a minimum and mostly sticking to veggie centric salads, staple recipes that I know are quick, and grilling outside.

Anyhow,  I’ve been turning to other outlets of inspiration – mostly spending a large portion of my free time reading and thought I’d share a few recent favorites with you guys.

Top right: I found this back issue of Pure Green Magazine at a local bookstore and am totally in love. This particular issue is their ‘food’ issue and features articles ranging from the history of ancient grains to a step by step on how to make the best coffee. It has become a new indie magazine staple to add to my shelf alongside Chickpea Quarterly and Kinfolk.

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Pacific Coast Exploring – Part 1

Posted on: July 29, 2013

I apologize for the lack of ‘food’ posts this week but I have a good excuse. I’ve been 2,000 miles away from my kitchen on an epic road trip starting in San Francisco and trailing up through Portland. This last week has been a whirlwind; 12 hours of flying, 2 major cities, an epic ocean, 10 hours of driving, two picnics, one amazing friend, endless seasonal food, and dozens of mix CDs later…I come to you with a recap of my week in the form of photos.

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Let’s start with a little background to set  this photo story up. This is Ella – within the past five years, we’ve been friends, roommates, class mates, and now exploration partners. While I’ve been off having a day job and manning down this wonderful VV blog, she’s been busy living out of her car and traveling the country while working on organic farms and gaining wilderness training in dozens of national parks. Although I love my cushiony life in the Midwest, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of her adventures and made a promise to meet her in San Fran at the end of the summer. I flew from Indianapolis to Atlanta and then to San Francisco. She picked me up in her car-turned-home and we were off along the 101 for the next three days.

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And this is me. I probably didn’t need to introduce myself because you probably already know me – whether it’s through this blog, or in person, or from the gossip channels known as the internet (okay, let’s be real – you probably don’t know me because of that). But just in case, and for the sake of this picture story, this is me. The 20-something, sort-of-paranoid, adventure-lusting, food-lover.

 And this is the a photo tour of our journey through California (Part 1).

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Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Posted on: July 8, 2013

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I don’t know about you but the term ‘enchilada sauce’ doesn’t exactly conger up fresh and summery images. It mostly makes me think of that dark, musky isle in the already dingy international grocery store where you have to brush the dust off the can before picking it up and throwing it into your cart. This off-putting imagery doesn’t happen with all mexican food. In fact, tamales conger up wonderful memories of watching my step-mother whipping up several dozen in our kitchen when I was little. And tacos make me think of fresh grilled pineapple and strong margaritas. But I don’t know – there’s something about that enchilada sauce…something about the old-fashioned design on the cans that make me think it’s been on the shelf since that art was in style in the 80s (maybe even 70s?).

That was until I decided to start making my own. And everything changed in the enchilada world for me. It doesn’t taste like the enchilada sauce from the can…it taste so much fresher. And though it’s not the flavor your tongue is expecting at first, you will glow with the realization that this is how enchilada sauce is supposed to taste. Fresh and spicy. A little tomatoey, peppery, and full of heat. Of course, the amount of heat you’d like to create is up to you. Different peppers will result in different spice levels so go ahead and get acquainted with what peppers work for you (okay, so maybe that link is a little over-kill but it’s sort of fun to realize that all these peppers exist..)

This recipe isn’t challenging but there are lots of little steps – mostly simple ways to remove the outer peels from the tomatoes and peppers to create a creamier sauce. Don’t feel discouraged by the wordy directions below – it won’t take long and you’ll have deliciously fresh enchilada sauce in no time!

PS – Oh…and it’s vegan!

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Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • 2 fresh red chilis, sliced in half with the seeds removed
  • 1 1 /2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut a large X in the bottom of both
  • 2 jalapeños (or 1 poblano pepper)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
  • salt/pepper, to taste

Add vegetable broth to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chili peppers and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat but DON’T drain the broth. Set aside.

Chard the jalapeños by placing them directly over a gas burner flame until blackened on all sides (or broil in your oven). Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a plastic sandwich bag. Let steam in the bag for about 15 minutes and peel the skins right off. Cut in half and remove seeds. Set aside.

