Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse

When I shared our round-up of favorite cookbooks, I mentioned I’d be working to share more recipes and examples of what I eat in a typical day. Enter stuffed baked sweet potatoes! This is one of my go-to meals during the week, whether it be for lunch or dinner. It’s filling enough to stand alone or you can pair it with any kind of roasted vegetable or a salad on the side. As shown, this recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free but you can’t wrong with the addition of an over-easy egg on top if you’re not worried about keeping things vegan. I eat a baked sweet potato like this at least once a week, oftentimes twice or more, and it’s seriously delicious every single time.

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes
Makes 1 serving

  • 1 medium to large sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 2 tablespoons salsa or pico de gallo
  • 1/2 avocado sliced
  • 1/2 cup wilted spinach
  • 5 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 sprouts
  • 1/4 black beans
  • 1/2 tablespoon cilantro, diced

Begin by cleaning a sweet potato, then slicing off the ends. Spear liberally with a fork all over the potato then wrap in aluminum foil. Place in an oven set to 400° F (directly on the rack is fine) and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until fork tender. When baked, carefully remove from the foil and place the potato on a plate or in bowl. Split it down the middle and add spinach and black beans first before layering on your other toppings. (I think the sprouts like best piled on top if you’re going for style points!) Eat immediately.

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse

I know this seems really simple, but here’s the thing – simple food is just really really good. Fresh ingredients, loads of veggies, prepared while you’re working on other things (like feeding the kids and the dog), that’s the best kind of eating in my world. We try really hard to avoid anything that comes in a package, but I also don’t have endless time to cook so these potatoes, which I can bake while I’m focusing on other things and then just top quickly before eating, are perfect in my world. Let me know if you give this one a try! I hope you do, because it’s my favorite thing in the world these days. No exaggeration.

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Recipe | Easy vegetarian recipes from @cydconverse

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

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DIY Geometric Picnic Blanket

This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza. Thank you for supporting
the sponsors that 
help make The Sweetest Occasion possible!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

Most of you know by now that I am crazy for a picnic. I’m pretty sure around this time every year, I spend a lot of time professing my love for any kind of picnic situation. As far as I’m concerned, our summers here are far too short not to make the most of every sunny day by dining outside as frequently as possible. (Ask Bob. I am constantly saying, “Let’s eat outside tonight!”) In the spirit of summer, I’ve once again teamed up with my friends at Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza  to bring you this colorful DIY geometric picnic blanket tutorial! With a cute picnic blanket in tow and your favorite Ristorante pizza fresh from the oven, you’re ready to host a backyard picnic in a flash.

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

SUPPLIES

  • Painter’s drop cloth
  • Freezer paper
  • Metal straight edge
  • Craft knife and/or scissors
  • Paint brushes
  • Craft paint
  • Cardboard or card stock
  • Iron

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

Begin by deciding what shape you’d like for your geometric pattern. I opted for this simple diamond shape and then cut it out of cardboard, but you could easily do squares or circles if you prefer. Then, use your cardboard cutout and a pencil to trace the shape onto the paper side of a sheet of freezer paper. You’ll need one traced diamond for every diamond you’d like to appear on your blanket, which will all depend on the size blanket you want and how dense of a pattern you’re looking to achieve. (So in a nutshell, if your blanket has 30 diamonds, you’ll need to trace the cardboard cutout 30 times onto your freezer paper.)

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

Use a craft knife and a metal straight edge (or sharp scissors) to carefully cut out each diamond shape, being sure to leave a border at least 1/2″ around the outside. This is probably the most time consuming part of the whole process, but it’s super simple. Place them sporadically across your drop cloth and use a medium, dry iron to tack down your freezer paper stencils, waxy side down. The freezer paper acts as a seal so you can easily and quickly paint your shapes without worrying about the paint bleeding.

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

Then it’s time for paint! I used basic craft paints in assorted bright, rainbow-esque colors and inexpensive foam paint brushes for my blanket. Begin by applying the paint along the edge of your stencil, brushing inward away from the edge. This will help to prevent any paint running underneath your freezer paper stencil. Then just continue filling in the shape until the paint is nice and solid. Immediately lift up the edge of your stencil to remove it (do not let the paint dry), and you’ll have nice crisp lines! Continue this process until all of your shapes are painted, then allow it to dry overnight. Before using, quickly iron the backside of your blanket where the painted shapes are to help set the paint. This is washable, but some paint may wear off over time. You can always touch it up later if you’d like!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more! DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

Now, onto the picnic food! If you haven’t guessed it, the star of this backyard picnic is your favorite variety of Ristorante. My recent obsessions have been the Pizza Funghi and Vegetale flavors, but the Pizza Spinaci and Pizza Mozzarella are also longtime favorites around here. (Check out the store locator to find where Ristorante is sold or put in a request with the manager at your favorite store.) The thin, crispy crust and the gourmet flavor pairings leave you with spot on perfect pizza in about 12 to 14 minutes, so you can whip up a big hearty salad and a couple of cocktails for your picnic in the meantime. I think cocktails pre-made in jars that you can just open and sip in the backyard are the perfect way to go. Throw in some cute straws and some wooden picnic utensils and you’re good to go! The easier the better when it comes to backyard entertaining and this is as easy as it gets.

