Archive for November 2013

Weekend Adventures // Birthday Brunch

They tell you you're supposed to make a wish on your birthday. The cake arrives with candles randomly place amongst thick colored icing; each flame marking the years of your life. At seven, I wished to be nothing more than a Disney princess. At 16, a car, so I didn't have to ride the bus to school anymore. At 21, a new boyfriend was all I wanted. If maturity is measured by your wishes, this year I think I've grown up a lot. For my 27th birthday, all I wished for was a weekend spent with my lover, some great friends, and good brunch. 
Wish granted. 

You can't do brunch without home fries. They are my jam. Slathered with ketchup or hot sauce, these crispy taters never stay around for long. Brunch isn't complete without something sweet to nibble on in between coffee slurps. I haven't made muffins in a while, so maybe I've forgotten or just have progressed in my baking abilities, but I was so impressed how easy these vegan banana walnut muffins came together. 

Moments spent around our dinner table that morning consisted of storytelling, awkward pauses, lots of mimosas, and mouths full of food. Eventually the conversation turned to running, something everyone of us have in common. It's a comfortable place to be, surrounded by runners. Brunch and runners, that's what I want for every birthday. 
That and more mimosas.  

Gotta give props to Kelsey for thinking to add the orange juice to my original pear mimosa recipe. It jazzed it up a notch and to be honest, tasted way better than just the pear by itself. 

Pear & Orange Mimosa

 pear nectar
orange juice
 lime, cut into slices

You can either buy pear nectar or make your own. 
To make your own, peel and core about 4 cups worth of pears. Puree the pears in a food processor. In a saucepan add 3 cups of water, 3/4 cups of sugar, and the pureed pears. Cook on medium until the sugar is well dissolved and the pears have cooked down some. Pour out the mixture through a sieve to strain out the lumps. Pour in a jar and store in fridge. 

To make your drink - fill your glass halfway with champagne, top the glass off with half pear nectar and half orange juice. Squeeze and drop in a wedge of lime. 

Then get your brunch on. 

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Roasted Squash, Kale, and Walnut Crumble Pizza

"Just like becoming an expert in wine - you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford - you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences." -Julia Childs

 Even in the midst of our chaotic kitchen renovation, there will always be time to cook. At moments, it seems like an obstacle... the kitchen is covered in plaster dust, but we are hungry, so therefore I cook. But more often than not I carve out time because I relish it and I want to continue developing this skill. To analyze the food, share it with my loved ones, and explore those experiences; that is my wish. 

Spending the whole afternoon cooking, styling, and photographing food with my mom is one of those experiences that is meant to be explored again and again. Not only do I learn immensely from her, but there is also a craft to cooking with someone else. Clear communication, mutual respect for each other's suggestions, and an open mind compose a beautiful cooking relationship. It's a wonder when you can create something by yourself, but the reward is tenfold when it is done with someone you love. 

This pizza is to die for. My luck with pizza crust is hit and miss, so when I saw Kate's recipe for an easy pizza dough, I knew my mom and I had to test this out. Combined with an original pizza sauce recipe and killer toppings, this is my go-to pizza for this fall.  

Roasted Squash, Kale, and Walnut Crumble Pizza


Pizza Crust - adapted from Cookie & Kate
1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees
1 TB sugar
1 TB olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 whole wheat pastry flour
1 3/4 all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

Squash Pizza Sauce
1 golden acorn squash (about 1 1/2 cups), roasted
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp thyme (sage works just as well) 
1 head of garlic, roasted in olive oil (using only 3-4 in sauce)

Pizza Toppings
1/2 cup walnuts
1 1/2 TB Braggs (or soy sauce) 
4 cups kale, roughly chopped, sautéed
1/2 onion, chopped and caramelized
4-5 cloves from rest of roasted garlic head

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
2. Mix water, sugar, oil, and yeast together. Set aside for 5 minutes on oven to warm & let proof. 
3. Mix flours, salt, and water together in food processor or knead by hand until combined. 
4. Dust your counter with flour and either roll or hand shape the dough. I prefer this method
5. Transfer dough to a lightly greased baking sheet. 
6. Pre-bake on 450 degrees for 5 minutes. 
7. While the pizza is baking mix squash, salt, nutritional yeast, thyme, & 3-4 garlic cloves in food processor. 
8. Puree and slowly add in water to your desired consistency. 
9. Spread sauce over pre-baked pizza crust. 
10. Process walnuts until you get small "crumbles." 
11. Mix Bragg's or soy sauce into walnuts and saute light on medium heat. 
12. Add sautéed kale, roasted garlic cloves, caramelized onions, and walnut crumbles to pizza. 
13. Bake for 12 minutes or until crust is crispy at 425 degrees. 

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Sweet, Savory, & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

I'm so bad at celebrating any kind of holiday. This year for Halloween Zach really wanted to get a pumpkin to carve and light for when we had trick-r-treaters... all I wanted was the pumpkin seeds and the leftover candy. Priorities, people! Needless to say, I hoarded the seeds (and some candy) to make a toasted pumpkin seed trio that next day.

Sweet, Savory, & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Sweet - 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds & 1/4 cup maple syrup
Savory - 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1 TB oil, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Spicy - 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1 tsp wasabi powder (mixed with water), dash of sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Mix pumpkin seeds with desired flavorings. 
Spread pumpkin seeds evenly on a baking sheet. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crispy.  

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Weekend Adventures // Camping at Manistee National Forest

"Doesn't last night's reality seem so far away?" 
It's funny how quickly we forget discomfort. That the moment we get back into our comfort zone, we tend to forget that once felt strain. Zach's question immediately prompted thoughts of our camping trip to Manistee National Forest; the restlessness and beauty of this weekend adventure indeed seemed ages ago. 

Camping isn't made to be completely tranquil and this is one of the reasons we love it. If it were meant to be effortless, then we might as well stay home and do nothing. Hiking several miles to a preferred campsite, attempting to build a fire with wet wood, and sleeping in 20 degree weather are not painless, but reward comes from overcoming these obstacles, for "surviving" if you will. 

Talking with Zach about these small obstacles we overcame this weekend made me realize how weak and fragile we truly are when we stay in our comfort zones. I felt like I was a baby for being so sore after sleeping one night on the ground and that my arches hurt from miles of hiking. Had I coddled myself too much? Shielded myself from the elements? It made me instantly feel blessed for the luxuries we have, but ashamed at the same time for being so spoiled. 

This absentmindness about discomfort is why we cherish our weekend adventures. They are constant reminders of explorations forgotten. Reminders that there is always more to see, more to experience, more to feel. 

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