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Weekend Recap! Palisade & the Warrior Dash!

24 Aug

Whoa, it’s Tuesday (Wednesday? I started this yesterday…) already? The past few days have been quite the whirlwind and I still don’t feel caught up! I blame Fall semester starting and the high pollen count in the air! Can’t. stop. sneezing. Time for more coffee!

We stayed in Glenwood Springs this weekend, but didn’t go to any hot springs! It was just too hot. Didn’t feel right getting into a 106 degree pool of water when the air temperature was still 85. eeesh. On Saturday we moseyed an hour west to the beautiful town (city?) of Palisade, Colorado for the Peach Festival and some wine tasting. It’s a strange landscape in Palisade because you see all these large mesas and a desert-like terrain and then there’s all these lush orchards in vineyards. Makes for some great pictures!

The Peach Festival was…interesting. Not as peach-themed as I had hoped! It just seemed like a typical art fair thing with booths set up for Verizon and a couple other local retailers. Kind of strange seeing cell phones being sold next to peaches… Though, we did have a really great peach daquiri and I devoured a veggie gyro that had DOLMADES in it! Gah, I love dolmades. Can’t say I’m brave enough to attempt making them, but maybe someday. It was a super hot day and we were quickly baking in the sun, so after I had a chance to pet an alpaca, we bought a couple boxes of peaches and headed out to some vineyards!

We visited Carlson Vineyards and Canyon Wind Cellars, sipping quite a few varieties of wine while taking in the views. The pourers at Carlson Vineyards were super nice, chatty and informative on the wines and grapes they were cultivating and kept pouring the wine! I could have tried more, but 6 tastes was plenty. They had some really interesting ways to spice up their wines and use them in non-traditional ways. We tried a “peach cobbler” that was their peach wine warmed up and mixed with spices and some syrup. So delicious!

i didn’t like the port.

Canyon Wind Cellars…wow. The views here were breathtaking and I just couldn’t get over the idyllic way the tasting area was set up. There was a small terrace that led into the tasting room and outside of it was a large lawn surrounded by a small stone fence. The area was shaded by a massive tree with two tables to sit at, sip wine and soak in the surroundings. This is what I had pictured a vineyard to be like–quiet, relaxing, full of alcohol and personality. Loved their cabernet sauvignon! Gotta represent for the dry red wines 🙂

Sunday brought us cooler weather and the WARRIOR DASH at Copper Mountain! Being at Copper made me want to put my skis on. Who cares if there’s no snow? I was thankful that being at high elevation (9712 ft) the weather was much cooler, but then again, being at that elevation didn’t make this 5k any easier. It seemed like I couldn’t catch my breath the entire time! Totally worth it. So challenging and something I have never done before. Check out Warrior Dash’s website to see the obstacles we did. I jumped over fire! And crawled under barbed wire through mud! And conquered a wall! If you’re interested in doing a Warrior Dash, they hold them all over the US, in Canada and Australia! I would recommend anyone with an adventurous spirit to try it, even if it seems intimidating or “too hard”. You can do it! We didn’t even run for most of it because the obstacles were hard enough. I’ll definitely train hard for next year and think of a great costume.

So, currently, my life is playing out as such: 3 classes, 4 days a week at 8am, 25 hours/week of working at the library, blogging, forcing myself to go for a jog, cooking…though cooking has seriously been lacking lately. Need to go to the grocery store ASAP! I ran out of flour last week, we have no vanilla, and just a few veggies remain. I’m not even sure what I’ve been eating these last few days. Terrible! Expect a zucchini bread recipe coming up since I can’t stop buying them! Yum. So, most of my time and energy will have to be put toward my classes, so I won’t be able to blog as much. But I will still be here! 🙂 And today is the one month anniversary of my blog! I wonder how long I can keep it going…. 😉

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Taco Pizza

7 Aug

deelish.

I saw Pioneer Woman’s post on Taco Pizza back in May and was intrigued. A combination of two things I adore: taco + pizza.  PW made the recipe very easy to follow and rather a quick meal to throw together, as long as you have the ingredients. I tweaked it a bit for my own tastes (and made it vegan!)

