Feb
10

Sun Basket

If you know me at all or follow me on social media, you know that I don’t stay in one place for very long. I refer to my house as a crash pad or a transition zone because I’m on-the-go so often it seems like the only things I can accomplish in my home are unpacking, repacking, a little laundry, sleep, a random shuffle through the fridge, and then I’m out the door again.

Any dweller in Colorado who enjoys the outdoors as much as I do shares a similar lifestyle, we live for moving around.

Sun Basket

The challenge I experience with a transient lifestyle are all of the inconsistencies that come along with it. I tend to lose stuff easily (did I leave it in a hotel room or did the washing machine eat it while I was gone?), I use Hulu to keep up with the shows that I miss out on while I’m on the road, and I come home to spoiled food in my fridge. I’d like to think that my home looks “neat” but in reality it probably looks like a tornado came through. (dramatization)

Sun Basket

Sun Basket contacted me at the begin of the year and offered to send me 3 complimentary recipes + all of the ingredients needed to make those recipes. I almost declined because I was on the road for 2 weeks in January but they agreed to hold off until early this month. 

I can’t even begin to describe the excitement I experienced when I came home to fresh, organic, healthy, non-gmo food to fill my empty refrigerator. Often times when I travel, I come home starved, with no energy to find food, which leads to “hanger.” That’s the way of the world today, isn’t it? Not many of us actually have time to shop for, prepare, and enjoy a healthy, comforting meal often, let alone every day. Each of the meals I received from Sun Basket took less than 30 minutes to prepare which enabled me a few healthy meals on days I would have just eaten to get by.

Sun Basket

As you can see in the photos, the produce provided by Sun Basket was fresh, beautiful, and flawless. The recipes were simple and easy to follow. The meals were abundant enough for leftovers. 

Sun Basket has plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options available for ordering, which makes me happy. Couscous Stuffed Squash with Arugula Orange Salad, Lemongrass Tofu with Coconut Black Rice, Sweet Potato Fritters with Brussels Sprouts Salad, and Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Naan Croutons are a few examples of the complex meals that Sun Basket has available.

Sun Basket

I get the sense that Sun Basket cares about where their food comes from and which farmers they buy from. Their suppliers work with integrity, they value sustainable farming practices, have respect for the environment, and practice humane treatment of animals.

Sun Basket is also making the effort to reduce the impact on the environment with their packaging, their return program that allows you to send back the insulation liner and icepack for reuse.

Thanks to Sun Basket, PLQ readers receive $30 off your Sun Basket order! Smiles.

***Although Sun Basket provided me complimentary meals, all opinions about the food, recipes, and the company are my own. 

Love

Crista


Feb
07

Rocky Mountain High

“She was born in the winter of her 31st year, coming home to a place she’d never been before.
She left yesterday behind her, you might say she was born again,
you might say she found a key for every door.
When she first came to the mountains, her life was far away on the road and hanging by a song.
But the strings already broken and she doesn’t really care,
it keeps changing fast, and it don’t last for long.

And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.
The shadows from the starlight are softer than a lullaby.
Rocky Mountain high, Colorado. Rocky Mountain high.

She climbed cathedral mountains, she saw silver clouds below,
she saw everything as far as you can see.
And they say that she got crazy once and she tried to touch the sun,
and she lost a friend, but kept the memory.
Now she walks in quiet solitude, the forest and the streams, seeking grace in every step she takes.
Her sight is turned inside herself, to try and understand
the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake.

And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.”PLQdivider

Lyrics are from “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver, “he” turned to “she” and the age changed.

Photo Credit: Victor of Valencia for Free People  // FP Me

Love

Crista


Jan
31

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Moving to Colorado was an intentional lifestyle choice on my part. People always ask, WHY?

I no longer enjoyed the monotonous life I was living in Chicago, I craved more adventure than what was available in the city. 

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Rather than dressing in fancy, glittery attire for the begin of the New Year (as I would have done in Chicago), a couple of friends and I decided to tackle 14 miles of the backcountry in snowshoes. The beastly trail that took us to the 10th Mountain Betty Bear Hut was certainly the toughest trail I have ever hiked. After 1 mile, I was all “are we there yet…??”

