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


Sep
09

stone fruits

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Colorado peaches are da bomb.
Have you ever had a short-lived obsession with a fruit or a food, and you eat it non-stop until you literally become sick of it?
Well, I’ve gone through at least 50+ peaches in the last month or two and I still can’t get enough. Maybe because I know that the peach season in Colorado is short so I’m trying to pack a years supply into a few months time??

Not only are the peaches good around here, there seems to be an unlimited supply of drool-worthy stone fruits that are grown locally in Colorado.

I’m not sure I’d ever heard the term “stone fruit” prior to moving to Colorado, and if so I didn’t pay it any attention. I’ve had fun getting-to-know and using the term at the most appropriate time.

Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries, and mangoes are all considered stone fruits because of a “stone” inside the fruit that is very large and hard. Often times the stone is referred to as the seed, which is incorrect – the seed is actually inside the stone.

stone fruit

I have found & used several “stone fruit” recipes this season, they make me happy.
I even had a peach & basil pizza recently! (I didn’t make that but I WOULD)
(so, as I write this post, I’m enjoying a vegan Colorado peach ice cream from Sweet Action)
(that was bragging – sorry)
(oh, and when this post goes live, I’ll be just a few miles from Palisade, CO picking up more peaches)
(more bragging – sorry)

Here are some AWESOME Stone Fruit Recipes:

Stone Fruit Sangria 
Stone Fruit Salad with Lemon-Lavender Syrup
Stone Fruit Summer Guacamole
Peaches & Cream Yogurt Parfait
Peach Rhubarb Crisp
Spiced Apricot Couscous
Cinnamon Plum Jam
Chocolate Cherry Sundae

If you have any favorite stone fruit recipes, please share them in the comments below!
xox 

Love

Crista


Sep
07

Rainbow Chard

I decided to grow chard in the garden this year even though I’d never eaten it and knew next-to-nothing about it. When it was time to harvest, I wasn’t even sure what to do with it. I sautéed the leafy portion and served it as a side dish with a dinner – it was ok. I KNEW the leafy portion was edible but I wanted to give the beautiful, colored stems a chance as well. After googling around, I found a recipe for Pickled Chard Stems on my friend Amanda’s blog, Heartbeet Kitchen. (great minds think alike!) I used Amanda’s recipe (altered slightly) and was very impressed with the turnout – holy cow these pickled chard seems are YUMMY! Originally, I was skeptical about my “pickling” abilities  so thank goodness I’ve overcome that fear! I cross my fingers that I can grow another bunch of chard before the end of season…. I want another jar of these jewel toned pickled gems.

Pickled Chard Stems
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • one large bunch of rainbow chard stems, cleaned and cut to fit into mason jar, about ¾ inch from the lip
  • ¾ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
Instructions
  1. Put the peppercorns, mustard seeds, and garlic tin the mason jar.
  2. Pack chard stems into the jar.
  3. Bring vinegars, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan until sugar and salt is dissolved then pour over the chard stems.
  4. Let sit and cool before putting the lid on and refrigerate.
  5. Allow the chard to pickle for about 2 days prior to eating.

 So, I took my Pickled Chard Stems to the mountains and enjoyed them during a hiking/climbing trip. My friends told me I smelled like vinegar, but it didn’t matter because here in Colorado we carry wet wipes in our packs. 
(you never know when you may need a wet wipe in the mountains)
Worth it!

And anyway, shame on my friends for turning me down when I offered them a shot at what could have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at a pickled chard stem straight from my garden. Psh, their loss. 

Thanks Amanda for the awesome recipe!! I LOVED!!

Love

Crista


Sep
04

Peach Rhubarb Crisp

I have mentioned my love (obsession) for Colorado peaches. At any given time over the last month r two, I’ve had at LEAST 5-6 Palisade peaches on hand. I’ve found several different ways to enjoy them: with vanilla yogurt, as a bedtime dessert, served with ice cream, and some days I’m in the mood to bite in to the juicy fruit and let it rip down my chin all messy-like – feels like summer time.

So, I had some rhubarb in the garden that I wasn’t quite sure how to use. Discussing with a friend, we both decided that we NEEDED to know what that rhubarb would be like when paired with Colorado peaches. Everyone is getting ready for “autumn” around here (is it football that everyone is so darn excited about??) so a “crisp” seemed appropriate. After my second batch of Peach Rhubarb Crisp (the first didn’t even last a full day), I’ll say that peach and rhubarb ARE a perfect pair. 

