White Chocolate Covered Peppermint Biscotti

White Chocolate Covered Peppermint Biscotti

The holidays are about here and I’ve been working on my cookie game.  How are you doing with yours?  Do you have a favorite cookie recipe you always make for the holidays?  I usually go with something simple like a sugar cookie or ginger molasses cookie, but this year I decided to step it up a notch and make biscotti.  (Plus, secretly/not so secretly I want to pretend I’m in Italy.)  To holiday-fy these biscotti I added crushed candy canes and dipped them in white chocolate.  Italians would totally put candy canes in their biscotti, right?

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Lemon Thyme Polenta Bites with Arugula Pesto & Mushrooms

Lemon Thyme Polenta Bites with Arugula Pesto & Mushrooms

Hello and welcome to the 2014 Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I’m so excited to be part of the VVP this year and want to give a huge shout-out to Annie, Angela and Poppy for organizing this worldwide virtual foodie event!  Be sure to check out all the awesome vegan recipes by way of the Go Forward/Go Backward buttons at the bottom of this post.  You can also go back and start at the beginning of the potluck chain.  Have fun, get hungry and enjoy!

Apple Kale Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

Apple Kale Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

Restraint and I are not the closest of friends.  I may have overdone it a bit on Halloween and the day after.  So much candy.  So many drinks.  Such a good time.  And that’s why kale was invented.  It’s our reset button.  Kale is our designated driver, our friend that reminds us to not eat that 10th mini snickers bar.  Kale sets us straight, makes us right.  And this salad does just that in the most delicious way possible!

Dill Pickle Grilled (Goat) Cheese Sandwiches & Creamy Tomato – Dill Soup

Dill Pickle Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches & Creamy Tomato - Dill Soup
Winter is over (’bout dang time!).  Spring produce isn’t quite ready (asparagus, I’ve got plans for you).  But I’m already craving the familiar flavors of summer…tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and dill to name a few.  Lately, I’ve really needed a hot-weather food fix.  So I decided to seek solace in the comfort of my pantry and freezer.  Last summer my dad taught me how to can tomatoes and pickles.  This is a life skill no Bloody Mary-loving, spicy pickle-obsessed gal (or dude) should be without.  It ranks right up there with knowing how to change a car tire (which I don’t) and knowing when to pull the pot off the heat before the sugar burns when making kettle corn (which I do!).   Priorities, amiright?

Glazed Pear Donuts with Salted Caramel Drizzle

Glazed Pear Donuts with Salted Caramel Drizzle

Throughout the week, I stick to a pretty consistent, healthy breakfast routine.  Yogurt and granola, oatmeal, fresh fruit, or a breakfast smoothie…something along those lines.  And then, Saturday rolls around…and…DONUTS.  It’s really quite simple.  Weekends were made for donuts.  And donuts always make weekends better.  They’re the type of breakfast food that says, JUST CHILL.  Enjoy the morning, stay in your pajamas a little longer, linger at the table with your steamy cup of coffee, favorite magazine, and eat that second (third?) donut.  Just because.  It’s the weekend.  Besides, they’re baked donuts, soooooo it’s ok.

Some baked donuts can be rather dry or too dense, but these donuts are fluffy and super moist from the finely diced pears.  Spiced up a bit with cinnamon and ginger, then dunked into a pear-cream cheese glaze and topped off with decadent gooey salted caramel sauce.

Salad Greens with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Tempeh Sticks and Balsamic-BBQ Dressing

Salad Greens with Roasted Sweet Potato, Tempeh Sticks and Balsamic BBQ Dressing
This salad was born from a glorious idea a friend gave me.  Something so simple, so quick it’s really a non-recipe recipe:  slice up some tempeh, saute it, then dip it in barbecue sauce.  I think that little idea changed my life.  Who doesn’t need one more option of something to dip into barbecue sauce?  After that, I realized it was my duty as a citizen of this earth to pass along that gem.  You’re welcome.

