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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!

5

Searchable Saturdays

We made it! It’s the weekend! I don’t know what it is like by you but it’s GORGEOUS today in Bloomington, Indiana. I am going to keep this short because we are getting ready to head out for a day hike///picnic (could be one of the last ones this year!).
Here are a few inspirations from the week:

1. A fantastic tutorial on adding borders to scenery pictures which triggered me playing around with the picture above.

2. I eat A TON of salads and have been trying to make my own salad dressing as much as possible. Here is a great article on understanding what make’s a great vinaigrette!

3. Along the lines of salad…do you know how to properly use your refrigerator for produce? I didn’t before reading this.
4. Not going to lie…our house is [very] old and now that it is too cold to have the windows open, it gets musky REAL quick. DIY all-natural air freshener? I think so!

5. More wonderful photography tips that every blogger should know!

6. We made this amazing butternut squash pasta with friends earlier this week. I am already craving more!

7. Apple Butter mustard? Yes, please!

14

Fall Quinoa Salad with Apples, Pecans, and Cranberries

Good Morning! I know I’ve already mentioned this in previous posts but have you checked out Chickpea magazine yet? I am so excited that they have officially starting shipping out the fall issue this week. I cannot wait to snuggle up on the coach with my puppy and a big mug of chai tea while I swoon over this issue’s recipes and articles!

 

 

Anyhow, today I am sharing a recipe for a quinoa salad. Do you like quinoa? Did you try that Southwestern Quinoa Salad I posted about awhile back? If you have not tried it, I highly recommend checking this grain (is it a grain or a seed?) out. It has such a unique, light and filling texture//taste that it really is hard to explain. This salad is super simple and easy to make so this would be a great introduction to quinoa for you. The hint of cinnamon counteracts the tart apples to make a flavorful and filling side dish.

 

 

Fall Quinoa with Apples, Pecans, and Cranberries

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tart apple, diced (sprinkle a little lemon juice on the apple chunks to keep from turning brown)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (or cherries or whatever else you like dried!)

 

For the dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • dash of cinnamon
  • salt/pepper

Bring the water a boil in a small saucepan. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add in the quinoa. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and “fluff” the quinoa with a fork.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and add to cooled quinoa. Mix in the apple, pecans, and cranberries into the quinoa.

Serve warm or chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

 

33

Homemade Vegetable Stock

So I should start by letting you know that I’m a produce addict. Between our weekly CSA box, Farmer’s market, and local co-op, we probably spend more money monthly on organic vegetables than we do on all our utility bills combined. This means that we end up with a garbage full of scraps almost every week. The “right” thing to do would be to start composting but for many [including us] this does not seem like an option. For 1, we rent so the idea of starting a compost for 9 months and then leaving the remains for the next tenant to deal with is just rude (could you imagine having to deal with a compost pile if you didn’t know what you were doing?). And secondly, we don’t have a proper place for it. Our backyard is fenced in but that is Tuko//Taco//Teekee territory and even if we got a bin for it, our little puppy is a nosy creature and would find ways to munch down on composting parts (which would not be the healthiest for the little guy).

Anyhow, I feel bad about not being able to compost. The amount of scraps we create is discouraging and I do believe that there is a lot of nutrition tossed away with those onion ends, zucchini peels, and herbs that have sat out for just too long. Luckily, I discovered that you can use those scraps to make vegetable broth. It’s quite simple: you just throw your scraps into a zip lock bag in the freezer and whip up some broth when it’s full. This is a truly great time to do this with soup season approaching!

A few reasons why we think you should make your own broth:

1. It’s a way to use up all those vegetable scraps and not waste those ‘on-the-verge’ of spoiling vegetables (just throw them in the freezer when they are too far gone to eat raw but not yet moldy)

2. You know exactly what is in your broth and don’t have to worry about preservatives or other chemicals sneaking into your food

3. It makes using vegetable broth so easy! You don’t have to worry about using up only half a can of because you have a stock pile in the freezer that allows you to only take out what you need

4. The broth will stay good in the freezer for several months (I’ve read different things about the exactly length of time but I’ve heard anywhere between 3 and 5 months. If you are unsure if it’s still good, use your nose! It’s the best judge)

Well, there ya go. Are you convinced yet? I mean, come on! I know you are planning to make loads of soup in the next couple of months…why not have fresh vegetable stock easily accessible for you? I’ve done a lot of research on what you can/can’t freeze and everyone seems to have a different opinion so here is a general list that I use (feel free to just google it if there is a specific vegetable that you aren’t sure about):

  • Onion//leeks//scallions (red will dye your broth a bit pink which I don’t mind but if you do then just omit)
  • Peppers
  • eggplant
  • root vegetables (beets will also dye the broth purple – again, omit if you aren’t into that)
  • mushrooms
  • herbs (basil, sage, rosemary, cilantro, etc) – this includes the stems!
  • garlic
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • fennel
  • celery

Got it? Easy. Now just start a small stash in your freezer and make some broth when you’ve accumulated around 4 cups. It literally takes the same amount of time it would take to boil some dried beans (you DO make your chickpeas//black beans from dried, don’t you? Maybe I should do a post on that topic as well soon). I usually prep my food for the week every Sunday afternoon and made the broth along side cooking some black beans. So easy and only takes about an hour.

PS- I should note that you don’t need to use frozen vegetables by any means! If you just want to make some broth (not out of leftover scraps), just pick up 4 cups worth of organic produce at your local co-op and follow the same directions below.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

  • 4-5 cups of vegetable scraps (see list above), chopped
  • Flavoring (bay leaf, a few peppercorns, herbs, etc), optional
  • garlic clove, optional
  • Tomato chunks or 1 Tablespoon tomato paste, optional

 

 

Place all ingredients in a large pot and cover with cold water (just enough so all the veggies are covered). Bring water to a boil and let simmer for an hour (don’t let it simmer for much more or it starts to lose flavor.

