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Friday Favorites

1.                              

This remake. Jimmy Fallon can do no wrong. And the song? So catchy!

 

 

2. Two Girls advertised on Craig’s List for “Fall Boyfriends”. Highlights include “2 males interested in something steady/serious-ish…Interested parties should have a window in their bedroom and want to cuddle with the window slightly open to let the fresh autumn air in while a fall scented candle (that I’ll buy for you, babe) fills the room with cozy comfort”. Click here to read the whole thing. Aside from the fact that they are looking for a very specific type of dude I would never date (“Def in a frat or played a sport”), they are sort of geniuses. Why didn’t I think of this?? And is it too late to start taking applications???

 

No Hipsters3. This amazing sign my roommate emailed me. I think she found it on Reddit so my apologies for not having the source.

 

DOLPHINS

4. THIS SCORE! This first game score. Are we serious with this Dolphin victory? The only team I route for above the Pats are the Dolphins so I was pretty pumped they were starting the season with such a solid victory. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes.

5. Pumpkin baked goods. ALL the baked pumpkin baked goods. I just…want them all. This is insane because for some reason, I am not in the fall mood at all. I mean, usually by September 12, I have my Halloween costume at least picked out. For whatever reason, though, this year I am reluctant to embrace it. Apparently pumpkin-flavored muffins and breads and cookies and bagels…and yeah…they don’t fall into that category. I will try and not post pumpkin things until it’s at least officially Autumn but I can’t make any promises.

I hope everyone has an excellent weekend! Recipes will return next week :)

This is one of my more lengthy Travel Tuesday posts. I usually like my pictures to do the talking in these but so much of my experience with the Gold Coast was the people and the stories that I have to share it in text. I’ll try to throw some pretty pictures in there to break it up.

A view overlooking Brisbane, on our way out

A view overlooking Brisbane, on our way out

In my last Travel Tuesday post, I talked about the short two-day trip I took to Fraser Island immediately after a week at the Sunshine Coast. After my Fraser Island trip, I was dropped off in Brisbane and was planning on heading back to Toowoomba the next day after a day in Brisbane doing city things. One of the hardest parts about moving to Toowoomba from Boston is how much I missed the city sometimes. Giving up constantly having places to go, things to see and restaurants/cafes/shops to explore was an adjustment. Toowoomba isn’t small but it definitely isn’t the New England city I was used to. So I figured I would crash in Brisbane for the night, do some exploring during the day and head back to Toowoomba that evening.

Tony's Mom on her land, helping to clean it up

Tony’s Mom on her land, helping to clean it up

While in Brisbane, I had booked a cheap hostel less than a mile from the train station but my boss assured me I could stay at her practice for the evening. Free room and board? Yes please! She is a midwife and has a practice “not too far from the train station” she said. Unfortunately, I had done a crap job at packing (not surprising) and had taken most of my weeks worth of stuff from Sunshine Coast with me to Fraser Island. Which means, I was lugging it around with me in Brisbane as I hunted down my bed for the evening. 3 miles later, with a giant back pack on my back (and no, not the back packing ones. I’m talking about an overstuffed laptop bag, with my circa 2008 Macbook, and my teddy bear sticking out) and a tiny rolling bag, I found myself standing in the middle of a road, at night, with the name I was looking for but with numbers that weren’t going low enough. Turns out, I had to go across the street and go behind this little wall thing and the street continued.

The View

The View. Those tall buildings are the Gold Coast

That obstacle tackled, I got into the practice no problem and plopped down on the bedroom to unwind before bed . An hour or so later, after going to the bathroom and planning on calling it a night, the alarm for the practice started going off. At first, I didn’t realize it was coming from my place because, well, I had been there for an hour or two. Then,  my brain did the most logical thing and jumped to every single episode of Law and Order: SVU that I had seen where there was a single white girl alone in a new place where she is attacked (so like, 50% of them?). As I was creeping about this place, I was relieved to find it empty but at this point the sirens were loud and I couldn’t figure out what to do! I opened the door to see if something had triggered it and found the neighbors crowded around. Yeap, the American is making a scene! But because they were Aussies they weren’t nearly as disgruntled as Bostonians would have been and kindly came inside to help disarm the alarm. During this time, I was frantically calling my boss, who had no idea what to do, so put me through to Sharon, one of the midwives who worked regularly at this practice. She walked me through disarming the alarm and when silence descended, finally, I found myself alone with two older middle-aged men, one who was in something that vaguely resembled a white bathrobe. Again, cue the SVU panic.

