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13

Cranberry Mojito

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! Do you have the Tofurkey prepped, table set, and diagram of the seating chart made? Then let’s celebrate the calm before the store with a drink, shall we?

I made this cocktail for our Friendsgiving Potluck over the weekend and as I was sipping on it and watching the mint / cranberries swirl around in my glass…I couldn’t help but feel like this would have been even more appropriate for a Christmas gathering. My thought process was fresh cranberries —> cranberry sauce —> Thanksgiving. Boom! Cranberries are served at Thanksgiving and therefore this a great Thanksgiving drink (which, don’t get me wrong, was a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving drink). But the red [cranberries] and green [mint] staring back at me in my glass was filling my head with thoughts of pine trees, sugar cookies, and candy canes.

So let’s agree that this is a great SEASONAL drink and would be smashing at any of your chilly weathered events!

 

 

Cranberry Mojito

adapted from We Are Not Martha
  • White Rum
  • Ice
  • Seltzer Water
  • Lemons
  • Mint leaves

 

For the cranberry simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (+ more for garnish)

 

To make the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and cranberries. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to low. Let simmer for about ten minutes and remove from heat. Let cool completely and then strain (OR for a more intense flavor move to the fridge for a few hours or overnight before straining).

To make the cocktail: Mix 1 ounce of rum, 1 ounce of cranberry simple syrup, and a splash of lemon juice. Fill the remaining space in your glass with seltzer water and ice. Garnish with mint leaves and cranberries.

 

9

Tuko Turns 1 // Homemade Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

Woah, time has really flown fast since I posted about Tuko turning 6 months. Since then, we’ve moved into a new house, I graduated from college, and Wyatt started a new full time job. Also, I should mention that Tuko has doubled (if not tripled) in size since then. And he just keeps growing!

For his birthday, we got him a cute little American Apparel sweater and made him some homemade dog biscuits. Spoiled little thing.

 

 

These dog biscuits are packed full of pumpkin and peanut butter. Peanut butter is his favorite…in fact he thinks it is exclusively his food. I cannot pull the stuff out of the cabinet without him pawing at me to get a spoonful (again, spoiled little thing).

 

 

Homemade Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

adapted slightly from A Beautiful Mess
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup orangic peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until a thick dough forms. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Once the dough has chilled, roll out onto a floured surface (roll the dough to about a 1/2 inch thick) and use cookie cutters to make desired shape. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes or until the treats are golden on top.

Shower your dog with warm treats and then store the rest in an airtight container for up to a week.

0

Parker House Dinner Rolls

Morning, Morning! Are you ready for this week? It’s Monday but it feels like it’s Wednesday since most of us (US folks) have Thursday and Friday off. So really…it’s already hump day! Yay!

Anyhow, Wyatt and I hosted a wonderful “Friendsgiving” potluck over the weekend. I was amazed and overwhelmed by all the delicious food that everyone brought! We are already having turkey (well…Wyatt is. I’m holding off for my Tofurkey on Thursday) leftovers and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! I will admit, having a Thanksgiving celebration a week early did kind of throw me off…I woke up Sunday ready to put on my favorite Elvis Christmas vinyl and wanting to put the Christmas tree up.

We made lots and lots and lots of food for the potluck. First up – Parker House Rolls. I’ve heard a lot about these things little bundles of dough – from instagram pictures of people cradling them (kind of weird) to the Joy The Baker podcast last week…seems like these are a MUST for the Thanksgiving table. After much research (thanks, Wikipedia), I discovered that they were first invented in Boston at the Parker House Hotel and traditionally are served folded in half. I went simple with mine (no folding, thanks) and they were melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Soft, salty, and begging to be lathered in gravy.

 

 

Parker House Rolls

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed (to about 100 degrees)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter + 4 more tablespoons (all of it should be melted)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

 

In a large mixer with a dough hook, combine the warmed milk and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes so that the yeast can activate and foam. Next, add in the flour, butter, salt, and sugar. Turn mixture on low until everything is combined and then increase speed to medium high. Let mix for about ten minutes or until the dough is very soft.

Transfer dough to a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for one hour (or if making the dough ahead of time – let rise for an hour and then put in the fridge overnight. The next morning, bring dough back to room temperature before continuing with the recipe).

Next, grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and move the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for a minute or until all the extra air is released. Divide the dough into 24 balls and place in the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and Brush rolls with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Cook for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Brush with remaining butter and a little bit of salt.

Serve warm with gravy or butter or jam or all three!

 

0

Searchable Saturdays

 

Good Morning! Do you have big weekend plans? We are hosting a Friendsgiving this evening so I am planning to spend the rest of the day cooking, baking, photography, and cleaning [when did I become so domesticated?]. Anyhow, here are a few links I found to get my creativity going this week:

1. I have been developing a mood board to better try to understand what VV’s photography aesthetic should be. I found this beautiful food photography blog while doing some research for the board this week. So gorgeous!

2. Make your own flavored coffee? I’m in.

3. Vegetarians live, on average, 8 years longer than meat eaters? I’ll take that!

4. Freckled Mag is my new favorite online magazine. The photography is stunning and the art is beautiful. Very inspiring!

5. An informative (and not overwhelming!) intro to Illustrator. Love it!

6. Finally! I super easy widget for instragram that updates the feed as you post.

7. VV was on TheKitchn this week! How cool is that?!

8. This Dulce Delight video!! Everything from the bright colors to the beautiful typography to that accent! So good!

 

For more inspirational links, check out VV on Pinterest!

