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Homemade Coconut Chai Latte

February 26, 2015

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Hey friends! Just popping in real quick to let you know that there is a new VV recipe over at 80Twenty this week! It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up for this never ending cold so many of us in America is enduring right now!

Okay – that is all for now. I’ll be back in a few days with another warm and comforting recipe!

 

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Multi-Grain Knots 2 Ways: Parsley-Garlic & Cinnamon-Whiskey Sugar

February 22, 2015

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Remember when I used to post about salads and juices and the benefits of food healing? Well those topics feel miles away as this Midwest February demands carbs, alcohol, and anything else that is going to fatten me up and keep me warm. Honestly, if I wasn’t so set on turning these into garlic knots and sweet rolls then the bread would have just been fantastic on it’s own; I sometimes struggle with my loaves coming out dense  but these were light (despite using whole wheat flour!) with a wonderful crunch on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside.

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As you may notice, this post is crowded with photos; I’m trying out something new today. Instead of photoshopping my photos side by side (since my site doesn’t allow me to put photos next to each other – grrrr), I just made them all HUGE! The only problem with that is that there are now SO many of them which makes me think that I probably spend way too much time editing photos to begin with and I could have just shown you a finished product shot and been done with this post five hours ago. Ugh, unfortunately that is not how I work – my words aren’t usually that inspiring (hey, I know where my strengths and weaknesses are) so I strive to lead with gorgeous photos. Anyhow, I’m sorry if it’s crowded – I’ve already spent all afternoon editing photos so I’ll keep it minimal with the words to try and tone down the scrolling. Maybe we’ll end up being really into it this way and it will feel less crowded with time? Or maybe I’ll go back to the side-by-side photoshop edited photos that look so uninspiring when pinned and awkward when linked to on Facebook. Who knows – we’ll see.

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Gin & [Blood Orange] Juice

February 15, 2015

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I have all sorts of opinions on being an adult. I really really dislike it most of the time; in fact, not only do I dislike it but I’m pretty darn awful at it. I’m the kind of person who needs to set monthly reminders to pay the billz on my cellphone, ical, and fridge yet still forget to pay it until the 3rd notice, in which they threaten to turn off our water, arrives in the mail (this is also the kind of things that really ticks off the boyfriend / roommates which is another annoying adult thing: being held accountable for your mistakes). Ever since I graduated from college (note: it’s been YEARS since I graduated so I really should be adjusted by now), I’ve groaned at the concept of having to spend 40 hours of my time a week at work in order to pay the rent in this small college town. I’ve agonized over the right foods to put into my body in an attempt to take care of myself. I’ve bitched and bitched about how insanely expensive things like health insurance and dentist appointments are. I’ve had numerous nightmares about going to jail for doing my taxes wrong and not being able to pay rent because I blew all of my paycheck on records.

Sure, it felt easier when my parents were footing the bill and I could skip class to cure a hangover at the local diner BUT being an adult isn’t all bad. In fact, being an adult can be down right fun at times. You can go a whole month without doing your own laundry and no one will say anything. You can re-arrange your entire living room on a Sunday afternoon and no one will get angry because its your living room. You can spontaneously adopt a dog. You can eat french fries and ice cream for dinner while sitting in front of the TV and watching Gilmore Girls. You can spend all of your money on records and wait to pay the bills until next month (oh wait…).

For Christmas, I was given a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin by one of my accounts (yup, I have ‘accounts’ that I work with on the regular – very adult). Gin is my thing – the rest of my office enjoys whiskey (or so I told myself that) so I decided to just bring this bottle home for a rainy day. The adult thing to do would have been to stop drinking $5-a-bottle gin after college but I hadn’t kicked that habit yet; well not until I started making drinks from this bottle of Hendrick’s. This stuff is fantastic and it’s not even that fancy or expensive. Like my adult paycheck could afford a bottle of this a month and I plan on adding it into the budget (the expendable part that I usually just reserve for netflix and cookbooks). The best part? It’s so good that you don’t even have to really add that much of a mixer. Heck, enjoy this stuff on the rocks if you want…although I recommend adding a splash of orange juice for the perfect winter relaxer. So, what I am trying to say is, be an adult and buy adult alcohol so that you can enjoy cocktails for what they really should be: mostly alcohol!

