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summer

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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Salted Maple Dark Chocolate Raspberry Crumble [Vegan Option] + Raspberry Picking

October 5, 2014

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Caroline and I took a short drive into the country yesterday in search of an apple orchard that would fulfill our fall fever. We knew the moment we were close because the vast open corn fields were upbruptly interrupted with what seemed like skyscraper-high blow up bounce houses and multi-colored tents popping up in the distance. As we approached the entrance, we realized we had no idea what we got ourselves into with police officers directing traffic and fields filled with minivans. Luckily, the apple orchard was large enough that we could find pockets of solitude to snap some photos of the gorgeous apple trees and our picking adventure. After we had our fill of the apples, we headed back to the entrance to pay and inquired about a ‘Pick Your Own Raspberry’ sign that was near the parking lot. The worker handed us a bucket and told us to head across the street if we were interested in berry picking. To our surprise, across the street was a whole different story; the sound of children squealing and the constant need to dodge groups of people disappeared. Not only was the berry field completely void of cars, but also of people in general. We were shocked to be the only ones out there picking thriving raspberries while hundreds of families pushed their way through the crowds for apple-flavored everything just yards away. It was a small oasis of solitude in an otherwise crazy tourist attraction and we were surprised to unexpectedly stumbled upon it. Cheers to the bright red underdog of the season and here are a few photos from our adventure:

 

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One Pot Veggie Chili Cornbread Casserole Over the Open Fire

September 28, 2014

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Man, all this talk about getting older, family members passing away, and animal cruelty is exhausting. How about we keep this one light today, cool? Cool because I’m about to overload you with photos from our trip last month!

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People always talk about apple picking this time of year but what about camping? For some reason, camping gets lumped into summer activities but have you ever tried to go camping in July? If the heat doesn’t eat you alive then the bugs will. So many people I talk to won’t go camping after Labor Day even though this is the best time of year to be outside. What is better than spending all day hiking around in the woods while the leaves change colors? And what is better than getting a huge fire going to keep you warm in the evenings and to roast your ‘mallows over? And what is better than zipping two sleeping bags together so you have to snuggle really close to your significant other to keep warm at night? Not much if you ask me.

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Vegan Corn Cream Soup With Cornbread Croutons + National Chicken Month

September 21, 2014

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One of my very close friends recently decided she wanted to stop eating meat so she came to me as for suggestions on where to begin. I was able to send her a long list of blogs, cookbooks, and resources for her new found dietary adventure and was very flattered to help. I try to not be preachy here on VV but my vegetarian beliefs are strong and I’m so very grateful to be used as a resource for helping others find their footing in the world of vegetarianism when they are ready.

There are times where I honestly forget that my diet is any different than most Americans. I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years so the thought of ordering a steak at a restaurant never even crosses my mind. Yes, I sometimes bring it up but I like to let my recipes speak for themselves and for you to want to dive into them because they look and taste delicious. I want you to forget that my recipes are even vegetarian and for you to decide to make them because they are what sound good to you at the time.

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Perhaps if we knew each other in real life then I may be more open to offering up my vegetarian beliefs to you – when you could sit down next to me and see that I am a totally normal person who loves Seinfeld marathons and strong drip coffee just like everyone else. But we are not right next to each other and you don’t have any confirmation that I am in fact a level headed human (except maybe through the words posted here on VV). This means flashing a slaughter video of animals being mistreated would most likely be found as appalling and, at the very least, a horrible start to a friendship. This is unfortunately the approach that many animal activists organizations take and, although I do support them, I do not feel comfortable posting their traumatic content on VV. With that being said, I was contacted by ASPCA (The American Society Against the Cruelty of Animals) earlier this week about National Chicken Month and found their campaign to not only be void of preachiness but straight up educational. The video they sent me was tasteful and informative. Heck, they aren’t even telling you to give up eating chickens but just to be mindful that the chickens you do eat have humane living and slaughter conditions (which…maybe it’s because I’m a vegetarian but sounds like a no brainer).

