Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Spiked Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

He pushed his hands against the table, and his chair slid backward, as if the growing space between him and the table would somehow create more room in his stomach. “I guess it didn’t help that we started the day with champagne,” he said, explaining the slowed pace of his Thanksgiving consumption.

“Why did you have champagne?” his older brother asked.

“Because we don’t have kids.” 

Ohhhhhhhhhh, snap!

“We should drink champagne more,” he said to me, and I couldn’t have agreed more.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Yeah, we are that Uncle and Aunt- the childless kind who can still relish simple luxuries like sleeping in and toasting champagne for breakfast… if you call “noon” breakfast, and on Thanksgiving, we do! (The Urban Farmer is also the kind of uncle who believes someone has to torture the youngins, a role he fills diligently.)

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Our Thanksgiving morning was a very intentionally slow morning that eased into a brunch just for us… with champagne. Being that 2016 has kept me on my toes, when a sanctioned day-off hits me, I am all too happy to kick up my feet.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

As the sort of basket case that leans toward the side of “do, do, do, make, make, make, go, go, go… stress, stress, stress,” doing nothing is not my best skill. The Urban Farmer, however, has a very healthy attitude toward “couch days.” During the season of gratitude, I found myself truly relishing those times when man, pup and I can nestle into nothing.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

I try to push the bounds of my gratitude, to see beyond the obvious. Yes, I am grateful for the roof over my head, for creative work, for a family who loves me and an admirable partner, but I’m also grateful for hot showers at my fancy, for growing up routinely celebrating my birthday with parties, for having real options for my education even if money was tight. But sometimes, it’s really soul-warming just to sit on a couch, sip champagne, watch a creepy show and relish that guy who thinks I’m special, all while snuggling the furry bundle of love who holds no grudges and wants to please us all the time. Those little nothing moments are in fact everything moments.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

So we relished the morning and its lack of responsibilities. I played with flowers to gift his grandmother, and we brunched in our pajamas. Then I gladly sat at a table for which I had to do zero work. I ate way too much, then refilled my plate because gravy overrides reason.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Then there was round two- another side of the family, more plates, more refills, still no responsibilities and in the end, a game of name-that-hummed-tune and charades that made my face hurt from laughing so hard. Have a grown man do a t-Rex impression and then hum “Ring My Bell” while you try to guess what on earth he could possibly be channeling. It makes for a night to remember!

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com 

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Thanksgiving put me into such a mellow state. Between that lingering food coma and the subsequent gray rainy days, I’m having a hard time bouncing back in full force. These crepes are not only a good way to use leftover stores from Thanksgiving (extra cans of pumpkin and cranberries?), but they offer a way to indulge in a weekend morning and extend that Thanksgiving laziness feeling. Eat brunch in your pajamas. Watch a creepy show. Cuddle your significant other and/or furry companion(s), and be grateful for the nothingness of it all.

Quelcy Signature


Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Whipped Cream
Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

About this Recipe: Holiday shopping surely left an extra scoop of pumpkin puree or a stockpile of cans of cranberries, so use them up in one seasonal inspired brunch. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to your coffee, and serve the whole brunch with a bottle of bubbly! It’s not pictured, but I also recommend a healthy slathering of Nocciolata on these crepes. Chocolate-hazelnut, pumpkin and cranberries are a seasonal match made in heaven.

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Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup

I felt as though I had found fall. 

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

There she was! Peeking through the tall, green trees, her flames blazed against the bright, blue sky. I was far away from the city (as evidenced by the changes in political fervor), where the trees were still clinging to their youthful summer glow. My little red car, packed to the brim with Nordic sweaters, enamel plates and a menu fit for a cabin weekend, zipped along the winding roads to a shoot location. Yet at that moment, I inched along the road, leaning into my steering wheel and staring as high into my windshield as I could. There was fall! 

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

My “day job(s)” have taken me farther and wider this season, to that cabin in the woods, to a magical old building with chipping paint, where I tossed a scavenged collection of branches and leaves, to the beach with a rosé dipped sunset. Each time, I tried to slow down enough to enjoy at least one little moment, in which I removed my head from the time checks and just inhaled the landscape, the season and the little journeys. It’s not easy, especially when the darkness begins to cloak the creaky trees, sending my imagination wildly into scenes from Stranger Things, but I tried then too.

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

It’s a time of year when we turn to spices, and pumpkins, and lattes that pretend to include both, in order to be in this season, to savor it slowly in the first hints of crisp fall air, but arguably, we should turn to honey. 

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

Those mystifying, inspiring honey bees, who we as a society have taken for granted enough to push them to the verge of endangerment, are masters in capturing the essence of the season. From the same plot of land, their routines yield honeys so incomprehensibly different. This fall’s honey, is thicker, the sweetness intensifying as it rolls across the tongue ever so slowly, as if to say, savor the lingering golden light, the warmth and the bold colors. 