 

1

Lake Day in November

The recipe posts have dwindled to only a few a week since the summer because the lack of daylight is really cutting into my ability to photograph everything I create/munch down on. However, have no fear because we are hosting a Friendsgiving tomorrow so I plan to spend the whole day in the kitchen cooking (and hopefully photographing!).

Until then….

Last weekend we had a random spell of 70 degree weather which meant we HAD to adventure out to the lake one last time before the winter consumed us. Here are a few snapshots from our lake picnic:

2

VV’s Thanksgiving Suggestions

Okay. So I’m not gonna lie. I am starting to get REALLY excited about Thanksgiving. Not only does it mean a  5 day weekend (!!!) but also implies copious amounts of amazing food. My mother emailed me the final menu for the big day this morning and now all I can think about is mushroom gravy, purple mashed potatoes, and Cappuccino chocolate cheesecake. I helped curate the menu (with recipes from some of my favorite blogs like Love & Lemons, SpoonForkBacon, and JoyTheBaker) and cannot wait to spend an entire day cooking in the kitchen.

Anyhow, while my spirits are high on Tofurkey, I thought I’d share a few VV recipes that would be perfect for your big Thanksgiving day!

 

     

1. Oatmeal Molasses Rolls – Soft, gooey, and irresistible when fresh out of the oven

2. Glazed Honey Mustard Brusses Sprouts – tangy and crunchy will help bring variety to your meal

3. Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Pops – perfect little appetizer when entertaining guests! Super mobile, bite size, and delicious!

4. Roasted Carrots with Hazelnut & Rosemary – cooking with wine always makes things fancier, right? And these colorful carrots will for sure stick out on your holiday table!

 

 

Also, if you feel like adventuring outside of VV, I highly recommend checking out some of these thanksgiving recipes:

Collard Greens & Blue Cheese Salad (The Healthy Foodie)

Honeycrisp Bourbon Cider (SpoonForkBacon)

Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere (Feasting at Home)

Autumn Brittle (Adventures in Cooking)

Bailey’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Pie (She Wears Many Hats)

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

Rosemary & Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread

Well, I think I’ve finally accepted that winter is here and we won’t be experiencing any more 70 degree days. Ah, this a very bittersweet realization. On one hand, it means endless cups of chai tea, lazy mornings under the covers with favorite novels, all day bake-a-thons, and soup soup soup. On the other hand, this means six more months before lake adventures, cross country road trips, and waterfall picnics.

And with this new acceptance comes a soup recipe! I’ve already made a few soups this season (see: curried butternut squash soup) but the weather had me craving a hardly soup packed full of starchy potatoes and earthy flavorings. This soup did the trick! Along with some simple (and delicious) rustic bread, this soup filled us up and will be making leftover appearances for the next two days!

As for the rustic bread…so simple and soft with a crisp outer crust. I’ve discovered (after trying it for the first time with my Muesli Bread) is the trick to REALLY delicious bread baking is to have a pot of steaming water under the bread while it’s cooking. This helps keep the bread soft and full of moisture. Oh so delicious! Perfect side to this soup. And let’s be honest, the only reason we even make soup is for an excuse to make homemade bread to go with it. Right? Or is that just me?

So what I am are trying to say is you should embrace that the cold and darkness is forcing you to stay inside and spend a few hours in your kitchen…perhaps whipping up this comforting and hardy dish?

 

 

Rosemary & Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread

For the bread:

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon of active yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water

 

For the soup:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 springs of rosemary
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes (14 ounces)
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped (with stems removed)
  • Salt/Pepper

 

Start with the bread: In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water and let sit for five minutes (this will give it some time to start foaming and activating). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the water/yeast mixture. Mix until combined (the batter will be VERY sticky – don’t worry! It’s suppose to be like this). Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for an hour. [Start on the soup while this is rising]

Once it has doubled in size, knead the dough a few times and move to an oiled baking sheet. Let rise on this sheet for a half an hour. Sprinkle with flour and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a cast iron skillet or pan on the bottom rack of the oven and let it heat during the preheating process. Once the oven is ready, place the dough (on the baking sheet) on the top shelf of the oven and pour a cup of warm water in the skillet below (it will steam and this is exactly what we want to happen). Let cook for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the soup: Heat the olive in a large stockpot over medium. Add in the onions and cook for about five minutes (or until translucent). Next, add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add cubed potatoes and celery and then season with salt / pepper. Next, combine in the tomatoes, rosemary (throw them in whole and then take out the twigs at the end), white wine, water, and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a bowl, cover, and lower to a simmer. Let simmer for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Once ready to serve, chop the kale and add at the last moment (this keeps the kale a little crispy) and season again with salt/pepper.

Serve warm with fresh bread!

 

 

 

 

5

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones

Morning, Morning! Let’s start out by having me fill you in on a few things, shall we? If you are an avid read of VV then you may have noticed the inconsistency of VVs’ regular columns as of lately (Moody Mondays, Searchable Saturdays, etc). This is because this whole redesign has triggered us stepping back and re-evaluating our style around here. As I was updating the Recipes/Archives page (man, I’m only about 1/5 done with putting in our back catalog of recipes! HTML is a TEDIOUS process…), I noticed that a lot of the pictures were all over the place and VV does not necessarily have a specific ‘style’ or ‘branding’ technique (does branding sound too official? Yeah, I think so too. Maybe this is all just an excuse for me to start another pinterest board…). So, as I spend more time on the redesign of VV, I am also going to try to develop more of a signature style/aesthetic. This may mean eliminating some regular columns or adding some or doing the exact same thing we have always done around VV [who knows at this point? I certainly don’t]. Anyhow, just wanted to fill you guys in on all the shifting happening around here.