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Shore where we docked the boat to the untouristy beach

Thankfully, they were incredibly nice and immediately exited the facility. And I was now in contact with Sharon, who was coming to the practice tomorrow and offered to let me stay with her when she returned for the weekend to the Gold Coast. I was hesitant at first but isn’t this what traveling is for? The next morning, she arrived with a Starbucks for me and I knew it was a sign from above. So off I went to the Gold Coast!

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Look how quiet the beach is! Locals know the best spots

So, I’m not sure if I mentioned this previously, but I did zero research for my stay in Australia. I’m talking, nothing. As someone who obsessively makes lists (and leaves them in purses, pant pockets, jacket pockets, books, magazines, on the fridge….), the little planning I did for this vacation is astonishing and speaks volumes to my need to get out of Boston for a while. With that said, I knew nothing about the Gold Coast and let Sharon and her husband, Tony, show me whatever they wanted. I pretty much just tagged along with them for a few days. We hung out with Tony’s mom and saw her land with a beautiful view then went shopping and had coffee with her. I had dinner with Tony’s family, all who were incredibly welcoming and tolerant of a random American with weird food issues crashing their party. I went to an untouristy little beach via boat where Tony surfed, Sharon swam and I prayed not to get a sun burn (she did eventually get me in the water). I learned that the sand on this beach was a lot softer then in the states and walking on it was the most intense work-out my calves had ever experienced. I had Easter dinner with Sharon and Tony’s parents and siblings and helped make this tomato salad. I embarrassed myself immensely by taking it upon myself to organize their 500+ DVD collection. I spread out across the living room and attempted to find cases for all the loose DVDs, then divided them into kids and adults, then sorted them all alphabetically. I wish I was kidding. I’m not. It took me two nights and in the end, I never found the Man of Steel DVD that started the whole thing. Sharon found me very amusing and told me I was welcome back to organize whatever I wanted. :)  Sharon and I also took an ocean side hike, which had both amazing views and crazy vegetation. Then she was a saint and took me to Starbucks (yes!) and Lush (YES!!) before bringing me back to Brisbane to catch a bus back to Toowoomba.

no tourists means I could finally get some whole shells which I had been looking for. There were none at Bondi Beach or Sunshine Coast- too many people

no tourists means I could finally get some whole shells which I had been looking for. There were none at Bondi Beach or Sunshine Coast- too many people

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Sharon made me soy cappuccinos with little milk hearts twice while I was there. I’m trying to remember why I left…

Views from our ocean-side hike

Views from our ocean-side hike

 

ocean-side hike

ocean-side hike

 

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I was overwhelmed by the kindness that Sharon and Tony showed me and had such an amazing time! They lived right on the water. I would wake up in the morning and sit on her porch and just relax. If I ever move to Aussie, I’m finding a house right next to Sharon and Tony’s and cooking for them every night as a huge ‘Thank You’.

Here we go! The winner of Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant is:

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Sue Derosiers! Congrats, Sue. You don’t have an email linked to your info so please shoot me an email at wickedveganblog@gmail.com and I’ll get all your info. Congratulations again!! :)

Coming up this week is a new Travel Tuesday for the Gold Coast and Cold-Brew coffee. Stay tuned!

As I waxed on about on Wednesday, How Sweet It Is has been a favorite blog of mine for a while and I was pumped when I heard it’s creator, Jessica Merchant, was gracing the bookshelves with a cook book, Seriously Delish.

seriously delish

Upon receiving the book, it was really everything a fan of the website could want, and hopefully, the every day consumer would enjoy as well. The book has tons and tons of personality and stories from Jessica, which is what I think makes her blog so successful. She’s just her. And her cookbook is her. And it works!

