Berry Lemonade Smoothie

Thirsty?  This ultra-refreshing, sweet, summery smoothie is just what the doctor ordered.

In honor of the 5th Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck, I present one of my new favorites: a Berry Lemonade Smoothie.

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Serves 1

Ingredients
1 cup lemonade (I used Newman’s Own diet lemonade)
Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries (can also use frozen)
5 fresh mint leaves
Agave nectar or other natural sweetener to taste

Directions
Blend first 5 ingredients together until smooth.  Taste and add sweetener if necessary (it may be tart depending on the lemonade you use and the sweetness of your fruit).

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Drink up and enjoy!!!

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Neat Fiesta Rollups

If you follow me on social media, you may already know that I took a brief hiatus from blogging over the past week and a half following the sudden passing of our beloved cat, Marty.  I wouldn’t say that things are back to “normal,” but they are certainly getting better.  Most importantly, Stewie seems to be doing remarkably well in his adjustment to life as a single cat.   Thanks to those who have offered support and condolences during this difficult time.

I’m back today for the fourth installment of the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck with some delicious Fiesta Rollups made with Neat.

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Neat is a meat substitute made from pecans, garbanzo beans, cornmeal, and spices.  Its texture goes perfectly in these pinwheels but if you don’t have any, you can simply leave it out.

Neat Fiesta Rollups
Serves 3-4 as an appetizer

Ingredients
1 lavash (I used Arnold’s brand)
3/4 cup vegetarian refried beans, warmed
3/4 cup prepared Neat (I used the Mexican Mix variety)
1/2 cup salsa (I used Tostitos medium chunky)
1/4 of a fresh avocado, finely sliced
1/4 of a fresh red bell pepper (about 1/2 cup), chopped and lightly sauteed

Directions
Prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time.

The assembly for these is akin to your basic pinwheel: Lay the lavash out on a flat surface.  Spread the refried beans evenly over the entire lavash.  Then, start to roll and layer.  You do this by starting at one end of the lavash and adding a line of a given ingredient, then rolling it again, adding another ingredient, and so forth until your entire lavash is rolled.

Mine went: Neat, avocado, salsa, bell pepper, avocado, Neat.

Then, slice the lavash roll crosswise to make your pinwheels!  Super-easy, and super-adaptable–use whatever ingredients you have on hand.

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P.S. – My omnivore husband loved these too!  And he is not into the meat “substitutes,” believe me.

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Summer Strawberry Arugula Salad with Maple Lime Vinaigrette

Hey there!  Hope everyone is having a great week–it’s already more than halfway over!

For the second installment of the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck, I’m sharing yet another fabulous and simple way to enjoy summer produce.  Feel free to substitute whatever greens and fruit are abundant and tasty right now where you live–the sweet, tangy dressing goes with pretty much everything!
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Ingredients
For the dressing
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. maple syrup
3/4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
dash of salt and pepper

For the salad
6-10 strawberries depending on size, sliced (about 3/4 cup) (or blueberries or other delicious seasonal fruit)
3 cups arugula (or spinach or other green)
5-6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (use more if you love fresh basil like I do!)
1/2 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts (walnuts or almonds would also be great)

Directions
Whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined.  Combine salad ingredients, tossing until well combined, then add dressing and chow down!

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Unfortunately I am still having issues with WordPress, so my posting has continued to be limited.  I’ve learned that it may have something to do with computer system updates (??), which unfortunately are out of my control, but I’m hopeful for a resolution at some point in the near future.

In the meantime I’ve been *trying* to be more active on Twitter, Instagram, etc., just so that you all know I’m still alive!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

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Mojito Stone Fruit Salad

Today I am sharing my current obsession: a stone fruit salad with hints of mint and lime reminiscent of a delicious mojito!

Tangy, sweet, and insanely refreshing, this fruit salad is a perfect way to take advantage of summer’s amazing bounty. It makes a delicious breakfast or snack and is easily multiplied for a party, picnic, or bbq.
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Mojito Stone Fruit Salad
Serves 2 as a snack or side, or 1 as a big bodacious breakfast
Vegan, raw, gluten-free

Ingredients
1 nectarine (or peach), pitted and diced
1 plum, pitted and diced
10 cherries, pitted and quartered
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp grated lime zest
1 tsp finely chopped fresh mint

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, stirring gently to avoid bruising the fruit.

