End of the Year Giveaway!

I have a fun little giveaway for you today! It’s basically my way of saying thank you for following along with me during a year filled with food, adventure, and photography. There have definitely been times when I have wanted to stop blogging, but comments from readers always keep me motivated to continue. So, thank YOU!

Included in the giveaway pack: free product coupons (3) for Galaxy Nutritional Foods, stickers from Food Fight Grocery and Herbivore Clothing Company, Vega Vanilla Protein Powder packet, Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (2 sample packets), Crazy Rumors Banana Split Lip Balm, handmade cards from Chirp Cards (check out my Etsy shop!), a Kiss My Face Eye Repair Cream and Creamy Face Cleanser (sample packets), a Dandies Marshmallow pin, a mini Chocolate Peppermint Stick Luna Bar, and a mini PB&J Lara Bar. There might also be a few chocolaty surprises thrown into the mix! Pretty exciting, right?

To enter, just leave a comment here telling me one thing you hope to accomplish in 2012. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is only open to US residents. I will be having two more giveaways in the upcoming months, one which will be open to international residents – so don’t be sad! You have until Saturday, December 31st at midnight PST. I will randomly select and announce the winner on January 1, 2012! Good luck everybody and Happy (almost) New Year!

Year in Review Part II

Let’s continue with my Year in Review. Here is Part II!

July 2011:

Cherry picking in Hood River, OR led to numerous batches of cherry doughnuts (and jam, and smoothies). The lovely Julie Hasson asked me to photograph her food cart, Native Bowl, for a feature in VegNews magazine (check out the September/October 2011 issue). Tim and I also picked massive amounts of raspberries.

August 2011:

I think August might have been the most adventurous month out of the year. Tim and I went on some amazing hikes in the Mt. Hood Wilderness. We also traveled to Pennsylvania to visit my family (I met my little niece from Germany for the first time!) and then drove across the country back to Portland, stopping along the way to stay with friends. I made massive quantities of jam and pickles.

September 2011:

September was jam-packed with outdoor recreation and travel. Tim and I spent a week In Nova Scotia with his family. When we returned to Portland, we went on numerous backpacking trips – indulging in the lovely solitude that comes with hiking when peak season is over. I was also hired for my dream job, which later led to my biggest disappointment of the year (see October 2011).

October 2011:

Perhaps the most difficult time period for me in well over a year, October 2011 is a month I’d prefer to erase from existence. I started working at a vegan bakery, throwing all of my enthusiasm and commitment to baking into the job. In less than two weeks, I was laid off. While such a short period of time might not seem capable of causing intense emotional stress, it did. To distract me, Tim planned outings every week to make sure I saw the light of day. I started recipe testing for Terry Hope Romero’s next cookbook. And, I baked up a fierce storm of treats at home, because it’s what I love to do most.

November 2011:

Trips to the Oregon coast, walks through the neighborhood to enjoy the colorful leaves, and bike rides to local food carts filled our days.

December 2011:

More road trips, hiking, baking cookies, and freelance art projects filled out the remainder of 2011.

I am very excited about two freelance jobs (one baking and one photography) that start in 2012. It’s going to be a productive, adventure-filled, kick-butt kind of year! Happy New Year to all of my readers. I hope that you stick around for what’s to come in 2012, including a few giveaways! Thanks for reading :)

A Year in Review Part I

This past year was filled with personal challenges, new discoveries, uncountable moments of joy, plenty of off road exploration, and a few disappointments (have to balance everything out, right?). When a new year begins, I like to think it’s the perfect time to start fresh and clean. But in reality, I know that a day is just a day and no matter what year it is, all of my years average out to be pretty similar. I’m a fan of consistency after all.

Capturing my life on camera is my favorite way to look back on the times that made me smile. As somebody who struggles with depression, it’s always nice to have those reminders. So, let’s take a look at Part I of the highlights of 2011:

January:

Portland experienced a mild winter that gave Tim and I plenty of opportunities to ride around town on our bikes. One of my favorite rides was to St. Johns for a birthday lunch (for Tim) at Proper Eats. I also baked and ate a lot of brownies in January!

