Sep
23

I’m in slight denial that summer has come to an end but I know it’s real. The leaves have begun to change (the mountains are BEAUTIFUL right now) and each morning seems to be slightly chillier than the previous. When I’m out watering the garden in the morning, I’m bundled up in a small blanket or a hooded sweater instead of bare skinned, flip flops, and tank tops. 

Although I mourn the loss of a summer that could have, should have, would have packed more activities and experiences had I had more time but I’m ready, ready to move on. Ready for new beginnings. Ready to hunker down, cozy under blankets, drink wine, lots of wine, and eat warm, comforting foods.

As I scroll through the archives in this blog, each recipe stirs up a memory of what was happening in my life at the time I was preparing and serving that dish. I share with you the recipes that comforted me this morning, and brought warm thoughts, the dishes that I’ll prepare this season to stir nostalgia and create new memories.

Happy fall, ya’ll.

thyme-tea-cough-buster
Thyme Tea

Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl
Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl

Red Quinoa Sweet Potato Chili
Red Quinoa Sweet Potato Chili

Apple, Carrot, Quinoa Hash
a Carrot, Apple Quinoa Hash

pumpkin pie yogurt parfait
Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Parfait

Roasted_Sweet_Pepper_Salsa_1
Roasted Sweet Pepper Salsa

Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Pot Pit
Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Pot Pie

indian spiced smashed potatoes
Indian Spiced Smashed Potatoes

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Oatmeal // peace. love. quinoa
Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Oatmeal

Dairy-Free Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding
Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding

Love

Crista


Dec
05

Modern Love

Although it’s been a few weeks since my dinner date with BFF, Doug, I’m still reliving that glorious day – the day that I got to visit Isa Chandra’s very first vegan restaurant, located in Omaha, NE.

IT. WAS. BOMMMMB.

Modern Love

Although Doug is not a vegan, he agreed to escort me to the restaurant (I use the word escort because it’s funny). In the few years that I’ve known Doug, he’s allowed me to feed him foods that he thinks are “exotic” (like Brussels Sprouts and Bloody Mary’s). The dude is lucky to have me as a friend – COULD YOU IMAGINE A LIFE WITHOUT BRUSSELS AND BLOODY’S?? The boy is from the midwest and he likes fast food – I’m trying to hook him up.

Anyway, he GLADLY visited Modern Love with me because he trusts me and knows that I won’t steer him in the wrong direction. SPOILER ALERT: I am about to give you information that was meant to be shared at the end of this post: Doug ate his entire meal at Modern Love (even though he though he might not like it)!!! That’s a BIG DEAL!!!!

Modern Love

Modern Love

I’m pretty confident that we all the right choices, food-wise at the restaurant. I ordered the Chili and PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS – yes, we should re-visit what I just said in a moment – and Doug ordered the Seitan Schnitzel. We also ordered a side of kale – probably the best kale I’ve ever, ever, ever had. Modesty aside, it was DEFINITELY the best kale I’ve ever had. 

Modern Love

So, about that Chili served with a Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll AND – AND coconut whipped cream. Apparently, the chili/cinnamon roll combination is a “midwest thing” – they’ve been serving those two side-by-side for YEARS I’m told. I’m pissed because I’m from the midwest and no one ever told me about this remarkable combination. Doug’s all like “we’ve been eating cinnamon rolls with our chili forever and ever” and I’m all like “shut up….”

Regardless, I’m grateful to finally be “in-the-know”

So, when my mom came to Denver this past week to help me move, I made chili & cinnamon rolls. The night Patrick’s (boyfriend) parents met my mother, I made chili and cinnamon rolls. Football this weekend? I’ll probably make chili and cinnamon rolls.

Thanks, Isa.

Modern Love

Below is Doug – master vegan eater. He loved Modern Love so much that he took his carnivores parents there for his birthday. They won’t admit how much they loved the place, but I bet they cleaned their plates/bowls just like Dougy did.

Modern Love

 

On another note, I got to meet Isa while I was at Modern Love – I almost died but tried to remain calm. I didn’t take her photo, didn’t want to bother. Anyway, I idolize the chick because she is a badass vegan recipe creator. And her books are badass and her restaurant is badass. I begged her to open up in Denver but she’s not going to (boo) – she’s looking at LA though…. Anyway, Isa, if you’re reading this – I beg once more for some Modern Love in Denver. Kthanks.

Love

Crista


Dec
03

ahhhhhh.
finally, i can breathe.
not only did i just come off of the busiest work travel season i’ve had in a long time, i also shopped for, purchased, and moved into my new home.
buying a home may be the single most stressful situation i have been a part of-
people kept telling me it’d be worth it in the end. i was skeptical during the process, but now, while i sit on my couch, with my feet kicked up, in MY home, i realize that they were right – it was TOTALLY worth it!
…and every time i step foot in to my home, i fall in love all over again.

just a few days (4 days!) after moving in to my new home, i hosted my boyfriends family for Thanksgiving.
i cooked, although modestly. i made homemade hummus & veggies, cranberry whiskey applesauce, pumpkin cornbread, and a killer kale salad. we ate plenty.

so, this is my new life. in Colorado
in my new home.
with my amazing bearded Colorado boyfriend by my side.

as i sit here alone, i know that i am not alone – there is an entire team of people out there who have helped shape my being. people who have encouraged me, and hugged me, and pushed me to keep on keeping on even in the most difficult of times.

my heart is filled with love and gratitude. my life is filled with love and gratitude.
i’m ready to get back to life as it once was – as a foodie and a blogger.

let’s get this party started, again!

xox

Love

Crista


Nov
05

pumpkins 

Doods. So I went to Trader Joe’s two weeks ago and they were on pumpkin-overload. I swear to you that every single item in the store was pumpkinized. I wasn’t mad about it however I did end up spending a lot more money that day than I normally do. (I mean, hellloooooo pumpkin cinnamon rolls that aren’t even vegan but I’ll buy anyway because: pumpkin)

I walked in to the store yesterday to find that the shelf that was once pumpkinized had been reverted back to the same ole “new items in stock” that… I’m still not mad about. BUT, what the hell happened to all the pumpkin stuff?? Halloween is over but Thanksgiving is not. I have very high standards on how long you need to keep pumpkin goodies in stock and I’m pissed when you reduce inventory after Halloween.  Can ya dig?