Bring another saucepan full of water to a boil and get a bowl full of ice water ready. Add tomatoes and blanch for a minute or two or until the skins peel right off. Remove from heat and transfer tomatoes to the bowl of ice water. Peel tomatoes and then dice.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent (about 7 minutes). Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chillis with the vegetable broth liquid, jalapeño, oregano, and cumin. Let simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Once slightly cooled, transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

Use right away or store in the fridge for up to four days.

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Cantaloupe Caprese

Posted on: July 1, 2013

It’s July…just barely but still July. July means I’m entitled to consuming copious amounts of juicy, flavorful, plump tomatoes. And all the cravings that go along with it…cravings for say… salsa and tomato jam and  bruschetta and Caprese salad. Yup, Caprese salad. That is what I’ve been craving the most. An excuse to buy those irresistible bite-size fresh mozzarella balls that end up half gone before you can even put them on a stick. And basil so fresh that you can still smell the herb on your fingertips from the leaves being picked only a few minutes earlier.

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But…oh wait. There’s one problem. The tomatoes aren’t ready…they are plump and round but mockingly green. The green is a glaring reminder that they are so close…but not close enough. So what’s a girl to do when she impulsively bought a big tub of mozzarella thinking she’d come across heirloom tomatoes at the market? Eat them anyways, of course!

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This is a sweet twist on the caprese salad appetizer that you so often times see around the later summer months. It’s still a juicy excuse to splurge on fresh mozzarella and douse your food in balsamic. It’s just a bit of a sweeter excuse.

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PS – Yes, I did take the time to make these into shapes so it spelled out ‘Vegetarian ‘Ventures’. To be fair, it was a rainy Saturday and I didn’t have much else planned (besides sunbathing at the lake…which I repeat…it was rainy). So, you obviously can just cut these up into little squares or use a mellow scooper to make them circles. Or take the time to cut out cute shapes using cookie cutters you obtained from an antique shop. Whatever suits your fancy.

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Cantaloupe Caprese

makes about 2 dozen Caprese kabobs
  • 24 chunks of cantaloupe (from one small melon)
  • 24 fresh bocconcini (bite-size mozzarella) balls
  • 24 basil leaves

 

  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 12 kebob sticks (I broke mine in half for smaller kebobs)

 

Let kebob sticks soak in water for an hour before preparing.

Stick two of each cantaloupe piece, bocconicini, and basil leaf on a kebob stick in whatever order you’d prefer. Repeat with the rest of the pieces and sticks.

Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar before serving.

Doesn’t get much easier than that, huh?

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French Onion Soup [Revisited]

Posted on: May 15, 2013

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Soup?! Really? But it’s SPRING. Soup season is over. Or so I thought. This past rainy and chilly Saturday sparked my desire for one last soup for the season. My stepfather and Ma had dropped off a 10 pound bag of onions from Shriners earlier in the week week. TEN pounds. Do you know how many onions that is for two people? A lot. I racked my brain trying to think of recipes that used more than 1 onion in it…stuffed onions with couscous and goat cheese? Or Pickled onions with beets and coriander? And then Wyatt suggested onion soup. Of course!

I’ve only made quick french onion soup but the rain challenged me to spend the afternoon in the kitchen caramelizing the onions. And don’t get me wrong – the quick method is delicious but it’s not even comparable to traditional french onion soup. This method leaves you with melt-in-your mouth, sweet slices of onion amaziness. I wish I had caramelized all ten pounds of onions to throw onto of everything (pizza, pasta, salads, …ice cream?).

Try this method of making french onion the next time you are stuck inside because of the weather or come home after a long day and need some serious cooking therapy.

 

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French Onion Soup [Revisited]

  • 7 cups sliced onions
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 springs of fresh thyme
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • fresh baguette, cut into 1 inch thick pieces
  • 1 cup grated Swiss or gruyere (or a combination of the two)
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste

 

Melt the butter and oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepans. Add the sliced onion and toss until coated with butter / oil. Cover, lower heat to low, and let cook for 15 minutes untouched (go play with your puppy, eat some almond butter, read a magazine, etc).