February 2011:

Snowshoeing adventures with friends and grape soda cupcakes (for my 34th birthday) kept me energetic. I also got a job as a personal assistant and celebrated by playing on the merry-go-round with Tim at a local park.

March 2011:

I flew to Omaha, NE to help Isa Moskowitz bake a ton of pies for her now released Vegan Pie in the Sky (co-authored with Terry Hope Romero) book. I enjoyed some of the best falafel I’ve ever tasted while I was there. Tim and I took advantage of more gorgeous Pacific Northwest weather and filled our open days with hiking and snowshoeing adventures. We were in the company of amazing wildlife!

April 2011:

Vegan bake sales (one in Omaha and one in Portland) kept my apron tied tight and my face covered in flour. A fun road trip to Salem, OR filled an entire day with new explorations. Testing recipes for my friend Kittee’s cookzine kept my tummy full of exciting new foods.

May 2011:

Tim and I took a trip to Seattle to visit with friends and enjoy the best vegan pizza in the world. Seriously, our friends Dave and Kim know how to make pizza happen! I also befriended the coolest kitty on my block: Ignacious. He dances and twists and spins on the sidewalk.  I also spent way too much time photographing the sparrows that sit outside my kitchen window.

June 2011:

One of my dear friends from college (Hi Amy!) visited Portland and it was so much fun spending the day with her and her husband. My dad also visited for a day while he was in town for work. And, I helped my friend Kittee build a garden in her backyard.

Stay tuned for Part II of my Year in Review tomorrow! Hope everybody is enjoying the holiday season with loved ones :)


Pistachio Lime Cookies

I seriously considered not baking cookies this holiday season because my sugar intake has been creeping closer (and closer) to the over-the-limit line. But, since I am a serious cookie muncher, withholding treats would inevitably lead to unpleasant moods. Nobody wants to spend time with a cookie deprived Amy. Trust me.

The recipe I am sharing today was one of my submissions for the VegNews 2011 Holiday Cookie Contest. I didn’t win (congratulations to those who did – I can’t wait to bake up the prized recipes!) but these cookies still deserve some love. While they may look like tropical cookies from the ingredient list, these Pistachio Lime Cookies are just as festive as any other holiday-themed cookie, especially with their green-flecked interior and sparkly, sugar dusted exterior.

Pistachio Lime Cookies

1/2 cup non-dairy butter, softened
1/2 cup unrefined granulated sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon lime extract*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, finely ground
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unrefined granulated sugar, for coating cookies

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (use a large bowl and an electric hand mixer if you don’t have a stand mixer), cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add in milk, extracts, and lime zest. Beat until well mixed.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, pistachios, coconut, baking powder, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated. Transfer cookie dough to the refrigerator and chill for at least an hour before proceeding with the recipe.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
4. Using a small cookie scoop (or two spoons), drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Place the 2 tablespoons of sugar on a plate and gently flatten the top of each dough ball in the sugar. Bake cookies for 8-9 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

*If you cannot find lime extract, I am sure that a tablespoon of lime juice would work nicely. Or, turn  these into Pistachio Lemon Cookies by replacing the lime extract and lime zest with lemon extract and lemon zest!

I’ll be back soon with some fun giveaways, so don’t stray too far!

Hiking in December

Hello everybody! It is hard to believe that December is coming to a close already. Sunshine has been making an appearance nearly every single day this month in Portland. Bright blue skies and some much needed warmth make hiking in December the perfect activity for escaping the holiday chaos.

Recently, Tim and I took advantage of a particularly gorgeous day and ventured off into the Opal Creek Wilderness in Oregon. We were the only people on the trail. It was chilly and icy patches dotted our path, but we still had a wonderful day admiring the beauty surrounding us.

I love when the sun’s rays cut through a dark forest!

By the end of our 7 mile hike I was losing energy. We usually pack a lunch to eat midway through the day, but it was too cold to stop for more than a few minutes at a time. Tim did make the mistake of asking me to carry a ziplock filled with tortilla chips. I greedily devoured them while he climbed down some wet rocks to take a photograph. Lesson learned? Never leave me alone with a bag of tortilla chips.

Can’t wait for snowshoeing!