Food

Perfect Summer Pasta Salad

I've made so many pasta salads over the years, it's hard to say which is my favorite, but if you asked me today, I'd have to vote for this awesome pasta salad (with a few of my own ingredients). It's simple to make, as long as you are ok spending some time with a knife at a cutting board. If…

Hearty Pumpkin Seed Granola Bars

While at yoga teacher training 2 weekends ago we stopped by Highland Bakery, a local Atlanta bakery with the best baked goods, for an energy boost.  I ordered a coffee and nutrition bar; this granola bar was one of the best I have ever had.   After examining the ingredients I decided there were 3 ingredients that were making this granola bar stand above others: the texture from some sort of Rice Krispy cereal, pumpkin seeds, and the fact that peanut butter was holding it all together.  I immediately decided this is something I had to recreate. I was wiped out of these these wholesome granola bars in less than a week!  Not only did they taste delicious while being packed with healthy ingredients, but grabbing an individually packaged bar out of the freezer couldn't be easier when you are on the run. Don't get caught up in all the ingredients and feel free to use your favorite nuts or dried fruit- I added in flax seed and chia seeds just because I had them on hand, but no sweat if you don't. Hearty Pumpkin Seed Granola Bars | Vanilla & Velvet
Peanut Butter Energy Bar
Author: Gina Mueller
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup natural creamy peanut butter (my favorite is trader joes)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup crisp brown rice cereal
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup flax seeds
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. wrap a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with parchment paper
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, brown sugar, cinnamon. Stir and cook until mixture is melted, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  4. In a large bowl, combine oats, rice cereal, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, peanuts, dates and salt (add dates last so salt doesn't stick to just a few).
  5. Pour peanut butter mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir gently with a spatula until well combined.
  6. Transfer to baking dish, cover with parchment paper and press firmly into dish.
  7. Allow to cool completely (i put mine in the freezer to cool) .
  8. Cut into squares or bars, warp individually and store in freezer
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Ginger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry

Ginger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & Velvet I hope you all had a nice and relaxing weekend.   Fall is finally here and although it’s been pretty warm during the day, it’s starting to cool off a bit once the sun goes down - giving me an excuse to wear all my favorite chunky knit sweaters, boots and scarves.  Greg has been traveling a lot lately, which I hate, fortunately  I haven't had much time to notice except for in the evenings because i'm busy every day with either work, school or yoga teacher training.   The plus to Greg traveling is that I get to cook whatever I want - and tofu happens to fall into a food group that he sticks his nose up at.  I found inspiration for this recipe over at Pinch of Yum. Happy fall!
Ginger Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry
Author: Gina Mueller
Ingredients
  • STIR FRY
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice or farro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups chopped asparagus
  • 2 cups thinly chopped carrots
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • GARLIC GINGER STIR FRY SAUCE
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey (more to taste)
  • ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Puree all the sauce ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Cook the rice or farro according to package directions.
  3. Press tofu for a couple hours to remove excess moisture.
  4. Cut the tofu slices into small cubes.
  5. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  6. Add the tofu and about ¼ cup of the stir fry sauce-- Pan-fry the tofu until golden brown. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel lined plates.
  7. Return the pan to the heat and stir fry the vegetables with a bit of oil. Mix in the remaining sauce
  8. Add farro and mix together
  9. Top with tofu and a sprinkle of green onions
Ginger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & Velvet My technique for pressing tofu - just fill a pot with water and sandwich the tofu between two plates. Ginger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetDon't mind the strange looking techture.  Thats what happens when you whip coconut oil.  You won't be able to tell it ever looked strange once you heat it up Ginger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & VelvetGinger Tofu and Vegetable Farro Stir Fry | Vanilla & Velvet  

Healthy Hearty Chili

Healthy Hearty Chili | Vanilla & Velvet Fall has not quite swept through Atlanta like I'm use to up north. However, temperatures dropped down to 60 over the weekend and our recent trip to the smokey mountains reminded me that fall is here. And that means chili season is here! Have you ever noticed that people are picky about chili?  Personally I want it to be similar to the version I grew up with and corn is a must.  No corn in your chilli?  I'd say I've had better.  Today I am sharing my go to chili recipe - I always stick the basics but often mix up the beans and meat to whatever I have on hand.  You will notice I go a bit crazy when it comes to the beans - pinto beans, black beans, AND green beans.  Just trying to squeeze in our veggies and protein- try it out.  I bet you don't even notice.
Healthy Hearty Chili
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Gina Mueller
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup masa harina ( corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
  • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can pinto beans or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can corn, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can green beans, drained and rinsed
  • Shredded Cheddar, for serving
  • Chopped onions, for serving
  • Oyster crackers or your favorite noodles, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving
Instructions
  1. Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic.
  2. Cook over medium heat until browned.
  3. Drain off the excess fat, and pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of water as needed. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 2o minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  5. Place the masa harina in a small bowl.
  6. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork.
  7. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and /or water to get the chili to your preferred taste.
  8. Add the beans and simmer for an hour minutes.
  9. Serve with shredded Cheddar, macaroni noodles, and hot sauce-- or any of your favorite chili toppings.
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Sun-dried Tomato Tuna Melt

