Soup in the Summer: Spicy Thai Curry

thaicurrysoupI must confess, if I could eat soup everyday for dinner I would. I am pretty sure I ate a bowl of tomato soup with noodles for dinner almost every night in college. The only problem I have with finding recipes is that generally, a lot of soups call for animal stock. I try to maintain a vegetarian diet so this isn’t super ideal, however I have found that curry and coconut milk-based soups often call for veggie stock.

Honestly, I don’t know why I made this…it’s hotter than hell outside, and this soup is spicy…but alas, there are only so many salads you can eat in the summer. It’s a nice change to pace, super hardy, and has a lot of good veggies in it. Bonus points for the fact that you can make it vegan!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 tbs. ginger (chopped fine)
  • 2 tbs red curry paste
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch of baby bok choy
  • 4.5 c. veggie broth (or chicken if you wish)
  • 1 sweet potato (cut into chunks)
  • 1/4 c. shredded carrots
  • 13 oz. can of light coconut milk
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbs fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 c. rice noodles
  • 1/4 red onion (optional garnish)
  • 1 lime (optional garnish)
  • sriracha (optional garnish)
  • sprouts (optional garnish)

Directions:

  • In a pan, on medium heat, add the oil, garlic, and red curry and cook for a few minutes until mixed.
  • In a soup pot, mix the veggie stock, ginger, sweet potatoes, carrot, red pepper flakes, and the stalk of the bok choy (chopped up, leaves separated). Add the garlic curry mix and set to boil. Once the mix has boiled for a few minutes, set to simmer until the potatoes are soft. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
  • Add brown sugar, fish sauce (if desired), and coconut milk and stir. Let simmer a few minutes.
  • Add the rice noodles to the simmering pot and allow them to cook until the noodles are soft.
  • Pour soup into a bowl and sprinkle juice from a lime wedge on top. Add sprouts, sriracha, and onion to the top and enjoy.

Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake!

CORNERIt’s been quite the week so far! I got a really great promotion at work (woohoo Manager of Communications), we are so close to finishing up our living room project, Mr. JD and I just booked a much needed vacation, AND I found the most adorable old dresser at the thrift store that I will turn into a coffee bar (stay tuned for more on that). $9, solid wood—awesome!

To celebrate, I decided to make one of my husband’s favorite cakes, the classic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. I must confess, I snagged the ingredients to make the cake for my mother-in-law, who came to help us peel wallpaper (UGH!), but the recipe makes two, one layer cakes, so it was actually kind of perfect.

This recipe isn’t vegan (you can make it vegan with egg beaters and Earth Fare vegan butter), but it is super easy—I basically follow the boxed ingredients and make it slightly healthier and add a secret ingredient! This recipe is super flavorful and reminds me of summer, it’s also not too sweet and not too rich, which is great because I hate the taste of butter!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large jar of pineapple rings, plus juice
  • 6 maraschino cherries
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. light brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. vanilla
  • 1 box pineapple upside down cake mix
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg with yolk
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • Coconut oil non-stick spray
  • 2 round baking pans

Directions:

IMG_20160412_183317First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out all of your ingredients. Next, open your can of pineapples and remove two full ring and place them in a bowl; leave the juice and the rest of the pineapple rings in the can. Next, open the bag of cake mix and empty into a large mixing bowl. Add two egg whites and one whole egg to the mix, in addition to 1/3 c. oil. Next, in lieu of water, add 1 c. pineapple juice. This keeps the cake super flavorful and moist, which allows you to cut some of the fat out of the cake (I like to use egg whites whenever possible). Mix the ingredients together with a hand mixer until completely smooth.

Next, in a separate bowl, melt the butter and the brown sugar. While this is in the microwave, spray your baking pans with cooking spray and get ready to arrange your pineapples. You can arrange these however you want, I like to take a knife and cut through the rings, essentially halving the pineapple rings and then arrange them in a pan so they will make a pretty design. Place three maraschino cherries in the center of the pan. Next, remove the butter and sugar mix from the microwave and add the vanilla, stir then empty into the two pans all over the pineapple. Next add the cake batter to the pan, making sure you spread the batter to the edges.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Each pan and oven is different, you’ll know when the cake is finished because it will pass the toothpick test and it will be a golden brown. Set the cakes to cool on a rack for about 40 minutes. Next, you are going to flip over the cooled cake after running a knife around the edges of the pan. Once you have flipped over the cake pan onto a plate give all sides of the pan a little knock with a spoon. This will help the cake loosen and fall from the pan beautifully.

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Last, enjoy with some orange spice tea (my style) or with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream (Mr. JD style). 🙂

 

 

Refreshing Lavender & Mint Lemonade!

a title hereOne of the things I love most about Spring and Summer is drinking an ice cold beverage on a hot day, ideally swinging on my porch and reading something fun. Ninety percent of the time I opt for fruit-infused water, but every now and then I want super cold lemonade–especially if I have people coming over.

This lemonade is super quick, very easy and can be spiked if you are so inclined! I enjoy this, usually with something spicy, like the vegan tacos my husband made yesterday! The best part is that this recipe costs less than $5 and tastes like a fancy mocktail.