Taco Pizza, originally by the Pioneer Woman!

I only changed a few things, but followed her recipe pretty closely. Instead of black beans, I used vegetarian refried beans as the base (or sauce, I guess) of the pizza. I also used Mexican-style veggie crumbles, heated in a pan with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder + some water. I smooshed the pizza onto my Silpat, making it thinner than I normally would. I assembled it as such: refried beans generously spread around, veggie crumbles, & vegan cheese (I grated some Follow Your Heart cheddar…not as good as Daiya, but it got the job done.) This was baked for about 20 minutes. Once done, I spread some homemade salsa on top with chopped fresh baby spinach.

My favorite part of this dish was the sour cream mixture drizzled on top. I made this using raw cashews (soaked for one hour), lemon juice and salt. Processed until smooth, then added one avocado. Along the way, just to help with texture and thinness, I added some water. Lastly, Cholula hot sauce was folded in and voila! A very flavorful, but dairy-free sour cream substitute. It was very rich-tasting and creamy, thanks to one of my favorite things in the world: the avocado. This had a sort of refreshing, cooling effect to the spiciness of the fresh salsa and pizza. YUM. Happiness.

Saturday Antiquing and Poking Around Denver

6 Aug

new Pyrex mixing bowl! Town & Country print.

Oof! What a tiring Saturday!

My mother used to take my sister and I garage sale-ing (for now, to be referred to as “garage sailing”) quite frequently during the summers, always on the look for interesting antiques or whatever caught our eye. I remember going to many estate sales, amazed by the mass amounts of things that people accumulate during their lives and now on display for the entire world to judge. I don’t recall these experiences being so exhausting and laden with crap! Since we’ve both noticed (and embraced) the fact that we are indeed turning into our lovely mother, the sibling and I meandered around the Washington Park area today because we were entranced by the advertisement of 75+ homes with yard sales this weekend!  Wash Park is quite an affluent area, guaranteeing our chances of having some great finds, right? NO. You take the good with the bad of course, but really people? Some of the so-called “yard sales” were two card tables with a random smattering of card games from the 80s, salt and peppers shakers and a candelabra…THESE ARE THINGS YOU DONATE. Goodwill or the Salvation Army can truly find good uses for these things. Just take the tax write-off and run away from your crap as fast as possible. Still, we enjoyed ourselves, drooling over the gorgeous arts & craft style bungalows with large, ornate front porches and heavy, rounded front doors. Which we cannot afford. It’s ok to dream!

My good find of the day was a large, vintage Pyrex bowl (Town & Country Pattern) and a wide mouth, 1/2 pint mason jar (to use for jar pies, of course) for $2.50. I drove a mean bargain, haggling the woman down from $3. It was rough, but I prevailed.

i dream of having a large, farm-style kitchen with an apron front sink and worn, wooden cabinets with big hinges 🙂

After numerous disappointments  and staring at way too many diet books from the 80s, we ended our garage sailing and stepped it up a notch: antique stores! Denver apparently has a plentiful bounty of unique, independent antique shops, all varying in prices and styles. The bulk of our antiquing took place on Antiques Row on South Broadway, where there are 7 blocks of antique shops! SEVEN BLOCKS. We barely made it through one block before calling it a day with aching feet! There was just so much to look at and it became dizzying at times. Amazing mission-style furniture, Fenton glassware, Americana knick-knacks, overpriced junk…what struck me most during this entire day was when we entered one shop, I was completely awestruck from the antique saloon back bars (example) that lined the entire front of this particular store. It was incredible. These pieces were priced around $35,000+, but they really were gargantuan pieces of wood art. Beautiful and ornate, they made me want to open up a bar. Oh, the things you find while antiquing!

so. much. furniture. typically for the low low price of $600+. out of the budget.