Oh! One last thing, tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the Country Crock Giveaway so don’t forget to hop on over and leave a comment. I mean, let’s be real, who DOESN’T want free kitchen bake ware?!

______________________________

Saturday I woke up to the sun shining through the blinds, a warm breeze, and the birds (!!!) chirping. This morning, I woke up to pitch black and snow. What. Is. Going. On?! I’m not complaining about being able to hang out at the lake in November but my body is in shock. All that sun-induced serotonin needs a replacement ASAP or else I might find the winter blues coming early this year. Answer to it be being cloudy? Chocolate. Answer to it being coldy and cold? Dark Chocolate with raspberry chunks. Answer to it being cloudy, cold, and snowy? Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones lathered in butter. Check.

These little scones are the answer to any weather-induced-bummer-mood. They are warm, speckled with caffeine, and bursting with chunks of chocolate/raspberry. I feel like I don’t even need to say anything else. But if I really must, they are so flaky and buttery that they even melt in your mouth when fresh from the oven.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Espresso Scones

 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (+ more for sprinkling on top)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground espresso
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 3 ounces of dark chocolate with raspberry chunks (or any flavor you like), chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup Almond milk (any milk will do)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used my homemade kind)

Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and espresso. Cut the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse meal (I just use my hands to do this and work the butter between my finger tips until everything is combined). Next, fold in the chocolate.

In a small bowl (or just use the measuring cup you poured the milk into), whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and pour wet ingredients in. Fold dry into wet until everything is combined (don’t over mix!).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about an inch thick (make it thinner if you like them crispier and thicker if you like them big and fluffy – just keep it consistent with whatever you do!) and use a biscuit cutter to cut circular shapes. Place on the prepared parchment paper and repeat with the rest of your dough. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar.

Cook for about 20 minutes or until the top has browned.

Serve warm with butter or jam or by themselves while watching the snow fall.

5

Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream

Oh my goodness, it’s Friday! I hope you are as excited as I am. Last weekend we had daylight saving (turned the clocks back an hour) so it has been pitch black every night this week when I leave work. Total bummer. But the great thing about it being Friday is tomorrow I can play outside in the SUN all day! And it’s suppose to be in the high 60’s and sunny. You know what that means? It means I’ve already planned a full menu for a lunch picnic with my puppy and boyfriend.

Anyhow, here is a simple and quick recipe for vegan pumpkin ice cream! I used bananas as the base which made the ice cream thick but the banana taste was masked by the pumpkin and cinnamon. Have you tried this trick before? Frozen bananas blended taste super similar to ice cream…it’s awesome. Whoever thought of this was a serious genius. I cannot wait to experiment with this concept more (I’m thinking…chocolate, banana, and peanut butter in our near future?!).

 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream

Makes about 2-3 servings

  • 3 bananas, frozen and peeled
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve right away (it will have a texture similar to soft serve) or let freeze for 2 hours to make firm.

Enjoy with warm pie or as a late night snack (and don’t even feel guilty about it!)

 

PS: Don’t forget to check out the wonderful giveaway I am hosting this week!

14

Roasted Carrots with Hazelnut & Rosemary + Giveaway

 

____________________

Now that the official stuff is out of the way, let’s talk a bit about the changing happening around VV before we get into food. So, I’ve transferred my site and have the backbone of what it will become but this is only the beginning. Now it’s time to fix [many] bugs/broken links before I continue on the design process. Please feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] if you happen to see something funky going on and update your RSS feeds to direct to my new site (most should automatically but if you followed VV through wordpress.com they WILL NOT. Consider switching to following VV on bloglovin or facebook!). Anyhow, just wanted to give a little update on how the process is coming and let you know that things will  be moving around within the site for the next week weeks.

 

 

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And now let’s talk about the greatest holiday to ever cross foodie’s paths – Thanksgiving! I, personally, love that there is a specific day dedicated to taking work off, cooking dozens of recipes, and eat mass quantities of delicious food. Am I the only one? Didn’t think so. And now that it is November, it’s time to start recipe experimenting for the big day! A group of wonderful bloggers and myself are teaming up with Country Crock to cook up some of the best Thanksgiving side dishes imaginable. What does this mean for you? It means that I have another wonderful giveaway for all of you (more on that later in this post!) and a list of delicious side dishes for your inspiration (click here to see what everyone is coming up with!).

As for VV, we decided we wanted to showcase this wonderful carrot recipe. Why? Because it would look absolutely stunning on your Thanksgiving table (look at all those colors!) and its super simple to make. So simple that you can pop these in the oven in 5 minutes and then spend the rest of your time worrying about the 100+ other things going on in your kitchen. Not to bad, eh?

Also, did I mention this recipe is delicious? The minimal amount of ingredients help bring out the true flavors of each component. Roasting makes the carrots slightly sweet while the rosemary brings in the savory and the hazelnuts give it a crunch. Plus, added bonus, the rosemary makes your kitchen smell like the holidays! So comforting.

Oh, and guess what!? I also have a giveaway for all of you! Because you are awesome and Country Crock was kind enough to supply some beautiful cookware.

Enter for a chance to win an Italian Scalloped Baker (10″ x 6″) in the color of your choice! Click on over to the Sur La Table website to see all the color options.

Here is how to enter:

1. Like VV on Facebook or follow on Bloglovin.

2. Leave a comment telling VV what your holiday dish/recipe is

That’s it! For extra entries, follow VV on Twitter and leave a comment saying you did so!

