Entries Tagged as 'garlic'

Loaded Vegetable Spring Quiche

Posted on: April 23, 2014

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I’d like to pretense this story by mentioning that I am turning 25 this year. With that in mind, I’ve received an Easter “basket” every year of my life (that I can remember) from my mother. Even after I moved out at 18, my mother always managed to ship a box full of colored confetti and festive treats in the form of candy, money, cookies, or whatever else I was into at the time. This year was no exception.

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Our doorbell rang bright and early on Thursday morning when our UPS man dropped off a large package that was over-nighted from Seattle, Washington. I opened it up to find an array of spring foraged foods in the form of ramps, black garlic, blood oranges, palm heart, and mushrooms. This immediately prompted a ‘thank you’ text to my mother which was replied to with a comment about ‘I guess you are officially an adult when you get excited about receiving vegetables in your Easter basket’. That statement would almost be true if it wasn’t for the fact that I was so excited to receive these vegetables so I could play with them. I’d like to think I play with my food as much now, if not more, than when I used to receive dinosaur shaped gummies and candy necklaces (which were my favorite, by the way. I think I may have even rocked those up until the end of middle school).

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This quiche has an Asian flair to it with the fermented garlic giving almost a soy sauce scent. The saltiness of the garlic leaves no room for cheese so I’d suggest leaving it out (just this one time) and let the vegetables shine. If you having trouble finding ramps in your area then feel free to substitute them with chopped spring chives or caramelized onions. The black garlic (also known as fermented garlic) might be the trickiest of ingredients to find on this list but it will be worth the hunt – check your local farmer’s market or asian food market if you are having trouble finding it at your usual stops.

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Fresh Spinach Pasta with Roasted Carrot Almond Pesto

Posted on: January 13, 2014

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It’s 13 days into the new year – are you still kicking strong with your new years resolutions? So far 2014 has not just been about being conscious of what I am eating but why I am eating it. Why is it so important to get that green smoothie in every morning? How is my body benefiting from consuming greens, carrots, greek yogurt, and honey? I recently picked up The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murry and can’t seem to put it down. It’s a hefty thing ranking in at a whopping 900 pages (Hey… it does warn you with the word ‘Encyclopedia’ in the title and is often times used as a textbook in holistic nutrition courses) but is brimming with wonderful food insight on every page. The bulk of the book is split up by specific foods and tells you the history, health benefits, research conducted on that food, and potential harmful effects of pretty much any whole food you can think of (spices, fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, etc).

 

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All this new found knowledge has gotten me really excited about eating whole foods. After a breakfast of avocado toast and blueberry oatmeal, I notice myself immediately running to the book to find out the benefits of avocados, oats, blueberries, maple syrup, and almonds (from the homemade almond milk). And then again after lunch. And after my afternoon snack. And so on.

 

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So, as you probably expected, I can’t wait to share all the wonderful benefits of this veggie-centric dish with you (but please remember, I am not a certified health expert of any sorts and all insight shared here is to merely share a few of the engaging health benefits outlined in Healing Foods).

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Savory Pumpkin Hand Pies

Posted on: November 19, 2013

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Being a vegetarian at your boyfriend’s family Thanksgiving can be madly intimidating. Or going home and explaining to your family for the first time that you no longer will be eating your aunt’s legendary roast. Although it’s never fun having to repeat yourself over and over to every person at the gathering about why you aren’t diving into that meat, it’s something all of us vegetarians (and vegans!) have had to endure. Instead of spending your entire evening avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room in an attempt to avoid that ‘dietary needs conversation’, whip up a batch of these hand pies to win everyone over. No meat lover will miss the meat in these little pockets of savory deliciousness and they might just agree that these would make a better main course (or appetizer or side or all 3).

Although eating a giant turkery for Thanksgiving is ‘traditional’, I say the hell with it! Let’s make our own tradition!! You aren’t constrained to eating that one meat that is ‘traditional’ and you can play around with any food you enjoy. And, in my opinion, I think these little pockets of pot pies are better than any dried out turkey I was served as a child.

 

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Hop on over to DeSmitten Design blog for the full recipe and learn more!

 

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Posted on: July 8, 2013

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I don’t know about you but the term ‘enchilada sauce’ doesn’t exactly conger up fresh and summery images. It mostly makes me think of that dark, musky isle in the already dingy international grocery store where you have to brush the dust off the can before picking it up and throwing it into your cart. This off-putting imagery doesn’t happen with all mexican food. In fact, tamales conger up wonderful memories of watching my step-mother whipping up several dozen in our kitchen when I was little. And tacos make me think of fresh grilled pineapple and strong margaritas. But I don’t know – there’s something about that enchilada sauce…something about the old-fashioned design on the cans that make me think it’s been on the shelf since that art was in style in the 80s (maybe even 70s?).

That was until I decided to start making my own. And everything changed in the enchilada world for me. It doesn’t taste like the enchilada sauce from the can…it taste so much fresher. And though it’s not the flavor your tongue is expecting at first, you will glow with the realization that this is how enchilada sauce is supposed to taste. Fresh and spicy. A little tomatoey, peppery, and full of heat. Of course, the amount of heat you’d like to create is up to you. Different peppers will result in different spice levels so go ahead and get acquainted with what peppers work for you (okay, so maybe that link is a little over-kill but it’s sort of fun to realize that all these peppers exist..)

This recipe isn’t challenging but there are lots of little steps – mostly simple ways to remove the outer peels from the tomatoes and peppers to create a creamier sauce. Don’t feel discouraged by the wordy directions below – it won’t take long and you’ll have deliciously fresh enchilada sauce in no time!

PS – Oh…and it’s vegan!

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Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • 2 fresh red chilis, sliced in half with the seeds removed
  • 1 1 /2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut a large X in the bottom of both
  • 2 jalapeños (or 1 poblano pepper)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
  • salt/pepper, to taste

Add vegetable broth to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chili peppers and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat but DON’T drain the broth. Set aside.

Chard the jalapeños by placing them directly over a gas burner flame until blackened on all sides (or broil in your oven). Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a plastic sandwich bag. Let steam in the bag for about 15 minutes and peel the skins right off. Cut in half and remove seeds. Set aside.

Bring another saucepan full of water to a boil and get a bowl full of ice water ready. Add tomatoes and blanch for a minute or two or until the skins peel right off. Remove from heat and transfer tomatoes to the bowl of ice water. Peel tomatoes and then dice.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent (about 7 minutes). Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chillis with the vegetable broth liquid, jalapeño, oregano, and cumin. Let simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Once slightly cooled, transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

Use right away or store in the fridge for up to four days.

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Cornbread Waffles with Roasted Vegetables & Chimichurri Ramps

Posted on: May 1, 2013

My daily posts have turned more into weekly posts as thing have become a bit hectic around here. There are so many things I’ve wanted to share without over sharing on a food blog…which then usually just turn into not sharing them at all. So, instead, I’m just going to give off a short list of excuses that have been both tearing me from this blog and keeping me occupied in my “real” life:

1. I got a new day job / promotion. I was promoted from indie-rock-princess to indie-rock-queen. Hah, no. But I did go from a glorified secretary to being in charge of over 200 of our music client accounts. So, needless to say, I’ve been working 9+ hours a day trying to figure out everything that goes along with this new job.

