Whiskey Smash? Don’t Mind If I Do…

One of the many cool perks of working in publishing is having anywhere between 1-7 excuses to drink on a Monday night thanks to a slew of press events. This past Monday, I was dazzled by the esteemed Harold Pratt house (Don’t worry, I had to google it too) at a celebration for Glenfiddich‘s The Original launch party.

My friend Shallon and I entered the not-so-humble Park avenue abode, bracing ourselves for an evening of whiskey-infused merriment. Not being a whiskey drinker (Sorry…every guy ever), I was bracing myself for an evening of soda water. Instead, I met two cocktails I’m seriously lusting over. Now, you can too (though hopefully not on a Monday):
Whisky Smash

2 oz Grant’s
handful fresh mint leaves
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup

Combine ingredients and shake well. 
Pour directly from the shaker into an old fashioned glass.
Top with ice and garnish with a lemon wedge.



Whisky Smash Modern

2 oz Monkey Shoulder
4 pieces fresh pineapple
handful fresh arugula leaves
4 dashes Angostua bitters
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz honey syrup

Muddle pineapple then add other ingredients and shake well,
Strain over fresh ice in an old fashioned glass,
Garnish with fresh arugula

Oh and just because:

Five-Step Fall Salad with Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette

It’s apple season! Bur instead of putting those forbidden fruits to use in pies and tarts, my laziness and general dislike for cleaning lots of mixing bowls and pots post-baking has compelled me to throw them into just about every kind of salad I’ve been having. Out of the 29382893 various incarnations of fall salads I’ve tinkered with in the past month, this simple gem proves the perfect balance of tart, crunchy, sweet and satiating.

Also, I feel like saying I made it with a H-D vinaigrette makes it sound classy and challenging, when really it’s as simple as dumping a few things into a bowl and stirring vigorously. Behold:

Ingredients:
for salad
mixed greens
cherry tomatoes
hearts of palm
red chile pepper flakes
salt and pepper
for dressing
extra virgin olive oil
apple cider vinegar
raw honey
dijon mustard
fresh lemon juice
Ingredients:
for salad
mixed greens
cherry tomatoes
hearts of palm
red chile pepper flakes
salt and pepper
for dressing
extra virgin olive oil
apple cider vinegar
raw honey
dijon mustard
fresh lemon juice
Add salad ingredients to a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in small bowl and stir vigorously. Drizzle generously over salad. Inhale.

This Cocktail from Marquis Vodka Will Blow Your Mind

…and even three drinks in, you’ll hopefully still stay vegan 😉
Happy Friday. Cheers ya’ll!

Recipe courtesy Marquis Vodka.


Virtue & Vice 
Created by master mixologists Brian Valencia and Rael Petit.
Served at Sons of Essex (133 Essex St, Manhattan, NY 10002)
2oz Marquis Vodka
1 oz Dole Pineapple juice 
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice 
1/4 oz maraschino liquor 
3 dashes of angostura bitters 
Start with an empty dry shaker.Then add pineapple juice,simple syrup,lemon juice,maraschino liquor,Marquis vodka. Add Ice. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Strain out into a coupe/martini glass. Add dashes of angostura bitters. Garnish with fresh pineapple chunks.
So what makes this libation a virtuous vice? Marquis Vodka, the ultra-premium vodka that’s quickly becoming the hippest vodka there is and growing faster than your windowsill’s basil plant under the warm spring sun  (it’s currently being launched at fine restaurants,nightclubs, bars, hotels and retail stores throughout the New York metropolitan market,Florida and California), donates 20% of their retail revenue to charitable partners like Meals On Wheels and The Trevor Project. Now there’s a hangover you can at least feel good about.

Destination: Las Vegan, Nevada

Vegan doing Vegas? Look no further than Holsteins Shakes and Buns which offers alluring vegan options any carnivore seatmate will drool over. The new burger concept at The Cosmopolitan Hotel is like a funky West coast den with East Village attitude that custom crafts its whole menu in-house. Can’t make it to Sin City yourself? Bring the spirit of Vegas to your own kitchen with two of their signature recipes.