Anyhow, is it just me or was that kind of a weak punch line… I don’t know where I am going with this. I’m 25 years old. I’m an adult and it’s cool but also sort of hard and mostly confusing but also really fun. Oh and I think about growing up way too much…when I’m not too busy being grown up.

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Winter Panzanella Salad With Cornbread Croutons + A GIVEAWAY!

February 10, 2015

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It has been a very long time since I hosted a giveaway around here. I am beyond thrilled to let you know that the wonderful folks over at Turntable Kitchen hired me to create the recipe for their February pairing box. I had so much fun with it – the dreary and cold days are never ending in the Midwest this time of year so I let my imagination drift away to blissful summer days that revolve around endless afternoons with friends at the lake. The box was loosely inspired by summer camp – with a healthy Midwest vegetarian twist, of course (just my style). So, what I am trying to say is that this month’s pairing box is going to be a real treat that you won’t want to miss! I mean, it’s going to feature 3 never-before-seen Vegetarian ‘Ventures recipes! As an avid reader, I didn’t want you to miss out on these recipes so I’m giving you a chance to win a 3 month subscription to Turntable Kitchen’s pairing box which will start with the February box that I recipe developed for! What’s in the pairing box, you ask? Well here is what you get:

  • An exclusive 7″ vinyl
  • Digital mixtape
  • A premium ingredient
  • 3 seasonal recipes
  • Tasting notes

Here is a video to learn more about the pairing box (which, by the way, usually costs $75 for 3 months and I am offering a chance to win it FOR FREE below):

The Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box Experience from High Beam Media on Vimeo.

Okay, in case you aren’t sold yet, I’ve made a short list of reasons why you need this pairing box in your life:

  • It’s almost Valentine’s Day and this would be the perfect gift to impress that hot hipster that you’ve been trying to snag for months now
  • You are a vinyl enthusiastic and on a mission to collect every vinyl to ever be made so you must seek out these exclusive TTK 7″s immediately
  • YOLO. Treat Yo ‘Self. Whatever you want to call it, you love receiving gifts and this is a specially curated one that will arrive at your doorstep every month (until I cut you off…which will be in 3 months)
  • You like music and cooking. If that is the case then this is especially for you.
  • You always knew the coolest bands in college but then you got a corporate job and don’t have time for hobbies like rummaging through vinyl at record stores, hanging out in sweaty bars waiting for midnight sets to start, or reading every ‘rising artist’ article posted on Pitchfork. This delivers vinyl and mix tapes from new and upcoming bands right to your doorstep. (PS I should note that this scenario is highly unlikely because why would you have time for my wordy blog posts but not time for searching iTune’s daily ‘indie spotlight’ section or whatever they call it these days?)
  • You like cool stuff and this is cool and I am giving you the chance to potentially win this contest and try it out for free so why not?

(side note: Dang I’m good at this! It’s like I sell vinyl records for a living or something…)

Cool? Cool! Now enter this giveaway already!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Oh and here is a simple winter salad that is perfect with leftover cornbread or as an excuse to whip up a batch.

Winter Panzanella Salad With Cornbread Croutons

Serves 6 as a side or starter

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, cute into 1 inch wedges
  • 3 cups brussel sprouts, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt / Pepper
  • 3-4 Thyme Sprigs
  • Lemon or Orange Wedges
  • Parmesan, to spring on top (omit if vegan)

For the cornbread croutons:

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove crushed

For the cornbread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper. Squeeze the lemon juice into the milk and set aside for at least 5 minutes. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the coconut oil, maple syrup, and milk mixture. Slowly whisk together the wet ingredients and then start incorporating the dry ingredients as you whisk until a thick batter is formed. Spread evenly in your baking pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Slice the bread into 1 inch squares to make them ‘croutons’ and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Combine the crushed garlic with the olive oil and brush over the croutons. Stick on the toaster setting in your toaster oven for 5 minutes (or until browned) or into your boiler for 1-2 minutes or until crispy.

