Thursday, January 31, 2013

On My Way

After weeks of anticipation, I am on my way to Phoenix for a short but sweet visit.

Though it took much deliberation, I decided not to pack my laptop for the trip. No worries though, I have a few things planned for you while I'm gone. And, if you'd like to follow along, you can find me on Instagram.

You can also take a few minutes to look at the wrap-up post from my last trip to Arizona. I took my own chance to reflect back on these photos realized how quickly somet things can change in less than eighteen months while others remain just the same.. Case in point? My hair and insistence on wearing leggings as pants. But in all seriousness, I love reflecting on how my plans have evolved since that last weekend trip.

Tomorrow, I will be spending the day in Flagstaff visitng Northern Arizona University with a morning filled to the brim. As I receive more and more graduate school admissions decisions, I'm feeling thankful to be able to visit the unviersity's campus for a tour and various meetings. The rest of my weekend remains open, though. So far on my list? A visit to Gelato Spot. Clearly,I'm not a planner, unless frozen desserts are involved.

So tell me, do you have any recommendations for my trip? Favorite resataurants in Phoenix? Shopping suggestions? Somwhere I simply must visit while in Flagstaff? Do tell.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIAW | Busy Eats

I'd like to pretend that we've had a week of balanced, healthy, produce filled dinners but the truth of the matter is, this week has been so busy. Between finishing school, nursing myself back to health from an infection, and preparing for my trip, I haven't had much time for meal planning. I thought about skipping WIAW for the week but after some thought, I realized that it's really okay to not have a week of perfect eats. (Though browsing the WIAW linkup hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons has me regretting not asking some of you for your meal plans instead!)

Lately, we haven't been eating weeknight dinners. With Trevor waking up so early to leave for work and our nights filled with homework, blogging and trips to the gym, we decided to forgo the pile of dishes that dinner typically creates. I'm currently trying to find someone willing to clean the kitchen for me everyday in exchange for baked goods. So for today, WIAW is limited to breakfast and lunch.

We are still playing with what Trevor can eat and in the meantime we've settled on alternating two breakfast choices - cinnamon rolls and breakfast hash. Though the variations change each time, we particularly loved a combination of breakfast sausage, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, broccoli and carrots. (We actually loved it so much that we mixed the leftovers with chicken for tacos as dinner later.) With avocados in season and on sale, I've found myself incorporating them into everything - including breakfast. I think that putting a sliced avocado over eggs or hash is a great way to add extra nutrition early in the day.

Last week we were able to enjoy an unseasonably warm stretch of days but now, the Montana winter is back with a vengeance. I sat through an early morning meeting and when it was over, my lips were purple. So, while I have been carefully budgeting over the past few weeks, I had to make an exception for a hot chai latte after my web design meeting. I also attempted to warm up with a bowl of  (way too) spicy chili for lunch. I've set aside Sunday evenings for making soup, it's my way of making Trevor's cold work week a little bit easier. Last week, three-bean vegetarian chili and this week a homemade hearty beef stew with lots of  fresh vegetables from our new co-op.

With our limited meals and my busy schedule, I've found myself eating a lot of snacks. For those of you that are gluten-free, have you seen these new cheese crackers from Van's Natural Foods? I stumbled upon them in the miniature gluten-free section of our Walmart and they've been on our grocery list since. My memory may be compensating after three years without but I truly think they taste just like Cheeze-It crackers. I could be wrong. Other healthy snacks have included Mott's Medley fruit snacks made from fruit and vegetable juice, and lots of fresh fruit from this week's basket - pears, apples, bananas, strawberries, watermelon, pineapple. If you are in a participating state, I can't suggest Bountiful Baskets enough.

And, as you've quickly realized, I've been doing a lot of experimenting with vegan baking lately. With college classes finished for at least six months, I've found myself with extra time in the kitchen. After we got four juicy bright lemons admist our produce this week, I couldn't stop thinking about lemon chess pie. Unfortunately, eggs are basically a necessity for the filling and so I improvised with gluten-free vegan lemon cookies. While they didn't turn out quite as pretty as I would have liked, the taste is the perfect balance of tart lemon and sweet, buttery flavors, only without the milk, of course. Since I enjoyed eating them (and making candied lemon peel) so much, I may have to work on a perfected version to share with you.

So tell me, what have you been snacking on? Would you clean my kitchen in exchange for some cookies?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ten on Tuesday | Travel Essentials

After a few years of flying to and from Florida, New Orleans, Missouri, Arizona, France and Montana,  I consider myself pretty experienced at traveling. While the talent of packing for the trip itself still eludes me, I think that I have a pretty good handle on the rest of things. So, with a trip to Arizona quickly approaching, I thought I would share my travel essentials with you.