Strain the vegetable mixture and discard the scraps. Let cool completely and either use right away or freeze/refrigerate in quantities that will suit you best (I froze them in ice trays and just made note that 6 broth cubes = half a cup).

Store in fridge for up to 5 days and in freezer for up to 3 months.

Use in all your favorite soups, stews, curries, and risotto including Curried Butternut Squash Soup, Fall Curry, and French Onion Soup.

11

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Croutons

And here I am again with more butternut squash in my life (as if that amazing Galette was not enough!). What can I say? Eating in season has been so easy since our bodies were made to adjust to the seasons. All I’ve been craving for the past two weeks have been soups loaded with winter squash and apple-coated everything.

And I am excited to share with you goat cheese croutons! Have you ever had croutons made out of cheese? OH MY GOD. I cannot believe it took 23 years on this planet to discover these little things! They bring shame to that stale old bread that you use to call “croutons”. For real, image this: gooey, breaded chunks of cheese hidden in your bowl of already delicious soup. It’s like a cheese stick in your soup! But even better because it’s homemade and filled with GOAT CHEESE. Not so bad…am I right? I’m excited to experiment with this more as the winter progresses….perhaps try other cheeses? They will need to low in fat content so that they don’t melt in the cooking process. Hmmm…perhaps feta or Parmesan chunks ? Or maybe even find a better technique for sealing the cheese in the breadcrumbs and branch out to Gruyere or brie. Oh man, the options are endless!

Anyhow, regardless of the croutons, this soup is really yummy. Flavored with curry powder and roasted butternut squash, this recipe is a keeper! I recommend roasting the squash ahead of time since it takes an hour and then you can prep the rest in 20 minutes.

Lastly, you should know that I adapted this recipe from SpoonForkBacon. It’s one of my new favorite food blogs and although I don’t eat bacon (thank goodness that I don’t have to worry about that bacon shortage coming!), I do find the food photography incredibly inspiring and highly suggest that you all hop on over and check it out!

 

 

Curried Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese Croutons

adapted from SpoonForkBacon
  • 1 large butternut squash, sliced in half with seeds removed
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons chives, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk (you can use regular as well if that is what you have on hand)

For the croutons:

  • 3 ounces goat cheese,
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet with the cut sides up. Stick 1 tablespoon of the butter and brown sugar in the cavity of each side. Roast for 1 hour or until the flesh has softened all the way through. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle. Remove skin and discard.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the onions and saute for about five minutes or until softened. Add in the chives, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and squash. Stir until combined.

Next, pour in the broth and let simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and use an immersion blender (or let cool enough to stick in the regular blender) and puree. Return to the stove top and simmer over medium low for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut milk.

To make the croutons:

Leave oven preheated at 375 degrees.

Make 12 (or 15 if you want them smaller) balls of goat cheese. Place the flour, breadcrumbs, and egg all in separate bowls. Roll the balls into the flour, egg, and then the breadcrumbs. Place onto a greased baking sheet and cook for about 15 minutes (flipping halfway through). Make sure to keep your eye on them and remove when browned (some will take more or less time depending on how big your croutons are).

Serve the soup with croutons or crispy bread.

 

 

 

6

Feta and Chives Beer Bread

I’ve been feeling very inspired today. Do you ever have those days where you go to check your “inspiration feed” [mine is bloglovin’ but any sort of RSS feed is what I am referring to] planning to look for ten minutes and then one blog leads to another which leads to an idea which leads to lots of online “reasarch”? Of course you do…I mean you are on a blog right now reading this and there is a good chance if you stumbled upon VV that you were also on some sort of blog journey at one point.

Anyhow, I stumbled upon ‘Going Home To Roost’s’ monthly membership (that is only 5 dollars, might I add) where you get weekly newsletters filled with tutorials, e-courses, designs, etc. This led to me (of course) signing up and reading her e-courses triggered thoughts of the classes that I’ve taken in the past (Blogging Your Way and A Beautiful Mess) so the afternoon turned into lots of reflecting on concepts and ideas that were brought up in those classes. Anyhow, I bring this up because you should hop on over to Going Home To Roost if you are looking for some inspiration and consider signing up for her monthly plan. A lot of bloggers say that paid subscription for extra content in the way of the future for bloggers. It’s sort of a cool concept (who doesn’t like exclusivity?) and at 5 bucks a month…I bet we could handle it!

 

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And now, let’s talk about food. This is probably one of the easiest recipes I have/will ever posted. I’ve actually made beer bread way more than any food blogger should EVER admit [ but it’s totally not my fault!]  I could make the fanciest truffle pasta or elegant french soup with Gruyere croutons and Wyatt would reply “are we having beer bread with that?”. Seriously, anything that you can dip bread in…he requests beer bread as the side. I’ve made fresh baguette and seasonal Foccaccia but he always goes back to asking about the beer bread. And so here we are, it’s probably the trashiest American bread to ever exist but it’s SO easy (no rise time) and actually can be rather addicting.

Another thing that is great about beer bread is its super versatile. I added feta and chives because that is what I had on hand but in the past I’ve added sun-dried tomatoes, basil, oregano, sage, cheddar, etc etc. The options are pretty endless! All you have to do is think of a combine that goes well together and do it!

So whip this up next time you are planning to spend hours making a soup (so then you don’t ALSO have to worry about an elaborate bread to go with it) or need some spongy bread for warm gooey grilled cheese.

 

 

Beer Bread with Chives and Feta

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 12-ounce beer
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a small loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add in the beer and stir until just combined. Fold in the feta and chives.

Cook for 50 minutes or until the top is crusty.