Uncover, turn the heat back up to medium-low and add in the sugar and a dash of salt. Cook for about an hour and stir frequently. Cook until the onions have become a deep brown and are irrisistable sweet.

Add the flour and cook for a minute. Next, add in the wine, broth, and thyme springs. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and use a spoon to scoop out the thyme stems.

Transfer soup into your desired amount of  ovenproof soup bowls. Top each with a  thick slice of baguette and grated cheese. Stick under the broiler until the cheese has melted and is just started to brown.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Rhubarb with Ginger Crumb Pie [Vegan]

Posted on: May 12, 2013

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I had making a pie on the mind all week. I don’t get this urge very often (mostly because making a pie for two is just plain irresponsible) but decided to let myself indulge this time. My original thought was a blueberry basil pie but I was going to be open to whatever the farmer’s market would supply me. The only fruit I ended up finding at the market were strawberries and I knew I had to get them. They were petite and had the irresistible rustic appearance that wild strawberries often times have. This led to an internal struggle though…what other flavor combination would I use with strawberries? There was no basil at the market so that was out. I knew that rhubarb was the right choice (being in season and because strawberry rhubarb makes everything taste like a fruit roll up – in a good way) but I didn’t want to admit it at first. The ground breaking culinary discovery that rhubarb and strawberries were made for each other happened long before VV came around. What would make my pie different from the 100 million other recipes out there?

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After racking my brain & running through every spice and herb imaginable in my head, it clicked. Ginger. Ginger had become my BFF over the winter (when I was constantly warding off a cold with Ginger Lemon Tonics). I immidetely imagined a gingerly zing hitting the tongue moments after the strawberry rhubarb kicked in for a second layer of flavorings. And you know what? I was right. I am SO glad I was right. Thank you, ginger. Strawberry Rhubarb pies will never be the same.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Ginger Crumble

Adapted from Vegan Pie in The Sky

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 4 Tablespoons ice water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups rhubarb, cute into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 3 1/2 cups strawberries, cut into 1/2 in chunks (fresh or frozen)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan butters or regular butter if not wanting to make vegan)

 

For the crust: Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or your clean hands) cut in the shortening to the mixture until  coarse crumbly dough as formed.

In another small bowl, combine the ice water with the vinegar. Drizzle 1/3 over the water over the flour mixture and stir. Drizzle another 1/3 over the mixture and stir again. Drizzle the rest of the water over the dough and form a soft dough ball. If the mixture hasn’t come together, add another tablespoon of ice water. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon of flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Let sit in the fridge for an hour.

For the filling / crumb: Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside. For the crumb, combine the flour, sugar, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Drizzle in the butter with one hand and swish around the mixture with a spatula with your other hand. Mix until large crumbles form.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough out on floured parchment paper (this will help you transfer it to your pie to the pan). You’ll want to make a 12″ circle with the dough. Quickly flip the dough into your pie pan and remove parchment paper. Add filling over dough and then spread the crumble evenly over the top.

Cover with aluminum foil and poke a few holes to let steam escape. Bake for 20 minutes and then lower heat down to 350 degrees. Remove foil and let cook for another 30 minutes or until the topping has browned.

Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

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CHIMICHURRI Ramps Bread with Lemon Thyme Butter

Posted on: 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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Homemade Mustards: Honey Curry & Beer Thyme

Posted on: April 16, 2013

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As spring approaches, I get the “grilling craving”. You know what I’m talking about – where not only the smell of blooming flowers is in the air but also the smell of charcoal and kabobs. This is usually also the time of year that I  get the urge to make a new condiment. For me, condiments will always be associated with summer outdoor cookouts. A veggie dog is just not the same without relish, ketchup, and mustard. But woah, have you seen all the preservatives that reside in your standard ketchup bottle? Its a sight for sore eyes!

This is usually why I like to make a few batches of homemade condiment to last me through the summer. Two years ago I posted about Ketchup, last spring was Barbecue Sauce, and this time around I am trying my hand at Mustard. The idea, for me, is that if I make it in the spring then I’ll have the condiments around in the fridge for grill outs and social gathering all summer long.

