Dates and Dates

I just finished making some date syrup. I’ve never made it before so I hope it turned out okay. I had to make date syrup because it was granola day and we’re pretty low on maple syrup. I make granola a few times per month, enough to fill a two quart mason jar. I eat a lot of granola because it’s easy to make and I almost always have most of the ingredients on hand, so it’s cheap(er) and it’s super customizable so I won’t get bored. It’s also one of the main ingredients in my current favorite snack, coconut yogurt, frozen blueberries and granola. You can check out my quick and easy granola recipe here.

Date syrup: 20 pitted medjool dates + 2 cups boiling water + soak 4-6 hours + blend until smooth = date syrup

For the date syrup, I add 1 cup of pitted medjool dates (about 20) with two cups of kettle boiled water and 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional). I read that I was supposed to let the dates soak for 4-6 hours, but I am not that patient. Besides, my dates were still moist for the most part. So I pulled out my trustee stick blender and went to town. It came together really easily. I let it sit for about half an hour, then blended some more just to make sure it was smooth and silky. I switched it out one-to-one for the maple syrup in today’s batch of granola. Next time I’m going to try making date paste in hopes that it will be a bit sweeter.

Aside from making granola, I’ve been cooking up lots great veggies I got from the grocery stores Managers Special cart. My store rarely does this so it’s pretty exciting when they do. I got tons of bell peppers, portabello mushrooms, asparagus, pineapple and cantaloupe (Ruby’s favorite). We did veggie fajitas with chickpea ‘tortillas’ and roasted veggies with a balsamic and Dijon mustard glaze along side rice and lentils. So so good!

Steve’s mom gifted me an Instant Pot for the holidays. I’ve been a busy busy bee cooking away anything I can get in there. It’s so wonderful and easy, and love that I can make so many different things in there. And it’s speed makes it so great for getting food ready fast when I’m tired. It’s also enabled me to cook lots and lots of collard greens. I use it nearly everyday. Next week I hope to make my own yogurt. I can’t really say I recipes for this stuff as I’m still sort of experimenting. However, I’ve made collard greens quite a few times now and I think I’ve got that one down.

Instant Pot Collard Greens: I bunch collard greens, cleaned and chopped + 1 large onion, sliced + a drizzle of olive or coconut oil + salt & pepper + 1 cup water or broth + Steam setting for 2 minutes, natural release = Yummy for your tummy collards!

Okay, so there’s actually been quite a lot going on around here lately besides cooking. I’ve been working on something for the last few months and I’m super excited about it. I’m finally starting my cooking school! Well, soon anyway. I’ve been working hard on business plans and websites and I am *fingers crossed* hopefully going to be starting a business incubator program this coming weekend. It’s a 6 month program that takes you through everything you need to know and do to start your business. And the best part is that it’s free from the county library system. There’s even a commercial kitchen that I’ll get to cook in and a cafe where I can test out food sales to the public. I am so excited! Stay tuned for the official launch date!

In other news, Ruby has been walking independently for a couple of weeks now. She is also going to be turning one in less than a month. I can’t wait to get her in the kitchen with me!

Well, I guess that’s all for now.

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Granola Any Way You Like

img_6548-1Granola has to be one of the best prepared foods ever. It’s incredibly easy to make, you can change it each time to keep things exciting, you can pack it full of super nutritious stuff like flax, chia, hemp, nuts, coconut oil, blackstrap molasses, dried fruits. Really the only limit is your imagination and palate. I’ve made granola in so many different combinations, and I’ve loved them all. I especially love it because it’s one of those things that you can just throw a bunch of pantry items in a bowl, stir it up, bake it and voila!

My basic recipe is almost always the same.

  • 4 cups rolled oats (gluten free if desired)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts/seeds of choice (pecans, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds…)
  • 1 cup chopped, dried fruit of choice (apricots, cranberries, figs, apples, blueberries…)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup date syrup, maple syrup, agave or other sweetener of your choice
  • 1/4 cup liquid coconut oil or other neutral oil of your choice

Then I add lots of other things. Sometimes I’ll add multiple types of nuts and/or fruits and sometimes I stick to a certain flavor profile. One that I’ve really enjoyed lately was sliced dried apricots with pecans and cranberries. I’ve also done a vanilla blueberry that was really great. Add in what you like, experiment and play around. I often add in flax seeds, chia seeds, millet, hemp hearts, cinnamon and extra vanilla.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. This is a big recipe. You can halve it if you like, but if you make the full recipe as listed you will need a sheet pan at least 11X17, or you can split it between multiple pans.