2. It’s spring! And I’ve been putting most of my free time energy into prepping my garden. What good is a food blogger who can’t even grow her own produce to write recipes with?

3. My grandma passed away. I realize that this is a normal occurrence for people over the age of 80 but that does not make it any less unsettling. I don’t care how old you are – it’s very upsetting to watch a wonderful person have everything ripped away from them.

4. My boyfriend is obsessed with the X-Files. And not only is he obsessed but he is determined to watch EVERY SINGLE EPISODE. So starting at season one in Februaray, he has constantly had that on the TV…which has been…very distracting. Do you know how many episodes of the X-Files there are? HUNDREDS. There are NINE seasons. Do you realize how many hours have been wasting getting sucked in by that when I could have been cleaning my stove-top or seasoning my cast iron or making butterscotch cookies?!

5. Remember that Lemon Thyme Butter I posted about last week? OH MY! I’ve discovered that it’s pretty much amazing on everything. Melt it over pasta or spaetzle and thank me later. You’re welcome.

Okay, enough about me. Let’s talk about YOU! I have an ice cream recipe for YOU. Yup, that is right – homemade ice cream. And it’s filled with the most delicious…well I can’t tell you. But it’s sweet and savory and creamy and Middle Eastern. And it’s going to be posted on VV soon…how soon? I can’t tell you that either (can’t ruin the fun now!) – you’ll just have to check back.

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Now back to ramps. Yes, that is right. I am posting ANOTHER ramps recipes. Two in a row, really? Well if we compare it to how many pizza or tofu recipes I’ve posted then it’s really not that bad. Ramps are new to me…and I’m pretty obsessed. I know they are going to start disappearing from the Farmer’s Market just as quickly as they appeared. This means, I’ve been cooking them up like crazy while I can!



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Cornbread Waffles with Roasted Veggies & Chimichurri Ramps

Makes 2 generous servings

Cheddar Cornbread Waffles:

  • 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cups milk
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Roasted Vegetables:

  • An assortment of your favorite vegetables to roast (I used 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 diced onion, 1/2 diced small sweet potato, 2 chopped carrots)
  • 2 springs of fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt/Pepper

Chimichurri:

  • 1 bunch of ramps (about 10 stalks)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 red pepper flakes
  • dash of pepper

 

To roast the vegetables: Preheat oven to 400 and toss the veggies with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Lay in a even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and just started to brown.

To make the chimichurri: Rinse the ramps and cut off the roots and any rough tips.  Slice into big chunks. Blend all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until a smooth paste forms.

To make the waffles: Preheat your waffle maker. Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yokes, milk, and butter. Fold the dried ingredients into the liquid until incorporated. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff but not dry peaks form. Fold the egg whites and grated cheese into the batter.

Ladle 1/2 cup (more or less depending on how big your waffle maker is) of the batter onto your preheated waffle iron and cook according to manufacture’s instructions (mine usually takes around 3 minutes).

Pile high with roasted veggies and chimichurri.

 

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CHIMICHURRI Ramps Bread with Lemon Thyme Butter

Posted on: April 25, 2013

 

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I came across ramps for the first time at the farmer’s market two weeks ago. The nice man who sold them to me explained that they are a type of mild wild garlic and grow in the early spring. The first recipe I tried was a Lemon Risotto from The Kitchn and I was instantly hooked. I went back the next week and picked up another bundle.

This time around I wanted to create my own recipe. When researching ideas, I came across chimichurri and knew I had to try it. Chimichurri is an Argentina sauce that is usually lathered all over meat. If you’ve ever read ‘The Butcher and The Vegetarian’ than you probably can recall the wonderful ways she described chimichurri. She spoke of it making her dizzy from the fresh flavors and needing more. That was enough for me to know I wanted to try it.

But…my adventures with chimichurri didn’t stop there. After lathering it on anything in sight, I wanted to also cook with it. Traditionally it’s rubbed on meat…which isn’t an option for me so I decided to do something completely different – through it in the loaf of bread I had planned to make anyways! And dayuuum…. not only was it beautiful with streaks of green running through it but the bread was soft and so flavorful that you could eat the whole thing plain. Or make some simple lemon thyme butter to dab on top.

 

 

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Chimichurri Ramps Bread with Lemon Thyme Butter

Chimichurri:

  • 1 bunch of ramps (about 10 stalks)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 red pepper flakes
  • dash of pepper

 

For the bread:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan

 

For the butter:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • Zest from half of an organic lemon

 

To make the chimichurri: Rinse the ramps and cut off the roots and any rough tips.  Slice into big chunks. Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) until a smooth paste forms. Lather all over slices of baguette or roasted veggies or proceed and make delicious bread out of it…

 

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To make the bread: Combine the warm water and yeast in the large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes or until it becomes frothy. Next, add in the flour, salt, and olive oil and mix until combined. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for ten minutes (you can also do this in a stand mixer with a bread attachment – sadly, my mixer gave out on me last month so I’m going old school). Transfer kneaded dough to an oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for an hour.

Next, turn the dough out onto floured surface and roll into a rectangle (about 18 by 12 inches). Top with the chimichurri. Roll the long side of the dough towards you and pinch the ends closed (the same way you roll cinnamon into cinnamon rolls). Slice down the middle lengthwise, twist both pieces, and use the two parts to bread the bread by twirling around each other. Transfer to a greased baking sheet and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 and bake for roughly 25 minutes or until golden on top.

 

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To make the thyme lemon butter: Mash the lemon zest, softened butter, and thyme together. Serve soft or wrap in parchment paper and stick in the fridge until firm.

 

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Wild Rice & Wheatberry Grain Salad

Posted on: April 1, 2013

  Wild Rice and wheatberry grain salad

 

Helloooo, April. April Fools has always been one of my favorite holidays. I’m ruthless about it. My childhood pranks consisted of unplugging the fridge and turning the house upside down in the name of ‘Aprils Fools’. My teenage April fools jokes only got more cruel – from telling my mother I was pregnant to calling my father crying about dropping out of school. I was just plain awful.

I feel a little unprepared today. I usually have a list of pranks that I spend the day playing on people. But this year I have nothing. No silly string was bought in advance and no text messages were craftily worded out. I wonder if I’m loosing my touch? I think I’m just having a hard time drawing the line between what are acceptable pranks at my age? If I was to trash a house then I’d have to clean it up – sooo… jokes on me (and we all know that’s no fun). Do any of you guys have some really good pranks planned today?

Anyhow, so I feel the need to point out that April Fools has nothing to do with this salad. I just wanted to talk about April fools. And now I want to talk about salads (I can do…you know, pick topics…because it’s my blog). So we are going to talk about grain salads.

The lettuce has been looking pretty sad at my co-op these past few months so I’ve been turning to grain salads more and more for my lunches. They are portable, easy to make a big batch ahead of time, and super filling.

If I could, I would eat wheat berries for every meal. They are wonderfully chewy and filling and stuffed full of fiber. However Wyatt isn’t a big fan so I’ve been hiding them along with other grains. It’s been working out wonderfully! They give a hidden chewiness to the salad that makes you work a little harder and leaves you feeling more satisfied! This salad is on the sweet side because of the maple syrup so I would suggest serving it with a side of almond butter and toast. Or if you want something savorier, swap out the maple syrup and orange juice for balsamic vinegar. Don’t be afraid to play around here!