1 // Modcloth Cardigan - I tend to wear the same thing for every flight with a few changes depending on the season and location. I am naturally cold, all the time, and I find that airplanes can have dramatic changes in temperature, as well. To combat these problems, I always wear leggings, a loose fit tank top or t-shirt and a long, oversized cardigan. I find that this looks put together but is comfortable at the same time. Am I the only one who judges people who fly in their pajamas?

2 // Target Leggings - These ponte pants from Target provide a nice balance between dress and comfort, too. They're the sophisticated version of leggings - perfectly stretchy and comfortable without being see through.

3 // Derek Cardigan Sunglasses -  When hopping time zones or enduring long flights, jet lag and dehydration can sneak up on you quickly.  While I haven't ever been much of a sunglasses fan, I do travel with them as I find that sunglasses help to hide just how tired you are when stepping off a plane.

4 // Canon 60D - While I take my DSLR everywhere, my advice is just to make sure that you bring a camera for your travels - even if that just means having your iPhone handy.

5 // C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint - This, in Pink Mint, is hands down my favorite lip gloss - I've been using the same one for more than four years. It's an essential not only for travel but work, meetings, and nights out. It's a slightly shimmery, non-sticky gloss that tints your lips and freshens your breath.

6 // Paperchase Notebook - Flights are a great time for brainstorming and so I always carry a notebook  when I travel;  it's useful for jotting down to-do lists, schedules, and blogging ideas.

7 // Colored Sharpie Pens - These pens are my favorite. I tend to pack a few colored pens in my bag to make organizing my notes and calendar easier.

8 // GoPicnic Meals - Traveling on a gluten-free diet is hard. Airlines rarely offer snacks that are without wheat and airports are typically filled with fast food chains. Instead of worrying about what I can eat at a new airport, I pack a GoPicnic meal in my bag for the plane. While I love the tuna and crackers best, GoPicnic offers a variety of other healthy packaged meals including wheat-filled and vegan options. (And, they have sudoku in the box - a perfect way to pass time on a flight)

9 // Jansport Backpack - I used to fly with a tote bag for my personal item but quickly realized that a backpack provides the best option for me. When flying alone, it can be difficult to keep track of your things in a crowded airport. I also try not to touch my carry on once it has been stowed overhead and so it is nice to have things easily accessible during the flight.  A backpack has plenty of room for my laptop, my camera, magazines, and snacks, but is also easy to carry while rolling a carry on across a long airport terminal.

10 // Brookstone Nap Blanket - I always try to sleep on long flights and find that having a blanket is a necessity. This one from Brookstone is perfect for traveling - it's comfortable, warm, and just the right size.

So tell me, what are your travel essentials? I never get on a flight without something to read, a few bobby pins, makeup, a bottle of water, snacks and a pack of gum.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Snapshots from this week: 
1// Saturday morning sunshine in our kitchen. 
2// The weather has been crazier than ever - sunshine, wind, rain and snow, all in one day. 
3// This was our first week participating in Bountiful Baskets - we got all of this produce & 5lbs of potatoes for $15! 
4// While I missing being close to Target, I scored this brand new Target cardigan at Goodwill a few weeks ago. Love it.
5 // The makings of beef stew. 

Favorite posts this week: 
Living Well: Strength - Maeidae
Discovering Fur - Bureaucrachic
A fellow Montana blogger! I also loved her view on vintage fur.. and well, the whole outfit.
He Likes It - Kelli Trontel
Also from Montana, Kelli is a photographer in Whitefish and while I'm not all about baby posts.. those faces! I die! 
Our (Completely Unofficial) Macklemore Thrift Challenge - Young House Love
Trevor and I not only love this song, we also love the thrift store. We may have to play along.
Lipstick Guide - Cupcakes and CashmereOkay, I love lipstick. I don't wear it often because I can't find the right shade but I'm excited to try that coral. 

This week I'm... 

Celebrating that I've finally finished my undergraduate degree. Really people. I mean, if it have to be completely honest with you, I still have to take one last final this evening but then, it's six months without school work! 

Anticipating my prescription glasses arriving this week. While I'm still not over the idea of having to wear glasses every day, I can't wait to be done with blurry text and migraines. Plus, I actually like my frames and I'm excited to wear them. 