Serve warm with soups and sandwiches!

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

Searchable Saturdays

 

Tuko//Teekee//Taco and I waiting outside while Wyatt picked out a movie earlier this week. (ps- follow me on instagram: shellywest)

And here are a few things that inspired VV from around the web this week:

1. Made these tofu tacos for dinner the other night and they were FANTASTIC! The tofu was so flavorful and the avocado cream was smooth and filling!

2. This cute DIY on how to color dip your utensils is so adorable and simple! New weekend project? I think so!

3. This weekend we are sitting a cat who has more more instagram followers than Wyatt and I combined (x2). Totally weird.

4. Katrina did a store profile on a The General Store in San Fransisco and I want EVERYTHING in it. I LOVE the simplicity of the geometric wood blocks. How cool is that? And the abstract fruit and veggie posters? Yes, please!

5. One of my favorite recipe books ‘Homemade’ now has a sequel called ‘Homemade Winter’ which I CANNOT wait to get my hands on. I made these Gingerbread Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting from it last year and they were absolutely irresistible!

6. Not that I’ve started my Christmas list already but… I kind of have. I am dying to get my hands on this new iphone case and this jacket. Ah yeah, I’ve got the fall clothing bug.

7. And lastly, why is everything Joy the Baker makes so freaking irresistible? I’m not even that big of a donut fan…

 

10

Pumpkin Swirl Cocoa Brownies

I was doing so good in September…constantly cooking with fresh produce, little butter, and smaller portions. And the yoga…2…3….4 times a week! It was excellent. But then my fall taste buds kicked in. The first time I gave into the apple crisp because it was my way of welcoming in Fall. But then I made those pumpkin cinnamon rolls…and then the persimmon pudding. And here I am again with ANOTHER sugary, buttery, delicious fall dessert. It’s like my taste buds are saying ‘yeah…that summer eggplant was good…but now it’s time for mounds of sweets disguised as fall.’ Ah well, I own a food blog for goodness sake…can I really beat myself up for cooking [baking] delicious treats? Oh..I’m going to use that excuse more often!

 

 

All guilt aside, these brownies are super rad. I LOVE chocolate (Hey, I am a girl…) but these brownies give chocolate a whole new meaning. They aren’t the over dense, gooey bars that force you to slurp down a giant class of soy milk afterwards. They are airy, melt-in-your-mouth, and the pumpkin keeps them from becoming overbearingly sweet. AND they are seasonal so it’s totally acceptable to make them now before it’s not fall anymore! Plus, it’s Friday. Who doesn’t want to treat themselves with a big batch of brownies on their Friday night? Have I convinced you to pull out your baking supplies yet? Come on, seriously, what are you waiting for?

 

 

Pumpkin Swirl Cocoa Brownies

Adapted from YumSugar

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of cayenne (optional but highly recommended!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar + 2 Tablespoons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 by 9 inch square baking pan.

In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter over medium-low heat until it is melted and smooth (stir frequently to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn). Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer [I know, we are using LOTS of dishes for this one], combine the eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar. Beat until incorporated (about three minutes). Turn mixer down to low, slowly add in the dry ingredients, and then turn back up to medium for another minute.

Divide the batter in half and split it among two bowls. First, add the chocolate mixture into one bowl and add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and oil to the other bowl. Mix each batter until everything is incorporated.

Alternate between the two batters by pouring a combination of both bowls into the prepared baking pan. Use a toothpick to “swirl” the pumpkin into the chocolate and then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

Serve warm with ice cream or apple cider.

 

 

 

 

 

14

Butternut Squash Galette with Sage and Cheddar

 

Do you guys all follow me on instagram [ username: shellywest – if you don’t, you should!] ? Well, if not then you missed this picture of these adorable mini-cucumbers that I posted the other day (don’t they look like tiny watermelons? how bizarre is that?!). Anyhow, we got a handful of these at the farmer’s market this week and they taste like a super crunchy cucumber and I bet would be perfect in salads.

You know what else I got at the Farmer’s market? A big, beautiful butternut squash. Yup, that’s right. Fall vegetables are in full bloom and they look like this…

 

 

Looks delicious…right? Oh and to the left of that is some sage from my sunroom. The sun room has been seriously lacking in the ‘sun’ part lately so most of the herbs are looking pretty sad. Luckily, sage is a tough little guy and has still been thriving. He (or it…or she) looks like this:

 

 

Seeee…isn’t she lookin’ good? I even have her in a self-watering plant so she can take care of herself. Oh, and there’s my maroon knee-high socks too…sorry but it is fall. And if there is anything I take seriously this time of year, it’s socks and sweaters. A girl needs the proper accessories [socks] to pull off her fall attire. OH! and while we are on the topic of my thriving sage [or did we already switch topics?] …

 

 

Look at that texture! Sage, you really know how to show off. oh…speaking of texture…

Haha. Sorry to all of you who are just trying to get to the recipe… I am making all of you go through half a dozen photos first! I promise I’m just trying to prep you for all the delicious things that will be going into this galette. But I’ll stop babbling about…socks and fall and texture so that we can get to why you are really here….

Butternut Squash Galette

adapted from Bust Magazine

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seed, and cubed
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water

Lets make the crust: Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Use your [clean] hands to massage the butter into the flour mixture until a coarse dough as formed (a few large chunks of butter leftover is a-okay). Next, slowly add in the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a thick ball.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for five minutes or until the dough is completely combined and no longer sticky. Wrap in parchment paper and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

—-fast forward 30 minutes [or enjoy those 30 minutes by watching your dog try to get peanut butter of the top of his mouth, dance to your favorite vinyl, look up some David Bowie photos online, shave your legs, etc] —–

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from fridge and roll out onto a floured surface. You want your dough to be as close to a circle as possible and about 1/2 inch thick. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Combine all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and spread in the center of the dough (leave about 2 inches around the edges). Fold the edges in over part of the filling.