 

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Wild Rice & Wheat Berry Grain Salad with Dried Cranberries & Almond

  • 2/3 cup wild rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup wheat berries, rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped almond
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • juice from half an orange
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • Salt / Pepper, to taste

First, prepare the grains. Place the wheatberries in 3 cups of water and let simmer for 45 minutes. Place the wild rice in an pot with 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the wild rice water is boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 30 minutes. Drain both the pots (if there is any water leftover after the wild rice has absorbed it) and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onions and saute for about five minutes (or until softened). Add in the garlic and saute for another minute. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix the wild rice, wheat berries, and onion mixture with the rest of the ingredients. Serve right away or stick in the fridge for an hour to help the flavors meld together.

 

Wild Rice and wheat berries

 

PS – Want to turn this lunch salad into dinner? Why not stuff a roasted acorn squash with it?

Lentil Meatball Subs

Posted on: March 22, 2013

Lentil Meatball Subs

 

Lentils are known for being a good source of protein, increasing energy, helping with digestion, maintaining good cholesterol, and so many other important dietary needs. So, of course, these inciting benefits make me want to cram as much lentil’s into my diet as possible. Although I enjoy a big bowl of Lentil soup now and then, my palette often longs for some variety. So I’m on a new hunt to conquer more lentil recipes without taking the easy way out and making soup. This recipe was my first attempt on this new journey. And damn – it is delicious!

I made a sub out of these with delicious meatballs but I don’t plan on stopping there. With the leftovers there are talks of spaghetti and ‘meatballs’ or ‘mostacholi’ bakes. Also, I cannot wait to make these again in appetizer form and serve them on cute little sticks with a Sweet Pepper Aoili or a cilantro dipping sauce. The options are endless with these little balls!

These do take a little time because there are several rounds of cooling processes but it’s totally worth it. And these freeze super well! The recipe below easily feeds 4-6 so if there are only 2 of you then I’d suggest freezing the rest for an easy spaghetti weeknight meal.

 

 Lentil Meatball Subs

 

Lentil Meatball Subs

Adapted from The New York Time’s Wellness Blog

For the meatballs:

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs

 

For the subs:

  • Tomato Sauce (I used my homemade sauce)
  • Baguette
  • Gouda Cheese (fresh mozzarella would be wonderful too)
  • Fresh basil or oregano, for garnish

 

Place the lentils in a saucepan with 8 cups of water. Let the water come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft but not falling apart. Remove from heat and drain. Let cool.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and let cook for about ten minutes (or until they begin to brown). Next, add in the garlic, thyme, and a little bit of salt. Let cook for another minutes. Add tomato paste and stir for three minutes. Then add in the mushroom and continue to cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

Combine the cooled lentils with the cooked vegetable and add the Parmesan, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 13×9 inch pan. Using clean hands, roll the mixture into golf ball size (smaller if you want to use them as appetizers) balls and place on greased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs start to brown on top.

To assemble: Take two pieces of baguette and slice them down the middle (but leave a little piece at the bottom still attached). Press the baguette open and stick slices of Gouda on each bottom followed by meatballs and sauce. Stick under the broiler for a minute or until the cheese has melted. Top with fresh basil or oregano and server fresh!

I served mine with Parmesan Thyme Sweet Potatoes and it was fantastic!

 

Kale, Tomato, & Garlic Breadsticks

Posted on: March 19, 2013

Kale, Tomato, and Garlic Breadsticks

These breadsticks are a product of a frustrating juicer clean up experience. And by frustrating I mean the twenty minutes I spent scrubbing it’s inside parts trying to get green stains out. And then the other twenty minutes I spent scrubbing the kitchen counter to remove the orange carrot stains. And then finally the last ten minutes which consisted of scorching my hands with hot water trying to get all the last bits of color off of my own hands. Through this process I kept thinking to myself ‘Never again will I wait until my lunch break to clean up my morning juice’ which then was followed by thoughts of ‘these stains are crazy. Does it stain the inside of my stomach like this?’ and then ‘I bet this is how they make that fun colored pasta’ and finally ‘wait..I bet I could make fun colored doughs!’

And there you have it. The next day I set out of make dye juices out of carrots, kale, and beets. I didn’t end up following through the the beet one though…I know it would have made the most beautiful color dough but I couldn’t do it. I can not stand the smell of beets (let alone the taste) and knew the sticks would go straight to the trash if I even attempted to try it. And then my hands would smell like beets. And my beet stained hands would be reminders of the horrible earthy smell [sorry, beet lovers. I can not relate to you on this one]. I also ended up wanting a deeper red than the carrot juice gave so I ended up using tomato paste which worked wonders. And lastly, I played around with all sorts of toppings – poppy seed, garlic, parmesan, sesame seeds, and fresh herbs. The results were an array of fun colored breadsticks all with individual flavor profiles. No two sticks the same…which made it challenging to not want to sample them all.

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All in all – my favorites were the kale poppy seed, tomato paremsan, and garlic thyme ones. These would make pretty party appetizers or go along perfectly with pizza. In fact, the basic dough recipe is my favorite pizza dough so you could totally just double that part and use half the dough for pizza. Just saying – I’ll take any excuse to eat pizza.

Make these thicker if you like your breadsticks doughy and soft. I personally was going for a cracker feel so I made them thin and let them sit out for a few hours.

 

Kale Tomato Garlic Breadsticks

 

Garlic, Tomato, & Kale Breadsticks

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3+ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • a bunch of kale
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • assortment of toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, parmesan, garlic, herbs, spices, etc)

Whisk together the yeast, 1 Tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water and let stand for ten minutes or until the yeast has become a thick foam.

Stir together 1 1/2 cups of flour and salt. Add yeast mixture and the rest of the water (3/4 cup) and stir until smooth. Add another half a cup of flour and mix. If the dough is sticking to your hands then it’s too moist so add a bit more flour and if it’s too dry then add a bit more water (try to keep on the stickier side since you’ll be adding a bit more flour as you knead).

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let dough rise for an hour or until it’s doubled.

While it’s raising, press washed kale through a juicer to create a few tablespoons of juice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and keep the two parts you aren’t working with covered in the bowl (this will help the dough from drying out).

On a floured surface, fold in the minced garlic to the first part of the dough. Knead the dough until garlic is speckled throughout. Roll the dough into a 9×13 rectagle and use a cookie cutter to cut 5 long strips. Pick up a strip, twist it, and transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the strips.

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On a very floured surface (this is important because we are going to be adding more liquid to the dough which will make the dough sticky and will most likely need to be adding more flour), place another 1/3 of the dough and pour 1 tablespoon of kale juice over it. Start folding the dough into itself and add more kale juice (1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough is at your desired color consistency. Make sure to add more flour if the dough starts to get too sticky.

Roll out the dough into a 13×9 rectangle and cut into 5 strips with a cookie cutter. Twist each strip by hand and transfer to your greased baking sheet.

Lastly, knead 1 tablespoon at a time of the tomato paste into the rest of the dough. Knead until the color is evenly distributed (adding more paste if you want a darker color) and roll out into a 13×9 strip. Cut into 5 pieces, twist each piece by hand, and transfer to a greased baking sheet (you may need to start a second sheet at this point).