For the veggies: Raise the oven temperature to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out the seedy insides of the butternut squash and cut it into 1 inch cubes. Transfer the butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and onions to the prepared baking dish and lay out in a single layer. Top with olive oil, salt, pepper, and toss until everything is completely coated. Bake for 30 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and browned. Remove from heat and let cool. Toss with the cornbread croutons, a squirt of citrus, some parmesan (if using), and serve warm.

Blood Orange & Quinoa Muffins with Crystalized Ginger-Thyme Butter

February 1, 2015

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

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

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

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

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How To Make A Quick & Healthy Cheese Plate [Vegan Option] /// Roasted Curry Sesame Almonds

January 25, 2015

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For today’s post, I’ve paired up with the fine folks over at Kite Hill to bring you a simple and straightforward guide to creating a healthy cheese plate.

I notice the same goals popping up again and again on my resolution list come January: try to eat healthier, get outside more in the cold months, be more social, etc. On this year’s list was ‘host more friends‘ so I jumped at the chance to work on a cheese plate when Kite Hill contacted me about sending over some cheese to try. Wyatt & I recently signed a lease to a smaller (but newer) house that we’ll be moving into in this summer so I’m feeling the urge to have as many gatherings as we can while we still have a huge dining room for game evenings, a big fenced in back yard for grill outs, and a roomy living room for movie nights.

Hosting a cheese and wine party (or even just starting out an evening with a cheese plate) doesn’t have to exclude all of your vegan friends. Because of places like Kite Hill, there are now delicious nut-based cheeses that are just as diverse and interesting at the ones you pick up at the local dairy farm. The cheese plate I made here featured cheese exclusively by Kite Hill but I plan to mix and match my cheese plates in the future with both dairy and non-dairy options to please any kind of guest.

Below you will find some tips and tricks that I’ve discovered along the way on how to assemble a quick and healthy cheese plate along with a recipe at the bottom for some zesty roasted almonds that are the perfect accompaniment to all of your favorite cheeses.

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Cheese: Use a variety of hard and soft cheeses. For dairy cheeses, use a few that you know are crowd pleasers and then a few that most people probably haven’t tried yet. For non-dairy cheeses, you can make your own for a personal touch or an array of store bought versions (I’d recommend Kite Hill, Herbed Chao Cheese, etc). Also a great way to make cheese your own is by creating a flavorful cheese ball out of ingredients that are already in your pantry.

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Chocolate Espresso Almond Biscotti

January 18, 2015

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

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

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

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Caramelized White Chocolate & Dark Chocolate Covered Oranges

January 12, 2015

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

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

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Green Minestrone With Kale Pistachio Pesto

January 6, 2015

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This is the obligatory ‘kick off the year with a healthy start’ post. We just got back from Marco Island and going from 80 degrees and sunny to this 17 degree weather is really messing with my body. It feels confused, cold, and a little bit achy so I’ve been giving into it’s cravings – hot tea, warm soup, and lots and lots of greens.

I usually have time at the end of the year to do a wrap up post and look back on how the last year has shaped up. However, since we were on vacation, I jumped right into 2015 without much reflection. 2014 was a whirlwind of a year for me – starting a magazine, doing freelance recipe development with some of my favorite brands, being interviewed by Food & Wine, getting nominated for a Saveur Award, and continually watching as more and more of you come around VV. I know this is belated but I wanted to say thank you to all of you reading and to everyone who has commented, encouraged through social media, or sent me a thoughtful email about Vegetarian ‘Ventures. This place wouldn’t be the same without you and it’s moments like that that push me to try even harder around here. Cheers to being internet friends and cheers to our continued time together in 2015!

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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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Goat Cheese Dip With Red Wine Figs

November 20, 2014

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Here we go – this post is coming a few days early as I am squeezing one more post in before I dip out for the Thanksgiving week and put all my focus into consuming as much pie as possible and into keeping warm. We are heading up to Minneapolis in a few days, despite weather.com reminding me that it’s a horrible idea to travel north during the season of polar vortexs and non-stop blizzards. Don’t worry, I am trying to stay positive and ignore all the articles on the people who have been stuck in their cars for over 24 hours due to the New Buffalo blizzard (okay, now I am just being dramatic).