And the recipes are fun! Roasted cherry, coconut and quinoa breakfast bowl? How delicious does that sound?? Prosecco-Cider Spiced Punch? Can it be fall now? Pumpkin Banilla Bread? Yeap, Banilla. She made up her own word in here. You will not be bored with this book.

Every recipe starts off with a little blurb from Jessica and almost every recipe has a picture, which is excellent! This is how I like my cookbooks.  My nerd side may be on display by admitting this but I like to sit down and read cook books and look at all the pretty pictures before I start tackling the recipes. I may also really like putting colored tabs on all the recipes I want to try buuuut that may just be an excuse to hit up Target during the back to school sale.

For this book, I made notes of the recipes I wanted to try and what I needed to do to make it vegan, if it wasn’t already. Surprisingly, for a cook book whose focus is NOT on vegetarian/vegan cooking, I did not feel like I lacked options.  This book is filled with recipes that are easily adaptable to a vegetarian and vegan life style. Some recipes that are already vegan- Coconut Almond Milk, Grilled Fruit Salsa and 3-bean crispy quinoa skillet are literally  begging for me to make them this weekend. Other recipes like thai chicken lettuce wraps (sub out chicken for tofu or tempeh), jalapeno-pineapple pizza with bourbon BBQ drizzle (leave off cheese or sub in vegan cheese. Also, this sounds amazing!) and White Cheddar Apple Crisp (Earth Balance for butter and leave out cheese) are easily changeable. Of course, you have your meat recipes which there is just nothing that can be done to make it vegan (I’m looking at you Cinnamon Sugar Bacon and Slow Cooker Short Rib Breakfast Hash) but I know a lot of my readers do eat meat so you guys will enjoy it! And, even though those were in the book, I in no way felt limited.

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NOW. Let me share my favorite recipe that I have made so far.

Zucchini Tacos with Grilled Corn Salsa
from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

serves 2 to 4

Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cubed zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Corn Salsa

  • 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels cut from the cob
  • 1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and diced (I used 1/2 pepper because the one I bought was huged!)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Chipotle Crema

  • 1 tablespoons plin full-fat or low-fat Greek Yogurt (I used 3 tablespoons silken tofu)
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

For Serving

  • 8 (4-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and, stirring, cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cubed zucchini, salt, and pepper and stir. Cook, stirring, until the zucchini becomes slightly tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

2. For the corn salsa, combine the corn, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss it together.

3. For the crema, whisk together the yogurt (or silken tofu), adobo sauce, lime juice, salt, and pepper. (I put it in a blender. It was a little runny that evening put it thickened over night)

4. To assemble the tacos, add some of the zucchini mixture to each warm tortilla and cover it with corn salsa. Drizzle the crema on top.

I loved these. They were fresh and tasted oh-so-summery. You could easily add more veggies or beans if you wanted to bulk it up, swap corn tortillas for the flours if you want to make them gluten-free or make the corn salsa separately if you wanted to use it as an appetizer with chips. So good!

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Now, let’s talk contest deets. It has come to my attention that a few people wanted to wait to submit their contest entry because they wanted to hear more about the book. Fair enough. I think I was just SUPER excited to give you guys something. So, the contest will end this Sunday, Sept 7 (this Sunday) at 11:59 pm. I will announce the winner Monday morning. Cool? Cool. Now go Tell All Your Friends (Taking Back Sunday- style) about this book and leave your comments about wanting to win over at this post .

 

I am so pumped for this give away, guys. SO PUMPED!!

