Category: Recipes

15
Oct

Welcome to the Fall!

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I’M ALIVE!

Hello, world! It’s me, Julia. It’s been awhile. How are you? What’s been going on?

I have meant to write a blog post for sooooooo many weeks. How many weeks exactly? Ever since the Wisconsin Highland Games over the Labor Day weekend. The Games were AMAZING like they are every year, and I had such a blast. I got to meet new readers, catch up with people who bought Seven Stones last year (and who are clamoring for a sequel. I hear you!), and revel in all the Scottishness around me. Best of all, I SOLD OUT OF BOOKS AGAIN! 2 zealous readers actually pre-ordered books from our fourth printing (which just came out a few weeks ago). How cool is that?!

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RIGHT after Highland Games ended, my last semester in graduate school began. Hence the radio silence. I’m taking a Children’s Lit class that runs 8 weeks instead of 15 – which means I have a whole semester of reading, posting, and assignments crammed into half the time. In other words, my life has been an endless party since I last wrote. ūüėČ

HOWEVER, an 8 week class means that it officially ends November 4th. And you know what November is, right? November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 word book in one month (you can check it out here if you’re interested), and that’s what I intend to do. I already have a good chunk of my novel written – if I can use November to finish the first draft of my sequel, I will be a happy author. Grad school owns me until the end of October. After that, I’m going to be working HARD on the sequel to Seven Stones. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to focus solely on my writing soon, but I am so incredibly excited to be getting my MLIS. Just a few weeks to go!!!

One other big highlight from the past month was the Minnesota Library Association¬†annual conference in Duluth!!! As you¬†know, I’m a¬†big nerd. I LOVE GOING TO THE LIBRARY CONFERENCE. I full on nerd-out and come back super pumped about all things library. This year, the conference was even better because it was in Duluth (aka, one of the most beautiful cities in Minnesota…or quite possibly period). As part of the conference, us librarians got to tour the Glensheen Mansion. Pics below. Yes, you may drool. I won’t judge.

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Glensheen

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Step right in…

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I felt like Lady Grantham should be coming down those stairs.

 

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Tea in the drawing room?

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And, the library, of course!

Last thing I want to share before I go back to homework is one of my favorite fall dinners: Warm Autumn Salad. Shane and I have never really done salads for dinner before because they never kept us full – we’d just eat¬†popcorn or something worse¬†after trying to be healthy. This salad recipe is¬†not only filling, but amazingly delicious.¬†The farmer’s market in Mankato¬†has just been brimming¬†with fresh, delicious¬†produce and we¬†put them all in this salad. If you’re into meat, add some local chicken or beef. Add/change/omit what you want and get some more green power in your diet with his¬†scrumptious salad!

Warm Autumn Salad

salad

You will not be hungry after this salad. Trust.

Here’s What You Need:

1 cup wild rice (I like to make mine with stock instead of water for more flavor)

1 medium butternut squash, cut in half with seeds removed

5-6 beets, sliced into silver dollars

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

Kale, or other local greens

Your favorite cheese, grated (we had cinnamon apple cheddar from home)

Your favorite salad dressing (Hilary’s Apple Fennel is FABULOUS on this salad)

Here’s What to Do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange squash cut side down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Arrange the beet slices on another baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on some of your favorite herbs or seasoning salt, if desired. Roast for an hour or until browned and delicious.
  2. While your veggies are roasting, prepare the wild rice (usually 1 cup of wild rice to 3 cups of stock). Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and let that simmer for about 45 minutes.
  3. Boom. All your warm stuff is warm. Hard part is over. Now all you have to do is plate. Get¬†a big ol’ dinner plate and pile on a bed of greens.
  4. Spoon wild rice on top of that.
  5. Cube up your squash (or Shane just likes it scooped out like mashed potatoes) and put it on top of the wild rice.
  6. Snag some beets and drop fat beet (or several) on top of the squash.
  7. Add the cheese.
  8. Sprinkle on cranberries and walnuts.
  9. Drizzle with dressing.
  10. Serve with a nice red wine and some fresh local fruit! We’ve got DELICIOUS apples in season right now!

Eat Salad. Be satisfied. You’re welcome.

Happy Weekend!