The URTH Burger:

¼ C Celery, small diced
¼ C Carrot, small diced
¼ C Zucchini, small diced
¼ C Yellow Squash, small diced
¼ C white onion, small diced
¼ C broccoli, small diced, blanched
¼ C Cauliflower, small diced, blanched
¼ C Mushrooms, small diced
½ tsp, chopped garlic
3 tbsp, olive oil
2 Tbsp, Quinoa Cooked
2 Tbsp, Barley, cooked
2 Tbsp, Brown Rice, cooked
2 Tbsp, Irish oatmeal, cooked
2 tbsp, frozen peas (not thawed)
1 C Hummus, prepared
¼ C bread crumbs
1 Tbsp, fines Herbs (mixture of parsley, chervil, tarragon and chives), fresh chopped
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
In large sauté pan over medium heat, sweat celery, carrot and onions until tender with olive oil, set aside to cool. In sauté pan over high heat sauté add olive oil and cook zucchini and squash until tender, set aside to cool. In pan with high heat and olive oil sauté mushrooms with garlic until tender, set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine all vegetables and grains and combine until evenly mixed, (peas are left frozen so they do not much during mixing). Add hummus as binder and combine. Using the breadcrumbs add in quarters and mix until a firm texture is achieved. Season with herbs, salt, pepper, turmeric, cayenne pepper and lemon juice to taste. Allow to set for 30 minutes and adjust texture with breadcrumbs if needed. Form into patties and sauté in a nonstick pan with olive oil until crisp and hot.

And wash it down with this dairy-free delight. Hello, Maple Pecan Bamboozled Shake:

For one shake, plus a shake tin:
·         4 large scoops almond milk ice cream
·         1 oz Jack Daniels whiskey
·         2 Tbsp spiced pecans
·         Maple caramel sauce to swirl in glass
·         spiced pecans for garnish
·         cashew whipped “cream” for garnish
Place ice cream, whiskey, and 2 Tbsp spiced pecans in a blender and blend until smooth. (It is helpful to let the ice cream melt slightly before blending.) Swirl the maple caramel sauce in the glass. Fill the glass with the blended shake. Garnish with cashew whipped “cream” and spiced pecans.
Almond Milk Ice Cream
·         4-1/2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
·         ¼ cup corn syrup
·         1-3/4 cup sugar
·         1 vanilla bean
In a pot, bring the almond milk, vanilla bean, and corn syrup to 113°F. Whisk in the sugar and cook to 185°F. Chill. Process the base in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
Spiced Pecans
·         2-1/2 cup raw pecan halves
·         ¾ cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
·         1 tsp ground cinnamon
·         ½ tsp ground nutmeg
·         ½ tsp ground ginger
·         ½ tsp salt
Soak the pecan halves in hot simple syrup for 10 minutes. Drain the liquid, sprinkle with the spices, and toss to coat. Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Toast in 300°F oven for 10-12 minutes or until browned.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to be indulging in this boozy shake in the comfort of my apartment in NYC. Because, hey, it’s better to lose your mind a bit, then to lose all your money!

Recipes courtesy of Holsteins Shakes and Buns.

5 Secrets to Make Going Vegan as Easy as Jay-Z and Beyoncé

Okay, I know, I know, 22 days does not a vegan make, but the celebrity duo make taking the vegan plunge look, well, really freaking simple (Cue to a photo of decadent vegan mac and “cheese” on Beyoncé’es instagram), so besides hiring a personal chef, what are the top secrets for making going vegan as simple as Truffle Pie with Sea Salt and Butternut Squash Walnut Ice Cream? Giddy up:

1. Read Healthy. Happy. Life. Sugar Plum Citrus-Cranberry Sparkle Muffins? Super-Blueberry Toasted-Coconut Chia Pudding Parfaits? Smoky Maple Tempeh Cheezy Broccoli Pita? Don’t mind if I do. Then drool over Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes‘ Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting and Braised Greens with Golden Raisins & Smokey Tempeh. You can also check out my slideshow of vegan comfort food recipes for everyone for some more awesome vegan blog resources. I suggest you stop there though, lest you want to go food shopping with a list the size of Santa’s up in the North Pole.

2. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on everything. Everything!

3. Eat Fritos. And everything bagels. And Ritz Crackers. And cinnamon Teddy Grahams. And Wheat Thins. And Sour Patch Kids. And baba ganoush. And grape leaves. And hummus. And scallion pancakes. And countless more accidentally vegan foods (props to PETA for the awesome list). Because you still can! Stop thinking about the shift as excluding your old favorites, and start thinking about all the amazing foods you can still include in your diet and the new foods ripe for fun experimentation during this exciting new phase of exploration (C’mon, who doesn’t love the honeymoon phase of a relationship?). And drizzle Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup over it all, because you can do that too, you know.

4. Put a mark on your calendar (paper, iPhone, desktop or otherwise) everyday you stick to a vegan diet. You’ll feel more accountable to your new routine and proud to track all your progress.

5. Make up a big vat of vegan soup. Because you’ll feel virtuous. And no matter how convinced you are that a stupid bowl of soup won’t fill you up, you’ll make it and be shocked. Because it will (Okay, you might need two bowls). Try this version with veggie broth from Queen of Quinoa for Super Healthy Green Soup. And sop it up with a warm, crusty loaf of delicious multigrain or sourdough bread. Because bread cures everything. Even Oreo withdrawal. OH WAIT THOSE ARE VEGAN!

