Dec
20

love birds

Every time I see this photo, my heart melts.
I took this photo of my grandpa and his new-found love while dining outdoors at one of our favorite little restaurants in Florida, Cherry Pocket.
Just before this photo was taken, grandpa challenged Angela to spilt that homemade carrot cake 4 ways, evenly. She roared with laughter upon accepting the challenge.
Adorable, right?
In my eyes, this photo display love, joy, laughter, and vitality.
…living life to it’s fullest….

Earlier in the year, I blogged about my late grandmothers passing which left grandpa in a state of melancholy.
If this photo isn’t proof that there is Life After Death, I don’t know what does. 

Happy Birthday Grandpa!!! 
xoxo

Love

Crista


Dec
20

Bread Pudding with Eggnog Cream Sauce {vegan}

Are you drooling at the sight of this Bread Pudding?
I thought so. It’s gooooood. 
Eggnog Cream Sauce drizzled over this Bread Pudding makes this dish perfect for the holiday season.
The big question is: Would you eat this for breakfast or dessert or both?
I say both.

Bread Pudding with Eggnog Cream Sauce {vegan}

{vegan} Bread Pudding with Eggnog Sauce
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf whole wheat/grain bread (vegan and/or gluten-free), cubed
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the over to 400 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the almond milk, flax seed, cinnamon, vanilla, and mashed bananas.
  3. In another bowl, pour the wet mixture over the cubed bread and toss.
  4. Line a baking dish with vegan butter or non-stick spray then evenly layer the bread mixture in to the dish.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is brown and crispy.
  6. Drizzle with Eggnog Cream Sauce (recipe follows) and serve.
Notes
Add a handful of walnuts or almonds to the bread pudding prior to baking.
Eggnog Cream Sauce {a vegan recipe}
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup (12 fluid ounces) eggnog
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan.
  2. Over medium to high heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  3. Boil for one minute until sauce thickens, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Serve warm or cold.
  6. Store excess in the fridge.

I made this dish vegan by using a vegan bread and vegan Eggnog however you can choose whatever type of bread you’d like to use (gluten-free is a possibility) and you can use dairy Eggnog if that’s your jam. If you like nuts and/or raisins in your bread pudding, then add them. If you don’t, then don’t add them.

When you make that Eggnog Cream Sauce, make extra. It’s delicious over Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast…

Bread Pudding with Eggnog Cream Sauce {vegan}

Love

Crista


Dec
19

Vanilla Vodka Chai Tea

I am going to name this Vanilla Vodka Chai Tea my Official Holiday Drink for 2013.
Christas Trees, Gift Wrap, Holiday Music, Vanilla Vodka Chai Tea
It fits right in.

Recently, I was introduced to Rumchata, everyone seems to love that stuff but I wasn’t a fan. It is waaaay too heavy, sweet, and it’s full of dairy. Hangover? Blah.

This Vanilla Vodka Chai Tea offers the same flavors (vanilla & cinnamon) but is much lighter, smoother, and is easily dairy-free! I plan to make it for a friends dinner party on Christmas Eve and at the New Years Eve party I’m attending…

Vanilla Vodka Chai Tea
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces Chai Tea, strong brewed and cooled
  • 4 ounces Vanilla Soy (or Coconut Milk) Creamer
  • 3 ounces Vanilla Vodka
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
Instructions
  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine ingredients and shake.
  2. Serve over ice.
  3. Garnish with a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.

Vanilla Vodka Chai Tea

Love

Crista


Dec
18

Caramelized Onion & Apple Chutney

I’m headed back home for the holidays soon and I have big plans to cook for some family and friends. My family is made up of carnivores so there is a chance they’ll turn their noses up to my veggie foods, but I’m going to cook it anyway!

In search of something I could prepare in advance and take to my family to enhance their prepared meals with a little touch of my home-cooking, I decided on a chutney. 