Getting ready for my trip to Arizona! That has meant cleaning the house, doing laundry, and making Trevor beef stew and peanut butter cookies. The last two because well, I know I'm going to miss him and I won't feel so bad if I at least leave him with cookies... right? 

Throwing clothes everywhere in an effort to pack. It's never been my favorite thing to do but this time, I'm trying to fit four days worth of necessities into a backpack. While Allegiant offers the best fares to and from Phoenix, those fares don't include a carry-on. Any tips?

Thankful for all of Trevor's help this weekend, and all the time, really. Between the whole finishing college and getting ready for Arizona thing, I've been busy and worse yet, I've been sick. So instead of waking me up early today, Trevor let me sleep in and cleaned the kitchen and bathroom. (And, this was before I even baked him cookies, people!) 

I'm also working on some changes to the blog and its design this week! Please don't mind if things are a little off over the next week days - including that off center header, oops. As you may have noticed, there is now room on the right to feature your blog or shop. If you'd like to swap ads, that will be an option in just a few days. Is there anything else you'd like to see here? Any questions you'd like me to answer? I'd love to include it in my redesign or answer your question on my "about me" page. xo. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dreaming of Dresses

1  // 2 // 3 // 4

On Tuesday, I mentioned that Valentine's Day is one of my least favorite holidays. That being said, shortly after writing that post, I started thinking more about the holiday and trying to reason why exactly it falls so short on my list of holidays. It's not that I've ever been one to sulk about not having a Valentine or that I've ever had high expectations and then been disappointed by the day. Let's be real here people. Once a boy bought me a chocolate pig filled with red pink and white candy corn -- I'm terrified of pigs. The next year, I got this video game. I will say that Trevor did the day justice last year with Starbucks in bed, though.

Really it just seems to have a day dedicated to saying "I love you" and eating chocolate when I try to make both of those habit in my life, every day. What can I say? I love chocolate. But I did a little more thinking about the way holidays work and I suppose if you want to make a holiday out of sweets, hearts, and perhaps a fancy dinner and a bottle of wine? Well, I'm okay with that.

That being said, our holiday will probably be low-key as our little town lacks in that "fancy dinner and bottle of wine department." (Plus, it's a little too cold in Montana for any of the dresses above). But if you're going to go out to celebrate, you should do so in real Valentine's fashion. 

Since we're already being honest here, I have to admit that between ModCloth's Cabin Fever Sale and the cute inventory at Kintage,  I've been spending too much time browsing online this week. The good news is that I've already picked out the perfect Valentine's dress for you, though. 

For fancier occasions, I can't get enough of the Queen of Hearts Dress with it's heart-shaped cutout and sweetheart neckline. I know that Trevor would love the color - his favorite. And in my head, I've already dressed it up with the perfect black heels. As for the second dress, I've really fallen for the high-low trend.

For more casual Valentine's plans, I've included two less formal dresses in my choices. These would also work well into the spring and summer. After all, chevron seems to be all the rage these days. And the floral print dress? It's on sale! And, to sweeten the deal, Kintage has offered my readers an additional 40% off all sale products! Just use the code "SALE40" when checking out.! That means you could have the perfect dress for your plans for just $13.20 - you're welcome.  

So tell me, what are your plans for Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIAW | Gluten-Free, Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

I've been anxiously waiting for Wednesday to come so that I could share this recipe with you. While I'd really love to share a batch of these with a cup of hot tea, that seemed a little harder to do. While I first created this recipe as the start to a Christmas morning tradition, I didn't feel that I had gotten it quite right. But now, after a few alterations, I am here to share with you a recipe for hot, fluffy, classic cinnamon rolls... only without the wheat, eggs or dairy.

If you're new to this link-up, What I Ate Wednesday is hosted weekly by Jenn at Peas and Crayons. The idea is to share a days worth of eats. While I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, these cinnamon rolls made up a whole day of eats for us on Saturday. We woke up unusually early and with an immense pile of homework, I couldn't think of anything better to do with the extra time than bake these.

In total, this recipe takes at least an hour and a half. I find it easiest to make the dough early in the morning and then allow it to rise while I take care of some weekend chores, like laundry. When I first made this recipe, I prepared the dough and roll at night, baking it the next morning. Though they were still delicious, the rolls weren't quite as fluffy and light that way.

Before going gluten-free, I had never imagined making cinnamon rolls from scratch. After all, Pillsbury was the standard in our house. That being said, homemade cinnamon rolls are not nearly as difficult or as daunting as they seem to be and I truly enjoy eating baking them.