The giveaway will be open until next Tuesday (November 13th) at 2 pm (Eastern Time). Please make sure you leave a valid email address for me to get a hold of the winner!

Roasted Carrots with Hazelnut & Rosemary

  • 2 bunches of carrots (preferably multicolored but orange will do)
  • 1 Tablespoon County Crock
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • a few (3-4, depending on size) springs of rosemary
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 425. Wash and prep the carrots (if they are super dirty then peel them) and place them in a single row on tin foil. Place another piece of tin foil over them and roll up three of the sides to create a pouch. In the opening, stick the rosemary, country crock, white wine, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Seal the pouch, give it a gentle shake (to help mix everything together), and then place on a baking sheet.

Cook for 25 minutes or until the carrots are soft. You can check this by opening one side of the pouch and seeing if a fork can pierce through the carrot. While those are cooking, lightly toast the hazelnuts by putting them into a skillet over medium low heat and stirring until fragrant (3 to 5 minutes).

Sprinkle hazelnuts over carrots and serve warm.

 

Thank you to Country Crock for being a sponsor. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

4

Moody Monday // Bannock Bread

So I started my day a bit bummed out. In addition to it being Monday (yuck), I also received some news that my designer working on the new blog layout had some family things come up and she will not be able to follow through on my redesign! It’s a total shame and sort of got me down (I had been looking forward to this redesign since September!). However, after much consideration, I have come to the conclusion I was meant to do this one myself. I started this blog as a creative outlet and for me to hand off one of the biggest parts of the creative process for a blog (designing it!) seems a bit silly. Yes, it’s going to take many hours of drinking ginger-lemon tea and watching youtube videos to figure out how to transfer all my information into a self-hosting site and to learn what the html code is…for well, pretty much everything…. but it will be a rewarding learning experience. I had been feeling in a bit of a blog rut lately and this will be good to step back from my daily posting routine and a chance to get creative on a different level.

 

 

Anyhow, enough about that – how was your weekend? I picked up the What Katie Ate and Homemade Winter (I made those delicious Gingerbread muffins from her last book!) for some weekend inspiration. This recipe for bannock is out of the Homemade Winter book and it was oh so delicious with some butter and strawberry jam. Think a hybrid of a savory scone and crumbly pancake. Got it? Now you want to make some? Okay, cool. Here is the recipe:

 

 

Bannock Bread

adapted from Homemade Winter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, cold and sliced
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Next, cut in the butter and slowly add the buttermilk until the mixture is just combined (don’t overmix!).

Heat a skillet over high heat and melt a tablespoon of butter and then turn down to medium-high heat. Form the sticky dough into a large ball and place on the skillet (flatten it a bit but not so much that it’s touching the edges). Let cook on that side for about 5 minutes (turn down the temperature a little bit if it’s cooking too fast – I almost burned mine the first time around) and then flip to cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool slightly. Serve with butter and jam or cream cheese or syrup or whatever you can find that looks tasty in your fridge!

1

Searchable Saturdays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

33

Virtual Vegan Potluck /// Mexican Wedding Pumpkin Cookies

Hello November! Let’s welcome you in with a potluck, shall we? For everyone following the virtual vegan potluck, I hope you are enjoying scanning through copious amounts of vegan fare from all over the world! And for those of you who are regulars and have no idea what a virtual potluck even is, please feel free to scroll to the bottom of the page and check out the wonderful recipes that other bloggers made as part of this potluck.

Anyhow, I decided to be festive and made pumpkin cookies. I know, I know. Pumpkin is for October and Halloween but I don’t care! It’s totally delicious and I’m having too much fun turning regular recipes into fall ones. Plus, these cookies are [literally] rolled in sugar…how can that be bad?

Mexican Wedding Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1/2 cup canola or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • dash of cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the oil, pumpkin, sugar, and vanilla. Once combined, turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the cinnamon, ginger, all spice, clove, salt, and flour. Lastly, add in the chopped pecans (the dough will be VERY stiff and thick – perfect for shaping!).

Roll the dough into evenly sized balls (about the size of a golf-ball) and place on the cookie sheet (they won’t expand much so you don’t have to worry about them being too close together). Cook for about 15 minutes or until they start to slightly turn brown.

While still warm, roll the cookies in powdered sugar to completely coat them.

Scarf down with some warm chai tea or while snuggling under a warm blanket!

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Also, don’t forget to check out the giveaway I am hosting and click on the images below to see more from the Virtual Vegan Potluck!

0

October Highlights

Happy Halloween! I usually do my monthly wrap ups on the first but VV is participating in a virtual potluck tomorrow (more on that…well…tomorrow) so let’s talk October today. Cool? Cool.

Did everyone have a wonderful October? I don’t know what it is but my only association with Fall is Late September/October. I am really hoping that the crisp fall feeling doesn’t fade into winter just yet…oh November, you sound so…dark. Am I the only one feeling this way? Well, in an attempt to hold onto my favorite season as long as possible, I will be keeping the pumpkin recipes coming! At least until I have to pull out my winter jacket…
And now for some October Highlights!

 

 

1. Muesli Bread – by far my favorite recipe from the month of October. Not only was this bread melt-in-your-mouth delicious when fresh out of the oven but it was also loaded with healthy (and yummy!) pumpkin seeds, almonds, and dried cherries!

2. Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons – Goat cheese croutons might be the best winter food ever to exist. Bringing these into my world has opened up so many new ways to jazz up ordinary soup.