Enjoy as is or top with coconut whipped cream for a little decadence! (I like this method by Angela of Oh She Glows).

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Recipe notes:
1) Conventionally grown stone fruits tend to carry a lot of pesticides on their skin. In this one you’ll be eating all the skins, including that of the lime, making this one recipe for which you may want to consider using organic ingredients if available.
2) If your fruit is underripe or you find the salad comes out more tangy than you’d prefer, go ahead and add a little bit of sweetener. Agave nectar or some cane or turbinado sugar would work beautifully.
3) If you are making this to serve at a gathering I would suggest waiting to toss it all together until you are just about ready to serve. This will prevent those sassy cherries from staining the whole thing red!

Have a wonderful, happy, healthy 4th!!!

UPDATE: I have entered this recipe in today’s Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck!

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WordPress Issues?

Hey all, happy Friday!

I’m just checking in from mobile to let you know that I haven’t posted this week because I’ve been having a ton of problems trying to access, let alone log into, wordpress.com. It’s super-frustrating because I actually have a bunch of blogs ready to go, but no way to post them at the moment.

Is anyone else having a similar problem?? Or know how to fix it??

It appears to be a security issue, where Chrome says it can’t connect to the “real WordPress,” while Explorer just won’t connect to the page at all.

I thought maybe it was caused by the security settings on my work computer, but today I’m on a public computer and having the same problem :( WTH??

Anyway, enough bitching from me. I hope everyone has a terrific weekend! I will be spending mine on Cape Cod with my handsome husband, perfect fur-babies, sunshine, and cherries. All. The. Cherries.
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A. Cook for Six Years

I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but today is my six year blog anniversary!
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To celebrate, I think I’ll eat A.Cookie (har har).

Last year on my five year I had a lot to say about the path my blog had taken up to that point, but it’s pretty amazing how much things ramped up in the year that has gone by since then!

This year, participating in blogger events like Vegan MoFo and Virtual Vegan Potluck really got me to step out of my comfort zone and start interacting more with the incredible and vast community out there.  I discovered so many new blogs and friends (just check out the size of that list in the righthand toolbar!) and this really helped to keep me motivated to post regularly (something with which I had majorly struggled in the past).Vegan Week 003

I finally found the confidence to create and post some of my own recipes (and now have enough of them [though still a very modest amount!] to share on their own page).  I hosted my first (and second and third!) giveaway.  I had a guest blogger.  I got awesome free stuff to review (woo hoo!).Spicy Spotlight 010
Sesame Tamari Roasted Brussels Sprouts featuring Dragon’s Blood Elixir hot sauce

I took some amazing vegan voyages (in DC, Richmond, and L.A.).RVA 016
Tofu Po Boy and veggie chili from 821 Cafe in Richmond, VA

I also began to branch out past my own little corner of the Internet by contributing blogs at Chic Vegan.  I created a Facebook page and Instagram account, and became much more active on Twitter.Skull Cakes 2 007
Spooky Skull Cakes seen on Chic Vegan, October 2013

AND I finally purchased my domain name acookinthemaking.com!!!

Needless to say, I am very excited about everything that has happened in the last year and want to say thanks to all the awesome bloggers and other visitors who make this such a fun thing to do :)  Here’s to the next six!!

Recap: Trip to Los Angeles, CA & Crossroads Kitchen

Hello there, friends! I am finally settling back into a normal sleep and work schedule after getting back my first-ever trip to the West Coast this past weekend! Specifically, we spent 3 whirlwind days in sunny Los Angeles.

I’ve always imagined L.A. (and Cali in general, I suppose) as kind of a vegan utopia with an avocado tree in every backyard and a farmer’s markets on every corner.  I’m still not sure whether or not my vision is accurate, because the main purpose of the trip was not, for once, to stuff my face, but in fact to attend the Christening of H’s godson!

We did also manage to pack in a bunch of sightseeing and great eating too (for a spoiler alert, see the post title).  Unfortunately, I ended up not taking as many pictures as I would have liked, mainly due to the fact that my phone perpetually seemed to be on the verge of dying. I guess that’s what happens when you travel somewhere where GPS is needed 24/7!  But I did capture the main highlights of sightseeing and vegan awesomeness, so enjoy!