2 Tablespoons of Earth Balance All Natural Spread
1/4 Cup of White Sugar
2/3 Cup of Almond Milk
1 Packet of Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1 Flax Egg (1 Tbsp of Flax Meal + 3 Tbsp of Water)
1/4 Cup of Canola Oil
1 1/2 to 2 Cups of Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Power from Bob's Red Mill
1/4 Tsp of Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons of Xanthum Gum
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Teaspoons Vanilla

1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon


For best results, mix your flax meal and water prior to starting the recipe. Flax eggs work best when allowed to rest in the refrigerator for ten to fifteen minutes.

Warm 2/3 cup of almond milk to 100 - 110 degrees. This temperature is very important and I strongly suggest using a thermometer to ensure that your milk is not overheated, as hot milk will kill the yeast. Dissolve one packet of active drive yeast in the milk and allow it to bubble for ten minutes. While the yeast bubbles, sift together 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, xanthum gum and salt.

After the yeast has had time to dissolve properly, combine the almond milk with the sugar, butter, oil and vanilla. After combining thoroughly, add the flax egg and stir until evenly mixed. At this point, begin slowly adding the dry ingredients to the wet. Your dough will be sticky but if it appears too wet, feel free to slowly add additional flour to make it easier to work with.

Because of the yeast, you will need to remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it in a greased dish to allow the dough to rise for approximately one hour. It is best to put the dough in a warm spot and during the Montana winter, I've found the best option to be our fire place mantle. While the dough rises, feel free to get your filling ready by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon. Traditional recipes call for a lot of softened butter but I find it isn't necessary, especially for frosted rolls.

As I said, I typically walk away from the dough to work on other projects and so I choose not to preheat my oven right away. You will want it to be at 400 degrees prior to baking, though.

When the dough has risen, prepare a work surface with two sheets of parchment paper at least a foot long in each direction. Place the dough between the sheets and roll it to about 1/4" thick. Try to keep the dough straight at the ends, feel free to rework the dough until you get a shape you are comfortable rolling.

Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture liberally on the dough, leaving an inch-long strip bare at the far end of the square. You will have leftover mixture and this can be placed in the bottom of your glass baking dish. 

I find it easiest to start the roll with my fingers and then continue using the parchment paper. Try to roll as tightly as possible. When you reach the end, the bare dough will allow you to "seal" your roll. Then, using a serrated knife, cut the roll into 8 pieces. To ensure even sized rolls, I find it easiest to cut in the center and continue cutting each piece in half. Place the cinnamon rolls in a greased glass pie dish and bake for 18 - 22 minutes or until rolls are firm on the outside and golden brown on top.

While the rolls bake, I prepare a simple frosting. Though the rolls themselves are vegan, I personally chose to make a classic cream cheese frosting for myself. Trevor enjoys his rolls plain and therefore I can justify the dairy. If you'd like to keep the recipe completely vegan or dairy-free, a simply glaze can be created using almond milk - simply add confectioners sugar and beat with an electric mixer until you reach a frosting consistency.

These have become a quick breakfast favorite in our home since eggs and pancakes are no longer easy options. While I'd like to think that a batch of cinnamon rolls could be made to last through the week, we can't stay away from them and like I said, they are usually gone within the day. If you are too busy to invest time in making cinnamon rolls regularly, feel free to match two batches at once, freezing half.
Is there one food you truly miss eating, or perhaps a whole list? A recipe that you wish could be easily transformed to be gluten-free, vegan, or both? While cinnamon rolls were always on that list for me, I've been on a mission to create allergy-friendly breakfast items for Trevor to take to work. I think doughnuts are next on my baking bucket list.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ten on Tuesday | Twin Peaks

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10

Today's Ten on Tuesday is brought to you by an obscure cult-classic television show from the early 1990's - Twin Peaks. As I mentioned this weekend, we just finished watching both seasons of the show which are available to stream on Netflix. If you're as clueless as I was, Twin Peaks is a fictional town in Washington State where a mysterious darkness seems to seep out of the woods. When homecoming queen Laura Palmer is found murdered, an FBI and local investigation follow. The killer and motivate are not who or what you might suspect. (Though I have to warn you, that last episode? It's a heartbreaker.)

With my evenings freed up from watching the show, I took some time to compile this list of themed products, all available on Etsy. Am I the only one who finds it great that independent artists are still taking the time to make embroidery patterns, greeting cards and coloring books for a show that aired more than a decade ago?

