Winter Wonder


These photos are from Upstate NY state parks and two different parks in Vermont. I understand that the cold is a bit troublesome for some people; I do. It doesn’t bother me, though. I think winter is so beautiful and peaceful. When I was taking some of these photographs there wasn’t a single person anywhere around me. I could hear the snowflakes falling and landing on the blanket of snow on the ground. It was magical.

Each season comes with its own beauty and its own tribulations. But I figure wherever I’m living in my life, I might as well make the best of it, and appreciate my environment for whatever it is. Happy winter to all!

Creamed Cauliflower


Serves: 4-6 people

-1/2 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped

-2/3 cup cream cheese

-1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

-1/2 cup whole milk

-1/2 cup parmesan cheese

-2 tsps black pepper

-Parsley and red chili flakes for garnish (optional)

Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water. Place the chopped cauliflower into the pot and cover with a lid. On medium-high heat, steam the cauliflower until it is falling apart. While the cauliflower is still hot, strain the water out using a slotted spoon and place the cauliflower into a food processor or mixer. Add the cream cheese, garlic, whole milk, parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Process the mixture until smooth. Place into a serving dish and top with parsley and red chili flakes for color. Serve warm & enjoy! xx


Vegan & Gluten Free Eggplant Rollatini


Serves: 4

-1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise

-2 cups tomato sauce

-8 oz. extra firm tofu (half of a typical 16 oz. package), drained

-1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

-3 cloves garlic, minced

-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

-5 tablespoons olive oil

-2 medium onions, sliced thinly

-2 tablespoons sugar

-2 tsps salt

-1 tsp dried oregano

-1 tsp dried rosemary

-1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. What I like to do is slice the top off of an eggplant so that you can have a flat base in order to slice the eggplant lengthwise. Slice the eggplant into about 1/2 inch slices. On a large, greased baking tray, lay out the eggplant slices and cover them with aluminum foil. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the eggplant is malleable and cooked, but not mushy. Let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, crumble the tofu. Mash with a fork so that it’s similar to the texture of scrambled eggs. Add the spinach, garlic, balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and the salt & herbs. Stir well and set aside.

In a large skillet, add about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Break up the rings of your thinly sliced onions, and turn the skillet on medium-low heat. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar and stir well. For about 20-30 minutes, caramelize the onions until they are light brown, stirring every few minutes.

In a pie dish or other baking dish, ladle about 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the tofu filling in the middle of the eggplant slice, and roll it up. Reserve about 1/3 cup of tofu mixture for garnish on top of the rolls.

Once your dish is filled, dollop about 1 tablespoon of sauce on top of each roll, and add about 1 tablespoon of the tofu mixture. Spread the caramelized onions around the top of the rolls and between them.

Place into a 350 degree oven and bake for another 20 minutes until the tofu garnish is golden brown and crispy.



Thai Peanut Sauce–Perfect for Spring Rolls or Rice Noodles



This peanut sauce is a perfect combination of sweet, salty, creamy, & spicy. You can adjust the heat depending on what your preference is, but it is simply divine! I love making this sauce for a thai rice noodle & veggie dish, or for a dipping sauce for vegetarian spring rolls with lots of veggies, tofu, and cilantro. Yum! No matter how you serve it up, you and your guests will love it!

Yield: 1.5 cups of peanut sauce

-1 and 1/3 cups creamy peanut butter

-1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

-1/4 cup chili garlic sauce like this one (or 1/4 cup sriracha sauce mixed with 1 clove minced garlic)

-1/2 cup sugar

-1/3 cup gluten free soy sauce

-1/3 cup water

-1/3 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped roughly

It’s simple–just take these ingredients and whisk them all together in a large bowl. It will take about 1 minute to combine these ingredients. I like to serve it with the chopped peanuts on top for some texture. Enjoy! xx

