This month for the Improv Cooking Challenge, our ingredients were Carrots & Curry. I knew immediately that I wanted to make a soup, so I looked back through my archives and found three soup recipes that I'd previously made. I used these three recipes to help me come up with a new one: Spiced Carrot Soup with Chickpeas and Tahini, Spiced Carrot Soup with Crispy Prosciutto, and Thai Pumpkin Soup.
I started by cooking madras curry and grated ginger in olive oil (though it occurs to me now that I could have used coconut oil), then adding carrots, onion, and garlic. I seasoned with salt and cooked for 15 minutes, until the vegetables started to brown. Then I added chicken broth and coconut milk and simmered covered for 20 minutes. You can use vegetable broth to make this vegetarian/vegan.
If you've been anywhere near Instagram, you know that avocado roses are all the rage. Simple, elegant, beautiful. Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I decided to try our hands at making them, and I think they turned out pretty well!
Watch this video to learn how to do it. Melissa is much more coordinated than I am, so those are her hands you are seeing.
Or you can follow these directions: Oil a cutting board and knife with olive oil.
Oh my gosh, this cauliflower bowl is so gorgeous, and filling, and satisfying, and yummy, and healthy, and low carb, and all the things. It has a lot of different components, but they come together to make such a lovely whole. Another successful vegetarian lunch with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies.
Start by making your cauliflower "rice" (actually, start by pickling some chard stems, which was done by Melissa before I arrived). Place raw cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until chopped to the size of rice (a few larger pieces are fine) - 1/2 a large head will make 3-4 cups. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes, just to soften.
Next, heat some coconut oil in a pan and add turmeric, cumin, a pinch of cayenne, and some fresh pressed garlic. Cook for a bit to activate the spices, then add the cauliflower and stir to combine and heat through. But don't leave it on for too long - you want the cauliflower to have texture! Make sure to season with salt and pepper.
Shrimp and Strawberry? Do you think I sound crazy right now? Trust, young padawans, and learn the ways of combining sweet and savory. Rice noodles, pickled veg (and mango!), basil, mint, scallions, shrimp, and strawberries are combined in a rice wrapper for the ultimate summer freshness. Served with a delicious peanut sauce for dipping - get in my face!
I had seen a blog photo ages ago that I loved on this site, but I was scared to try it because I had never made summer rolls before and it seemed finicky. Then I was over at a friend's house for dinner and that is what we made! It was a bit tricky, but not as scary as I had imagined. She was a pro, so I asked her to help me make my shrimp and strawberry rolls. Then I looked at the recipe for the photo I loved, and wasn't a big fan of the ingredients. I wanted noodles instead of cabbage, and mango instead of bell pepper. So I switched some things around.
Then we got to work! She was skeptical of my flavor combo, but ended up loving it. You can see the progression here from back to front where I put the ingredients on in the wrong order so the pretty parts didn't show, then exploded one, then finally got some decent rolls. The good news is - it doesn't matter if you don't get the best looking rolls, they still taste amazing!
A month ago, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) asked for my help coming up with toppings for these gorgeous beet, quinoa, and black bean burgers. How could I refuse?! Before I tell you what we decided on, let me tell you about the burgers themselves.
The are firm, full of flavor, have great texture, and are a little bit smoky. Everyone always says this, but they do taste very meaty. I swear.
Veggie burgers rely on many ingredients to make a good product. They can be notoriously mushy and fall apart. This recipe seems to hit all the right notes to make a great burger. Mushrooms, onions, and beets give moisture and flavor; quinoa gives texture; and black beans and ground nuts hold it all together.
When I was assigned Melissa's blog last month for SRC, I was reminded of all the recipes of hers that I had been wanting to make. And I couldn't get my mind off of this warm potato salad with roasted broccoli and an egg vinaigrette. That vinaigrette is called "sauce gribiche", which I had never heard of before. Melissa says, "It’s an eggy French vinaigrette, apparently friends with mayonnaise, that is made from hardboiled eggs, oil, vinegar, capers, and fresh herbs." Sign me up!
First step - roast the potatoes and the broccoli. Why do I only have a photo of the potatoes? I don't know. Melissa used purple potatoes, which looked gorgeous. I couldn't find any, though, so I used red.
Meanwhile, boil the eggs. Hello, lovelies!
I was approached by a representative of Nuts.com to enter their healthy summer snack contest! Woo! People are finding my blog and I get an excuse to play with cool ingredients and make a healthy snack.
I knew I wanted to do some kind of bar, but I am not enough of a baker to create a recipe on my own, so I turned to the best baker I know - Melissa from Smells like Brownies. Together, we came up with a granola bar recipe that included cacao butter, cacao nibs, dates, hazelnuts, unsweetened coconut, almond flour, chia seeds, and oats. Sweetened only with honey, these bars are a powerhouse of energy (they also have great texture and flavor).