Whisk together the water and egg wash and brush over the crust.

Cook for 40 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust has browned.

Serve warm with cider [or other fall paraphernalia – like a hot toddy]

 

9

Spicy Jalapeno Corn Hummus

Heyyya! Happy gloomy, gloomy Tuesday. As a way to kick up this chilly and droopy day, I made some spicy hummus to warm you up! Well…I didn’t exactly make it for you. I made the hummus for myself but I do have the recipe to share with you so that you can make it too! It’s the perfect afternoon snack to fill you up and give your metabolism an extra boost (did you know spicy food does that? How cool!)

Anyhow, I’m off to do more logo design proofing followed by a lazy evening filled with warm apple cider and Parks & Recreation marathons.

 

 

Spicy Corn Jalapeno Hummus

  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 large ears of corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • sriracha, optional (if you like it super spicy – add a few drops at the end)

 

 

 

Roast the jalapeno however you’d prefer. I stuck mine over my gas stove (see photo below) but feel free to use the broiler as well.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the corn and saute for about 7 minutes or until they are soft and browned.

Combine, the jalapeno, corn, chickpeas, olive oil (start with 2 tablespoons and add more if it’s too thick), tahini, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender (or food processor). Mix until everything is incorporated and the desired consistency is reached (add more tahini or olive if it’s still too thick and adjust flavor to your liking with the salt/pepper/lemon juice).

Fold in some sriracha if you want an extra kick and serve with warm pita.

1

September Highlights

Heyyyaaa. Happy…Monday? And October…WOAH. weird. It seems like it was just yesterday that it was my birthday (September 4th). This month flew by but lots and lots of yummy things were made in the process.

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a look at a few of our favorites:

1. At the beginning of September my CSA box was OVERFLOWING with zucchini. This meant we we made a new zucchini bread recipe almost daily. These dark chocolate zucchini muffins were probably my all time favorite (who doesnt like eating chocolate for breakfast?!). But I was also pretty impressed with the Savory Feta Zucchini muffins….

2. Everything is better with avocado! We learned that this summer when people start throwing avocados in things from baked sweets to smoothies. This dip is no different and makes everything you might stick in it irresistible. Oh, and the homemade potato chips aren’t so bad either!

3. Mmmm…some of the last bits of summer in a bowl. I still firmly stand by the belief that the best kind of recipes are simple so that the delicious flavors of the ingredients can shine through. And this dish is a perfect example of that. Ripe tomatoes and crusty bread help to bring out all the flavors of summer in this Panzanella.

4. And finally, the last week of September I let myself give into fall and whipped up everything cinnamon, apple, and pumpkin flavored. Although the pumpkin cinnamon rolls and apple crisp were freaking amazing dishes, the pumpkin granola was my favorite because it was sooooo simple and I was able to enjoy it for days after.

Oh and the biggest excitement this month was seeing my article about the Midwest Vegan Food Scene in Chickpea magazine! I have been such a huge admirer of Chickpea magazine for so long that it was really great to be a contributor this time around!!

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And now let’s take a look at October!

October is going to be an exciting and busy month. Wyatt and I will be heading to Denver at the end of the month to visit my brother and a few relatives, my blog make-over will [hopefully] be finishing up, and I have loads of recipes in store that consists of lots of root vegetables and fall squash!

Oh and how about a fall goal list? We posted one on the fridge a few weeks ago and I am happy to say we already have crossed a few things off the list. Here is what it looks like:

1. Go apple picking

2. Have horror movie nights

3. Finish my blog make-over

4. make homemade cheese (gonna happen this season!)

5. Go on a fall camping trip

6. Enjoy a bonfire

7. Make pumpkin flavored donuts and dog treats

 

5

Persimmon Pudding

Persimmon pudding + vanilla bean ice cream = !!!

Last Sunday I attempted to go apple picking at a nearby orchard with Wyatt and a few friends. Although all the apples had already fallen from the tree, we had an enjoyable time checking out the tiny orchard shop filled with homemade dips, vintage candies, fresh produce, and more. As we were exploring, I came across a random cooler in the back corner labeled ‘persimmon pulp’. I had never heard of a persimmon before and was rather embarrassed when I sloppily tried to pronounce it only to be corrected by a nearby friend. He continued to tell me that his parents have a persimmon tree, they made pudding out the fallen fruit every year, and he had even made a short video about the process.

So… as a learning experience to myself (and perhaps you!), I purchased a container of the pulp and stick it in my fridge for later use.

And thus, later came this morning when I thawed the pulp and whipped up my first ever batch of pudding! If those pumpkin cinnamon rolls and apple crisp tasted like Fall then this taste like Thanksgiving [am I allowed to use events as describing words for flavors? well, I just did]. It’s loaded full of nutmeg and cloves and has a similar texture to pumpkin pie filling. Oh man, it’s so yummy!

I followed this video by my friend David Woodruff to make my own amazing persimmon pudding and I suggest you should too:

3

Searchable Saturdays

Insta-portrait with Tuko. Yes, that is right, I am the most annoying dog owner ever and always want to take pictures with Taco/Teekee when he is sound asleep (I can’t help it! That is when he is the cutest!)

 

And here are a few inspirations that I came across this week….

1. As anyone who has read my blog this summer knows, I have been crazy about coming up with cocktail concoctions so this little tutorial was incredibly informative! And… beautiful photos never hurt!

2. I’ve never made a cheese plate before but these pictures are sure as hell making me want to….

3. Tomorrow is a national free museum day which reminded me that I really would like to go to the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the St. Louis City Museum before it gets too cold. AND, my friend just informed me of an awesome Mid-Century Museum nearby that we must check out. Museums on my fall to-do list? I think so.