Sadly, we didn’t come across much of my current favorites: vintage Pyrex. The things we did come across were grossly overpriced, especially for the condition they were in. I seem to be having more luck at thrift stores than at antique stores! Though, my sister did nab a lovely Pyrex casserole dish (snowflake pattern) that is fashionable and functional! That’s what I mainly enjoy so much about these Pyrex dishes–not only will I stare at them, but I will cook in them…and then stare at them some more.

On top of all the antiquing fun, I was so thrilled to see that my picture/recipe for Vegan Macaroni & Cheese was accepted by foodgawker today! Hours have been spent scrolling through the glorious pictures on FG and dreaming of one day being featured! I’m still quite thrilled. eek. I also had two recipes on Findingvegan.com, one of my new favorite sites to see all the fancy, tasty dishes vegan bloggers are coming up with around the internet. Yes, I would say today was a good day 🙂

Black Bean Pupusas with Homemade Salsa & Guacamole

1 Aug

om nom nom nom.

Ever since I tried pupusas at the farmer’s market last weekend, I’ve been wanting to make them on my own! Not an easy task. The dough is a bit hard to work with (it’s just masa harina and water) and it kept cracking on me when I was forming the tasty little pupusas. Ack! So, mine aren’t the prettiest or most accurate looking, but it was a fun experience and I want to try again with different flavors!

For those of you who don’t know what a pupusa is (like me two weeks ago), it’s a “traditional Salvadoran dish made of thick, hand-made corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese, cooked pork meat ground to a paste consistency, refried beans, or queso con loroco (loroco is a vine flower bud from Central America)”. As usual, Wikipedia has all the answers (just not for your college thesis).

This was basically the recipe I used, but the ratio of water to flour was way off. Followed exactly, my dough was overly dry and not pliable. I added at least another 1/2 cup-3/4 cup of water while working with it. The site was a good resource for the method of how exactly to form them, but I would make sure that your dough is wet enough before jumping in to rolling the pupusa (unlike me, who was impatient and ended up with the black bean filling oozing out through all the cracks). Mine were much MUCH thicker than an actual pupusa should be and you typically got a mouthful of the corn tortilla more than the black bean filling. Still, very good and filling! Especially with fresh, homemade salsa and guac on the side!

Black Bean Pupusas (Adapted from this recipe)

  • 2 cups masa harina (pretty easy to find–I got the Bob’s Red Mill kind!)
  • 1 cup warm water (I needed MUCH more than this)
  • 1 cup of whatever filling you like (in my case, black beans and green onions!)
In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Knead in more water, one tablespoonful at a time if needed, to make a moist, yet firm dough. (It should not crack at the edges when you press down on it.) This was a little tricky to do because it seemed like either the dough was too wet or too dry. Cover and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.


Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Press an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Put about 1 tablespoon of desired filling into each indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc, taking care that that the filling doesn’t spill out. In an ideal world, this would have happened. Mine just kept cracking, no matter what I did. Ugly food can be tasty food too!


Line a tortilla press with plastic and press out each ball to about 5 or 6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. If you don’t have a tortilla press, place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin. Or just press them between your palms like me since you don’t have a tortilla press or wax paper!


Heat a greased skillet (or a griddle) over medium-high flame. Cook each pupusa for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all pupusas are done. EAT.


Notes:
  • I definitely think this is a great, basic recipe. There’s so much you can do to create more variety and different flavors, even if it isn’t traditional! A cheesy spinach-artichoke mix or something sweet like a berry mash might be interesting to try!
  • I made all my pupusas first and then threw them all onto my griddle. Yes, the griddle you make pancakes on. Didn’t even need to use any oil, but I’m sure they would have tasted even better fried…
  • Guac and salsa made this dish. Dippable foods are just so much more fun.
  • Though I had some issues with the dough, I will definitely be trying this out again. So much potential!

bright and delicious!

I HAD to find an excuse to use some of my new/used pyrex…so we made some honey-sweetened lemonade! I think it’s a little absurd for lemonade to have 2 cups of refined sugar in it! Really not good for you. Honey, agave nectar, stevia or maple syrup are far superior sweeteners! Side note: need to buy a little citrus juicer. It was so tedious hand-squeezing 9 lemons (though my significant other did 7 of them) 🙂 I think I’ll have to make an “Arnold Palmer” tonight…


Gardening, Food, Farmer’s Market, Zoo, More Food…

24 Jul
Tapir snoooozin' at the Denver Zoo

This is how I feel after a weekend of indulgent eating...

