My Very First Contest + a Recipe!

I have some very exciting news to share! A few weeks ago, the lovely folks over at Ethical Ocean contacted me and asked me to participate in their 2nd Annual Recipe Contest. If you aren’t familiar, Ethical Ocean is an online marketplace featuring eco-friendly apparel, body care, home products, and more. The contest features a selection of bloggers who offer up their very best vegan recipe. The winner is determined by the highest number of votes. You can vote every day, for as many recipes as you like. By voting, you have a chance to win some awesome prizes! The contest kicks off at 9am EST on Friday April 26 and ends at 11:59pm EST on May 17. Please vote for me, I would LOVE your support!!! Check out the details here.

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Once onboard, I immediately started formulating recipe ideas in my head. My initial instinct was to create a decadent dessert since my true love has always been sweets. But, I wanted a challenge. With springtime in full swing, it seemed fitting to represent not only seasonal foods, but also a few foods that are grown happily right here in beautiful Oregon! And that, my friends, is how the Kale Salad with Roasted Asparagus & Tarragon Vinaigrette was born!

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This salad has it all: vibrant green kale, roasted asparagus, crunchy hazelnuts, tart dried cranberries, crisp apples, shredded carrots, and a delicious tarragon vinaigrette. It’s filling, nourishing, and representative of spring.

Kale Salad with Roasted Asparagus & Tarragon Vinaigrette

Tarragon and asparagus are a natural pairing, especially when they are at their peak in early spring. Serve this vibrant, light salad as a side to your favorite meal, or turn it into something more substantial by adding a wholesome protein, such as quinoa, to the bowl. Slender stalks of asparagus work best, but use whatever you prefer.

DRESSING
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

SALAD
1/2 pound fresh asparagus
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 head curly kale
1/2 cup diced apple, any variety
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup dried cranberries

1) To make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and agave nectar until smooth. Add in garlic, tarragon, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk again until well combined. Set aside.

2) Preheat oven to 400°F. Snap off tough ends of the asparagus. Wash asparagus with cold water and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Place asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for 7-10 minutes, or until asparagus is tender-crisp (time will depend on how thick the asparagus is). Remove from oven and drizzle with lemon juice. Set aside to cool while preparing the rest of the salad.

3) Remove stems from kale, wash leaves, and pat dry. Tear kale into bite-sized pieces and place in a large serving bowl. With clean hands, toss the kale with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and massage until kale wilts slightly and reduces in volume. Add in diced apple, hazelnuts, shredded carrot, and dried cranberries. Toss together to evenly incorporate.

4) Chop cooled asparagus into 1” pieces and add to salad. Toss to combine. Drizzle remaining dressing over salad and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

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Please don’t forget to vote for my recipe (I’ll send you virtual love). It’s not as important as presidential elections, but you know… It’s vegan food and that makes people extra happy. Plus, there’s prizes!! Woohoo! Thanks a bunch and Happy Spring!

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!

Batch of Brownies Giveaway!!! (You Know You Want Some)

With the holidays approaching it might be nice to enjoy some indulgence you don’t have to bake yourself, right? I have been stuffing my freezer (and belly) with oodles of brownies over the last several months. As a result, the fudgy brownie and I are quickly becoming enemies (can you imagine?). Writing a vegan brownie cookbook is challenging. Eating batch after batch of brownies is downright crazy nonsense. I want to share some brownies! Are you interested? Good!

You have the chance to win a batch of Peppermint Crunch Brownies:

OR,

A batch of Cookies-n-Cream Brownies:

To enter the contest, leave a comment below answering this question: “If you could share the ultimate brownie sundae with anybody in the world, who would it be?”

Be creative with your answers!!! I will randomly select a winner on December 16th. Due to cost and freshness issues, this contest is only open to folks living in the US. Sorry :(

**If the selected winner happens to be gluten-free, I can substitute my Double Chocolate Ultra Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies instead. If the winner happens to be soy-free, I can work around that too.**

Good luck! I am looking forward to your responses!!!

Scentaholic (and a giveaway!!!)

A few weeks ago Soy Candles by Phebes contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a few of their candles. I was delighted at the opportunity considering I had a bit of an obsession with all things scented when I was an adolescent (ooooh, scent is the latter part of adolescent… Nifty, no?!). I was keen on scented erasers, lip balms, pens, candles, lotions, and stickers (remember scratch-n-sniffs?). I’ve grown out of that phase, but do still enjoy lighting candles when the need to relax makes itself present.

I received two candles from Soy Candles by Phebes (thank you, Mike!!): clementine and lavender. When I visited their website, I discovered that there are around fifty different scents available. Fifty! You are guaranteed to find at least a dozen that will float your boat. Plus, they are hand-crafted, made-to-order, vegan-friendly, and generously sized at 8.5 ounces (in a nice, sturdy glass jar). There is no room for disappointment!

I excitedly opened the boxes my candles came in and sniffed, sniffed, sniffed. The lavender candle immediately took me back to my childhood. My grandmother had this wee oval tin with a scented candle inside that smelled almost identical to the Phebes lavender candle. She kept it in a drawer and whenever I visited her I would take the tin out of the drawer and smell the candle. My grandmother passed away almost a decade ago so I no longer have the ability to rummage through her drawer just to sniff my favorite candle. Needless to say, I lit the lavender candle first. The scent is soft, delicate, and soothing. It isn’t overpowering like some candles; instead it filled my apartment with a light cloud of lavender aroma. I love it! Even Tim, whose is obviously a dude, likes the smell.

The clementine candle smells just like it should: fruity, citrus-y, vanilla-y. Since the clementine is one of my favorite fruits, I was mighty happy with the aroma wafting from the jar. I haven’t burned the clementine candle yet, but when I do, I will be eating a bowl of clementines!

Do you like candles? Does your home stink? Do you need some relaxing scents drifting about under your nostrils? Well guess what? The generous and kind folks at Soy Candles by Phebes are giving one lucky reader a free candle (of the winner’s choice)!! Yeah! All you need to do is visit their website and leave me a comment telling me what scent you would like to receive. Easy as heck! I will randomly choose a winner on Monday, June 28th. Good luck!!!

And, if you read one of my previous posts, you will know that I am taking part in Portland’s 2010 Run for Congo Women on June 26, 2010. I am only $155 shy of my goal (which is $500). If you want to donate funds to a great cause, please consider helping me reach my goal. I would be most appreciative!!! It is a challenging 5K run on a forested trail and all money raised will help the women of the Congo and also raise awareness of the devastation occurring in the Congo. I am running with a small team of vegans and we have raised over $1,600 so far!!! Yeah!!! Thank you in advance if you make a donation. And thank you to the folks who have already donated – it means so much to me!