I am by no means a social butterfly, but I love to play hostess. Often times, the menus I plan to make are often much grander than my capabilities. Sometimes you just have to make something simple.

For instance, this fantastic Spinach Dip that came together in about half an hour. I ate way too much of this stuff, but it was just so good, I couldn’t help myself. Not only is this recipe fast and easy, it’s missing a lot of the ingredients that freaked me out about other similar dips (like mayo, which sounds gross). Also, it has sauerkraut as a main ingredient; therefore, it’s extra awesome.

The other thing I’m learning is that you don’t have to make everything. Sometimes ordering native wings from Native Foods is the way to go. Pair that with some chips and guacamole from Trader Joe’s and you’re set. Now that’s easy.

Do you have any favorite easy recipes to share? Something good for sitting around and watching a movie with friends?

Vaute Couture coat

It’s not often that I get really excited about an item of clothing. Fashion just isn’t my area of expertise; I’m more of an admirer from afar. Yet, when I saw the Vaute coat from Vaute Couture, I fell in love. Not only was it stunning, but I was in desperate need of a warm winter coat. Let me tell you, it is not easy to find a fashionable, well made coat that isn’t made from wool or down. Amazingly, my mom thought the coat was great too, and in a effort to keep me warm during my travels, she gifted it to me for my birthday & Christmas. (Thanks mom!)

Now having worn this coat in the hustle and bustle of New York city, the calm cool of the Pennsylvania countryside and a Park City snow storm, I can say with confidence, this coat is the best. I was never cold or wet, even walking in the freezing snow. When I spilled a cup of coffee on myself on the subway, the coat came out unharmed (hooray for waterproof fabric). And most importantly, I looked good the whole time.

I genuinely LOVE this coat. I sort of wish it was winter all the time so I could wear it all the time.

Extra personal bonus, matching my husband.

And just in case there was any question, I am in no way affiliated with Vaute Couture, nor did I receive anything for this post.
I genuinely just love this coat.

All photos by Shawn Bannon

Sprig & Vine

While traveling back east, Shawn and I visited this charming restaurant, Sprig & Vine, in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Their all vegan menu had a different vibe than what seems to be popular at the moment; an exciting change for me. Each dish focused on the local fresh vegetables and grains and combining flavors and spices rather than trying to emulate more traditional recipes.

We opted to order a handful of the appetizers for the table and began with the grilled oyster mushrooms. They were gently spiced and perfect to start. Next were the roasted gold beet crostinis topped with black beluga lentils and smoked cashew ricotta, my favorite of the lot. We also tried the green onion pancake rolls filled with roasted mushrooms and sesame-tomato jam. Each plate had it’s own distinct flavor and style and I loved each one.

For my entree, I couldn’t resist the pecan and kabocha squash ravioli. I was totally surprised at how many vegetables they packed into this dish, each one perfectly cooked and seasoned. Every bite was a distinct collection of flavors. The raviolis themselves almost took a backseat to the amazing pieces of roasted squash and delectable Brussels sprouts.

To finish things off, we all shared the peanut butter and jelly french toast. It sounds simple enough, and delicious enough, but it was quite unexpected. The peanut butter was actually as sweet powder and the jelly was a wonderful fruit compote. Though we were all quite stuffed, it was a nice treat.

I would love to visit again and try some more of the dishes. I loved that there were so many fresh vegetables in each plate prepared carefully and thoughtfully. I wish more places would focus on including such a wonderful selection of vegetables in their menus.

SLC Vegan Food

After all my adventures at AltSummit, Shawn and I were finally able to visit some of the vegan restaurants in Salt Lake City. First, we headed over to Sage’s Cafe for their weekend brunch. I was beckoned by the pesto crepe, filled with warm seasoned vegetables. I was craving something hearty after grazing on salads and snacks in my hotel room the previous days. (Note to Alt: us vegans could use a few more options.) The restaurant had a really nice atmosphere, with a sunlit, enclosed patio and local artwork. They also made a fantastic almond milk cappuccino.

Even more exciting was fulfilling a not so healthy craving with this vanilla shake and tender tigers from Vertical Diner. Vertical is owned by the same people as Sage’s but obviously with a diner style menu. Let me tell you, this shake was so satisfying. Unadulterated vanilla goodness. Paired with the fried seitan of the tender tigers, I was in heaven.

They were so good. Shawn also ordered a portobello quesadilla which was fantastic. All of their seitan is handmade and they also make their own nutritional yeast cheese. Big fan, right here.

We enjoyed it so much we stopped for breakfast on our way out of town. I got the breakfast sandwich. Also amazing. Soft french bread, cheesy sauce, spiced veggie sausage and some tofu scramble. Yum.

I can never say no to biscuits and gravy.

Our last moment in Salt Lake City before the snowy drive home. I don’t think Shawn was particularly happy about me standing in the middle of the street to take this photo.

There were so many other places we didn’t get to try on our short visit. I heard there are two vegan bakeries in SLC. I’d love to go back and explore more.

Sunday Breakfast

Happy Sunday everyone. It’s the first full weekend at home I’ve had in awhile with all the adventures, events and celebrations of the last few months. It’s been so nice to actually get a few things done around the house (I did SO MUCH laundry yesterday) and focus on the things I care about.

For one, that means more home-cooked meals. I’ve been feeling a little bit like a scavenger in my own kitchen recently, but that changes this week. I’ve made a plan for a few healthful and tasty meals over the next week and bought supplies and ingredients. A little bit of planning in advance goes a long way.

This morning we had my favorite pancakes. I’m more of a waffle girl than a pancake girl but these are just so good; they have exactly the right amount of sweetness and fluffiness. Full disclosure, I had these for dinner earlier in the week too. Oops.

I also made a broccoli quiche for dinner last night. Despite making the world’s worst pie crust, it was really satisfying. Even for dinner. I think the secret is extra broccoli and fresh herbs.

Just a little announcement, Cute and Delicious is now on Facebook, so you can like it HERE and keep up with new posts and other discussion. Yay!

What are you making for dinner this week?