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Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top of the sticks and top with desired toppings. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden at the top.

Serve warm or let sit overnight for a cracker-like texture.
Song Pairing:

Basics: Homemade Tomato Sauce

Posted on: March 7, 2013

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I’m not going to lie to you. It’s the last leg of winter and I am feeling as uninspired by food as is heavenly possible. I’m over root vegetables. And citrus cakes. And winter squash curry. At first, I was pretty bummed out by this realization. But in retrospect – it happens and it’s a good learning experience to look for inspiration in more than just pretty produce and cleverly flavored recipe combinations.

So, I am taking this lull as an opportunity to hone in on basics in the kitchen. If you’ve ever owned a food blog then you’ve probably noticed that there are certain standards that are expected of you. You’ve probably been at a gathering or in a kitchen with someone while they were cooking and everyone turned to you for advice. “Oh! Shelly owns a food blog – ask her!”. I mean, yes, I have an unhealthy obsession with food but that does not make me the best cook in the kitchen. Heck. The whole reason I started this blog was to push me to become a better cook.

Sometimes the goals off VV can get lost in the trends of fun flavor pairings and exotic ingredients. So, as mentioned, this is my opportunity to hone in on basics ranging from nut butter to standardizing a soup recipe to making pasta sauce. The Kitchn recently posted a few articles about recipes you should know by heart. Do you have a basic pizza dough recipe you always turn to? Or minestrone recipe? Or a mindless recipe work that you can just whip up without having to read through 3 pages full of instructions? Knowing a few recipes and basic kitchen skills will help you to be confident next time everyone turns to you in the kitchen.

Often times we get so used to the convenience of buying things at the store that we forget about how simple they really are. I was reminded of this when making vegetable stock and again with this pasta sauce. Did you know you can make your own pasta sauce in about the same amount of time it will take to boil that big pot of water and cook your pasta? Crazy! And you can probably make it with ingredients right from your pantry.

So, instead of tackling that daunting step-by-step on how to make your next elaborate meal…why don’t you take an evening to perfect your own tomato sauce recipe that can be replicated over and over again?

 

 

[Oh and side note. I've also been taking this time to do a little clean up around VV. I've put some energy into giving VV's Facebook Page a small makeover and started re-doing my 'Recipe' page [which is a loooong ongoing process]. If your into random recipe suggestions, links to weird / funny / encouraging articles, and the occasional puppy pic – then head on over to Facebook and like VV. Okay, that was my oooonly and last plug-in for the day. But…to be fair, I don’t have any annoying advertisements flashing all over my pages so a quick suggestion won’t ruin it. Maybe? Hopefully? Please, don’t leave!.]

Basic Tomato Sauce

  •  1 16 ounce can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme – dried or fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • red wine , optional

 

tomatosauce4

 

Step one: Chop and prepare your veggies / herbs.

 

tomatosauce3

 

Step 2: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add onions and saute until translucent (about five minutes). Add garlic and saute for another minute.

 

tomatosauce2

 

Step 3: Add wine (if using) and turn heat up to high. Let the wine simmer until almost all the liquid is evaporated. Next, add in the tomatoes and use your [clean hands] to break apart the tomatoes (I like my sauce chunky but it all depends on personal preference). Let simmer under the sauce is thick and has reached your desired consistency.

Serve over pasta, ravioli, gnocci, or on homemade pizza!

 

tomato sauce

 

Coconut Curried Carrot Soup with Spiced Chickpeas

Posted on: February 21, 2013

carrotsoup

 

This is usually the part of winter where I get fed up. At this point, I am over root vegetables and kale salads and chili and stews. At this point, I’m usually throwing in the towel and ordering take out, frozen pizzas, or milkshakes for dinner. It’s that last leg before spring food hits the produce isle and I can’t help but find it hard to stay inspired after four months of the same thing being in season.

Not this year. This year I was determined to not get bored with dinners. This year, I constnaly have been reminding myself how much I long for minestrone or curry when it’s 90 degrees out. This year I’ve added fun new techniques to my winter routine – like my tagine and slow cooker. I’ve added things into my soups to make them more interesting – like those insanely delicious goat cheese croutons.

And now I’m back with another soup recipes with a fun addition: spiced chickpeas. These chickpeas are…woah. It was hard to save them for dinner because there was so much munching I should have been making the soup. Wash the vegetables, eat a few chickpeas, simmer, eat a few chickpea, season, eat a few chickpeas. You get the idea. So addicting.

I’m pretty excited to start adding these chickpeas to my afternoon snack routine. It will be a nice change from greek yogurt or nuts. I found this great resource of different seasonings for your chickpeas over at MPMKs – cannot wait to try them all!

 

 

thaicarrotsoup

 

Coconut Curried Carrot Soup with Spiced Chickpeas

  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 1 15 ounce can of coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • Salt / Pepper, to taste
  • Feta, optional

 

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash of salt

 

To make the chickpeas: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the ingredients together and put in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.

 To make the soup: Heat olive oil over medium in a large saucepan. Add onions and saute until translucent (about ten minutes). Add the carrots and cook for another five minutes. Pour in the stock, coconut milk, ginger, and curry powder. Cover and cook for about ten minutes (or until the carrots are soft).

Once all the vegetables are soft, remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Season with salt, pepper, and maybe a little hot sauce (if you like a kick). Top with feta and chickpeas.

 

Cilantro Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrots & Chickpeas

Posted on: January 23, 2013

I have had a seriously absurd addiction to couscous lately. Ever since I received that tagine for Christmas, I’ve been throwing everything over the stuff. My go to for dinner is often times roasting whatever veggies / beans / tofu I have on hand with garlic then throwing it over some type of starch. It used to be rice or pasta but lately… it’s been all about the couscous. This has actually caused a battle in our house…Wyatt is a basmati rice lover and he has not happy about all this couscous trend. It’s been a fun challenge to see who can get to the simmering water first and what gets thrown in.

I ate this salad warm and also cold the next day (which was probably even more flavorful the couscous and veggies absorbed the dressing). This salad is a ridiculously delicious lunch and super portable (cannot wait to start bringing it on picnics). Feel free to substitute whatever veggies you have on hand and experiment! Root vegetables seem to be the appropriate option this time of year but I cannot wait to try a summer version with roasted tomatoes, corn, and basil.

The carrots are roasted in olive oil and honey which helps bring out the tiniest hint of sweet in the overall salad. The chickpeas are a great addition (warm or cold) and help to keep you feeling full for longer. Feel free to experiment with other beans you have on hand as well.

 

CoussousSalad

 

 Cilantro Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrots & Chickpeas

  • 4 carrots, sliced into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (or agave to make vegan)
  • 1 preserved lemon, skin only and sliced very thinly (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked
  • 1 cup couscous

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, divided
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 1/8 cup olive oil (may need a little more to thin out the dressing)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • dash of paprika
  • salt/pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combines the carrots, 3 garlic cloves (whole), half the olive oil, honey, and a dash of salt in a bowl. Spread out into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until the carrots are browned and tender (I like mine with a little crunch but keep in for longer if you like them more roasted). Remove from oven and let cook slightly. Once cool enough to touch, squeeze out the garlic from the outer cloves and mix in with the carrots.

