SW Sweet Potato Hors d’oeuvres

First of all, my apologies for not updating my blog in over a month, I have really missed it! My February calendar was packed and then my oven broke, also breaking my heart a little. I had to make stove-top dinners for two weeks! Good thing my hubby and I love stir-fry.

I am excited to share this week’s recipe because I’m not just sharing one recipe; I am sharing three recipes that when put together, make one delicious appetizer. You can take one of the recipes and try it alone if you wish too.

I feel like I am constantly saying, “Oh that food is my favorite!”; I say it so often and about so many different kinds of food that I honestly don’t even know what my true favorite is anymore. I bring this confession up because I love southwestern food! I always have, when I was a kid I tried to put salsa and ranch on everything! Then I discovered guacamole and a whole new love affair was born. This recipe is a southwestern style hors d’oeuvre with all of those wonderful flavors I’ve loved since I was a child.

*Keep scrolling to read about my visit to The Ewam Garden of One Thousand Buddhas.

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Southwestern Sweet Potato Hors d’oeuvres

Prep time: 30 – 35 minutes (unless you have a chopper or food slicer, that’ll cut your time in half.)

Makes 30 – 40 (a rough estimate because it depends on the size of the sweet potato)
Hors d’oeuvres Ingredients:

  • 3 log shaped sweet potatoes (This is my recommendation if you want all your hors d’oeuvres to resemble the same size.)
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil or cooking spray

Guacamole Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados
  • 1 vine ripe tomato seeded and chopped
  • half a red onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and loosely chopped
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tsp. of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. of finely chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste

Pico de gallo Ingredients:

  • 3 vine tomatoes seeded and chopped
  • half a red onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and finely chopped
  • juice from half a lime
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and garlic to taste

Directions:

  1. Set the oven heat to 450º and grease 1-2 baking sheets in olive oil or cooking spray
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes 1/8 inch thick and place them flat on the baking sheets
  3. When the oven is ready, place the baking sheets in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, after 10 minutes pull out the baking sheets and flip the potato slices. Then, place back into the oven and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you want them to get tender, but not crispy or burned.
  4. While the sweet potatoes are baking, make the guacamole and pico de gallo (instructions below).
  5. Assembling: Place the sweet potato slices on your serving platter. Add a dollop of guacamole to each slice, then top the guacamole with a teaspoon of Pico de gallo. If you’re entertaining and want the hors d’oeuvres to look even fancier, garnish with fresh cilantro.

*Always be prepared. You may just find you have left over guacamole and/or pico de gallo, imagine the possibilities! Tacos, burritos or southwest salad!!! Or maybe a yummy snack with tortilla chips. Enjoy!
Guacamole Directions:

  1. Prepare the ingredients (i.e. chopping)
  2. In a food processor add minced garlic, cilantro, and jalapeño. Blend on high for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the avocados. The best way to do this is to slice vertically (avoid slicing through the seed), then squeeze the avocado into the processor (when you squeeze a ripe avocado the seed should pop right out.). Also add the lime juice squeezed from a whole lime and a pinch of salt. Blend in the processor until it is creamy and smooth.
  4. Transfer the avocado mixture to a bowl ( can be a serving bowl or a storage container).
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped red onion. Fold them into the avocado mixture. Adjust the taste with a little more salt or lime juice.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator or serve immediately.

*Even with the lime juice, guacamole does not last long. You’ll want to eat this within one to two days.
Directions for the Pico de gallo:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and toss until the tomatoes and onions are coated evenly. Adjust taste to your liking.

*We love spicy food in our house, which is why I use Jalapeño. But if you are sensitive to spicy foods you can still make these recipes delicious and to your liking. Leave out the Jalapeño. Leave as is or add whatever you want.I recommend adding some cubed mango to the Pico de gallo. Mango is such a good complement to southwestern foods.

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The Ewam Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

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The Ewam Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is a real treasure that can be found in one of the most unexpected places; In the middle of nowhere, tucked between the valley of the surrounding mountains of western Montana. I had come across gorgeous pictures of this place a few years ago and knew it was going to be one of those places I just had to visit and see with my own eyes. My hubby and I recently made the decision to leave Montana within the year, so I honestly never thought I’d get the chance to visit the garden.

My friend and I had an engagement that took us to western Montana, to a town only 20 minutes away from the Ewan Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. When we were done with our engagement, I convinced her that this was a place she would not regret visiting.

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Here is an excerpt from their website http://www.ewambuddhagarden.org/on the purpose of this special place.

