Romesco Cauliflower Sandwiches

Romesco Cauliflower Sandwiches

I have to admit something to you. This food blog job isn’t always as glamorous as you may think it is. It’s a job, like any job, with fun parts (cooking! eating!) and less fun parts that involve sitting behind a computer monitor, editing, writing, emailing, etc. It’s not a sad life by any stretch, but it’s also not glitz and glory – it’s work. Except… when some of the opportunities that come my way are totally out of left field – and I find myself going to California for a day touring an absolutely beautiful almond orchard instead of touring Adobe Lightroom.

Romesco Cauliflower Sandwiches Romesco Cauliflower Sandwiches

A few weeks ago I went to visit Chamisal Creek, a family farm that’s part of the co-op of farmers that make up Blue Diamond Almond Growers. It was a (surprisingly!) sunny day and the orchard was in full bloom. We ate Almond Breeze blueberry muffins, learned about the process of growing almonds, and enjoyed a beautiful farm-to-table lunch.

The romesco sandwiches they served at the lunch inspired this recipe. My version here is made vegetarian by using roasted cauliflower as the “meat” of the sandwich – to me cauliflower and romesco go together like peanut butter almond butter and jelly.

Almond Breeze Orchard Tour Almond Breeze Orchard Tour

For me, it was really impactful to see that these orchards are pretty small family farms. The almonds that go into Almond Breeze aren’t grown at a giant mega-farm or anything like that, they’re grown exclusively by independent farms in the Blue Diamond Growers co-op. This farm, owned by Michael Dougherty and his family, is a 700 acre farm that grows 12 varieties of almonds and also produces wine, olive oil, and peaches. By being a part of the co-op, the farmers get much-needed support, and in turn Blue Diamond gets high quality almonds. Almond Breeze is the only almondmilk brand that actually has the orchards within its own organization.

Here are some pics from our dreamy visit!:

Almond Breeze Orchard Tour

Driving to the orchard, I was surprised how much the almond trees looked like cherry blossoms:

Almond Breeze Orchard Tour Almond Breeze Orchard Tour

The tour ended with this sweet vegan pear tart, which is on my list to make soon!

Almond Breeze Orchard Tour

Laura’s Quinoa & White Bean Risotto

Laura's Quinoa & White Bean Risotto

I’m sure most of you’re already a fan of Laura’s blog, The First Mess. If not, you should be – you’ll love it. Laura and I both started our blogs around the same time, and I’ve been a fan of her creative, plant-based recipes ever since.

I’m so excited to share this recipe from her new cookbook today. The First Mess Cookbook came out last week and I have to tell you – it’s a stunner. I saw an early PDF copy months ago and I not only drooled over every single page, I read it (virtual) cover to cover. I especially loved all of her little tips and tricks, like how she makes homemade almond milk by using almond butter so that no soaking or straining is involved – genius!

You’re gonna want to make everything – Cookies for Breakfast, Savory Ginger Green Onion Crepes, and she even has a recipe for Earl Grey Vegan Tiramisu that I’m dying to try out. Laura has a way of combining ingredients in such unique ways.

Laura's Quinoa & White Bean Risotto

When I finally got the book in my hands, I had a hard time choosing which recipe to share here – so I let Jack choose. He narrowed down his picks to the Creamy Winter Vegetable Stew with Mustard, the Deep Immune Cup of Soup, and this “risotto” recipe. Obviously we picked this one. 🙂

This is a fun twist on risotto. In her book, Laura talks about disappointing quinoa risottos she’s had at restaurants in the past (since quinoa isn’t very creamy), which led her to create this recipe. It mixes a white bean puree into the quinoa to make the risotto rich and creamy. There’s no butter, no cheese, and also… no standing at the stove stirring for a lengthy amount of time like most risottos.

Laura's Quinoa & White Bean Risotto Laura's Quinoa & White Bean Risotto

While it’s not a full-on risotto replacement, it’s so wholesome and delicious. Top it with roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts and you have a warm cozy meal that’s perfect for these remaining chilly spring days. The only thing I added there was a clove of garlic and a bigger squeeze of lemon (for obvious reasons).

