The Aperitivo with Strawberry + Chamomile

The Aperitivo with Strawberry + Chamomile | @withfoodandlove

You guys, I’m doing a thing.

It’s been something I’ve had my heart set on for a while, but hadn’t really had the resources to let it live. Until now.

First though, let’s start at the beginning. My opinion of St. Louis had to have evolved gradually. But it certainly seemed to have changed drastically overnight. I don’t remember an exact moment in time when it happened. Just one morning I woke up and was like, oh I love it here. I don’t ever want to leave. In one calendar year I went from a reluctant and begrudgingly new Midwesterner to a full-on proud St. Louisan.

I’ve fallen completely in love with every aspect of living in St. Louis. The things that once left me underwhelmed now leave me full and satisfied. Most notably the burgeoning food scene and the beautiful people that make this city vibrant and alive. And for the past year there have been many real conversations in my home about me opening up my own restaurant. But because the length of our stay here is unknown, this seems out of the question. At least for now.

With this blog, I’m living the dream. I love my job. Yet I still have a burning desire to do more. Something more tangible outside of this space. I want to cook for people in real life. I want to foster an affordable, unique dining experience that everyone can enjoy. So with restaurant dreams on hold, I’m launching a pop-up event series! Every six weeks or so a new event/menu/concept will emerge. I’ll be doing the cooking and the serving. And you’ll be doing the eating, drinking, mingling and relaxing. All events will be plant-focused, featuring local Midwestern produce and goods. My first event is titled Late Spring. An intimate, plated dinner, underneath the stars, complete with hand-crafted cocktails and a fire pit.

Tickets are on sale now! For more details, click here.

p.s. If you have an idea for a pop-up or a venue or you’re a purveyor and you’d like to include your goods at my next event, send me a message. I’d love to collaborate!

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short + sweet | Beet + Berry Smoothie Bowls

Beet + Berry Smoothie Bowl | @withfoodandlove

Welcome to another edition of {short + sweet}.

I mentioned that when I was out in LA a few weeks ago, I ate my fair share of berry smoothie bowls. And, I’m still doing a lot of that. This one though is inspired less by my California daydreams and more by what’s growing in my own backyard.

Last year around this time my beds weren’t even built. We were still kind of unpacking boxes, scrambling around, getting acclimated and settling in from our big cross country move. And I don’t think I even planted anything until late May. But this year my spring garden is in, and it’s been consistently warm here for almost two months. Which feels so luxurious when you’re from the east coast. Another notch on the, things I love about St. Louis list.

Spring gardens produce such nourishing foods. A collision of fragile greens and hearty root vegetables. In my beds right now, amongst other things, is kale, beets and my favorite perennial, lemon thyme. The perfect ingredients for berry smoothie bowls. If you’ve never had or smelled lemon thyme please try to make that a priority. It’s the most magical herb, with both sweet and savory applications. Gardening brings me so much joy. It’s a time for me to slow down, focus on a single task, and listen to the birds with the dirt under my feet. Growing your own food is empowering. And meditative. The time I spend out there brings me closer to finding inner peace. If that even is a thing. Do you have a garden? Big or small, even a windowsill herb box counts.

I hope everyone had a beautiful weekend. I’m headed out to celebrate the earth with the rest of my city at one of my favorite places in all the world. Follow me on Snapchat to see some behind the scenes action of St. Louis Earth Day 2016.

This post is sponsored by Silk in part to celebrate Earth Month! Thanks for supporting the brands that make it possible to bring you free, quality content each week. For updates, discounts, offers and more sign-up for Silk’s newsletter here.

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short + sweet | Carrot Cake Energy Balls

Carrot Cake Energy Balls | @withfoodandlove

Welcome to another edition of {short + sweet}.

Up until a few weeks ago I’d never made, let alone eaten an energy ball. Now I’m pretty much addicted. Especially to these carrot cake energy balls. And although I haven’t eaten carrot cake in years, from what I remember these taste exactly like it. In general these little guys are quick to make, versatile, portable and you can pack them full of all the good things. Are you into it?

I wrote a little bit about my weight gain blues in this recent post. Spilling these thoughts publicly with all of you, and being honest with myself allowed me to turn around what seemed positively devastating into something really positive. And, it inspired my new workout regimen. I joined a gym, and I hired a personal trainer. In the morning I eat a couple of these energy balls on my way to workout. They’ve been a lifesaver.

Beyond some weight loss, I have two goals right now. Get to the gym three days a week, and finish what I started my senior year of high school and memorize Country Grammar in its entirety. I know this is random. But this album gets me motivated. Literally it physically gets me to the gym. I wake up dreaming of shoving carrot cake energy balls into my mouth as a I run out the door to rap along with Nelly on the treadmill. Maybe it’s because Nelly is from St. Louis and that makes me feel like we get each other. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a badass. Or maybe both. No definitely both.

A few things!

Two weekends ago I took a staycation and it was way fun. I stayed at my downtown Marriott and drank martinis, and ate great food and toyed around the city like a tourist. You should do it sometime!

I’m kind of freaking out because my face and this recipe are featured in the May issue of Vegetarian Times. If you’re in the grocery store or book store or any other place where they sell magazines be sure to check out!

St. Louisans! I’ve started a pop-up series. More on this coming next week. But for now, the first event is an intimate four-course dinner paired with handcrafted cocktails on May 19. Seats are super limited, snag yours here.

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Braised Artichokes + some artichoke pro-tips!

Braised Artichokes | @withfoodandlove

Artichokes.

