Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pecan and Craisin Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dijon Dressing (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Can you believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving?! I saw that tomorrow is also the first day of  Hanukkah. I'm not Jewish, but I think it's pretty awesome that those two holidays are falling on the same day and won't again for more than 70, 000 years. Crazy!

I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving with Sam's extended family this year and I was asked to bring a salad. I knew I wanted to make something simple because let's be honest, no one counts down the days til Thanksgiving for the salad. I had a rough idea of what exactly I wanted to put in it, but it seemed too simple, incomplete almost. That is until I found this recipe on the Huffington Post's website. It was exactly what I was looking to make, but with the addition of the perfect dressing to tie it all together. Earlier today I prepped the dressing and the pecans so that I could try out the salad to make sure I wasn't bringing something tomorrow that would taste less than delicious. And man, oh man is this good. As soon as I finished eating the salad that I used in these photos I immediately wanted more. You can be sure that I am counting down the hours to when I can eat more of it!

This salad comes together in less than fifteen minutes and features the holiday flavors that we all love while still leaving you with room for the mashed potatoes and stuffing. For the recipe click this link to the Huffington Post's website:

***Note the recipe on the website is for a lot of salad, so if you're expecting a smaller crowd you may want to minimize the amount. I decided to only go with a pound of spinach and adjust the amounts of the other ingredients from there.

I hope those of you celebrating the holidays this weekend have a wonderful time with family and friends!
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah!

Do you usually eat salads at holiday meals?
What types of salads do you like to have?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin Biscotti (Vegan)

I follow a lot of really great blogs that are constantly inspiring me both in the kitchen and in life (click the link on the left for a full list). Last week I stumbled upon a new blog: A Baking Girl. I instantly loved Rossi's site and all her delicious-looking recipes. One recipe for Cranberry Biscotti stuck out to me particularly. Biscotti are one of those things that I love and always forget about (which seems ridiculous since I make coffee for a living and coffee and biscotti are BFFs). I hadn't made any in years and I certainly had never made them vegan.

I also wanted to make something pumpkin because, well, it's pumpkin season and I'm a food blogger so it just seemed like something I should do. I had tried several recipes (scones, chia pudding, ice cream, bars...), but nothing ever tasted right. (Turns out it was the type of pumpkin I was using, or at least I can assume that since as soon as I switched the pumpkin everything I made tasted great). I had 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree left when I stumbled upon Rossi's biscotti recipe which just so happened to call for 3/4 cup of applesauce. Hmmm... I bet I could switch out the applesauce for pumpkin and have pumpkin biscotti, I thought. And Voila! That's exactly what happened. 

Pumpkin Biscotti
Adapted from A Baking Girl
  • 3 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cup Coconut Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil, Melted
  • 1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds, Shelled
Makes 8 Biscotti.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In a second bowl, mix the sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla and coconut oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just combined. Mix in the pumpkin seeds. 
Turn the dough onto a baking sheet and form the dough into a flat log that's about 4 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. Using a butter knife, score the lines of what will be the individual cookies (about every 1/2 inch). Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Allow the dough to cool for 5-10 minutes then cut the cookies along the score lines and place them on their sides, cut side down. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes until golden brown, then flip the cookies and bake another 5-10 minutes or until hard and crunchy. 
Allow to cool and then serve with your favorite hot beverage. 

What's your favorite cold weather drink?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spicy Roasted Green Tomato Spread (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Happy Monday All! (Although, by the time you read this it will most likely no longer be Monday...). I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. Mine was very relaxing and ended with Sam and I going to Waterloo to check out a free acoustic set that The Head and the Heart was playing. It was super chill and they're really talented and fun to listen to. What was really exciting is that we finally found a copy of the movie Once there which we have been looking for for probably over a year now. I know, I know we could have looked online, but that felt like cheating somehow.

But about this spread. It's delicious. And spicy. And the perfect sidekick to your favorite sandwich. Or use as salsa on your burrito. We used it on sandwiches paired with a black bean spread that Sam made; very tasty.  Really the possibilities are endless and it's past my bedtime so I'm going to leave it at that and let you creative minds use this spread as you see fit.

Spicy Roasted Green Tomato Spread
  • Approximately 2 Cups of Green Grape Tomatoes, Sliced
  • 1-2 Spicy Peppers of your choice, Diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep your veggies and place in a pan lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 20 minutes or until tomatoes start to look shriveled and golden. Transfer veggies to a food processor and pulse until you've reached the desired consistency. Then spread it on whatever you like however you like. And as always enjoy!

What's your favorite condiment?
Who is your favorite band to see live?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Vanilla Cranberry Chia Jam (Vegan, Gluten Free)

My original plan for today was to make a bunch of recipes, photograph them and get them ready to blog throughout the week. This is how my plans always start; thought-out, organized, efficient... but then something always comes along and derails me. Ask anyone who knows me. I am the master of procrastination and side-trackery (yes, I just made up a word to describe how I get side-tracked so easily). Today what threw off my groove was how delicious this jam is. I mean, I expected it to be good, it's cranberries and vanilla and chia seeds for goodness sake! What I wasn't expecting is for it to be downright addictive. What else could be done besides drop everything and share the recipe right away?

Not only is this jam super delicious, it's also crazy easy to make. All you need is a food processor and five minutes of your time (besides the ingredients of course). You literally just throw all the ingredients into the food processor, press puree and let it do it's thing unless it's a smooth consistency. That's it!