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Apricot Barbecue Sauce [Vegan Option]

September 14, 2014

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Well, the first week into being 25 has been quite the unfortunate whirlwind; It’s bizarre how this crazy world works. Two Fridays ago, Wyatt and I were enjoying our last day at the cabin with an early morning canoe trip. The air was slightly crisp, the water completely calm, and not a soul was in sight; the whole experience reminded me of a family summer vacation we took when I was 7 up to the boundary waters for a week of backpack camping. The feeling of awe and excitement that I felt as a little kid on that trip was all rushing back to me that morning as I scanned the rocky shores that drifted by parallel to the canoe. All these memories from the trip that I hadn’t thought of in at least a decade were coming back — bathing in the ice cold Canadian waters with endless wilderness as our backdrops, stopping for lunch on islands along the canoe route, giggling as my brothers attempted to chase a family of moose, and watching the sunsets over the wild wilderness along the shores of our campsite. On that early morning canoe trip, I felt overwhelmed with gratefulness that I was able to have those experiences growing up and so proud that motion of paddling felt more natural than driving a car. That morning, I was thinking of the family I had spent that canoe trip with: my mother whom had grown up in the city but had come to love the wilderness due to marrying my stepfather, my brother who can get me more annoyed than anyone on the planet but who I suddenly missed terribly, my stepbrother whom I had drifted apart from almost a decade earlier, and my stepfather who was always so strong and the leader of the bunch on our outdoor adventures.

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On Turning 25 + Vegan Carrot Pistachio Cake

September 6, 2014

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[Photo of me on the last day of me being 24 years old - AKA earlier this week]

I’m currently on vacation in the most luxurious cabin on a small lake in Wisconsin. It’s Wyatt’s aunt and uncle’s cabin and can house anywhere between 12-15 people so we are feeling like we’re living in a mansion here by ourselves. It’s been a blast with a mix of hiking in the sunshine and reflecting / reading during the rain. With my 25th birthday being this week, I’ve been thinking an awful lot lately about what getting older means to me and if I’m still as terrified of it as I was at 22. Yes, I’m horrified by the thought of having to go to the doctor every few months to keep my body from falling apart and of losing my incredible metabolism but, at the same time, I’m also excited about continuing to mature and figure out this crazy thing we call living.

I spent the long 8 hour car ride up here reflecting on how my life has changed since I first stepped into my 20s five years ago and would like to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way with you:

1. You are who you surround yourself with. This one was something that became so clear to me when I dropped my druggie high school friends for highly creative and motivational college buddies. Spending a Saturday night hosting a potluck and playing board games was so much more rewarding than playing video games and getting drunk in friends’ basements. I learned that there are people out there that do get as excited as me about trying a new vegetable and not just about their newest weed blend. Going from living with people who spend every night hosting “ragers” to living with my highly motivated musician boyfriend was also an eye opener. He spends every extra waking moment working on music which only motivated me to work on my passions as I see him dedicate his entire self to what he loves and wants to become.

2. You don’t have to like everyone. This one was hard for me – it felt like if I was going to be around someone then I really wanted to be their friend. I’ve come to realize that putting a lot of energy into trying to force a friendship is a lot of wasted time and it’s okay to find someone completely talented and work with them on a professional level without feeling the needs to go get drinks with them afterwards or on the weekends.

