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


Sep
08

Harvesting Chamomile

When I talk about the plants that I grow in my home garden, I often talk about WHY I chose each plant. I choose tomatoes because there is nothing better than a home-grown tomato, I chose basil and cilantro because they are herbs that I use often, and I choose peppers because they grow flawlessly and add color + flavor to my garden and my kitchen.

This is my first year growing chamomile, I chose it because it smells pretty, produces lovely flowers, and has a calming effect. One of my favorite tea blends, Chamomile Citrus from Mighty Leaf may have had an influence on me being drawn to chamomile.

Harvesting Chamomile

My chamomile plant started flowering long before I really knew how or when to harvest the buds. After my busy, travel-packed summer slowed down, I took the time to learn and was pleasantly surprised how stinking easy it is to harvest and dry the flower buds.

When the chamomile flowers are wide open, and the white petals are perky, it is the perfect time to harvest. In my photos, you can see that some of the white petals had begun to droop, at that point they are still harvestable however they won’t have as many essential oils to offer.

Harvesting Chamomile

Plucking the fully bloomed, tiny flowers away from their stems is easy, doesn’t take much effort. I used my thumbnail to get a clean cut right at the base of the flowers, and they all popped right off. Because it’s so pleasant and calming, I sniffed each flower bud as I plucked it. 

Now that I’ve begun harvest, I know that my chamomile plant will replace the plucked flowers with brand new ones to be harvested in the future.

My freshly plucked chamomile buds are sitting in a cool, dry place in my kitchen to dry out. Once dried, I will store the chamomile buds in an airtight mason jar until I’m ready to use them for tea. 

I take pride in having an abundance of dried herbs from my garden in the kitchen and my meals seem to be more rewarding when home-grown ingredients are used. I look forward to sipping home-grown chamomile tea on the upcoming chilled, autumn nights.

Harvesting Chamomile

Love

Crista


Aug
20

on growing radishes

A perfect morning for me is one where I can roll out of bed when I feel ready, step in to my flip flops after giving the pooch a quick hug, and going out in to the garden to see what happened overnight while I was asleep.

While still clothed in my pjs, I oftentimes catch myself pulling weeds before brushing my teeth, hanging herbs to dry before breakfast, and lounging in the hammock before it’s time to get ready for my workday.

One morning last week, early before temps reached unbearable warmth, I’d decided it was time to pull the radishes that had been steadily growing in the ground for about 6-7 weeks. I couldn’t get a close look at the tiny red bulbs below the surface of the soil, but I could see the greens were overgrown and flowering. Convinced that the greens were maturing much faster than the radish bulbs, I’d trimmed the overgrown steams and leaves a few times.

I should have done it sooner. I should have learned more about planting and harvesting radishes before dropping the tiny seeds in to the ground. The little package of seeds I’d received gave thorough instructions about placing each seed about 1-2 inches away from the next about 1/2 inch deep. Instead of following directions, I dumped the entire package of contents into the ground and hoped for the best. 

That little package also instructed me to harvest the plants within 30 days, I paid no attention assuming I’d just know when it was time.

My very first radish crop has offered me a few vital learnings, and I am grateful. One of those learnings is to appreciate EVERY single tiny seed and to not take any of them for granted – one tiny seed can produce a beautiful, bountiful fruit on it’s own. Because I did not space my seeds apart, many of the radishes I grew were long and narrow instead of plump and round – the crowding didn’t allow enough room for growth. 

on growing radishes

If I knew then what I know now, there are a few things I would do different:

1. I would space the radish seeds 1-2 inches apart.
2. I would only plant 15-20 radish seeds at most, any more would go to waste or cause over-crowding 
3. I would remove any rocks, sticks, or rubble in the ground prior to planing the radishes, which will allow them more room for growth and prevention deformation.
3. I would mark on my calendar the day my radishes were planted and the approximate day of harvest (based on the seed packets instructions)

Unfortunately, my very first radish harvest was good for nothing more than feeding the compost bin, HOWEVER I have planted more seedlings and am confident that I will harvest an edible crop this time around.

on growing radishes

A few dishes I hope to make with my home-grown radishes include Roasted Lemon, Potatoes, Radishes, and Olives, Fennel and Radish Salad, and Radish Leaf Pesto

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


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
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
20

Peppers add sizzle and flavor to meals all around the globe but if your garden looks anything like mine, you’ve got more peppers than you know what to do with. We’ve grown a variety of peppers including jalapeno, bell peppers, pablano, and serrano peppers.

Pepper plants are my favorite plants to have in the garden because they are relatively easy to grow and they produce perfectly plump fruits. When planted in a site full of sun, and with regular deep watering, pepper plants will produce beautiful green, red, and yellow varieties.

 Harvesting these peppers promotes more fruiting, especially if you start harvesting at the beginning of summer. You can have an almost-continuous harvest from your pepper plants by picking the ripe fruits often. It seems as though every time I pay a visit to our 4 pepper plants, there is a new crop of green & red screaming “pick me, pick me!”

jalapeño pepperpepper harvestpepper harvestpepper harvestpablano pepper

I took a variety of jalapeño and serrano peppers to my mother-in-law and she showed me how to preserve the peppers for use throughout the winter. I was shocked at how easy this task was.

pepper paste

Preserve Your Peppers – Pepper Paste

What you need:

  • a variety of 10 ripe, fresh picked jalapenos & serrano peppers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

What you do:

  1. Cut the stems off of your peppers and de-seed. If you choose to keep your paste spicier, you can use some of the seeds in your paste.
  2. Put your chopped peppers and olive oil in to a food processor and grind in to a paste.
  3. Put your paste in a sterilized ball jar or a used jelly jar. (in the photo, you can see we used a jelly jar)
  4. Store your paste in the refrigerator throughout the winter for use in a variety of dishes.

pepper harvest

Easy right? I’ve read through many different recipes that prompt you to roast your peppers prior to canning them, but I’ve chosen to keep my peppers raw. 

I’m anxious to use my peppers in a variety of dishes including:

Sweet Jalapeño CornbreadJalapeño Popper Cornbread Waffles (this could be made vegan), Cornbread Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers (with whipped Maple Butter?), Pineapple Basil (jalapeno) Salad, Pickled Jalapeños, Jalapeño Jam, Sweet and Sour Peppers

Love

Crista