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

No matter the season, nothing puts me quite in the moment like the combination of sweet and savory, so these Honey Sage drenched Biscuits are just that- sweet, savory odes to fall.

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

If you’re feeling particularly neighborly or generous, make extra Honey Sage Syrup and give the gift of fall to someone dear. When the biscuits are but mere crumbs, add the syrup to your evening bourbon drink with a fresh sage leaf garnish and really sink into the early sunset. 

Quelcy Signature

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits
Yield: ~ 12 biscuits

About this Recipe: Sweet enough to eat with breakfast or tea, savory enough to pair with roasted root vegetables and meats or warm butternut squash soups.

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A Last Summer Hurrah: A Picnic at Lake Erie w/ a Vegan Zucchini Banh Mi & a Vietnamese Zoodle Salad

The creeping vine has begun to reveal a bright, blazing red. The blankets linger on the couch in the darkness of the mornings, tossed aside after cuddling in the evening’s chill. Soups and ciders have begun to be appealing again, and the bed has doubled with the thickness of comforters and quilts. It’s fall, but my mind keeps wandering back to the day I played hooky and soaked up the last bit of summer. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

When I think back to that day of lounging aimlessly on the shores of Lake Erie, my skin feels warmer. The intense sunlight renders my skin golden, and I brace myself for the stark contrast of the water, an instant chill surmounted only by a quick submersion. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

They say “when it rains, it pours,” but in my freelance world lately, “when it rains, it tsunamis” feels more accurate. The beginning of September was the equivalent of hiking to a cliff and seeing a vast, new territory of hurdles and challenges in the distance. As I stared into an overwhelming work load, I did a rare thing- I retreated. I took a day off, and I’ve been trying to channel a bit of that blessed hooky day ever since. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

Lake Erie had shamefully been unchecked on my summer bucket list for more than one season. Finally, with fall and work looming, I recruited my partner in bucket list adventures for a day of soft sand, intense sun, a picnic lunch, sneaky whiskey and the type of water antics that leave you coughing and snorting and feeling like a child who just plunged off the diving board. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

The picnic menu, like the day itself, was another attempt to soak up the end of summer and put a dent in the pile of harvested zucchinis. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

When I finally returned to that precipice, to face the looming projects and more intense work load on the horizon, I tried to embrace the work with gratitude. Though not always successful and definitely guilty of an ugly meltdown, I tried to enjoy the pouring rain of projects. In case I forgot and let my mind slip into stress/frenzy mode, I attached a sticky note reminder near my desk. “Commit to creating joyfully, not stressfully,” wise words from the ever strategic Marie Forleo.

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

It’d be great if my life included A LOT more beachy days with best friends and wholesome picnics, and part of me will strive for more of those, but more importantly, I’m striving to take that beach day’s in-the-moment-happy vibe with me in my work. I like what I do, and even if I’d like a little more space between projects, I’m still grateful for the spike. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

Here’s to sharing summer recipes well into fall, to holding on tightly to hooky days, to picnics with friends and to creating joyfully because it really could be so much worse. 

Happy trails!

Quelcy Signature 


Vietnamese Zoodle Salad with Fragrant Herbs & Peanuts & Zucchini Bánh Mì

About These Recipes: Ideal for that end of summer zucchini pile, these recipes are loose and easily adaptable. Omit the fish sauce in the Zoodle Salad and a vegan mayo in the sandwich for a vegan picnic spread. 

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Sweet Potato Reuben Sandwiches (Vegetarian w/ Vegan Option)

2.6 miles is what separates every conceivable expensive, organic product from my kitchen. If my beloved red Vibe were unable to traverse those 2.6 miles, there’s a flight of steep city steps that nearly extends from my curb to a busway, which offers one of the few direct, convenient routes in our public transit system. Since I hate waiting for transportation, I have also walked those 2.6 miles, but it makes returning with a significant stock of groceries a challenge. All that is to say, my path to healthy food is nearly a yellow brick road, and that’s a luxury. 

Sweet Potato Reuben (Vegetarian w/ Vegan Option) // www.WIthTheGrains.com

A car and a mere 2.6 miles means we can run to the store when the kibble is but dust at the bottom of the bin. We can make dinner decisions well into the evening. We can be cooking dinner, discover we forgot something and still go to the store. We are fortunate, but others are not so lucky, nor do they have such easy access to wholesome foods. 

Sweet Potato Reuben (Vegetarian w/ Vegan Option) // www.WIthTheGrains.com

When the Urban Farmer began his search for land, he sought the obvious factors for optimal growth (south facing, drainage, etc), but he also targeted communities he thought would benefit from an urban farm. The farm’s namesake neighborhood, Hazelwood, had a prime location and a need for fresh, healthy food. The neighborhood fit the “food desert” classification, but that’s changing due to several agricultural initiatives and thanks to one woman with a vision. 