I’m pretty excited about this mustard because it will last in your fridge for up to 3 months. That means months of veggie dog toppings and Brie Grilled Cheeses! In addition, it makes plenty to share and you get to show off your fancy cooking skills to all your friends. What’s a better conversation starter than ‘Oh, here is where I put that homemade mustard. Yup, I said homemade’ ?

The trick for these recipes is to use enough vinegar that you get a bit of tang with each bite but also don’t use so much that the vinegar becomes overpowering (which can happen pretty quickly). Also, another thing to note, is that whole mustard seeds are super spicy. Like…way more spicy than most people ever realize. This means that you may need to add LOTS more sweetener at the end to get the desired flavor profile you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to mix in some more honey or agave to make it sweet. Or even more curry powder or thyme if you aren’t tasting the added ingredients as much as you’d like. Homemade cooking is all about experimenting so play around with this recipe and figure out what works best for your taste palette.

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Homemade Honey Curry Mustard

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (plus more for the end)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon curry powder
  • salt

Homemade Thyme Beer Mustard

  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • salt

For both or either recipes: Place all ingredients for each recipe into two separate bowls (or just use one bowl if you are only making one of the mustards). Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day, transfer everything to a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached (I like to keep a few mustard seeds whole but do whatever fits your fancy). Taste to season and add more honey if it’s too spicy or salt/pepper to help bring out the flavors.

Eat right away or transfer to an airtight jar and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.

*Please note that the mustard seeds are like a sponge and will absorb any liquid around them so if your mustard becomes dry from sitting in the fridge, just add a few teaspoons of water to reach your desired consistency again

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Peppermint Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

Posted on: 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!

Searchable Saturdays

Posted on: November 3, 2012

Heyyya! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend planned! After this post, I am planning on taking a walk down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up my first winter CSA share (!!!) and then spend the afternoon cooking! There is also a new dog park in town so we’ll probably be taking Tuko to socialize this afternoon followed by seeing Wyatt’s band play a show tonight. What are your plans this weekend?

In addition to all the pinterest finds from this week (is anyone else ridiculously obsessed with this website? It’s managed to pull at my desire for organizing all the creative links I’ve ever come across. Seriously dangerous), here are a few inspiring links:
1. Okay, I’m a dog lover so this kind of pulls at me extra hard but have you met Maddie? Oh my goodness…this website is amazing. Beautiful photography + awkward dog pictures = my new favorite thing.

2. Smitten Kitchen was one of the first food blogs that I started to read on a regular basis so you can only imagine my excitement when I found out she was coming out with a cookbook. And at long last, the cookbook is out and there is a bunch of wonderful publicity around it like this wonderful article with pictures from her tiny tiny tiny NY kitchen!

3. Design Sponge did a wonderful round-up of international recipes that are oh so inspiring. I love cooking international grub as a way to get out of my comfort zone in the kitchen.

4. We’ve all seen them…those beautiful winter wonderland pictures with the twinkling lights in the background which sets the mood just right. But just because you’ve seen it, does it mean you know how to recreate that twinkling with your own photography?

5. I’ve been on the hunt for a beautiful cake stand but it’s been a way bigger commitment that I had expected! Cake stands are almost as expensive as mixers, blenders, and other kitchen gadgets. I’ve been lusting over this one but am not sure if I’m ready to make 100+ commitment on a glorified plate…

Anyhow, off to the market! Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Colorado Exploring

Posted on: November 2, 2012

Heyya! No recipe today. Just a few snapshots from our Denver trip last weekend. Hope everyone is gearing up for a fantastic weekend!

 

PS It’s the last day for my Cascal Giveaway so don’t forget to sign up before it’s too late!