“Dedicated as an International Peace Center, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas supports people in cultivating inner peace and in preserving the ancient culture of Tibet. The mission of the Garden is to provide visitors of all faiths with an opportunity to generate profound merit, to reduce global negativities, and to bring about lasting peace. Through the use of the ancient symbols of Buddhism, the Garden awakens one’s natural inner qualities of joy, wisdom, and compassion.” – the Ewam Buddha Garden website.

I am not a Buddhist, but I have studied Buddhism a bit and I have so much respect for their culture and beliefs. Most of my favorite quotes come from the Dalai Lama himself.

“Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.” – Dalai Lama

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When we pulled up, they hadn’t yet opened their gates. So we sat and patiently waited while one of the kind workers came to open the gate and welcome us. I am already completely in love with the mountains and the mountains surround the garden were breath taking. It is the perfect place to find peace.

It was a chilly day with lots of snow and ice on the ground. The meditation pond was frozen over. There was a thick fog rolling in over the mountains and yet it was stunning. I didn’t care that my fingers and toes were starting to freeze, I just drank in the sights. I can’t imagine the kind of beauty inside and out of the garden during late spring and summer.

Here are some more sights from the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas.

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Irish soda bread

Last year I made Irish soda bread for the first time and I really enjoyed it. It’s not sweet like corn bread, but it does have a subtle sweetness to it; which allows it to be used in a variety of ways. It get’s its name from the baking soda in it that is used as leavening agent instead of traditional yeast. It also bakes faster than yeast bread.

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My favorite way to eat Irish soda bread is with either a hearty vegetable stew or chili. It makes for some great comfort food; especially while being cooped up inside during a long freezing winter.

Another yummy way to enjoy it is toasted with a generous spread of marmalade or peanut butter. My hubby will even just eat it plain for a snack. What is your favorite way to eat Irish Soda Bread?

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 3 TBS of raw sugar
  • 4 TBS of vegan butter (Melted)
  • 1 flax egg ( 1 TBS ground flax seed + 2.5 TBS of water. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 Cups of vegan buttermilk ( 1 1/2 Cups of almond milk mixed with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes)

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 425º and grease a 9” round baking dish.
    2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar. Once the dry ingredients are all mixed in, make a well in the center. Add the wet ingredients to the well and then begin to fold it into a dough with either a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
    3. Once the ingredients are mixed in, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead with your hands until the dough has completely come together. Then form the dough into a ball.
    4. Place the dough onto the prepared baking pan and score an X (about a half inch thick) through the top center with a knife. Sprinkle a dusting of flour on top.
    5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350º and bake for another 40 minutes. You want the final color to be a golden brown.
    6. Let cool and enjoy!

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Sweet Potato “BLT”

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Welcome 2018! I am so excited for my first blog post of the new year. It’s a healthier twist on an old classic, the BLT. For this recipe I’ve substituted bacon with sweet potato and the results are savory! Whether your are trying to start the new year with healthier choices, trying to give up meat, or even just looking for a new recipe for your meatless Mondays. I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. It’s easy, quick and most importantly it’s delicious!

Sweet Potato “BLT”

Makes 2-3 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ slices

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS of tamari
  • 1 TBS vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBS Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch of salt

Other Ingredients for assembling you “BLT”:

  • bread of your choice
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • onion
  • avocado
  • vegan mayo (Can be found easily in any grocery store recommendations *not sponsored* JUST MAYO & VEGENAISE)
  • Mustard

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º
  2. Slice the sweet potato
  3. Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl
  4. Cover baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray
  5. Place the sweet potato slices on the baking sheet
  6. Brush the potato slices with the sauce, then flip them over and brush the other side
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, take them out of the oven and flip them over (brush with more sauce if they’re looking too dry.).
  8. Place them back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes
  9. For extra crispy sweet potatoes: After they’re done baking in the oven, toss them in a frying pan until they are slightly brown and crispy.
  10. Assembly sandwich with desired fixings.

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New Year means new chapter

Our Christmas season was very quiet. We decided to stay home for the holidays to save some money. It was a very difficult decision and I hope in the future I won’t have to choose between family or money.

Hubby, Butters, and IMy hubby and I have lived in Montana for nearly five and a half years now. We’ve done a lot of growing, living so far from home and family. Our marriage was still a baby when we moved to Montana, the experiences we’ve faced here could be a challenge to even the most seasoned of marriages, but I am so thankful for these challenges that have helped us build a stronger marriage.