To get the most flavor, roast the hazelnuts at 350 for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan at 10 and 15 minutes to ensure that they roast evenly. You can then rub most of the skins off with a towel. If you really want to get rid of all of the skins, you will have to blanch them and the skins before roasting.
You will need a food processor for this recipe, but it comes together very easily. Then you just press into a pan and bake. The bars are a little crumbly, so if you aren't a fan of that - try soaking the chia seeds in a bit of water before adding them.
The real MVP of this recipe is the cacao butter. My goodness, does it smell and taste delicious. It's like vegetable oil (or more like coconut oil in terms of healthiness and uses) that tastes like chocolate - I might be a little obsessed now. You can wrap these individually to travel or to freeze. You can also sub in whatever nuts you like, add more dried fruit - whatever you want!
Oh, yeah - if you make sure to use GF oats, this is totally Gluten Free! And if you replace the honey with something like maple syrup, it's also vegan! Enjoy!
It's time for April's Secret Recipe Club reveal! I was assigned Morsels of Life. The author is an engineer, and brings her desire for efficiency to her blog. She doesn't like to use any crazy complex methods, and is loose with measurements. She writes, "Generally, if you like something, use more; if you dislike something, use less, substitute something else, or just eliminate it altogether. You’ll probably be fine." I love that. Often when I'm writing recipes, and have to try and figure out how much of something I used, I just want to write - use your best judgement. She also has pretty extensive privacy and disclosure information on her blog, which I think is admirable.
CJ's blog has a lot of Asian influence, and I really like the look of this Pork Meatball Ramen, as well as this Cha Shao Chinese BBQ Pork. For sweets, I was drawn to Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes, and Spiced Date Ice Cream (made with cashew milk!). But I ended up running out of time before leaving on a last-minute trip; so when I saw this Seared Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter and Pasta, and realized that I already had all the ingredients for it - I knew that's what I needed to make!
This was incredibly easy to make - just toss hot pasta with lemon herb compound butter, spinach, and Parmesan, then top with seared salmon and more compound butter. I used frozen Alaskan salmon, frozen spinach, and store-bought garlic butter spread (I added lemon juice and zest to it) - so this was really quick and easy. Plus (with the salmon, spinach, and protein-plus pasta), it was really healthy!
This is True Food Kitchen's Chia Seed Pudding Pudding, made with banana and coconut milk, it is one of my favorite desserts ever. I crave it, I dream about it, I love it so much! I used to stop by after working out to treat myself (it's a healthier dessert, but still sugary). And then I moved from 5 minutes away to 35 minutes away. Sad day!
So I hit the web to find a recipe to make it for myself at home and it turns out that it was incredibly easy to find! Success! Then it turned out to be incredibly easy to make, too - double success!
Please try this wonderful treat for yourself, and enjoy!
Chia Seed Pudding
adapted from Dallas News
2 1/2 to 3 large ripe bananas (divided use)
18 oz canned coconut milk, or coconut cream if you can find it (not cream of coconut, just unsweetened coconut cream)
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 small pinch kosher salt
6 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp toasted coconut chips, for garnish
Combine 2 large bananas with the coconut cream, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt in a blender. Purée until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add the chia seeds; blend on low speed to combine. Place mixture in a sealed container to set; stir after 20 minutes. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving (may be prepared to this point up to 48 hours in advance). Top with banana slices and toasted coconut chips.
One Year Ago - Apple Galette with Salted Bourbon Caramel
Two Years Ago - Miso Tahini Soup
Three Years Ago - Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Broccolini
Four Years Ago - Lasagna with Cinnamon
Five Years Ago - Spiced Pumpkin and Lamb Tagine; Thai Pumpkin Soup; Spiced Carrot Soup
It's time for another Secret Recipe Club post! This month, my assignment was The Tasty Cheapskate. Food was not a big focus for Jean growing up, neither eating it nor cooking it, which is pretty much the opposite of my childhood. Luckily all that changed for her as an adult. Now she focuses on whole foods and budget friendly family meals. She even did a challenge where she fed her 6 person family on $6 a day! Incredible!
Looking through her blog, I found a lot of yummy baked goods. Like a bunch of different pull-apart breads, but especially this coconut and lime one. Also zucchini bread with lemon or with coconut. And self frosting nutella pumpkin muffins - shut the front door! But despite all those yummy delights, what I really wanted was a nice healthy meal - so my eyes lit up when I saw this Broccoli Barley Casserole. And I was even more excited when I saw that the original recipe used farro, which I have been meaning to start using for a long time, and that it could be made in one pot.
Start by sauteing onions and garlic in a Dutch oven. Then add the farro and allow to toast a bit.
Add in frozen spinach, water, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid is almost all gone and the farro is tender but still chewy, about 20 minutes.