Combine all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl, mix well to combine. In a separate small bowl or measuring cup, combine wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to combine. Spread mixture evenly onto the parchment paper line sheet tray and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully stir the granola paying careful attention to the granola on the edges to insure it does not get over cooked. Bake for another 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Let the granola cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

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Sunday Morning

I wish every morning were Sunday morning. Don’t you? Sunday mornings are made for relaxing. Sundays are made for lounging around, sipping your coffee, not taking anything too seriously and just doing things that make you feel good. Even when your Sunday mornings start a little earlier than you might like.

We were up pretty early this morning at 6am. I try to lay there as long as I can and pretend I’m still sleeping in hopes that Ruby will go back to sleep. But it never works out that way. She pulls my hair, climbs all over me, and talks my ear off until I finally turn over and confirm, that I am in fact awake. Then we proceed with the good morning kisses until she’s giggling so hard she’s snorting. I don’t think there’s anything more amazing to wake up to than this precious thing smiling at me, ready to face the day. So we lay there and cuddle and play for about half an hour until we’re both ready to peel ourselves out of bed, do a quick diaper change and head into the living room to play while mama gets some coffee. I want to note that today is a rainy, cloudy day. A day destined for laying around in bed snuggling. But Ruby doesn’t really care.

Either way, Sunday mornings are the best. And on this particular Sunday I woke up with energy, feeling rested and ambitious. That coupled with the fact that I have a clean kitchen and lots of fun food to play with guarantees that somethings going down in the kitchen today. I do like to cook large breakfasts on weekends, but today felt different. I felt a desire to cook that I haven’t felt in a long time. I also had the opportunity because Ruby was in the middle of her first nap of the day. Before I knew it I found myself slicing up onions for sauteed kale, and dicing them for home fries along side potatoes and peppers. These are just my usual recipes for tofu scramble and home fries , though today I add a sweet potato to the home fries, because why not. I usually don’t include greens with our breakfast (which has clearly been a mistake on my part), but we had a big bunch of curly kale from our farm box so I though, why not. So I chopped up the kale, sliced up an onion, and grated a giant clove of garlic and added it to a pan with a little coconut oil and let it wilt away while I made the rest. It was all really sort of effortless. That’s when you know you’re really enjoying yourself.

Ruby LOVE’s food! I mean, don’t you dare put something near your mouth unless you have something for her. Seriously. She will scream. Just saying. So of course I wanted her to try all of the yummy things I made this morning. Especially because she hadn’t really had most of it yet. I mean, she’s had curry before (tofu scramble) and she’s had sweet potatoes (home fries), and actually, she’s had curried sweet potatoes, but never tofu or kale or regular potatoes. As you can see in the photo, she loved it all. And I’m not surprised either. She loves everything, except maybe cucumber. And she’s not super fond of tomatoes.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderfully relaxing Sunday. Snuggle, Eat, Repeat.

For the love of potatoes, local farm box and cold season

Ruby and I have been sick. It’s going on a week now of sore throats, sneezing, snot sucking and crankiness. I would say we’re starting to feel better but, I’m not sure that’s true. We were feeling better at one point, but then it seems to have come back. Energy wise we’re doing pretty great, but there’s still lots of nose blowing and stuffy head for me and lots and lots of snot for Ruby, along with crankiness. Though she’s also teething so I’m sure it’s both. We try to get outside as much as we can so that we can get some fresh air, but we’ve also been doing lots of nursing and resting. I really hope it goes away soon because dealing with teething is enough. For both of us.