Smoky Vegan Succotash


Serves: 4

-1, 16 oz can of lima beans, drained

-2 cups fresh cooked corn (or frozen if you’d like)

-1 cup zucchini, diced

-1/2 medium onion, minced

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-6 “strips” MorningStar Farms Veggie Bacon, diced

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-2 tsps poultry seasoning

-1 tsp red pepper flakes

-1 tsp salt

In a large skillet on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, zucchini, onion, and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil on medium/high heat. Cook the diced “bacon” for 3-4 minutes, or until it gets golden brown in color. Add back into the pan the zucchini mixture, along with the cooked or frozen corn, lima beans, and seasoning. Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve warm & enjoy!



Mushroom & Kale Puff Pastry Pockets


Yield: 12 pockets

-1 box of Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Dough (two sheets come per package), thawed

-2 cups diced baby bella mushrooms

-2  and 1/2 cups finely chopped kale, stems removed

-1 medium white onion, minced

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or dried)

-3 tablespoons butter

-2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and place into the refrigerator or on the counter for about an hour prior to making this dish. Set aside for now.

Add the butter into a large skillet. When it’s melted, add the onions & let them cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, or until they are slightly caramelized. Add the garlic, rosemary, & mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are halfway cooked through, then add the kale. Pour about 1/2 cup of water into the pan and cover with a lid so that the kale can steam and get soft–about 10 more minutes. Taste for salt and add some if you feel it needs it.

Once the puff pastry sheets are thawed, cut each ply of the sheet into 2 equal parts. This should make 6 equal pieces per sheet (12 all together). Using your hands, gently stretch out a puff pastry square. In the center of the dough, add about 2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture. Bring together the opposite corners and pinch the puff pastry together as best you can. I had a little difficulty with this (as you can tell from the photo). I suggest that if you want your pockets to stay completely closed, dab your fingers into some cold water while you’re pinching them closed–this will help the dough to stay together.

Place the pockets onto a greased baking tray. Bake for about 2o-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!



Spinach and Parmesan Balls


Yield: Around 20 Spinach Balls

-1, 10 oz package of frozen CHOPPED spinach

-3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (you can use gluten free breadcrumbs for this as well)

-1 large egg, whisked

-1 medium onion, minced

-1 clove garlic, minced

-1/2 stick + 1 tbsp butter

-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

-1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

-1 tsp dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the package of frozen spinach into a microwave safe bowl. Cook for about 6 minutes then side aside for now.

In a large pan, add 1 tablespoon butter, minced onion, and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the pepper and thyme, stir well, then place the ingredients into a large mixing bowl with the chopped spinach. When the mixture has cooled, add the whisked egg, melted 1/2 stick of butter, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese. Stir well so that the mixture looks uniform.

Grease a large tray and form 1-inch diameter spinach balls. Place into the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top gets golden brown. Enjoy!


Vegan Thanksgiving Recipe; Stuffed Zucchini Boats


Yield: 4 Stuffed Zucchini Halves

-2 medium/large zucchinis (about 8 in. in length)

-1/2 package of MorningStar Grillers Recipe Crumbles (or something similar)

-1 and 1/2 cups tomato puree

-1 and 1/2 cups raw kale, chopped into small pieces

-1 small white onion, chopped finely

-1 tablespoon fennel seeds

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-1/2 cup of water

-1 tablespoon salt

-2 tsps pepper

Remove the fake sausage crumbles from the freezer and let thaw for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a casserole dish with edges, place the 1/2 cup of water and the halved zucchinis with the flesh-side up (make sure you halve them length-wise! :))

Bake the zucchini for about 30 minutes, or until the inside is tender. Remove from the oven but keep the oven on. Cool the zucchini until you can pick them up with your hands. Using a spoon, scoop out the insides of the zucchini. Leave about 1/4 inch around the  zucchini’s edge so that it does not fall apart.