10
Aug

Cilantro-Lime Chickpea & Black Bean Burritos

I did it! I made it through my first Summer Reading Program as a Children’s Librarian!!!!!!! There seriously aren’t enough exclamation points for that statement. The past two months have been fun, exhausting, and exhilarating as I got to run programs that got kids in the library and reading during the summer months. My favorites included Bubble Wrap Art, my weekly¬†STEAM-based programs we dubbed “Level Up!”,¬†our HUGE Water Carnival on July 6th (350 people attended!), and our grand finale: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics.

I have learned SO MUCH from running my first Summer Reading Program, and I’m¬†happy to say that it was pretty awesome! Before I go full-gear into fall programming (and the Wisconsin Highland Games coming Labor Day Weekend!), I HAVE A WEEK OF VACATION! Woo-hoo! So far, Shane and I got to grill & bonfire with our cousins, went to Winona, MN¬†for a wedding, explored the Great River Bluffs State Park, and met my parents and Aunt Eileen in Tomah, WI for two days of fun. We ate way too much food, played board games, picnicked and played Bocce at Winebago Park,¬†grilled out,¬†swam, hot-tubbed, and watched the Olympics!

I was also invited to the Traverse des Sioux annual Battle of the Books competition in St. Peter, MN! Seven Stones had been chosen as one of the books teens read and answered trivia questions about. I got to be at the competition, signing books and meeting teen readers. It was AMAZING; filled my heart with so much joy to have teens not only want my autograph, but also telling me that they loved my novel!¬†A few actually wanted to take their picture with me. I am telling you, I’ve never been more cool in my life. It was such an honor to be a part of Battle of the Books. Thanks TdS!

Battle of the Books as the teens answer questions about Seven Stones!

Battle of the Books as the teens answer questions about Seven Stones!

Today, here’s what’s on my schedule: write, do some¬†yoga, a little bit of grad school work (my LAST CLASS starts in September!), drink tea, eat chocolate. I can handle that.

To celebrate vacation time, here’s a recipe that ANYONE can handle: Cilantro-Lime Chickpea & Black Bean Burritos. Shane actually made this recipe up and we have been munching through it all summer long! And if you are a meat lover who is looking at this recipe skeptically, let me repeat that: Shane made up this recipe. He doesn’t mess around with his protein. Cilantro-Lime Chickpea & Black Bean Burritos are:

  • Tasty
  • Flavorful
  • Easy (no cooking!)
  • Quick (comes together in 15-20 minutes, perfect for a weeknight dinner)
  • Healthy
  • Filling (lots of protein from the chickpeas & black beans)
  • Fresh
  • Versatile (change/add/omit to your taste!)
  • Vegan (if you don’t add any cheese)

Have I convinced you yet? This is a sure-fire recipe that you’ll come back to again and again!

Shane’s Stupendous Cilantro-Lime Chickpea & Black Bean Burritos!

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Mmmmmm

Here’s What You’ll Need (remember, add/omit/change to your taste!)

3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 large bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, diced

1 15-oz. can corn (or a cup or more fresh sweet corn kernels, if in season!)

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Lime juice, to taste

Cumin, to taste

Garlic salt, to taste

Some avocado

Fresh greens

Whole wheat tortilla wraps

Grated cheese, if that’s your thing

Salsa

Directions

Mix the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl.

Once everything is mingling together, add the lime juice, cumin, and garlic salt, to taste. I usually add a bit, then taste, add a bit more, then taste again until I get it right. A few tips: a little salt goes a LONG way in this recipe. Also, I LOVE cumin so I probably add way more than the average human. Again, it’s all about you and what you like. Just keep adding and tasting until you find that sweet spot.

Okay, now that the bean mix is perfect, time to make your burrito! I like to take a big whole wheat wrap and layer it with fresh greens, avocado, cheese, salsa, and the chickpea-black bean mixture. And, yes, my burritos are about the size of my face.

DEVOUR!

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

26
May

Birthday Season & Brewing Kombucha

And, yes, I am wearing a crown

With the dawning of the first day of May¬†heralds¬†the most wonderful time of the year: my birthday season. You may remember my not one, but TWO birthday celebrations we threw last year (the wonderful Jane Austen Tea Party and Bemidji Birthday Bash). That’s right, folks, I get more excited about my birthday each year than most six-year-olds. I blame my parents.