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I just quickly want to give a shout out to this great farm box we got with our grocery deliver this week. I’ve always wanted to get one but they’re a bit pricey for me. Well they were on sale for $9.99! So I said okay, let’s see what we get. There’s a large butternut squash, a bunch of chioggia beets with beautiful greens attached, a head of fennel with fronds, a large head of bok choy, 5 Carmen peppers and a gorgeous bunch of curly kale. I can’t wait to cook it all up. I’ve got lots of ideas!

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We eat a lot of potatoes in our house. Which is funny because for years and years (mostly pre-vegan days) I only ate potatoes if that’s all there was. It’s not that I disliked them. It’s more like I enjoyed them too much, so I had to limit them. I mean, who doesn’t love mashed potatoes right? But then there’s the butter and cream. Or maybe baked potatoes? Then there’s butter, sour cream, maybe cheese. Oh, and I used to love potato skins all greasy and topped with cheese and sour cream. But I tend to crave the lighter, healthier option so I just stopped giving potatoes a staring role. Fast forward to now and potatoes are probably the base for 25% of our meals, at least. So of course we almost always have potatoes on hand.

One of the dishes I love with potatoes are home fries. I love home fries. Now, I know there are home fry people and hash brown people. Let me just say that adore them both. They each have their own qualities and characteristics that make them delicious. And I LOVE when the hash browns are good and crispy! I imagine the big reason I’m not focusing on hash browns is because I haven’t quite figured out how to make good, at home. I’m still working on that. I will also say that home fries are a bit more diverse, in my opinion. Anyway, we had a grocery delivery today and the first meal I made was home fries. They’re super simple to make and I make them pretty often. This here is sort of my standard recipe. The secret is that these potatoes cook for about an hour, sometimes longer depending on how Ruby’s feeling. And I also increase the heat for fast caramelization, then deglaze with water, then increase the heat, then deglaze. I do this 4 or 5 times during the hour or so cooking process. The water helps to cook the potatoes by creating steam. The repeated caramelization is coating the whole dish in yumtastic sugars pulled from the onions and peppers. The extended cooking time aids in the creation of the flavor texture of home fries from a restaurant, that have been sitting on a flat top cooking all day. This is a labor of love for me. Sometimes I add a sweet potato in there. Sometimes it’s broccoli. It’s flexible.

Cori’s Home Fries

  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 6 small to medium potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 1 cup frozen sliced bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup frozen greens (collards, kale, spinach)
  • 1 Field Roast sausage, chopped (any will do)
  • Salt and pepper

Everything gets tossed into our 13 inch cast iron skillet, which has been preheated on high for a few minutes. Mix well to combine and let cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until everything starts sticking (caramelization happening!). Drizzle about 1/4 cup of water into the pan while simultaneously stiring/scraping all the contents up from the bottom of the pan. This is deglazing, and picks up all of the yummy bits from the pan. Reduce heat to medium and let cook until all water evaporates and it’s just starting to stick again. Increase the heat to high and let a new layer of caramelization and crust form. Repeat the deglazing process 4 or 5 times over the period of an hour, insuring the potatoes are tender.

This recipe is super flexible. Today I topped it with guacamole because we had it. Sometimes it’s ketchup. Sometimes it’s barbecue sauce, sometimes it’s diced tomatoes. Whatever you have is great.

Another potato recipe I made this past week was a cheezy potato broccoli soup. I had never made this before and sort of just threw it together as I was going (that happens a lot here). It was awesome!

  • 6-8 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp. Better than Boullion vegetable paste
  • 1/3 cup Made well macaroni and cheese powder (Homemade vegan pantry)
  • 1 cup plant milk, plain, preferably unsweetend
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with fresh cool water. Salt to taste. Boil until tender. Drain potatoes into a bowl in order to save the cooking water. Return the potatoes to the pot and add two cups of cooking water back, along with the Better than Broth vegetable paste and heat over medium low heat. Add the cheeze sauce liquid and using an immersion blender blend the potato and cheeze sauce to desired smoothness (I like a little chunky). Increase heat to medium and cook until the soup thickens. Add frozen broccoli pieces and cook until heated through. Add additional potato cooking liquid as desired, to reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I also threw together another pumpkin curry yesterday because I had leftover pumpkin puree and coconut milk. It had sweet potatoes, chickpeas and frozen green beans. It was the last of the food in the house before the next days grocery delivery. I used the same basic recipe as I did last week. So so good. And Ruby loved as well.