3. Spicy Jalapeno Corn Hummus – Hummus has been my go to snack for years now and my recent attempts to play with its flavors have been delightful. The extra kick that the jalapeno gives really brings new flavor to standard hummus

4. Homemade Caramel Corn – Your movie nights will never be the same again! The recipe makes a lot but it’s the perfect snack for a crowd or if you are craving some seriously delicious caramel treats in your life.

 

Lastly, don’t forget to check out my collaboration with Dishes Undressed on Bread Pudding and the October Giveaway that VV is hosting (ends Friday!).

 

And as for November? Well, I am hoping (have I said this before?) to have my new blog makeover up and running this month! And will probably send the next 3 weeks drooling over Thanksgiving recipes. Ah yes, it won’t be such a bad month after all!

6

Brie, Arugula, Apple and Fig Jam Grilled Cheese

Heyyya! So I’ve been a bit MIA the past few days because we took a snappy trip to Denver over the weekend. It was both exciting and exhausting. This means that I’m feeling a bit out of it still and will most likely be taking the week to get my baring back in order (people say that – don’t they?).

On that note, I have not had a chance to cook anything fancy or extensive this week (see: Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons or Muesli Bread) but that doesn’t mean that a girl just doesn’t eat at all! So here is a recipe for one of my favorite types of grilled cheese that is so simple yet a “treat yo ‘self” delight (Parks and Recreation, anyone?).

Also! Did you guys check out the giveaway that I’m hosting? It’s lasting through the week and I’d love for you to enter for a chance to win!
Lastly, I’m going to very vague about the measurements for this recipe since it should be total personal preference. I like mine on the sweeter side so I add a bit more fig jam but do whatever your taste buds are feeling!

Brie, Apple, and Fig Jam Grilled Cheese

  • 2 slices of thick, rustic bread
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • arugula
  • fig jam
  • butter
  • brie, sliced

Spread butter on one side of the bread and fig jam on the other. Place the apple slices, arugula, and brie on top of the jam and sandwich them between the bread.

Place on a skillet over medium heat and cover with a lid. Let cook for about 5 minutes on each side (also, this will depend on how fast yours brown and how crispy you like your bread).

***Note: If you have some extra time, feel free to soften the apples up first by sauteing them in the pan before-hand for a minute or two

23

Chai Latte Pancakes + A Giveaway

Okay, so I have a confession. I don’t really like water…I know that sounds weird and maybe it’s because the water in my town is HEAVILY polluted but it just does not do it for me. Soo…bland. I’ll drink it if it’s boiled and has tea steeped in it..or if it’s gone through the process of being brewed into coffee. Other than that, I stick to sparkling water. The heat wave that struck the Midwest this July really got me addicted to canned seltzer water…and to flavored fizzy water. And here I am, 3 months later in a bit of a rut with my 4 cans of flavored sparkling water a day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my sparkling water but, for a change of pace, I was very excited to try out this new all natural bubbly “soft drink” that Cascal approached me about it.

Cascal All Natural soft drinks are crafted with natural juices (no added sugar except from the juices) and fermented for fuller flavor. At first, I was a little put off by the word ‘soft drink’ because sugary pop comes to mind and I do not usually drink soda. However, this stuff is not the average soda you are used to getting at McDonalds. It reminds me of a mix between my beloved seltzer water and a sparkling juice. The end results are just terrific.

A few of my favorite parts about this soda? Well, they have AWESOME and intriguing flavors. My favorite was the Crisp White which had notes of Pear, Apricot, and Magnolia. Even the one with a chocolate note (Ripe Rough with notes of Chocolate, Rose, and cherry) had a refreshing and not overly sweet flavor to it. And if I have not convinced you already, each can is only 60-80 calories. 60-80 calories for a soda? Ohh yeah!

Anyhow, if you are into trying these out, head to your nearest Whole Foods to pick up your favorite flavor or enter my giveaway for a chance to win a sample pack! The sample pack will have the following five sodas in it:

Crisp White – With notes of pear, apricot and magnolia

Ripe Rouge – With notes of cherry, rose and chocolate

Fresh Tropical – With notes of mango, jasmine and kaffir lime

Bright Citrus – With notes of lemongrass, tangerine and pineapple

Berry Cassis – With notes of black currant, tangerine and lemon

And now for the fine details…

How To Enter:

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite fall soup recipe.

For Extra entries:

Like Cacal or Vegetarian Ventures on Facebook and leave a comment below saying you did

OR

follow Cascal (@CheersCascal) or Vegetarian Ventures (@shellywester) on Twitter and leave a comment below saying you did!
***Make sure to include your email in the comment below so I know how to get a hold of you! This giveaway will be closed on Friday, November 2nd at 10 PM Eastern time and is (sorry!) open to US residents only.***

This is now closed!

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Oh, also, shifting topics…I have a recipe for you! Here is a recipe for some vegan chai latte pancakes that I created using a combination of Isa Chandra’s Chai Latte Cupcakes and Perfect Pancakes recipes!

Perfect way to brighten up your morning on these gloomy fall days!

Chai Latte Pancakes

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons canola/vegetable/coconut oil
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 black tea bag or 2 teaspoons loose leaf tea
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • dash of vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until just boiling. Remove from heat, add in tea bags, and cover. Let steap for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and add the oil, almond milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until everything is well combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet (you should be able to make 2-3 at a time depending on the skillet size). Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve warm with cocoa powder and syrup.