4. I don’t really talk much about music on VV which is weird…since my day job does consist of working for 25 independent indie-rock labels…anyhow, this is a video from Moon Duo that is too awesome not to share.

5. I’m obsessed with trying to improve my photography skills and here are a few tutorials that I was super into this week: The Language of Photography and Get That Blurry Background

6. Oh! We hosted our first ‘Horror Thursdays’ move night this week and I made Joy The Baker’s giant skillet cookie for it. It. was. so. delicious!

 

Okay, well it’s too nice out to be on my computer right now. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoys a lovely lunch picnic today!

5

Fall Apple Crisp // The Worry Worm

This is a picture from a fall afternoon [ last year ] that Wyatt (pictured above) and I spent laying by the water and having long conversations. Today, I wish this was us again. Life [ for no particular reason ] has been really stressing me out lately. I’m not sure what exactly happened but it was like something inside of me snapped when I graduated from college [about six months ago] that turned on my “worrying” button. Before that, I was known for being the “laid back” friend who never took anything seriously. I always trusted that what was happening was supposed to and that I felt pretty much invincible. This all changed, however, when I started my “real-world” journey and I began feeling the weight of all my decisions being put on me. If I don’t take care of myself, something terrible COULD happen to me. What I put in my body does actually affect my mood/general feeling. If I don’t pay attention while driving, I could get into a car accident. It has been a large reality check for me and really unearthed my way of thinking.

I bring this up because this un-nerving feeling struck me again this morning [ and has thrown the whole day off ]. Why? Because I read an article this morning about Trader Joe’s recalling their peanut butter due to salmonella contamination. This happens to be the same kind of peanut butter that I opened and gobbled down last night. I mean, realistically, I would already have been feeling the negative affects of the peanut butter if it had been affected. There is just something about the fact that a comfort food [ that I eat almost every day ] could turn and harm you. Arg.
Anyway, I am getting way too serious for even my own liking so let’s shift gears…eh? Enough about my hang-ups. Cool? Cool.

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Instead, let’s talk about fall comfort desserts. I love love love apple crisp because not only is it filled with cinnamon and oats but its 50% fruit [ which makes it totally acceptable for breakfast, lunch, snack, dessert, etc… right? ]. And you know what’s even better about this recipe? Wyatt picked it out so it has wayyy  more butter than any recipe I would have approved of. That is probably what made it sooo freaking delicious. Shhhhh….don’t let him know that I admitted to that!

We attempted to go apple picking last weekend which ended up being a huge fail. Supposedly, the season is off because of the bad Midwest drought and the early frost that struck us last week. Ah well. We still picked up a bundle of apples and some recipe cards (they always have a stack of homemade recipe cards by the check out counter at the orchard). We made an apple pie from these cards last year and it was to die for (which is where my assumption comes in….old fashion = SO much butter // heavy cream). Anyhow, this recipe is from one of those cards and was nothing short of amazing.

I’d suggest making this when you are trying to impress guests (sadly, most of them aren’t going to be impressed by your low-carb fruit cake) or when you really want to capture that “fall is in the air” feeling. Don’t forget to serve this crisp warm with a big helping of vanilla bean ice cream.

Apple Crisp

  • 6 large tart apples
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

Grease a 9×9 pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prep the apples by peeling, coring, and dicing them. Add the lemon juice, corn starch, and sugar to the apples and place in the baking dish.

In another bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Dice the cold butter into chunks and use your fingers to work them into the mixture until the dough is coarse and combined. Fold in the oats and then evenly top over the apples.

Cook for 45- 50 minutes or until the top has browned.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly while you prep the ice cream (!!).

Serve warm and gobble up while enjoying the crisp breeze on your porch.

14

Pumpkin Granola

And so we continue our fall theme with another pumpkin recipe! And weirdly enough…another breakfast recipe! [ Not that you can’t also eat granola for a dessert or as a snack or just because it taste good ]. Although we all wish that we could eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast everyday, it’s probably not the healthiest choice imaginable. I would probably find it hard to get up and do yoga every morning if I had just downed 3 cinnamon rolls for the third time that week. Anyhow, what I am getting at is today’s post is about a more of a….sustainable breakfast choice. Think of cinnamon rolls as your weekend breakfast and this granola can be your simple and quick weekday indulgence. Throw some Greek yogurt // almond milk // soy yogurt in a to-go cup and top it with this granola + maybe some honey // agave or sliced apples as you run out of the door [ oh, and don’t forget to bring a spoon! ].

So, on that note, I have a confession. I LOVE parfaits and went through a big phase where I would whip them up for dessert [ as an attempt to avoid getting the ‘I should make brownies because I’m craving sweet’ thought that often follows dinner ]. However, I always bought granola from the store and this is my first attempt ever at making it myself. Damn, I am kicking myself now! Reasons why this should have been on my radar years ago:

1. It’s stupidly cheap to make your own! For 5 cups of organic rolled oats, it cost me 2.19 to get from my bulk section. Yeah! Do you have any idea how much 5 cups of oats it!? It’s a lot. Goodbye $4.69 box of organic Cascade Farm’s granola! You will never fool me again.

2. It’s SO SO SO easy to make. I throw all the ingredients together in 5 minutes and then did my entire morning yoga routine while they cooked. This meant…I had to wake up maybe 10 minutes earlier than I usually do. And then you have enough granola to last for twice as long as those skimpy pre-packaged boxes of cereal do.

3. You know exactly what is going into your granola. None of that hidden corn syrup or extra dose of sugar that you always pretended was not in there. And it also gives you total control! Don’t like your granola sweet? Cut back on brown sugar! Don’t like dried cranberries? Swap out for dried cherries! So easy!
Anyhow, I hope that I’ve inspired you and that this recipe gives you that extra push to try out making your own granola!