With Valentine's Day, my least favorite of holidays, approaching, I boldly announced to Trevor that we would be celebrating with a Twin Peaks theme. Romantic, I know. At this point, I'm thinking that doughnuts and a damn fine cup of coffee (for him, not me) will be in order.  As far as gifts go, I'm having such a hard time choosing between douglas fir exfoliating soap or these pub glasses featuring the silhouettes of Trevor's teenage crush and my own special agent.

Trevor, if you need a hint, I like this shirt more than Dale Cooper likes pie.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Going Coastal

Perhaps the title of this blog is a bit misleading.. though I'd like to be able to say that we got the chance to take off for a weekend and head to the coast. Preferably the East Coast for a stay at our favorite hotel and dinner at our favorite restaurant. Lately, I've had the beach on my mind. Though I've heard that it is quite different than the ocean we are used to, I am hoping to visit the Washington coast this Spring. Seattle has always been a travel wish and we are just close enough to make a drive possible (and I wouldn't mind meeting Sara for a cup of tea).

We did manage to get away this weekend, even if it was only for hot, homemade soup at our favorite spot. I told you about this little gem a few weeks ago but now I have heartbreaking news - the Soup Shack will be closing on March 10th, indefinitely. We're still upset about it. In a few weeks, Soup Shack Sundays have become a tradition for us. As much as I love eating soup, I really love having a reason to dress up on the weekend. Without plans, I would probably stay in leggings and a THON t-shirt for days. Instead, I got the chance to wear this fun new top that Trevor bought for me. Really, every girl deserves a guy with good taste. As if the color wasn't perfect enough, it has a little keyhole closure at the back that I'm in love with. So, despite the absurd amount of homework that was on my to-do list this weekend, we still squeezed in time for a drive, a big bowl of taco soup, a hot cup of chai tea, and some photos of my new glasses.

That's where Coastal comes in. Lately I've been having a lot of trouble with my eyes, strange for someone with what has always been perfect vision. I've left work with headaches and aching eyes. I wake up each day angry at the thought of having to turn on the light. I'm not sure if it some type of exhaustion from the hours I spend behind a computer or in front of a textbook but I'm headed to the eye doctor this afternoon in hope of some relief. In the mean time, I've been trying to find a solution for myself. While sunglasses might seem like the obvious choice, I cannot bear tinted lenses and I get quickly frustrated with the pain caused by cheap frames. Trevor is always looking out for me and begging that I do something to protect my eyes from the Montana sun - after all, we are much closer here by about a mile. As a compromise, I have began to wear plano glasses with UV protection.

I ordered this pair an online glasses and contacts retailer, Coastal, who offers a really great deal for first-time customers, free glasses. The deal even included anti-glare, UV protection and scratch-resistant coatings for free. If you are a glasses wearer or just enjoy the look, you can also get free glasses by visiting Coastal's First Pair Free program and picking out a set of frames. I chose a pair of birch framed glasses by Derek Cardigan (I was totally smitten with the little math symbols!). They were even better in person than I expected - comfortable, thick, and practically weightless. As I said, I struggle to keep sunglasses on because of the poor quality but I can wear these glasses all day without trouble.

While you can choose to upgrade to thin, sunglass or progressive lenses for an extra charge, I chose basic lenses and only paid for shipping and handling which came to $12.75 for my order. Better yet, if you don't like your frames or have trouble with the prescription you chose, the company will pay for return shipping anytime within the next 366 days!

Please know that I am not being compensated in any way to share this offer with you - you are entitled to free glasses just the same as I was! I just wanted to share my experience with you as this is a great way to get a new pair or even an extra pair of glasses - a great reason to choose more "interesting" or "fun" frames. I think I'll be upset if my eye doctor says I need real glasses, I'm quite a fan of these frames. That being said, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase frames from Coastal even at full cost.

Update: Unfortunately, after going to the eye doctor, I found out that I do need a prescription in my glasses. It turns out that the sensitivity was not from the extra bright Montana sun but instead from an astigmatism. Guess it looks like I will have more use for Coastal's great prices in the future!

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Snapshots from this week: 
1// I'm a lucky girl. They're awfully handsome, aren't they?
2// While it may be cold outside, the sunrises and sunsets have more than made up for it lately.
3// Early Saturday morning I decided to make another batch of vegan, gluten-free cinnamon rolls. Look for the recipe this week!
4// Spent a long day in Butte this week working on a few marketing projects. Confession: I can't keep a clean desk.