Since I was a child, birthdays meant getting to plan your whole day exactly how you wanted. This included your own special menu of your favorite foods. One day a year, I got to tell my parents what to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This usually included chocolate milk, blueberry muffins, and watermelon for breakfast followed by a Lunchable (a highly coveted processed “food” my parents usually refused to buy which therefore made it incredibly desirable). Since my birthday was always near Memorial Day, I’d usually opt for a backyard barbeque for dinner. And then there was the cake. Oh, the cake.

It’s not surprising that my favorite part of my birthday was planning the menu–and still is. I can’t help it–I love an excuse to have treats and fun with family and friends. Who doesn’t? And this year is off to a spectacular start!

My parents came to visit Mankato this past weekend to kick the birthday week off right. As usual, they spoiled me rotten, bringing caramel apple cheesecake from the Pine Cone (the BEST restaurant in Wisconsin) and lamb. Yes, you read that right: lamb (I know, I know they are adorable baby animals. I’m sorry. In my defense, they are also¬†REALLY delicious). I don’t eat meat very often, but when I do, I eat venison, bison, and lamb from local farms. My dad and I had black-face lamb burgers during our trip to Scotland in 2008, and he we made our own this time as a special birthday dinner.

Elegant and mature, as always

Also, we went to my favorite tea shop and had afternoon tea! With birthday cake tea (vanilla-caramel black tea WITH SPRINKLES)! And hats! Yup, I had a perfect weekend.

Yup, elegant and mature...

Yup, elegant and mature…

But the birthday celebrations don’t end there! This coming weekend, Shane and I are doing something really out of the ordinary and I am SUPER excited!!! Usually, we are pretty low key hobbits, enjoying board games with friends, bonfires, and a home-cooked meal to celebrate most occasions. And I love it. This year, we are traveling to the Twin Cities, spending a few nights in a hotel, going out for a fancy birthday dinner at a fancy city restaurant, and seeing Book of Mormon: The Musical!!! All with some of my very favorite people. Since it’s a long weekend, we’re also planning on going to the Minnesota Zoo for the first time.¬†I CAN’T WAIT!!!! Seriously, this is going to be epic.

During this birthday season, I’ve been working hard on the sequel to Seven Stones, spending as much time outside with Shane biking and hiking as possible, and getting ready for my first Summer Reading Program as a Children’s Librarian. With all this awesome going on, I need to keep my energy levels high and my immune system healthy. To do so, I’ve been brewing and sipping my own kombucha!

If you are unfamiliar with kombucha, it is some level 7 hippie juice. But it is also a cool, refreshing, and delicious iced tea beverage that has more probiotics than yogurt. kombucha is a fermented, sweetened tea that has been brewed and enjoyed for hundreds of years. It has tons of health benefits, and sells for $3-4 dollars a bottle at the store. Ouch. However, with a bit of courage and trust, you can make your own for super cheap!

Still with me? Good. This is where it gets weird. kombucha is made by basically creating your own petri dish. You start with a thing called a scoby (which looks like an alien, not going to lie) which is essentially a bacteria culture of good probiotic stuff.

It’s aliiiiiiiiiiive!

You add tea, water, and sugar to a large container (like a gallon glass jar), cover it, and leave it alone for a week or two. In that time, the bacteria eat the sugar and a new scoby grows on the top of your jar. When the scoby gets to be about 1/4 inch thick, pour your kombucha out, add whatever sweeteners or fruit you want, and drink it!

Looking good! No, trust me, that is how it looks when it looks good.

I know. It sounds (and looks bizarre), but kombucha is one of my absolute favorite drinks! Until recently,¬†I was paying good money for small store-bought bottles. Then my friend showed me how easy it was and gave me a scoby. I’ve been happily¬†brewing hippie juice ever since. ūüôā

 

The hardest part is probably just finding a scoby. If you don’t have friends who brew kombucha or don’t have a Co-Op in your area, you CAN make kombucha from a store-bought bottle (instructions here). Long story short, it’s easy and cheap to make,¬†tasty, bubbly, and really good for you. I used to think brewing Kombucha would be too tricky or scary. But it is not intimidating at all. Try something new! You might just love it.

Basic Kombucha Instructions

1 Scoby

4 cups water

6-8 teaspoons of tea (black or green work best)

1 cup sugar

Gallon Jar

Boil 4 cups of water. Choose what kind of tea you’d like to have as your base. Steep¬†6-8 teaspoons (or¬†6-8 tea bags) in your large jar. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Alright, strain those leaves or discard those tea bags. Stir in 1 cup of sugar (I used Sucanat) and stir until dissolved. Add about a gallon of cool water.