Ingredients

  • Frozen Lemonade
  • 7 Mint Leaves
  • 2 Lemons
  • 5 tbs. lavender syrup, get the recipe here
  • Ice cubes
  • Water

Directions

Follow the directions on the can of frozen lemonade, typically it will tell you to add between 3-4 cans of water. Whatever the directions are add another half cup of water to it. Stir until the frozen lemonade is completely mixed. Next, cut one lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both halves into the lemonade mixture. Stir. Next, add the lavender syrup. I never make this very strong, but you can add more to taste if you like. Lastly, add your mint leaves, lemon slices from your leftover lemon, and add plenty of ice, then mix and let it steep.

If you are having an evening gathering and want to kick it up, you can always add citrus vodka instead of the extra water.

Super cheap, super easy, super delicious and summery!

Oolala! Lavender Syrup Cocktails & Mocktails

oolalaIt’s been awhile–who knew migrating a website could be so time consuming? Needless to say, with everything going on at work recently, I’ve needed (with what little time I have off) to relax.

I have some friends at work who are into essential oils and told me lavender works wonders for sleep, anxiety, and stress—so the next time I went to my favorite local coffee shop I ordered a Tangerine Lavender Honey Latte and fell in love! Not only does lavender smell wonderful, it’s delicious–very delicate and floral.

Because I rarely drink soda, wine, beer, juice, or dairy this leaves me with a lot of water, coffee, and tea. I discovered that adding lavender simple syrup to cold and hot tea, sparkling water, and coffee is truly amazing. There’s

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Tangering, Lavender, Honey Soy Latte

nothing like throwing some herbs, fruit, and garnish into some sparkling water for a nice mocktail or cocktail if you’re having people over and have some vodka on hand.

Here’s the recipe to make lavender simple syrup and a recipe for my favorite mocktail/cocktail:

Lavender Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup purified water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 3 tbs lavender
  • purple food coloring (if desired)

Add the water and sugar to a small sauce pan and stir, then add the lavender and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir and bring down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain our the lavender buds using cheesecloth and store in a mason jar. Your simple syrup will end up a caramel color, but if you want it to look more purple you can add a bit of food coloring (red and blue).

Store in the fridge for up to a week.

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Citrus, Cucumber, Lavender Mocktail

My Favorite Lavender Mocktail

  • La Croix Orange Sparkling Water
  • 2 Crushed Basil Leaves or a Slice of Cucumber if Basil is too strong for you
  • Slice of Lemon
  • Lavender Simple Syrup to taste

My Favorite Lavender Cocktail

  • Large shot of vodka in a cocktail glass
  • Heavy Splash of Grapefruit Juice
  • Soda Water
  • A Few Crushed Mint Leaves
  • Lavender Simple Syrup to taste (I like about a tablespoon)

Pro Tip: If you have a friend who works at a non-profit in a development capacity, recruit them to be a bartender at your wedding/event, hell recruit them to coordinate your entire event/wedding. We have all had to play double duty at fundraising events as a event coordinator/bartender/florist and have learned quite a few tricks! I know more about linens, seating grids, centerpieces, menus, catering, and ordering bistro tables, eight and ten tops than I ever, ever thought I would know.

Lavender may be on the expensive side, HOWEVER, feeling relaxed with a delicious drink is priceless—so tune out all of your work worries, miserable, mean people, loud kids, and have a delicious drink with a few friends!

 

Vegan Smoothie Bowl & Mixtape Monday!

Most people hate Mondays. I, however, am kind of a fan. Mondays give you the chance to detox from the last week (if it was kind of a bummer), you are rested from the weekend, and no one bothers you from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at work because everyone’s just trying to get through the influx of email that happened over the weekend. As I said though, not everyone is a fan…

IMG_20151207_141158For those who get a total case of the Mondays, I am offering you two pick-me-ups. 1) a recipe for a killer vegan smoothie bowl and 2) a mixtape Monday playlist that will give you the motivation to kick Monday’s ass.

Vegan Smoothie Bowl

The premise of a smoothie bowl seems like perfection: blend your smoothie and sprinkle delicious and nutritious things on top. Though this doesn’t seem super portable, you can toss everything into a mason jar and you’re good to go!

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Indgredients

  • Medium sized ripe banana
  • 1 c. dairy-free milk (I used vanilla almond)
  • A few ice cubes (pro tip: you can nix the ice if you freeze the banana in chunks ahead of time!)
  • 1 heaping tbs. of nut butter
  • organic granola
  • flaxseed
  • fruit

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Directions

The directions are really simple (which is awesome). Place the nut butter, ice cubes, dairy-free milk, and banana in the blender and mix until smooth. Pour in a bowl or mason jar and sprinkle with flax, granola, and fruit—blueberries and strawberries are a delicious addition! This has tons of protein, calcium, folic acid, antioxidants, and heart healthy stuff! Yum.

Mixtape Monday

Music is where I go when I need to get amped up or decompress from something. Tackling a full work day, shaking off a crappy person and their crappy passive aggressive comments, getting over a hurtle, needing motivation. Hence, this play list…take a listen and don’t let ’em get you down–especially on a Monday!