It’s been difficult to face that I needed Montana (I have been homesick for New York more often than not), I needed it to help me grow individually and my marriage needed it so that we could learn to be a proper team. But I can’t help but feel like this chapter of our lives may be coming to an end soon. I certainly find myself more than eager to find out what’s next for us. And I am far less eager to miss anymore Holidays with our families. I have learned my first decade as an “adult” that life doesn’t go in the directions you expect or even hope for, that being said, I do carry high expectations for 2018 and I won’t sit around waiting for my dreams to fall into my lap. It’s time to make shit happen!

So on a lighter note (I can be so intense sometimes) here are some highlights from our Christmas.

Christmas eve Tradition: It’s a wonderful life and pizza (*Daiya did not sponsor this, I just really love their food and love to share my favorite things!). I have watched It’s a wonderful life every Christmas for as far back as I can remember and I cry every single time, without fail!

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Christmas morning we had traditional pancakes with coconut whipped cream on top. Then throughout the day we grazed on a Mexican feast. I had taco soup all warmed in the crock-pot, chickpea/avocado taquitos, mini tacos and of course chips, salsa and guacamole. I decided on a Mexican feast when I was looking for a pick me up, because I was sad about not being in New York. What I ended up with was a new Christmas tradition. Forget all that old outdated traditional Christmas food, a Mexican fiesta is where it’s at for sure!

Over all it was a pretty lazy day, we even ended it by watching the original IT movie (Not very Christmasy). I won’t complain, I love lazy days with my cats and my hubby. I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season! Here’s to an amazing New Year from our family to yours, Happy New Year!

 

Heirloom brown bread and a winter wonderland

Thanksgiving is over. Now the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations begins. I am sad to say that my hubby and I will have to spend our holidays in Montana this season. It’s never an easy decision to make, but when you live 1700 miles away from family these hard choices will often present themselves.

I was blessed with a lovely childhood, I do not take that for granted and I have tried to carry that with me into adulthood and marriage (My journey hasn’t been as effortless as my parents made it look. Though I know there were sacrifices of their own that I did not see.). My family has so many traditions, some classic like watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” the same night we decorate the tree; and some silly ones as well, like always having to stop at the same gas station for coffee and cocoa on our way to grandmas house Christmas day. It’s a cherished lifetime of invaluable memories and instilled in me what really happens when you have traditions. What happens is consistency and quality time, which produces fond memories, which creates hope and excitement for the next time around. I can remember a few of my favorite presents from my childhood, but my fondest memories, the ones I’ve tried to recreate in my own home are the ones that involve my family being together.

A tradition my mom and I have together is baking. She would make several pounds of gingerbread dough and we would decorate dozens of little gingerbread men to share with friends and family. Dad was banned from cookie decorating… I don’t think I need to explain why.

One of our favorite baked goods that’s always on our table during the holiday season is brown bread. It’s basically a loaf of ginger bread. My mom got the recipe from my great grandma Tiffany (One of the most amazing women I have ever met.). I have managed to successfully carry this tradition on into my own household. My husband loves brown bread! I recently looked up the origin of this recipe and was surprised to find that it was created in Boston Massachusetts and in that part of the U.S. it is known as “Boston Brown Bread”. However, the most surprising fact about it’s origin, is that it was originally made in a tin can! It can even still be found sold in a tin can in Boston markets.

I am sharing this delicious recipe with you. It’s very sweet. A slice could be eaten on it’s own with some Earth Balance butter spread on top. It can be served with nice cream. Or served during dinner, which is the way we’ve always served it. It’s origin story said it was always served with baked beans.

Here is my family recipe for Holiday Brown Bread. Read on to hear about our long weekend in the beautiful mountains of Alberta and British Columbia Canada.

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Brown Bread

1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 C of flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 C of sugar
  • 1/2 C of molasses
  • 1 Flax egg (1tbs of ground flax seed and 2 1/2 tbs of water)
  • 1 tbs of vegetable shortening
  • 1 C of boiling water

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven at 325º F
  2. Grease and flour a loaf pan
  3. In a large mixing bowl mix together dry ingredients then stir in the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
  5. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
  6. Take out and let cool.
  7. Serve with dinner, with baked beans, or with your favorite nice cream. *Or you can sneak a slice every couple of hours until you’ve devoured the whole thing like my husband does.