 

Teething Baby, Gratitude and Pumpkin Curry

We’ve been having some rough nights here lately. I’m running on probably 4 hours a night sleep, all broken up into little chunks. Ruby is teething. She’s been teething for months but is only now showing any signs of discomfort. Her bottom two front teeth came in last month with no issue. She’s now working on her top two front teeth, one of which has popped through, but just barely. On top of that, I think she has a cold. Runny and stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing. We had to do a middle of the night saline spray and snot evacuation that sent her into crying fits. But she couldn’t breath. I hate seeing her like this. She wants to be on me all the time. She has a hard time nursing because of the pain, so she cries. She’s just miserable.

I know this is all normal. But that doesn’t make it suck any less.

Because I haven’t been sleeping well Steve took Ruby for a little while so I could have some me time. To sleep. It didn’t really work out that way though and I found myself getting aggravated. At Steve. But that’s not fair. I mean, it’s not his fault Ruby doesn’t feel well. And while I had some alone time, he cleaned the litter box, did dishes, made me coffee and took care of Ruby’s needs. That’s a lot, even for a seasoned parent. So I just wanted to let him know that I appreciate him. I love him. And I love how much he loves his babies. I am grateful for him and his presence.

Being a parent is really tough. I’ve thought about it and talked about and written about it for months now, and I am still unable to truly articulate what it’s like. I mean, how does one express the most difficult, yet fulfilling thing that you’ve ever experienced? From what I’ve read (and lived so far), this first year is one of the hardest, most challenging things a relationship can go through. I can see that. When you’re sleep deprived crazy things can happen. Our diet certainly went down hill. All the way down hill. But we’re getting back to where we need to be. When your tired and hungry all bets are off. So there are occasional bad moods and what not. I really try to always remind myself how lucky I am. I know single moms, moms in bad relationships, and moms that have had to run for fear. I can’t imagine ever having to do this parenting thing alone. Even at almost 8 months in I still struggle. A lot. So I am grateful. For my partner, for my home, for family that cares, for the life we have, for this amazing baby girl.

Even though Ruby is teething, and we’re not sleeping great, we still have to eat. It is sometimes (read: often) a struggle to get into the kitchen these days. Even more so when everything you have has to be prepared from scratch, or close to it. But we have to eat and there’s not enough cereal left for both of us, so…. Luckily I’ve made curry enough times now that we almost always have ingredients on hand to throw one together. I’ve also tried to keep my freezer stocked with frozen vegetables since I found out I was pregnant last year. We used to do weekly farmers market runs but I just don’t have the energy anymore and frozen veggies don’t have to be prepped. Think what you will, but it works really well for us.

I threw together this curry pretty quickly and it wound up being a big hit for everyone, including Ruby. She LOVED the spaghetti squash. I don’t have a recipe (again) but like last time, it’s more about looking in your cabinets and being creative with the ingredients you have on hand. And to be honest, even as I was adding those first few ingredients to the pan, I had no idea what I was making. All I knew was that I had spaghetti squash, roasted and ready to eat. Here’s what we wound up with.

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Pumpkin Coconut Curry (approximate ingredients)

  • 1 cup frozen bell pepper strips
  • 1/4 cup frozen diced onion
  • 1 cup frozen sliced zucchini
  • 1 lb. sliced mushrooms
  • 28 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 tbsp. yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 14 oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups veggie broth (I used Better than Broth + water)
  • A big pinch cayenne pepper (added after I take some out for Ruby)
  • Spaghetti squash, roasted
  • Sea salt to finish

I literally just added all of this to a large pan, brought it to a boil, then turned it down to simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Be sure to stir well at first to combine, then occasionally along the way. I should also note that I personally tend to use more curry powder than most recipes call for, because I really like it.

So whether you’ve got a teething baby or a grumpy husband, go in the kitchen and make something yummy to eat!