Friday
H and I hit the road at 3:30 on Friday morning to get to the airport for our 6 a.m. flight. It was a bit miserable, but it did mean that we got a full day in LA because we were out of the plane by 9:30 a.m. Pacific time.

The first thing we did was to check out the Santa Monica pier.
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Love the selfie photobomb going on in the corner…

It was fun and reminded me of Coney Island, except with a different ocean! We dipped our feet in the Pacific…
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…and saw some cool birds!
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Then we drove out to Pasadena to meet our friends at the Golden Road Brew Pub, which has a fantastic vegan selection! It was really hard to choose, but I ended up going with the Fried Roman Artichokes:
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And the Tostada Salad (that’s jackfruit carnitas on top!):
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YUM!

Plus H got to meet his godson for the first time :)
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How cute is he?! (The baby is okay too I guess…)

We spent the majority of the rest of the day with our friends, then we checked into our hotel and I was passed out before 7 p.m. PST.

Saturday
I woke up at 4 a.m. (BOO jet lag!!!) and poor H wasn’t far behind. We decided to drive out to San Dimas for a little pilgrimage…
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Strange things are afoot…

And then headed into Hollywood to see the stars and sign.
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It was fun and I’m glad we did it even though I usually prefer WAY less touristy things.

After that we checked out the Hollywood Farmer’s Market briefly. I got a giant deli pickle!
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Then we headed down to San Pedro to meet up with H’s great-uncle and aunt at a waterfront dining spot. No pictures because my phone was dead by this point. Next it was back up to Pasadena to watch some World Cup with our friends. At their house, I opened up the gorgeous (and EXPENSIVE) dragon fruit that H and I bought at the farmer’s market.
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I love dragon fruit! I haven’t had any since I visited Vietnam in 2004 so I was extremely excited to see it for sale at the farmer’s market.

Saturday was another early night so that we could be well-rested for the main event—godson’s baptism!—on Sunday.

Sunday
Well as you might expect, the majority of Sunday was spent with our friends and their beautiful new son, first at church and then at their friends’ house for a party with lots of gorgeous vegan platters!

Mediterranean!
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Roasted veggies!
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Avocado and veggie sandwiches! (Note: some of the sandwiches had a sprinkle of cheese but most were vegan.)
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BUT…I went easy on these because I was saving room for my most-anticipated part of the trip—our dinner reservation at Crossroads Kitchen!
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OMG you guys. This was just as good if not better than I imagined. Here’s what H and I had:

Cocktails
I had heard that the cocktails here were not to be missed. H had The Escapist and later the Moscow Mule.
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I had The Humble Braggart.
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They were so different than anything we’d ever had before, thoughtfully presented, and so delicious!

First Course
Lentil flatbread with 3 spreads (leek pate, fava bean spread, and spicy tomato banana pepper jam).
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All were delicious (and the pepper jam was spicy!) but we both liked the leek pate the most.
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Second Course
I had the Cream of Fava Bean and English Pea soup.
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H had the Spiced Chickpeas.
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I enjoyed the soup very much, and H liked the chickpeas, though we both agreed I make equally delicious chickpea dishes at home :)

Third Course
H had the Risotto Stuffed Banana Pepper.
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I had the Crab Cakes (made from hearts of palm).
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Both of these entrées were stunning and outstanding. The risotto was incredibly creamy, and really complemented the spicy, tart banana pepper. The crab cakes had the most perfect texture, and the beet and apple topping was, again, a perfect complement. That was one of the biggest things I noticed about everything we tried—it just seemed like an amazing amount of care and attention had gone into creating every dish to make sure that the balance of flavors and textures were just right.

Dessert
We shared the Ginger Beer Float. They make their ginger beer in house!
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It was a lovely, refreshing end to a perfect meal.

I was seriously sorry that we couldn’t try everything on the menu. H even asked if I was sure I didn’t want to order one or two more small dishes to share, since who knows when (if ever) we’ll be back. But we were beyond stuffed and I think we ordered the right amount of food.

Well, after Crossroads it was time to drive to the airport for our trip home, which left at 10 p.m. (arriving back in Boston at 6 a.m. EST Monday morning). Monday was a day to catch up on much-needed sleep! Frankly, so was Tuesday…

Hope everyone is having a great week!