Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower and Asparagus Soup

Well, I rarely post recipes anymore because I don't cook while I'm in school. Aaron does most of that (but I make the grocery list!). 

Before we left for Colorado I saw this pretty soup somewhere and decided I needed to make it immediately when we got home. I feel bad because it was one of those recipes that is so simple I copied the directions down and not the link, so I cannot credit where I got it from. We did change it a tiny bit, though. 

This soup is basically just dry roasted asparagus and cauliflower with some seasoning. The ingredients are so simple that when we got home I wondered why I thought it would be good, but went ahead and bought the stuff anyway. It turned out to be one of the better pureed soups we've eaten. Delicious!

When I had it for lunch I decided to add some avocado, since fat helps you absorb nutrients and it is a fat free soup (unless you add oil in the roasting process).

1 head cauliflower, chopped into pieces
1 bunch of asparagus, ends snapped off
4 cups veggie broth (we used homemade)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (a little spicy, use less if you don't enjoy spice)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 and prep ingredients.
2. Place asparagus and cauliflower on baking sheets and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes (stir once if going for 20 minutes) until starting to brown.
3. Add broth to a pot. Add seasoning, garlic, and roasted cauliflower and asparagus. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, until softened.
4. Use an immersion blender or (carefully) transfer to a regular blender to puree mixture. Taste for seasoning and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rocky Mountain Skiing

Aaron and I just returned from a great vacation in Colorado. Thanks to the amazing generosity of friends and family (and the September screw up of Frontier Airlines), we were able to take what would be a very expensive vacation practically for free.

Aaron has been wanting to visit his friend Chris in Summit County for a long time, but lodging and ski passes are prohibitively expensive. Plus I don't have skis, so add on a rental charge. We were able to get all of these things for free and spend over a week in and around Breckenridge skiing, relaxing in a hot tub, and eating good food.

Although everyone assures me I'm a very fast learner when it comes to skiing, I did not escape without injuries. I have a bruise covering my whole left knee and at one point I fell and my skis hit my shin and sliced through two layers of my snow pants, long johns, and a wool sock before lightly grazing my leg and leaving a nice swollen bump.

Luckily nothing serious happened, but I have to say I don't fall as gracefully as I did when I was a kid and I definitely don't bounce back very fast. Too bad for my snow pants, those were brand new and a big upgrade from Aaron's hand me downs that need suspenders to stay on me.

After some more skiing lessons from Aaron I was able to ski the harder runs and even did one black diamond, which I actually thought was one of the most fun runs we did.

I was able to overcome my fear of heights on most of the chair lifts and the views were incredible! The pictures don't do them justice, but enjoy.

Good morning.

Lunch at the bottom of Peak 7.
Having a beer at 10,000 feet.

Breckenridge Brewery

Saturday, January 12, 2013


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Here are some pictures that have been left on my camera-with-a-dead-battery since August. During my last week in Mexico City my co-workers all went on an out of town retreat (with interns not included), so my supervisor let us take a day off. He encouraged us to go to Tepoztlan, a town about a 45 minute bus ride from Mexico City.

We hiked up the mountain to find the pyramid that sits at the top. It is not a place to go if you are afraid of heights! Part of it involved climbing up a rickety staircase, but it was breathtaking and well worth the steep climb.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vegan Shepherd's Pie and Variety

I don't typically make resolutions on New Year's, but I do make goals all year round and one of those goals happened to coincide with the new year: trying to eat a greater variety of foods.

While we don't often repeat meals unless they are really good or we are really busy, it is easy to get into a rut and always eat the same "healthy" foods in different meals: kale, baby spinach, the same old baby greens mix, carrot or celery as snacks, etc.

It is kinda boring eat the same things and I'm always reading about other foods that are really great for you, so my goal (which will last for as long as I can remember it), is to include one food that we don't typically eat per week. It doesn't have to be something new, although that is welcome, but my overall goal is to incorporate more of the veggies, fruits, grains, and beans that I only cook with once in a great while.

This week, it was parsnips! I have used them maybe twice before and really liked them, but just don't find a place for them in my normal diet.

I wrote before about how I had a lot of things I wanted to make over my winter break, one of which was a shepherd's pie. I decided on this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Choosing Raw, featured on the Food52 website: Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie with Parsnip and Potato Mash.

The parsnips got mashed in with the potatoes to give the topping a little extra flavor beyond normal mashed potatoes (which is helpful when you aren't adding butter or cream!). We had a lot of topping because our parsnips and potatoes were both huge. I actually ended up only using three parsnips instead of six since ours were absolutely monstrous. Aaron decided we still needed six of them when I was in a different section of the grocery store, so I'll have to find another way to use the other three.

Aaron and I both loved this dish. There is something especially great about mashed potatoes on top of a warm mix of veggies. We followed reader suggestions and seasoned well at each step, as well as broiling to get the top to brown. It made a ton of food as well, so although it takes a while on one day, it is worth it for all of the leftovers. We ate it for dinner two nights in a row and have lunches for the week. 

Overall the parsnips were a success and I would definitely enjoy the potato and parsnip mash as a side dish (or dinner with some spinach mixed in). Some other great ways to cook parsnips are roasting with carrots or making them into "parsnip fries." The sugar in them caramelizes really well to get a coated fry effect.

Next week I'll be buying some bok-choy, another veggie thats really good for you that we only eat once or twice a year. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Where to go in 2013

Happy new year! After passing all of my classes from the fall semester, it looks like I will really graduate in May 2013. With this in mind, I have officially started looking for full time jobs. It seems like the options are endless and we could go just about anywhere, although we both have priorities and places we would prefer to live.

To help narrow my focus and give us a little bit of compromise, Aaron and I did an activity to figure out what we both want in a potential city. We made our own lists, ranking what we had liked in each of the places we had lived or what we wished those places had (the opposite of what we disliked about them!). Then we combined the top five from each of our lists to make our top ten as a couple. You can probably tell who put which things down.

Now the goal is to share it with everyone and see if they know of a place that has all of these ten things! It might be difficult, but I do happen to know Spain had (small) mountains and palm trees very close together. If we can't get the top ten, the top six would be great, or at least a majority of them.

1. Jobs for both of us
2. Lots of things to do (outdoors and indoors)
3. Walkable (especially to restaurants)
4. Good public transportation
5. Not a huge city...
6... but a bigger city
7. Close to the country/ mountains
8. Good weather/ palm trees
9. A happy city!*
10. Intelligent and advanced culture

*this refers to the total change in attitude we noticed when we moved to Madison. Of course it is not true of everyone or all of the time, but compared to Michigan, people here seem happy and are enjoying their lives. It is a good vibe to be around and is definitely connected to numbers 1 and 2 (the recession wasn't as bad here and there are lots of things to do).

Don't feel offended family members, being close to you was on both of our lists, but just missed getting into the top ten. Also number one pretty much rules Michigan out, sorry.

If you can think of some good suggestions, please share! So far I am focusing my search in Chicago, Madison, New York City, and Denver, but not all of those meet the list requirements and we are open to a lot more places.