To make up for the lack of pumpkin goodies on shelves of TJ’s across the country, I bring you this post that is chock-full of vegan pumpkin recipes. You may want to bookmark it and refer back to it every year between Halloween & Thanksgiving when grocery stores assume it time to remove the pumpkin and introduce the Christmas candy. No one is ready for Christmas candy, anyway. We’re still trying to eat up that Halloween candy… 

pumpkin pie yogurt parfait

The Pumpkin Spice Cake from Vegan Yumminess looks super moist and full of fragrant spices. Put this cake in the oven, and I bet you’d have the entire house smelling like heaven. Pumpkin heaven, that is.

This Pumpkin Chai Shake from real kids eat spinach recommends you freeze pumpkin in ice cube trays and blend it with awesome ingredients like chai tea and fragrant spices. (who would have thought to blend pumpkin into a shake, let alone freeze it in ice cube trays?? – GENIUS)

Larabars. We’ve all had them. Every time I empty my purse, I find a beat up Larabar at the bottom. I always keep (at least) one on hand to ensure I never starve. Although I’ve got a lot of experience eating these vegan, raw, healthful bars, I’ve never made them. Not until I found this genius Pumpkin Pie Larabars recipe by eat, live, burp.

I thought myself to be a genius when I made a Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Parfait inspired by something Martha Stewart did. It’s goooooood.

Pumpkin Pie without the crust? I’m down. Check out this Pumpkin Pie Pudding from meadows cooks.

Isa Did It, just like she promised she would with this Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl recipe in her book. I could hardly stand to photograph that meal – get.in.my.belly.

My favorite vegan grocery store, NOOCH is selling vegan pumpkin ice cream made by Sweet Action (a local Denver thing) but if they weren’t I’d make an attempt at the Pumpkin Ice Cream recipe from Minimalist Baker. Every recipe I have ever made from Minimalist Baker (SEVERAL!) has been flawless, and I’m sure this one would be no exception – they topped that ice cream with roasted pecans and coconut whipped cream (I mean, does it get any better than that??)

We’re not done yet.

I’m kind of obsessed with baking ingredients IN a pumpkin, then eating the entire thing. I’ve never done it but I will. Check out these Holiday Stuffed Pumpkins from Deliciously Ella. (and, actually – I’m putting the Green Kitchen Stories book on my wishlist)

Pumpkin juice? Yes, it’s a thing: a Glowing Pumpkin Juice recipe from Fettle Vegan.

“The BEST Pancakes I’ve ever had” says my boyfriend about the Pumpkin Spice Pancakes I made him. Recipe by Minimalist Baker (duh, flawless) Don’t top these with fake syrup – you better use pure maple syrup, it’s the only way to go. And anyway, GO, go make these now!

I could go on and on and on. But you must stop reading now and go make one of these recipes. 

For the record, I made a triple batch of those Pumpkin Spice Pancakes and I put them in the freezer for “later” …which means I’ll have eaten three batches of Pumpkin Spice Pancakes in a 2-3 day time frame. Psh, my life doesn’t suck.

Do you have any vegan pumpkin recipes to share? Please do.

Love

Crista


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
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


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.

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
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


Dec
06

Aveda Tea

Brrrr, it’s chilly outside – the time of year well-suited for a cup of hot tea to maintain warmth has arrived. While I complain about the weather, I get excited to wrap up in my scarves, fuzzy socks, and over-sized sweaters and I find  pleasure in sipping warm drinks – I’ll do anything to keep cozy. 

Aveda TeaAveda Tea 

My all-time favorite tea to drink (going on a few years now) is a tea made by the haircare company, Aveda. The ingredients of the tea (licorice root, peppermint) don’t typically represent the types of flavors I prefer, however the combination that makes up this tea is absolutely to die for. I like that the tea is naturally sweet, I would never even consider adding sweetener to it – it simply doesn’t need it. It is caffeine-free, which is nice because I can drink it before bedtime. AND one of the best things about this tea is that it is good hot, warm, OR cold. Have you ever had a cup of hot tea that is less appealing after it’s gotten cold? Not this tea, it is just as good cold (or at room temp) as it is hot. Did I mention that it is 100% organic? (bonus)

Aveda Tea

 “If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited it will calm you.” 
{William Ewart Gladstone}

Love

Crista


Nov
26

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Grapes

I am obsessed with Thanksgiving this year. Over the last few days, I’ve made at least one Thanksgiving-ish dish every day. Apple Parsnip Mash, Honeycrisp Apple JuiceBreakfast Quinoa and these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes are among some of those dishes. 

I’m taking advantage of the Brussels Sprouts season this year, there are several dishes that I plan on making with them – including a dish that I’m going to make for Thanksgiving. My favorite way to prepare Brussels Sprouts is roasting them with different seasonings and flavors, but for my Thanksgiving feast, I am going to use them in a salad, raw…. combined with kale. (YUM, right?) 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 pound red seedless grapes, halved
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. On a baking sheet, toss the brussels sprouts and grapes with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast until caramelized and tender, about 20-30 minutes.

 Happy Holiday Season my friends! xo

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Grapes

Love

Crista