But what else can I do with that?  I needed to find it a veggie companion, without dismissing the barbecue sauce.  I have a box of sweet potatoes in the basement, so they were destined to enter the picture.  At the end of the farmers market last season, I purchased a 25 lb. box of sweet potatoes for $25 to last me through the winter.  That was the end of October and I’m just now starting to see the bottom of the box.  The farmers don’t clean the dirt off the potatoes so they’ll keep longer, and they have!  I highly recommend it if you have that option.  So, sweet potatoes, check!  I had a golden beet in the fridge along with some red onion and goat cheese.  And the BBQ sauce?  Let’s turn that into a dressing!  Hows about a salad?  Let’s do it!

Blood Orange Honey Bread with Sunflower Seeds

Blood Orange Honey Bread with Sunflower Seeds
Blood oranges are deceptive.  They look all orange-y on the outside and then when you cut into one, it’s like BAM!  Deep burgundy red!  It’s straight up trickery.  Their flavor?  Another little surprise.  They’re not as in-your-face sweet as “regular” oranges; they’re more complex.  It’s kind of a grapefruit + cherry situation going on, with subtle floral notes hanging out in the background.  They’re sorta magical and a bit wicked; I’ll definitely be making a cocktail with the juice…hello, bloody martini anyone?  YES!

But on a more proper note, let’s put them in bread, a quick bread.  This healthyish bread is made with greek yogurt, applesauce, honey, white whole wheat flour and sunflower seeds.  No refined sugar.  No butter or oil.  It makes a great breakfast topped with sunflower seed butter and a little drizzle of honey.  You could also toast it and put a scoop of ice cream on top for a simple dessert.  Or, do as the British do and serve it with tea in the afternoon…ginger tea would pair nicely!  Brilliant…bloody brilliant!

Books + Soup: Winter Reading and Eating

Winter reading list

Books and soup, a marriage made in polar vortex heaven. They’re a perfect pair; they go together like Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (just can’t get enough Sherlock). This winter, my reading seems to be about discovery…or rediscovery.  I’ve been delving back into some cookbooks I’d shelved for a couple years (Power Foods and Forks Over Knives), getting super stoked about new recipes and techniques in the kitchen (The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and Wild Fermentation), and FINALLY reading some Michael Pollan (I’ve read several essays and articles by him, but not one of his books).  I’m also about halfway through Outliers by Malcome Gladwell (more on that in a minute).  I’m not the best at reading BOOK-books; I usually just read cookbooks.  And I do mean I read them; I love reading recipes.  My husband will sit in bed at night with a book-book — ya know, lots of words, no pictures — while I sit in bed with cookbooks, reading recipe after recipe and ogling the beautiful food photos. But I am trying to read more non-cookbook books and cram some knowledge into this food-obsessed brain.

Golden Beet Soup with Cumin and Lime Sour Cream

Golden Beet Soup with cumin and lime sour cream

This is sunshine soup.  It’s the the kind of soup that will cheer you up in the dead of winter.  In fact, just peeling and dicing the beets, exposing their brilliantly yellow flesh, put a great big smile on a my face.  There’s just something about that color – sunny, warm, cheerful – that will wash away all the gray, stuck-indoors feelings of a frigid January.  Smokey cumin and spicy red pepper flakes evoke the cradling heat of a dry Mexican desert while a burst of lime leaves you resting on the white beaches of a tropical getaway.  Daydream.  Forget about winter for just a moment and brighten your day with this sunshine soup!

golden beets

Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion Pizza

Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion Pizza

The truth of this recipe is…I just wanted to put caramelized onions on something.  Anything.  I think about them all the time.  Some (normal) folks think about where to plan their summer vacation or what book they’d like to read next.  Me?  I daydream about crisp, robust onions cooked so slowly and softly that their internal sugars give up and melt down into a sweetened, intensely aromatic, amber-colored puddle of savory fascination.  I might be in love with them.  The problem is, I’m always wanting to make them but can’t seem to commit to the hour it takes to develop their insanely sweet-savory flavor combo.  That’s some precious daylight, if you know what I mean.  So, here’s the deal.  Just do it.  Make a double batch.  They’re worth it.  So, so worth it.  You can spread it like a jam onto sourdough, stir it into pasta, load it on a baked potato, or even mix it with cream cheese for a dip.  But first, try it on pizza.  While the onions are doing their thing, you can roast the sweet potatoes, make the sage brown butter and get the dough ready.  Then, it all comes together like one happy, cheesy family.  And your house will smell like a dream.

Caramelization…the process.

caramelizing onions