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

After hiking 6.5 miles up the mountain in >10 degree weather, a wave of altitude sickness (that ended up lasting all night) swept over me. After hiking 7 miles up the mountain, I could hear friends in front of me celebrating, they’d found the Betty Bear Hut that we would call home on New Years Eve night. I can’t describe the amount of relief I experienced in that moment.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

The views in the backcountry are unlike anything you will see elsewhere in the world, you’ve got to put in work in order to lay eyes on that unobstructed beauty. If you can manage it, it is largely worth it, even with a severe case of altitude sickness…

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

2015 ended rough for me and 2016 began the same way HOWEVER I have once again recommitted to living the life I want to live without any apologies to anyone. Hiking up to Betty Bear (we call her the Bitch) revealed a confidence that I didn’t know existed within myself. I only admitted to no one but myself how nervous and anxious I really was to hike up that mountain. My lower back is equivalent to or worse than an 80 year olds, I suck at cardio, I lack stamina, we feared an avalanche, and although sunny, there was a chill in the air that kept our bones tight – this hike was tough but I I did it. I DID IT.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

At the top of the mountain, not only were we greeted with breathtaking views, but an amazing, well-stocked, cozy-as-hell hut big enough to accommodate 16 people. Enough firewood to last an entire winter, sleeping pads and pillows, buckets to collect snow for melting down, and a rustic kitchen were just a few of the amenities that made our overnight stay comfortable.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Over the holiday season, I lost faith in some people and gained mad respect for others. I am tremendously proud of the women and dudes that hiked to the top of this mountain with me and encouraged me to laugh and have fun along the way. Camaraderie is one of the main components that made it possible for us to summit and visit Betty, and camaraderie is exactly what each individual shared along the arduous hike.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

What happens after 7 miles you may ask? Celebration, wine, lots of wine, a group-prepared and devoured dinner, yoga & stretching, cabin clothes, relaxation, snow collecting, sledding, laughs, s’mores, sleep, and preparation to wake up the next morning and make the trek downhill….

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

I have not lived my life the way I planned to when moving. Regretfully, my intentions and purpose were obstructed by love, fear, and anxiety.

On this last day of the first month of the new year, I am thankful for the Coloradical life I live and I am thankful for the beautiful land and people that surround me. I am committed to more of that from this day going forward.

Betty Bear Hut 10th Mountain

Love

Crista


Jan
05

WHAT UP 2016?!

I took a trip into the backcountry for the holiday, yesterday was my first day  home this year (!! 2016 !!). It’s just now hitting me: it’s a brand new year // 2015 is DONE.

2015 will forever go down in history as a year filled with emotion, friendships, struggles, accomplishments, and important life lessons. I am thankful for all that has happened this past year but I don’t think I’d be willing to do it all over again.

With all that being said, I step out of 2015 ready to celebrate my wins for the year. I don’t have to look through photos or pull my Best 9 of 2015 to realize that I experienced several amazing moments and people last year, although it IS a blast to reminisce with photos. I can hardly look at any photo without wanting to tell the story behind it, I often times catch myself scrolling through photos while lounging on the couch or riding in the car, recalling the experiences that led to the photo capture. Please allow me to put closure on 2015 and to celebrate a few of my wins by sharing the stories behind my Best 9 of 2015 photos (as told by Instagram).

Top 9 of 2015

Moving left-to-right, top-to-bottom, thank you for allowing me to share my stories.

1. I spotted this scene while driving home from a work trip to Grand Junction, CO // In one blink, the scene was behind me. I debated whether or not to turn around, and I’m happy I did even though it ended up being 30-45 minutes of backtracking just to get the photo.  This breathtaking view is right off of I70, near Glenwood Springs, CO. I stood on a bridge to take this shot. I remember my hands feeling frozen, and a semi-truck driver stopping to make sure I wasn’t stranded…. 

2. I’m obsessed with Free People. OBSESSED. I want everything to do with everything that they are about. When I got an email from Free People asking me to collaborate with them, CorePower Yoga, a few other local bloggers, and some photographers for a photo shoot, a hot yoga sesh, and a healthy dinner, I was beyond excited. Yoga, a photo shoot at Red Rocks in Free People gear, and a healthy dinner basically makes up THE PERFECT DAY for this girl. The photo you see was taken at CorePower Yoga on Grant Street by VictorOfValencia. I’d never been photographed during a sweaty yoga sesh before, and I kind of liked it…. I may have showed off a little.

