Saturday, December 31, 2011

happy holidays!

Before I hop in the shower, and throw on my NYE attire, I just wanted to wish everyone out there a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Years! I hope these past few weeks have been just as great for you as they've been for me. A holiday week at home with the parents meant great home-cooked meals, family time out the wazoo, and all kinds of Christmas fun.

While I love each and every gift I recieved, I think the best part of this holiday season was spending time with 30+ members of my extended family, and enjoying all of our Christmas celebrations and traditions. Stockings, Charlie Brown trees, group sing-alongs, cookie baking, silly sweaters, and even watching my favorite VHS copy of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

A special thanks to everyone who made my holiday season so bright. Here's to a fabulous 2011, and an even better 2012! Happy New Years everyone! ♥

Thursday, December 22, 2011

amy's no chicken noodle soup

Dear Amy's No Chicken Noodle Soup,

Thank you for warming my belly on this cold winter night. After battling the epic snow storm, and a full day of work, nothing sounded better than a big bowl of chicken noodle soup. Oh, did I mention that my car got stuck in the snow this morning, and I had to be rescued by a coworker? Yeah, that was pretty sweet.

Anyway, I wanted some piping hot, comfort food this evening, and that's precisely what I got. While you're awfully high in sodium, I'm still pretty excited that you taste just as good as the original, but are actually meat-free. In fact, you're vegan! Big bonus points there.
Thank you again for the great flavors of a classic soup, made cruelty-free with your meatless magic. It was the perfect dinner to end a crazy winter day.

Happy Holidays.
Love- erin ♥

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

holiday brunch

Oh how I love this time of year- picturesque snowfalls, cozy nights inside, all kinds of holiday cheer, and spending time with loved ones. This past weekend, my roommate, Molly, and I decided to host a small holiday brunch for some of our friends, and it turned out to be so much fun.

When we asked everyone to bring something to share, we thought we'd end up with 10 butter braids or 6 boxes of King Soopers cookies, but everyone brought something special, and our potluck brunch, turned into a feast for kings.
We had bagels and cream cheese, fresh fruit, and homemade cookies and pumpkin bread.
Molly made breakfast potatoes, and I made mini frittatas with spinach, onion, bell pepper, and cheese. They were super easy and super cute- chop up your veggies, whisk your eggs with a little salt, pepper, and milk, pour everything into muffin pans, and cook at 350 for 25 minutes. Honestly, that's it. The only note for next time: MUST use cupcake liners! Omg I've been scraping crusted egg gunk out of those pans for days- yuck!
However tasty all the dishes were, the shining star was definitely Christine's homemade-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with made-on-the-the-spot icing. Omg hese were seriously to die for- I think I ate 3 of them :)

Between gobbling cinnamon rolls and other treats, I set up a "make your own ornament" station, where guests could get creative after a bloody mary or two... or three.
I cut basic ornament shapes out of card stock, hole punched the top, and attached an ornament hanger to finish it off. I placed the blank ornaments next to a big box of old crayons, and let the guests get artsy. While the food was delicious, I must say, I think this was my favorite part! I love arts and crafts, and I love seeing people having fun, and getting creative too.
Cocktails were served, food was devoured, gifts were exchanged, and our Charlie Brown tree got decked out in beautiful handmade ornaments. A wonderful brunch, indeed ♥

Monday, December 12, 2011

christmas tree chili

Well the holiday season is definitely here, and it's getting increasingly busy by the minute. This weekend I helped celebrate my boyfriend's 29th birthday, and finally got the chance to cut down Christmas trees with my family. We had to postpone the original date due to weather, but this past Saturday turned out to be absolutely beautiful.

As tradition dictates, we enjoyed coffee and donuts at my parents house, hopped in our cars, drove up to the mountains, chopped trees, and enjoyed the famous family chili. I honestly can't remember a time where we didn't chop trees and eat chili :)

However, since becoming a vegetarian, I've begun bringing my own meat-free chili to the celebration, and I think it just gets better every year.
This year I based my recipe off of Robin Robertson's Chipotle-Kissed Red Bean and Sweet Potato Chili and this one from my BFF Michael. I combined both ideas, threw everything into a crock pot the night before, and early the next morning, I was rewarded with a big ol' pot of vegetarian chili.Here are just my random thoughts on my homemade chili:
1. A variety of beans gives it it great color and flavor- black, white, kidney, & chili are all great
2. I started my chili with some sautéed onion, garlic, carrots, and celery- all good ideas, except the celery, which gave it a funny taste.
3. Boca ground crumbles were perfect for texture and consistency. I've used TVP before, and it's just not the same- crumbles or fake beef are definitely the way to go.
4. It's all about adjusting the seasoning. A little more chili powder, a little more garlic salt- after simmering all night, the flavors weren't perfect, but a little trial and error in the spice cabinet really made the difference.

The tree hunt was successful, and the veggie chili turned out great! If you've got any chili secrets, I'd love to hear them, so hopefully next years' batch will be even better! Now all that's left to do is eat them leftovers, and decorate those trees ♥

Sunday, December 4, 2011

southern beans and rice soup with kale

With the temperature dropping and snow falling, it's becoming the perfect weather for warm, comforting dishes, especially soup! Tonight a few of us got together for a bottle of wine, a hot meal, and new episodes of Dexter and Homeland. We grabbed some cheap bread bowls from Whole Foods, and tried out a recipe from Robin Robertson's cookbook 1,000 Vegan Recipes- Southern Style Beans and Rice Soup with Collards.
We replaced the collards with kale, since that's what we had on hand, and added 2 additional cups of liquid to thin out the soup, since it was just a bit thick for our liking. Otherwise, it was a fantastic, hearty soup with great flavors, and healthy ingredients. We served our soup with a big 'ol helping of hot sauce, and I think it really brought out the Southern flare with just the right amount of heat. If you want a healthy, wholesome, yet substantial soup for a cold night, definitely look this one up.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

winter is officially here

Happy Winter, fellow Coloradoans! It looks like the warm, mild Autumn is finally over, leaving us with a crap ton of winter chill. This was my parents' deck this morning- we were supposed to go Christmas tree cutting today, but the weather was too nasty to head to the mountains. Boo.
I don't know about you, but on a chilly day like today, all I want to do is stay inside, and keep warm. It's the perfect day to eat soup, read books, and catch up on unfinished projects around the house. What do you plan to do on your snow day?

I've got some fun stuff to blog about, but until I finish a big cup of tea to warm my chilled bones, it will have to wait. I hope you're keeping warm out there! ♥