3. It’s not about where you are but what you do while being there. I was, like every young ‘adult’ getting ready to graduate from college, obsessed with moving to the coast. I was sure that I was meant to move to Portland or San Francisco after I received my degree and never come back to Indiana. However, when the time came to move – my mother talked me into visiting these places for a few days first to make sure I wasn’t making a mistake. She, like all parents, was nervous about me moving to a new place without a job (market) when I had already been offered a full time job in Indiana. When I actually flew out there, I realized that San Fran was much too large for me and Portland…well Portland was amazing (ha). Despite Portland being an amazing place to visit, I spent a few days with Wyatt’s inviting friends which showed us a blast of a time by taking us to some great dive bars and brunch spots. I was totally in love with Portland but was a little bit taken aback by the idea of me in Portland. Wyatt’s friends had been living there for a few years now but were working as servers and in resteraunts. Back in Indiana, we had a full fledge career already starting in the industry (music industry) of our dreams. We decided to stay in Bloomington for a year to test it out and have been here since for 3 years. I’ve watched many of my friends lose interest in their passions as they are gobbled up by large city activities and I feel lucky knowing that I’m able to put hours into VV and Driftless since I don’t have a 2 hour commute a day or rent that costs 3/4 of my salary.

4. Naive can be good. It sounds silly but I’m so greatful that I dived head first into some big adventures without realizing what they would entail. For example, if I had any idea the learning curve and constant work that went into making a magazine then Driftless would have most likely never released an issue. The truth can be daunting so just going for that big dream and you’ll figure out the rest along the way.

5. You make your own opportunities. I often time have trouble sitting still and watching TV when I know I could be working on a blog post that may be the post that gets me noticed by that oh-so-famous blogger. Or I could be shooting a new article to be featured in a print issue of one of my favorite independent magazines. It took several years for VV to get off the ground but persistence with constantly photographing and recipe developing puts me one step closer to my dreams everyday. Little victories like being interviewed for Food & Wine, being nominated by Saveur Magazine, and getting motivational emails from some of my favorite bloggers are all just the small victories that help push me towards growing this little place and I know that these little victories didn’t happen because of luck – I worked my ass off for them! This also means that hopefully more opportunities will come as I only continue to develop my skills more.

These are a handful of big picture maturaties that I’ve had to discover for myself over the last few years. Although I’ve grown immensely since turning 20, I am pretty excited to see what else I learn over the last 5 years of my twenties. I’m sure life has some pretty insightful things planned for the next 5 years but I’d really love to work on growing the following:

1. Learn to lose control. I really struggle with needing to be in control (of my daily routine, my blog, my body, my attitude) at all times and get really upset when things are out of my control (even little things like the weather not going as I hoped really bums me out).

2. Learn balance. Right now I am ALL in. I go from work to magazine to blog to bed. It’s great and I stay constantly engaged but it sure would be great for me to be able to…you know…watch some TV or something without my mind wondering to my next to-do list.

Now, as I mentioned, it’s my birthday (week) so let’s eat cake!!

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Vegan Carrot Pistachio Cake

adapted from Love & Lemons

  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup non-dairy plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2  cup coconut oil, melted

 

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • 8 ounces earth balance (or regular butter if you aren’t looking to make vegan)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • ~1 Tablespoon non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or seeds from a a vanilla bean)

 

  • 1/2 cup shopped pistachios

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray or line two 8 inch round cake pans. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in one bowl. Whisk together the yogurt, sugar, apple sauce, vanilla, and coconut oil in another. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones until everything is combined and then fold in the grated carrots. Divide the dough between your two prepared pans and stick in the oven for 30 minutes (or until a toothpick is inserted into the center and comes out clean).

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

To make the frosting: Beat all the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Add more milk if it ends up stiff. Divide the frosting into 3 parts and use 1 as the center layer, one on the sides, and the remaining part for the top. Top with crusted pistachios and enjoy!

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*A few notes:

- I made this cake vegan because it was my birthday and it was what I wanted. Feel free to swap out the non-dairy items with organic dairy items if you’d prefer to.

- Also, feel free to add in an extra 1/2 cup shopped pistachios into the batter (throw them in the same time you put in the grated carrots) if you’d like the added texture in your cake. I stuck with keeping mine on the outside but that is just my personal preference.