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

DIY Picnic Blanket | Click through for the tutorial or repin to save for later! Visit @cydconverse for DIY projects, party ideas, entertaining ideas and more!

For more recipes, tips and entertaining ideas, be sure to give Dr. Oetker a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! Anyone else as crazy about a good picnic as I am? For casual weeknight dinners or easy weekend entertaining, I just think there is no better way to go in the summer. Bring on all the picnics, I say!

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

This post was sponsored by Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, but all opinions are my own. Read more about our editorial policies.

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Our Favorite [Mostly] Vegetarian Cookbooks

Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

I’ve shared many times over the years that I am a vegetarian, and recently I shared that I am also largely trying to avoid dairy and a lot of gluten too these days. I get a lot of questions that go something like, “Ok, so what do you eat then?” And the answer is lots of stuff! I’m working on shooting some more recipes and meal ideas for you in the coming months (stay tuned for one next week) so you can see what I mean, but in the meantime I asked my photography partner in-crime Alice to join forces with me to share our favorite cookbooks with you.

Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

I am a mostly dairy-free vegetarian, who does eat eggs and a couple of times a year cheats with lobster or scallops. (I can’t resist the lobster, guys!) Alice is a former longtime pescetarian (meaning she ate dairy and fish, but no red meat or poultry) who as of a few years ago went pretty strictly vegan. Today we’re sharing our collective favorite [mostly] vegetarian cookbooks and vegan cookbooks with you! Whether you’re interested in moving toward a more plant-based diet, feel like you might like to eat less meat or just want to explore new cuisine, you’ll find some really good stuff here. This round-up includes a few very recently released books that are so amazing they make the list right away, and some old tried and true favorites that I refer to time and again.

Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
This is a big ol’ classic cookbook loaded with recipes that you’ll reference again and again. I call it a “classic” cookbook in the sense that is super thick (more than 2000 recipes) and features zero photographs, but it’s the type of cooking guide that is super handy to have in your kitchen. These days I don’t pull it out a lot, but I love that it goes far beyond your typical vegetarian fare covering everything from crepes to breads to condiments. (Read: Even if you’re not a vegetarian, this is a great cookbook to own!)

Isa Does It - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

Isa Does It - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
This vegan cookbook is Alice’s favorite and her endless love for this book inspired me to order a copy just this week. She swears by the raspberry scones recipe (which she often makes with blueberries and which I can attest to being so very good) and her meat-loving better half is a huge fan of the rosemary dumplings recipe. This is an ode to everyday comfort food (even chocolate chip cookies) done the vegan way. Think you couldn’t eat vegan? Think again, friends! This one will prove you wrong.

Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant by The Moosewood Collective
One of several cookbooks published by the folks behind the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York, this cookbook is like an old friend of mine. Filled with seriously delicious, mostly vegetarian (there’s the occasional fish here or there) recipes, this particular cookbook pulls on various ethnic cooking traditions to serve up some insanely tasty and hearty fare, spanning everything from soups to risottos.

Super Natural Cooking - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
If you follow Heidi’s blog, 101 Cookbooks, you won’t be surprised by the simple yet delicious recipes featured in this cookbook, which I believe was her first. (She’s up to three or four now!) I purchased this book not too long after I officially made the leap into vegetarianism (previously I ate some poultry but had long since given up red meat), and it was really useful for learning how to prepare, cook and enjoy various whole food ingredients that are really healthful and delicious. Clean, easy and yummy is how it goes with this one.

Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking by Dana Shultz
This book was just released a few weeks ago and it’s already a favorite! Again, if you’re familiar with Dana’s amazing food blog, Minimalist Baker, you’ll know what to expect here. We’re talking sincerely scrumptious plant-based and largely gluten-free recipes that will knock your socks off. This book brings you a bunch of everyday favorites with a vegan approach, and has quickly become a favorite of mine. (Those burgers on the cover? So crazy good even meat and potatoes loving boyfriend will love them!)

I Love My Slow Cooker - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

I Love My Slow Cooker by Beverly LeBlanc
While not necessarily vegetarian, Alice is a huge fan of this cookbook, a culinary homage to the slow cooker. (Plus, how cute is that cover?) Her top pick is the lentil dal, but there are also loads of other recipes that look amazing. You could easily adapt them to suit your particular eating habits if you tend toward meat-free living like we do or, hey meat lovers, heads up! This one is for you.

Mouthwatering Vegan - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

Mouthwatering Vegan by Miriam Sorrell
From appetizers and soups to dinner and dessert, this is another vegan cookbook gem that ranks high on Alice’s list. Featuring really beautiful food photography and a super helpful vegan pantry shopping list (so you can cook practically any dish on the fly), this is one of those cookbooks that will quickly become a go-to mainstay in your kitchen. By all accounts, the recipes here (developed by a food blogger who is also a gourmet vegan chef), will have everyone at your table drooling, even the non-vegans.