Laura's Quinoa & White Bean Risotto

Go get the book!

Austin Restaurant Guide: SXSW 2017

Austin Restaurant Guide 2017

Since I know some of you are heading to Austin this week for SXSW, I thought I’d share an updated list of favorite places to eat and drink in my town. I’ve written a few of these posts in the past, but things change so quickly!

Here are some of our newest favorites as well as some old stand-by’s. I’ve also included some of my favorite shops and other activities in case you would like to see some sights in between meals 🙂

LUNCH:
(although many of these are great for a casual dinner)

Saigon le vendeur (pictured below)
This truck is our newest obsession so I’m putting it up first. They have a permanent location on east 7th street, but we first discovered it at the Saturday farmer’s market. Their vermicelli bowls are the best in town! I love how lemongrass-y the lemongrass tofu is and their sauce is two emoji thumbs up.

Piknik
Their brick and mortar restaurant is new this year – if you’re paleo, gluten free, or have any diet restriction, this is your spot. The food is made of the highest quality ingredients and is very health conscious. If you’re vegan, get the eggplant involtini. If you’re not vegan, get the hash. And don’t miss the matcha drinks.

Elizabeth (pictured above)
My most instagrammed restaurant (I can’t help it!) as well as a place Jack and I go to far too often. I like the tofu mushroom banh mi, the mushroom pho, the breakfast banh mi, and the tofu avocado steamed buns (not on the menu but just ask).

Austin Restaurant Guide

Taco Deli
If you visit one restaurant in Austin, go here. Get the sweet potato taco – if you’re pescatarian, don’t miss the mojo fish taco. Jack eats meat, and his favorite is the Happy Taco. Don’t miss the Doña sauce if you like spicy things.

Casa de Luz
When you’ve had too many margaritas, go here for some wholesome vegan macrobiotic food. Note that this is in no way fancy – there’s no alcohol and you pay up front. But what it has some the most flavorful macrobiotic cooking I’ve ever had, and the sauces they make are amazing. Check out their website for the meal of the day. If “suncheeze” is on the menu – go.

Austin Restaurant Guide

Flower Child
This is one of those restaurants that makes it hard to decide what to order because I want to try one of everything. There are TONS of vegan and gluten free options, but there are sustainable meat options as well. I especially love their green curry soup (if it’s a special that day), the Indian Cauliflower, and the Thai Cashew Quinoa. The gluten free brownies are delectable.

Austin Restaurant Guide

Poké Poké (pictured below)
If you like poke, don’t miss this one. They also have vegan poke with tofu and kale.

Koriente (pictured below)
I used to work across the street from Koriente and ate here literally every day. We love the shiitake tofu, but everything is great. The food is healthy and delicious and the staff is incredibly nice.

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Fresas (pictured below)
Ok, yes, it’s the place with the big, very cute, chicken sign, but you can go here even if you don’t eat chicken. I especially love the Jerez Salad with chickpeas and carrot escabeche. Their patio is big and beautiful, so go here on a sunny day.

Austin Restaurant Guide

Thai Fresh (pictured below)
A neighborhood favorite. I like their green curry, the papaya salad, and their coconut soup. They also have a big selection of vegan and gluten free desserts – the chocolate peanut butter pie is to die for.

Austin Restaurant Guide

Chi’lantro (pictured below)
As seen on Shark Tank, ha! It’s build-your-own Korean BBQ – you can choose your meat (or tofu), sauce, and whether you’d like tacos, a rice bowl, a salad, or a burrito. I get the tofu salad with black beans, avocado, and kimchi with the carrot-ginger sauce.

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BRUNCH:

True Food Kitchen (pictured below)
It’s not a local Austin chain but this restaurant, based on recipes by Dr. Andrew Weil, is on our regular rotation for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Favorites are: the tofu scramble burrito, the shiitake dumplings, the brussels sprout mushroom pizza (Jack’s favorite), and the vegan butternut squash pizza.

