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Spaghetti with Cauliflower Pesto

6 Sep

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She’s a beaut, right?

Obviously I could not resist lugging home a head each of orange and purple cauliflower on top of my already heavy farmer’s market haul of melon, tomatoes, summer squash, eggs, and my newest obsession, maple cream!

I am such a sucker for roasted cauliflower. I love how it gets those golden-brown roasted marks, and packs a salty, slightly oily bite. But, it is important to try new things, and there is SO much happening with cauliflower these days.

I thought about making a purple cauliflower soup or a cauliflower gratin, but, desperate to hang on to the summer, I was not yet ready to dive into those cozier, creamier fall foods. After tossing around ideas of the ever-trendy cauliflower rice/couscous, cauliflower pizza crust, and cauliflower pasta sauce, I turned to my trusty food maven, Deb Perelman, who has a recipe in her cookbook for…CAULIFLOWER PESTO.

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Cauliflower pesto is made with raw cauliflower pulsed in a food processor (I took the Italian grandmother way/the hard route and hand-chopped/used my blender) and combined with a separate pulsed mix of brine-y, pesto-y ingredients: capers, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, herbs. Continue reading

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Drink Up! Green Smoothie

2 Jul

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Well I finally gave green smoothies a whirl at home, and…they’re great!

I first started adding just a small handful of baby spinach into a smoothie, but now I’ve expanded to kale and purslane.

A few weeks ago, I got a deal at the farmer’s market: two huge bundles of greens for $5. I bought collards and kale. I cooked the collards, and used some of the kale for salads.  I washed, de-stemmed and tore the remaining kale leaves into pieces and stuck them in a ziplock bag in my freezer (my friend Brianna gave me that genius tip!). Now I have a cold green leafy veggie in my freezer for when the smoothie pangs hit (I would imagine that frozen kale is easy to toss into a soup or pasta recipe, too).

Having frozen smoothie ingredients on hand  (i.e. chopped kale, chopped banana, frozen fruit) is key to keeping things cold. Sometimes I add ice at the very end to get the smoothie extra cold, but it is not always necessary.

If you are wary of the greens, don’t worry because you can’t taste them, especially if you use strong fruits like banana or mango and a nut butter like peanut or almond. The greens just make the smoothie turn, well, green.

Tip: blend the greens with the liquid first. Get it really nice and blended before adding in the remaining fruits and accouterment. This helps decrease the leafiness of the greens. I just use a regular blender.

A half portion of this smoothie fills me up in the morning when I drink it with coffee. I also make the full serving for a light lunch before a workout. Experiment with different greens and fruits and add-ins like chia seeds. Have fun, stay cool, and drink up!

Drink Up! Green Smoothie

Makes 1 large portion, or 2 small snack-size portions

1 cup of greens (I used 3/4 cup frozen kale and 1/4 cup fresh purslane)

1 cup liquid (I used 3/4 cup low-fat milk and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt)

1 heaping cup of fruit (I used about 1 cup frozen banana pieces and 1 poached fig)

1 heaping tablespoon nut/seed butter (I used peanut butter, but almond butter is great in smoothies, too)

optional: Ice

optional: a sprinkle of chia seeds (I didn’t use any in this smoothie because purslane is high in omega-3 fatty acids)

Blend the greens and the liquid in the blender. Get it nice and blended, may take 1-2 minutes. Next, add in the fruit and the nut/seed butter and the chia seeds (if using). Blend again to incorporate. If you want the smoothie extra cold, add in a few ice cubes and blend again. You can top the smoothie with extra chia seeds if you like.

 NOTE: The full recipe, if you use nut butter, could add up to 350-400 calories, making this smoothie more of a mini meal than a snack. 

Homemade Snack: The Weelicious Chewy Granola Balls

8 Apr

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This is my second time making the Weelicious rice crispy balls, granola ball bites, whatever you call ’em.

After watching her adorable videos 1 and 2, I ran out to the store to buy brown rice cereal, but I spaced out and bought puffed rice instead of crispy rice. The recipe still works with puffed rice, but the texture is not as, well, crisp, without the crispy rice cereal.

I had a jar of brown rice syrup sitting in my pantry for over 2 years and never knew what to do with it until I saw these recipes. Brown rice syrup is slightly less sweet than regular sugar, and it’s great for n0-bake recipes like this because the syrup is so sticky it acts like glue. When melted together with nut butter, I wanted to lick the hot pot it smelled so good.

Add-ins are endless, but I love the combo of some dried fruit and chocolate chips. How could you not?

Balls (insert dirty joke) are indeed cuter and more fun to eat than bars. Sometimes I will just eat one after lunch to satisfy that post-meal sweet craving. Other times I pack 3-4 with me and enjoy them for a mid-day snack. Up to you.

The recipe makes about 25-30 balls (depending how much you eat in the process!). I stored about half of the bites in the fridge because they are a little crispier when cold, and I froze the other half  batch for later.