If you follow Wicked Vegan at all, you know one of my favorite places to get recipes/recipe inspiration is How Sweet It Is. This isn’t a vegan blog but Jessica Merchant creates such interesting food, takes such fun photos and is so entertaining that I don’t even care. Her recipes for strawberry margaritas is my most favorite recipe ever and has turned me into a giant margarita snob.  I’m not sure what that says about me that out of all her recipes, my favorite is a margarita…

Anyway, when I found out she was releasing a book, I knew I had to pick up a copy! Thankfully, I’m back from Australia or things would have gotten ugly. AND, not only do I have a copy but one lucky reader can win a copy too!!! Just leave a comment below and I will randomly pick a winner on Friday when I officially post a review of the cook book (spoiler: I love it).

seriously delish

I know I’m sort of doing things backwards here but following convention is boring. So instead, I will give you a teaser recipe from the book, Oatmeal Cookie Granola. This granola is addicting and because I refuse to buy boxed cereal even though I love it, I’ve sort of just been eating this with fruit and milk in a bowl. You could get fancy and make it into a vegan parfait, maybe top off some oatmeal with it but seriously bowl + milk + this granola = total awesomeness.

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Oatmeal Cookie Granola
from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant, released here with permission.

makes about 4 cups
time: 1 hour (includes cooling time)

  • 2 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey (I used maple syrup to make it vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned (I used 2 tablespoons of melted Earth Balance. Leave a comment below if you have had success browning vegan butter)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips (I used the Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate chips)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, almonds, flaxseeds, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.

3. Heat a small saucepan over low heat and add the honey (or maple syrup), brown butter (or melted Earth Balance), coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Stir until the liquid is warm and the ingredients have melted together. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the oats. Stir it with a large spoon to coat and bring the mixture together. Spread it evenly over the parchment-covered baking sheet.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, then use a spatula to toss the granola. Bake for 10 minutes more and then toss again. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, tossing twice during the cooking time. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the granola and lightly toss. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheet.

Notes from the book: Allowing the granola to cool before storing it is the key to getting granola “clumps”. to help the clumping process, you can squeeze together handfuls of the granola once or twice during the cooling process. Store in a sealed bag or container for up to 1 week.

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Now, leave a comment below letting me know you are interested in winning the cookbook. I will announce the winner on Friday. And tune in tomorrow and Friday for another recipe and an official review. Also, if you are a fan of How Sweet It Is, Jessica is doing a book tour to promote Seriously Delish. You can get the deets here. Maybe I’ll see you at the Boston signing!

So in my last Travel Tuesday, waaaay back in April, I was at the Sunshine Coast with the kids. It’s a tie between whether we spent more time at the beach or singing “Do You Want to Build a Snow Man?” A little ironic, I know.

Anyway, after the week was up, my boss took the kids back to Toowoomba and I went to do a little more traveling. I booked a trip with Sunset Safari and did a two day tour of Fraser Island, which was SO interesting. There are no roads on the island so people just drive big cars along the stretch of beach. This is actually ok because you can’t really swim at the beach because there aren’t shark nets around the island. Also, there are wild dingoes. So, everyone huddles around the fresh water rivers that flow out of the center of the island. This clearly worked for me. I mean, finally! Everyone was agreeing with me that going into the ocean would mean getting your leg chewed off. Finally!!

On Day 2, we hiked through the rainforest and then went swimming in a mineral lake which had the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Then we headed off the island and back to our respective cities. I went back to Brisbane where I expected to head back to Toowoomba but ended up taking an additional trip. More on that in the next Travel Tuesday. For now, Fraser Island highlights!

*As usual, click for larger images*

Day 1

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Fraser Island!

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Our giant bus.

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This is the Maheno shipwreck and hands down my favorite part of the tour. You are just driving along the beach and all of a sudden, there’s a ship wreck! I really enjoyed photographing it.

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shipwreck

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shipwreck. I have a million shots of the barnacles on the ship.

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shipwreck

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shipwreck

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some colored sand rocks. Unfortunately, you can’t see it super well, but the rocks were striped with different colored reds and browns

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Climb up to Indian Head. My only complaint on the trip was the constant change between hanging on the beach and hiking up mountains. It’s a sneaker sports, jk it’s a flip flop activity, jk again back on with the sneakers. As someone who loathes sand, this was my worst nightmare. Sand in the sneakers! I didn’t realize we were hiking this mountain, though, so ended up hiking it in my $5 Old Navy flip flops. I wouldn’t recommend it.

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The view from Indian Head. We didn’t see any turtles, dolphins or whales as advertised but the hike was still worth it!