8

Homemade Caramel Corn

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

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

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

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

 

 

Homemade Caramel Corn

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

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

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

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

Enjoy warm with all your friends!

 

16

Spicy Orange Tofu

Orange tofu! The name sounds kind of weird but it’s a spin off of the famous Orange Chicken that you can get at your local Chinese take-out. Chinese take-out is something I ate a lot growing up so the cravings for it are more frequent than I’d like to admit. Although I can’t get it at most restaurants anymore (they only serve chicken versions), I can make my own! Which is probably for the best because all that MSG makes me soooo sleeepy anyways….zzzzzzz

This recipe is super similar to my General Tao Tofu recipe but with a different sauce. As I’ve mentioned before, I make that General Tao a lot.. so sometimes it’s nice to mix it up and this recipe was the perfect answer to that. It’s a bit sweeter but the sriracha gives a lingering kick to leave you feeling oh so satisfied.

So there it is! Recipe number 2 on this “Tofu Adventure” was a success [although…was this cheating since this method of preparing is already my go-to tofu cooking method? Ah, whatever. Let’s count it as a win]. If you’re into tofu like I am, feel free to check out the first part of “Tofu Adventure” where I made some delicious Pesto Tofu Scramble!

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Spicy Orange Tofu

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 1 pound of extra firm tofu (drained and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons canola/vegetable oil

;

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • dash of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of sriracha (more if you like it spicy!)

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  • Rice
  • Steamed broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish

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Start by making the sauce: Whisk together the vinegar, brown sugar, orange juice, ginger, garlic and sriracha. Taste test and add more sriracha is it needs more spice. Set aside.

In another small bowl, whisk together the egg replacer with 3 Tablespoons water. Dip tofu in this mixture until completely coated and then sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cornstarch over the tofu until it’s completely coated.

Next, In a large pan fry the tofu by added them to a medium heated pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in it. Flip the tofu after about 2 minutes or until it is browned on all sides. When done, turn heat down to medium-low and pour in the orange glaze. Fold the glaze into the tofu and cook down to desired consistency.

Serve warm over rice and with steamed broccoli. Top with sesame seeds and perhaps find some vegetarian crab rangoon to top it all off!

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19

Muesli Bread

I know I push making homemade staples on you guys (see: DIY ketchup, Vegetable Broth, Pumpkin Granola, etc etc etc) but I only do it with the best intentions in mind. It’s healthier, you know exactly what is going into your body, and it often times taste better. I totally get that you aren’t going to always have time to make everything from scratch but you really should make some time now and then to make homemade bread. It may sound unnecessary when you can walk down the street and pick up a loaf for 4 dollars but let me tell you…nothing compares to homemade bread. There is something so satisfyingly addicting about fresh, steamy, buttered bread hot out of the oven. It’s more addicting than that chocolate you sneak after dinner… than that giant triple espresso latte your body tells you it needs in the morning…this stuff is probably more addicting [and healthier] than crack [although I have no real life experience to testify this – sorry!].

Anyhow, cooler weather means we can turn our oven on for more than 20 minutes without fainting..or worse yet, feeling guilty about having it on. It means we stay in doors more [unless you are a skier…then you are gearing up for your most busy season. Luckily, my brother go the skiing bug in my family so I can safely say I prefer the indoors during the cooler months] so we have more time to prep the dough, we have more excuses to heat the house by turning the oven up, and we have more reason to “carb-up” [probably not a word but I’m using it] so our bodies can use those calories to keep us warm. Okay, maybe I am over exaggerating a bit…it is still 60 degrees out there but when you are dealing with something as amazing as fresh bread, you NEED to extend the bread season as long as possible. So put your slippers on, turn that oven up, and start shivering so your body can crave those carbs!

Last “bread season” I tackled Garlic Naan, Breadmaker Jalapeno Cheese Bread, Pretzel Bread, Fall Focaccia, and Oatmeal Honey Buttermillk loaves (my personal favorite) – to name a few. This season, I am starting it off with this breakfast Muesli Bread! I am really gonna have to go big this season because this bread is already one of my favorites! Not only is it gorgeous to look at but it’s bursting with flavor from the nuts, seeds, and dried fruit! We ate this for breakfast with a thin layer of butter and strawberry preserves…oh. my. goodness. I wish breakfast could be this indulgent all the time!

Muesli Bread

adapted from Minimalist Baker
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 1/4 cups flour + more for dusting
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 Tablespoon fast acting yeast
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries (or any dried fruit you’d prefer)
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped

In a small measuring cup, combine the warm water and yeast and set aside (this will give the yeast a few minutes to ‘activate’ and start foaming). Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Slowly add the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined (this will either take a sturdy spatula or maybe even your hands…the dough will be very sticky).

Once the dough has formed a ball, place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Look sit for 1 hour in a warm spot and then transfer to the fridge for an hour.

Once the dough is ready, remove from the fridge and transfer to a floured counter top. Knead the dough a few times and then add in the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cherries. Knead until everything is incorporated (try to keep the add-ins as much in the middle as possible because they tend to burn if they are sticking out on top).

Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Adjust your oven racks so there is one on the lowest spot and then one in the middle. Place a metal or cast iron (NOT GLASS) pan on the bottom shelf and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Let dough rise for about 20 minutes or until the oven has preheated. Stick the dough into the preheated oven and pour a cup of warm water into the metal pan (it’ll steam – don’t worry! It’s suppose to!) and cook for about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven once the top is browned and serve warm with butter // jam.