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 A Random Assortment: Granola Balls, PS4 Controller, Mattress, Bikes

The Weelicious Chewy Granola Balls

adapted from Weelicious

makes about 30 balls

1/2 cup nut and/or seed butter (I used a combo of sunbutter and cashew butter)

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1 1/2 cups crispy brown rice cereal (I didn’t have any, so I used puffed rice…works fine but crispy would be better for texture)

1 cup granola (any kind you have, but I used Hot Bread Kitchen Granola)

1/4 cup dried fruit (i.e. cranberries, raisins, blueberries, chopped apricots…) and/or chocolate chips

1. Place the nut/seed butter and brown rice syrup in a small saucepan over low to medium heat and warm for 2 minutes or until it becomes smooth and combined.

2. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

3. Pour the warm nut/seed butter mixture into the bowl with the granola mixture and stir to combine.

4. Roll into 1 inch balls (you can use a mini ice cream scooper to scoop out each portion, or a tablespoon). Alternatively, you could press the mixture into a square pan, let cool, and slice into bars.

Happy snacking!

 

White Chocolate Pineapple Macadamia Cookies

23 Jan

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The white chocolate macadamia nut cookie got a little fancier today.

Partially whole wheat, with big chunks of chopped white chocolate (Callebaut brand), roasted macadamia nuts, dried pineapple chunks. You could use chips, but if possible, I recommend buying a block of good quality chocolate and chopping it yourself. It looks nicer, especially when using white chocolate, to have those uneven blobs of chocolate all melted and shining. Tastes better, too, what with the oozing chocolate hugging the slightly salty macadamias and pineapple bits.

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Browned butter adds an extra rich, nutty element to the cookies. Using browned butter makes things easier since you don’t have to wait for butter to soften…which can take hours in the cold weather temperatures.

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Macadamia nuts, eaten in moderation, are rich in the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Alright alright, so we are about to chow down on some cookies, but…at least we can get a little pumped about the macadamias…

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White Chocolate Pineapple Macadamia Cookies

adapted from Joy the Baker

yields about 30-36 smallish cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 oz) butter

1 cup (200 grams) light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons milk (I used 1% milk)

1 egg (if possible, try to use an organic egg; even better, purchase your eggs locally at the farmer’s market or another reliable source…)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup flour (I used 1 cup ap flour + 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts

1/2 cup roughly chopped dried pineapple chunks

1 cup roughly chopped good quality white chocolate (a serrated knife works well for chopping chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brown the butter: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter, swirling and stirring until nice browned bits appear in the bottom of the pan. This may take 5-7 minutes. Once the butter is browned, remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit while you measure out the dry ingredients.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, add the brown sugar and slightly cooled browned butter. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat for another minute. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Turn the mixer off, scrape down the sides, and add flour, baking soda, and salt all at once. With either the stand mixer on low or by hand with a spatula, incorporate the dry ingredients until just mixed in. Fold in the chopped nuts, pineapple chunks, and white chocolate.

Scoop two teaspoon size balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet (this should use two baking sheets). Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating once through baking, until the cookies are soft and golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

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5 Days of Simple Breakfasts…

31 Aug

Just a little post to show you what I’ve been eating for breakfast lately. It’s easy to get in a breakfast rut, and I’m here to offer you five small simple breakfast ideas that will help get your day started.

I like to exercise in the late morning, and these are all great pre-(or post) workout options for breakfast or a snack. I try to think: carb + a little protein. And it never hurts to keep in mind color and appearance. Even if it’s just a mini-meal, your belly will feel more satisfied if your eyes are entertained as well.

Toast with avocado and low-fat cottage cheese. Lots of fresh ground pepper. I never liked cottage cheese as a kid because I didn’t like the texture. Once I discovered that I could spread it on a crunchy piece of toast or crackers, there was no turning back. I can’t get enough of the stuff now! AND you get 15 grams of protein per serving of cottage cheese.

Almond butter schmeared on toast. With a squeeze of honey (or banana). I recently tried sunflower seed butter, which is another great alternative to add to the peanut/almond butter rotation.

Oatmeal. I like making rolled oats on the stove top. This time around my toppers included: cinnamon, coconut chips, a combo of walnuts/macadamias, frozen berries, plain yogurt, and honey. (you can just barely see the steam coming from my coffee…!!!)

Baby berry smoothie: 1 cup frozen berries, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup milk, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Whir it up in the blender. Add a frozen banana if you want to bulk this up a bit (I had some whole wheat crackers with nut butter shortly after this to complement the smallness of the smoothie). Pour into an old jam jar and enjoy.

A layered yogurt parfait. Plain yogurt, granola, more yogurt, melon (or whatever fruit you want), finished with more granola. You could even take something like this on the go in a small tupperware container (or a clean container from a previous yogurt).

Note that most of the ingredients for these breakfasts you can always have on hand. Frozen fruit, rolled oats, nut butters, bread (you can even put bread in the freezer and toast off as needed). Even yogurt stays fresh for a long time in the fridge. So much easier to whip up a quick healthy breakfast when your pantry and refrigerator/freezer are stocked with these simple breakfast staples.