We had the best tuna melt the other weekend at Savi Provisions in Inman park, a cute little neighborhood grocery store. I think the magic ingredient  was some sort of pesto spread. It was so delicious I was inspired to play around with a new tuna sandwich recipe. We had sun-dried tomatoes at home so I decided to go the route of sun-dried tomatoes vs pesto and with some help from a Tasty Kitchen recipe I created this yummy sandwich. Sun-dried Tomato Tuna Melt | Vanilla & Velvet
Sun-dried Tomato Tuna Sandwich
Author: Gina Mueller
Ingredients
  • 1 can Tuna, Drained, 6-7 Ounce Can
  • 1 Tablespoon Sun-dried Tomatos
  • 2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pinch Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 slices of gouda cheese (or enough for 2 sandwiches)
  • 2 teaspoons Mustard
  • Lettuce or spinach(about A Handful)
  • Sandwich Bread (my favorite is sour dough)
Instructions
  1. Combine the tuna, sun dried tomatos, vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper in a small bowl; mix well.
  2. Spread a little mustard on one slice of bread . Top with lettuce, half of the gouda cheese, and half of the tuna mixture.
  3. Place another slice of bread on top and repeat with the other sandwich.
  4. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, tilt the pan around to spread the butter.
  5. Turn heat down to medium-low and cook for 3-4 minutes or until bread turns golden brown and the filling becomes warm.
  6. Remove sandwiches from the pan, place remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter in the skillet and cook the other sides of the sandwiches, covered, for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and the filling is hot.
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Fresh Cherry Pie

Remember when I told you my computer crashed the other week?  Well the pictures to a beautiful Smitten Kitchen peach pie died with it.  The pie was so scrumptious I decided to try a round 2 with a cherry filling and it turned out just as beautiful and delicious as the first.  Unless you are Greg, who does not like the texture of baked whole cherries...  No matter what filling you go with, the pie crust recipe will not fail - It is my third time making Smitten Kitchen's pie crust  and the third time it turned out perfectly. Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet
Fresh Cherry Pie
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Gina Mueller
Ingredients
  • CRUST
  • 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
  • 1 tablespoons (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 sticks (225 grams, 8 ounces, or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1/2 cup water, very cold
  • FILLING
  • 4 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries (2 1/2 pounds, unpitted)
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) corn starch
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup (134 to 150 grams) sugar, adjusted accordingly to sweetness of cherries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy or whipping cream
  • Additional sugar for topping crust (coarse sugar is a nice option)
Instructions
  1. PIE DOUGH
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl.
  3. Using a pastry blender, herb scissors or your fingertips until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas.
  4. Gently stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball.
  5. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc.
  6. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days.
  7. Flour your counter, unwrap your first dough and put it in the middle and flour that too. Start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the pin and moving it from the center out; be patient and it will crack less.
  8. Once your dough is a 12- to 13-inch circle, transfer pie dough to a standard pie dish by folding it gently into quarters, arranging the folded corner into one quadrant of the bottom of your tin and gently unfolding it to fit over the base.
  9. Trim the overhang to one inch.
  10. CHERRY FILLING
  11. In a large bowl, stir cornstarch, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon juice and the salt together then add cherries. Gently toss to combine.
  12. ASSEMBLE
  13. Preheat: Oven to 425 degrees
  14. Scoop filling into bottom pie dough, including any juices.
  15. Roll out your top pie dough using the same procedure, until it is 12 to 13 inches in diameter.
  16. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction. Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed.
  17. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim. Pinch or gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp decoratively.
  18. Brush pie with milk, cream or water and sprinkle with sugar.
  19. Bake for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is set and beginning to brown.
  20. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake pie for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbling all over and the crust is a nice golden brown.
  21. Cool pie.
Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet I used a chopstick to pit the cherries here are some other alternative tools if you don't have a cherry pitter. Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetAnother makeshift tool, these herb scissors work wonders if you don't have a pastry blender on hand. Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet Fresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & VelvetFresh Cherry Pie | Vanilla & Velvet

Coconut Oil & Banana Pancakes

I have been craving sweets a bit more than usual.  When this happens I find the best way to kick the sweet tooth is not to avoid sweets - because lets face it, thats not realistic.  Instead to only allow myself healthier versions of my favorite treats, this way I can eat enough to satisfy my craving while not feeling…

Flank Steak and Farro Salad

Greg and I try to be adventurous with our meals, but have found we stray away from experimenting with pricey meats. The excuse that we don't have a grill is getting old and when Greg's mom visited us the other month there was a lot of talk and no action around cooking with new meats.  Shortly after Greg's mom left we…