The Steeping Room
When we lived a little closer to this place, we were regulars. Jack and I had a Sunday Steeping Room ritual which means that it’s basically our church. I love all of their soups (they rotate daily), the curries, the chocolate crunch tea, and their vegan double chocolate cupcakes. A great spot for vegan and gluten free options.

Cafe No Sé
I’m putting this in the brunch section because it’s widely popular for brunch, even though Jack and I usually go for lunch or dinner (I hate crowds!). I love their gem lettuce salad and the kale salad. Don’t skip the hummus with their homemade flatbread.

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DINNER:

Epicerie (also great for lunch and breakfast)
The cutest little french cafe – great wine, delicious cheese and the BEST cauliflower gnocchi you’ve ever tasted.

Chicon
This is my favorite dinner restaurant right now. It’s owned by the same folks that own Contigo (another favorite), what I love about the menu at Chicon is that the food is incredibly local and seasonal. Its style is Texas farm to table and while there are a lot of meaty dishes, they don’t ignore their vegetable offerings. The menu changes often but some of the best things I’ve had were a vegan sunflower seed risotto, a pho made with spaghetti squash instead of noodles, and a salad made of smoked and raw mushrooms (it’s hard to describe why the salad was so good but it was killer). I can go on and on but I’m going to stop here because I’m going on and on.

Lenoir
This one is a twofer, as they have both an excellent wine garden as well as a phenomenal restaurant. The wine garden not only has a lovely selection of wine, but they also serve yummy light snacks. The restaurant is a tiny cozy place that serves a highly seasonal prix fix menu using local ingredients, and you can choose the dishes you want from 4 categories: land (meat), sea (fish), earth (vegetarian), and dream (dessert).

Other note-worry dinner places: Vox Table, Olamaie, Emmer & Rye, Juniper

BEVERAGES: Coffee/Juice

Juice Society
Love this new juice spot! 

Seventh Flag
I love their homemade almond milk chai

Patika (Wed-Sun for breakfast)
We’ve been loving the breakfast here lately – their avocado toast with jalapeños, breakfast sandwiches, bowls, and their pastries are pretty darn good too. They occasionally have gluten free pastries.

Sa-Ten (they also have food)
A cute Japanese-ish coffee shop with neat squirrel wallpaper. We love the coffee here as well as the simple lunch plates.

other great coffee places: Joe’s, Houndstooth & Cafe Medici

BEVERAGES: Wine

June’s
A new wine bar in our neighborhood. It’s a little pricey but the wines are very very good. Depending on the seasonality of the menu, I also love the whole roasted artichoke appetizer.

Hotel San Jose
Still one of our favorite patios to get a drink and people watch. If you come in the summer, get the Frozé (a frozen rosé slushie).

House Wine
On Sundays, they offer half-price by the glass for opened bottles. Great patio too. Did I mention half-price wine?

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SWEETS:

Sugar Mamas
Yummy cupcakes with vegan and gluten free options.

Cap City Bakery
An all vegan bakery – their peanut butter chocolate cupcake is super yummy.

Skull & Cakeboxes
You can find their baked goods at whole foods and other places around town – but they also just opened a new brick and mortar bakery. don’t miss their Bing Bong Cupcakes.

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STORES:

Kettle & Brine
Hands down, my favorite shop for home goods. I’m obsessed with their ceramic selection.

Wildflower
My second favorite place for home goods, furniture and organic bedding.

Spartan
Another great shop for ceramics and unique gifts.

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THINGS TO DO:

Springdale Farm
Visit their market stand on Saturday mornings. Walk around the farm grounds and have breakfast at Eden East (although it’s not vegetarian friendly – I suggest going to nearby Sa-ten before or afterward if your’e not carnivorous).

Saturday Downtown Farmers Market
It’s at 4th and Guadalupe, and it’s where I get most of my farmer’s market produce for my recipes. While you’re there go to the Saigon Le Vender truck.

Town Lake Trail
Hike, bike, or kayak if it’s a nice day.

Mt Bonnel
A scenic view over Lake Austin, plus get a little exercise hiking up the stairs. Afterward, brunch at Epicerie.