 

 

Pumpkin Granola

Adapted from Two Peas & A Pod
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey (or agave to make vegan)
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, pumpkin puree, apple sauce, honey, and vanilla. Spread evenly onto prepared baking sheet and stick in the oven.

Cook for 40 minutes (stir the oats around halfway through cooking time). Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Fold in dried cherries.

Let cool completely (this will help crisp it up!) and then sprinkle over yogurt//milk//whatever you are feeling.

Store in an airtight container.

 

 

19

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnanom Rolls with Maple Glaze

 

Ah, Tuesday. Sometimes I feel like Tuesday is worse than Monday because you’ve already got back into the swing of things but still have so much more time before it’s the weekend. But there is a cure for the Tuesday blues and that cure is Cinnamon Rolls! [How could you possible be down when you have a fresh, warm and gooey cinnamon roll in your belly?] What about cinnamon rolls with an extra kick of pumpkin in them? Oooooh yeah! I’m sold. I became hooked on what I called cinnamon roll “spin-offs” after I made those Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls. Oh goodness. Nothing like taking something already delicious and making it even better.

And so, it’s officially fall for me because I cooked with my first pumpkin of the season. Ah, I love it! How can you not get excited about a season that features pumpkin, cinnamon, apples, and cider?!? I just don’t understand.

These were amazing but I will, however, add more pumpkin next time around. You could definitely taste the pumpkin but it was subtle. Also, don’t forget to prep these SEVERAL hours before you want to indulge since they take two rounds of rising (I started them the night before and then let them rise all night which worked as a perfect way to cut out an extra hour and half in the AM.

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from EatLiveRun
  • 2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch + 3 Tablespoons water (mix together so that a gel forms)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

 

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Earth Balance
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

 

For Maple Glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Almond Milk

 

Heat the butter and almond milk over low in a small saucepan until the butter has melted and is incorporated. Remove from heat and wait for the mixture to cool slightly (should be able to touch the milk with your finger and not be uncomfortable) and add the yeast. Let sit for five minutes or until the yeast becomes foamy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch/water mixture with the pumpkin. In the bowl of your stand mixer (with the dough attachment) combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Add in the pumpkin mixture and turn the mixer onto medium until everything is combined. Next, add in the yeast mixture and let the dough knead for about five minutes. The dough should end up elastic and firm.

Transfer dough to a greased mixing bowl and cover. Let rise for an hour (or overnight).

Go do some yoga. Turn the vinyl over. Dance with your puppy. Or take a nap. Or whatever you like to fill your time with.

Transfer dough to a flour surface and roll out to form a large rectangle shape. Mix the filling together in a bowl and sprinkle on top of the dough. Roll dough by taking the long ends and forming a long cylinder. Cut in the middle and then cut each of those pieces into thirds (you should end up with 6 rolls). Stick in a greased 8×8 cooking pan and cover. Let rise for another 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake rolls for about 30 minutes or until the tops are browned. Remove and let cool.

While cooling, prepare the glaze! Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until it starts to gel. Pour over the rolls.

Enjoy warm and with tea or coffee.

 

6

Moody Monday // Pumpkin Spice Mix

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice

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

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

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

1

Searchable Saturdays

A picture of Tuko & Lake Monroe from our dinner picnic. We went on a hike/picnic Wednesday night which was the perfect cure for the mid-week blues.

Morning, Morning, Morning! Here are a few inspiring things I stumbled upon while enjoying my morning cup of chai:
1. My two favorite things have finally come together in a beautiful monthly package (and receiving surprises in the mail is up there as a favorite as well): music (more specifically- music on vinyl) and cooking. This adorably clever project sends you a monthly package filled with an exclusive 7″, recipe cards, and spices to accompany your dinner. How awesome is that?! Now if only I had come up with this idea…

2. I’m preparing for a blog facelift which means many hours spent looking at logos, fonts, and color schemes. Upon my ‘research’, I came across this font. SO cool!

3. I have such a weakness for cute typography and colorful visuals. Look at these adorable DIY birthday cards! Best part? You can print them out and give them to all those Fall birthdays you know!

4. Bon Appetit recently released an article on the science behind food pairing. Find it weird that there are some foods which seem to be absolutely irresistible together? There is probably a scientific explanation behind that!

5. Sprouting from a slight fantasy of wishing I had grown up as part of the Portland vegan food scene in the 90s, I have such a weakness for zines and hand drawn food photos. Not only does this Tea is Magical photo portray exactly how amazing tea is, it also looks like it could have been pulled from a 90’s art magazine.

6. I know I already mentioned the newest edition of Chickpea Magazine earlier this week but take a look at these photos to get an idea of the types of recipes in the newest edition!

7. With the weather changing, I am already starting to stock up on fun things to do inside to keep me busy during the looooooong, cold months ahead. Hop on over to DesignSponge to check out this amazing looking DIY foot soak made out of honey that will be perfect after a long day in the chilly Midwest.

8. The reasons I love fall are absolutely endless but one that I must point out is that it’s boot season. I am so. in. love. with. boots. My co-worker commented the other day that I’ve worn a different pair of boots every day this week. Guilty. I can’t help it! I need a pair in every color, ankle and over the knee, with laces and slip ons. Speaking of boots, I may already have a dozen pairs but I think these would be a perfect addition to my collection.

Okay, enough lusting over the internet for one day. I am off to pour myself another cup of coffee and get working on some pumpkin cinnamon rolls!

