Thursday, August 28, 2014

The HappyCow Cookbook: A Review and Giveaway

I'm really excited about today's review and giveaway. I remember when HappyCow was brand new, and I was a brand new vegan, and it was so refreshing to be able to look at the website and find out where I could eat with my new diet. Now, they have an app for smartphones and - even more exciting - a lovely new cookbook!

Note: I received a complimentary copy of the cookbook, but all the comments and opinions expressed are my own. 

Doesn't it look beautiful? The inside is just as nice - it has full-color photos and descriptions of the restaurants and the head cooks or owners. And, for those of you living in or from Portland, OR, there's an extra treat: there's a recipe from one of our very own all-vegan restaurants, Portobello Vegan Trattoria!

I love this cookbook for many reasons, but I think my favorite part is that for every featured restaurant, there's two pages containing an interview with the chef or owner of the restaurant. Without visiting the restaurant, you're able to learn a bit more about the establishment, such as why the owner opened it, what motivates him/her to do what he/she does, what the most popular items on the menu are, and whether there are gluten-, soy- and/or sugar-free options on the menu. Following that interview, there's at least one recipe from the restaurant, with full-color photos.

Because Portobello was featured in the book, I decided it had been way too long since I had stopped in to visit, so I took my friend S with me to dine. The recipe featured in the cookbook is their Butternut Gnocchi with Brussels Leaves, but I wasn't able to eat that (given its glutenous nature); however, here's the recipe picture from the cookbook, to whet your appetite...

And to give you an idea of just how delicious this gnocchi probably is, here are some pictures from our visit (forgive the restaurant lighting)...

We started with pomme frites (french fries, obviously!) with homemade ketchup

Hers and hers drinks.

We split everything half and half, but I ordered the cauliflower steak with olive tapenade, which came with a side of vegetables.

S ordered the ratatouille risotto, which was just as delicious.

We finished with amazing homemade coconut milk ice cream - this flavor was vanilla bourbon.
As you can see, Portobello is amazing, and I'm sure all the other restaurants in the cookbook are, too. I'm so excited to try at home many of the delicious meals or dishes I've had when traveling. This cookbook features some fantastic recipes from even more fantastic restaurants located all around the world; I guarantee this is a cookbook you'll want to add to your collection. AND, because HappyCow is so awesome, they are letting me give away a copy of the cookbook to one lucky reader! Please see below for the rules and restrictions of this giveaway.

The winner will be contacted next Thursday, September 4th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happy Summer to You!

You may have noticed my absence for the last few months. It's not because I love you all any less, but it is because I was taking two 5-credit classes in an 8-week summer term schedule. Plus, I was working about once a week on top of it, AND trying not to go insane as well. It was challenging, to say the least, but I got through it, and as of last Thursday, I've completed one year (and one half) of my prerequisites and have just one more year to go before I will apply to and (hopefully) attend school to become a dietitian!

My fourth of July weekend was spent looking at gorgeous views like this!
I've changed my mind as to where I'll be getting my degree, which means my next year of prerequisites are going to be even more brutal. I'll be taking chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and anatomy and physiology - and the school I'm applying to only accepts B's and above in these classes. There may be another major absence here on the blog during the next 12 months!

My favorite nature area next to my house. 
In the meantime, I have a great cookbook review for you, a giveaway coming up, and my first foray into video blogging (with my sister!). It'll be good times for all (until school starts up again in 5 weeks).

What have you been up to this summer?

Monday, June 16, 2014

My Favorite Vegan Ice Cream Recipes

It's summer (well, practically), and it's time for some vegan ice cream! I love me some ice cream. I think the fact that there are so many different recipes on this blog shows you that fact, but I want to reiterate: I love ice cream. I've gotten a bit "lazy" in the last few years (read: I owned a business for 2 years and now I'm a full-time student), and I have stopped making homemade ice cream, at least for the time being, BUT, that doesn't make me appreciate some dang good ice cream inspiration in the meantime.