I had intended to do another vegetarian Thanksgiving round-up and remind everyone that it is possible to have a 100% humane holiday but I’ve honestly already seen a slew of really great vegetarian round-ups that made me second guess needing to put another one out there. It’s crazy wonderful how far vegetarianism has come, just in the three years since I’ve been blogging (despite the 12 years since I became a vegetarian) and it’s really inspiring to see so many people catching on! I mean, I know you guys get it (that is why you are here!) but it used to be really really hard for us vegetarians to sit down at the Thanksgiving table and find something to eat. Luckily, the days of frozen meat protein and plates full of dinner rolls are over because there are endless recipes for vegetarian mains and even meat-free sides!

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I have one more recipe to throw into the Thanksgiving mix – a simple and cheesy dip that is a perfect starter to have around while everyone’s mouths start salivating over the irresistible cooking smell coming from the kitchen. The base is creamy and then it is layered with red wine poached figs for an elegant twist – the sweet from the figs and savory from the goat cheese is addictive in the best way possible.

I prefer this dip with fresh cut veggies (your body will thank you later) but it is also great served with toasted flat bread or homemade crackers. Make sure you pick super fresh and vibrant vegetables for the tray as they are going to be a shining piece of the flavor. I picked an array of carrots, homemade crackers, romanesco broccoli, watermelon radishes, grapes (more to cleanse your pallet between bites rather than dipping), and celery. Feel free to get creative with your tray and pick what you find looks the freshest at your grocery store. Also, make sure you pick vegetables that have different colors, textures, and size to create a show stopper appetizer tray.

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Goat Cheese Dip With Red Wine Figs


Serves 6 as an appetizer

  • 1 pint of fresh figs (about 6 large or 8 small), quartered
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • dash of salt

 

  •  4 ounces of goat cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives + more for garnish
  • Salt / Pepper

 

  • An assortment of veggies, crackers, and chips

Combine the figs, red wine, sugar, cinnamon stick, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the figs has absorbed the red color (I like to keep my figs a little firm but feel free to let them simmer for longer if you’d like them to absorb more of the wine flavor). Remove from heat and strain.

Whisk together the goat cheese, sour cream, and chives and transfer to serving dish. Top with poached figs and chives.

Pomegranate Cranberry Rum Punch With Candied Rosemary

November 16, 2014

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I know I know – I disappear for a whole month and when I come back, I only have a simple drink recipe to give you? I can explain. Our oven was broken – for six weeks. We rent our home so it wasn’t as simple as dipping into our saving to invest in a new one; instead, it was a constant battle of calling and emailing our rental company, them ordering parts, installing those parts (3 different times), and it still coming out broken. It was frustrating and I may have had a few meltdowns that made me disgusted with even bothering with the kitchen for a few weeks. Yes, I could have used the stove-top to whip you something delicious but it was the frustration of the whole thing that really unnerved me every time I walked into the kitchen and the annoyance took all my creative drive right out of me. So yeah – I was feeling negative the last few weeks and really didn’t want to bring you into it..I am hoping you understand. After a particularly nasty call I made when we were told it was fixed (for the second time) and I whipped up a big batch of cake batter only to find that the oven stopped halfway through the baking process, Wyatt snuck out of the house and returned with a toaster oven the size of our real oven. I am now able to bake you cakes, pizzas, breads, and so much more in this giant toaster oven so watch out – there will be lots more recipes very soon!

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Until then, I bring you a cocktail recipe! Thanksgiving is approaching fast and we are switching up the tradition this year. In years past, Thanksgiving prep was actually great practice for the freelance world; I would spend weeks researching recipes by scanning through magazines, Pinterest boards, and the indexes of my favorite blogs. I’d make lists of 30 to 40 recipes that would then be dwindled down to 10 or so by my stepdad and ma. We would then spend two solid days cooking (these are now shoot days in my freelance life) and prepping the food. It would all end up with a huge feast that we’d present to the whole family. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case this year due to my stepfather’s passing two months ago and my mother not ready to carry out that tradition just yet.

Instead, I will be heading up the the northern part of Wisconsin (brrrrrrrr) to celebrate with Wyatt’s family in their cabin. I am excited to start this new tradition with Wyatt’s family but am also bummed I won’t be taking control of the food this year. Wisconsin may only be 2 states away but the drive is 13 hours and I can’t imagine that a cake or pie will fair well in the back seat with Tuko.

