Oct
28

Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl

Tis the season for pumpkin EVERYTHING. Have you been to Trader Joe’s lately? They seriously have EVERYTHING pumpkin. I have to stay away from the place this time of year. Pumpkin cornbread mix, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pop tarts, pumpkin scones, pumpkin ravioli, pumping this, pumpkin that. Almost non of it vegan. Sigh.

For the first time last year, I learned to bake my pumpkins and gather my own puree versus purchasing pumpkin puree in a can. I’m stepping up my game in the kitchen. Watch out November, I’m hot.

I recently purchased a new cookbook, Isa Does It
It’s a book I’ve wanted for quite some time and I finally broke down and got it! I was stoked when I found a pumpkin recipe in the cookbook, it’s the first thing I made. I’m going to give you this Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl/Plate recipe in this post but then you HAVE to buy this book for the other recipes. The Mushroom Hot Pot, the Baked Garlic Curry Fries, and the Jerk Sloppy Joes are among some of my favorite recipes. 

Isa does not know me (yet) but I’m hoping to introduce myself to her next month when I visit her brand new vegan restaurant in Omaha, called Modern Love. Uhm, she’s serving a dish of chili & cinnamon rolls at Modern Love (genius!). I guess that’s an “Omaha” thing (cinnamon rolls paired with chili, that is). I’m down. Sounds like it could be a “Crista” thing. Don’t be surprised when I dedicate an entire blog to chili and cinnamon rolls – pumpkin cinnamon rolls, duh.

Isa Does It

So anyway, about this pumpkin bowl (that I plated). I love that it has several different elements and flavors, all reminiscent of autumn. Instead of turning the pumpkin into some fancy baked good, it is baked and eaten as is (seriously, who does that?? it’s GOOD). Along with herbs (that I got out of the garden), the pumpkin seeds are used to make the chimichurri sauce and spread atop the entire dish. Soba noodles are recommended as the starch in this dish, but QUINOA could be used as well. Look, I love noodles AND I love quinoa – it’s a hard choice to make. (good luck to you)

Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl
Author: 
 
Ingredients
For the pumpkin and noodles:
  • 1 (3 pound) sugar pumpkin, sliced in half and seeded
  • 8 ounces soba noodles
For the chimichurri:
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup pepitas
  • 2 cups chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For serving:
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup pepitas
Instructions
Prepare the pumpkin & noodles:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease. Place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tender.
  2. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain, place back in the pot, and set aside.
Prepare the chimichurri:
  1. Place the garlic in a blender or food processor and pulse to get it chopped up. Add the pepitas and pulse into fine crumbs.
  2. Add the rest of the chimichurri ingredients and puree.
To assemble:
  1. Toss the noodles with about ¼ of the chimichurri sauce and divide among bowls.
  2. Scoop cooked pumpkin into each bowl, and add some black beans.
  3. Top with the additional chimichurri and pepitas.

Chimichurri Pumpkin Plate

Love

Crista


Oct
16

Pink Pesto

I know, I know, I know, I know. I talk about the tomatoes in my garden ALL THE TIME. I can’t help it – THERE ARE SO MANY! I’m not bragging. Or maybe I am bragging, gah – I don’t know! Today, here I am, talking about all of those tomatoes AGAIN. 

I’ve been obsessing over a Pink Pesto sauce that I found at Whole Foods for quite some time. I didn’t buy it because it’s full of dairy but I check it out every time I’m at the store. No one talks about Pink Pesto, I’ve never even heard of such a thing, intrigue! I searched for a non-dairy version and quickly realized that Scarpetta is the ONLY company that makes a pink pesto. I like pink, and I like pesto, I also like being able to use ingredients fresh from my garden (brag), and I ALSO like non-dairy goods. SO I made my own version of the Pink Pesto. I don’t know how it compares to the Pink Pesto at the grocery store and quite frankly, I don’t care because my Pink Pesto is DELISH! 