Sweet Potato Reuben (Vegetarian w/ Vegan Option) // www.WIthTheGrains.com

Dianne Schenk turned what could have been lofty thesis research on food deserts into a very tangible, seasonal fruit & vegetable stand in a food desert. Then she turned that stand into a year-round brick-and-mortar. Today, she runs Dylamato’s Market, and at long last, the neighbors have easy access to fresh, healthy, affordable food, including the sweet potatoes you see here, in my retake on the classic reuben. It’s not a grocery store, but it is a means to fresh food versus processed or canned goods, and it’s a hard-earned step in the right direction. Here’s to you Dianne!

Quelcy Signature

P.S: That giant ass can of beer paired with the reuben? My fella, the Urban Farmer, designed that label for the fine folks at Round About Brewery. You’ll need a beer that size to keep up with this hearty sandwich!

Sweet Potato Reuben Sandwiches (Vegetarian)

About This Recipe: This isn’t a precise recipe, just a guide for an easy vegetarian reuben. Thousand Island Dressing is the traditional condiment for a reuben, but I broke the rules and mixed homemade ketchup and an organic mayo to create an easy, similar tasting sauce. If I’m not making my own mayo,  I recommend Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise because it’s GMO free and uses a healthy oil (sunflower). If not using a homemade ketchup, be sure to use an organic variety to avoid corn syrup and excess sugar. The sandwich shown does not feature cheese, but I love a cheesy version. For a vegan option, use a non-gmo vegenaise

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Lentil Sloppy Joes (Vegan)

Full disclaimer: I am not a sleep specialist (in fact, I’m about as far away from a sleep specialist as one can be), but I venture to claim there are three main types of exhaustion: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes // www.WithTheGrains.com

The ugly is the deep, bone-numbing exhaustion of sadness, when sleep is a necessity and an escape from reality. Being awake means facing the puffy eyes of sorrow and the horrible waves of realization that the nightmare is real. Bad exhaustion is the run-of-the-mill result of irresponsible bedtime habits, the consequences of a night too thoroughly enjoyed, or giving too much of yourself for someone else’s cause, i.e.: “yeah, I’m going to need you to come in this weekend.”

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes // www.WithTheGrains.com

The good type of exhaustion comes from giving of yourself in a fulfilling way- giving life to an idea that had lodged in the brain long past checkout hours, volunteering for a good cause, making art, etc. Lately, I’ve been exhausted in the good way. I have given my all to projects of the heart while juggling the bill-paying sorts of projects, and I feel proud of that (albeit slightly guilty for neglecting this here blog a tad). 

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes // www.WithTheGrains.com

To extend this classification game even further, I argue the same categories describe vegan food. The ugly- I’m looking at you tofurkey! The bad- the general array of over processed products masquerading as processed meats- why fake bologna, why? Seitan plus liquid smoke in NO way equals bacon! NO THANK YOU! The good? Legume and vegetable heavy dishes that leave you in a similar state of disbelief as when you discovered some standard looking white person was Canadian. They fool us every time!

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes // www.WithTheGrains.com

These sloppy joes are the good kind of vegan. They’re healthier than the originals yet still fill you with all the comforts of childhood. After all, slap enough ketchup on something, and it’s sure to rekindle some element of childhood, right? (I’m fairly certain Heinz invented sloppy joes. They’re really just ketchup carriers.) Even though they pack a meaty taste, they don’t feel like imposters in the way fake bacon does, so dig in meat eaters and vegans alike. Then, get some sleep!

Quelcy Signature


Lentil Sloppy Joes (Vegan)
Adapted from truRoots

About This Recipe: Lentils pack enough meaty flavor to make these sloppy joes taste like the real thing. Be sure to use an organic ketchup to avoid corn syrup and excess sugar. This is a good way to use some of those last peppers from the garden.

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Bacon, Mushrooms & Kale (Gluten Free)

What this recipe is not:

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

  1. A tool for teaching an ESL student the culinary significance and the translation of the word “pizza.” It is not that.
  2. A pizza to offer to someone who is *legitimately gluten free but who has tasted pizza at its most glutinous, doughiest, finest. It is not that. (*legitimately gluten free, not one of those, “oh, I”m off the gluten now” types who clearly still has muffin crumbs on his or her lips from breakfast. You can offer this as pizza to them).
  3. A new contender to go into the ring with Chicago and New York. It is not that.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

What this recipe is:

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (Gluten Free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

  1. An interesting way to eat more cauliflower. It is that.
  2. Practically a corn-free polenta. It is that.
  3. A recipe you can make on a weeknight and feel really proud of the effort you invested in your dinnertime. It is that.
  4. Good. It is really good. But it’s hardly a pizza. 
  5. A vehicle for bacon. It is that. Unless you’re gluten free and vegan. Then, don’t even get me started. 