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A winter wonderland

Our adventures in a wintery Canada

Happy snow bunnies

The mountains have a mystical way of drawing us to them. Last weekend my hubby and I venture north to Calgary, Alberta in Canada. We stayed the night in the beautiful city, I miss city life. We had a great place right in the heart of it. What a treasure to look outside and see the skyline all lit up at night.

The next morning we met up with our good Canadian friend and ventured out to the mountains of Banff National Park.

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Banff upper springs

Our first day we walked along a trail just taking the majestic view. We also visited a protected hot spring with an endangered specie of snail only known to Banff Canada. Later in the evening we went swimming in Upper natural hot springs. It was about 30 degrees outside, but the hot spring was about 110 degrees. It was so relaxing.

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The next morning was very cloudy and snowy. We could barely see the mountains anymore. We ventured to the stunning Lake Louis. We couldn’t see the mountains and the lake was frozen and covered with snow. But that didn’t dampen our spirits. The foliage and graceful snow fall  was creating a fairytale beauty all it’s own. We walked along a trail (That I can only assume went around the lake) just admiring the splendor.

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After enjoying the snow for a little while we headed to Emerald Lake in British Columbia. It was still snowing pretty hard there as well, another winter wonderland

We stayed at Emerald Lake Lodge, which I found out later on, that the whole lodge is basically an island in the middle of the lake. I didn’t realize at the time because the lake was frozen over and covered with snow.  At night Emerald Lake transformed into a real life Thomas Kinkaid painting. It was absolutely stunning. Hubby and I spent some time just wandering the little village in awe.

Emerald lake lodge, British Columbia

We Went to bed with no real knowledge that when we woke up the next morning the giant mountains would be smiling down on us. It was like waking up in a new place, with a new kind of beauty.

I felt so humble staring at the vastness of this magnificent mountain. I need to find out it’s true name, but in my mind I keep referring to it as “Grandfather Mountain” because of the respect its presence commands. A stroll through the woods

 

Did I mention I love mountains? Before breakfast, even before coffee, hubby and I eagerly got dressed and headed back out into the snow like a couple of kids.

I don’t know how long we were out there walking around, but its a walk in the snow with my love that I’ll never forget.

Now that the mountains were back out and the sky was blue again, we decided to go back to Lake Louis and she did not disappoint.

Lake Louis

We headed back to Banff’s downtown village for brunch and then said goodbye to the mountains and in Calgary we said goodbye to our good Canadian friend. Then we ventured homeward and reunited with our cherished furbabies.

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The mountains are always calling. They have taken a piece of me and they know it. Now that I love them, they will never let me go. Something happens to me when I am standing in the presence of a mountain. Peace washes over me like a warm bath. I want to run away into the mountains and live in peace.

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Thanksgiving ciabatta stuffing

Winter is here. Winter comes early in this part of the U.S. and it stays for a long time. Some days it can be difficult to shake the winter blues. But it helps to try to see the beauty in things around us. Sometimes winter makes it easy to see the beauty, like the other morning when a thick fog rolled into town and frosted everything from the blades of grass to the tip tops of the trees. I wish I could have gone for a long walk that day to capture some truly magical moments, but alas my day job did not allow it. I did sneak this picture real quick on my way out to my car.

Frosty morning

How about the beauty in those cold, cozy mornings at home? I love a quiet morning with a beautiful wintery sight out my window, nowhere to go and a warm drink in my hand.

You know another beautiful thing about winter? Comfort food. One of the ultimate comfort foods is definitely stuffing. I don’t want to brag but I make awesome stuffing! I’ve had so many people ask me for this recipe after they’ve had a taste and when I have Thanksgiving with family, it’s always a must that I make the stuffing. So skip the boxed stuff and try something new that’ll be a real hit at your Thanksgiving table this year.

If you’re concerned about having yet another dish to prepare, I kept the instructions pretty simple. And I don’t recommend you go with another bread, stick with the ciabatta, it’s the perfect stuffing bread.

Thanksgiving stuffing

Ciabatta and Herb stuffing

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 large loaf of ciabatta bread cut into small cubes
  • 2TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 Celery stalk diced
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 2 Cups of Vegetable stock
  • 2 TBS of fresh chopped sage
  • 2 TBS of fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 TBS of fresh chopped parsley
  • salt
  • black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 375º
  2. Over medium heat, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add carrot, celery, and onion. Cook until the onion is transparent and carrots are soft. Once cooked through, transfer to a glass bowl.
  3. Add stock, sage, rosemary, parsley, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Whisk together.
  4. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with non stick spray or coat in coconut oil.
  5. Add ciabatta cubes to the baking dish.
  6. Pour the stock mixture over the ciabatta bread. stir to coat the bread pieces.
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until it turns golden on top. *I like mine crispy on top so I leave it in a little longer.
  8. Remove and enjoy!