I made a bunch of this pesto and I froze some of it for future use. LOVE that I can do that – it’ll get me through the winter months when I’m desperate for some home-cookin but not willing to do that cooking (if you know what I’m saying!)

You too can make this pink pesto, check out the recipe:

Pink Pesto
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 2½ cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • ⅛ cup red wine
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • ⅛ cup soy creamer
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and puree.
  2. Serve atop a room temp or warm dish.

This pesto can be served at room temperature, atop a warm or chilled pasta dish, however I would not recommend that you heat the pesto up. It’s just not necessary.  Because this pesto has so much flavor, you will enjoy it atop some good ole spaghetti/linguine noodles without the addition of anything else. It really doesn’t need anything else, although you can get creative. 

Oh, and side note here: I was reading some reviews for Scarpetta’s pink pesto – it got some rave reviews but it also got some negative feedback.. People have an idea of what pesto should be like, and apparently a pink version of their beloved “pesto” goes against everything they believe a pesto should be. It’s OK. You may or may not like the idea of a PINK pesto, either way, it’s cool. Just check it out… you might actually like it.

 Pink Pesto

Love

Crista


Oct
15

swan lake road / dillon reservoir

As the sun began it’s journey to the west side of the mountains, I couldn’t help but drive up to Swan Lake Road and perch myself on the side of the mountain to catch those last rays of sunshine for the day.

Beautiful, how the clouds meld into the snow-capped mountains, and allow the persistent rays of light to rigidly shine through.

dillon reservior / breckenridge

swan lake road / breckenridge

breckenridge / lake dillon

swan lake road / lake dillon

swan lake road / lake dillon

breckenridge / snowy mountains

I’m in the mountains for a few days this week, a work-related trip. I went to Aspen for the first time yesterday. The fall colors are GORGEOUS up there – the most vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds I have ever seen., I didn’t get any photos unfortunately, but I wish I had.

Today, I’m going to do a quick hike in Glenwood Springs before heading back home…. My eyes crave more candy…

Love

Crista


Oct
12

homemade apple butter

 This time last year, we were picking apples off the apple tree that grew right in the front yard. It was a luxury to have an apple tree, stemming, and producing fruit although the apples weren’t “perfect” like most of most of the apples available for purchase in the store. Our apples were disfigured and some of them were wormy – they required some “cleaning up” before being able to use them. But look, I’m not complaining.

Every year, I forget to get out to an apple orchard in late August or early September for apple picking – I always show up right at the end of apple picking season (mid-October) just in time for picking pumpkins. I love, love picking pumpkins, I’m going to go out next weekend to pick up a few, but I want the apples too! Do I need to set a reminder for myself next year??

Random: Someone once told me that if you plant the seeds from an apple, chances are it will grow in to a crab apple tree, even if the seeds came from a different variety. I guess most varieties are “clones” – it sounds like a complicated/unpredictable process to create those clones, I don’t even want to think about it or talk about it – I’ll leave it to the experts.

Back to last year: After picking the apples, coring, and cleaning them, we made several batches of apple butter. I wish I still had some – all of a sudden, I’m craving it again. I may make a 2014 batch, however it will be a small batch because I don’t have the space to can the excess AND it would have to be made with store-bought apples… which just wouldn’t be the same…. especially here in Colorado. I still haven’t figured out the best apples to buy in Colorado…. I miss Honeycrisp, we have them available here but they aren’t as great as they are in the Midwest…..

I don’t recall the Apple Butter recipe that we used last year but I found several recipes via Pinterest that caught my attention for this year:

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Slow cooker Vanilla Rum Apple Butter

Apple Butter (no sugar added)

Cranberry-Apple Butter

Slow Cooker Ginger Spiced Apple Butter (no sugar added)

I love all the different variations of “apple butter.”  I’m especially liking the idea of the Cranberry-Apple Butter, maybe I’ll make a batch for Thanksgiving and serve it with warm biscuits! (Yes, I AM ready to start thinking about Thanksgiving.)
Which version catches YOUR attention? 

apple tree

Love

Crista


Oct
09

Today, it rained, and rained, and then rained some more. While I was chilly and felt “wet” all day long, I was thankful that the garden got some good ole’ rain water – it seems to have a different effect on the garden than hose water does – in a good way.