Nice. Now you have to touch the scoby. It’s kind of fun. Pop that bad boy in the tea and cover your jar so air can get in, but dust and other bacteria can’t. I use paper towel secured by a rubber band.

Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and wait for your ‘booch to brew!

You’re done! Leave your kombucha to brew in a warm spot away from direct sunlight. You should see a film forming on the top of your jar in a few days. Depending on the temperature, the scoby will be ready in anywhere from a week to two weeks.

When it’s about a 1/4 inch thick, it should be good to go. Pour the liquid out into a serving container or¬†individual mason jars. Now you add whatever flavor you want: pina colada, lavender-honey, honey-ginger, watermelon, strawberry-lemonade, the possibilities are endless! If you want your Kombucha bubbly, put it into sealed, individual mason jars and let them sit out for another day or two.

Boom. You’ve now got two scobies. You can use these bad boys to make more batches of Kombucha. Just keep about half of the liquid from your original batch and repeat the instructions, but this time you can double the recipe and have two jars going at once! Add a little of the original batch to each new jar, and you are good to go. Keep reusing those scabies–they’ll keep multiplying, and soon you can share with a friend!

27 was my golden birthday. That year saw my first book tour, a move to Mankato, new friends, and me getting my first real library job. I am more grateful to all my family, friends, and all those who love, encourage and support me than I could ever express. I am one lucky girl. I can’t wait to see what 28 brings!

Happy Birthday Week! You deserve some cake. ūüôā

14
Mar

Pi Day Pie!

A little math humor to start your day…

A glorious Pi Day, one and all!

It certainly has been glorious around here, with record highs in the 60s! I have been soaking up all that sun and dreaming of spring, with all it’s warmth and green. I am so ready for it. Perhaps that’s why Shane and I were inspired to make one of our favorite pies for Pi Day consumption: Coconut Key Lime. I whipped this bad boy together last August while we were trying to beat the head while moving our Bemidji life down to Mankato. It was one of the last things I made in our old kitchen, and it is high time we made this pie in our new one!

YUM!

YUM!

Now, I’m a lucky girl, so while I’m off at work today doing story times and planning my next big Early Out (Space Camp next Wednesday!), Shane will be home making me pie. He is a good man. Some of you who know me well might be asking why I am excited about Pi Day. True, math and I have never really seen eye-to-eye. But, while Pi may equal 3.141592653…, it also equals PIE. Pi = PIE. Now, that’s an equation I completely understand. And, more to the point, Pi = Coconut Key Lime Pie. Do I need to say more? I will anyway. It is tart, sweet, creamy, and AMAZING! The pie is also totally raw and made with completely whole foods ingredients. Go ahead. Eat a slice for breakfast. Or three. I’ve never been good at math anyway. ūüėČ

 

13
Feb

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix and Book Updates!

If you’ve been¬†concerned about¬†my lengthy absence, worry not! I’m not dead. I’m just in graduate school (which some days makes leaves me feeling pretty close to dead). Nay, dear reader, I’m alive and very well.

The past few weeks have brought about a new semester, but also some exciting news! First, my book has been chosen for my regional library’s teen Battle of the Books competition!!! The library system bought 80 copies of Seven Stones to give to teens who participate in the event! 80 teens are going to read my book!!! AND my library system has asked me to be present on the actual day to sign books and meet my readers.

Hopefully not at the book signing

If that wasn’t exciting enough for you, the Waseca County Historical Society has invited me to speak about Seven Stones in March! It feels so good¬†know how many people are reading the story I wrote and really connecting with it. That’s amazing.

How shall we toast all this amazing? With hot chocolate, of course! I don’t know what the climes have been like¬†in your area, but in Minnesota we’ve had two blizzards in two weeks. With another on the way tonight. Three blizzards in three weeks. The hot chocolate has become mandatory.

Good advice!

But as you know, I am not a fan of store bought packages of anything that contain hard to pronounce (and harder to stomach) ingredients. During the first blizzard (yup, that’s an accurate way to keep track of time up here), Shane and I decided to play around with our very own hot cocoa mix, and I am prod to say that it is fabulous! Real ingredients, real good hot cocoa. All we did was pour the goods into a mason jar and shook it like polaroid picture. Done. Sip. Mmmmm.