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Wild Dingo at Eli Creek. The million and one signs tell you to Do Not Feed Dingoes!! And you know, don’t leave your baby unattempted.

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Eli Creek. It’s completely fresh water and is sort of like a natural lazy refer. People swim in it and hang out around the base of it like they would a beach. The water flows right our of here into the ocean

 

  Day 2

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Pine Valley Hike. It was very strange to be hiking through what felt like a forest and have palm trees and crystal clear water. You could definitely tell you were somewhere more tropical then New England!

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weird tree roots. You’ll see more of those later

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Lake Birrabeen

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The water and sand. It’s so clear!!

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Lake Birrabeen

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More trees with weird roots. Check out the close-up below

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yeap! Those are roots. I bet you can just imagine the nickname sthis tree is given!

Ok! That’s it for my Fraser Island tour. I spared you the 8 million barnacle pictures that I took and tried to focus on the highlights. Recipes to return later this week!

My new neighborhood <3

My new neighborhood <3

Hello everyone!

First off, thank you for those who have been continuing to check in here every once in a while. I can see that I have had a steady stream of people checking up on Wicked Vegan and that makes me so happy! I am sorry I haven’t been updating! But let me fill you in on what has been going on.

I won’t go into too many details about my Aussie travels. I love doing my Travel Tuesday posts so I hope to restart that tomorrow. I don’t have too many trips left but I feel like I should wrap up my travels.

I ended up leaving Australia at the beginning of July and flew into California to see my old roommate and friend, Ashley. I had never been to Cali so I thought this would be a great opportunity. Plus, you know, I was just REALLY dragging my feet on entering the real world. Like, REEEEALLY. Responsibilities and bills and moving and just…nah, I’ll pass! So, clearly, the best place to go when you are avoiding being a grown up is Disneyland. I was only in California for three and a half days and you can bet your ass I spent one of those in Disney! I’ll do a whole Cali update eventually but I can tell you that I ate more In and Out then should be allowed by law and I spent so long in Disney, over 14 hours, that I almost had to be dragged out of the park cause my feet hurt so bad. It was an awesome trip, clearly!

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Then I spent a little bit of time in Connecticut, reconnecting with my family and old friends and getting used to the US again. Driving on the US-side of the road again? Still not used to it. Oh, and applying for jobs. Which was not fun.

A rare sighting of The Brother. He came to visit for our Christmas in July celebration and got cozy with my guitar

A rare sighting of The Brother. He came to visit for our Christmas in July celebration and got cozy with my guitar

Then, it was back to Boston. Way back in August of 2013, I had moved to a new apartment thinking ‘yeah! when I move back from Australia it’ll be a fresh start with fun new roomies!’ Except, then I stayed three months longer and my landlord skyrocketed the rent. So, instead it was, ‘Yeah! now I have to re-move all my stuff out that I sort of just moved into this place I never lived in’ and ‘yeah! driving a ginormous van around Boston’s tiny streets” and ‘good-bye all my furniture because it can’t fit into my tiny new place.’ It was a rough welcome back but I’m moving in with my longtime friend and former roommate so it worked out! We actually just spent the day attempting to rid our place of that standard apartment color. You know what I mean. The we-are-trying-to-be-cheerful-but-non-offensive yellow-y beige, mixed with grime from other residents. Not anymore, though! woohoo!!

oh yeah, the van was big AND it was raining while we were unloading. We were all just so cheery that day. Ha!

oh yeah, the van was big AND it was raining while we were packing. We were all just so cheery that day. Ha!

And in addition to the moving and getting settled in, I have been temping and working part time slinging coffee. SO, it’s been a very, very crazy month back BUT, I think I’m ready to get Wicked Vegan up and running again! I can’t promise I will be posting super regularly what with the juggling two part time gigs and job interviewing but I can tell you I have some fun recipes planned and a super awesome give away coming up! So stay tuned!! :)

Oh, and I also dogsat for this adorable nugget this month. Don’t you just want to cuddle him?? Ok, I think ending on a cute dog pic is really the best way to go. Fraser Island trip will be up tomorrow!

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