3. This Winter Squash Pie was made with a recipe from my dear friend Amanda’s book, Smitten With Squash. It’s no wonder that it was a top post this year, I took the photo after spending time with Amanda at camp, and picking up on some of her photo skills (her photos are INCREDIBLE), PLUS the recipe is genius. I served this pie with homemade coconut whipped cream for dessert at Friendsgiving this year.

4. A stunning view atop Copper Mountain, 12,000 feet high. I believe this photo was taken on my first snowboard trip this year, I was filled with emotion and angst because I’m still learning and hadn’t gained much confidence yet. 

5. A Throwback to last holiday season when I was in Hawaii with my homie, lover, and best friend. He took this gorgeous shot that I just so happen to be in. We hiked up Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail early in the AM to catch the sun rising above the ocean. Nothing but beauty…. 

6. Martha Stewart: she’s a genius. She inspired the Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Parfait recipe that I developed a year or two ago. This recipe will continue to be a big hit for many holiday seasons to come because, pumpkin

7. Giuliana & Bill Rancic were throwing a party at one of their restaurants in Chicago a few years back and somehow I ended up in attendance. At that party, they showered us with amazing food and unlimited cocktails. A Brussels Sprouts Salad that I never forgot about was one of the food items they served us that night. I recently decided to make my own version of that salad and BOOM, it was a hit. I served this item at Friendsgiving and have made several batches since then just because. Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad

8. Recipe testing doesn’t always go as planned, but it’s fun nonetheless. I made several attempts at this Butternut Squash (and apple) Crisp but never quite perfected the recipe. I tried using quinoa in the crisp along with quinoa flour which I think could work if I stayed persistent in testing ratios. I made it with sage for a more savory scent, but wasn’t convinced that I loved it. Good enough to eat, but never the DELISH I was hoping for so I never shared a recipe here on the blog. I may decide to try it again next holiday season, but for now, I’m over it.

9. So many throwbacks in my Top 9! Years ago, I threw together a quinoa salad for a quiet in-home dinner and took some unattractive photos of it. After stumbling upon those old-school photos, I decided to re-create that salad that I’d remembered being so delicious. I was right, it was good all over again. Pomegranate Pistachio Quinoa Salad

Top 9 of 2015

Cheers to a plentiful past and humble new beginnings. 

Love

Crista


Dec
13

Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad

The chill in the air has had me craving warm comfort foods and oh, how I have indulged. Rosemary potatoes and sauerkraut smothered in mustard, cornbread, cheese, crackers, wine, pierogies, gluten-free raspberry muffins slathered in butter, veggie burgers with french fries, tomato soup, and apple butternut crisp have all found their way in to my kitchen and my belly lately. 

As good as it’s been (YOLO), I could feel that it was time to reintroduce some greens in to my life so I bought some brussels sprouts and Lacinato kale. With the two, I crafted this salad that not only cures the craving for comfort foods but offers a burst of healthy, raw, organic greens.

I began this salad by combining shredded (finely chopped) kale and brussels sprouts which are softened with a creamy avocado dressing. Contrasting color is added with chopped carrots and cherry peppers, then I topped the salad with comfort: shredded parmesan and homemade garlicky croutons.

I don’t typically use veggies out of a jar but I did for this salad. Cherry peppers are not in season the same time of year as brussels sprouts, which makes it practically impossible to combine the two ingredients together unless using a preserved pepper. The preserved pepper is perfect for this salad, the slight pickling softens them and adds a subtle layer of sweetness. Plus, the pickling juices can be used in the dressing.

Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad

Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Salad Ingredients
  • 1 lb Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmed and chopped to a fine shred
  • ¾ cup finely chopped or shredded carrots
  • 5 canned or pickled cherry peppers, finely chopped
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Dressing Ingredients
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. cherry pepper juice
Crouton Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopper
  • 1 cup cubed baguette bread crumbs
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small sauce pan, combine 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. butter, and the chopped garlic. Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir to combine then set aside and let the flavors infuse while you chop your bread.
  3. Cube the baguette bread, then put them in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with the seasoned olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss until the bread cubes are evenly saturated.
  4. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown.
  5. While the croutons are baking, make the salad dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients, stir until the dressing is a smooth consistency. It's ok if the dressing is thick.
  6. Toss your salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  7. Toss the salad with the dressing and top with croutons just before serving.
Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad

Love

Crista


Dec
03

DIY Oatmeal Honey Soap

It’s one of the things that every single one of your friends and family members use: soap. If you know someone who doesn’t use soap, I bet you wish they did, hehe. Regardless, you know people who know people who use soap.