Black Bean Brownies

30 Aug

I am always amazed when a brownie or cookie recipe calls for anything less than a stick of butter. Usually you see a shocking 2 sticks of butter!

As a pastry professional, I’ve learned to get over my fear of using generous amounts of butter. That’s just how the cookie crumbles in that world. But at home, I try to only use butter when I can really make it count. Less is more. I want to treat myself, but still look good, ya dig my flow?

Black beans are the new applesauce when it comes to baking. Their dark color blends in perfectly with the chocolate, and they’ve got protein and fiber that are not only good for you, but help retain the whole rich-dense brownie thing.

I live with 3 dudes who dove head first into these fudgy squares. Dudes are into black bean brownies. It especially helps to put walnut studs, extra chocolate chips, and some coarse salt on top.

I don’t have a food processor. I hope you have one because it makes life easier. If you have one, just give the beans a whir. If you are like me and do not have one, you can smash your beans with a fork or your fingers, or pour your beans into the melted chocolate/butter mixture and then use an immersion blender and get it as smooth as you can. It’s ok if there’s a little texture. It all gets baked up and masked by the chocolate anyway.

Note that I first tried to blend my beans in my blender, but the blender was too large for the small amount of beans and nothing was happening. Moral of the story, buy a food processor. I just like to take the hard way, mostly because I have no room for another kitchen gadget in my apartment.

Black Bean Brownies

makes 9-12 brownies

adapted from Joy the Baker

1/4 cup (half a stick/2 oz) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 oz of the darkest dark chocolate you can find (think 72% and up), chopped

2 large eggs + 1 egg white

1/4 cup black beans, rinsed, drained, and pureed in the food processor

1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup (155 g) all purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

walnut chunks, chocolate chips, and coarse salt for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch (9-inch is ok, too) square baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Butter and flour the parchment paper as well.

In a small bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer. Place the butter and chocolates in a heat-proof bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir until the chocolates and butter are melted and combined. Carefully remove the bowl from the saucepan and let it cool for a minute or two.

Whisk the eggs and white into the chocolate/butter mixture, one at a time. Next whisk in the pureed beans, sugar, and vanilla extract.

Dump the sifted dry ingredients into the mix all at once and fold and incorporate everything together with a spatula. Once thoroughly combined, pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts, chocolate chips, and coarse salt, if using.

Bake the brownies for about 25-28 minutes. Note that brownies are better slightly underdone than overdone. Right? Right. Let the brownies cool on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment overhang. Slice and enjoy.

Farmer’s Market Veggie Explosion with Miso Curry Dressing

6 Aug

A variation on the Miso-Curry Delicata Squash that I was making over and over again last fall.

This time around there’s eggplant, heirloom tomato, baby potatoes, and zucchini from the farmer’s market. And tofu for protein!

Dressed with a smash and a stir of white miso, red Thai curry paste, and extra virgin olive oil. Finished with a squeeze of lemon, fresh herbs, and slivered almonds.

I was inspired by the produce at the farmer’s market. I suggest you do the same and use whatever strikes your interest–corn, peppers, sprouts, peas, baby eggplants…

I think my favorites right now have to be the cherry tomatoes. Farmer’s market tomatoes taste SO much better than any grocery store variety. Just remember not to put them in the refrigerator or they will lose their luscious tomato taste. They are great roasted or raw.

Looking for another quick, farmer’s market-inspired dinner idea? Tacos are always the answer in my book.

I know that this Miso Curry Veggie Explosion requires you to turn on the oven. If you just can’t take the heat, make a raw salad with some kale, tomatoes, snap peas, corn etc. You could still use tofu. Just cut everything in bite size pieces and drizzle the miso-curry dressing with a little lemon and chopped herbs, and add the nuts or seeds for texture. No oven required. Stay cool.

Endless possibilities.

Veggie Explosion with Miso Curry Dressing

adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday 

serves 4

1/4 cup/ 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil

Scant 1/4 cup/ 2.5 oz/ 70 g white miso (I purchase mine at Whole Foods)

Scant 1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste

1 14-oz package of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

1 large handful of small potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks

1 medium eggplant, cut into small chunks

1/2 of a medium zucchini, cut into strips

1 large heirloom tomato, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

small handful of fresh basil or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, miso, and curry paste.

Combine the tofu, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and tomato in a large bowl with all but 2 tablespoons-worth of the miso-curry paste. Use your hands to toss well, then turn your vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and arrange everything in a single layer. Roast for about 30 minutes, until everything is tender and browned. Toss once or twice along the way, after things start to brown a bit. When the veggies come out of the oven, squeeze half of a lemon over them.

Serve the veggie explosion with some toasted almond slivers, fresh basil or cilantro, and a spoonful of the remaining sauce with a little more lemon.

NOTE: You can always make a raw salad. No oven. Dressing is the same. Enjoy.