Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Homemade Breakfast Granola

Sarah and I eat the same breakfast every single morning, Monday through Friday. I absolutely love it. We make these fruit/spinach/peanut smoothies that are just amazing. I never really thought that throughout the week, I'd ever desire for any variation on the norm. Well, turns out I was wrong. I now have a new craving when I wake up in the morning - THIS:

(Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker)
Here's what you need:
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 tbsp. flax meal
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. raw sugar or coconut sugar
- 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped nuts (we used almonds)

- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup and 1 tbsp. agave nectar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract

- Almond milk
- Fresh or dried fruits for topping

Here's what you do:
- Preheat oven to 350°
- In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except for any fruit you may use for topping).
- In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil, agave, and vanilla extract until melted and combined.
- Pour the warm liquid into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until well coated.
- Lay the granola out on 2 foil-lined cookie sheets. It should be spread thin, so use a third tray if you need more space.
- Bake in the oven about 20 minutes. Stir around the midway point to prevent burning around edges or any thinner spots you may have on your pan.
- Remove from oven and let cook on the trays. Even if it seems a bit moist when you take it out of the oven, it will dry and harden as it cools.
- Store in an air-tight container.
- Top with almond milk, fresh or dried fruits, and enjoy!

This is not the first time I've made granola based off of Minimalist Baker's recipes, and it definitely won't be my last. At first, it seems like a lot of ingredients, but as two people that keep only vegan foods in our home, we luckily had everything on hand. We made a double batch to last us a bit longer than a single would, and I'm already wishing I would have made a triple batch.

Sarah & Nick

Monday, April 25, 2016

DIY Paint Chip Art

Paint chips are the ultimate craft supply - they're versatile, come in tons of colors, and they're free! A couple years ago paint chip crafts were all the rage, but it's been awhile since I've seen them on blogs. I myself haven't made anything with paint chips in awhile either, but this past weekend I wanted to crank out some quick wall art and colorful paint chips were just what I needed!

I picked up these fruit and veggie paintings from a Craigslist "Free Curb Alert" up the street last year. They were the perfect candidate for a makeover. You could use canvas, thrifted art, shoebox lids, you name it!

Here's what you need!
- Frames or canvas of your choice
- Spray paint (optional)
- Paint chips
- Scissors
- Mod Podge (we prefer matte finish)
- Paint brush
- Xacto knife

Here's what you do!
- If desired, spray paint your frames/canvas. We spray painted both the frames and the inserts so we could have a white background to work with. We did two coats, allowing the paint to fully dry in between.
- Meanwhile, cut your paint chips into small squares. I wanted mine to be slightly different in size and imperfect. My inspiration was this image I've had pinned for years (p.s. follow me!)
- Arrange your squares in a pattern you like and then glue them down with your Mod Podge. The edges may curl a bit, so once all your pieces are glued, flip your art over onto a sheet of wax paper and weigh it down with heavy books. Let it press for an hour.
- Use an Xacto knife to trim the paint chips that hang over the edge of the canvas.
- Add a coat of Mod Podge onto the top of your art. Allow to fully dry and again flip your art over onto a sheet of wax paper and weigh it down with heavy books. Let it press for an hour.
- Insert your finished art into your frame and display it!

Have you created any paint chip crafts? What are your favorites?

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stovetop Vegan Cornbread

Just the other night, some friends and I were discussing the magical food that is cornbread. During college, Sarah and I were the biggest fans of the IUP dining hall's cornbread. Available at every meal, rich, sticky, savory, and amazing. Growing up, I didn't often have cornbread, but when I did it was a real treat. Warmed with a pad of butter and drizzled with some maple syrup? Money.

One of the best gifts for Sarah's birthday last year was the This Ain't No Picnic: Your Punk Rock Vegan Cookbook from our friends Andy and Amanda. It's full of awesome recipes, great playlists, hilarious photos, and more. I was flipping through it the other night and saw this really easy recipe for cornbread I just had to try. And for once, we had every ingredient on hand! It was destiny.

Here's what you need:
- 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsp. agave or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup corn
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 tsp. oil
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cup almond or soy milk

Here's what you do:
- Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
- Pour into a greased cast iron skillet.
- Cover and cook over medium heat 10-20 minutes.