Biscuits, Babies & Fall

Happy Fall! The weather has cooled and I find myself craving soup. I’m a big fan of soup personally, and would eat it everyday if given the opportunity. It’s warm and filling, you can add just about anything to it including leftovers, you can pack in a ton of nutrients, you can dip bread products into it and top it with nooch. I mean, there’s really no downside to soup. Plus, I love getting creative with my crock pot. But that’s another post.

The guys had quesadillas the other night, but for whatever reason I just wasn’t into it, so I threw together this soup with items I already had on hand. I think being able to just throw together a meal with random stuff you have in your kitchen is an amazing feeling. Almost as good as picking food from your own garden to make lunch.

Minestrone is really an easy soup to make, and I generally have most of these items on hand because I use them for many different meals. I guess you could say that these are some of my ‘staples’. Aside from the fact that this soup is simple and quick — you literally just put everything in a pot and cook it for like 20 minutes — you can be super flexible with the ingredients using what you have on hand instead of having to go to the store.

Super Quick Minestrone Soup

The recipe listed below is just a guesstimate as I didn’t write down what I added. But that’s sort of the point here.

  • 1-12 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used Better than Bullion + water)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans or 1-15 oz. can, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed veggies
  • 1/2 cup frozen greens (I used collards)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 small potato, diced and boiled until tender
  • 1/2 cup dry pasta, cooked
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed

Add all ingredients to a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

So it really is that easy. And to take it a step further, you could absolutely replace the pasta with some leftover rice you have in the fridge, or perhaps you’d like barley or quinoa. No problem, go for it. You can switch all of the veggies and use what’s leftover from the week. You can use chickpeas instead of kidney beans and thyme or dill instead of rosemary. You get the point.

The first night I made it I enjoyed it with the last of the bread I had baked a couple of days before. I had it for dinner again last night with some biscuits. I really love biscuits. Maybe that’s because I’m from the south or maybe it’s because of a biscuits warm, fluffy goodness. I haven’t quite perfected my vegan biscuit recipe but I’m getting closer. I’m still working on the crust. Nothing I’ve tried gets me the golden brown color I desire, with the crusty edges that sort of taste fried because the butter melted in just the right way. I know that whole wheat flour doesn’t brown as well, in general. I’ve tried coconut oil, olive oil and earth balance with no luck.

I make a sweet potato biscuit that is delicious, especially smothered in roasted cranberry chutney, but I’d love to get more of a rise to it. I make a pretty darn good buttermilk whole wheat biscuit, and today kicked it up a notch by incorporating chickpea flour. I’ve been using more chickpea flour in my baking because I think it adds a certain crunch to the crusts that I really enjoy. Steve said they were really good.

Biscuits

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour*
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour*
  • 2.5 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plant butter (I used Earth Balance Original)
  • 3/4 cup plant milk (I used Silk soy)
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg’s)

Combine plant milk and vinegar. Stir well and set aside.

Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together to blend.

Using a pastry cutter, large forks or knives, cut in plant butter until you’ve created a large crumb like texture. Place the bowl in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove the bowl from refrigerator and add all but about 2 tbsp. of the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until well combined, adding remaining milk mixture if necessary, until a large, soft ball of dough is formed. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for another 15 minutes (optional but recommended).

After 15 minutes, remove the biscuit dough and place on a floured surface. Sprinkle the top with flour, and gently roll out dough until it’s about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut biscuits using a biscuit cutter. If you do not have a biscuit cutter, you can use a sharp knife and be sure to cut straight down, in one swift motion, cutting the dough into squares instead of circles.

Ruby had her first play date this past weekend. It was also my first time meeting a new friend from a FB vegan mom group. We had doughnuts (Ruby did not have doughnuts). Vegan doughnuts from Dunwell Doughnuts. It was such a good opportunity for both Ruby and me to get out of the house and go on an adventure. Ruby was sporting her ‘dance to the beet’ onsie. It was amazing meeting a new friend. Especially someone who is vegan already. Not that I don’t welcome all friends, but food is a huge part of my life so it’s something that I look for. Anyway, being a parent is daunting. I was never really a social butterfly as it was. But being a parent really forces you to get out there and socialize and get your kiddos involved. Though I suppose it can be pretty therapeutic too. Reason #293 being a parent blows my mind. As my niece-in-law said today, “Best thing about life is being a mom.” It’s so true.