Here are my favorite homemade flavors from this blog:

Rhubarb Ice Cream

Ice Cream Sandwiches (Gluten-free)

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Strawberry Milkshake

Candy Cane Ice Cream

Pear Gelato

Here are my favorite homemade flavors from other places on the internet:

3-Ingredient Ice Cream from The Kitchn

Ginger Watermelon Italian Ice from Oh My Veggies

Fig, Coconut and Blackberry Ice Cream from Green Kitchen Stories 

Date-Sweetened Ice Cream from XGFX

Snickers Ice Cream Bars from Chocolate-Covered Katie

What are your favorite ice cream flavors?

Friday, May 30, 2014

My 2014 Garden

When D and I were house-hunting last fall, we had a few things we were looking for in a new house: 1) the kitchen had to be at least a certain size (if not bigger, and with plenty of storage), preferably with an open gaze into the living room, and our yard had to be big enough (and let in enough light) to grow a garden. Luckily, we found the house we're currently living in, which had both of those things (and so much more).

our side bed, where the herb garden, strawberries and blueberries live
I can't believe how lucky we were to get a house that already had built-in garden plots. They are time-consuming and expensive to build, so to buy a house with them (and a sprinkler system) already set up was a true blessing. 

our raised garden plots, built into the hill on the side of our yard
As you can see from the picture above, in the fall, the many trees in our yard shed their leaves (and how!), and over the winter, we had no choice but to put some of the leaves on top of the beds (we ran out of room in our compost bin and weekly compost recycling). Doing that kept the weeds at bay, but it also made for a "fun" time this spring when we had to clean out all the wet, moldy, decomposing leaves so we could plant our garden. 

Our garden started out small and modest, but we're now able to get multiple servings of lettuce per day and still have plenty leftover, and I had the most delicious dinner of fresh kale and peas last night. I can't wait for even more bounty as the summer begins.

When we first planted, our garden was bare and humble...

onions and potatoes and cauliflower are in this plot

beets, brussels sprouts and more cauliflower in this plot

kale, beets, peas and broccoli are here

we found so many different kinds of lettuce!
After a few months, our garden has really started producing amazing vegetables...

we finally added to our last two beds: this one has peppers and squash

look at how the potatoes, cauliflower and onions have grown! 

we can't wait for our tomatoes to ripen - only 72 days until harvest!

our lettuce is really taking shape - we can have multiple salads per day for both of us and still have plenty left over

the broccoli plants have tiny little broccoli growing! and the kale and peas are delicious

more broccoli, beets and brussels sprouts

Having our own garden is such an enjoyable and rewarding experience; we couldn't imagine a house without a garden. 

What's in your garden?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Luce's Gluten-Free Artisan Bread Mix Review

I'm really excited to share a review with you today of a food that has really rocked my world recently. I received two free samples of Luce's Gluten-free Artisan Bread Mix (in Classic Sourdough and New Italian) and am here to say they are just amazing.

Here are the fronts and one back of the bread mixes. They come in really nice packaging.

The mixes are really easy to use. In fact, you literally just add water (just like the front of those packages say!) to it, mix for a few minutes, let it rest (I let one loaf rise, and wasn't patient enough to let the other one do the same), bake, and EAT!

The package comes with everything you'll need: flour mix, dusting flour, instructions, and a bag to bake the bread in.
See the long list of instructions up there? It seems daunting, but it really isn't. It's more about the technique needed to make this bread turn out just right. And, it certainly beats having to measure out each individual flour, proofing the yeast, and still being unsure if the recipe will turn out ok. This mix is a guaranteed WIN.
It's easy to transfer the dough to the included parchment paper, then slide it into the included baking bag, close it up, and bake for 85 minutes! What comes out is a delicious loaf of gluten-free and vegan bread. 
The worst part about this whole process is having to wait. D didn't like that very much:

D is seen here barely waiting for the loaf of Classic Sourdough to cool before digging in!
But once the waiting time was over, the breads produced were soft, tasty, and had a wonderful texture and flavor to them. We enjoyed the loaf of Classic Sourdough by ourselves, but we shared the loaf of New Italian with some friends who also really enjoyed it. 

Classic Sourdough
New Italian
Conclusion: I would absolutely eat these again. They are a bit spendy, but at the same time, my time is valuable too, and taking all the guesswork out of making and baking gluten-free bread is worth a lot to me.

Please visit Luce's Gluten-free Artisan Bread for more information!

Disclosure: I received two complimentary packages of bread mix from Luce's; however, all the views and opinions expressed are my own. 


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