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Fresh Squeezed Heirloom Harissa Bloody Mary

August 25, 2014

 

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

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


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

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Creamy Peanut Butter “Pupsicles”

August 10, 2014

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

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

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

 

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Summer Vibes // Driftless Magazine Giveaway

July 28, 2014

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Hi! How are you? It’s been a minute – I missed you guys. No – for real! You are like an old friend that I kept meaning to call but I didn’t want to rush the conversation so I kept putting it off after long days at work and warm adventures in the sun. I finally decided to make NO plans this evening and set some time aside for VV.

The summer has been RACING by – I can’t possibly be the only person to feel this way? It’s been a bizarre one here in the Midwest – so much extreme weather and thunderstorms and jumping from 90 degrees to 50 degrees – what is going on? I’m not sure but we just gotta roll with it. Despite having some unusualy cool evenings around here, our kitchen still seems to remain a constant 90 degrees (95 if the oven is running) so the cooking has been at a stand still as of lately. It really is a frustrating circle – all the beautiful produce and extra long sunlight thrives during the summer months but then it’s the least ideal time to be inside and get creative in the kitchen I feel like everytime I wander in there to tackle a new recipe, the streaming sunlight that trickles in through the windows is a constant reminder that I should be out THERE today instead of inside. Since I haven’t done much adventuring in the kitchen this past month, here are a few photos from outside adventures we’ve been taking to soak up the sun and enjoy the extra long daylight:

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Farmer’s Garden Stuffed Pimiento Cheese Veggie Burgers

July 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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Grilled Pretzel Panzanella Salad + A Summer Stock Up Giveaway

June 30, 2014

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

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

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

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Dark Chocolate & Apricot Oatmeal Cookies /// The Homemade Flour Cookbook

June 23, 2014

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Last July, I hopped on a plane and met one of my best friends, Ella, for an adventurous long weekend road trip up the Pacific coast. She had already spent the last 3 months exploring the US in her little car and I was scheduled to meet up with her for the very last leg of her trip. I flew into San Francisco where I immediately made her take me to Tartine Bakery to pick up two loaves of bread (which I strategically ordered 3 days prior, duh) and an array of baked goods that we couldn’t resists while in the shop. We wondered around the city streets stuffing our faces with fistfuls of pillowy carbs until we stumbled upon the Bi-Rite Market.

It only seemed appropriate that we top this portable feast off with some spreads so we headed inside the market. After picking up 3 jars of specialty jams, some fresh blueberries, and a slab of Humboldt fog cheese to top our bread with, we decided we should just grab a few more items to enjoy on the road for the next 3 days. Fast forward 10 minutes later and we were standing outside the market with 4 bags full of $150 worth of groceries. Although we both had a little bit of sticker shock when we first saw it all rung up, we feasted that week and it was the fanciest camp food I’ve ever had the pleasure of traveling with.

Although the bread was legendary, the cheese was so creamy you could eat it by the spoonful, and the blackberries were as fun to pick off the wild bushes as they were to eat, the flavor I remember the most was from our gorgeous dried apricots we purchased from Bi-Rite. It was the first time I’ve ever had an apricot that I could recall (fresh or dried) and the flavor stuck with me. Everytime I bite into one, it reminds me of smelling the salty seashores, gawking at endless redwoods, laughing at wrong turns, and feeling slightly whoozy from the winding roads. And those small reminders are now why I keep dried apricots around for everyday pick-me-ups.

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As most of you probably have heard from all the reviews online or saw on my instagram, my good blogger friend Erin Alderson of Naturally Ella just released her first cookbook, The Homemade Flour Cookbook, this month. I’m a total DIYer in the kitchen (anything from making my own vegetable broth to flavored mustards to Boozy BBQ sauce) so I was so excited to hear she was covering the topic of making her own flour. It seems like such a no brainer that things like Garbanzo bean flour comes from dried chickpeas, but to learn that it’s insanely simple to whip up your own version instead of spending $8+ on a small bag is just so liberating! I started out simple with just making this oat flour but can’t wait to dig into the more unique flours like lentil and pistachio flour.