My garden is still producing a variety of peppers, tomatoes, and herbs but I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to last. My tomato plants are looking pathetic, some have died off due to whiteflies. The pepper plants are still holding on strong, and the herbs are doing the same. My broccoli, kale, and cabbage are all infested with aphids. I never did figure out how to get rid of them. I will definitely have to fight harder against them next year now that I know they’ll be a problem. Sigh. 

Because of the approaching end-of-season, I made sure to take some photos of the garden – they very well could be the last photos taken of the garden this year.

garden tomato

garden cherry tomato

garden amana orange tomato

garden cherry tomato

garden tomato

As you can see, I’ve still got a variety of tomatoes growing. I picked a bunch earlier in the week to make a Pink Pesto (recipe coming soon!) and another batch of Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette. I probably won’t use either one of them right away, I’m freezing them for a later date.

garden eggplant

FINALLY, eggplants! It took this long…..

garden chili peppers

garden pinot noir bell pepper

A pinot noir bell pepper and an orange jalapeño – I have no idea how I got a hold of these things – but they’re stinkin cool.

garden orange jalapeño pepper

garden pablano pepper

I’m hoping this rain will stimulate some growth for the weekend, I’m not quite ready for the season to end yet…. 

In other news, I’m looking to buy a house right now and I am adamant about finding a place with a big huge garden space – will you cross your fingers for me and wish me luck? The search has been tough, competitive, and stressful….

Love

Crista


Oct
03

vibrant veggies

Prior to moving to Colorado, I used jalapeño & serrano peppers regularly but I never paid much to attention to Green Chile Peppers. Here in Colorado, they seem to be EVERYWHERE. Every Mexican restaurant is serving up their own special Green Chile Sauce and several restaurants serve Green Chile Chili. The first few times I was exposed to Green Chiles, they were combined with animal fat which really turned me off – it isn’t until I realized that several restaurants are making their chile sauce vegetarian that I really got in to it! 

On accident, I grew green chile peppers in my garden – I don’t think a garden in Colorado would be complete without them.

It’s no surprise that I chose a jar of Roasted Green Chile sauerkraut when given the option between it, a Vindaloo Curry, Morroccan Spice, and Lemon Ginger. Although the others sound tasty, I knew I was making the right choice simply based on this Colorado obsession.

This Roasted Green Chile is made by a new, CO local company called Vibrant Veggies. Prior to the company contacting me for the opportunity to blog about the Vibrant Veggies, I had spotted it at one of my favorite local vegan stores. I remember seeing it, but I didn’t pick any up because I didn’t know anything about it. I was thrilled when the company offered me a jar to try. 

There are several ways to use this sauerkraut, for instance you could use it atop a taco or quesadilla, use it to spice up a rice & bean-type dish, pair it with a quinoa dish, or even use it as a sandwich topping. I’m even thinking this would be good as a breakfast dish – atop a tofu scramble? I crave savory, salty foods in the AM… I’d be satisfied with a few spoonfuls of this alone for breakfast…. which is probably what I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow morning.

I hooked myself up with this awesome meal – a quinoa, refried bean, avocado, garden-fresh tomato, and Green Chile sauerkraut topped tostada. You don’t have to be jealous of me because you too can make these tostadas,I’m hooking you up with the recipe (below). If you live in Colorado, you’re lucky – you can easily pick up a jar of Vibrant Veggies… if not… you may have to wait patiently for this company to go big!

vibrant veggies

Roasted Green Chile + Quinoa Tostadas
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2-3 tostada
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ jalapeño, minced
  • ½ cup quinoa, cooked according to instructions
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup Vibrant Veggies Roasted Green Chile sauerkraut
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, start warming the black beans in oil.