We all really love to eat them.

But!

So many of us are intimidated to cook them.

Until now.

These braised artichokes everybody!

They are so easy.

They will change your life.

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short + sweet | Chickpea Pizza with Shaved Asparagus Salad

Chickpea Pizza with Shaved Asparagus Salad | @withfoodandlove

Welcome to another edition of {short + sweet}.

The day I got home from LA, Lindsey’s book was waiting for me. I couldn’t wait to tear through the package and devour each page. There was an abundance of quality cookbooks released this spring, and Chickpea Flour Does It All tops the list. Lindsey’s brilliant and beautiful refined taste shines through from page to page, and with every plant-powdered recipe. So far I have made this chickpea pizza, and the chickpea tzatziki dip – which I’ve been totally addicted to. Putting it on everything from avocado toast to roasted vegetables. This book should belong in everyone’s home, gluten-free or not. To win yourself a copy of Lindsey’s book click here!

Since returning home from LA, I’ve had trouble getting back into a groove. Maybe it’s because I signed up for Snapchat this week and this recent social media obsession/discovery has impacted the amount of work I am getting done. Or maybe it’s because I’m missing all those palm trees and blue skies and juice bars and smoothie bowls. Either way southern Californians have it ridiculously good with their organic/high-vibe/alkalized/ionized/plant-based nonsense {goodness} on every street corner.

Also, in LA they put salads on everything. And salads have never tasted better, particularly when placed on pizza and fries. This chickpea pizza recipe, adapted from Lindsey’s new book was the perfect thing to help ease me back into the swing of things. Gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally vegan and packed with plenty of plant-based protein. Homemade pizza has never been easier.

p.s. I’m ‘wfalsnaps’ on Snapchat. See you there!

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Peppered Balsamic Strawberry Pots + scenes from modena!

Peppered Balsamic Strawberry Pots | @withfoodandlove

Spring! It’s happening folks. And these peppered balsamic strawberry pots are too. Here in St. Louis strawberries aren’t in season quite yet, but I’ve been vibing on the organic ones from Cali that are flooding my grocery stores. I’m doing it, it’s early still, but my heart and soul crave it. And, because I’m an adult, and because I’m doing the best I can. And because sometimes a girl needs a berry in March. These peppered balsamic strawberry pots are vegan and naturally gluten-free featuring Silk’s vanilla dairy-free yogurt alternative. It’s a soy-based food, which I consume very little of but feel good about this choice as it’s non-GMO, and carrageenan-free.

Balsamic was made for strawberries. And pepper was made for sweet balsamic strawberry pots. If pepper in sweet stuff sounds a little out of the box for you, I totally get it. Hear me out, just a little twist goes a long way – adding the right amount of earthiness to mellow out the strawberry’s sweet notes. For more sweet/pepper combo inspiration, I made this cocktail last fall.

Peppered balsamic strawberry pots are easy enough for weekday breakfasts, impressive enough for fancy/chill weekend brunches, and satisfyingly delicious for late afternoon snacks and/or dessert. Additionally this macerated balsamic strawberry mixture would be a fantastic shortcake topping this summer. Or when combined with a few fresh herbs the right bruschetta mix.

Last weekend Chris and I got down to business with some outdoor spring cleaning. Lots of back-breaking weeding, fresh mulch spreading, leaf raking and garden prep in the warm 60 degree sunshine. Green leaves are on the trees, and my backyard is already back to its wild jungle self. It feels like it sprouted up overnight. I guess it kinda did. Last year I didn’t get my garden beds built and planted until the end of May. So this year I’m turning my full attention to the spring garden. During this season of rebirth I’ve been making an honest effort to cut down on plastic consumption, while repurposing plastic bags and containers whenever possible. Silk’s packaging {cartons, containers, etc.} make great little seedling starters.

This post is sponsored by Silk. Thanks for supporting the brands that make it possible to bring you free, quality content each week. For updates, discounts, offers and more sign-up for Silk’s newsletter here.

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short + sweet | Creamy Risotto with Roasted Spring Vegetables + a giveaway!

Risotto with Roasted Spring Vegetables | @withfoodandlove

Welcome to another edition of {short + sweet}.

It’s the first day of spring! Let’s celebrate with a giveaway. And this creamy vegan risotto with roasted spring vegetables. It was inspired by my friend Amanda, when I asked on Facebook earlier this week if there were any recipes you’d like to see from me this spring. It’s simple, and savory and rich but not too rich. And, really damn good. I’m actually eating it right now with an egg on top for breakfast.

I cooked the risotto in my new 11.5 inch skillet that came as part of the ten piece cookware set that Wolf Gourmet provided me. They are beautiful, heavy duty, even heating, oven safe {up to 500 degrees} and definitely the best pans I’ve ever owned. And one of you lucky readers will own a pan of your choice! My personal favorite is the dutch oven. Click here to check out the set, and then drop me a comment letting me know which one you’d like. I will choose a winner at random on March 29 at noon Central, and notify them by email.

In the meantime, if you’d like you can purchase this set at Bloomingdale’s.

One last thing from me. Have you heard that Instagram wants to implement an algorithm to control your viewing experience? Meaning you’ll likely not see all of the posts from the people you follow and love. Did you know that this is detrimental to small business owners and creatives alike, like me? Want to voice your opinion about it? Consider signing this petition. It’s quick and painless, I promise.

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With Food + Love © 2016 | All photos + words belong to Sherrie Castellano -- do not use or distribute them without permission | SC is represented by The Lisa Ekus Group