 

 

Vegan Three Bean Sweet Potato Chili!

VEGAN THREE BEAN SWEET POTATOCHILLI

IMG_20151122_175730Real talk…I just ate cereal and almond milk for dinner, but we’re here to talk about last night’s dinner! I made some supremely delicious, flavorful, and easy Vegan Three Bean Sweet Potato Chili. My in-laws have family dinner once a month and if I thought I could get away with feeding them something vegan, I would totally make this because it’s hearty, makes enough for a big family, and is really filling.

IMG_20151122_180435In the land of Cincinnati Chili, which I hear is made with cinnamon, chocolate, or a combination of the two (served over spaghetti), there are any number of fast-food style chili places to enjoy a bowl, like Skyline Chili. I’ve never eaten at one of these places, frankly, I would rather eat a giant bloody steak before I patronized one of these chili places, which is why I make my own.

IMG_20151122_181620The sweet potatoes, beans, brown rice, and vegan crumbles provide plenty of protein, so as a veggie this is something great to eat when I feel like my iron and protein is low.

 

 

IMG_20151122_192141Ingredients:

  • Chili powder – if you’re in a pinch I use Chili-O, but if I have time I love this recipe from Whole New Mom.
  • 2 cans of chili beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans
  • 2 cans of chili ready tomatos
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes
  • 1.4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbs. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic.
  • brown rice
  • Morning star meatless crumbles
  • 1 large sweet potato

Directions: 

  • Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, brown sugar, pepper flakes, hot sauce, and garlic to a large pot and mix it all together. Set on medium low or toss it in a crock-pot on medium. I typically don’t drain the beans or tomatoes because when you add rice is absorbs some of the liquid and you need at least a little or else it will burn.
  • Peel and chop up your sweet potato into small chunks and toss these into your pot/slow cooker along with your frozen veggie crumbles.
  • If you are cooking in a pot, let the mixture simmer for 1 hour, if you are using a slow cooker, set it on medium or low for 3 hours.
  • Once your sweet potatoes are just about firm add the uncooked rice. The rice will cook right in the pot and thicken your chili. This will take about another half hour in a pot or an hour in a crock pot.

IMG_20151122_192239If you are into not being strictly vegan (which most of my friends aren’t) I usually provide plain greek yogurt to top off the chili in lieu of sour cream.

 

The meal is perfect for the cold weather and it’s packed with fiber, protein, and flavor. Also it smells really good and is easy to cook in a cock pot—bonus points!

Christmas in a Crock-Pot: Slower Cooker Apple Crisp!

Merry Christmas!
I have a confession to make: I fully support the Christmas Creep. There’s nothing I love more than that feeling you get around the holidays. I love seeing Christmas trees in the stores…the other day I saw this dinosaur Menorah on Etsy and I missed the beautiful temples back in New England. I just love the holidays; Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus—I love it all!

IMG_20151108_183349Above all, my favorite is this certain Christmas smell that reminds me of a combination of cinnamon, cold air, and a cozy home. It’s. my. favorite. So, of course, I decided to make the most cinnamon-y thing I could think of, Crock-Pot Apple Crisp.

Because I was making this for other people besides myself, I made it with caramel—however this can easily be made vegan with a few swaps.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Honeycrisp Apples (I don’t peel the skin because it’s good for you, but if you choose to use 5 apples)
  • 1/2 c. Maple Syrup
  • 3/4 c. Brown Sugar, parted into 1/2 c. and 1/4 c.
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 3 tbs Cinnamon Powder
  • 2 tbs Nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. Flour
  • 1/2 c. Oats
  • 1/2 stick butter (swap out for 1/4 c. coconut oil if making vegan)
  • 1/2 bag caramel chips (or use this recipe for vegan caramel)

IMG_20151108_184516Directions:

  • Cut apples into small pieces and put into a bowl. Again, I keep the skins on because they are nutritious, but totally not a requirement.
  • Mix the 1/2 c. Maple Syrup, 1/2 Brown Sugar, Cinnamon Powder, Nutmeg, and a few caramel chips in the bowl with the apples and mix together. If you are using the vegan caramel throw in a few teaspoons.
  • In a separate bowl, add the 1/2 c. Flour, 1/2 c. Oats, Melted Butter (or coconut oil), and 1/2 bag caramel chips (or 1 c. vegan caramel sauce) and mix.
  • Add your apples to the bottom of your crock pot, add the oat mix to the top of the apples, then throw in the cinnamon sticks.
  • Turn your crock-pot onto low and cook for 4 hours. You can certainly cook it for less time than 4 hours if you like your apples a little more firm. Sadly, I have to cook the apples until they are about mush because I have a weird fruit allergy and can’t eat the apple skin unless its fully cooked.
  • Serve warm topped with frozen yogurt or coconut ice cream if you are staying vegan!

IMG_20151108_220014I love this recipe because I can make it vegan, I can literally toss everything into a slow cooker, and it smells like Christmas all day long. Also, it’s super tasty!