So alas, I am throwing in the towel and only bringing ingredients for a cocktail recipe instead. Besides the obvious point that these ingredients will travel well and it’ll be easy to prepare, I am hoping to bring a bit of my family’s tradition with me to Wyatt’s event. It is not that this particular cocktail is an old family recipe but that my family has always celebrated with alcohol. Both sides of my family are German and we all tend to be heavy and joyful drinkers; I realize some families have negative views of drinking as it leads to dramatic arguments and un-controllable negative habits but not with my family. My family works hard and we also play hard; my mother and I have at least one ‘mother-daughter pool day’ a year in the summer months that consist of drinking sangria and lounging by the family pool, my grandparent’s drank a Manhatten together every evening as they talked about their days for over 50 years, my father pulls out the bottle of Jack whenever his old college buddies come into town and they drink rum and cokes while reminiscing about their old prank days, and my mother and I always get a boot full of glühwein during the holiday season when we go up to Chicago for Christmas shopping.  Similar to food, it’s nice to be able to take a sip of a certain cocktail and have my mind transported to a moment in time that I had shared with loved ones.

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Savory Cheddar & Cornmeal Waffles With Green Tomato Salsa

November 3, 2014

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November. November. November. No matter how many times I say it, I am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that it is already November. Instead of rambling on in an attempt at trying to catch you up on everything that has been going on lately over here with me, I decided to take the time to sit down and edit all the photos I’ve accumulated over the last 2 months; I decided it would be more interesting to tell you through these photos. It’s been a whirlwind of freelancing, road tripping, hiking, completing another issue of our magazine, and continually trying to find myself through it all. Here are a few glimpses from the more scenic moments of the last two months:

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Tropical Mini Breakfast Muffins + Forager

October 15, 2014

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

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

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

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Spiced Apple Biscuit Waffles For Popover + Driftless Issue 2

October 9, 2014

VegetarianVenturesRecipeForPopover

I am interrupting my usual weekend-only posting to stop in and chat really quick about two exciting VV related topics going on outside the blog. The first note is that I did a guest recipe post over on Popover last week. The recipe is for Spiced Apple Biscuit Waffles (so fall) and a little story behind apple picking. For this recipe, imagine spiced apple slices wedged in between melt-in-your-mouth flaky biscuits that are crisped perfectly in a waffle iron. Are you imagining that? Yeah – pretty amazing, huh? I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Popover is an up and coming lifestyle blog that I highly recommend you check out if you aren’t already following along. The creators behind it obviously have a really great eye and I’m excited to watch it grow. My favorite posts so far have been this one, this one, and this one if you are looking for a place to start on the site.

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The other topic I wanted to bring up is that Issue 2 of Driftless Magazine is finally done! If you are fairly new around here then you may not have heard me mention this magazine before (recap can be found here and here) but it’s basically my other half these days (VV being my first love, of course).

Issue 2 Cover

Driftless is an ad-free, independent magazine about Midwest adventuring. It’s pretty insane how much this magazine has grown since bringing the idea of it up to you all back in January. I feel a duty to keep you filled in since we began this together but I only wish you could see all the insanely time consuming hard work that has gone into it behind the scenes! We are so proud of what has come from that hardwork and I couldn’t be more excited for an issue than I am for Issue 2. Issue 1 was great (like really really great) but it took us six months to make it and I was feeling pretty burnt out at the end after staring at the same content for that long. Issue 2 also is close to my heart because I actually contributed to this one instead of just helping arrange the whole thing (woot woot! That is right – VV makes an appearance for several recipes this time around!).

We announced issue 2 on October 1st and will begin mailing it out to people this coming Monday (eee!). This issue is all about the fall and winter months in Midwest America and does a gradual transition from the beginning of fall (apple picking, hiking amongst the changing leaves) to the deepest depths of winter (holiday dessert recipes, cabin celebrations). You can pre-order it now (AND get free shipping until next Wednesday, October 15th). Here is a preview:

 


 

Lastly, I am SO excited to announce that we’ll be having a Driftless Magazine booth at both the Chicago Renegade Fair and the Indianapolis INDIEana Handicraft Exchange the first week in December. If you live in either area and think you might be adventuring to one of these two events, let me know so we can meet up! I’d love to chat all things independent magazines, vegan baking, indie-rock, and the likes.