9

Pesto Tofu Scramble with Roasted Tomatoes

Morning, Morning, Morning! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Mine was filled [again] with all my favorite things: friends, hiking, yoga[ing], cooking, and exploring. It’s been so beautiful here with the leaves changing that I’ve felt the need to get outside as much as possible before the cold comes in! We are going to Denver this weekend so I’ve been trying to get my Midwest Fall crammed into 3 weekends this year instead of 4. Here are a few pictures from the hiking /// Fire Tower adventure yesterday:

This weekend was also great because it felt like a bit of a staycation. On Saturday night, Wyatt and I skipped out on our usual bar spot and went drinking at a small Irish pub instead. I had never really drank there before and it was such a wonderful, new experience. The place is full of great lighting, has a rustic pub feel, and delicious cocktail combinations! Definitely my new favorite “date spot”.

And then on Sunday we spent most of the day hiking with some friends. On the way back from the hike, we went out to eat at this little touristy restaurant called ‘The View’. This place is down by the lake so it’s a ways away from Bloomington and we have passed it dozens of times but never thought to stop. It was a pretty good experience [minus some terrible music playing]. The atmosphere was laid back and they had some delicious homemade veggie burgers and ginger sprinter.

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And now let’s talk about food! I have a very love//hate relationship with tofu. I can make an amazing General Tao Tofu dish like no one’s business but then there are often times that my tofu comes out crumbly//mushy//sad when I step out of my comfort zone with it. And thus, I have decided that I love [when things go right] tofu too much to be discouraged about trying a new recipe out of fear it won’t come out. I am planning to try a new tofu dish at least one a week for the next month to hone in on my skills and figure out what works/does not work for me when it comes to this protein packed beast [and perhaps I’ll try tempeh next month…and then seitan…etc].

I started my new ‘Tofu Journey’ [can we call it that?] with this scramble. I’ve made many tofu scrambles before and sometimes they turn out just right…but other times they turn out watery or dry or bland. I wasn’t going to let some bad attempts discourage me this time though. I thought about failed attempts in the past and what went wrong…the final verdict to making a good tofu scramble [I decided] was 1. watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t get dried out 2. Pick a flavor combination and stick to it so that it doesn’t end up bland or have too much going on 3. Don’t get impatient…make sure you let it get to the right consistency before taking it off the stove top.

Pesto Tofu Scramble with Roasted Tomatoes

Serve 3 (or a hungry 2!)

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 block firm (or extra firm) tofu
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto (I used my frozen pesto)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt / pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the tomatoes in olive oil and salt / pepper and place onto a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes (I like my tomatoes to still have a bit of shape but feel free to roast for longer if you like them to be broken down).

In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium. Add the chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes; add the garlic and cook for another two. Next, squeeze the tofu over the sink and try to ring out some of the water. Crumble the tofu over the pan and saute for about ten minutes (this will depend on how moist the tofu is so this is the part where you watch it very closely…cook longer if it’s still mushy and add a tablespoon or so of water if it dries out). Add in the prepared pesto and cook for another two minutes. Remove from heat and top with roasted tomatoes.

Serve with soy yogurt and blueberries. Or with a big side of home fries.

3

Searchable Saturdays

1. Using balsamic vinegar AND peppercorn in a cocktail? I’m intrigued.

2. David Lynch has been in my life a lot lately. We recently started rewatching Twin Peaks (it’s one of my favvvs) with some friends and have been selling through his limited edition Eraserhead LPs like hotcakes at work. This means it was no surprise that I was highly amused by this recent interview with him about his food habits and this video of him making quinoa (which is just sooo….David Lynch).
3. I love love love this DIY on how to make an old backpack into a cute vintage-esque flower purse!

4.  So in love of the concept of the Makeshift Society. I wish that we lived in a big enough city to make our own clubhouse…Midwest edition!

5. With the days getting shorter, I’ve been thinking a lot about lighting in our home and am starting to contemplate replacing some of the light fixtures that came with our renter home. Maybe Ombre lighting?

6. It’s Saturday? I could use a Spicy Bloody Mary. Right. Now.

7. We made these pumpkin donuts this week for a movie night and they were fantastic!

 

Mmmmkaa! And now I am off to find myself a Bloody Mary…

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

11

Apple Latkes

Latkes for dinner?! Yes, please! My family is very German and every December we go up to the German market (Christkindlmarket) which takes place in downtown Chicago. The market runs for the whole month of December and people from all over Germany fly in to sell authentic goods which include candies, food, music, and decor items. To me, Christkindlmarket consists of warm mulled cider, loads of German chocolate, and potato pancakes lathered in apple sauce or sour cream (also known as latkes!). And although the chocolate is…well chocolate (need I say more?) and the cider is alcoholic enough to warm you from the inside out…it’s the latkes that get me oh so excited every year. There is nothing better than warm, fried potatoes lathered in apple sauce (this may sound weird to non-Germans but have you tried it? It really is amazing!).

Okay, that is enough day dreaming about winter already (yuck, what was I thinking?!). Not my fault though…I totally got the new ‘Thanksgiving’ edition of the Food Network Magazine in the mail today. Too warm out to be thinking about Mushroom Gravy and Stuffed To-furkeys? I’d say so. But, a craving is a craving so in an attempt to cool down my potato latke need…I made a fall version! Apple latkes! What a perfect idea! I, of course, did not top them with applesauce (wayyy too much apple in there) but did lather them in butter and maple syrup (since anything in pancake form has the right to be enjoyed with maple syrup. period.)