Hot Cocoa Mix of Love

Makes 1 large mason jar of mix

Or 2 of these little guys to give as gifts!

2 cups organic nonfat milk powder

2 cups organic cocoa powder

1 cup stevia (I like the baking mix)

1/4 cup Sucanat or other granulated sweetener

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tablespoon cinnamon (optional)

Easiest Directions Ever

Pour all ingredients into a mason jar. Give it a few vigorous shakes. Done.

I like my hot cocoa really chocolatey, so I do at least 4 Tablespoons in a mug of hot water or milk. Snuggle up with a mug and your favorite book. Seven Stones, perhaps…

17
Jan

Comfort Food & Cozy Nights: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

As I write this, the temperature outside is dipping 40 degrees below zero. Yup, you read that right: it is -40 with the wind chill. If I tried to go anywhere, my Tauntaun would freeze before I got to the first marker.

Luckily, I do NOT have to go outside. In fact, I am in the middle of enjoying a 3-day weekend in which I plan to write a significant deal. Keyword being PLAN. Sadly, I’ve planned on writing since the last semester ended. Then holiday travel happened, along with a funeral, New Years’, a 3-hour Minecraft party, among other big projects. For one reason or another, life has found excuses for me not to have my butt in my favorite chair and doing what I love to do best: writing.

I’m hoping that this long weekend changes all that, because I have a lot of work to do. One good thing about taking a break from a manuscript is the ability to come back to it with fresh eyes. The bad thing about that is I always find something to change. In this case, I’m going to undertake a major rewrite. Come to think of it, knowing that I have a humungous rewrite is probably one of the reasons why I haven’t started yet. It is intimidating. The sequel is so much more difficult for me to write than the original story was. Plus, I was only working part-time at Caribou back in 2011 (and not in graduate school), so I could devote hours a day to writing.

Enough excuses though, I’m going to get words to the page! Before I go and do that, I want to share¬†one of my favorite winter staples: Baked Mac and Cheese.¬†For those of you¬†who do not know me well, you may not¬†know that I have an¬†cheese obsession rivaled only by¬†chocolate.¬†I’m¬†from Wisconsin, a cheesehead through and through. So, when I tell you this is the BEST Mac and Cheese you’ll ever eat,¬†I know what I’m talking about. Put that box down and back away from that packet of processed¬†dehydrated cheese powder! This is the real deal.

The ingredients are super simple: macaroni, milk, cheese, and¬†mix-ins of your choice.¬†That’s it. If you can boil noodles, you can make this delectable¬†dinner. Meat eater? Add chicken. Want some veggie power? I love diced tomatoes or fresh broccoli in mine. Vegan? Go ahead and break the rules. Eat the cheese.¬†I won’t tell.

One final note: if you are scrolling through the recipe and¬†are distressed to find there are no breadcrumbs, fear not!¬†Feel free to sprinkle some on the top if that’s your thing. I don’t like the crunchy bits on my melty goodness, so I leave them off.

This recipe is the¬†epitome of¬†adjustable. The measurements I’m listing are only the loosest of guidelines, as I’ve made mac and cheese so many times that I just eyeball everything. Personalize it however you want and enjoy an ooey-gooey, homemade bowl of comfort. You’ll never reach for that boxed stuff ever again.

Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese = Happiness

Mac and Cheese = Happiness

1 lb elbow macaroni or rotini (I love to use veggie pasta, but you use whatever floats your macaroni boat)

1 lb mozzarella cheese, grated (I grate my own cheese. It is much tastier than that pre-shredded stuff)

1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated

A few handfuls of a third cheese to sprinkle on top (this is totally optional. I like to use a sweet maple cheddar or apple jack. Just think about it.)

2 cups broccoli florets, diced (optional)

1 Tbsp garlic salt

A few splashes of milk (probably 1/4 cup)

Pizza Seasoning, to taste (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prepare the noodles according to the package.

2. While the macaroni is doing its thing, mix the grated cheeses together with the garlic salt and pizza seasonings. You probably should shove a handful of this mixture in your mouth. You know, just to make sure it tastes good and all that.

3. Once the noodles are drained, slosh them into a large bowl. Mix the cheese with the noodles (saving a bit to sprinkle on later). Getting all melty? Good. Add the milk slowly, until the cheese turns into a velvety smooth glop (thicker than a sauce, but still smooth and delicious. That’s what a glop is).