Make the dressing while carrots are roasting: In a small food processor, blend together half the cilantro (1/4 of a bunch), cumin seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic clove, and paprika. Pulse until a smooth paste has formed. Add in more olive oil if it is too think. Season to taste and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a small saucepan over medium. Add in the couscous and cook until toasted (about five minutes – stir frequently). Add in 1 cup of boiling water and simmer for about ten minutes or until the water is absorbed and the couscous is cooked all the way through.

Combine the couscous, carrots, chickpeas, preserved lemon, leftover cilantro and dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy warm or stick in the fridge for a refreshing snack later.

 

couscous2

 

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Posted on: January 15, 2013

HoneyBourbonBarbecueSauce

If close up pictures of french fries doesn’t make you want to ditch your soup dinner plans and run out to the nearest diner then I do not know what does. Sorry that I just ruined your diet with this photo. Don’t worry, you can start again tomorrow.

I grew up a firm believer that ketchup was for eggs and barbecue sauce was for french fries. Although I’ve grown out of lathering ketchup all over my morning scramble, I still cannot resist a big side of tangy barbecue sauce to accompany my french fries and tofu nuggets (yes, I am guilty – I do enjoy those processed fake chicken nuggets that you can find in you organic freezer section at Kroger).

Although I am known to still down the occasional fry or chicken-less nuggets, I do try avoid the processed and high-fructose packed condiments that fill our grocery stores. Have your REALLY looked on the back of that condiment jar in a while? It’s a rather upsetting sight. Instead, I usually whip up a batch our this barbecue sauce  and it usually holds me through all summer (and I participate in A LOT of grill outs every summer).

I decided to mix it up and try a new bbq sauce this time around. It’s definitely not the traditional bbq sauce you are used to (I’d suggest using this recipe if you are looking for that) but it’s a great sauce to use for special occasions. It’s a wonderful way to add new flavor to your condiments or to fancy up a side of fries at a party. The bourbon gives it the inevitable and sophisticated alcoholic aroma while the honey helps sweeten and tone it down.

I made this in my slow cooker so I could walk away and not worry about it. But it would probably be made just as easy in a saucepan by throwing in all your ingredients and letting it simmer down to your desired consistency (bet it wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes!).

 

Honey-bourbon-barbecue-sauce

 

Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • dash of hot sauce, optional
  • salt, to taste

 

Heat the olive oil over medium in a small skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent (about five or so minutes). Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and turn the slow cooker on low. Let cook for 8 hours. If the sauce is too thin after 8 hours, remove the lid and let cook down to desired consistency.

Use an immersion blender to blend into a smooth sauce or leave the small chunks of onions (they are delicious!).

Serve right away or transfer to an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. If you’d like to keep it longer, freeze it in ice cube trays for easy access to later.

 

honey-bourbon-barbecue-sauce

 

 

Because Nobunny is both saucy and probably a bit alcoholic (yeah -  not really sure what that means either):

Harissa Paste

Posted on: January 4, 2013

Happy Friday! Any big plans for the weekend? I didn’t start my work week until Wednesday so this week kind of feels like cheating…did I really earn weekend already? I could get use to this 3 day week thing! As for my weekend? The only thing I have planned to to make some homemade ravioli (now if I could only decide on ONE filling option…).

Continuing with my New Years resolution to eat less processed food, I decided to make my own harissa paste instead of heading to the specialty market to pick up a bottle of it. I needed some harissa paste because I received a beautiful Tagine for Christmas and have been cooking in it non-stop. It’s such an easy, delicious, and ridiculously healthy way to whip up a batch full of hearty veggies drenched in flavorful Middle Eastern or African spices.

So what exactly is harissa paste? It’s a condiment made out of chiles that will have varying ingredients depending on location. It’s been known to be used in African, Moroccan, and several other Middle Eastern countries. I added a few teaspoons of it to a butternut squash, raisin, and shallots combination I made the other day and it was delightful. I plan to use the leftover paste as a condiment on sandwiches (adding a little bit of honey bring the spice level down without compromising the wonderful flavor). I’ve also heard of peopling dipping fresh bread into it or adding it to cooked couscous.

This recipe can also be made with fresh chiles (just omit the soaking process). I am eager to grow some in my garden this summer so we can experiment more!

 

 

HarissaPaste

 

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Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Posted on: December 12, 2012

So I curated (doesn’t that sound so much more important than planned?!) 90 percent of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner menu this year. The only thing I did not pick out was the Wild Rice Stuffing which my aunt made. And it was probably my favorite thing that was served that day. I don’t really have much experience with wild rice and I was blown away by the added texture it gave to the stuffing.

And so this experience made we realize I want more wild rice in my life which led to me making these stuffed squashes. And let me tell you….this stuffed acorn were great but I probably ended up eating 50% of the wild rice mixture before I could even get around to sticking  it in the acorns. It was chewy and savory and sweet (thanks to the maple syrup!) and oh so addicting. I’m already dreaming of quick winter salads that are really just a healthy (throw the term ‘salad’ at the end of anything and it becomes guilt-free) way to talking about this wild rice mixture!

 

 

Anyhow, this is great as a side dish or even as a main vegetarian entree at your next dinner party (which, according to The Kitchn, are dead these days)!

 

 

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serve 2 as a side. Adapted from My Daily Morsel
  • 1 acorn squash, sliced in half
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (I used my own from this recipe)
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries (or any dried fruit), chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Juice from half an orange
  • salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and place squash cut side down. Cover the squash with tin foil and roast for 40 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

In the meantime, prepare the inside. Heat oil over medium in a large saucepan. Add onions and saute until soft (about five minutes). Next, add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, wild rice, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until all the stock has evaporated/ been absorbed (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Remove from heat and fold in the pecans, scallions, cherries, maple syrup, and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper. Once the acorn squash is finished cooking, stuff with the wild rice mixture and enjoy warm!

 

 

Black Bean & Wheatberry Chili

Posted on: December 3, 2012

 

Morning, Morning. Can you believe it is already December? It sure does not feel like it. I don’t know about where you live but I’m located in the Midwest and we are suppose to have some 70 degree weather today (such a weird introduction to winter…). Not that I’m complaining but I would have considered making something a little more…light and refreshing had I known it was going to be so warm. Ah well, this chili is oh so delicious regardless of the temperature.

I’m not going to lie. I am really proud of this recipe. It’s packed with so much nutrients I can hardly wrap my head around it. We are talking loads of protein, fiber, vitamin C, iron, potassium, vitamin A, etc etc etc. The list goes on and if you make the beans from scratch… this chili is packed full of fresh and non-processed foods as well. I’ve never felt soooo good about gobbling down a bowl of food. And not to mention, it is absolutely delicious. The wheat berries give it slight chewy texture while the cocoa powder (learned that trick thanks to a very good friend of mine) bring a new complexity to the flavor.

Oh and don’t worry! If my over zealous attitude towards super healthy eating is freaking you out – I made some oh so irresistible Corn Cheddar biscuits to go with packed full of two sticks of butter and loads of gooey cheese [recipe on that to follow tomorrow!]

This recipe is vegan (unless you add cheese and sour cream) and makes about six serving. You could even double the recipe and plan to have leftovers for lunch the rest of the week.