These little pancakes were awesome. They were flavorful, moist, fluffy, and full of fall spices. I would recommend these for a crisp fall breakfast served up with a batch of mimosas (or if it’s too early for you to start drinking then why not some sparkling cider?).

 

PS I had never been to the Christkindlmarket website until today – woah! I promise there are no giant fairies in wigs or bad typography to be found! Just lots of chocolate, alcohol, and fried foods.

 

 

Apple Latkes

  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg, cloves, and allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup grated apples, about 2 apples (peeled and grated) – spritz a little lemon juice to keep from browning if you peel ahead of time
  • Vegetable oil

Whisk together the eggs and yogurt. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and sugar. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the egg/yogurt mixture and apples. Fold everything together until incorporated.

Oven medium heat, warm enough oil so that there is a thin layer of oil in your skillet. Add about a 1/4 cup of mixture into the hot oil (I cooked 3 at a time but it will depend on how big your skillet it) and make the latkes in batches. Let them cook for about 4 minutes on each side (this will completely depend on how hot your oil is so watch them closely and adjust accordingly). Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Serve warm with lots of butter and maple syrup!

 

4

Spiced Bread Pudding // Collaboration with Dishes Undressed

Happy Tuesday! I’m here today with another collaboration with Angie from Dishes Undressed and this one is our dessert edition! I had her try out my vegan cobbler cake [which sure does look delicious!] and she had me tackle this mouth-watering bread pudding.

Okay, so let’s talk pudding. The REAL kind of pudding…not the stuff you get at the store that is in powder form and you add milk [or something to that nature] to make it come alive [do people still do that? I remember my Dad making us pistachio pudding a lot like this when I was a kid]. I’m talking about the traditional puddings which are created from recipes filled with generations of memories. I never grew up on those puddings and have sort of been making up for lost time. Earlier this month, I whipped up my first ever persimmon pudding and have enjoyed several batches of the stuff since. And now, here I am, trying out bread pudding for the first time. Who knows what’s next! Maybe I’ll try to conquer rice pudding  [again, do people eat that stuff?]. Do you have a favorite pudding recipes? I think I might just have to go on a pudding kick to find mine!

So…my first experience with bread pudding. I was a bit unsure of what to expect but was smitten by the idea that the ingredients were so similar to my favorite breakfast food ever: french toast. I mean, anything that encourages eating french toast more than just before 10 AM is a keeper in  my book. Anyhow, so the result was similar to baked french toast but soften. It was moist, spongy, and full of spices. The warm jam with the perfect sidekick to bring out the sweetness of the pudding. I adapted mine slightly from Angie’s recipe to accommodate what I had on hand.

 

PS- One last thing! I am a total instagram, bloglovin, and facebook addict [do you follow me on all these things??]. I am, however, totally clueless when it comes to Twitter but I’ve decided it’s time to make the plunge! That is right, VV is offically going to be on Twitter so please hop on over and…say Hi or whatever you do on Twitter. [Username: ShellyWester]

 

 

Spiced Bread Pudding

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 8 thick slices of stale bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • fig jam, optional

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange the bread pieces on a small pan.

Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrap out all the seeds. Discard the pod and place seeds in a small saucepan with the milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, immediately remove from heat and let cool.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar. Once the milk mixture is completely cooled (we don’t want the eggs scrambling now!), slowly add it into the egg mixture and stir until combined.

Pour over the bread pieces and let sit for ten minutes. Pop it into the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until the top is browned and crusty. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a small saucepan, warm the jam until it becomes runny. Swirl into the bread pudding and enjoy right away! Perhaps along side a big mug of chia tea or with a blanket on your hammock.

 

 

 

4

Moody Monday /// Maple Glazed Acorn Squash

Good Afternoon! I am feeling particularly moody today because I am just not ready for the weekend to be over. Luckily, I spent all weekend doing things I wanted to do….hiking, exploring, cooking, baking, yoga[ing], etc. On Saturday, Wyatt and I took the afternoon to explore some new shores along Lake Monroe. We have our normal spot that we always adventure to in the summer to bask in the sun, play our favorite tapes, and dip our bodies into the lake. However, now the weather is too cool for that we decided to spend our time walking along the shores and taking in the beautiful fall leaves, crisp breeze, and sound of the water against the rocks. It was such a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

And, on the way back into town we stumbled upon an abandoned water-slide (how random is that to just find a giant water slide in the woods?). It was built out of cement and runs 400 feet. After some research, we discovered it was an old attraction from the 70s that was quite popular back in its day but was eventually shut down because of larger theme parks that opened up in the area. It’s too weird to think that we have probably passed by this place dozens of times and never thought to look closely.

Anyhow, here are a few pictures from the adventures (some really weirdly saturated photos…they transferred from my phone weirdly…but I kind of like it. Look at how blue Wyatt’s sweater is in the last one!):

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And, as usual, to go with my Moody Monday Theme…I will be keeping the recipe super simple today! This roasted acorn squash is perfect to go with any weeknight stew or even as a side at your next holiday dinner. Just take ten minutes to prep and then pop in the oven for an hour while you prep the rest of dinner! So easy!

I should let you know…this recipe may be simple but this side is packed full of flavor. The drizzle of maple syrup helps bring out the natural sweetness that shines through when roasting squash. It’s the perfect side to counteract that savory main dish.

Maple-Glazed Acorn Squash

adapted from SpoonForkBacon
  • 1 acorn squash, center removed and
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sage, chopped
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the acorn squash into equal slices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, brown sugar, sage, and salt.

Bake for 40 minutes (and flip halfway through). Drizzle maple syrup over the squash and cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve warm!