Favorite posts this week: 
Photography Q&A // We've Got Answers - Sincerely, Kinsey
I couldn't believe when I read that Kinsey is only 21. How's that for inspiration? 
My 26 Before 27 List - Delightfully Tacky
I've been working on a list like this since my birthday. Perhaps it will find its way here soon?
DIY // Chalkboard anything to-do list. - Sugar & Cloth
I'm a sucker for lists, anything chalkboard, and that color of blue.
Pizza Bites - GF Finger Food! - Gluten Free on a Shoestring
I was recently reminded of pizza bagels and pizza rolls. While those are off the list, this dough looks fabulous! 
Winter Round Up - Bleubird Vintage
Living in Montana has taught me a lot about the winter necessities: a hat, gloves, and medicated Chapstick. 

This week I'm... 

Eating lots of vegan treats. As I've mentioned before, Trevor isn't eating milk or eggs and it's been a fun challenge. This weekend I've made the cinnamon rolls you saw above, a triple bean chili and a batch of rice krispy treats. There seems to be a direct relationship between the amount of homework I'm supposed to be doing and the amount of cooking and baking I do.

Watching Magnum P.I. with Trevor. Last night we finished watching the entire Twin Peaks series on Netflix. While I couldn't believe the ending, my love for Agent Cooper remains.

Complaining about my poor achy eyes! I've never seemed to have trouble with my eyes but between the hours of homework and spending my work day on a computer, I can hardly stand to keep them open.

Looking forward to my trip to Arizona. While I'm not leaving for nearly two weeks, I can hardly wait! Truth be told, three days without Trevor is three too many (I know, I'm a real sap) but this girl is anxious for warmer weather, Gelato and a baby cousin to squeeze.

Procrastinating on doing the rest of my school work. These two winter classes seem to have gotten the best of me but by this next weekend, I will be completely finished with my undergraduate degree. Cue the collective sigh of relief.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recipe | Roasted Sweet Potato Burgers

I just realized that today is Tuesday. Perhaps this shouldn't be such a revelation but lately I can't seem to get my sleep schedule quite right and my mornings have been a bit foggy. Between the hours spent in front of my computer and the pile of books that I need to read for class, by the end of the day, my eyes ache and I want nothing more than to sleep. However, my brain seems to take an hour or two to catch up to my body and by the time I fall asleep, it feels like Trevor is getting up for work. All of that to say: I decided to skip Ten on Tuesday today because this recipe just couldn't wait.

Trevor and I have both agreed that our early nights during the week leave little time for dinner making. After all, we have more important things to do than eat.. things such as watching countless episodes of Twin Peaks or making it to the gym. While Trevor seems to eat a rather balanced lunch made up of fruit, granola, pickles and peanuts (I wish I was kidding, people), I don't seem to eat much of substance during the day. Though Trevor was happy to veto the idea of dinner all together, I got creative and spent Sunday making dinner for the whole week. The best part of these burgers is that they are healthy and filling without being heavy or guilt-inducing. Plus, they make a great excuse for eating extra avocados.

I had remembered reading this recipe for sweet potato burgers early in the fall and went back to it for some inspiration. That being said, my take on the recipe is both gluten-free and vegan. (Though the same cannot be said of the roasted garlic aioli I poured on top of mine. But if anyone has any ideas for egg-free sauces, do share!) The real key to these burgers lies in roasting the potatoes, though. You should know that I will not eat anything that is burnt. Lately I've been questioning my abilities to be an adult (case in point: I am terrified of having to get two fillings tomorrow.. yes, two baby cavities seem to have snuck up on me. The agony.) and I put my finicky refusal to eat charred things on that list. That being said, blackened sweet potatoes are the key to this recipe and achieving a deep smoky flavor. The finished patties must also be fried until nearly black on both sides to ensure that the burgers and hot and cooked all the way through. While they taste delicious, the child in me tends not to look at the crispy blackened parts while I eat. Now that we've got those interesting facts out of the way, let's make burgers.

2 Large Sweet Potatoes
1 Cup of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
2 Garlic Gloves, minced
2 Tablespoons of Nut Butter (I used Justin's Maple Almond Butter)
1/3 Cup of Corn Meal
1/3 Cup of Gluten-free Bisquick (any all-purpose flour or rice flour can be substituted)
1 Flax Egg (Combine 1 tbsp flax meal with 3 tbsp of water and let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes or more)
2 Teaspoons  Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
Olive Oil
(You will also need extra salt, pepper and paprika for seasoning the sweet potatoes prior to roasting.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven heats, dice two large sweet potatoes into 1 inch chunks.