Roasted Green Chile + Quinoa Tostada

Although Vibrant Veggies hooked me up in exchange for a blog post, all of the stories, opinions, and information offered in this blog post come from me. I would not have agreed to share Vibrant Veggies on PLQ if I didn’t love it. 

If you are interested in connecting with Vibrant Veggies, check them out on Facebook and Twitter. For fun, tell them PLQ sent you! 

Love

Crista


Sep
30

delicata squash

My birthday has come and gone which means that fall is officially here. This time of year is bittersweet for me – I love the fall and all of the beautiful colors that come along with it but I’m never quite ready to let go of summer. Last week, we had 85 degree weather here in Colorado but today I’m snuggled under a blanket because I can’t quite seem to warm up. The weaner has definitely changed over the last 24 hours or so. 

Here in Colorado, everyone talks about getting up to the mountains in September and early October to see the leaves change. I’ve gotten up there twice – it was right as the leaves were changing, and everyone is right – it’s beautiful… quite the sight to see.

Everyone is talking about pumpkin too, so I went to Trader Joe’s and bought almost every single limited-edition pumpkin item they had in the store. I’ve jumped on the bandwagon! During that trip, I picked up some Delicata Squash because I’d never had it before. I think…… it’s in the running to become my new favorite squash. I’m liking it even better than I like butternut squash! Cut in half length-wise, I roasted it in the oven for 15ish minutes and it was perfectly tender and sweet – it ALMOST doesn’t even need any seasonings (I did add one secret ingredient – find it in the recipe below)

Because I just recently started eating squash on a regular basis, I looked to Amanda Paa’s book, Smitten With Squash for recipe inspiration and here is what I found: a Warm Delicata and Kale Jewel Salad recipe, a recipe for Brown Butter Delicata Donuts, and a Sweet Delicata Pie with Pecan Praline recipe. Uhm, YUM. I can hardly wait to try these recipes! 

Meanwhile, my super simple Roasted Delicata Squash recipe with a secret ingredient allows for a tasty main dish and/or side that’s quick to prepare.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted Delicata Squash
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 - 3 Delicata Squash *see recipe note
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil per squash
  • a few pinches of sea salt
  • a few pinches of black pepper
  • a few pinches of nutmeg (secret ingredient!)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut each squash in half, length-wish. (this may require a big knife and a strong arm - BE CAREFUL!)
  3. De-seed the squash. **see recipe note
  4. Add a half-teaspoon of olive oil to each squash half, use a spoon to spread the olive oil and coat the inside of the squash.
  5. Sprinkle a pinch of black pepper, sea salt, and nutmeg to each squash halve.
  6. Roast for 15-20 minutes, use a fork to check tenderness.
  7. Allow the squash to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Notes
*1 squash will serve 2 people as a side dish and will serve 1 person as a main dish)
**You can save the seeds for roasting or pitch them.

 I may get off the couch for a few minutes tonight to roast up some squash…. but I’ll probably take my blankie with me. (brrrrr it’s chilly here!!)

Love

Crista


Sep
22

indian spiced smashed potatoes

i LOVE me some indian food. Especially GOOD indian food, which happens to be hard to find. Some of the best indian food I’ve ever had came from a small, unassuming little restaurant in suburban Chicago… I blogged about it HERE. Since I’ve been in CO, I’ve only made one attempt at eating indian food, it was a fast-food type restaurant and it was just OK. I’m still unsure of where to find good indian food around here – BUT where there is a will, there is a way.

I’ve recently been craving curry and indian spices, which prompted me to make these indian-spiced smashed potatoes. I found a few different recipes that I used as guidelines, but the recipe is different from all the others – I used what I had on-hand (yes, I keep all of these ingredients on hand!) The green chile pepper I used was picked out of the garden on Friday – I’m glad I got to use it before it shriveled up! (I didn’t think I’d get to!)