This chutney can be used to add flavor and aroma to a variety of different foods. I’d like to try this chutney atop a sweet potato or winter squash dish. It could be served with cheese & crackers, or on a flatbread, or atop a meat or fish. You could put this chutney on a sandwich (think leftovers!), or even on brats & (veggie) burgers. 

Caramelized Onion & Apple Chutney
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 4 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 apples, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 inches of ginger root, minced
  • 2 cups raw turbinado sugar
  • 2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons ground cloves
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, sautee the onions in olive oil until they begin to caramelize, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ginger, sautee for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the remainder of the ingredients to the onions, and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer.
  5. Stir often until the mixture has begun to thicken, this could take up to 2 hours.
  6. Transfer the chutney in to hot, sterilized jars and allow to cool or serve immediately.*
Notes
*If you are not canning this chutney, it can be kept in the refrigerator for about one week.

 Preparing this chutney is extremely easy, and it is made with fairly common ingredients. The prep time for this dish is only 20-30 minutes, but it will simmer for an hour or two providing an aromatic, warm fragrance throughout the house.

Caramelized Onion & Apple Chutney

Love

Crista


Dec
18

Vegetarian Fast Food

Last night, I picked up dinner from a favorite restaurant of mine, a place I haven’t been to in over a year. The restaurant is called Vegetarian Fast Food, located in Glendale Heights, IL. I stumbled upon this place on accident one day while working out in the suburbs, I’m thankful I did – this unassuming little restaurant serves up some amazing Indian Food. Chicagoans, if you enjoy going to Devon Street for Indian food, you should consider taking the drive out to Glendale Heights to visit my guy at VFF someday. Just saying.

Vegetarian Fast Food

The little Indian guy behind the counter recognizes my face and remembers everything I like. He has always made sure I go home with everything I like and he always adds something new that I haven’t tried. Last night, while I waited he served me up some Indian Tea. It’s similar to a chai tea – he showed me how to re-create it at home. I’ll keep you updated after I try it.

Vegetarian Fast Food

While dude was serving me tea, his wife was busy in the back preparing this amazing meal. LOOK AT ALL THAT FOOD! 7 different dishes, plus rice, plus naan, plus 2 desserts. I had a foodgasm just looking at all of it. Oh, and can you believe all of that cost me less than $25?

Vegetarian Fast FoodVegetarian Fast FoodVegetarian Fast FoodVegetarian Fast Food

I don’t know what all of those dishes are called and if I asked, I wouldn’t understand what dude told me. I do know that squiggly looking dessert is called Jalebi. It is made of a deep-fried wheat flour batter soaked in sugar syrup. Sounds like something you could get at the state fair, right? Ridiculous & good.

Vegetarian Fast Food
185 E Army Trail Rd, Glendale Heights, IL 60139

Love

Crista


Dec
17

Garlicky Lemon Brussels Sprouts

I’m currently obsessing over… you guessed it, Brussels Sprouts.  
It seems I’ve always got a bag of ’em in the fridge these days.
What I love about Brussels Sprouts (I love everything about Brussels Sprouts) is that they can be made with a variety of different flavor options. Recently, I made a Brussels Sprouts dish with Grapes but THIS TIME I went the garlicky, lemony, cheesy route and it was gooooood.

Garlicky Lemon Brussels Sprouts
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds brussles sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter (non-dairy or dairy), melted
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss the brussels sprouts with the lemon juice, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and garlic and then drizzle with the melted butter and olive oil.
  3. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender and golden.

This may be one of my favorite Brussels Sprouts recipes yet….

Oh, and PS. EASY.

Garlicky Lemon Brussels Sprouts

Garlicky Lemon Brussels Sprouts

Love

Crista


Dec
16

a friend of mine mentioned that she purchased two bunches of kale for the first time and she wasn’t quite sure how to use it, so she came to me for some ideas. here you have it, 5 of my favorite kale recipes!

garlicky kale + white bean stewGalicky Kale + White Bean Stew

cream of kale & leek soupCream Of Leek & Kale Soup

Stewed Tomatoes Quinoa & KaleStewed Tomatoes with Kale & Quinoa

Favorite Kale SaladMy Favorite Kale Salad

colorful kale salad with jalapeñoColorful Kale Salad + Jalapeños

Love

Crista


Dec
15

I love, love, love, love, LOVE cupcakes!!!!!!!!! 
Naturally, I get REALLY excited for National Cupcake Day.