These cookies are a slight adaptation of the Cranberry Oat Cookies she has in her cookbook. I had planned to make them word for word but my ability to follow a recipe is lacking and I felt inspired by the other add-in ingredients I had laying around. I’m doubting Erin could be too upset by the adjustments since she herself admits to always needing to turn a recipe into its own in the intro of  The Homemade Flour Cookbook.

I’d recommend this book for anyone trying to get extra creative in their kitchen or looking to become as self-sufficient as possible. The book is split up into types of flours and the instructions on how to mill each grain / bean / seed is incredibly informative and helpful. Plus, on top of all that, she includes several recipes for each type of flour, so you have endless inspiration from cover to cover.

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Salted Date Caramel Cashew Tart with Mocha Graham Crust

June 16, 2014

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I’m pretty sure I need to bookmark this post as a reminder to the annoyed and freezing January version of myself. This post needs to be a reminder that no matter how hard it is cut an onion while you can’t feel your fingers, its even harder to bake in a 90 degree kitchen without passing out of heat exhaustion. It is one thing to use your oven as a heater in the winter but how do you cool the kitchen down in the summer? The secret is most certainly in avoiding turning that oven back on.

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but our kitchen was a add-on from the original 1920′s ranch we live in so it’s a little bit of a awkward shack addition in the back of the home. All weird bugs and lack of natural light aside, the workspace wouldn’t be so bad if the builders had managed to hook it up to the central air system. Nope – they did not. This means that its absolutely frigid in the winter and beyond humid / muggy in the summer. Hell, the kitchen might as well be outside so I could at least get some nice natural light out of the thing.

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Rosemary & Garlic Smashed Purple Potatoes

June 12, 2014

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The posts are starting to dwindle down to once a week around here while the weather warms up and I take more and more breaks from my computer. I’ve had more evenings filled with evening hikes and less evenings spent wrapped in a blanket on Pinterest. I sometimes think I need to stay focused and spend less time wondering but I’m mostly just enjoying the much needed break from the interwebz.

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Did I tell you I inherited a boat? It’s a sweeeeeeet 1961 vintage, turquoise, motor boat that fits 4-6 people on its dark wood seats. It’s old and has needed a lot of work but we spent all last weekend cleaning it out, adding new lights to the trailer, replacing the gas tank, and getting it back into a usable state. It’s in pretty darn good shape for being 50 years old since my dad has housed it in the garage for the last 30 but there are still a few minor tweaks still needed before we can hit the water. All hard work aside, it’s been a fun summer project that has helped us get our hands dirty and reminded us of the rewarding benefits that come with physically putting effort into something.

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Citrus Biscotti with Hibiscus Glaze

May 31, 2014

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

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

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

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Let’s Talk About Driftless Magazine

May 27, 2014

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I’m going to real talk you here for a minute. About four months ago I posted that I wanted to start a magazine about the Midwest – 20 contributors, 2 editors, 2 creative directors, 1 designer, 2 illustrators, and numerous bumps later – we are finally ready to release issue 1 of Driftless. Now here’s the real talk – this was 10000% more work than I had ever imagined it would be. Did I have any idea how to layout a magazine? No. Did I have any idea what kind of costs are involved with print? No. Did I have any idea how to coordinate deadlines with a slew of 20+ people? Hellll no. Thankfully, my good friend Leah came on board as a partner at the start of all of this or I would have never stayed sane trying to get this off the ground.

This magazine was by far the hardest creative adventure to date for us. But I’m hoping it could be the most rewarding as well. With the time ticking (this issue is about the summer), we are scrambling to get this to the printed press asap and start getting this out into the world. One problem: it is going to cost around $7000 to print these at a high enough volume that we can sell them back to the public at a reasonable price. Yup – Seven Thousand Dollars. That is a whole ‘latta cash…and about $4000 more than we had budgeted for. I know talking about money is so ugly – believe me, I feel ugly talking about money but there is just no way around it here. We could really use some help getting this project off the ground – we could really use your help. Even if you don’t have any cash to contribute – just sharing this on your blog, Facebook, twitter, etc would really help spread the word about Driftless!