 

 

Black Bean & Wheatberry Chili

adapted from Eating Well
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups black beans, cooked (I used dried but feel free to use canned)
  • 1 24 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked wheat berries, cooked*
  • Juice of 1 lime

 

  • Avocado, optional
  • sour cream, optional
  • cilantro for garnish, optional

Heat olive oil over medium in a large pot. Add in the onion, carrots, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes or until all the vegetables has softened. Next, add in the tomatoes, broth, black beans, and cocoa powder. Bring the chili to a bowl, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add wheat berries and let cook for another two minutes.

Remove from heat and squeeze in lime juice. Serve with garnish options (avocado, sour cream cilantro, plain yogurt, etc).

*To cook 1 1/2 cups of Wheatberries: Rinse 3/4 cup of berries and letting them simmer for 45 minutes or until softened.

 

 

 

 

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Posted on: November 26, 2012

Did everyone [From the US] have a wonderful long weekend? Are you all busy Cyber Monday shopping for the best holiday deals instead of working right now? Don’t worry. I won’t tell! I would be as well but I spent all my money on Black Friday (yup – I’m one of those that goes out at Midnight to save myself 50 bucks). Ah well. It’s all part of the adventure, right?

Oh! Please disregard the shamble that is my ‘recipes’ page right now. It’s in the process of being re-vamped and should hopefully be back to normal tomorrow. Cool? Cool and thanks for being so patient!

Anyhow, wanna talk hummus? Remember when I made that amazing Spicy Jalapeno Corn Hummus? Damn, that stuff was sooooooo good. Well, I’m back with more funky flavors and this one might take the cake. The soft sweet potatoes create the perfect texture for a creamy and flavorful dip. Seriously, this stuff is crazy good. And smother it on top of those homemade Sesame and Poppyseed Crackers and you are golden!

Impress your guests at your next holiday party with not only homemade crackers but homemade dip as well! Or save it all for yourself….that is what I did.

 

 

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (I made mine from dried beans but feel free to use canned)
  • 4 Tablespoons tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (you may need more if the hummus comes out thick)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of cinnamon
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lower to medium low and add in the sweet potatoes. Cook until softened (about 10 to 15 minutes). Strain and let cool.

In a large blender or with a food processor, blend all the ingredients together until a desired consistency is reached. Taste and add more olive oil if dry, more sriracha if not spicy enough for you, or more lemon juice to bring out the flavors more.

Serve with homemade crackers!

 

 

 

Rosemary & Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread

Posted on: November 13, 2012

Well, I think I’ve finally accepted that winter is here and we won’t be experiencing any more 70 degree days. Ah, this a very bittersweet realization. On one hand, it means endless cups of chai tea, lazy mornings under the covers with favorite novels, all day bake-a-thons, and soup soup soup. On the other hand, this means six more months before lake adventures, cross country road trips, and waterfall picnics.

And with this new acceptance comes a soup recipe! I’ve already made a few soups this season (see: curried butternut squash soup) but the weather had me craving a hardly soup packed full of starchy potatoes and earthy flavorings. This soup did the trick! Along with some simple (and delicious) rustic bread, this soup filled us up and will be making leftover appearances for the next two days!

As for the rustic bread…so simple and soft with a crisp outer crust. I’ve discovered (after trying it for the first time with my Muesli Bread) is the trick to REALLY delicious bread baking is to have a pot of steaming water under the bread while it’s cooking. This helps keep the bread soft and full of moisture. Oh so delicious! Perfect side to this soup. And let’s be honest, the only reason we even make soup is for an excuse to make homemade bread to go with it. Right? Or is that just me?

So what I am are trying to say is you should embrace that the cold and darkness is forcing you to stay inside and spend a few hours in your kitchen…perhaps whipping up this comforting and hardy dish?

 

 

Rosemary & Vegetable Soup with Rustic Bread

For the bread:

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon of active yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water

 

For the soup:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 springs of rosemary
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes (14 ounces)
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped (with stems removed)
  • Salt/Pepper

 

Start with the bread: In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water and let sit for five minutes (this will give it some time to start foaming and activating). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the water/yeast mixture. Mix until combined (the batter will be VERY sticky – don’t worry! It’s suppose to be like this). Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place for an hour. [Start on the soup while this is rising]

Once it has doubled in size, knead the dough a few times and move to an oiled baking sheet. Let rise on this sheet for a half an hour. Sprinkle with flour and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a cast iron skillet or pan on the bottom rack of the oven and let it heat during the preheating process. Once the oven is ready, place the dough (on the baking sheet) on the top shelf of the oven and pour a cup of warm water in the skillet below (it will steam and this is exactly what we want to happen). Let cook for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the soup: Heat the olive in a large stockpot over medium. Add in the onions and cook for about five minutes (or until translucent). Next, add in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add cubed potatoes and celery and then season with salt / pepper. Next, combine in the tomatoes, rosemary (throw them in whole and then take out the twigs at the end), white wine, water, and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a bowl, cover, and lower to a simmer. Let simmer for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Once ready to serve, chop the kale and add at the last moment (this keeps the kale a little crispy) and season again with salt/pepper.

Serve warm with fresh bread!

 

 

 

 

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Posted on: October 10, 2012

So I should start by letting you know that I’m a produce addict. Between our weekly CSA box, Farmer’s market, and local co-op, we probably spend more money monthly on organic vegetables than we do on all our utility bills combined. This means that we end up with a garbage full of scraps almost every week. The “right” thing to do would be to start composting but for many [including us] this does not seem like an option. For 1, we rent so the idea of starting a compost for 9 months and then leaving the remains for the next tenant to deal with is just rude (could you imagine having to deal with a compost pile if you didn’t know what you were doing?). And secondly, we don’t have a proper place for it. Our backyard is fenced in but that is Tuko//Taco//Teekee territory and even if we got a bin for it, our little puppy is a nosy creature and would find ways to munch down on composting parts (which would not be the healthiest for the little guy).

Anyhow, I feel bad about not being able to compost. The amount of scraps we create is discouraging and I do believe that there is a lot of nutrition tossed away with those onion ends, zucchini peels, and herbs that have sat out for just too long. Luckily, I discovered that you can use those scraps to ma

ke vegetable broth. It’s quite simple: you just throw your scraps into a zip lock bag in the freezer and whip up some broth when it’s full. This is a truly great time to do this with soup season approaching!