Plus, it's healthy!
Cranberries are great sources of antioxidants, vitamin c, vitamin a, carotene, folate, potassium and manganese. Studies have shown that consuming berries have the potential to help protect against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections. [source]
Chia seeds are full of antioxidants, fiber, protein, healthy fats like omega-3, iron, calcium, magnesium and because of their gelatinous quality, they help clean out your intestinal track of unwanted junk. If this jam doesn't sound like the best topping for toast I don't know what does. 

Vanilla Cranberry Chia Jam 
  • 1 1/2 Cups Fresh, Organic Cranberries
  • 3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • Seeds from 1 Vanilla Bean or 1 1/2 Tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup (or to taste)
  • Dash of Cinnamon (optional)
Makes 1 Cup of Jam.
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and puree until a smooth consistency is reached. Serve on toast, mix into oatmeal, spread on a muffin... get creative! It's especially good paired with almond butter on toast! Store extra jam in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

I think I might make up a big batch, put it in some cute jars and give it out as holiday or hostess gifts! I mean people are probably going to get enough cookies, right?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes with Spelt Flour

Over the last few weeks Sam and I have unintentionally started a tradition. Or maybe it's more of a ritual? Either way, it all started when one Saturday morning I said we should walk to Capitol City Bakery because I had heard that they only have their vegan cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning. It never takes much convincing Sam to eat food, especially food involving sugar, so off we went bringing my roommate's dog along for the walk. When we got to the food truck it was closed. Major bummer. So we headed back to my house disappointed and with our hearts still pining after a sweet and tasty breakfast. 

It was decided that pancakes were the perfect solution. While they are certainly not cinnamon rolls, they are delicious and that's good enough for us. This continued to happen over the next few weeks; we'd take the dog for a walk with the intention of eating cinnamon rolls only to find the bakery closed and end up making pancakes instead. We finally got the hint that they indeed do not have cinnamon rolls nor are they open on Saturdays (they aren't even in that location anymore). However, the plus side to all of this is we came up with an awesome recipe for blueberry pancakes. Seriously, during the photo shoot Sam kept whining, "hurry! I want to eat them!"

So I had him eat this bite which was instantly met with, "That is the best bite of pancake I've ever had". And you know what? I think he might be right. I didn't think I could love a pancake like I love my Toasted Coconut Banana Pancakes, but these, these, are good. Real good. 

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes with Spelt Flour
  • 1 1/4 Cup Whole Spelt Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • Unrefined Coconut Oil for greasing the skillet
Makes 4 pancakes.
Start warming a skillet over medium heat. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, flax seeds, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add in the almond milk, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar and whisk until ingredients are fully incorporated. Gently fold in the frozen berries. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in the skillet and spread to evenly coat the pan. Pour one quarter of the batter onto the skillet (I find using a 1/3 measuring cup works well) and allow to cook until the top starts to bubble. Flip! And continue cooking for about another 45 seconds-1 minute. If the pancake looks to dark or undercooked adjust the stove temperature accordingly. Continue this with the rest of the batter, adding more coconut oil as needed. Store pancakes on a plate under a clean dish towel until ready to serve. Add your favorite toppings (we made a vanilla honey syrup) and go to town! 

-If you do not have spelt flour feel free to substitute whole wheat flour, just know it won't taste quite as delicious.
-Fresh blueberries are great in this recipe, too. I just only happened to have frozen on hand. If using fresh, I'd advise either adding the berries to the individual pancakes rather than the batter, or dusting them in flour before adding to the batter to prevent it from turning blue.

                                                   What are your weekend rituals?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quinoa Salad (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Happy Wednesday everyone! Wednesday already. Man, this week is flying by. We're almost already through the first week of November! I can't believe it. I blame the daylight savings this past weekend. It's been getting dark around 6 o'clock here which seems like such a drastic change. Once the sun goes down so does my productivity. I just want to cuddle under some blankets and watch a movie or read a book. Last night, to my great embarrassment I fell asleep at 8 o'clock. 8 o'clock! I feel like such an old lady! 

To help make up for my lack of motivation in the evenings I've been focusing on getting more done during the day while the sun is still shining. So I've been setting my alarm a half hour earlier which allows me to fit in a quick workout and still have time to make myself breakfast before heading out the door to work at 6:40am. Then on my way home from work I take a longer and round-about route on my bike that way by the time I'm home my workout is done for the day. It's been a great plan so far! However, waking up earlier and exerting more energy leaves me hungrier which is where this delicious Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quinoa Salad comes in. It's great because you can make up a big batch on Sunday and then have lunch all set for the rest of the week. Plus it tastes great hot or cold which makes it a great on-the-go meal.

Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quinoa Salad
  • 2/3 Cup Quinoa
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 Large Sweet Potatoes, Diced
  • 2 Large Collard Greens Leaves*, Stems removed and Sliced
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to Taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cook quinoa according to package instructions adding the bay leaf to the water. While the quinoa is cooking and once the oven is preheated, place the diced sweet potatoes on a silpat, aluminum foil or greased pan and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until soft. While the potatoes and quinoa are cooking, start caramelizing the onions. To do so, pour the olive oil into a skillet and cook the onion over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the onions begin to brown add the garlic and continue cooking until all the onions are a nice, golden brown.
At this point the quinoa should be about done, once it is, remove the bay leaf and add in the onions and garlic. Once the potatoes are done, mix those in, too. Then add in the collards to allow them to wilt slightly. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and you are done! Portion it out into to-go containers to store in the fridge and lunch is one less thing you have to think about.
*Feel free to substitute your favorite green; kale or mustard greens would be great.

Are you affected by the change in daylight?
What do you do to stay motivated?