back to the garden

a year of greener thinking


Summer Fruit Tart

This is a fruit tart of unknown origins. My mom sent me the recipe many years ago, when I was interning far away from home and was in need of dessert tips. Thanks to the wonders of gmail, I found the recipe again this summer, and the tart made an appearance at my boyfriend’s “We’re done with the bar exam! (at least for now)*” barbecue at the end of July.

I originally thought the tart was from an Ina Garten cookbook, but Ina’s recipe is slightly more complex. And that is the beauty of this fruit tart. It’s simple to make and takes advantage of the gorgeous summer fruit harvest.

*I say at least for now because I’m still waiting for Illinois bar results. He passed the Wisconsin bar!

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Black Bean Confetti Salad

Is anyone still reading? I hope so! This black bean and bell pepper salad from smitten kitchen is not to be missed. Savory but not overpowering, you’ll bring it to picnics, use it as a side dish at dinner and pack it for lunch. (I’ve done all three.)

Better yet, it’s quick. I made it twice over the summer, even though I barely had time to post here! (More on that later.)

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Vegetarian Fried Rice with Shiitake Mushrooms and Cashews

Big Girls Small Kitchen is one of my favorite sites, not least because its founders, Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine, were nice enough to give me advice when I was starting my first food blog a few years ago (a mutual friend connected us). I made this vegetarian fried rice dish last week and, as usual, they didn’t disappoint.

As Cara says, this recipe is a great meal for weeknights or whenever you’re pressed for time. I added a little extra garlic and soy (noted below), but otherwise I followed her recipe to the letter. If you’re cooking for one, the remaining portion reheated well on the stove the next day.

If you enjoy the dish, be sure to check out their cookbook, In the Small Kitchen!

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Mango Spinach Banana Chia Smoothie

I’ve continued my smoothie experiments post-vegan Lent (at least when I wake up early enough), occasionally switching up the kind of frozen fruit or greens I use. I’ve also begun soaking the chia seeds with a bit of water, which creates a clear jelly-like substance that can be added into the blender. (According to livestrong, however, chia seeds also can be eaten whole without soaking, so feel free to skip this step if you’re running short on time.) This smoothie, which includes frozen mango, is my favorite. Continue reading


Vegan Blueberry Muffins

I love this blueberry muffin recipe from Angela at Oh She Glows. Before vegan Lent started, I’d never baked muffins without eggs, so I was a little nervous about how these would turn out. Fortunately, they didn’t disappoint.  I recommend serving the muffins warm with a bit of Earth Balance spread, soy chai lattes and a Sunday paper.

(While the recipe recommends making mini-blueberry muffins, these also work in a regular-sized muffin pan. Just increase the baking time by about five minutes.)

Click here for Angela’s blueberry muffin recipe.

Soundtrack: Joni Mitchell, Ladies of the Canyon


Vegan Mint Chocolate Mousse

I got this recipe from Maya, a college friend who blogs over at Dessert is in a Different Pocket. Maya and I both tried to stick to a vegan meal plan for Lent this year, so I loved getting ideas from her posts. Guess what the secret ingredient is in this delicious concoction?

. . .

It’s tofu! I also used almond milk and vegan chocolate chips (which melted surprisingly well). Unlike Maya, I sweetened it a little more by adding some powdered sugar to taste, but otherwise I followed the recipe she provides. Like her husband Andrew, my meat- and dairy-loving boyfriend had no idea tofu was the main ingredient!

Click here for Maya’s recipe.

Soundtrack: Mason Jennings, Use Your Voice


Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup from Sprouted Kitchen (an absolutely beautiful blog) was one of my favorite vegan Lent recipes. The soup is hearty, healthy and freezes well.

I followed the recipe more or less exactly, except I significantly increased the amount of cumin and chipotle powder I used, since I prefer a spicier soup. You can use canned black beans or cook your own (if you’re worried about BPA, you may want to do the latter or look for BPA-free cans).

Click here for Sprouted Kitchen’s Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup recipe.

Soundtrack: Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, All the Roadrunning