Until next time….

 

 

 

 

Something different, something new

So I was just writing this longish post in one of the Facebook groups I’m in, sort of an update post, when it occurred to me that this could easily be a blog post. And I’ve really been looking for the inspiration to get blogging again so….. Then it occurred to me that my blog posts don’t have to be all recipes. I wish I would have realized that years ago. So here we go. Let’s see if we can get blogging again.

Anyway, today was a pretty good day. Though Ruby did decide not to nap so much over the last few days, she is generally still in good spirits. She is all over the house and now crawls across the living room into the hallway, down the hall a few feet to the kitchen, to find me.

I spent some time in the kitchen today. It’s a rarity for me since Ruby was born. Most days I just don’t have the energy. But once in awhile I get in there and make a bunch of stuff. This morning I made a potato and chorizo fritatta or casserole. Potatoes, onions, peppers, collard greens, Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages and Daiya Cheddar Farmhouse Block. Then I added a double batch of chickpea pancake batter (I use this recipe as my base, Giant Chickpea Pancake) to the dish and baked it for about 40 minutes. It was fantastic!

While I was cooking, Ella Bella took a much needed nap. It’s tough being a kitty. Especially when there’s a little one pulling your tail and your mommy forgets to feed you all day :(.

Oh, I made bread today. I love making it. It’s cheaper, it’s yummier, but we eat more of it. Not that I have a problem with that. But this is a 4 cup loaf here, every two days now. Even though today’s batch stuck to the bowl, it was really delicious. Maybe the best loaf I’ve ever made. It has a really nice crumb and chewy texture thanks to the blending of different flours. I’ve been adding a bit of chickpea flour in with the spelt and bread flours because it gives the crust an airiness, and a lovely crispy crunch.

I also made coconut curry and yellow rice. I forgot to take a picture of it before I packed it away in the fridge. I added a photo.

The last photo I just threw in because it was YUM. This is sweet potato and zucchini enchiladas that I made a couple of days ago.

p.s. I know it’s been a long, long time since I’ve published a post here. A lot has happened since then. 🙂

Veggie Chips {Photos}

Veggie Chips3I’ve been working on making veggie chips for awhile. I still haven’t gotten it quite right so I’m not posting a recipe, but wanted to post these photos because they’re just so pretty.

Steve got me a Benriner slicer for Christmas last year and every so often, in between work and school, I slice up some veggies and give them a roast, in an effort to get perfectly crisp veggie chips to snack on. Unfortunately what I get is mostly dried out veggie chips that are crispy (almost too crispy) on the edges and quite leathery and tough in the middle (see photo above). So they’re a work in progress.

Veggie Chips2I love the colors here. The watermelon radishes are so striking and I love the variation with the three different color carrots.

Veggie Chips

So until I get this recipe just right, please enjoy the beautiful colors here.

Camp Eats from the local Farmers’ Market

School starts tomorrow. I’ve been going a bit crazy for the last month or so trying to get things done before school starts. Cleaning the house, cooking as much as possible, sleeping. Once school starts life is going to get a bit full. I won’t have a lot of time to do those things that get done on a daily and/or weekend’ly basis. So in trying to plan out some recipes for the blog for the next few months I was looking through my photos and I came across these from a camping trip we took back in August. I know they’re late. I know there’s a foot of snow on the ground outside so they’re not exactly timely. But this was a great camping trip and I’m gonna write this post anyway.

One of the best things about this trip was the food. Usually when we go camping I plan and plan and plan. I love the challenge of making delicious, healthy food in an outdoor setting. But it can be a bit exhausting as well (the planning part). This trip though, was a bit last minute. I didn’t really have the time or the energy to plan, so I didn’t. Instead we stopped at the local farmers’ market, picked up a bunch of stuff (and a few items from the grocery store) and ate off of that for the weekend. We also picked up this cool grill thingy from the local hardware store. Because of the lack of time and planning, we also forgot our handy cast iron pans that we generally take camping with us.