If nothing else, hop on over to the crowd funding page to see a video of Leah and myself – you’ll get to watch how awkward I am in front of a camera and imagine that this is probably how awkward I would be in real life if we met.

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Here are the hard facts:

Driftless is a new, ad-free, independent magazine about adventuring in the Midwest. Our quarterly publication introduces readers to the creative and awe-inspiring wonders the Midwest has to offer by way of stories, recipes, guides, essays, and interviews. Driftless is putting the Midwest back on the map as a beautiful place to both live and visit — we are way more than just flyover territory! We showcase the talent, creativity, and ingenuity that flourishes in our neck of the woods.

Driftless is the type of magazine that you keep on your bedside table for nightly reading, your bookshelf for easy reference, and on your coffee table for showing off your favorite Midwestern inspirations. Issue 1 is 100 perfect-bound pages of gorgeous photographs, beautiful illustrations and clean design from Midwestern artists and makers.

By contributing $25 or more, you are pre-ordering Issue 1 which will show up at your doorstep before it becomes available in any retail shops. 

A few snapshots from issue one (if that recipe looks familiar that is because its from the insanely talented creators of A Couple Cooks, the Grand Rapids photo by Jill DeVries, the swimming photo by Leah Fithian, and all design layouts are by Jessica Kleoppel):

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And don’t forget to follow Driftless on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily updates!

Thanks again for always supporting VV and taking a minute to hear about my other wild and creative endeavors! I’ll be back later this week with a  deliciously spring biscotti recipe.

Boozy Citrus & Whipped Goat Cheese Popsicles

May 16, 2014

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I’m pretty obsessed with the concept of adding unusual flavors to whipped cream and incorporating it into everything I eat. Floral whip, (goat) cheesy whip, nutty whip – you name it and I’ve probably toyed with the idea of incorporating it into a recipe. Thus, here we are with a popsicle recipe mostly made out of whipped goat cheese. The results are light and refreshing (just how you want it to be on a hot summer afternoon) and surprisingly ‘adult’ with the mature flavors of goat cheese and booooooze. I made these popsicles for my good foodie friend, Renee from Will Frolic For Food, so hop on over to her blog now to check out the recipe.

Also, in case you missed it, Renee was kind enough to share an amazing popsicle recipe here on VV earlier this week that combined the wonderful world of tart rhubarb and sweet coconut milk – click here to check it out!

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Also, while we are at it, here is an array of other amazing popsicle recipes that you need to bookmark for all your summer hangouts in the sun:

+ Maria from Pink Patisserie has the most gorgeous White Peach, Nectarine, & Rose Water Creamsicles up on her blog.

+ Harriet over at Molly, ily has a wonderful and simple recipe for Mango Coconut Creamsicles.

+  Berry season is coming and there is no better way to use your bounty than with these Smashed Berry-Lime-Coconut pops.

+ If you’ve been following VV for awhile then you already know about these but my Raw Vegan Fudgiscles are one of the most visited recipes on the site!

+ I’ve never seen roasted berries look as appetizing as they do in these Roasted Strawberry, Coconut, & Lime Icy Pops.

Now – go make some popsicles and spend this weekend in the sun!

 

Rhubarb Popsicles /// Guest Post from Will Frolic For Food

May 12, 2014

We are mixing it up on VV today with a wonderful guest post from Will Frolic For Food’s creator Renee. I am very excited to introduce Renee to all of you Vegetarian ‘Ventures follows because she is a mastermind in the kitchen! We met over Coconut Dulce De Leche (if you haven’t checked out her recipe for that yet then DO IT. DO IT NOW!) and have been foodie pals every since. This particular guest post is on popsicles and I’m excited to announce that there will be a VV one on Will Frolic For Food later this week so stay tuned!

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Hey there! Renee here from Will Frolic for Food. Shelly and I have been stoked about doing this popsicle collab for months, but are just now getting around to it! Between working, planning a wedding, chocolate-making, and my many other projects time passes so quickly. I can hardly keep up!

