Monday, August 29, 2011

A Family Dinner Party!

     Wowza - there are so many events happening in the lives of my family members! This special get-together was in celebration of the sweet new life of my nephew, my brother's birthday, and the farewell to him and his little family (off to Michigan this week)!

     I had the special opportunity to showcase a few of my favorite dishes - what a delight! Everyone was quite complimentary and greatly expressed their enjoyment of the food- I am so encouraged by their support. And I had the sweet treat of having one of my favorite sous chefs in the kitchen with me ... thank you, Kara! ;-)

Dinner Party Menu:
Quinoa-Corn Chowder
Raw & Cooked Salad
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
Chocolate Cherry Truffles
GF Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Lemon-Blueberry Water

Raw & Cooked Salad
Roasted Red Peppers & Onions, Red Potatoes, Green Beans,
Flaxseed Tempeh, & Fresh Tomatoes served over a bed of Butter Lettuce Leaves
tossed in a Red Wine Vinaigrette

Homemade Bread made with Genuine Love!

....beautiful brown bread...

Chocolate Cherry Truffles
(...looks like someone scampered off with one already!)

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes
with a Chocolate "Cream Cheese" Frosting
and Blueberries!
     
     What a treat it is to serve my food to loved ones! I enjoy serving and sharing delicous & nourishing food with others. Catering small parties are definitely on my "can-do" list. Let me know if you desire your next luncheon, baby shower, family get-together, bridal shower, etc. to be catered. I'm your gal! :-)

Friday, August 26, 2011

26 Hour Drive : Conquered!

     Goodness, it has been a little while since I last updated - but what a whirlwind it has been! I left Austin this past Sunday and drove to see my family in PA. Along the way, I stopped in Dallas and Pittsburg to visit two of my college girlfriends - such a treat! Thanks for hosting me ladies! :-) After a 26-hour journey, my body is greatly opposed to being in the car for longer than 20 minutes...for a while, at least.

     The drive was totally worth it as you can see from the pictures below. So much has already been celebrated (i.e. completing my culinary program & externships, my sis is having a GIRL, etc.) and there is so much more to be celebrated (i.e. my new nephew & hangin' out with my sweet Indy niece)!

Playing dress-up 15 minutes after my arrival!

Loving Aunt Katie's GF, vegan pizza! Yum!

Enjoying PBJ by the pool!

Water baby!!

All 5 girls together (one unseen)! :-)

A happy family - It's a GIRL!

     Once I get a little more settled, I will be back to posting recipes regularly - so please hang with me! :-) I hope all is well with my readers - feel free to leave me a shout out! ;-)

     Many hugs...Kate.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweet, Beautiful, "Last" Moments

     This week has been full of "last days for me." For example, last week ended my time at the Young Chefs Academy (externship site) & Lenscrafters (my part-time job), Saturday was my last swim at Barton Springs, Sunday was my last party with all of my friends, last night was my last dinner and baking date - for a few months ;) - with my girl, Alison, and tonight was my last night out with my beautiful roommate, Andrea. Oh, how I have been blessed! However, I do have a few more days ahead of me with some awesome opportunities before I hit the road...

     My precious moments have been so beautifully captured...I certainly did not just receive a culinary education - I received life-long friendships and a one-of-a-kind experience that was divinely created. Enjoy...


Enjoying the BEST smoothie ever before taking a swim at Barton Springs.
"Girls on Film" Smoothie with Durian, Banana, Raw Cacao,
and Coconut Juice - BAM!

"Farewell Fiesta" - surrounded by my blessings.

My precious Austin Family who has embraced me
with so much love & care!
 
A Birthday & Farewell Dinner with Sweet Andrea...
...you are precious to me...hugs to you.

The main reason we came to this restaurant - the Butternut Squash Ravioli!
A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. - It tantalized every taste bud in my mouth!
Mmmm.... :-)

Here's to Life in Austin, Texas - Thank you, Lord, for a beautiful 6 months.
I've learned more than I ever thought I could in such a short amount of time...
...I certainly know there is so much more to come...
    
