Remarkably I was still harvesting carrots the last week of November- lucky us. The longer carrots remain in the ground during colder months, the sweeter they become; a sweet reminder for me to plant a larger harvest come spring. I absolutely adore pureed soups, creamy and velvety without the cream. This soup is perfect for fending off the sniffles; turmeric, garlic and curry are all known to help ward off stubborn winter colds, helping to ramp up your immune system. Due to the mild winter we have been experiencing I still have plenty of thyme in the garden - the earthy thyme pairs extremely well with the sweet carrots & warm spices.
This bread and so amazingly good and festive; the colors and flavor scream holiday! Which I totally need more of in my life right now. I am sad to say I have been hit with the bah humbug of the Holiday season for the first time ever...I mean ever. Typically I am the girl who at every chance she gets will sing aloud the praises of the holiday season - but not this year. I think it may be because Thanksgiving ran so late this year, I typically get a reprieve between Thanksgiving and the kick start of Christmas, which for me is the first of December. Or, it may be because I have a lot on my plate right now and the thought of lugging up all the Christmas decor just to lug it back down in three weeks puts me in a sour mood. So instead of focusing on the decorations this year I am focusing on the experience of the season- baking, cooking and creating meaningful gifts for friends and family. Maybe, just maybe (I am really hoping) that will finally put me in a jolly mood, if that fails I'll just bust out the Champagne and my all time favorite Holiday album from She & Him!
Oh man I am so sorry about the less than stellar photo- I had the best intentions of styling and photographing this cake in a more traditional manner, however time and the day got away from me. This cake was just too good not to share with you. I have made this cake on a few different occasions and it always comes out perfect- a no fail chocolate cake. We all need one of those in our lives.
I absolutely ADORE Kristy, so it was a no brainer when she invited me to take part in her annual vegan cookie swap. I am so incredibly happy to be included alongside so many amazing, kind hearted & talented bloggers - Kristy's cookie line up thus far has been amazing; and we aren't even a week into the swap!
In the early days, since becoming vegetarian and now vegan I have always referred to my Thanksgiving menu as a Harvest Day Celebration or Harvest Menu, it is the term I began using when printing out the menus for the big feast. Being the planner that I am, our menu is developed and printed about a month or two in advance. Even though the gathering is small there is always plenty of amazing compassionate dishes to share with anyone that would like to join us, along with good company and loads of laughs. Some years it is simply Justin and I with family joining us for dessert, other times a few adventurous family members who soon realize after one thanksgiving meal at our house you can have a pretty amazing feast without the turkey.
Oh my goodness, this cheesecake brings me back to my Cheesecake Factory loving days. Albeit, 9 times out of 10 I was way stuffed to actually enjoy a slice of their famous cheesecake, but boy did I love looking the crazy combinations and creations on the Cheesecake menu. For Justin and I, Cheesecake is a once a year foodie splurge; reason being we really have no self control when it comes to vegan cheesecake (sad I know). We have deemed Thanksgiving to be our unofficial Cheesecake Holiday.
Every Holiday table should include at least one "green" dish; for us some years it may be maple cider glazed brussel sprouts, a fall harvest salad or green bean casserole. Growing up the standard green on my Gram's Thanksgiving table were your plain old green beans, for Easter; asparagus from a can. As I mentioned in my stuffing post we didn't often stray from our traditional family menu. On our Thanksgiving menu you will always find the standard Thanksgiving must haves; traditional mashed potatoes, farm house rolls and assorted pies, but you will also find at least one "experimental' dish, if good enough a dish that may find its way onto the Holiday menu must have's list.
Do you know what I love more than bread? Seeded bread! I absolutely adore all shapes, sizes and textures of bread but head over heals in love with multi seeded breads & bagels. So in love.
Bread making may seem tedious to some, but I love the motion of kneading, watching the first rise and the smell of baking bread. Baking bread is a labor of love which involves all senses. Truthfully, it really isn't that hard to make a beautiful loaf of bread at home, just a little bit of practice and time.
Chickpea Magazine is by far my favorite vegan magazine, not only does my heart flutter at the site of their beautiful content featured in each vegan quarterly, but also for the people behind the features. Chickpea gives everyday bloggers, writers and artists the opportunity to have their work published for the world to enjoy. Cara & Bob, the force behind Chickpea are pretty incredible and their vision extraordinary.
Chickpea in a Nutshell
quarter we showcase our favorite things in the vegan world at the
moment, whether it’s a personal story, a new book, a killer recipe, or a
photo story that captures the essence of the season at hand. "
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for many reasons - family, loads of food with lots of leftovers, no pressure to find the perfect gift; these are just a few examples of why I love the last Thursday of November. It is also the one Holiday that Justin and I celebrate at home - our door is always open for those that would like to experience a full on Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner or a Vegan dessert spread with locally made sparkling hard cider and home brewed beer.