It feels like I’m feeding you all a really bad pickup line that I need to recovery (quickly) from. 

Also in this post: the awkward announcement that everyone I know will be receiving homemade soap for Xmas this year (hi mom! hi dad! dirty much?)

DIY Oatmeal Honey Soap

Allow me to redeem myself.

I sat on the couch a few nights ago reading through a copy of Flea Market Style Magazine. In the magazine, there was mention of a company that stopped making an exfoliating soap that apparently everyone loved. Included was a quick DIY recipe that caught my attention. There were so few ingredients, I was shocked. I had no idea making soap was so easy.

On Black Friday I set out to Hobby Lobby to pick up the essential ingredients and although I didn’t find everything I was looking for, I was able to to make a few substitutions. Just like that, I had all the necessary tools to make my own soap at home. A moisturizing shea butter base and a soap mold are the only two ingredients that are mandatory in your soap making, the additives are all optional but allow you to completely customize your soap. I purchased a cheap, plastic soap mold because it was all that was available at Hobby Lobby but I have since then ordered a few silicone molds that make removing the soap from the mold easier. I’ll have to say that I am pretty impressed with the cheap soap molds though, they got the job done! I chose the shea butter soap base because of it’s moisturizing properties and because it works well with the honey and oats that I decided to use in my soap.

DIY Oatmeal Honey Soap

In my soap, I added two high-quality ingredients. // My dad recently had a shipment of fresh, recently-harvested honey sent to me from his girlfriends family. Complete with a portion of the honeycomb intact, IT IS AMAZING in color, purity, and flavor, and was a perfect addition to my soap. Honey is naturally antibacterial, full of antioxidants, and it is extremely moisturizing and soothing, which makes it just as good for the skin as it is for the tastebuds. I’m already begging for a second shipment of that honey by the way….

In addition to the honey, I used organic rolled oats that offer a mild exfoliation when the soap is used directly on the skin, and has anti-inflammatory properties which will soothe dry, irritated skin (what’s up Colorado).

DIY Oatmeal Honey Soap

5.0 from 1 reviews
a DIY Oatmeal Honey Soap recipe
Author: 
Serves: 4½ lb. soap bars
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs.shea butter soap base
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
Instructions
  1. With a sharp knife, cut the shea butter soap base into large chunks and put it in a microwave safe measuring cup (something with a handle).
  2. Microwave the soap base in 30 second increments until it is melted.
  3. While your soap base is melting, line the soap molds with 3-4 tablespoons of the oats.
  4. Stir the honey in to the melted soap base and then pour in to the molds (over the oats).
  5. Allow your soap to set overnight then pop them out of the molds.
  6. Voila!
 

The scent of your soap will be determined by the type of honey that you use so choose wisely. I would recommend using a honey that is high-quality and locally sourced.

This recipe will make approximately 4 1/2 lb. bars of soap depending on the type of mold that you choose to use. If you don’t have a proper mold, you can use an old butter container or an empty coffee creamer container. I made a big soap bar for myself in an old coffee creamer container, it’s boss.

Several of my friends have tested my homemade soap and have mentioned how smooth, soft, and moisturized their skin feels with this rich formula. Colorado winter, bring it on. I’m sure your friends will say the same if you hook them up with a bar.

To finish off your soap before gifting, tear small sheets of parchment paper and tape them around the soap. Use twine or ribbon for decorating. 

Love

Crista


Nov
27

Here is the situation: (maybe this happened to you on Thanksgiving) You’re preparing to bake, you know that you have most ingredients on hand like the sugar, vanilla extract, and flour, but you need to run to the grocery for a few things like pecans and pumpkin puree. (follow me?) You get to the store and you begin to question yourself, “DO I have flour at home or did I use it all up….. I can’t remember so I’ll buy another bag…” You get home to find out that you have not one, but two bags of flour on-hand, both bags open, both bags taking up space…… 

I HATE having open bags of flour and sugar and “stuff” hanging around…. ESPECIALLY when there are duplicates. I just don’t have space for that kind of mess. PLUS, there are different types of flour that can’t be combined. Sigh. The struggle.