     Thank you for joining me in this journey. I appreciate all those who have read my blog and have followed me since post #1. :-) I still have several exciting memories to make while I'm still here in Austin, so please stay tuned!

With love,
Kate

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Pretty Pleeeease" Popsicles

     We all know it is ridiculously hot outside in most states - especially Texas - 106 today!! Why not cool off with tasty popsicles that are so much better for you than those found at the grocery store - most of those have food colorings and preservatives.  Once you make either of these popsicle recipes at home, you, your kiddos, & your friends will be saying "pretty pleeeease" to make even more of these delightful & cooling pops!

     Most everyone enjoys chocolate (I know I do!), so let's start with the chocolate, fudgy, almost "girl scout cookie" pops! The pictures for the ready-to-eat popsicles are at the end...please be patient...I had to be! :-)

#1 Samoa Pops

Tasty ingredients to make Your Fudgy Pops!
Try not to eat too many chocolate chips while making
these little guys...although, I have no idea of anyone
who would do that anyway! ;-)

Chocolate Chips & Coconut Oil Melting over a Pot of Boiling Water
 
All the yummy ingredients combined together!

1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 + 3/4 cups coconut milk (canned or from a carton)
1/4 cup organic finely shredded unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:
Melt the chocolate & oil in a bowl placed over a small pot of boiling water just until it melts. Turn off the heat & whisk in the coconut milk. Stir in coconut flakes. Cool mixture before pouring it into the molds to freeze. Yields 8 small popsicles. Freeze for at least 2 hours.
ENJOY!

...next popsicle, please step up & freeze...
(haha)


#2 Coconut-Lime-Basil Pops

Such a Refreshing Combination!
This Basil is from our very own backyard!

Allowing the flavors to infuse!

Ah, love the Vitamix - I'm gonna miss my
favorite kitchen appliance!

Ingredients for Coconut-Basil-Lime Pops:

1 + 2/3 cup coconut milk (carton or can is fine)
1/4 cup agave or brown rice syrup
4-5 leaves basil
Juice of 1 lime, including pulp

 
Directions:
Warm the coconut milk, agave, and basil in a small saucepan to infuse the basil flavor into the milk and to integrate the sweetness. Next, blend the coconut milk, agave, and basil in a blender for 1-2 minutes until basil is shredded. Finally, add the lime juice and pulp. Blend once again.
Pour into popsicle molds and freeze at least 2 hours. Yields 8 small popsicles.


Filling the Popsicle Molds - each mold was only $2 at the grocery store!
 
...Sweet Treats ready to be put in the freezer for a few hours...

Mmmm...what a fun project to do on my lunch break!
Personally, my favorite pop was the CBL!
    
"Pretty Pleeeease" treat yourself to these sweet little treats!?
You'll be so happy you did!

Recipes inspired by Complicatarian - check her out - these coconut-basil-lime pops made it to the top 5 finalists for
Yum Universe's Recipe Contest!
 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It's A Birthday Party!

     What a beautiful day! Alison and I had the opportunity to cater my roommate's birthday party last night. From menu-planning, to grocery shopping, to chair-rental, to making all of the hor d'vourves & desserts, we had a fantastic catering experience. There are a few things we need to take note of for future events, but we were quite excited for the delightful results.

     Everyone loved the food, which of course pleased us greatly! When such laughter and positive energy is put into the food, how could it not turn out wonderful? :-) Needless to say, Alison and I giggled a lot & enjoyed our time together in the kitchen.

Cookin' It Up in the Kitchen!

Our Lovely Venue (...the backyard...)
...with a misting system to keep the guests cool...

A Beautiful (Hot) Day!
 
Spread of Hor d'vourves

Orange-Ginger Tofu Spring Rolls
accompanied by a Peanut Dipping Sauce

Crudit├ęs & Homemade Pita Bread
Pepita-Parsley Dip & Chickpea Hummus


Black Bean Fiesta Patties; Curried Samosas with
Apple Raisin Chutney; Lovely Lemon Bites

GF Vanilla-Lemon Cake lovingly spread with a
"one-of-a-kind" Chocolate-Coconut Icing
& garnished with Fresh Strawberries

Ah - what a beautiful familiy!