Okay – those were my excited plugins for the day. I’ll be back this weekend with a new recipe for you all.

French Onion Soup

February 5, 2012

As usual, my Saturday consisted of loads of thrift shopping because it’s an addictive hobby and I love it. I didn’t find much (although my boyfriend found plenty. He bought an 8 tape VHS box set for the first season of Twin Peaks. Arg, he’s completely useless). Anyhow, I did find these adorable soup bowls (can you see where I’m going with this?):

I love them. I got a set of 4 and can’t wait until next year to display them somewhere in my vintage style kitchen next to my 1960′s Betty Crocker cookbook collection. So, as you’d assume…I immediately needed to make soup and try out my new cups.

When its freezing out, there is nothing better in the world than savory soup that is topped with a huge hunk of bread and stacked with cheese. Seriously, there isn’t. Plus, the bread being baked into it is allows you to skip the sides all together. I like this recipe because it’s light and simple so you usually have everything on hand and don’t feel guilty about eating it on a week night.

French Onion Soup

  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 4 small onions, sliced
  • 2 cup veggie broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • dash of sugar
  • fresh baguette, cut into big slices
  • slices of swiss cheese to put over the soup bowls (the amount of cheese will vary depending on how big your ramekins are)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and just starting to brown (about five minutes). Then, add the garlic and cook for another minute (or until fragrant. you know that yummy smell I’m talking about!) Next, add the broth, wine, water, bay leaf, thyme, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper

Turn your broiler on. Remove bay leaf and pour into four small ramekins and top each with a slice of the baguette. Put a slice (or two!) of Swiss on top of each baguette. Stick under the broiler until the top has browned and the soup is bubbly (a minute or two).

Homemade Pasta with Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons

February 1, 2012

Okay, this recipe was sooo out of my comfort zone that I’ve been dreading trying to translate it for you guys. The recipe I followed for homemade pasta was by a french enthusiast (who also makes beautiful cooks books- Yvette Van Boven) and insisted on using cooking terms that have never come up in  my sheltered, American, vegetarian kitchen life. How did I end up making this? I got talked into it by my “cultured, been-to-every-Continent-but-Antarctica” roommate who insisted it would be a piece of cake (please note- she is the one in all the pictures doing most of the intensive labor parts because I was too busy googling what farina is and how you turn dough into “nests”). What kind of person have I become that cooking with xantham gum and agave nectar are normal occurrences but I don’t even know the french term for ‘cream of wheat’? This girl needs to get cultured outside of her hipster lifestyle.

Needless to say, this was my first experience with true fresh pasta and I can understand what all the fuss is about. It may be a bit labor intensive at times (which would easily be avoided if you have a pasta maker! Hoping to get one of these when I become a “real adult” one day) but it doesn’t even taste like the same food as packaged pasta. It’s soft and doughy with an almost…melt in your mouth texture.

I’m going to also post the recipe that we made with the fresh pasta but feel free to do whatever you’d like with the pasta after you make it. I mean…drenching it in french cream and fresh vegetables is only my suggestion…but you should know it’s a damn good one!


Homemade Pasta with Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons

For the pasta:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • cream of wheat

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and slit but still whole
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 2 zucchinis
  • salt and pepper, to taste

First…it’s time to prep the pasta dough: Make a pile of the flour (add a bit of salt and pepper to it) on a CLEAN kitchen counter and create a well in the center of it. Crack the eggs into the center and fold the flour into the eggs until you make a firm, dough balls. This will probably take about ten minutes or so sooo be patient (oh or you could probably stick this stuff in a food processor and make it that way…if you have a food processor. Some of us still live in the stone ages…or are just poor college kids. Either way will work though!). Next, your gonna have to leave the dough to rest for about an hour (I know, I know…waiting is no fun).


If you’d like, you can prep your veggies at this time. You’re just going to peel the carrots and then julienne them and the zucchini. Then set aside for later use!

Wait for the dough to be ready…write a song…dance to some vinyls…wait more…drool over how good this recipe is going to be…wait more…READY!