The recipe in the book calls for all the batter to be in one large skillet and cook for 20 minutes. I used a small skillet and mine only needed to cook about 12-15 minutes. Just be sure to frequently poke it with a toothpick. The bottoms can very easily burn, so try to elevate the pan away from the flame. I used 2 of my stove top burner cages stacked on top of one another so the flames weren't touching directly to the pan.

I really enjoyed this cornbread. I ate it right off the stove with some butter and syrup, just like when I was a kid. It is moist and delicious. The whole kernels of corn add great texture, and the very subtle hint from the chili powder is just the right amount!

Give it a try, and be sure to check out the Punk Rock Vegan Cookbook!

Sarah & Nick

Monday, April 11, 2016

White Spritz Cocktail

When it comes to libations, drinking, relaxing, and the related, I'm a beer guy. However, with spring fast approaching (maybe? I dunno, it snowed all weekend) we figured it was time to try our hand at some fun, light, cocktails.

The book Spritz by Talia Baiocchi & Leslie Pariseau is bursting with beautiful photography, delicious, intriguing drinks, and incredible design. I love looking at this book as much as I love trying the drink recipes. The book tells us that a "spritz" by nature needs to be effervescent, bubbly, and carbonated. What a better way to coax spring along than with a classic staple, the White Spritz.

Here's what you need:
- 4 oz. dry white wine (we used Pinot Grigio)
- 2 oz. soda water (seltzer water)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Lemon for garnish

Here's what you do:
- In a small sauce pan, add the lemon juice and sugar. Heat and stir until combined. Remove from heat and let cool 30 minutes. This is now "lemon syrup" to be used later! You should have enough to make two cocktails.
- Over ice in a wine glass, combine wine, soda water, and 1.5 oz. (one shot) lemon syrup.
- Garnish with lemon wedge or other citrus.

So... that's it. Did I need to put step by step instructions? Maybe, maybe not. The beauty of this light, refreshing, airy cocktail is that it is so incredibly simple to make!

Perfect for summer outside. Or... perfect for wishing it was summer outside!

Sarah & Nick

Monday, April 4, 2016

Vegan Loaded Nachos

We love tacos in the Surznick house, but since we don't eat meat, we have to get creative with what goes in our tacos. Our go-to is a delicious combination of lentils, chopped walnuts, and our homemade taco seasoning. It looks pretty similar to ground beef and it's dang good in a tortilla.

Okay, pause for a sec. Remember our Mac & Not Cheese recipe? Well a reader left us a comment on that post saying she used the recipe for the cheese on vegan nachos - how genius is that?! Then a few days later I had a genius moment myself. Vegan cheese sauce + lentil/walnut taco "meat" + other delicious toppings = a bomb recipe for vegan loaded nachos! And here we are!

This recipe is perfect for a game day afternoon, a loungy Friday night movie marathon, or even a weeknight dinner (which we've done on more than one occasion.) You can use as many or as little add-ons as you want and it'll be a vegan nacho party for your taste buds!

Here's what you need!
For the cheese sauce (from our Mac & Not cheese recipe) - You could cut this in half, it makes quite a bit!
- 1/2 cup butter (we use Earth Balance)
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 cups non-dairy milk (we recommend unsweetened almond milk!)
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. agave nectar

For the "meat" (using our Homemade Taco Seasoning)
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 3/4 tbsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper

Addition toppings (optional)
- Tomatoes
- Jalapenos
- Black beans
- Salsa
- Sour cream
- Guacamole
You'll need chips too, of course.

Here's what you do!
Prepare the cheese sauce:
- In a medium sauce pan, melt your butter. Once it is melted, whisk in your flour to form a roux.
- Add in remaining ingredients except for the agave and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes to thicken.
- After it thickens, stir in agave nectar and lemon juice. Set aside.

Prepare the "meat":
 - In a medium pot, add 1 cup dry lentils and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, tilt lid, and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, until desired tenderness is achieved. We like a bit of texture to our lentils, but not too much!
- Drain any excess water off the lentils and place in a large sauce pan.
- Finely chop your walnuts (all hail the slap chop!) and add to the pan with your lentils.
- Add your taco seasoning spices and about 1 cup of water.
- Simmer and stir until the water boils off, and the lentil mixture is thick like taco meat.
 - Assemble chips, cheese, "meat", toppings and eat!

If you try this recipe, let us know! Happy eating!

Sarah & Nick