Homemade Caramel Corn

Posted on: October 25, 2012

When I was in middle school, I would sometimes go to work with my Ma in the mornings and then walk to school [since it was right down the street]. This meant that there was about an hour where I would just be hanging out around her office doing “homework” (which was actually just me distracting her or going through the stuff in her office). My favorite time of year to be around was after the holidays because she would have lots of edible gifts that she received from employees/clients. Chocolate bars were a popular choice but as a little kid, I was always drawn to the GIANT tin of popcorn that had a tiny paper divider splitting the caramel and cheese popcorn [when you are little - everything is cooler when it's in mass quantities]. I always liked taking the divider out and mixing the two flavors…which was probably my first introduction to the ‘sweet/salty’ combination. [and look at me now! 10 years later and I can't imagine eating caramel without some big hunks of sea salt on top!]

Anyhow, so fast forward to present [~ 10 years later]: We’ve been having weekly movie nights on Thursdays which has given me a chance to make some treats for guests. Popcorn seems like the likely suspect for a movie night so immediately I thought of my Ma’s caramel popcorn recipes (which was actually my Grandma’s). These stuff is amazing…I mean..melt-in-your-mouth, can’t-stop eating-until-it’s-gone amazing. I tweaked the recipe slightly to fit what I had in my pantry and used agave nectar instead of corn syrup (sorry, Ma) but it was just as fantastic as I remember.

The moment that the popcorn came out of the oven and the sweet caramel smell filled my kitchen, I started nibbling at it… like, uncontrollably nibbling at it. And then before I knew it…a large chunk of the popcorn was gone (and the guests had not even arrived). I started pondering if this amount of popcorn was going to be enough (don’t get me wrong…it makes a ton of popcorn…but this stuff was good and I didn’t want it to be gone before the movie even started). So I started brainstorming ways I could make it last longer and that is when I remember the old cheese/caramel mix. Boom! Perfect. I [sort of cheating...] ran down to the co-op and bought a bag of cheesy popcorn [I know, I SHOULD have made it from scratch...but to be fair...I could not find any recipes that could truly capture that cheesy, powdery texture that the store-bought has. And...at least I went organic with it!]

And thus, the popcorn was a hit! It was [almost] gone before the movie started but lasted long enough for everyone to get their fill. The point of my story? Well 1. I like to ramble and 2. plan for the fact that you may eat half of it beforehand and 3. include the cheddar popcorn or just eat the caramel corn by itself…it will be irresistible regardless.

 

 

Homemade Caramel Corn

  • 2/3 cup corn kernels
  • vegetable or canola oil (amount depends on the size of your pot)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/8 cup agave nectar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • salt
  • store-bought cheddar cheese popcorn, optional

First, pop the popcorn! You can either use your favorite method or follow mine. In a large pot with a lid, pour oil until it just coats the bottom. Place two kernels into the pan and heat over medium (with the lid on) and wait until the kernels pop (this will let you know the oil is ready). Once they pop, immediately add the rest of the kernels and stick the top back on. Shake the pot back and forth across the burner (this will be loud and a workout for your arms – both are good for ya!) and continue to shake until all the popcorn has popped (shaking will keep the popcorn from burning). Remove from heat once all the popcorn has popped and set aside.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, agave, and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil and boil for five minutes while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda.

Pour the heated mixture over popcorn and stir until all the popcorn is coated. Transfer popcorn to two cake pans or 1 baking sheet (if using baking sheet, make sure not to spill it in the oven!). Cook for 2 hours and stir every 30 minutes.

Enjoy warm with all your friends!

 

Moody Monday // Pumpkin Spice Mix

Posted on: September 24, 2012

I know we are all super excited for Fall but it was still quite the slap in the face this morning when we woke up to it being 39 degrees out. I’m not complaining or anything but HOW DO PEOPLE GET OUT OF BED WHEN IT’S COLD OUT? I can already foresee many [many] lazy days in bed with my macbook and hot tea in my near future.

Anyhow, I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. We tried to go apple picking yesterday but the Midwestern drought that struck our entire month of July seems to have thrown off the growing season and all the apples had already fallen from the trees. Ah well, at least we got some yummy apple cider and fig jam out of the experience (and persimmon pulp…more to come on that in a future post…).