In A Guacamole Rut? Try These.

Don’t get me wrong, workout ruts, relationship ruts, school ruts…those all suck and all. But there’s nothing quite like a guacamole rut. Why? Because unlike final exams, your flaky boyfriend or your lazy self failing to make it to the gym, guacamole is one thing you can always count on to be delicious, satisfying, and convince yourself eating it is the virtuous, healthy queen of the junk food universe. So when it’s the end of a long day, and you can’t get yourself excited about digging into a heaping bowl of green goodness, you know something’s wrong.

Alas, creative spins to the rescue! I promise these three fast fixes from Two Peas & Their Pod will send your blah-camole blues away.

First up, roasted corn and red pepper guacamole. No limes? Try adding the juice of a lemon instead. A splash of balsamic vinegar also complements the roasted corn in this 7-ingredient recipe nicely (well, nine total, but who doesn’t have salt and pepper excepts your lame-oh ex-roommate whose idea of cooking was re-microwaving last night’s Seamless order)..

Next on the guacamole roster is their zesty mango cilantro guacamole (warning: for those unfortunate folks cursed with that whole cilantro tastes like soap gene dysfunction thing, they will detest this, so swap cilantro for parsley). Neat trick I learned about mangoes that has changed my life? Stop wasting thousands of seconds at the fruit stand or grocery store tossing away mangoes based on their skin color: it has nothing–I repeat, nothing–to do with their ripeness. Just squeeze it gently, a ripe one will give slightly. (More mango selection tips at Mango.org)
Lastly, Pesto Guacamole hits the spot when you find yourself onion-less, pepper-less or just looking for a good sandwich spread. Just make sure you follow a recipe for vegan pesto (many recipes for pesto use grated cheese), or if you bought a store-bought pesto, check the ingredient list.

De-rutted yet? I thought so. More guacamole inspiration here: Change Up Your Guacamole Dip with These Surprising Ingredients

Wait, You Can Do That With Pears?! <--The Best Pear Recipe You've Never Tried.

I’ve been on a huge pear kick lately. Maybe I should change my name to Pear-E. But seriously. Lately, I’ve been scouring the sale bin at my local grocery stores for not quite ripe ones to stock up on the flavorful fruit (“Check the neck” for ripeness–if it gives a little, it’s ready to eat). I’ve been adding them to my standard morning banana + spinach + berries + almond milk + almond butter + whatever else shake. I’ve been having them for dessert drizzled with maple syrup, cinnamon and sea salt (because I’m weird like that). I’ve even been adding them to my carrot-apple-lime-ginger-spinach juice. Excepts not because when i stand there slicing it in front of my juicer, I just can’t help myself and wind up eating it then and there. One thing I haven’t been doing is roasting them, but after stumbling across this elegant recipe from 86Lemons for Roasted Pear and Arugula Salad, I knew I was ready for a change.

So you’ll imagine my happiness when I got a beautiful holiday delivery filled with a variety of USA Pears.

One quick trip to the grocery store for arugula and lemons later….BAM!
Well, mine didn’t look as pretty as Livvy’s (and I skipped the dried cranberries, too sweet for me), but you get the idea. P.S. Apple cider vinegar + maple syrup + lemon juice + olive oil = YES.

Breaking News: Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

In case you missed it, a study came out this week sensationalizing for the masses just how much more expensive it is to eat healthy ($550 more a year). Just what America needs, another excuse to skip the veggies, whole grains, fruit and lentils and load up on various iterations of salt, sugar and fat. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I went grocery shopping today. Spinach, bag of limes, two bags of celery, three bags of 2lbs of carrots, romaine hearts, almond milk, silken tofu, pounds of apples, a purple sweet potato, two pears, ginger, a lemon, a bag of kiwis, a bag of avocados….and it set me back a whopping $43. (This is more than a week worth’s of food people). Oh, and it was all organic. Had I gone the conventional route, it would have been about 30% less. Sorry, “Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day,” I think I can squeeze by on about $3.60.

What Do Vegans Eat for Dessert At Thanksgiving?

Answer: A lot.

Here are five 10 insane vegan desserts I’ll be getting inspiration from this fall. If you’re anything like me, and you’ve encountered countless friends inquire “But what about ice cream?” “What about cheesecake?” “WHAT ABOUT COOKIES?…AND BROWNIES?”

What about ’em? 🙂 Beyond the standard vegan pumpkin tiramisu and pumpkin cheesecake with pecan crust topping dazzle them with any of these delights and watch their skepticism fade away.