Barton Springs
It’s too cold for me (the water is 67°F year-round!), but I’m putting it on the list because it’s a fun Austin thing to do on a hot hot day.

Stroll down Soco
Visit the eclectic shops and have brunch at Cafe no Se.

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DAY TRIP:

Magnolia Silos
If you’re a fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ show Fixer Upper, you might want to take the drive to check this spot out. It’s 1.5 hours from Austin – once you get there, you can shop, have lunch on the picnic tables (the Milo food truck is our favorite, the crepe truck is really good too). Get a sweet treat and an instagram photo of at the super cute bakery before you leave.

Zucchini Basil Soup

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Last summer, I had a lucky opportunity to spend a few weeks in France visiting vineyards, tasting wine, and of course eating great food. Whenever I travel, I come back with a list of recipes that I might want to recreate. Very often, the ones I actually end up making in my kitchen… the ones that stand out in my memory the most… are the simplest.

Jack met me toward the end of the trip which left me with some time alone in Paris while waiting for his flight to arrive. I knew exactly how to spend the day – I headed to the store Merci. Have you been there? It an Insta-worthy store full of home goods galore and it’s the sort of place that you should go to without your significant other because he’ll likely get impatient while you’re looking at every beautiful bowl, spoon, and table-scape. They also have the cutest little library-themed cafe that was just perfect for my afternoon alone. The soup du jour was zucchini basil soup. “It’s a cold soup,” the waiter warned me before I ordered it. I thought – great, I love gazpacho. But when it came it wasn’t gazpacho at all – it wasn’t ice cold and it wasn’t too acidic. It was this lovely bright green room temperature soup served with toasted garlic bread and it was perfect.

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I’m not sure what took me so long to make this soup at home but when method reached out wanting to partner on a series of posts inspired by the herbal scents of their new kitchen hand wash, I immediately thought of this soup. Their plant-derived formula is specifically made to get food scents off your hands – especially pungent flavors like garlic. If you’ve ever gone to bed (hours later) with garlic hands, you’ll appreciate this kitchen wash 🙂

Plus, the pretty basil bottle is pretty on your kitchen countertop.

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I’ve tried to make basil soups before I realized that my mistake was in trying to heat it. The basil gets bruised and it can turn bitter. By keeping the soup at room temp (I like to serve it lightly chilled), it retains all of its fresh, vibrant flavor. The only thing that gets cooked here are the leeks (well, and the garlic-y croutons). After that, it all goes into the blender and voila!

There’s no cream or cream substitute. The blended zucchini and a scoop of hemp seeds makes this soup plenty creamy and, not to mention, light and healthy.

For depth of flavor I added a scoop of white miso paste. To make it bright, I added a bunch of lemon of course.

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Blend until smooth and then add the basil last so that it doesn’t get hot from the heat of the blender.

Top the soup with toasty garlic croutons – this step is not optional. They really balance the “health” taste of this soup and make it nicely substantial. As always, soups taste better on the second day so this is a great make-ahead lunch option.

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Turmeric Black Pepper Latte

Turmeric Black Pepper Latte

Happy Saturday friends!

We’re currently having a lazy morning that’s consisted of smoothies and Shark Tank… a.k.a, our Saturday morning “cartoon”. It’s dark and drizzly outside so we’re likely not leaving the house anytime soon.

I thought I’d take a second to pop in and share this super simple latte recipe. I posted it on Instagram earlier this week but I thought I’d share it here too. Earlier this year, I stopped drinking *so much* coffee (not that I feel there’s anything wrong with coffee!) and started drinking more matcha. This week, I’ve moved onto this herbal turmeric tea latte.

It’s lightly sweet, nicely spiced, and creamy from the combination of coconut milk and almond milk. I love it with a grind of black pepper which sounds a little weird but “they” say that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric are activated when combined with black pepper, which is why Indian curries contain turmeric and also black pepper. I was scared at first, but I think it adds such an interesting spicy kick… and this is coming from the girl that used to despise pepper. Let me know what you think if you give it a try 🙂

Tea-cheers to a good weekend!