DIY Quinoa Flour

I recently learned how to make my own flour, IT’S SO EASY. I learned how to make flour from gluten-free items like oats, quinoa, and nuts which are all ingredients I keep on-hand. In this blog post, I’m going to explain how to make flour from quinoa, but the process is very similar for oats and nuts.

A few things that excite me:
Making quinoa flour is much more cost-effective than buying quinoa flour.
I no longer have to keep bags and bags of flour on-hand, now I can make my own flours, as needed, with the ingredients I already have on-hand.

DIY Quinoa Flour

Quinoa flour is made by grinding quinoa seeds in to a fine powder or flour. It looks and feels like all-purpose flour and can be used in a variety of different baking recipes including muffins, breads, cookies, pies, and crisps, among others. It can also be used in soups, stews, and gravies as a thickening agent or added to smoothies as a protein boost.

Quinoa Flour: DIY
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic quinoa
  • clean coffee grinder
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse the quinoa through a fine mesh sieve for about 1 minute and then dry the quinoa as much as possible.
  3. On an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet, bake the quinoa at 350F for 12-15 minutes until dry, slightly golden and fragrant then cool completely.
  4. Put about ¼ cup of the quinoa seeds in to the coffee grinder, and pulse to grind the quinoa. Shake the grinder every few pulses to ensure an even grind.
  5. Repeat this process until all of the quinoa is finely ground.
DIY Quinoa Flour

What you need to know about Quinoa Flour:  

  • It is important to rinse your quinoa to remove the naturally occurring chemical, saponin that is found on the external seed coating of the quinoa. Removing the saponin will prevent a bitter taste.
  • I prefer to use TruRoots Quinoa because of their organic and sustainable farming initiatives, the beautiful packaging, and I find the flavor and quality of their products superior to others.
  • Quinoa has a distinct nutty, earthy flavor which makes it perfect for recipes with bold flavors // think molasses, cocoa, nuts, strong spices, and autumnal flavors.
  • Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, high in protein, low carb, and nutritious.
  • Unlike many gluten-free flours, you do not need to add xanthin or guar gum to make quinoa “work” in recipes. (win!)
  • Be sure to use a clean coffee grinder to make quinoa flour, I would recommend having a coffee grinder just for grinding flours and spices, separate from the grinder you have for coffee. Using a food processor or blender is not effective in making flours. Coffee grinders can be inexpensive to purchase, you can find them for under $20.

Love

Crista


Nov
18

Pomegranate Pistachio Quinoa Salad

The Holiday season provides an opportunity to share time with the ones you love and to create and share beautiful meals with friends and family. I won’t be with family this year, but I will be with a few girlfriends and a couple cutie dogs, celebrating my first ever Friendsgiving. i.am.so.excited

We have so many plans, so much food to cook including Grandma’s Sweet Potato Pie with marshmallows on top, a Butternut Squash Crisp, a Brussels Sprouts Gratin, a colorful Quinoa Salad (recipe below!), some Stuffing, a Green Bean Casserole, a Winter Squash PieCranberry Apple Sauce, and potentially even a Vegducken.

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year to gather and develop recipes because of all the beautiful colors and flavors that are associated with the fall season. As excited as I am to cook, I’m equally as excited to devour my friends’ home-cookin as well.

Pomegranate Pistachio Quinoa Salad

Most people that I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with are traditional meat-eaters and haven’t shown much interest in my plant-based dishes so every year in the prior years, I’ve created an extraordinary plant-based Thanksgiving meal on Black Friday for myself and whoever was willing to share it with me. This year, I’m going to share my plant-based meals with my friends ON THANKSGIVING. // another reason I am SO excited.

TruToots Quinoa

This beautiful Pomegranate Pistachio Quinoa Salad will be one of the dishes I craft and share at my Friendsgiving Celebration this year. The salad combines a healthful Sprouted Quinoa, colorful pistachios and pomegranate seeds, and a ginger-citrus vinaigrette that offers an unexpected flavor and scent.