A few reasons why we think you should make your own broth:

1. It’s a way to use up all those vegetable scraps and not waste those ‘on-the-verge’ of spoiling vegetables (just throw them in the freezer when they are too far gone to eat raw but not yet moldy)

2. You know exactly what is in your broth and don’t have to worry about preservatives or other chemicals sneaking into your food

3. It makes using vegetable broth so easy! You don’t have to worry about using up only half a can of because you have a stock pile in the freezer that allows you to only take out what you need

4. The broth will stay good in the freezer for several months (I’ve read different things about the exactly length of time but I’ve heard anywhere between 3 and 5 months. If you are unsure if it’s still good, use your nose! It’s the best judge)

Well, there ya go. Are you convinced yet? I mean, come on! I know you are planning to make loads of soup in the next couple of months…why not have fresh vegetable stock easily accessible for you? I’ve done a lot of research on what you can/can’t freeze and everyone seems to have a different opinion so here is a general list that I use (feel free to just google it if there is a specific vegetable that you aren’t sure about):

  • Onion//leeks//scallions (red will dye your broth a bit pink which I don’t mind but if you do then just omit)
  • Peppers
  • eggplant
  • root vegetables (beets will also dye the broth purple – again, omit if you aren’t into that)
  • mushrooms
  • herbs (basil, sage, rosemary, cilantro, etc) – this includes the stems!
  • garlic
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • fennel
  • celery

Got it? Easy. Now just start a small stash in your freezer and make some broth when you’ve accumulated around 4 cups. It literally takes the same amount of time it would take to boil some dried beans (you DO make your chickpeas//black beans from dried, don’t you? Maybe I should do a post on that topic as well soon). I usually prep my food for the week every Sunday afternoon and made the broth along side cooking some black beans. So easy and only takes about an hour.

PS- I should note that you don’t need to use frozen vegetables by any means! If you just want to make some broth (not out of leftover scraps), just pick up 4 cups worth of organic produce at your local co-op and follow the same directions below.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

  • 4-5 cups of vegetable scraps (see list above), chopped
  • Flavoring (bay leaf, a few peppercorns, herbs, etc), optional
  • garlic clove, optional
  • Tomato chunks or 1 Tablespoon tomato paste, optional

 

 

Place all ingredients in a large pot and cover with cold water (just enough so all the veggies are covered). Bring water to a boil and let simmer for an hour (don’t let it simmer for much more or it starts to lose flavor.

Strain the vegetable mixture and discard the scraps. Let cool completely and either use right away or freeze/refrigerate in quantities that will suit you best (I froze them in ice trays and just made note that 6 broth cubes = half a cup).

Store in fridge for up to 5 days and in freezer for up to 3 months.

Use in all your favorite soups, stews, curries, and risotto including Curried Butternut Squash Soup, Fall Curry, and French Onion Soup.

Chickpea Magazine // Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese & Corn

Posted on: September 20, 2012

 

I have some very exciting news for you guys! I am excited to announce that the new Chickpea Fall issue came out online today! I am even more excited to tell you guys that I have a 6 page spread in it! My article is about the lack of veganism in the United States Midwest and how Bloomington, Indiana is an exception to that. In addition, this issue is filled with mouth-watering fall recipes and gorgeous beach picnics. I don’t think I’ve ever fell in love with a magazine as much as I always seem to fall for Chickpea. They have such a hip aesthetic and beautiful photography that I wish my whole life could be lived through this magazine. Don’t believe me? Go check out a preview of the issue for free online or purchase a physical copy on their website.

___________

And now, back to business! Okay, remember yesterday when I made a deal with you that I get the rest of the week to still talk about yummy summer recipes? Well, today is not an exception and these delicious stuffed peppers are everything you want your beautiful {late} summer afternoons to be filled with. They are fresh, flavorful, and just the right amount of filling. I’d suggest to serve them with a grilled veggie burger or along side a stack of quesadillas.

 

 

Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese & Corn

  • 2 bell peppers, sliced in half with the seeds removed
  • 4 ounces of goat cheese
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sweet corn kernels
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped

First, we must roast the peppers! You can either do this over a gas grill if you have one handy or in the oven under the broiler setting. I opted to do the broiler setting and just put them under the broiler on each side for about 5 minutes (but check often because broilers are tricky things and we don’t want your peppers burning to a crisp just because my broiler doesn’t get as hot as yours!). You want them to have blackened spots on both side. Remove from heat and stick in a plastic bag until they cool. Once cooled, remove and peel the burnt outer skin. Set aside.

While waiting for the peppers to cool, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add the onions and saute for about 5 to 7 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Then add the butter, corn, salt, and pepper. Saute for another 5 minutes or until the corn is cooked all the way through. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice.

Divide the goat cheese evenly between the 4 pieces and spread along the inside. Top with the corn mixture and garnish with cilantro.

Serve warm and enjoy with a delicious beergarita!

 

Panzanella

Posted on: September 19, 2012

Okay, so I feel a bit behind the times posting a {gasp} tomato-themed recipe while the rest of the blog sphere is bustling with pumpkin flavored baked goods and spiced ciders. I guess this probably tells a lot about my character. I spent all summer dragging my feet and then the crisp, fall-feeling air kicked in last week was a slap in the face. It was a reminder that there are still plenty of summer produce recipes I wanted to conquer. So…here we are…scrambling at the last minute trying to fit every last possible heirloom tomato, sliver of basil, and piece of zucchini bread into my diet before the first frost comes. And thus, I am asking you to stick with me…give me THIS week (and maybe weekend) to get summer out of my system and I promise I will start fresh next week with pumpkin infused everything. Cool? Cool.

Anyhow, the main reason I probably took so long to make these recipe was coming to terms with using my day old bread in a salad. Don’t get me wrong….I loooove salads but old bread is meant for french toast. Everyone knows that! And the struggle between making a salad and french toast…was well not really a struggle for most of the summer. Sorry arugula but cinnamon and butter win every time. Well…every time up until now. After making this last week, I wish I had been more open to sharing my stale bread all summer long…maybe stocking up on twice as much bread to distribute evenly between sweet and savory. We could have come to some compromise had I known this was going to be pretty much the best salad ever to exist.

This recipe reminds me of a salad form of bruschetta (probably for good reason…you smart smart Italian chefs!). This is a huge relief for me because I LOVE the flavors of bruschetta but am not allowed to make it myself. I can’t make it myself because my old roommate and very very good friend makes the best bruschetta ever to exist. And this is probably due to the fact that she lived in Italy for a short period (and Belgium and South Africa and Jordan…sheesh, putting my cultural experiences to shame). Sooo… it’s awesome having a friend who can make pretty much the best summer dish ever but it means that my attempts are just pointless. And thus, this is a great alternative to trying to get my bruschetta fix without having to actually compete with Ella’s bruschetta.

 

Panzanella

  • 1/2 loaf of old bread, sliced into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into 1 inch cubes and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon capers
  • 1/3 cup basil, roughly chopped

 

dressing:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt/pepper, to taste

 

To make the dressing: whisk all the ingredient together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add the bread and toss until it is completely coated. Saute until browned and crispy on all sides. Add salt and toss to coat. Remove from heat.

In a large salad bowl, combine the pepper, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, capers, and toasted bread. Fold in the capers and salad dressing right before serving.

Munch down.

How easy was that?

 

Baked Potato Chips with Avocado Dip

Posted on: September 12, 2012

Oh man, it’s only Wednesday? This weekend needs to come sooner so I can spend time browsing the Farmer’s Market, drinking cocktails with my Ma, and making pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

However, with that being said, I am enjoying my week. I’ve been waking up early everyday to do Yoga before work which has been very energizing. And last night we went out to see one of our favorite musicians – Nobunny…which was both amusing and enjoyable. And I have a craft night scheduled tomorrow to finally made those billy buds I’d been thinking about for 4 months now. I must say…not too shabby of a week so far. How is your week coming?