Now, this is the easy part for you folks that have a pasta machine. Basically, you are just going to roll out chunks of the dough and put them through the pasta maker until you reach the desired size you’d like. HOWEVER, we did it without a pasta maker and this is how: we floured that clean kitchen counter again and rolled out the dough as thin as we could possibly get it (I realize this sounds easy…but it’s not. the dough will be tough and want to pull back in on itself but don’t let that discourage you! You’ll get it!). Once it’s as thin as you’d like it, generously sprinkle the dough with cream of wheat (this is important because it’s going to keep the pasta strands from sticking to itself). Using a knife, cut thin strips of dough and make “nests” (see picture below) on a cutting board with the strips. Continue to sprinkle with cream of wheat to prevent sticking.

Once done with that, bring two large pots of salted water to a boil. While waiting for them to boil, in another small saucepan put the cream fraiche. Stick the whole garlic cloves in the cream and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and add salt/pepper.

When the two pots are boiling, add the vegetables to one of them to blanched the veggies (the time this will take will vary because of how large or small you cut your veggies so just keep an eye on it and test the veggies every few minutes until they reach a slightly soft texture). Throw your pasta in another pan and let cook until it rises to the surface (this will be only about five minutes- it is a very fast process!). Once they are floating, strain and rinse with cold water. Return the pasta to the pot and strain the veggies.

Remove the garlic cloves from the cream and combine everything together in one of the large pots. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy warm!

Make sure to share and show off your European culinary skills to your mother and kittens!

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

January 26, 2012

I just want to start out by apologizing. I realize that I have talked about bread excessively lately and I can’t help it. I’ve been on a major bread making kick lately…but this one doesnt involve the breadmaker so everyone can be included! Yay!

Anyways, this week has kicked my ass. Between switching to working full days, having classes from 9 to 9 on my days off, my boyfriend’s birthday (which was yesterday and was a success. Cake-recipe-post soon), and tonight I have to go to Indianapolis to support my boyfriend’s band…I have had noooo time for cooking or grocery shopping or sleeping. BUT this blog is not here for me to complain so I love my life and am hoping to do some major catch up with it this weekend. New header is currently in the making and lots of recipes will be made this weekend as well!

Okay.. these oatmeal molasses rolls. I made them expecting a sort of dessert roll (you know. buttery, cinnamon roll-esk) but they were really just savory dinner rolls with the slightest hint of molasses sweet. And damn, they were amazing. Soft, melt in your mouth and full of flavor. I would recommend serving them as a side to a pasta dish or even meat (if you swing that way) or soup. I served them with a yummy bowl of Annie’s Chickenless noodle soup and it was perfect.

Oh also, make these on the weekend or super ahead of time. Since they don’t involve the bread machine, there is a lot of rising time (on two separate occasions) so prep the dough the night before or start in the AM so you can check back on the dough through out the day. I adapted this recipe from Food52 which is a plethora of bread recipes so browse it sometime if you are as dough loving as me. And I promise promise promise they will be worth the extra effort!

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

  • 1 packet of yeast (or about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3 Tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 sticks of butter +2 tablespoons of butter (to brush on top of rolls)

Phase ONE: Dissolve the yeast in a small bowl with the warm water. Set aside so that it can react and bubble and do it’s thing.

Heat the milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Once the milk has warmed up slightly, add the butter and stir until it has melted completely. Remove from heat and add in the brown sugar, oats, molasses, and salt. Stir until well combined then set aside to cool to luke warm temperatures.

Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl. Once cooled, add the milk mixture and the yeast mixture. Slowly add the flour until it creates a large ball and all the ingredients stick together. If it’s too sticky then add a tiny bit more flour. Place the dough in a greased bowl and roll it around until the ball is greased on all side. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

Wait. wait. Go play with kitty. Take your puppy for a walk. wait. read some of your favorite blogs. wait.

Phase TWO: Divide the dough into 12 balls and place in a greased, 9 inch pan. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and coat the tops of the buns with it. Sprinkle with some extra rolled outs and then cover with a towel. Let rise (again, I know. I know.) for another two hours in a warm place.

Wait more. Read a book. Watch some Anthony Bourdain. wait more.

 Phase THREE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm with butter and honey.