One of the reasons I keep all these spices on-hand, and one of my favorite things about making indian food at home, is due to the aroma that lingers. As I was making these potatoes, one of my neighbors stopped by to tell me how good my food smells. I rewarded him with a taste of the potatoes. (he loved!) I think I even read one time that making an indian meal with your partner is a great “date” idea – it stimulates the senses! hubba hubba TRUTH.

The idea of spiced, smashed potatoes is not a new one, but it is one that makes me excited. I hope ou can enjoy them as much as I do. 

indian spiced smashed potatoes

Indian-Spiced Smashed Potatoes
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 small bag baby potatoes, skin on
  • 1 medium-sized onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño or green chili pepper, minced
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. tumeric
  • ¼ cup water
  • sea salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized pot, cover the potatoes with with water. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, sautee the pepper and onion in vegetable oil for a few minutes, until the onion is soft, but not caramelized.
  3. Push the onion & pepper mixture to the side of the pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds to the middle of the pan and allow them to sizzle for a few moments. Stir the onion mixture in with the seeds.
  4. Add the potatoes to the pan, a few at a time and smash with a potato masher.
  5. Add the remainder seasoning and the water, cook, stirring occasionally, until the water evaporates.
  6. Serve warm or hot.

indian spiced smashed potatoes

Love

Crista


Sep
20

Glenwood Springs Colorado

During a recent visit from my dad and his girlfriend, we all took an overnight trip to Glenwood Springs. Glenwood Springs has been on my bucket list simply because of the Hanging Lake Trail, Glenwood must have been on my dads bucket list as well. We found an awesome loft situated just outside of Glenwood Springs on a farm to stay in for the night. Because it rained practically the entire trip, we got a lot of couch time, took advantage of the beautiful mountain views right outside our window, and stayed in for an informal pizza dinner. Despite the rain, Patrick & I got up early the next morning to hike Hanging Lake. (checked off the bucket list!)

The Hanging Lake trail is a very popular trail due to the beautiful clear, turquoise lake and waterfalls that spill in to it that is found at the top. On the weekends, this trail is packed – luckily, we got to hike it on a Tuesday, and practically had the trail to ourselves. It rained the entire hike, but it didn’t matter – it was totally worth it. Almost felt rainforest-ish, which is not typical Colorado-style. I’m not going to say much more – I’ll let the photos do the talking. 

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs Colorado

Hanging Lake Colorado

Love

Crista


Sep
10

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

The time of year when I have more tomatoes in the garden than I know what to do with has arrived. (yay!) 
I’ve compiled several tomato recipes but hardly have the time to make them all (let alone eat it all!) – You are ALL invited to dinner at my place ANYTIME. I need someone to help me eat all this yummy food I want to make.

Thank goodness I recently read a post about freezing whole tomatoes – it’s as simple as cutting the core out of the tomato and putting it in a ziplock freezer bag. I’ll have garden-fresh tomatoes to use all winter long! (yay!)

Cherry Tomatoes

For months, I’ve been dying to make this Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette with tomatoes from the garden. This quick recipe is perfect for anyone who has an abundance of cherry tomatoes because it is easy to prepare and can be used on several different dishes. I made a big batch of this vinaigrette with plans to freeze half the batch. 

The day I made this vinaigrette, I added it to a tomato/avocado/hummus wrap and it added a ton of flavor. This vinaigrette will also work well atop a chopped & roasted brussels sprout salad, or atop any savory salad for that matter. I may use it as a marinade for grilled veggies (kabobs??), or atop a grilled veggie dish (zucchini, for instance). A pasta, noodle, or quinoa dish would pair well with this vinaigrette as well. 

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425º F.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, shallots, and 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast for about 10 minutes. Toss, turn on the broiler, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes blister and break apart.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Mix together the garlic, Dijon mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.
  5. After the tomato-shallot mixture has cooled from hot to warm, toss with the vinaigrette. It will thicken slightly.

Cherry tomato Vinaigrette

recipe adapted from Food52

Love

Crista