I take pride in the dishes I serve, especially around the Holiday season, I will only use the finest of ingredients to create the biggest shared feast of the year.

Pomegranate Pistachio Quinoa Salad

The construction of this salad is quite simple, it can be done in just a few minutes. First, you start with the quinoa. I prefer to use truRoots Sprouted Quinoa because it is moist, fluffy, and sweet. Color is provided by the pomegranate seeds, orange slices, and roasted pistachios. The most labor-intensive part of crafting this salad is making the dressing, although once you’ve gathered all of the ingredients it’s simple to blend them all together (and can be done in advance!).

I love the idea of having truRoots products on my Thanksgiving table because their mission statement mirrors my Thanksgiving goals: “We are passionate about offering the best organic food while doing our part to better the world around us. In doing so, we help bring more families together for memorable meals and moments.” 

With jewel-toned colors, irresistible fragrances, delectable foods, amazing friends, belly laughs, shared stories, belly rubs (the dogs, not us silly!), classic movies, and coexistence, I look forward to the memorable meals and moments that will be made.

Pomegranate Pistachio Quinoa Salad
5.0 from 1 reviews
a Pomegranate Pistachio Quinoa Salad w/a Citrus Ginger Vinaigrette
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups truRoots Sprouted Quinoa, cooked
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded (use only the seeds)
  • 5-6 clementines, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • ½ cup roasted pistachios
  • ¼ tsp. ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. honey or agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp of rice vinegar or a citrus vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Make the vinaigrette first and toss all ingredients together just before serving.
  2. To make the vinaigrette blend the ginger, garlic, orange juice, vinegar, and honey together in a food processor or blender. After all the ingredients are fully blended, add the olive oil and blend again. Set aside while you construct the salad.
  3. Toss together the quinoa, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and clementines. Drizzle with the citrus ginger vinaigrette just before serving // you may or may not use all of the vinaigrette depending on your taste: use discretion.
  4. This salad can be served at room temperature or chilled (I prefer room temperature).
Transparency: truRoots collaborated on this post with me, supplying the quinoa and moderate compensation. I would not have accepted the collaboration had I not believed in the company’s products and philosophy.

Love

Crista


Nov
12

Roasted Green Tomatoes

Friends. I cherish them and hold them all at high regard.
A few of my friends, I can tell ANYTHING to (seriously, ANYTHING) without fear of judgement or ill repute, they are my favorite people on earth.
I have friends that fill what would otherwise be empty spaces in my life.
I have friends that make me laugh, keep me smiling.
My friends give me advice, build me up, and they tell me when I’m crazy.

Green Tomato

Among so many other things, one of the best parts of having awesome friends is that I learn a lot from my them….. 

Through a mutual friend in Florida, I got connected with a now-friend of mine who is chef-trained (score!). I tend to forget that she is chef-trained on most days that I see her because we get wrapped up in talking about life events, family, relationships, and other “deep” stuff, gossip.

The last time I saw Jordan, we rapped about gardening, the restaurant that she manages (they maintain their own garden), and the late-harvest green tomatoes that I’d recently picked. Besides making fried green tomatoes, I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with the heap of green tomatoes I’d had (and still have!!) and I shared that. I let Jordan tell me what she makes for dinner on any given night, I know she eats good.

Green Tomatoes

Effortlessly, Jordan taught me something simple and useful, she taught me a new way to prepare green tomatoes, which is where this instructive recipe comes from. Here is what I learned:

Quarter the green tomatoes and douse them in olive oil. Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10ish minutes, just long enough to soften them slightly. DO NOT add salt (and pepper) prior to roasting, the salt would pull the moisture out of the tomatoes, keep those babies juicy! // Add the salt and pepper AFTER roasting. If the tomatoes aren’t already rich enough for your taste,  add a small amount of barrel aged balsamic vinegar to the tomatoes after they come out of the oven.

I made a larger batch of these roasted tomatoes than I should have, I didn’t realize how rich and ambrosial the roasted greens would be. Less is more when you are serving roasted green tomatoes, and I prefer to eat them with a meal rather than independently.

As I type this out, I realize that I made a mistake last night. I SHOULD HAVE roasted the remainder of the green tomatoes I have on hand and served them with the mahi mahi and mashed potatoes I made for dinner last night. I knew my meal was missing something green but I didn’t want to leave the house, it was too chilly.