Drizzle olive oil over potatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle with an even mixture of salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. We use this seasoning mix for everything and keep a bowl of it handy next to our stove. You will also want to sprinkle approximately a teaspoon of white sugar on the potatoes to help them caramelize and blacken in the oven. Spread potatoes evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes or until tender and blackened on some sides. Make sure to check the potatoes and flip them every 10 to 15 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, drain and rinse a can of cannellini beans. Mash one cup of beans lightly - I prefer to do this with a whisk but a fork or potato masher can also be used. You can also use this time to dice two cloves of garlic.

When the potatoes are finished roasting, dump them into the bowl with your beans. Mash together and then season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin and minced garlic. You will then want to add 2 tablespoons of nut butter and your flax egg - these ingredients help keep the burgers together but also add another deep flavor to the already smoky potatoes.

After the mixture is mashed and mixed thoroughly, add corn meal and flour and combine thoroughly. Then, allow the mixture to rest in the fridge for at least fifteen minutes.

While my mixture cooled, I took the time to make roasted garlic aioli (Trevor's mom was kind enough to get us a food processor for Christmas and we've been looking for every opportunity to use it).  I found it was the perfect sauce so if you'd like to make your own, I started with this tutorial and this recipe. Since Trevor isn't a fan of aioli, I cut the recipe in half and substituted sriracha for the cayenne pepper. Needless to say, I don't think we will ever buy store mayonnaise again.

Since I knew that I would be making my burgers slowly over the course of the week, I chose to make them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. This recipe makes five reasonable sized burgers. You will want to work fairly quickly in shaping the burgers because the cold mixture stays together better but I really had no issues with the patties falling apart thanks to the nut butter I added. To store the burgers, I simply covered the cookie sheet and patties with plastic wrapped and placed it back in the fridge.

To cook your burger, you will want to use a pan over medium-high heat. I made the burgers two different ways - one plain, as is and the other coated in a mixture of corn meal, salt and pepper. Both versions were delicious so cook to your preference. Fill the pan with a thin layer of olive oil and heat thoroughly before placing your burger in the pan. The burgers should cook for 5-6 minutes on each side. The first time I fried the burger, I flipped it too early in order to keep it from blackening and found that it wasn't quite cooked throughly. That being said, don't be discouraged if your burger looks burnt on either side, it is important to fry each side for five minutes!

I chose to top my burger with avocado, caramelized onions and garlic aioli but the choices are endless. Perhaps some dijon mustard? Or sliced tomatoes? Even bacon would be delicious, though ironic. While I chose to put my burger on gluten-free focaccia bread, any bun will do. I've always enjoyed the burger on top of salad and last night, cooked, mashed and spread on toasted bread like hummus.

What can I say? I can't get enough sweet potatoes and these burgers are no exception.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


One of my goals for 2013 was to write a weekly wrap-up post every Sunday. Unfortunately, the year began with a bit of a rocky start and so I'm just getting started on my list of resolutions. That being said, the idea is that at the end of the year, we'll be able to look back together at 52 posts - one for each week - featuring a wrap of of the week that passed and an idea of the week to come. I was inspired by the Sunday posts over on Maiedae and the "Currently" posts which are featured on Sam's blog, Samantha J. Bird. I haven't quite decided on a format so this may evolve as time goes by - any suggestions?

Snapshots from this week:
1// Winter Storm Gandolf brought us nearly six inches of snow this week.
2// With Trevor up for work at 4:30, Buddy has developed a new habit of crawling in bed with me.
3// Trevor needed an oil change and I couldn't resist that license plate wall or that perfect sunlight.
4// The last of my graduate school application materials went into the mail this week. Fingers crossed!
5// Our town looks even cozier when it is covered in a blanket of fresh snow.

Favorite posts this week:
This City - Pastors Girls Ponderings
A Peek Into Our New Home - Delightfully Tacky
Knitting for Mercy - Jamie Delaine Photography
1/12/13 - Dotti Dee
Saturday Adventures - One Fine Pine

This week I'm... 
Missing our funny little boy (and all of the trouble he caused). We're slowly adjusting to the quiet, calmer pace that we've been dealt. Every night I dream of our little Scrap and every morning I wake up still missing our little up.

Dreading going to the dentist tomorrow. While I know that clean teeth are important, that knowledge isn't enough to make the dentist even tolerable, let alone enjoyable.

Looking forward to receiving more admissions decisions from my school applications. As you probably know, I was accepted to the University of Northern Arizona with an out-of-state-tuition waiver, and last week I got my acceptance letter for Utah State. So, so far so good!