Okay, so maybe they’re pegged as breakfast cookies, but speaking from personal experience. These 2-Ingredient 2-Ingredient Healthy Banana Bread Breakfast Cookies {with delicious add-ins!} from Ambitious Kitchen taste amazing any hour of the day. My favorite mix extras are a sprinkle of sea salt and a light dusting of cinnamon. I’ve got some dark cherries today and a few handfuls left of the addictive Navitas Naturals Cashews, so those might find their way into a batch as well. Add some flaxseed meal or chia or hemp seeds for an even superboosted indulgence.

From pretty dough balls…

To stacks of deliciousness…

Need to appease the ooey gooey chocolate aficionados in your life? Look no further than these babies, also from Ambitious Kitchen. Because who can say no to Black Bean Avocado Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies . Okay, you got me, your body building boyfriend might say “ick” to the veggies and legumes. So just tell everyone they’re Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies. Trust me, no one will know you slipped in good-for-you stuff.
All this chocolate talk has you craving, well, more chocolate, right? These I-dare-you-to-say-no Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Oat Brownies from Ambitious Kitchen have only 86 calories and 6 grams of sugar per square


Next up, we’ve got Can’t Say No Pumpkin Bread from Queen of Quinoa. You know you’ve been dreaming about it since the first time you retired your early fall cardigan for your okay-this-is-really-fall-now khaki jacket, so why say no? Oh, and need I even mention it, but between the Medjool dates, quinoa flakes and coconut oil, you can file this under “Desserts You Won’t Feel Guilty About.”
Still thinking about those brownies? Me too. Until my brown infatuation met these blondies. Black Bean Avocado Brownies, meet Ambitious Kitchen’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lentil Blondies. And this time, you can just tell the BF to get excited for some no sugar added, protein-loaded peanut butter nuggets of goodness. (He doesn’t need to know about the lentils, right? I mean, it’s not soy…)

And while you’re feeling blondies, whip a batch of Ambitious Kitchen’s Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies with Sea Salt 
And what’s a blondie, or any dessert, for that matter, without some ice cream? That’s why I’m going  with these two #SeriousWins to top the crumbly masterpieces with some frozen love. First up, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream courtesy of Queen of Quinoa. The cookie dough balls are très easy to assemble (and you don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen to you from eating raw egg) and a scoop or two is a heavenly reminder that whoever decided ice cream is a summer thing, definitely never placed it over a toasty, oven-fresh blondie.

And because what’s a celebration without truffles? May I present to you Secretly Healthy Black Bean Chocolate Protein Truffles from Ambitious Kitchen. And to steal Lay’s potato chips slogan “betcha can’t eat just one.” Excepts, you won’t have to worry about that, now, will you?  Black beans + protein powder + maple syrup = antioxidant and protein power house.

Okay, okay, we’re busted. Our hopeless devotion to ice cream has led us to also attempt Ambitious Kitchen’s Banana “Ice Cream” with Toasted Coconut, Almonds, & Dark Chocolate.  All you need for the “ice cream” is a few ripe bananas, and all those ripe-ies are getting sick of being baked away in your oven, anyways. They’ll appreciate the change of pace. Because you’re doing this for them….right? Totally. Has nothing to do with that batch of brownies in the oven. No, not at all.

And for ice cream dipping purposes? Chocolate Chip Cookies, of course. Queen of Quinoa ingeniously weaves in quinoa flakes here, but the real secret weapon is unsweetened apple sauce. The gluten-free guests at your table will be weeping with joy.

So back to that original question of your demanding guest…”What do vegans eat for dessert at Thanksgiving?” Well, after any of these wonders, they might even take a moment to tell you “Wow I finally get why you’re doing that whole vegan thing!” Excepts they probably won’t… they’ll  just be too busy scarfing down their desserts to take a breath of air. What don’t vegans eat for dessert?

The Arugula Salad That Will Make Carnivores Cry

You think I’m kidding? I’m not. My cyber friend Alyssa over at Queen of Quinoa knows how to please any palate. Not only is it the type of dish I call “vegan without even noticing”, it’s also gluten-free. This savory salad combines roasted squash, pomegranate seeds (in season now! Can’t find a whole pomegranate? You can buy the fresh arils in this handy container from POM Wonderful) and an amazing dressing of a little whole-grain mustard, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Get the recipe here. I promise your meat-eating friends won’t be sad. They might even stop asking you “What’s with the whole vegan thing?” ad nauseam.

Get more tantalizing gluten-free delights from Alyssa at Queen of Quinoa, or follow her on Twitter @AlyssaRimmer.
And while you’re on a quinoa kick (it’s a thing), check out some of her amazing recipes in this Reader’s Digest slideshow of creative quinoa recipes. Hey, you might even decide to your reward yourself for eating this healthy salad, with a healthy sweet finish of “Reese’s” Quinoa CrispyTreats.” (Just swap honey for maple syrup or agave nectar to make it 100% vegan). You might want to make an extra batch; those meat-guzzlers will be looting the serving platter for seconds.