About 4 years ago when I moved to Chicago from Minneapolis, I developed my obsession with cupcakes. There were 2-3 cupcake bakeries in Chicago that I would visit on the daily. I lived alone so no one really knew how often I ate cupcakes, it was my little secret. Even those people closest to me had no idea quite how often I was stuffing my face with yummy cupcakes…. although, I did share the obsession with a girlfriend of mine – every day we would have conversations about the latest yummy cupcakes we had most recently eaten. Quite often, we made cupcake runs together – out of desperation, you know? NEEEED Cupcakes NOW. haha. We even had a cupcake party, it went down like this: invite 5-10 people over, ask them all to bring cupcakes, FEED OUR FACES, sugar high. best.party.ever. Oh, and you know what else we did? We went on a cupcake tour. We hopped around from cupcake bakery to cupcake bakery … eating cupcakes all along the way…. No wonder I’m 10 lbs. heavier than I was in my early 20’s….

Sooooo Instead of stuffing my face with cupcakes to celebrate National Cupcake Day, I indulge in VEGAN CUPCAKE PORN!!! (and new recipes!!)

Cream-Filled Chocolate CupcakesCream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
by Chocolate Covered Katie

Avocado Cupcakes + GanacheTriple Chocolate & Avocado Cupcake
by Feed Your Awesome Machine

vanilla toffee quinoa cupcakesVanilla Toffee Quinoa Cupcakes with Toffee Frosting
by Desserts With Benefits

Choco-Cherry-CupCakeChoco-Cherry Cupcakes 
by Namely Marly

vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter CupcakesChocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
by peace.love.quinoa (me!)

ganache filled cupcakesGanache Filed Double Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes 
by Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes

coffee mocha cupcakesCoffee Mocha Cupcakes
by The Baking Bird

Happppppyyyyyy Daaaaayyyy!!! 
xoxox

Love

Crista


Dec
15

Last weekend, I had brunch at Karyn’s Raw for the very first time. I have dined there several times, but somehow I wasn’t aware of the fact that they do a brunch buffet on Sundays.

Karyn's Raw

I learned of the buffet from one of their newsletters that advertised the buffet for only $19.99. I felt like it was a joke – a RAW buffet, all-you-can-eat for only $19.99!?!? 

Karyn's Raw

Well, it’s true my friends. I talked to Karyn myself, and she said that she is going to keep the raw buffet that price for the remainder of the winter. This deal is rare, the normal price of the buffet is $29.99.

Dear Chicagoans or anyone visiting Chicago soon, GET THERE.

Some of my favorite items on the buffet last week included the Kale & Quinoa Salad, Thai Veggie Stir Fry with Kelp Noodles + Peanut Sauce, Bean Burro, Dinner Roll + Gravy, and the Sweet Flat Bread.

Beyonce + Karyn Calabrese
*Photo from Karyn's Instagram feed

In other news, Beyonce (yes, THE Beyonce) just stopped in to one of Karyn’s restaurants, Karyn’s Cooked while she was on tour in Chicago. Maybe you haven’t heard the news, Beyonce & Jay-Z are on a 22-day plant-based vegan diet. Why 22 days? Because it take 21 days to form a habit and on the 22nd day, you have found the way. I hope they stick with it after the 22 days are up and if not, I hope they gain a new level of consciousness and inspire others to try a plant-based lifestyle.

Love

Crista


Dec
14

I am absolutely obsessed with this video, I’ve watched it several times and I just can’t get enough. I dream of living in a cabin just like this one…. with a garden out back. I’m obsessed with the love and romance in this video, the emotion. In fact, if I ever do get married, I wouldn’t mind my honeymoon being similar to Noot & Jacques weekend at the cabin…..

Love

Crista