Three of my favorite blessings!
Happy Birthday, Andrea!

     Catering & party planning certainly requires quite the endurance & stamina! Overall, I am pleased with how the food & party turned out as we received rave reviews from our clients & guests. I'm excited to make improvements for the next event! Both Alison & I are about to pack up & move out of Austin - we're excited to see the opportunites that come our way!

     A special thanks to Alison, my biking buddy, cooking partner, & sweet friend ~ you are amazing! :-)

     Hugs to all!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pineapple Almond Delights!

     This recipe is a discovery of mine from Sweet Potato Soul's blog. This young gal has an excellent blog - very impressive. I found her through Yum Universe (another amazing plant-based food website)! I chose to rename these little treats as I found simple "delight" in the fruitful flavors. Please make these & enjoy for your next snack, dessert, or for that mid-afternoon sugar craving! :-)

...Pineapple Almond Delights...
*Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free*

Using a vitamix or blender,
blend all ingredients until well-combined.
 
Delights ready to rock and roll!
 
Roll "batter" into 1-inch rolls...roll in shredded coconut.

Pineapple Almond Delights, ladies & gents!
    
Delightful Ingredients:
1 cup almonds
1 cup dried pineapple, diced
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted & diced
4 dried apricots, diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preparation for your Delights:
1. In a food processor grind the almonds until they become a fine meal.
2. Add pineapple, dates and apricots along with cinnamon and salt to the processor and mix until combined well.
3. Pour in the coconut oil and vanilla and process a few seconds.
4. The consistency should be a bit chunky and hold together when formed.
5. Form dough into small or large balls and roll in shredded coconut to coat.
6. Place onto a plate and into the refrigerator to chill at least 30 minutes before enjoying.

Props to Jenne! Enjoy everyone!
.Be sweet.
~Chef Kate~

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rockin' Rice Rolls

     These rockin' rice rolls feature brown rice & seaweed - two foods that are wonderful for your body! Brown rice is an exciting staple in life...in my opinion! And what better way to eat it than to spice it up with sesame butter (tahini), nori sheets, and ume vinegar. Now that's my kind of quick snack! Although you may be giving me a funky look through the computer screen right now, I encourage you to make these little rolls & find the joy in the natural sweetness of the brown rice & the rich satisfaction in the sesame butter.

     Sesame seeds are a fantastic source of copper, magnesium, & calcium (about 35% of DV per 1/4 cup)! Skip the glass of milk - have a rice roll & receive more bio-available iron & calcium, and more fiber & flavor while you're at it!

          "'Open sesame'—the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights—reflects the
           distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it
           reaches maturity." :-)

Brown Rice with Sesame Butter & Ume Mixed In...
Time for the Nori!

Tear the Nori and Mix in!

...Rockin' Rice Rolls...

1 cup short-grain brown rice, uncooked
2 cups filtered water
1 inch piece kombu
1/3 cup sesame butter (tahini)
1 tsp ume plum vinegar
2 (un)toasted nori sheets
Sesame seeds for garnish

Rinse and drain the rice using several changes of water. Place rice and water in a medium-size saucepan and let soak 6-8 hours or overnight (to improve digestibility). After soaking (do not pour out soaking water), place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, lower heat and add kombu (another sea vegetable high in minerals). Simmer for 25 minutes until all water is absorbed. Remove kombu before moving on with the next step. Makes about 2 ½ cups of delicious brown rice.
In the same medium saucepan, stir in the sesame tahini butter and ume plum vinegar with the warm rice until combined. Roughly tear the nori sheets into small pieces and stir to fully incorporate with the rice mixture
Using wet fingers, mold mixture into 1 ½ inch rolls. Sprinkle the rolls with sesame seeds for garnish. Enjoy munching on these salty & “buttery” little guys!
*Yields about 14 rolls*

...simple, yet delicious...