We wound up with these delicious open faced sandwiches with hummus, heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers, with spinach and avocado on a local artisan bread for lunch and marinated and grilled tofu with eggplant, asparagus, mushrooms and corn on the cob with garlic bread, for dinner. Plus we had yummy peaches, blueberries and yellow watermelon to snack on. It was awesome!

What I learned from this trip was that we CAN go camping without me obsessively planning. And it will be awesome and delicious. Especially if it’s summer and the farmers’ market is in session.

Steve’s Pesto Pasta

Steves Pesto PastaSo, this post is actually from last weekend. I started on it and another, but was so busy last weekend that I never had the opportunity to finish them. And I really wanted to share this post because it’s about Steve’s pesto, which was so delicious. So delicious.

Last Sunday I got a special treat. Steve made us lunch! It’s a special treat because sometimes it’s challenging to get him into the kitchen. But that’s another story. Even though I love to be in the kitchen playing with food, it’s really nice when someone else cooks me a good meal. Today Steve made us pasta and homemade pesto with seared asparagus and tomatoes for lunch. It was so delicious. But I’ve already said that.

Before I went plant-based, pesto pasta was something we enjoyed on a regular basis. Actually, one of Steve’s go-to meals was tortellini with pesto. It was easy and tasty and we could toss in any number of veggies. It’s also great added to my salads once it chilled in the fridge overnight. Unfortunately, both the tortellini and the pesto contained dairy, so it had to come off of the regular rotation until we could find tortellini that was vegan. Which we weren’t able to do. And, since this was one of Steve’s go-to meals, and was now off the list, it’s been even harder to get him in the kitchen.

I think we’ve found our alternative, though. And it’s so ridiculously easy I wish it would have come to us sooner. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t made our own pesto before, several times, in the last year. But I guess that’s how things work. Sometimes it’s just not the right combination of ingredients to make it into the rotation.

I’m not exactly clear as to why this came together so perfectly. One thing I suspect is the pasta. I love this pasta. It’s one of my favorites. It has such a nice bite to it, firm and chewy plus not too bulky. And it holds on to sauces really nicely. But I do not buy it often because a) I try not to have pasta in the mix too often and b) they don’t have this particular variety in the whole wheat/grain type at my local grocery. So, when you’re not using a certain product, it’s hard to realize it’s the perfect thing for a dish you make.

The other reason I think this all came together so well was because of the amount of olive oil we used in the pesto. Now, I’m not advocating for using such an amount, but it was really fantastic and I’m sure that is part of the reason why. The recipe below will not reflect the actual amount of olive oil we used because we didn’t actually write it down. But also because next time we will definitely use less. The recipe will say that you can adjust the amount based on your taste. And yes, while it was really good, I don’t think we needed quite so much. As long as you can taste the fruitiness of the olive and the pesto has come together nicely, that’s all you need.

So it just all came together this time. And it was perfect. Looking at these photos now, a week later, my mouth is watering. I want this again. Maybe I’ll get Steve to make it tonight for dinner. I didn’t record the recipe exactly. But that’s okay. It’s a standard pesto with a few tweaks that are optional. So go and make it. Make it tonight.

Steves Pesto Pasta2Pesto

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil
  • 1 cup packed fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, pine nuts)*, toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Zest + juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. good olive oil**

Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil, into the bowl of your food processor. Secure the lid and pulse until the contents stop moving around freely. Turn the food processor to the on position and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until everything is purreed and mixed together, moving freely and loosely around the bowl.

Asparagus & Tomatoes

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Heat a large oven proof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Turn your oven on broil. Add the asparagus and tomatoes to your skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil until the asparagus and tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Pesto Pasta

Toss 1 pound of cooked gemelli pasta with the pesto sauce, coating well. Add the asparagus and tomatoes and toss gently with the pesto pasta.

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*While most pesto recipes call for pine nuts, you can use other nuts instead. Walnuts work particularly well in a pesto. We tend to use what we have on hand. Which is usually a combination of walnuts, almonds and cashews. I rarely buy pine nuts. They’re outrageously expensive in my neighborhood.

**You may adjust the amount of olive oil you use to your liking. If you use less, add water until you reach the right consistency. The finished product should be loose enough to sauce your pasta, but thick and not watery.

 

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