View from my bike. Peddling to friend’s house to make dinner together.
7

Chickpea Magazine // Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese & Corn

 

I have some very exciting news for you guys! I am excited to announce that the new Chickpea Fall issue came out online today! I am even more excited to tell you guys that I have a 6 page spread in it! My article is about the lack of veganism in the United States Midwest and how Bloomington, Indiana is an exception to that. In addition, this issue is filled with mouth-watering fall recipes and gorgeous beach picnics. I don’t think I’ve ever fell in love with a magazine as much as I always seem to fall for Chickpea. They have such a hip aesthetic and beautiful photography that I wish my whole life could be lived through this magazine. Don’t believe me? Go check out a preview of the issue for free online or purchase a physical copy on their website.

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And now, back to business! Okay, remember yesterday when I made a deal with you that I get the rest of the week to still talk about yummy summer recipes? Well, today is not an exception and these delicious stuffed peppers are everything you want your beautiful {late} summer afternoons to be filled with. They are fresh, flavorful, and just the right amount of filling. I’d suggest to serve them with a grilled veggie burger or along side a stack of quesadillas.

 

 

Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese & Corn

  • 2 bell peppers, sliced in half with the seeds removed
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sweet corn kernels
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped

First, we must roast the peppers! You can either do this over a gas grill if you have one handy or in the oven under the broiler setting. I opted to do the broiler setting and just put them under the broiler on each side for about 5 minutes (but check often because broilers are tricky things and we don’t want your peppers burning to a crisp just because my broiler doesn’t get as hot as yours!). You want them to have blackened spots on both side. Remove from heat and stick in a plastic bag until they cool. Once cooled, remove and peel the burnt outer skin. Set aside.

While waiting for the peppers to cool, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add the onions and saute for about 5 to 7 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Then add the butter, corn, salt, and pepper. Saute for another 5 minutes or until the corn is cooked all the way through. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice.

Divide the goat cheese evenly between the 4 pieces and spread along the inside. Top with the corn mixture and garnish with cilantro.

Serve warm and enjoy with a delicious beergarita!

 

5

Panzanella

Okay, so I feel a bit behind the times posting a {gasp} tomato-themed recipe while the rest of the blog sphere is bustling with pumpkin flavored baked goods and spiced ciders. I guess this probably tells a lot about my character. I spent all summer dragging my feet and then the crisp, fall-feeling air kicked in last week was a slap in the face. It was a reminder that there are still plenty of summer produce recipes I wanted to conquer. So…here we are…scrambling at the last minute trying to fit every last possible heirloom tomato, sliver of basil, and piece of zucchini bread into my diet before the first frost comes. And thus, I am asking you to stick with me…give me THIS week (and maybe weekend) to get summer out of my system and I promise I will start fresh next week with pumpkin infused everything. Cool? Cool.

Anyhow, the main reason I probably took so long to make these recipe was coming to terms with using my day old bread in a salad. Don’t get me wrong….I loooove salads but old bread is meant for french toast. Everyone knows that! And the struggle between making a salad and french toast…was well not really a struggle for most of the summer. Sorry arugula but cinnamon and butter win every time. Well…every time up until now. After making this last week, I wish I had been more open to sharing my stale bread all summer long…maybe stocking up on twice as much bread to distribute evenly between sweet and savory. We could have come to some compromise had I known this was going to be pretty much the best salad ever to exist.

This recipe reminds me of a salad form of bruschetta (probably for good reason…you smart smart Italian chefs!). This is a huge relief for me because I LOVE the flavors of bruschetta but am not allowed to make it myself. I can’t make it myself because my old roommate and very very good friend makes the best bruschetta ever to exist. And this is probably due to the fact that she lived in Italy for a short period (and Belgium and South Africa and Jordan…sheesh, putting my cultural experiences to shame). Sooo… it’s awesome having a friend who can make pretty much the best summer dish ever but it means that my attempts are just pointless. And thus, this is a great alternative to trying to get my bruschetta fix without having to actually compete with Ella’s bruschetta.

 

Panzanella

  • 1/2 loaf of old bread, sliced into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into 1 inch cubes and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon capers
  • 1/3 cup basil, roughly chopped

 

dressing:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt/pepper, to taste

 

To make the dressing: whisk all the ingredient together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add the bread and toss until it is completely coated. Saute until browned and crispy on all sides. Add salt and toss to coat. Remove from heat.

In a large salad bowl, combine the pepper, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, capers, and toasted bread. Fold in the capers and salad dressing right before serving.

Munch down.

How easy was that?

 

5

Fall Curry // Collaboration with Dishes Undressed

With the seasons changing and the weather being so gloomy, it has triggered a state of reflection within me. I spent a few hours looking through old pictures (I’ve been trying to gather all my favorite pictures together to print but whenever I sit down to try to do this…it just ends in me spending hours getting lost in old memories). Anyhow, these two pictures are from a trip we took down to Austin for South by Southwest a few years back. I went to SXSW a couple of times in college and was determined to move to Austin eventually. Actually, it was both Wyatt and I’s goal to move to Austin so we made plans to move together when I graduated (he is a year older so he stuck around Bloomington waiting for me to finish school). Anyhow, then we both scored cool jobs working for independent record labels and we decided to put it off for a year to “save up”. But to be honest, we aren’t saving any significant amount of cash for a move and I’m starting to wonder if Austin is still even in our cards.

A big decision like moving (especially just to move…not because of a job or family) just seems to get so lost in the day-to-day that is our current life. It’s been a goal of mine since I was 18 to get out of Indiana but now it just seems like such a far away dream. Why put all that energy into moving and starting over if you are content with where you are at? Hmmm.

Just some thoughts. Who knows where we will be in a year. Or five. Or ten. Guess that is the beauty of it all.

Switching gears completely….