Rhubarb for some reason always reminds me of celery. Probably because they look like sisters with the same nose but totally different personalities. Thus totally avoiding using it until this season. The stalks are these long legged pink-green beauties, ragged at the end from where the poisonous leaves and inedible roots we’re split off. It has the same stringy, crunchy consistency as celery when I bite into it with my knife. But it practically melts in heat, especially with a pinch of sugar and a dash of water to help it along.

So why rhubarb? Well, I like to make my kitchen times an adventure. I found a dairy free version of rhubarb curd over at Dolly & Oatmeal (check out how freakin’ gorgeous her rhubarb curd meringue tarts are! ). I did a blood orange curd this past Winter that went into my “keep forever lest be sad always” recipe box. I’m now a new-old hand at curd — why not try out a rhubarb one? I mean, when you curdify fruit it’s pretty hard to go wrong, right?

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Spinach & Radicchio Salad with Broiled Citrus Vinaigrette

May 5, 2014

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I know, I know. You are all over winter citrus and have moved on to asparagus and ramps. However, I can’t resist a beautiful blood orange and had to pick up the last few at our local co-op since these are what I can only assume to be the last batch of the season.

I discovered the technique of cooking citrus this past winter and am basically hooked. There is a completely new, sharp flavor that the citrus takes on when caramelized slightly and its not to be overlooked. I recommend using broiled, roasted, and grilled citrus in something that will let the fruit flavor shine instead of burying it under a dish chocked full of too many ingredients. You can count on there being lots of outdoor grilling days ahead with grilled citrus over the open coals.

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We are dangerously fast approaching salad season here at the Blue Bush (that is the term for our bright blue house that we reside in). Our kitchen doesn’t have air-conditioning so we tend to live off of raw foods for much of the warmer months. Oh and grilling – did I mention how much Midwesterns love a good cookout? Yup, salads for lunch and grilling for dinner. That is our summer routine.

Although air conditioning would be super rad, I’m not too mad about it. This will be our third summer here and I’ve learned to really appreciate the diversity that can be made with a big bowl of raw veggies and some wonderful dressing.

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Chocolate & Toasted Coconut Olive Oil Cake [with vegan option]

April 14, 2014

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Every year our local radio station puts on an all day music event in the park. To me, it always marks that first day of true spring in Bloomington. It is often times the first Saturday that its warm enough to grill out and enjoy a picnic in the park while listening to some wonderful local and national music. It also usually lines up with being the first Saturday that the outdoor farmer’s market is in full swing.

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This year’s event was this past Saturday and the spring fever did not disappoint. I started the day with a walk to the farmer’s market and enjoyed smelling all the budding trees along the way. The sun was out and we welcomed temperatures above anything we’ve felt in 6+ months. I spent the afternoon planting wildflowers and playing around in the kitchen with the sun streaming in (oh what a difference it makes!).

We grilled out for dinner and I whipped up a cake for our guests. Ha, I know – a cake for a grill out? You can tell I’m rusty since a well disciplined griller would have found something that could be made over the hot coals. Unfortunately, it’s still a little early for berries and our citrus bounty has long since disappeared so cake it was! Delicious, moist, chocolatey cake – I must add!

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Rosemary Walnut Ice Cream // A Recipe From Scoop Adventures

April 4, 2014

 

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Well, we are finally past the ‘polar vortex’ phase of the year and have officially started moving into spring (which means constant thunderstorms and luscious greenery popping up everything for us Midwesterns). What better way to welcome spring than with an earthy ice cream flavored with rosemary, honey, and chunks of walnuts? My ice cream maker has been accumulating dust since I got it for Christmas and it’s about time we wore this puppy in.