Here are a few pictures from a mid-week dinner picnic we went on last week. Nothing like watching the sunset over the lake to cure the mid-week blues. [warning: sorry cat lovers but there are A LOT of dog pictures to follow...Tuko was being extra photogenic that day and seems to have jumped into 90 percent of my photos from the evening]:

 

 

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So yeah, last week I promised you that I would get the last bit of summer out of my system and move onto fall this week. That means that I won’t be posting that absolutely delicious bruschetta recipe I had hope to but I will be posting lots of cinnamon, apple, and pumpkin themed recipes this week. MMMMMMM.

Oh, and speaking of cinnamon…let’s start the week off with an essential: pumpkin pie spice. I grew up using pumpkin pie spice that was prepackaged from our grocery store but did you know it’s ridiculously simple to make your own? And on top of that, you can make it with spices that you more than likely have sitting in your pantry. How cool is that? So why not whip up a batch to use in all your fall baked goods, to sprinkle on top of warm oatmeal, and to spice your cider with?

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

Mix together and sprinkle over everything. BAM! That’s it.

Store in an airtight container with the rest of your baking spices.

Moody Monday // Basil Salt

Posted on: September 17, 2012

Hello, Gloomy Monday. The overcast and rain made it particularly hard to get out of bed this morning but this picture from camping next weekend managed to brighten my mood. So…here I am… currently moving pretty [very slowly] into my week. Ah, oh well.

Did everyone have a good weekend? I hope so! Mine was spent with family, at the farmer’s market, cooking yummy food, plant shopping and doing yoga. I picked up some delicious looking butternut squash (helllooooo, Fall!) and some sweet corn (before it’s too late!)…ah, I love this “in-between” part of the season where summer vegetables are still around but fall produce is also popping up.

However, now it’s back to business! I’ve spent a good portion of today looking at website designers and am feeling very frustrated. It’s like looking for the perfect home to move into! There are endless options but I can’t seem to find the right designer/company that fits both my style and my budget. And so the search continues….

 

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And to continue our discussion from last week’s Moody Monday, let’s talk about another way to preserve basil! Come on, I know you all have pots upon pots full of basil blooming in your backyard right now and we all know they will be gone as soon as that first [unexpected] frost hits. So pick as much as you can and let’s bake some basil salt! [or preserve some pesto like we did last week!]

Who needs plain old basic salt when you can make your own flavored salt? Basil salt is a fun way to retain the flavors of summer all year long. In the summer, sprinkle it on top of a [cucumber/cream cheese] sandwich or enjoy with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. In the winter, enjoy with an Italian-inspired pasta dishes or even on top of your morning pile of eggs and hash browns.

Oh and did I mention that the subtle mint tint the basil gives the salt is absolutely beautiful? Yup, not lying.

Basil Salt

  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Pulse everything in a food processor until incorporated and finely ground. On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out the salt so that it’s in a single layer.

Bake for 30-40 minutes and stir halfway through the cooking process.

Enjoy sprinkled on everything!

Searchable Saturdays

Posted on: September 15, 2012

photo from our camping trip last weekend at Lake Michigan

 

And here are a few of my favorite web links from this week…

1. I have been doing the yoga journal fitness challenge and it has been a great motivator! It’s pushed me to wake up early every morning and do one of their work out videos (which gets sent right to your email!).

2. My friend, Kristin, and I have been doing weekly craft nights which as been a nice way to push each other to actually do all the DIYs we swoon over. This week, we tackled how to make billy buds…so simple and they look awesome in my vintage vase!

3. Brown Butter Espresso Chip Muffins…what more do I need to say?

4. Harvard is doing a series on famous chefs and the science behind food. I bring this up because they post videos online for you to watch the lectures! How cool is that?

5. A great tutorial on how to properly frost a scallop cake!

6. I am a total photoshop nut and love using actions as shortcuts. Have you seen the 70s action that pioneer woman has up for free download? LOVE LOVE LOVE.

7. Been doing research on vegan cooking shows lately and came across this adorable show called Save the Kales! Highly recommend

Well, hope everyone enjoys their weekend and is whipping up some delicious fresh tomato dishes before the season is over!

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