So if you’re still on board with this cauliflower [non]pizza, proceed. The recipe awaits!

Bon Appétit!

Quelcy Signature


Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Bacon, Mushrooms and Kale
serves:
2-3

About This Recipe: Though closer in consistency to a thicker polenta, this cauliflower “crust” is a good way to eat your favorite pizza toppings while eating more cauliflower. It’s gluten free, so it’s a safe bet for feeding a crowd. By changing the slice size or shape, you could alter this to be a crowd-pleasing appetizer.  

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Bánh Mì Style Deviled Eggs

We drove through the streets of Philly with the immediacy of a getaway car. We were not, however, escaping. We were on the hunt for a very specific purveyor of bánh mì

Bánh Mì Deviled Eggs // www.WithTheGrains.com

Some people cook big batches of food on Sunday (like this grain bowl). Others, like my longtime friend Heather, buy enough banh mì to ruin the structural integrity of a plastic bag. At the time, I didn’t get it, but I enjoyed listening to my friend’s Vietnamese pronunciation of the sandwich interrupt her otherwise perfect English. It could have been the influence of her love for the food itself, but the words “bánh” and ” mì”  seemed cheerier, nearly an octave higher than her normal chatter, as they rolled off her salivating tongue. With a car full o’ bánh mì, we returned to the normally scheduled activities of my weekend visit. 

Bánh Mì Deviled Eggs // www.WithTheGrains.com

Even though I shared the seat with that bag full of Vietnam’s classic sandwiches, I didn’t bother to sample one, not a single bite (not that Heather would have shared). If me of today met that version of me, I’d be soooo condescending. “You’re not even going to try that?” Then again, the me of today might plow through niceties, ignore the past me’s shock at time travel, dive into that busted bag of sandwiches and try to be cute through a full mouth “#sorrynotsorry.”

Bánh Mì Deviled Eggs // www.WithTheGrains.com

Me of today constantly craves my neighborhood cafe’s vegan version, teared up (i.e.: sobbed/choked) eating Pittsburgh’s famous one (those jalapeños will get you!), and in the interim, is constantly trying to channel the magic of pickled vegetables and spicy mayos

Bánh Mì Deviled Eggs // www.WithTheGrains.com

In so many ways beyond adopting bánh mì habitsI have changed since that sandwich excursion. Yet, had you asked me then, I probably would have said I had hit some sort of stride, pushed myself, expanded myself and grown into me. My current self might eagerly say the same, but that’s just setting the groundwork for 40-year-old me to look back lovingly and laugh, “Oh you! You have no idea what is in store!” 

Bánh Mì Deviled Eggs // www.WithTheGrains.com

Beyond food preferences changes and the willingness to dive into “exotic” samplings, it seems we humans are constantly evolving more than we admit. It’s an idea worth dissecting, especially when you consider how easy it is to write off humans based on past transgressions or current associations. We attach labels like “ex con,” “Republican,” or “Democrat” (said with equal levels of disgust depending on who is speaking). 

Bánh Mì Deviled Eggs // www.WithTheGrains.com

This notion of fixed personalities is not only unforgiving, but it’s flawed. It’s a notion that stuck with me after listening to a recent episode of the podcast Invisibilia. In “The Personality Myth,” the co-hosts follow an inmate with a horrific record as he plans a TEDx conference in a prison. He speaks eloquently and poetically about feeling different, a new man down to his very DNA, all with a proper deference for the heinous acts he committed. 

Bánh Mì Deviled Eggs // www.WithTheGrains.com

If a little thing like a pickled Vietnamese sandwich can shape so many aspects of my life, it’s worth talking about how second chances, good faith and human decency might have grand powers for bigger changes. We live in ugly times in need of beauty and connection, so hard boil some eggs, pickle some vegetables and put little delicate dill flowers on those eggs! 

Bánh Mì Deviled Eggs // www.WithTheGrains.com

Then maybe take a real risk and reach out to a neighbor in need, or speak out on behalf of someone who needs a voice, or try to pay off some of society’s debts through good ol’ acts of kindness. In my case, I made these for the one I love the most, to celebrate how we have spent two years growing and changing together

Quelcy Signature

Bánh Mì Style Deviled Eggs

About This Recipe: Banh Mì actually refers to the bread used in the namesake sandwich, but these eggs borrow the pickled vegetables for a twist on deviled eggs. If you want a spicier/hotter pickle, keep the jalapeño seeds in the mix. For a more mild flavor (i.e.: a no-tears eating experience), skip or reduce the number of seeds in the mix. The pickle recipe yields more than you’ll need for the eggs, but I like to have the pickles on hand for toppings on sandwiches and grain bowls.  

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