While you are baking the zucchini, cook the onions with the olive oil and fennel until the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the kale, salt, & pepper and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the kale is very tender. Add the fake “sausage” and tomato puree and stir until completely mixed. Fill your zucchini boats with the vegetarian sausage mixture and place back into the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the top gets crispy.


Pulled “Pork” (BBQ Jackfruit) Tacos with Brussels Sprout Slaw (Gluten Free & Vegan)


Have you ever heard of Jackfruit? Well, neither had I until a few weeks ago. I like to peruse the Natural Foods section of Wegmans and see if they have any new products, or try products that I’ve never had before. In the faux meat section (my favorite!), there were several new products by The Jackfruit Company. This company was started by a woman named Annie who tried Jackfruit on her first trip to India in 2011. There, she saw huge potential for this gigantic fruit. She then created Global Village Fruit; a social enterprise that helps local farmers use this healthy, natural meat alternative in their local market. I love this idea. If you’d like to learn more about Annie’s mission and the products that this company offers, click here!

So after I learned a little bit about The Jackfruit Company, I wanted to learn more about this fruit. It’s INCREDIBLE. Here’s the Wiki page on the jackfruit. It’s the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, and can weight up to 80 lbs! Not only is this fruit mild in taste, has a sturdy texture, and takes on whatever flavor you cook it with; it is extremely nutritious. About 1/2 cup of Jackfruit has 90 calories, & is a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, providing about 13.7 mg. The fruit is also rich in vitamin B6, potassium, and calcium. Needless to say, I think that this a HUGE up and coming vegetarian/vegan/gluten free eater phenomenon, & I am very excited for it!

Yield: 6 tacos

-1 package of BBQ Jackfruit made by the Jackfruit Company (I found this at Wegmans in the natural foods section)

-6 corn tortillas (These are my favorite gluten free corn tortillas. They stay together the best and I have found that they are the more moist than other brands).

For the Brussels Sprout Slaw

-1 cup shredded Brussels Sprouts

-1 tablespoon minced onion

-2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

-1 tsp celery seed

-1/2 tsp cumin

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a medium skillet, add the oil. Add the shredded Brussels Sprouts and onions and cook until tender–about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and pour into a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and stir well so that all of the ingredients are mixed.

For the Spicy Vegan Mayo

-1/2 cup Vegenaise Original Mayo (Again, I found this in the natural foods section of Wegmans. I also find it at any health food store or food co-op).

-1 tablespoon water

-1 tsp cumin

-1 tsp chili powder

-1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix together all of the ingredients; easy at that!


Heat the BBQ Jackfruit either in a skillet or in the microwave. While it’s heating up, wrap your corn tortillas in plastic wrap and stick them in the microwave for just 10 seconds. This will make them pliable and soft!

Put an equal amount of the jackfruit mixture in each taco shell, topped with a few tablespoons of the brussels sprouts slaw, and then a drizzle of the spicy mayo. Simple as that, and enjoy!! xx

Auspicious Autumn

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“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
We’ve all read it, we all quote it on occasion: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost; one of the most beautiful poems of all time (of course, my opinion). The autumn imagery this poem elicits is one of the reasons I chose to share it. But another reason is because of the last five lines. When he writes “I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence” I always wonder if he is sighing out of contentment or remorse; or neither. Perhaps he looks back on all of his life choices and sighs because, either way, there was a path that he steered away from. Not because it was bad, not because he didn’t want to go there, but because sometimes we have to choose between two directions that do not line up. As he writes, “though as for that the passing there, had worn them really about the same,” he is explaining that each path has been taken by many people before; not one path was “better” or “more attractive” than the other. We simply sometimes don’t know why we do things; why we choose one action or behavior over the other. And that’s okay. None of us will ever know what our life would have looked like if we did something differently. Isn’t that the beauty of it all, though? But I still wonder about the “sigh,” and hope that one day, ages and ages hence, I’ll look at the path that I’ve taken and I will sigh with contentment.