Working on my last two undergraduate classes - business in film and strategic management. In less than two weeks I will be finished for good and I couldn't be more excited about it! I'm also working on editing photos of 2012 for a printed album (another goal for this year) and organizing a few new series on the blog.

Shopping for a new pair of leggings. I'm picky, people. And Montana? Well, there is a serious lack of shopping opportunities where we live. If you have any suggestions for affordable, spandex-type, opaque leggings that can be bought online,  help a girl out!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WIAW | Winter Staples

I started off the new year with the best intentions. I scratched out goals - goals for myself, goals for this blog. One of those being to participate in each What I Ate Wednesday link-up, another being to write a weekly wrap-up post on Sundays. I had plans to review 2012 in a variety of ways. You'll have to forgive me for not getting to any of those things just yet. We lost our funny, sweet, baby boy last week and my heart has been too broken for any new goals, new blog posts or really much of anything. I've been trying to write about it, about my baby Scrap, for days but it hasn't yet worked itself out. So, I thought I would try to get back into the swing of things with a WIAW post. Easy enough, right?

While I spent the start of the year with camera in hand at dinner time, I don't seem to have the energy to download or edit photos just yet - you'll forgive me, won't you? Instead, here is a look at some of our winter staples via Instagram. If you'd like to see more of our past eats, you can see old WIAW posts here - or, you can check out this week's link-up on Peas and Crayons for more colorful, interesting winter meals.

On Christmas, we spent the day driving. When you spend the holidays alone, well, there isn't much else to do. We're quite thankful for that drive though since it brought us our new favorite "restaurant"in Montana. Just outside of our town is a road that leads toward "Wisdom, MT" but it also leads to the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area (a snowy dream in the winter) and the Sugar Loaf Lodge. The lodge serves multiple purposes - it houses travelers, it rents cross-country skis, it has its own gift shop of local Montana-made wares, and most importantly, it is home to the Soup Shack. Each week the cozy little cafe serves a few different homemade soups, each served with a thick slice of sourdough bread and whatever you'd like to drink (I'll take chai, please). And, they even make pecan pie! (one of these days, I'm going to cheat and have a slice). Since discovering our new favorite find, we've gone every weekend for a big, hot bowl of a soup and a look at the new snow.

At home we've been enjoying the same dinners over and over again. It has also seemed funny to me that avocados are ripe and plentiful during our winter. Thankfully though that has meant homemade tacos and nachos for weeks. I can't get enough guacamole so when avocados are available, we make the most of it. We try to keep things interesting with different toppings and combinations each week. So far we can't get enough.

We also recently discovered the best breading for gluten-free fried foods. With the ease of breading things, and the cheap ingredients needed, I can't believe that I went so long without trying it. I will post a recipe and tutorial, soon, but in the meantime, we will be busy enjoying breaded pork chops, homemade chicken nuggets and chicken parmesan.

Another dinner staple we've grown to love is risotto. I know that I already told you to make this recipe but it's so good that I have to say it again. We've been trying different varieties and my new favorite is italian sausage with spinach and tomatoes. I know that a lot of people struggle with risotto or look at it as time consuming or difficult but I've grown to enjoy making it. Risottos are gluten-free and easy to make without dairy, too. Plus they use few dishes and I happen to enjoy the slow-paced stirring required. If you have any great risotto recipes or favorite combinations, please share!

I promise we do eat more than dinner here but lately breakfast has been a struggle. Trevor can't have eggs or dairy, I shouldn't have oatmeal, and really, that leaves few options. We've been trying to pass off cookies and hot drinks as meals, instead. For Christmas we received a big box of gluten-free snacks and inside were the little gingerbread men you see above. I was nervous at first but now, I'm upset that I can't find them in Montana. My mom also tossed in boxes of chai tea and apple cider pods. While I've never liked hot chai lattes before, I seem to have fallen in love since Christmas - I can't get enough.

As for lunch, I'm on my own since Trev leaves by 5:30 and that has meant leftovers, macaroni and cheese, and my favorite - hot corn tortillas with ham and melted cheddar cheese. I wish I was kidding but those tortillas? I eat them daily.

Do you find yourself eating the same foods time and time again? We seem to rotate just a few basics with some variations. Lately I've started to look for more crock-pot dinners. If you have any recipes for quick, easy,  and gluten-free dinners - do share!

I hope to be back soon with stories of what we've been up to  but please excuse the quiet in the mean time.