4. Add the broccoli florets (or whatever other mix-ins you are adding). Mix well and transfer to a large glass baking dish.

5. Smooth the macaroni and cheese into the pan and sprinkle some extra cheese, garlic salt, and herbs on top. Pop in the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until everything is all bubbly and you just can’t wait to eat it anymore.

6. DEVOUR!

Suggested Pairing

Your favorite fuzzy socks and a good book. Right now, I’m reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library--a whimsical, clever book in the vein of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s giving me all kinds of ideas for future library programs… ūüôā

Combines libraries and games - my two favorite things!

Combines libraries and games – my two favorite things!

Happy Sunday!

14
Dec

Homemade Breakfast Cereal

My life for the past few weeks

Almost there. One class is completely done. Discussions are wrapped up. It is finals week, people! I have one last HUGE project to finish and I am FREE (for a whole month).

The struggle is real. The struggle I’m referring to, of course, is not allowing myself to become distracted by the internet. Like, for example, writing a blog post when you’re supposed to be working on your 20 page paper. Just a random example. But while I’m here, let’s talk about some cool stuff that’s been going on!

In between projects, papers, and finals, I’ve managed to have a lot of fun! Seven Stones was nominated for the Minnesota Book Award for Young People’s Literature–a dream come true!!! We’ll find out on January 30th if I make it to become a finalist! Keep your fingers crossed EXTRA tight!

Another great honor was being asked to be a member of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Advisory Board. HOW COOL IS THAT?! The group is currently reviewing multicultural books to promote, and Seven Stones is one of them! I can’t wait to share the review. Stay tuned!!

We’ve also decorated for the holidays (nothing gets Shane happier than decorating a tree or setting up his Christmas village. Yes. It is HIS village and he is VERY proud of it), cheered on our Packers, and I’ve had so many cool things going on at the library it is hard to pick a favorite! This Wednesday is my big, 3-hour Star Wars: The Force Awakens party for 50+ kids, so wish me luck! I’ll definitely post pictures!

Before I scurry off to do more homework, I want to share a quick recipe: Homemade Breakfast Cereal. I love breakfast. I’ve never been the biggest fan of boxed cereals, however, because I never feel like they fill me up. Often, they are way too sugary and not very nutritious. During finals week, it is more important than ever that I get a good breakfast that will keep my brain fueled throughout the whole day. Enter, buckwheat.

Such a superfood, it should have a cape

Technically, it isn’t a cereal. Cereals are grains like oats, wheat, and barley. The main ingredient in this homemade breakfast cereal is buckwheat, which is a crazy nutritious seed that acts like a grain. It is packed full of protein and as a bonus is gluten-free! The best part of this buckwheat cereal is the taste: real maple, cinnamon, and vanilla combine to create a breakfast that is out of this world. Plus, while it is baking your entire apartment smells like Christmas! That’s what I call a win-win.

Make sure to plan ahead with this recipe, because it takes about 4 hours between the soaking and baking. I made a double-batch yesterday to last the whole week. I started baking in the morning, worked on my paper, went for a hike in the woods with Shane, and when we got back the cereal was done! Super easy, super delicious!

I got the recipe from one of my favorite food channels on YouTube called “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” The recipe below is simply a double of the original. To watch the how-to video (and for more tasty inspiration), click here!

Julia’s Favorite Cereal of POWER!

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Delicious toasted cereal imbued with holiday spirit!

4 cups buckwheat groats, soaked in water for 1 hour
1 c maple syrup
4 t cinnamon
2 t salt
1/4 t stevia

1. Soak buckwheat groats for at least one hour, then rinse (soaking will get rid of starchiness and soften those groats up a bit)
2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl an mix like you mean it!
3. Spread on two baking sheets and let bake in oven at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours, rotating the pans and mixing groats around half-way through. At 2 hours, check your groats. They dry? Yes, take out of oven and let cool. No? Stick them back in until dry.
4. Crumble apart any large chunks of cereal. Pour into bowl. Pour any type of milk over the top. DEVOUR!

Happy Finals Week!

23
Nov

Thankful Chocolate-Cranberry-Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies!

Everyone else be like:

Snow…

Me:

Snow!!!