Oh! And…before it becomes too much of old news and pointless, I have pictures that I was going to share from my “birthday hike” last Tuesday. Wyatt, Tuko, and I headed a bit north to check out a state park we had never been to. It was a bit muggy and buggy but none-the-less beautiful and quiet. In fact, we did not come across one person on our whole journey through the park…perhaps this place is a beautiful secret that many people around here have still not yet caught onto!

And we all know that after you go on a several mile hike that you need a post-hiking snack….right? Or is that just me? Anyhow, we whipped up these baked potato chips with avocado dip for an afternoon snack. And let me tell you….damn! I wish that I could spread this avocado dip on EVERYTHING. Think…guacamole but creamier. And dipping crispy, warm chips that were fresh from the oven was a perfect accompaniment.

Baked Potato Chips with Avocado Dip

Adapted from Food For My Family
  • 2 russet potatoes, thinly (and evenly) sliced
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • Salt/pepper

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chives
  • 1 Tablespoon dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients together. Place in fridge until ready to serve (the longer it sits the more time this will give the flavors to blend together!).

To make the fries: preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sliced potatoes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush both sides of the slices with oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in 15 minute segments and flip every 15 minutes. It took me about 40 minutes for all the potatoes but I checked frequently and removed the thinner ones that cooked faster.

Enjoy with yummy dipping sauce as a snack! Or enjoy alongside some Veggie Sloppy Joes, Southwestern Sliders, or Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesedillas!

Veggie Fritters with Tomato-Corn Relish

Posted on: September 7, 2012

This has been a very stressful Friday. Wyatt and I were suppose to go camping last weekend for my birthday but the weather forecast had other plans for us (in the form of lazy days consisting of DIY projects and Game of Thrones). Although our weekend ended up different from we had planned…it was still fantastic. Plus, we figured we would just try camping again this weekend. So as of Monday, we were thinking we would go camping this weekend. And then Thursday rolled around and no planning still had been done. And when we realized this…we decided it was just too much work to try to bother with. And then we packed the car today on our lunch break. And then on the way back to work from our lunch break we discussed maybe not going. So now…it’s an hour until Wyatt gets off work and we will have no idea if we are going away for the weekend or not. Ah well…either way, it was be a spontaneous adventure or a productive weekend at home..both win, wins!

Anyhow, as a way to avoid thinking about the inevitable “no, you pick” conversation that is in my very near future, I am going to write to you guys about these delicious veggie fritters I whipped up for dinner the other night. These were a great way to use up a bunch of produce I had in my CSA box and I was able to only fried up half the batch (which was the perfect amount for two) and saved the rest for the next day.

We ate these as a main course but these would be great as an appetizer if you are having a party!

 

 

Veggie Fritters with Tomato- Corn Relish

Veggie Fritters:

  • 2 russet potatoes, grated
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs, light beaten
  • Olive oil

 

For the Relish:

  • 3 cups corn
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt/pepper

 

To make the relish: Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use (make sure to do this first so that it has time to absorb all the flavors).

Wrap a towel around the grated potato, carrots, and zucchini and squeeze out any excess water. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and add in the onion, flour, eggs, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop patties onto skillet. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side (or until browned). Remove from skillet and let drain on paper towel while you prepare the rest of the mixture.

Serve with delicious relish on top!

 

 

BBQ Eggplant Tacos with Peach Salsa and Fennel Sour Cream

Posted on: August 22, 2012

 

I finally finished reading Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin. It was a super fast read with lots of informative tips about how to photography food. I suggest it for any food blogging looking to expand their photography skills. There are loads of great tips that I will be incorporating into my photo taking.

 

On another note – If your CSA box is anything similar to mine then you are probably overflowing with eggplant right now. I have officially exhausted roasting and sticking them on my lunch sandwich. As in attempt to branch out, I whipped up a big batch of eggplant tacos and they were delicious! I’ve used tofu to make bbq things before but eggplant was a whole new territory. It worked out great because unlike most vegetables, eggplant has that “meaty” texture to it that almost mimics pulled pork in this recipe.

Also, I ended up cooking the fennel a tiny bit to create a more mild flavor than that sharp licorice flavor raw fennel usually has. Feel free to skip this step if you are in absolute love with the taste of fresh fennel and want to just mix in pieces of it with the sour cream

Hope everyone’s week is going well! I am off to an evening of wining and dining with some label reps.

 

 

BBQ Eggplant with Peach Salsa and Fennel Sour Cream

Inspiration from Veggie with a Cause

 

For the Eggplant:

  • 3 medium eggplants, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ~1/4 cup barbecue sauce (I used my homemade sauce)
  • Salt

 

For the Peach Salsa:

  • 2 peaches, skins removed and diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, diced
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey

 

For the Fennel Sour Cream:

  • 1 Fennel bulk, diced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • Tortillas

 

To make the eggplant: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the eggplants in two and evenly coat with olive oil and salt. Place in a single layer on baking sheet and cook for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and use a spoon to scoop out the insides. Discard the outside and massage (I used one of those little grill brushes) the bbq sauce into the eggplant filling. Place back in the oven for 15 minutes.

 

 

To make the salsa: While the eggplant is roasting, dice the peaches, jalapeno, pepper, garlic, and onion. Mix in a bowl and top with lime juice and honey. Stir until combined and stick in the fridge until ready to use.

For the sour cream: Discard the top parts of the fennel. Cut the fennel into small pieces and stick into a small saucepan. Drizzle olive oil over the top and saute over medium for about 4 minutes or until the fennel has softened. Remove from heat and let it come to room temperature. Mix it with the sour cream and stick in the fridge until ready to use.

 

Finally! Combine all ingredients into softened tortillas and munch down with a side of chips and guacamole (and maybe a beergarita!). Mmmmmm

 

Summer Vegetable Calzones

Posted on: June 28, 2012

Oh! Do you remember those delicious pizzas I made here? Well, I froze the rest of the dough and made calzones out of it yesterday! It was oh so yummy and a great way to get versatile with the dough. I don’t know about you guys but we eat pizza A LOT over here so it’s nice to  mix it up. However, since I stuck eggs and blueberries on top of our pizzas last week, I promised Wyatt that I would keep these simple. BUT believe me- next time I will be throwing in pesto, potato slices, feta, thyme, and gouda! Not a doubt in the world.

In non-food related news, we are ALMOST moved into our home and are shooting for Sunday to be our official “all moved in” date (if this 100 degree weather subsides). Honestly, we just have a bunch of clothes and plants to transfer to the place and we are set. We even slept in our new bed for the first time last night- it was like we were at a slumber party because the place does not feel like home yet. Exciting (but kind of scary!) stuff going on around here.

Summer Vegetable Calzones

Makes 4

  • 1 Pizza Dough
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 cups mozzerella cheese
  • 1 yellow zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

If you are using dough that you froze, make sure to take it out of the fridge at least four hours before and cover it in an oiled bowl. Set it in a warm place to rise and do it’s thing.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute. Next, add in the onion, pepper, and zucchini and sauté until the vegetables are tender (I cooked them for about ten minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Use a floured surface and rolling pin to roll out 4 circles (or ovals). Divide the veggie mixture into 4 parts and make a line in the center of each dough piece with them. Next, do the same for the sauce, basil, and cheeses. Finally, fold over the dough and seal by pressing a fork along the edges. I then rolled the edges to make them look pretty but it does not matter as long as it’s sealed.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Enjoy warm and gooey!

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