Each year it is inevitable that I will prepare way too much food and imbibe too many glasses of champagne - but that's what makes Thanksgiving so great, just throw on a pair of stretchy pants and grab another mini pie!
I promise, this will be my last pumpkin post of the year. Wait, I might not be able to keep that promise, we still have the whole month of November to get through. I love all things pumpkin during the months of October and November, just like I love all things eggplant in August. Then the month(s) of my obsession ends and I don't think twice about my past food love until it's designated month rolls around a year later. It's not like I have anything against say pumpkin in January, truth is by the end of November I have eaten my weight in pumpkin and don't care to see it until the following year.
Let me tell you about these brownies- they are super delish and fudgy and it only took me 4 times to get the recipe spot on for you. Justin was so tired of eating brownies, I thought he was going to start chucking brownies at me if I made another batch. The boy loves him some brownies but 4 times in a span of 3 weeks was a little much- honestly one pan of brownies that were a little on the dry side found its way into the trash can. My last batch turned out perfectly, not too moist, not too dry just perfect chocolate brownie goodness.
This has been my go to vegan ricotta since becoming vegan (yikes, three years ago!). During the winter months when we are not enjoying a hearty soup or chili we are typically noshing on a big pan of lasagna over the weekend. This has proven to be the most reliable "ricotta" recipe for us, never disappointing and pleasing omnivores and vegans alike.
There was one point in time that I thought beer bread could only be made from a box, well actually a lot of baked goods I thought were made from a box. What can I say, I am a product of the 80's and early 90's where convenience food was king. Don't get me wrong, we ate plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, birthday cakes were homemade (the cake being from a box) with my moms homemade frosting. It wasn't until I started baking on my own in my early 20's, that I began experimenting with making baked goods from scratch. Baking from scratch can seem intimidating at first, you will have some failures (we all do!) but you will also have some amazing baked goods coming from your oven in no time!
Wow, it seems like forever since my last post. Traditionally, October is an overly active month for us- between work, family events and the beautiful NH fall weather calling my name, I sadly have not found much time for blogging. Fall is one of my most favorite times of the year - whats not to love about fall? The trees show off their gorgeous jewel toned leaves, the air has a bite to it and comfort food is at its finest. At least once a week, typically on a Sunday afternoon, you will find a pot of soup, chili or stew slowly cooking away on the stove. Fall wouldn't be fall without a new pumpkin soup to share. I absolutely love using pumpkin in savory dishes - I actually prefer savory pumpkin dishes over sweet.
One of the benefits of growing fresh herbs is the ability to dry them for winter use. Herbs can be grown just about anywhere- they simply need soil, water & light. Most herbs require very little attention, which is an added benefit for those that find themselves with less than a green thumb- you will find they are very forgiving. Woody herbs, such as thyme, rosemary & savory I find are the easiest and the most adapt to neglect- they are also the best herbs to dry for winter storage. More delicate herbs; basil, parsley & chives require a little more attention to get going, once they are established you simply have to remember to cut them back once in a while before they go to seed.
Making homemade nut butters is incredibly easy - it simply requires, nuts, a food processor large enough to take on the job and a little bit of patience. The patience was the hardest one for me to grasp - there is no such thing as rushing a nut butter into smooth creamy bliss. The transformation from whole almonds to creamy nut butter goodness will happen, simply allow a little bit of time for it to work its magic.
The wait is worth the creamy goodness that comes from a bit of patience and a few inexpensive ingredients that can be easily found in just about and grocery store.
DIY kitchens, localvore's and homesteaders - these terms are becoming more familiar within our society. Not long ago, I am willing to bet: fast, quick, easy & instant were the familiar buzz words used in every day kitchens. A change is happening, in a good way - people are beginning to care more where their food is coming from, what's in it and the process in which it was made. This trailer by Chipotle (first 3 1/2 minutes), in my opinion is one way in which we are seeing the change, a movement growing momentum ; an idea that is becoming main stream. The way people are thinking about their food and the impact it has on the environment along with the people we care about, is changing.
On a few different occasions on the blog I mention that I am in a book club. For our last session I was the host which also meant that I got to select the book we would read & discuss. After much deliberation and researching, I settled on the Kitchen House as our group read. Towards the back of the book there was a recipe for Molasses Cake. A good portion of the book takes place in the Kitchen House along with several scenes depicting large celebratory feasts both inside the "Big House" and out in the field. Throughout the book you will find Belle baking molasses cakes, after writing the book the Author and her daughter perfected what they would like think as Belle's version of molasses cake that she would bake in the book. I would like to share with you my take on this simple & humble cake- not overly sweet but makes for a nice fall treat with a cup of coffee or tea.