 

Roasted Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes are little gems as far as I’m concerned, they are hard to come by. Can you buy them at the grocery store? I don’t really think so…. If you want green tomatoes, you almost have to grow them yourself.

Thank you, Jordan, for contributing to the reduction of waste in my garden and thanks for being my friend.

Love

Crista


Nov
08

Heirloom Tomato Chutney

People deserve second chances, right?

I haven’t always been the person to honor second chances, I can be kind of bitchy like that, but I am a changed person as of late. Recently, I’ve made the decision to give a loved one a second chance, an opportunity he asked for several times before I agreed. Blindsided by frustration, anxiety, and uncertainty, I didn’t realize how much damage I was doing to him, myself, our relationship, our well-being, and our future by being a hard ass. Luckily, his humbleness and faith in me/us has allowed him to give me a second chance as well.  

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

heirloom tomato

The recipe I am sharing with you today has been shared on my blog once before. I almost linked back to the post in a more recent post but I decided not to because IT WAS EMBARRASSING. My photos sucked and I didn’t have much of anything interesting to say back then. So I decided to give this recipe, this post, a second chance.

(( I realize that my photography skills aren’t much better than they used to be but I’d like to think I’ve improved a few points. When I photographed the photos for this post, I used my 50mm lens that DOES NOT auto focus…. that’s tricky for me because I am BLIND, literally, my world is a blur. I uploaded these photos and laughed, because there is a slight blur to them. Bear with me, I’m shopping around for a 50mm lens that will auto focus and may some day take advantage of a third opportunity. ))

Heirloom Tomatoes

My sudden desire to make this fragrant chutney came after speaking with a girlfriend about the late-season heirloom tomatoes that unexpectedly popped up out of nowhere in my garden. My tomato bushes got BIG this year, mainly due to my lack of attention and pruning so the green, bushy stems concealed the juicy, ripe fruits underneath it all. My girlfriend suggested a chutney, which prompted me to find the recipe in my archives and make a big batch. 

Heirloom Tomato Chutney

I’ve had several dinner sessions with this Spiced Heirloom Tomato Chutney, and have already finished off several small mason jars worth of it. 

This spiced chutney pairs well with a bottle of wine and a variety of cheeses and crackers, and I’ve spent several nights curled up in blankets on the couch with those exact items.

It can be alternated with dijon mustard as a dipping sauce for fried green tomatoes (you can see in the photos, I’ve got enough green tomatoes from the garden to feed a small village fried greens) to offer the taste buds variety. I’ve already made friend greens three times this season and I’ve got enough green tomatoes for one or two more sessions.

I have used this sweet/savory chutney as a condiment atop a baked white, flaky fish, the same way that I’ve seen chef’s use mango salsa atop fish. I like to allow the chutney to warm up to room temperature prior to serving atop a warm dish.

For Thanksgiving, I plan to serve this chutney aside a sweet cornbread instead of the traditional butter and honey. Uncommon, I realize, but colorful and ambrosial. For cool points, I’ve jarred some of the chutney up for the in-laws to enjoy with their Thanksgiving dinner as well. M favorite part about gifting food items to that family is knowing that they’ll use in a way I’d never think of and they’ll enjoy it.

Tomato Chutney
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. assorted tomatoes (of choice)
  • 1 large onion, chopped into eights
  • ½ cup raw turbinado sugar
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • pinch of sea salt
  • large pot of boiling water
  • large pot of ice cold water
Instructions
  1. Cut a large “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Working in batches, place the tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water.
  2. Blanch for 30-60 seconds or until skins start peeling off. With tongs, pull the tomatoes out of the boiling water and immediately drop in to ice cold water; drain.
  3. Remove the skins of the tomatoes and discard. Remove the core and discard. Quarter the tomatoes and set aside.
  4. Pulse the onions in a food processor until chopped. Add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices and continue pulsing until the tomatoes are chopped.
  5. Pour the mixture in to a large pot along with all other ingredients; bring to a boil over medium heat.
  6. Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour or until mixture is thick and reduced, stirring often.
Heirloom Tomato Chutney

I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: a fragrant kitchen, this versatile chutney, new perspectives, and a fresh start.

Love

Crista