Thanksgiving stuffing

 

Rosemary mashed potatoes & roasted garlic broccoli 

Happy early Thanksgiving! I am devoting this months blog posts to traditional Thanksgiving food with modified recipes for those who want a little bit more from their Thanksgiving dinner.

Tatters

One of this weeks recipes is for a Thanksgiving staple. Mashed Potatoes. It wouldn’t be a real Thanksgiving meal without mashed potatoes. You could ask a many number of people how they prefer their potatoes and could end up with a different answer for all of them. Lumpy, smooth, creamy, garlicy, buttery, ect. The great thing about mashed potatoes, they are so versatile! I love flavor and this recipe is loaded with it.

I use lots of rosemary in this recipe. For me it wouldn’t quite feel like Thanksgiving without the smell of rosemary wafting through the house. I find as I get older holidays become more and more about nostalgia and recreating those magical times when I was a carefree child. When I smell rosemary in my home I can close my eyes and see myself as a kid sitting on the couch, watching the Thanksgiving day parade, with my mom in the kitchen working tirelessly to create her dinner masterpieces.

Chopped rosemary

Sadly, I haven’t been home to New York for Thanksgiving for a couple of years now. But the last time I was home I made the mashed potatoes, this recipe, and it was quite popular. I hope you enjoy it as well.

I also added my favorite recipe for roasted broccoli in this post as well. I don’t associate mashed potatoes without broccoli. To me it makes as much sense as peanut butter and jelly. We love this simple recipe and I make it all the time. In fact, I made it a couple weeks ago as a side dish for another dinner, well the broccoli was finished cooking before everything else and between my husband and I we kept picking at. By the time dinner was done there was no broccoli left to serve on the side. It’s so delicious!

Thanksgiving mashed potatoes

Rosemary mashed potatoes

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes (Not including chopping ingredients)

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 Russet potatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 – 4 cups of unsweetened nut milk
  • 4 Tbs of vegan butter
  • 2 Tbs of finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp of fresh minced garlic
  • 1 – 2 tsp of pink salt (to taste)
  • sprinkle of pepper to taste
  • Cappers for topping

Instructions:

  1. Boil the chopped potatoes on medium high heat until they are soft enough for a fork to stab though. Pour potatoes into a strainer then transfer the potatoes to a large bow. Use a potato masher or a large fork to mash the potatoes. Mash to your desired consistency. I don’t mind lumpy potatoes, but for this recipe I mashed them down smooth.
  2. Once the potatoes are mashed transfer them to a large stew pot. Turn the heat onto medium/low, add 1 cup of milk to start and the butter. Stir in the milk and the butter. As the potatoes heat up you will need to continue to add more milk until your potatoes have reached a nice smooth, creamy consistency.
  3. Once the potatoes are creamy, stir in the rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Taste test and adjust as needed. I like mine extra garlicy myself.
  4. When the potatoes are heated through scoop them in to a serving bowl. Make a small shallow well at the top and add the cappers, or just sprinkle the top with cappers. *For extra pizzazz garnish with a couple sprigs of rosemary.

*If your mashed potatoes are done before other Thanksgiving dishes are ready for serving, wait to transfer to the serving bowl and cover the pot with lid or foil.

Potatoes and broccoli

Roasted Garlic Broccoli

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 – 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 large heads of broccoli
  • olive oil
  • minced garlic ( 2 tsp of garlic powder would work too)
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. preheat oven to 425° and lightly coat a baking pan with non stick spray or olive oil
  2. Chop the head of the broccoli off of the stem, cut florets into small pieces
  3. place the broccoli florets into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 Tbs of olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. stir with a spatula until the florets are coated.
  4. Add the broccoli florets to the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Check after 15 minutes, making sure to flip over the florets. They are cooked, once they’re tender and have only started to brown a little on top.
  5. For serving, place the broccoli florets into a serving bowl.
  6. Enjoy!

Potatoes

Sweet and Sour or Bittersweet?

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The reality of trying to maintain a blog and active blogger Instagram while working a full-time day job is becoming increasingly difficult. It is especially difficult because I rely on natural light for my photography and the days are quickly growing darker earlier and earlier everyday. So by the time I am done making dinner, the sun is gone, along with my chance at a decent picture.