The Love and Lemons Cookbook - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

The Love & Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio
For a long time now Love & Lemons has been my absolute favorite food blog. Jeanine’s recipes are always fresh, bright and palate pleasing, so I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of her cookbook (released just a couple of months ago) immediately. The book is arranged by vegetable making it really easy to figure out how to make the most of the beautiful bunch of asparagus you picked up at the market on a whim or the huge thing of kale that came in your CSA share this week. Plus, the book itself is one of the most stunning I’ve ever seen, with photography and page layouts that are seriously unrivaled. Buy this book, guys. It is so so damn good.

Veganomicon Cookbook - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz + Terry Hope Romero
Another tome penned by the same crazy talented lady behind Isa Does It, this book is like a crash course in veganism. I ordered it on Amazon a handful of years ago as I was learning more and more about vegetarian and vegan cuisine and wanted something that would inspire me to cook new dishes and play with new flavors. This book delivered! It’s another classic in the sense that it’s 250+ recipes strong with very few photographs (think Joy of Cooking only vegan and much more modern), but it’s also a classic in that it’s a book you’ll never tire of flipping through when you just feel like making something for dinner on a lazy Sunday.

Isa Does It - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

Isa Does It - Best Vegetarian Cookbooks and Vegan Cookbooks from @cydconverse | Click over for our favorite meat-free and plant-based cookbooks or repin to save for later!

And there you have it! Our short list of much loved cookbooks, which doesn’t even scratch the surface of those I am longing after and have yet to purchase. Am I the only one who has something akin to “collect all the cookbooks” near the top of their bucket list? I can’t get enough. (Bob says it’s a problem. I say he’s wrong.) So hit me up! What are your favorite cookbooks? I’d love to check them out!

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[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]

This post contains affiliate links. Read more about our editorial policies.

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Bachelorette Weekend Essentials

Happy Monday, friends! The countdown is on until Thursday when I catch a flight and head off to meet up with my lil’ sister for her bachelorette weekend getaway in Key West. Hip hip hooray! Yes, I have a full blown house renovation in progress. Yes, I have a six month old. Yes, I have to move our entire house in less than two weeks time. Am I crazy? Absolutely 100% yes. But we’ve been planning this trip for months so a bag I must pack (haven’t even started that yet) and a bachelorette weekend we shall have. There are eleven of us ladies in all meeting up from all up and down the east coast. We have a killer Airbnb situation all lined up and we basically have a relaxing weekend of pool lounging and champagne drinking all planned out. This is the type of bachelorette party that shall be sans all the genitalia, crowns and sashes, but we do still plan to make sure that our girls-only getaway is done right so today I’m sharing my picks for the ultimate beachy bachelorette weekend essentials!

Bachelorette Weekend Essentials | Bachelorette party ideas and travel essentials from @cydconverse

My suitcase is going to be 90% filled with maxi dresses. If ever a town were made for a good maxi dress, it’s Key West. Plus, Birkenstocks. Comfy, walking-friendly sandals are a must. (Sorry, heels, you’re probably staying home.) There may or may not be a giant pool float making the voyage with us and lest I should give away any surprises to my sneaky sister who is undoubtedly reading this, I’ll leave it at that. I’ll be sharing some of the highlights of our trip with my travel hashtag #tsotravels on Instagram and in the meantime you can check out my mini Key West travel guide if you’re in need of a tropical getaway, too.

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Champagne campaign tank | Hangover kit | Love potion koozie | Sofia champagne in a can | Flamingo pool float | Heart shaped sunglasses | Bachelorette temporary tattoos| Victoria’s Secret lipgloss | Shot glasses |  Fujifilm Instax cameraPatterned maxi dress |

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Welcome to Our Old House

Buying a house with @cydconverse | Old house renovation ideas and home improvement inspiration

To say that this post today has been a long time in coming would be a complete understatement. On so many levels. To sit down to share these photos and this experience with you is nearly impossible to capture in words. It feels pretty monumental, if I’m perfectly honest. So I’m just going to say it as simply as possible. WE OWN A HOUSE! All caps and probably far more exclamation points are absolutely required. On Monday morning, we woke up early, danced a little jig over our morning coffee, visited the bank for a big cashier’s check and went off to our closing with more than a few butterflies in both of our stomachs. By noon we were the very emotional, very proud owners of one very old, very beautiful home. Today I want to share the first of many photos to come with you, complete with the soon-to-be evicted forty year old blue carpet. Later this afternoon (probably around 2 or 3pm east coast time) I am going to do a live tour on Snapchat if you want to join in for that! You can follow me there with username cydconverse if you want to get a feel of the space and the current condition with an actual walk-through. In the meantime, click through for loads of photos so you can see what we’re working with! We will be making updates for years to come, I’m sure, and honestly, I could not be more thrilled to own a whole lot of ugly carpet and one awesomely dated kitchen, last renovated in 1960. This is actually my dream house on every level and I am overcome with a lot of sappy emotions knowing our family will be living here soon.

Keep reading…

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