What a weekend! There was much running around and attempts to stay cool (mid-90s for the past week here in Denver! Though I shouldn’t complain–there are so many other places hitting over 100!) It seems as though many of my activities revolved around glorious FOOD!

Waiting for us Saturday morning at the community garden we’re a part of (at the library I work at) were tons of WEEDS due to last week’s downpours! We had a garden workday in order to combat this inevitable issue and made some progress…but of course, the work is never done. In our plot, we’re growing carrots, snow peas, jalapenos, habaneros, heirloom tomatoes and jack o’lantern pumpkins (which have COMPLETELY taken over). Had to trim the pumpkin vines back a bit since they were taking hold of one of our precious tomato plants. Can’t wait to see the pumpkins when they are ready to pick!

Denver is a great place to find interesting things to do on the weekends, like the Denver Food Truck Renegades Party! This was a great event that took place in an empty parking lot downtown (cement…so hot…) and was filled with 14 local, independent food trucks! We walked the .8 miles in the heat and it was so worth it! This was such a great people-watching opportunity (the anthropologist inside me was thrilled) and a great way to support these unique businesses!

http://www.bonbonbuggy.com/

Delicious treats from the Bon Bon Buggy!

http://www.steubens.com/

Steuben's is great restaurant in Denver and they also have a food truck!

Sunday involved a delightful (albeit sweaty) bike ride over to the Farmer’s Market in City Park! Also great for people watching, especially this week since there was a fun bluegrass/folksy band playing (pretty sure none of them had shoes on). We have so much food at home, but it’s just so tempting looking at the piles of fresh produce! We resisted and only got some whole wheat tortillas (delish!), some Argentinean lemonade (very sweet, almost had some hints of peach?) and a black blean & guac pupusa! So. good. Looks pretty simple to make, though I’m sure I’ll reject that statement once I try…

Such a happy sight--the mixing of food, people and sunlight!

Black bean and guacamole pupusa! yum!

Somehow this innocent trip to the Farmer’s Market turned into stopping at the Denver Zoo, buying a year membership and wandering around snapping photos of the pachyderms (best word ever), marsupials and birds! I love that we are within a 10 minute bike ride of the zoo! Though I don’t completely agree with the “zoo” concept (animals don’t belong in an urban setting), I do enjoy the educational aspect and understand that under certain circumstances, the zoo can promote mating for endangered species. Take the good with the bad, I suppose. The tapirs that they were “encouraging” to mate seemed pretty disinterested. Just wanted to sleep!

yummeh om nom nom nom

Om nom nom nom. Some of these may have disappeared before assembling the fajidillas!

Apologies for butchering the Spanish language with my made-up words.

The quesadilla/fajita hybrid! the fajidilla? quesajita?

With our goodies from the Farmer’s Market, we whipped up an easy meal of pseudo-quesadillas. Really, these were more like a mixture of fajitas and quesadillas. We grilled a bunch of vegetables (lightly tossed with canola oil and salt), layered them like a quesadilla with vegetarian refried beans and Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese. Grilled them a bit longer…whipped up some rice (which I forgot I wanted to make spanish rice! next time!)…and some guacamole! I absolutely love Haas avocados. Can’t get enough. Especially when they are 2 for $1 🙂 We really should have made only one fajidilla (quesadilla+fajita) because the thick zucchini squash really made them hearty! Quite tasty.

Another week gone. Another week closer to the Warrior Dash (eeek!) Going. to. pass. out. I can jog well at 5280ft here in Denver. The dash is at Copper Mountain which I think is like 7000-8000ft above sea level. Ack! Oh, Oxygen. I need you. It will be great fun, though I will be the one breathing loudly and stumbling about as the 60 year old marathoner passes me. Can’t wait!