I’m one of those obnoxious people who LOVES snow. Every year, November rolls around and I’m crossing my fingers for a white Thanksgiving. Last Friday, when the flurries started to fly, I was literally jumping up and down at work. Yes, I’m that person.

The first snow ushers in some of the best parts of the year: holidays with loved ones, sipping hot cocoa next to a crackling fire, fuzzy slippers, sledding, skating.

Finals.

I’m there anyway, right?

Yes, finals time is here again. Everyone rejoice. I’m elbow deep into TWO huge projects at the moment (and have two more just around the corner! Finals projects are truly gifts that keep on giving), but have managed to thoroughly enjoy myself this past week.

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

For one thing, I had my speaking engagement at the Red Lake Nation College on Monday! To say I was honored to present at the college during Native American Heritage Month is a drastic understatement. Being invited by the Red Lake Nation represented a humungous achievement for me as an author, and really made me thankful for all the amazing opportunities and people Seven Stones has brought to my life. I had a fantastic time talking about my novel with the Red Lake faculty and students, and hope to visit the Red Lake Nation College again! Miigwetch!

We had about 50 kids team up and create awesome duct tape outfits on Wednesday!

After¬†a five hour drive back down to Mankato, I was off and running again on Wednesday with my Duct Tape Fashion Show. I’ve been working super hard on making the library’s Early Out events successful, and this one might just be my favorite yet! The kids’ creativity and imagination was AMAZING to see, and everyone had a fantastic time watching the teams strut their stuff on the runway.

Needless to say, after all the excitement of the week, I was ready for a break. This weekend was nothing short of perfect. Shane and I made ridiculous amounts of good food, and he did mountains of dishes as I worked hard at hashing out a final term paper. In between eating and homework, we managed to go on an hour-and-a-half hike around the Rasmussen Woods on Saturday, and a two-hour bike ride along the Red Jacket Trail on Sunday. Though the temperatures hovered around 19 degrees, it was sooooo great to get outside and MOVE!¬†We got back from our bike ride–chilled, but happy–and treated ourselves to hot chocolate, a bubble bath, and these cookies.

Look at all that deliciousness! Aren’t you thankful for this recipe?! ūüėČ

I’m dubbing these my “thankful” cookies, because I’m seriously thankful I get to shove them in my mouth by the handful. Based off my favorite cookie from my old Co-Op in Bemidji, these bad boys have a lot of good things in them, like oatmeal, craisins, chocolate chips, and coconut shreds. They’re like oatmeal raisin cookies on steroids. And that’s exactly what I need to get me through a week of final papers and holiday traveling.

Soft, chewy, satisfying, with just a hint of sweet and a ton of oompf, I hope these make you thankful, too!

Julia’s Oatmeal Cookies on Thanksgiving Steroids (aka, Thankful Cookies)

cookie

adapted from Love & Flour’s Cranberry Coconut Oatmeal Cookie recipe

Ingredients

1 cup white whole wheat flour

¬Ĺ teaspoon baking soda

¬Ĺ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¬ľ teaspoon salt

1¬Ĺ cups old-fashioned oats

¬Ĺ cup dried cranberries

¬Ĺ cup sweetened coconut

¬Ĺ cup¬†dark chocolate chips

¬Ĺ cup walnut pieces

¬Ĺ cup Earth Balance

¬ĺ cup Sucanat

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt.
  2. Stir in the oats, cranberries, chocolate, walnuts and coconut.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix ’em all up!
  5. Roll the dough into balls (dough will be wet and sticky) and place them on a cookie sheet, flattening the balls into fat little (or, in our case, HUGE) cookies!
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. These cookies will be slightly golden brown on the edges, but still soft in the middle. PERFECT!
  7. If you have self-control, allow the cookies to cool on a rack. If not, go ahead and eat one, but you will burn your mouth. I know from experience.

 

Suggested Pairing

A table full of your favorite people and big ol’ mug of hot chocolate!

Happy Thanksgiving!

09
Nov

Crustless Pumpkin Custard Pie!

Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie

The original pie recipe from the Fat Free Kitchen

Of all my many pumpkin loves, pie is number one. I’ve always adored pumpkin pie, but I can’t admit ever really liking the crust. Last year, I came across this recipe and my life changed forever. This pie is a creamy custard whose edges brown into sweet deliciousness–no crust required!