This “crisp” recipe is very similar to the crisp recipe I used in my Apple Pear Crisp. This recipe gets a lot of compliments, so you may want to bookmark it- using the same recipe, you can swap the fruit… guaranteed goodness.

Peach Rhubarb Crisp {vegan & gluten-free}
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 5 peaches, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup rhubarb, chopped
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup raw turbinado sugar
  • heaping ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup gluten-free (or all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance Butter, softened
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the peach slices and rhubarb in a large plastic bag or a large bowl, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Toss to coat with sugar, cinnamon, agave nectar, salt, and cornstarch.
  3. In a greased baking dish (approx 9×9) layer the peach slices and rhubarb. Set aside.
  4. To make the topping, mix brown sugar, oats, flour, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Add softened butter and stir until the mixture resembles a crumble.
  5. Distribute the oat mixture over the top of the fruit and bake until the fruit is soft and the topping is golden brown (approx 40-45 minutes)
  6. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Love

Crista


Sep
02

Zucchini Banana Bread

When a girlfriend of mine gifted me a HUGE zucchini from her garden, I was ecstatic – however unsure what to do with THAT MUCH ZUCCHINI. The thing was huge, seriously. I took a photo of it, but I’m not sharing because it just looks awkward. Ha! 

I haven’t always loved zucchini, but I HAVE always loved zucchini bread. The strange thing is, I’ve never made an attempt at making bread on my own, until recently – it scared me. Seemed hard, or something. I overcame my fear with a craving and a huge zucchini fruit staring me in the face from atop my kitchen counter.

I googled recipes for “vegan zucchini bread” and one of the first (and best) recipes that showed up is a recipe from one of my favorite blogs – Post Punk Kitchen. The coolest thing about the recipe is that it calls for a ripe banana and I just so happened to have 3 ripe bananas hanging around. (literally!)

Zucchini Banana Bread

This recipe calls for “applesauce” and I like to make my own. It’s simp, chop an apple, and pulse it in a food processor until it’s a “saucy” consistency. If it’s not completely smooth, it’s ok. You can still add it to the batter. Just be sure to not add any more apple”sauce” than the recipe calls for – if you do, your bread may be too moist and dense. I only know this because I added extra apple”sauce” to my second loaf and it was more dense than my first loaf – however, still yummy.

I have a fancy attachment on my food processor that grated my zucchini with the touch of a button. If you do not have this fancy attachment, you can certainly grate the zucchini by hand. 

I added raisins and a few nuts to my bread but you can play around with add-ins. Chocolate chips, any type of nuts, dates, and dried fruits would all work. You get to choose & customize!! 

{vegan} Zucchini Banana Bread
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom or allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • ½ cup raisins (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8×4 metal bread pan with Earth Balance butter.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash the banana well, until no large chunks are left. Add the applesauce, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla and use a strong fork to mix well.
  3. Add the grated zucchini and mix in.
  4. Sift in 1 cup of the flour, the cinnamon, cardamom or allspice, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine. If you are adding the walnuts or raisins, do that now. Then add the final ½ cup of flour, and mix just until no visible flour is left.
  5. Transfer batter to the greased pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick or knife. If the bread needs more time to bake, turn heat down to 325 F and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice and serve!

Zucchini Banana Bread

Love

Crista


Aug
27

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

In Colorado, we hike 4.5 miles uphill (at 8000-10,000 foot elevation) for a beautiful reward- Ypsilon Lake, which sits high up in the mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

When we got up to the lake, we perched on a rock that sits out in the middle of the lake and we ate our packed lunch, rested, relaxed, and soaked up the crisp mountain air.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

After lunch, prior to our 4.5 mile hike down, we hung out on a large rock right in the middle of this beautiful waterfall.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

I consider myself  to be somewhat in shape, but this hike made me question that. This hike KICKED MY ASS. My friends referred to this hike as being “moderate” but when I googled it after the fact, I see that it is considered a strenuous hike (which made me feel a little better about myself – ha!). I was pretty beat up for an entire day after this hike, my body was achy and my knees were fragile- it was so worth it though.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

I mean, this view.  You can’t take a bad photo up there in that mountain even if you try your hardest.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

In case you’re as obsessed with my Coloradical as I am —> Coloradical Women’s Skyline T-Shirt (affiliate link)

Love

Crista


Aug
23

Melon Basil Soup

I’ve gathered several recipes that I’d like to make using ingredients from my garden from books, blogs, and magazines.

Slowly but surely, I’m harvesting herbs, kale, rhubarb, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes from the garden. We’ve got hundreds of tomatoes in the garden but only a handful are red, most of them are still green. There are soooo many tomato recipes I’m dying to make –  hopefully it won’t be long….