Then my blog depends on how much I have left in me after I am done with a long day or a long week at work. I love food, food photography, and most of all I love sharing it with you! There’s so much negativity on the internet and I feel like my small contribution puts something positive back into the universe; whether it be a pretty picture or a delicious recipe to enjoy.

I need to get better at finding balance, which is difficult when you need your day job…. I remember when I was growing up hearing adults advise choosing a career in something you love to do. I didn’t quite grasp the concept at the time. I was very distracted by different kinds of dreams and ultimately left directionless. There is so much I love to do, from painting, music and food. I had options, why didn’t I pursue them when it would have been easier for me? It’s one of the reasons I started my food blog. I wanted to attempt to pursue one of my passions and see how far I could take it. This week I definitely hit a bump in the road and was tested. It was rough and so disheartening to see my blog take a hit because of it. But here I am attempting to get back on my feet. I love my blog and I love sharing it with you.

So let me continue to share one of my passions with you… This weeks recipe is my husband’s favorite meal,  Sweet and Sour Fritters.

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Sweet & Sour Fritters

Makes 4 servings

Fritters: 20 minutes prep –  20 minutes to bake

Sweet and Sour: 20 minutes to prepare/cook

Recipe Notes:

  • If you want to make this meal as quickly as possible, instead of making your own fritters, there are a lot of great store-bought meatless “meatballs” options. You can find them in almost any store in the vegetarian section of the freezer isle. 
  • If you make the fritters, make them first and while they are baking in the oven start the sweet and sour sauce.

Fritter Ingredients: (12 – 15 fritters)

  • 1 flax egg (1 TBS of ground flaxseed mixed with 2.5 TBS of water)
  • 3 TBS of olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/3 c of panko bread crumbs
  • 1 – 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans (strained and rinsed)

Sweet and Sour Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 – 20 ounce can of pineapple chunks
  • 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper – chopped
  • 2 cups of white rice (We love Basmati!)

Fritter Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º and prep a non-stick baking pan
  2. In a food processor add the flax egg, minced garlic, panko, salt, and 1 TBS of the olive oil. Pulse until the mixture has blended together.
  3. Add the garbanzo beans to the processor. Mix on high, scraping down the edges as needed. Blend until the consistency is like a paste. If the mixture is really dry add another teaspoon or so of olive oil.
  4. Scoop 1 TBS of the paste at a time and form it into a ball. 1.5 TBS for large fritters. 
  5. Heat (medium/low heat) 2 TBS of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the fritters and sauté them for about 5 minutes or until slightly browned, making sure to roll them and turn them.
  6. Put the sauteed fritters on the prepared baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Check them after 15 miuntes, if they are firm to the touch , they are done.
  7. Remove the fritters and allow them to cool. They will firm up some more while they are cooling.

Sweet & Sour Instructions:

  1. Cook the rice according to the package instructions.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the cornstartch, brown sugar, pinneapples (with the pinneapple juice), apple cidar vinegar, and soy sauce. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into a skillet set on medium heat. (NOTE: If you are using frozen store bought meatless “meatballs” add them to the skillet with the mixture.)
  4. Add the chopped green pepper to the skillet, set the heat to medium/ low and cover. Stir every couple of minutes. Once the peppers are dark green (NOTE: If you’re using store bought “meatballs”, check that the center is cooked through.) the mixture is done cooking.
  5. To serve, add rice to a plate, top the rice with fritters, and then with a large spoon or ladel pour the sauce and green peppers over the fritters and rice.
  6. Enjoy!

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A day in Canada

One of my great passions is art. I have a serious need to paint. I love it so much, but the need is real. Something about it is a big release for me and if I go to long time without painting, I find myself growing depressed. I plan to share my own art on here from time to time.

This summer when my parents were visiting me and my hubby, we took them to Regina Canada for the day. I love visiting Regina for so many reasons, but one of my favorites is all the art they have. We visited the MacKenzie art gallery and saw the Alex Janvier display. His work is incredible!

Here are some of my favorite pieces.

Screenshot_20170806-184211While we were there we discovered an all vegetarian/vegan restaurant called The Hunter Gatherer. You’ll never find anything like that in the rural prairies of eastern Montana, so needless to say I was pretty excited! We got tofu scramble breakfasts and maple tempeh “bacon”. Everything was delicious! I can’t wait to go back.

I love finding new places to explore and new things to do. With 3 of my biggest passions rolled into one; family, art, and food, This was a perfect day!