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This recipe is from Scoop Adventure, a new ice cream book by Lindsay Clendaniel that takes you around the country to all the best ice cream parlors. I was so excited to open up this book and find my own hometown ice cream parlor, Hartzell’s, featured for the state of Indiana. This rosemary walnut ice cream isn’t the Hartzell recipe and I’m not even going to tell you what it is, so your just gonna have to pick up this book for yourself. Heck, I bet your town is in there..or maybe a town you grew up in or went to on vacation…I bet some ice cream shop you love is featured and you won’t even know until you pick up this 192 pager.

 

 

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Tell me you’ve made homemade ice cream before, right? Good. So then you know what I’m talking about when I say that homemade ice cream has the most wonderful fresh and creamy texture that you’ll never find in a carton of Kroger brand cookies and cream. It’s rich while tasting light and every bite is bursting with the flavors of your choosing.

 

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The honey I used in this recipe was a jar we picked up in Marco Island during our little adventure earlier this spring. It’s saw palmetto honey, which has a very distinct flavor profile to it. The distinct flavor reminds me of relaxing on a white sand beach in the everglades. That means I taste a little bit of adventure with every spoonful.

 

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Greek Goddess Celebratory Nachos

April 1, 2014

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These aren’t just any nachos – these are celebratory nachos! These are ‘I just got nominated for a Best Food Blog Award’ by Saveur Magazine and am gonna treat myself to nachos and ice cream for dinner. I still remember the first time I voted for Saveurs BFBA three years ago and felt like I had such a strong opinion on who should win every category because I knew one blog per category. And I remember the first time I saw Oh, Ladycake’s badge on her site and was like ‘Wow. That would look mighty nice on VV’ (ha!). Fast forward several years and I can honestly say I follow 80% of the blogs nominated and consider a large portion of them dear blog friends of mine.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, if you are feeling it, you should hop on over and vote for VV in the ‘special diet category’ on Saveur’s site. But honestly, its okay if you don’t because I’m just happy to be a part of the club and mentioned among so many talented writers and photographers. I’m thinking of it as a win-win since I’ll be munching on Laura’s Quinoa Onion Rings if The First Mess wins and this Orange Chocolate Tart if Happyyolks is sent to Vegas.

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These nachos are like no nachos you’ve probably ever munched on before. According to Food52, the most important elements for nachos are quality ingredients and strong layering ethic. We’ve got both of those bases covered here. These are a mix between eating a greek pita sandwich and a faleffel burger.

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Chickpea Dumplings in Curry Tomato Sauce

September 22, 2013

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I know you were starting to worry. You were starting to wonder if my diet really could consist of sugar and alcohol based on the recipes that have been posted on VV the last month or so. So, in an attempt to show you a some-what ‘normal’ side of my diet, I’m posting this dumpling recipe which is an evening go-to in our home. Curry is always welcome around here and we tend to make it about once a week in the cooler months. I like this recipe because it breaks up the usual vegetable-sauce-rice ratio and has protein-rich dumplings cooked right in. Also, the best part about the dumpling literally steaming into the sauce is that it doesn’t take any longer than it would for you to simmer a pot of homemade curry sauce.

This recipe is traditionally prepared by frying the dumplings but I’ve chosen to steam them in the tomato sauce instead for both time and health sake. Think of it as an Indian-curry version of chicken and dumpling stew. Except the sauce plays a much more flavorful part than in our traditional comfort stew. The dumplings end up gooey and steaming them in the sauce lends to the dumplings soaking up the flavors around them.

We serve ours over basmati rice but you can make it a little bit healthier by substituting brown rice. We also like to top ours with greek yogurt for an extra creamy consistency but it’s plenty flavorful without the yogurt if you are trying to keep it vegan.

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Vanilla Bean & Fig Shortbread Drizzled with Honey Glaze

September 8, 2013

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

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

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

September 1, 2013

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

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

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

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

 

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Blueberry Pistachio Parfait with Quinoa Granola and Maple Cashew Cream

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

For the granola:

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

For the maple cashew cream:

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

Submerge cashews in water and let soak overnight.

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

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

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

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

 

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