Anyhow, something that is not new but totally awesome is my collaboration with Angie over at Dishes Undressed. Last night I cooked up the most delicious fall curry from a recipe she suggested to me. It was chocked full of butternut squash, chickpeas, lemongrass (!!), and Middle Eastern spices.

This is the second time I’ve cooked with lemongrass (both thanks to Angie) and I am hooked. This is a bit challenging for me because curry is totally one of my “go to” dinner meals but for 1. I never keep track of measurements (which is probably why I rarely post about curry) and 2. I’ve never used lemongrass in them before. Woah! Adding lemongrass opened up a whole new world of curry to me! The subtle citrus flavor from the lemongrass really helps bring out all the spices.

And this recipe could not have come at a better time since I just picked up some gorgeous butternut squash at the Farmer’s Market over the weekend!

Serve with warm naan bread, white rice, and maybe even a little yogurt (if you like your curry a little creamy. I personally don’t like spicy but Wyatt does so I make curry with a little heat and then add yogurt to help cool it down for me).

Also, don’t forget to check out the other collaborations I’ve done with Dishes Undressed: Lemongrass Cooler, Caprese Breakfast Sandwich, Fried Zucchini, and Southwestern Sliders!

Fall Curry

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons curry paste (I used red paste and added turmeric but use yellow if you have it on hand)
  • 2 large lemongrass stalks, whole but bashed with the back of a knife (this step was really really fun)
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion, finally chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked (and drained if you are using from a can)
  • 1 lime
  • handful of mint leaves, to garnish
  • naan, optional
  • rice, optional
  • plain yogurt, optional

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium. Add the onions, curry paste, lemongrass, mustard seeds, and cardamom pods. Cook for about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Next, add in the butternut squash and saute for another 5 or so minutes. Finally, add the coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for about 10 minutes and then add in the chickpeas. Let simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the butternut squash is soft and the liquid has evaporated to a desired consistency (also, if the liquid dries out and the squash still is not done…add a little more broth and continue to let it simmer).

Remove from heat and discard lemongrass.  Serve over rice and garnish with fresh mint.

Enjoy right away in your favorite hammock before it’s too cold to be outside for dinner!

4

Moody Monday // Basil Salt

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Basil Salt

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

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

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

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

Enjoy sprinkled on everything!

4

Searchable Saturdays

photo from our camping trip last weekend at Lake Michigan

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9

Baked Potato Chips with Avocado Dip

Oh man, it’s only Wednesday? This weekend needs to come sooner so I can spend time browsing the Farmer’s Market, drinking cocktails with my Ma, and making pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

However, with that being said, I am enjoying my week. I’ve been waking up early everyday to do Yoga before work which has been very energizing. And last night we went out to see one of our favorite musicians – Nobunny…which was both amusing and enjoyable. And I have a craft night scheduled tomorrow to finally made those billy buds I’d been thinking about for 4 months now. I must say…not too shabby of a week so far. How is your week coming?

Oh! And…before it becomes too much of old news and pointless, I have pictures that I was going to share from my “birthday hike” last Tuesday. Wyatt, Tuko, and I headed a bit north to check out a state park we had never been to. It was a bit muggy and buggy but none-the-less beautiful and quiet. In fact, we did not come across one person on our whole journey through the park…perhaps this place is a beautiful secret that many people around here have still not yet caught onto!

And we all know that after you go on a several mile hike that you need a post-hiking snack….right? Or is that just me? Anyhow, we whipped up these baked potato chips with avocado dip for an afternoon snack. And let me tell you….damn! I wish that I could spread this avocado dip on EVERYTHING. Think…guacamole but creamier. And dipping crispy, warm chips that were fresh from the oven was a perfect accompaniment.

Baked Potato Chips with Avocado Dip

Adapted from Food For My Family
  • 2 russet potatoes, thinly (and evenly) sliced
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • Salt/pepper

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chives
  • 1 Tablespoon dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients together. Place in fridge until ready to serve (the longer it sits the more time this will give the flavors to blend together!).

To make the fries: preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sliced potatoes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush both sides of the slices with oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in 15 minute segments and flip every 15 minutes. It took me about 40 minutes for all the potatoes but I checked frequently and removed the thinner ones that cooked faster.

Enjoy with yummy dipping sauce as a snack! Or enjoy alongside some Veggie Sloppy Joes, Southwestern Sliders, or Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesedillas!

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Eggplant Involtini

Really…this dish’s name is just a fancy word for ‘stuffed eggplant’. Image stuffed shells with eggplant instead of pasta. Or pasta-less lasagna but rolled up. Or cheesy stuffed eggplant but styled differently. Anyhow, I think you get the idea. These stuff is delicious and surprisingly easy to whip up.

I really really really really wish I had taken the time to make homemade ricotta but it didn’t happen. Oh well…next time. And then I will tell you guys all about it! But either way, this dish was delicious (despite not having instantly fresh ricotta for it) and I recommend serving with some yummy crusty bread or a loaded salad.

Eggplant Involtini

adapted from Big Girl, Small Kitchen
  • 2 small eggplants, cut int0 1/4″ thick slices
  • Tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces of ricotta
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse and let out any extra moisture.

Place eggplant slices on a large cooking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for about 2 minutes on each side or until they begin to soften. Remove from oven and turn oven temperature to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, salt, and thyme. Set aside.

In a small 9×9 pan, spread the tomato sauce on the bottom. Use a spoon to scoop a tablespoon of the ricotta filling onto the thick part of the eggplant piece. Roll the eggplant up and put the it with the seams down into the tomato sauce. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant.

Pour the milk over the eggplant pieces so that they don’t dry out while cooking. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the eggplants are golden brown.

Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Not your thing? Here are a few other eggplant dishes to try: Baba Ganoush or BBQ Eggplant Tacos with Peach Salsa