I’ve had my eye on this Melon Basil Soup recipe for quite some time and I finally gathered enough fresh basil leaves to make it!

I’m not sure what the rest of the country looks like, but here in Denver we are still experiencing 90 degree days. Summer is not over yet (even though most kids are back in school – gah)!! This soup is really refreshing on a hot summer day, it can be served chilled or at room temperature-ish. I don’t see why you couldn’t pack it for a picnic or even a camping trip. It’d also be great to serve at parties. For me, I keep it around to curb my sweet tooth or for a refreshing treat after a long, hot hike in the mountains.

Melon Basil Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ¼ cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon seat salt
Instructions
  1. In a blender or a food processor, add all ingredients and purée until completely smooth.
  2. Strain the purée through a strainer with the smallest holes you have available over a bowl.
  3. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

The original recipe for this soup recommends that you strain it through a fine mesh sieve which would remove the basil leaves. I didm;t do that – I enjoy the look (and taste!) of the speckled basil leaves throughout the soup – and they certainly don’t ruin the consistency of the soup at all.

Melon Basil Soup

Love

Crista


Aug
17

peaches-and-cream-yogurt-parfait

It’s peach season here in Colorado and apparently it’s a pretty big deal. There are several festivals happening throughout the entire state in celebration. A mountain town, on the Western Slope, Palisade, CO is where some of the best peaches in the world are grown and that small town sits near Wine Country. Sounds like a great place to vacation – local wineries, festivals, tours, farm-to-table dinners (peach & wine inspired), farmers markets, B&B’s, and a quaint little downtown. (count me in!!)

After hearing about these peaches (everyone is talking about them!) I didn’t wait long to try them. I ate one the first chance I got! I was driving through a small suburb right outside of Denver the first time I spotted these peaches, they were being sold at a little fruit stand in the corner of the parking lot. I may or may not being living off of peaches right now – I take one with me every where I go. I eat them for breakfast and as a late-night snack. I’ve paired them with ice cream and peanut buttered crackers. 

For a Sunday morning breakfast-in-bed, I decided to make a Peaches & Cream Yogurt Parfait. I prepared the peaches last night (as the recipe prompts you to do) and couldn’t wait to get up this morning to eat them. And now I’m off… to begin my day… 

Peaches & Cream Yogurt Parfait
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 peaches, core removed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • ½ cup vanilla coconut milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ cup granola
Instructions
  1. Toss the peaches with the sugar and allow them to sit in the refrigerate overnight. They will soften and create a syrup.
  2. When ready to serve, stir the honey in to the yogurt and then combine the peaches and yogurt together.
  3. Top with granola.

palisade-peaches

Love

Crista


Aug
16

“Where are we??”
“RED ROCKS!!”
“What are we??”
“ALIVE!!”

….a chant that was articulated between a yoga teacher and 2000 yogi students (including myself and a lucky PLQ giveaway winner) several times this morning….

yoga-on-the-rocks

By 9:30 AM this morning, I felt accomplished. I had already practiced yoga at Red Rocks with 2000 other yogis and hiked the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks. Oh, I’d also collected several free samples that Whole Foods was giving away for the Yoga On The Rocks event. 

yoga-on-the-rocks

I learned today that Red Rocks is the ONLY naturally-occuring, acoustically perfect amphitheater is the world – no wonder it has attracted the attention of musicians for years and years and years. Musicians plan years of their lives around the opportunity to play at this spiritual, emotional venue.

Yoga, on the rocks, was nothing short of an emotional experience either. During practice this morning, the instructor insisted that the students open their eyes and really LOOK at the surroundings. Beautiful rock formations, blue skies, and a bright, sunny sky.

yoga-on-the-rcosk

Practicing ancient, meditative body movements (yoga) in an ancient, naturally formed venue is an experience I will never ever forget. Upon entering the amphitheater this morning and during my yoga practice, I had an overwhelming feeling of emotion and energy.

yoga-on-the-rocks

There were 4 sessions of Yoga On The Rocks this year and I only got to attend 2. There is no doubt I will try my hardest to attend all 4 next summer.

yoga-on-the-rocks

Corepower Yoga is the host of Yoga On The Rocks and I’d like to extend gratitude to them for inviting me to YOTR, gifting me with a yoga mat and super sweet sunglasses, and allowing me to gift a reader with an unforgettable experience. 

My Colorado Life keeps getting better and better….

 

Love

Crista