I came across a Bialy for the first time a few weeks ago at my local farmers market, they instantly caught my eye; I am a sucker for all things bread. The Bread Peddler on a typical week has on display beautiful loaves of bread. These were different- little round bread circles filled with onions and poppy seeds, I totally needed these in my life, like yesterday. My first thought when I popped the brown bag of Bialy's into my basket was- Sandwiches! I headed home with the intent on making a sandwich, but of course got sidetracked with the garden and ended up bringing the Bialy's to my Dad's BBQ in place of traditional buns. My step mom and sisters knew right off what a Bialey was, apparently they are a popular treat on Cape Cod.
Honestly I am not sure this constitutes as traditional polenta- consider this the more rustic version of creamy polenta's cousin. Ever since make the amazing polenta fries in VegNews I have been hooked on the idea of making a big bowl of polenta topped with wild mushrooms- well, here it is I finally got around to making it.
Before my magical polenta fries experience I had only ever had polenta twice- layered in a polenta lasagna and once from the pre made polenta tubes, it was so memorable I can't even remember what I made with that tube of polenta.
Affogato translates to "drowned" in Italian - affogato al cafe, meaning drowned in coffee, is a traditional Italian treat served in cafes consisting of a shot or two of hot espresso poured over vanilla or coffee ice cream. Affogatos can be dressed up in many ways; chocolate shavings, whipped cream or chocolate covered espresso beans. To me, the perfect pairing to an affogato treat would be biscotti, the famous twice baked Italian cookie. What a better way to celebrate the month of coffee than with an affogato and chocolate espresso almond biscotti.
These adorable mini tacos have been my go to summer appetizer; I can recall at least 5 gatherings this summer where they have made their appearance. Way cute, simple to make & easy to eat; totally meeting all the requirements for the perfect party food. I really cannot get enough of these mini tacos, not only because they are mini, but I also have a thing for tacos- they are my second love.
If you are not a fan of eggplant these just might change your mind; mind blowing good. Homemade garlic naan, vine ripened tomatoes, za'atar crusted eggplant, pesto & fresh basil, super simple and amazingly good - they were a huge hit at our book club meeting last week, of all the people, my gram loved them the most and let me tell you, she can be finicky lady when it comes to food.
For my sister's birthday I decided to bake her a birthday cake- a birthday cake to top all birthday cakes. You know when you have an amazing idea in your head and you think it will be as easy as 1,2,3? All four cakes turned out beautiful, the type of cake that bakes up beautifully and slides out of the pan effortlessly. Needless to say half the cake remained beautiful and well, the lower tiers look as if they survived the Texas chain saw massacre. I had this brilliant idea to square off the sides of the cake, instead it turned into a hack job - I should have left it alone, the attempt at squaring off was a total fail.
After one bite of this salad I had expletives shooting out of my mouth- so much so I immediately thought to myself, this is what Chris from Keepin' it Kind must feel like after he devours incredible vegan food (if you follow Kristy's Blog you will know that Chris tends to swear while eating super delish vegan food).
My inspiration, once again, came from a bundle of beautiful rainbow carrots from Sanborn Mills Farm. I am sure going to miss them once the farmer's market season comes to an end. They have a way with the vegetables they grow, always so breathtakingly beautiful - a beauty that draws you in. Yes, I am obsessed with beautiful food- call me crazy or call me full 'cause that's what I was after eating this salad.
I hosted our bi-monthly book club gathering last week. If you know me, you are well aware how much I love hosting parties; amazing food, cocktails, music and conversation. The best part about entertaining is being able to see to it your guests go home happy and full with a big smile on their faces & leave talking about when the next gathering will be. Our book club gatherings not only focus on the book content and conversation surrounding the book but also the good food that goes along with the meeting. Easy to eat, conversation friendly food is a must for book club - these individual crudites with white bean basil hummus is the perfect fit for any gathering, plus you totally bypass the double dippers out there!
The garden and yard has been mulched- finally. It is only the end of summer, a project scheduled for the start of summer that was continuously pushed back to due busy summer weekends and obligations (fun obligations!). We were so blessed to have the opportunity to help out an outstanding young man named Martin, who was looking to earn extra money for an online theology course. I have never met someone quite like Martin, a Senior in High School he is wise beyond his years. Martin and I worked side by side on Saturday accomplishing a long list of to do's in the yard. You know how some people simply make you want to be a better person and you can't help but smile when you are in their company? Martin is this type of person, it fills my heart with happiness knowing that he is on a mission to brighten and be a positive influence in each persons life that he meets. I see big things for Martin in the future.