I adapted it slightly from the original recipe, and present it now to you: my crowning pumpkin achievement! Creamy, satisfying, and wonderfully spiced. As a bonus, my pumpkin pie is healthy enough to eat for breakfast! It is the perfect way to enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving while still eating clean and healthy.

Julia’s Crustless Pumpkin Custard¬†Pie

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs

1 Tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup Sucanat

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together and whisk well.
  3. Pour into the pie pan and bake for about 60 minutes. The top and edges should be brown, and crispy, but the edges should not be over-done. To check if it is done, wiggle the pie pan back and forth. If there is any liquid in the center, put the pie back in for a few extra minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting. DEVOUR! ūüôā

Suggested Pairing

Top with homemade coconut whipped cream for a delicious end to any meal!

I had such a fantastic time at the Waterville Public Library this past Wednesday, and am looking forward to visiting the Red Lake Tribal College next Monday! I am SO honored to be invited to speak about my book at the college, and can’t wait to tell all about it!

Have a wonderful week! Happy Monday!

 

26
Oct

Halloween Pumpkin Chili

Halloween is THIS SATURDAY! For those of you who don’t know, Halloween is my FAVORITE of holidays. What is there not to love? Dressing up, delicious foods, bonfires, crunchy leaves, candy, caramel apples, pumpkins,¬†hot apple cider,¬†and a bit of magic–Halloween has it all.

This year, the holiday is going to be even more special because I am hosting a Harry Potter Party this Wednesday at my library. Three hours, fifty kids, Hogwarts classes, and Muggle Quidditch. Talk about magical! I have tried to plan everything so the kids literally feel like they are living the book (and, secretly, so I can feel like I’m living the book, too ūüôā ) Wish me luck, everyone!

When I haven’t been thinking about Harry Potter, I’ve been celebrating! Shane’s 28th birthday was this past week, and we had an amazing day hiking through Seven Mile Creek State Park and enjoying games and good food with people we love. Here’s to another year of love, adventures, laughter, and magic!

Happy Birthday, Hobbit Man!

The other highlight of the week was going to the Spring Grove Public Library for an author talk. I had a FABULOUS time. The library itself is cozy, welcoming, and warm–but that was nothing compared to the people. I have been fortunate to meet some truly wonderful people while on the road with Seven Stones, and this trip was extra special because I was able to connect to a cousin I’ve never met before!

Shane, me, and Sue!

It was such a pleasure to meet my cousin Sue, spend time with her, and make a family connection that will last the rest of my life. Thank you to everyone who came out to meet me, support my writing, and tell me they were fans of my book! Did you hear that? I HAVE FANS! *Happy Dance!* I can’t wait¬†to¬†go¬†back to Spring Grove for another event!

Reading an excerpt from SEVEN STONES

Reading an excerpt from SEVEN STONES

After such an exciting week, I was ready for a lazy Sunday afternoon cuddled on the couch with a bowl of chili with Shane and a romantic movie. Instead, we helped some friends move into their new house. But I DID get my chili! And this isn’t your ordinary bowl of chili. Oh, no. It is the best chili around: PUMPKIN CHILI!

I think I may have mentioned before that pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors. This fall, I’ve been processing pie pumpkins at a rate of about one a week. I scoop out the seeds to toast, then roast and puree the sweet pumpkin “meat” to bake into breads, muffins, and even put into main dishes like my pumpkin chili.

I love simple, delicious food. This pumpkin chili recipe delivers amazing taste, nutrition, and is comforting and warming‚ÄĒperfect for those chilly fall nights. To top it all off, this recipe couldn‚Äôt be simpler: just dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker and walk away! Most of the work you have to do is chopping: how easy is that? You can throw everything together on Monday and have homemade chili for the rest of the week. As a bonus, the orange of the pumpkin and black beans make a festive Halloween dinner!

Julia’s Scary Good Pumpkin Chili

Serve up a scary good Halloween feast!

Serve up a scary good Halloween feast!

Ingredients

1 can (15.9 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 15 oz. can)

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup lentils

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Onion, minced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp Sucanat or other granulated sweetener

Dash nutmeg

Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Turn on ‚Äúlow‚ÄĚ and cook for 6-8 hours (if in a hurry, crank on ‚Äúhigh‚ÄĚ and let cook for 3-5 hours).

That’s it! Top with grated cheese (non-dairy or dairy) or any other chili toppings you like. DEVOUR!

Happy Monday!