Vegetarian & Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Potato Skins

Shepherd's Pie Potato Skins (Vegan & Vegetarian versions)

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here and every year my husband and I throw a party to celebrate the awesome food, music, and jovial spirit of the Irish!  Some of our favorite musicians (Imelda May, The Tossers, The Pogues, Glen Hansard) will fill the air of our house as we join in merriment with our dear friends.  And of course, one of my favorite parts about it is the food!  I love to come up with variations on Irish dishes and this year I’ve turned the quintessential Irish dish — Shepherd’s Pie — into an appetizer.  I did a vegetarian version (topped with Irish cheddar cheese) and a vegan version (topped with mashed potatoes)…they’re both insanely delicious and will have you tapping your toes to an Irish jig!

Fruitive – #LiveYourHealth

Fruitive Logo

I’m so excited to be this week’s featured blogger for Fruitive’s Recipe Friday Series!  Fruitive is a plant-based, organic, locally-sourced restaurant and juice company located in Virginia Beach.  Everything about them is amazing!  They’re dedicated to sustainability and promoting healthy lifestyles, and their motto — Live Your Health. Live Your Values. —  beautifully sums up their passionate philosophy.  The wonderful folks behind Fruitive created the hashtag #LiveYourHealth to spread the word.  Head over to their website for delicious, nutritious recipes and to read up on this incredible company!  Plus, you can order their juices online!!  And if you’re in the Virginia Beach area, check out their restaurant!

I shared 2 of my favorite salad recipes over on their #LiveYourHealth Blog: Shredded Carrot Salad with Cilantro and Lime and Apple Kale Salad with Curry Vinaigrette.

Shredded Carrot Salad

Apple Kale Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

Whole-Clementine Poppy Seed Pound Cake with Earl Grey Glaze

Clementine Poppy Seed Pound Cake with Earl Grey Glaze

Little cuties, clementines, mandarin oranges, tangerines…they’re all (nearly) the same thing.  They’re small, sweet, often seedless oranges.  My family eats quite a few when they’re in season – during winter – so I try to use them in a variety of ways, from sweet to savory, sauces to beverages, zest to juice.  For this recipe, I experimented and used the whole fruit.  ALL of it.  No separate zesting, juicing, or dividing segments; you just puree the whole dang thing.  The flavor is incredible!!

Crock Pot Refried Beans

Crock Pot Refried Beans

Lately, I’ve been falling back in love with my crock pot.  I tend to use it in cycles – I go for months without thinking about it and then all of the sudden it becomes a near-permanent fixture on my counter top.  I decided to lug it out recently to get better at using the many pounds of dried beans I have, one of my New Year’s cooking goals.  The wonderful thing I’ve discovered is that there’s no need to pre-soak the beans!

I’ve been cooking different kinds of beans overnight in the crock pot, then leaving them in the garage until I get home from work (it’s been cold enough for that lately!).  When I get home, I use them in soups, salads, or to make veggie burgers.  This recipe came about in a slightly different way…snow days!!  Stuck inside for days, I was craving chips and dip.  I wanted something hearty, warm, easy, healthy, and spicyish.  Refried beans sounded perfect, and would make a dent in the 5 lb. bag of dried pinto beans I’ve got…bulk buying!

Baked Chocolate-Espresso Donuts with Blood Orange Glaze & Candied Blood Oranges

Baked Chocolate-Espresso Donuts with Blood Orange Glaze & Candied Blood Oranges
Valentine’s Day this year falls on a Saturday, so I’m using that to my advantage and treating my sweetheart to a sweet breakfast in bed!  These vegan chocolate-espresso donuts are light and fluffy and covered with a blissfully pink blood orange sugar glaze (no need for food coloring!).  And to make them extra special, they’re topped with candied blood orange slices for an extra kiss of sweet citrus!  Cupid would totally give me a high-five!

Chocolate Chip Coconut Oat Muffins

Chocolate Chip Coconut Oat Muffins

If there was only one muffin recipe I could make for the rest of my life, this would be it!  These are so SO good and filling but not too dense and perfectly moist and sweet but not too sweet and the topping…THE TOPPING, is beyond.  Loaded with heart healthy oats, shredded coconut, and a smattering of chocolate chips, this muffin is substantial.  One will fill you up – it’s like a bowl of oatmeal in delicious muffin form!

Citrusy Kale Salad with Avocado, Chickpeas and Cashews

Citrusy Kale Salad with Avocado, Chickpeas and Cashews

Folks, I need lots of salad these days.  Though I always go into the holiday season with the best intentions of not over-doing the sweets, the drinks, and the fatty carbs, I still consistently manage to wake up in late January wondering why none of my jeans fit.  I usually try to blame it on the dryer – they shrunk! – but I know that’s not the case.  It’s time to face reality and get back on track.  This salad is here to set me straight!

DIY Flavored Coconut Butters – Sweet and Savory

DIY Flavored Coconut Butters - Sweet and Savory
Easy.  Delicious.  Nutritious.  Affordable.   Skip those $10 – $15 jars of expensive coconut butter and DIY it!  I bought a 5-pound bag of organic unsweetened shredded coconut for $13 and made my own jar of coconut butter for about 60 cents!  It’s easy and you can add all kinds of flavorings to suit your condiment needs.  I made a Vanilla Cinnamon version and a Yellow Curry version.  Sweet.  Savory.

Shredded Carrot Salad with Cilantro and Lime

Shredded Carrot Salad

Happy 2015!  I took a few weeks off of blogging – spent time with family and friends, enjoyed the holidays, read a few cookbooks, relaxed a lot – and now I’m back in the game with this super simple and majorly delicious carrot salad!  I’m tempted to say this is for a New Year’s healthy eating resolution, but it’s not.  It just happens to be a healthy salad that came about from me getting a new vegetable peeler that I’m in love with.  It’s got a super sharp blade, is light and easy to hold and really fun to use…plus it’s very inexpensive!  I did make one resolution this year, though, and that was to give more high fives.  Yeah!