I love all the beautiful fruits available to us in the Northeast this time of year- it is the start of blueberry season and I couldn't be happier. You can find these blue beauties everywhere from farmers markets, road side stands to mountain sides. Each year Justin and I make a special trip up one of the local mountains for early morning blueberry picking complete with a morning sunrise.
Oh boy, it feels like forever since my last post - almost a month, craziness! Between a long 4th of July weekend at my sister in laws family camp on the lake in Maine, a trip to Chicago for a work conference and lazy summer days there hasn't seemed to be much time for posting. Coupled with unbelievable hot summer days I just have not had the motivation. However that did not last long, at the market I came across the most beautiful rainbow beets from Sanborn Mills Farm. I tell you, week after week they lure me in with their beautiful produce- absolute food porn.
Am I super excited to say the least? YES, why you ask- there are actually a few reasons:
First, I get to see my Farmers on a weekly basis
Second, nothing beats fresh organically grown local produce
Third, I get to ride my new bike with the snazzy market basket attached to the front.
My Mom and I rode our "vintage" bikes down to the market on Saturday, it was so much fun. It had been a while since I rode a bike on an actual road versus a bike path- it took just one trip to be fully comfortable on a bike again. Growing up riding a bike was my mode of transportation before getting my license, my cousin and I would ride our bikes all over town- I loved it!
No, not mad- just lazy and in need of some comfort food. Sometimes, for no reason at all I can get into a major funk. A funk where I don't feel like doing anything, talking to anyone - a mood that I can never explain. I am sure every one goes through this, right? Not everyone can be sunny, happy go lucky all the time. These "funks" don't last long, but when they come around all I want to do is curl up on the couch with my handsome kitty on my lap, my loyal pup at my feet with a good book and a whole lot of comfort food. Soup and Grilled Sandwiches are top on my list of comfort foods- I shared with you last week my grilled sammie, well today I am sharing with you its better half.
I'd have to say this combo is much like Justin and I: I'm the sandwich - hot on the outside, full of goodness on the inside (okay, I'm joking- kind of), Justin the bowl of soup- hot, dependable with a little spice & surprise. Yes Justin is the tomato soup to my grilled sammie.
A few weeks ago I was totally being fussy and indecisive as to what I wanted for lunch. Looking for something comforting but at the same time healthy and fresh. My creation - a sandwich that is just as comforting as a grilled cheese but packed full of healthy goodness. In my opinion a grilled sandwich is so much better than one that is not- buttery toasty warm goodness. This is my summer comfort food perfected.
It has been while since my last garden recap...2 years ago to be exact. In addition to baking, cooking and photographing the food you see here on this blog, I have another passion; gardening. From growing the vegetables and flowers from seed in early spring while there is still snow on the ground, to carefully introducing the seedlings from indoors to out, planting, watering & weeding.- I love it all. Anything that involves, dirt, worms, flower and plants- you can count me in.
Asparagus and fiddle head season is entirely too short. This time of year there is nothing better than freshly picked asparagus roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. I could live on roasted asparagus for the entire month of May & June- it is just that good. Add fiddle heads lightly sauteed with lemon and red pepper flakes atop and lemony white bean spread loaded up on a toasted rye crostini - you just might think you hit the jackpot. Truth- I ate a whole plate of these for lunch while lounging in the backyard in the sun. Perfect for a summer party, lunch or hanging by the pool.
But hurry, fiddle heads and asparagus won't be around much longer!
What screams "summer's coming!" more than rhubarb & strawberries? They are one of the first sweet fruits and veggies of late spring to make an appearance at the farmers markets, for me Rhubarb & Strawberries mark the start of summer baking & cooking - or should I say non cooking, the oven doesn't see much action in our house during the warm new England summer months. However in late spring/early summer there are days when there is the slightest chill in the air, on those late spring days when Mother Nature cannot make up her mind whether she wants to leave winter behind, you can justify turning the oven on.
Those are the days when you should be making these simple little cakes.
Justin and I are not ones to shy away from a good cocktail- we have been known to have impromptu happy hours, even if it is just the two of us -complete with bar mix & cauliflower buffalo wings.
Most often than not, our happy hours consist of home-brew & vodka tonics. I was inspired by this post over at Oh, Lady cakes - until then I had never heard of Art in the Age. After reading their story I was convinced this was most likely the best line of liquor ever to exist- socially & environmentally responsible, organic & passionate, this is a company that is committed to creating the best possible liquor for your cocktail making experience. If you have a few minutes you should definitely head on over to their site to learn more about what & how they do what they do best. Luckily, my local liquor store carries the Art in the Age line - I came home with Snap, Root & Rhubarb, I was one happy girl.