2 cups cooked freekeh (or quinoa, farro, brown rice) (cooled after cooking)
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup diced English cucumber
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 pint of roasted grape tomatoes*
1/4-1/2 cup feta cheese (omit the feta cheese for a vegan salad)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
A pinch of oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Juice from 1/2-1 whole lemon
Toss the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
Pour the vinaigrette over the freekeh mixture and toss gently to combine.
Sprinkle the juice of half a lemon over the salad. Taste and add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice to taste.
Keeps for several days.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half and toss with a teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place the tomatoes on a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes burst and start to shrivel.
It’s been awhile. It’s been since October. When I think about sharing a new recipe, I think “It’s been so long!” and it’s hard to get back in the headspace of updating. So more time passes without a new recipe and before you know it, it’s March 1 and I think, “How did so much time pass?” “Is it even worth it to update?” “What do I want this blog to be?”
While I attempt to figure out an answer to that last question, I’ve decided that I really do like having this space to share recipes.
I needed a jump start and an entry by Heather at A Sweet Simple Life was just the spark I needed. Her post seemed like a good way to ease myself back into the routine of posting, so I’m going to borrow her idea of a catch-up post. No recipe this time, but I promise I’ll be back soon.
If we were having coffee this morning, I’d tell you about my second wedding reception at the end of October. It was so much fun to have family and friends in one space to eat a lot, drink a little and dance a lot. The food was amazing. Even now, four months later, if someone says to me, “The food at your reception was so good,” it makes me so happy. That was the goal.
If we were having coffee this morning, I’d tell you about my wonderful holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas, a birthday and an engagement party rounded out the season. It was so much fun to spend time with friends and family and eat a lot of good food. Noticing a theme? We had an extended Christmas this year due to, well, life, so “Christmas” went into January. The best part about Christmas now? There’s a little one around and she makes the holiday so much more fun again. I’ve always enjoyed the holiday, but there’s nothing that beats a little kid, a Christmas tree and presents to share.
If we were having coffee this morning, I’d tell you about losing my grandma this year. She was an amazing woman. One of the nicest people you would ever meet, but she also didn’t suffer fools lightly. She loved to cook, she loved the blues, she loved her church, she loved her family and she loved me without condition. As a little girl nipping at her heels, she was very easily my favorite person on Earth. As an adult woman, I loved spending time with her and getting to know her as a woman and not just as my Lala. Alzheimer’s is the worst for so many reasons. It takes away the person you knew, the person they were, and just leaves a shell. But I don’t want her to only be remembered for those last few years. I want, and I do, remember the woman who always made enough food for 20 people when only 10 would be there. The woman who always helped out any family member in need. The woman who would dance in the living room on Saturday night and was up for church on Sunday morning. The woman who made me believe that I could do anything. The woman who baked the best sweet potato pie I’ve ever had. This past Thanksgiving, I made that pie for the first time. It tasted like my childhood – love, laughs and family. I hope to carry on that tradition.
Once fall arrives and the temperature drops below 65 degrees, I’m in full-on soup mode.
There are a few recipes that I turn to time and time again, including smoked turkey lentil soup (make it now!) and this Golden Potato-Leek Soup. This soup is delicious and so simple. Seven ingredients and 30 minutes. That’s it. The result is a warm, creamy (without any cream) soup that’s great as a starter and even better served with crusty bread or cornbread for a full meal.
Golden Potato-Leek Soup
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 medium)
6 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
2 (14-ounce) cans organic vegetable or chicken broth
2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed, or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
Melt butter or oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally (do not brown).
Add potatoes, water, salt, broth and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.
Turn off the heat. If you have an immersion blender, blend everything in the pot until smooth. Stir in the pepper and add more salt to taste.
If using a regular blender, transfer the soup, in batches, to the blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the pepper and add more salt to taste.
Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Sometimes I’m inspired by a meal I’ve eaten in a restaurant. Sometimes I’m inspired by other blogs or magazine articles. Sometimes I’m inspired by ingredients already in my kitchen. And sometimes I’m inspired by friends.
A friend inspired these stuffed peppers.
I’ve been wanting to make stuffed peppers for ages, but they always took a back seat to other meal ideas. Then a friend showed me a picture of stuffed tomatoes and that was it: I finally had the motivation to make these stuffed peppers.
They’re as easy as … I was going to write pie and then I realized that pie isn’t so easy. But these? Super easy. And very tasty. I stuffed these with couscous, corn, black beans, red bell peppers, cilantro and smoked Gouda. The possibilities are endless. I think next time I’ll try orzo, sun-dried tomatoes, chickepeas, basil and mozzarella.
Have fun. Play around with flavors. Be inspired.
4 bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
1 cup of cooked couscous (or quinoa)
1 cup black beans
1 cup corn
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped
handful of shredded smoked Gouda
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon (smoked) paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Prepare the peppers: Chop off the top of the peppers (or slice them in half) and scoop out the seeds and ribs. Place the peppers in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes.
For the filling: Mix all the other ingredients, except the cheese, in a large bowl. Taste the filling and adjust your spice levels as needed.
Assemble the peppers: Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Place the peppers in the dish and stuff the peppers with the couscous mixture to the top. Top with cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, just until the mixture is heated through.
When was the last time you had a bran muffin? Was it good? Most bran muffins I’ve had are either dense and gritty or dense and too sweet. The common denominator? Dense.
These muffins are soft and light. And healthy. Made with whole wheat flour, wheat bran and flax seeds, the muffins stay light and moist thanks to unsweetened applesauce and a mashed banana. A little honey and the addition of raisins (plus the banana) adds sweetness, but not so much that you feel like you’ve crossed the line into full-on dessert. They’re perfect for breakfast or a nice, light snack to tide you over until your next meal.
Chunky Bran Muffin
Based on Konosur. Makes about 11 muffins
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unprocessed wheat bran
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp grounded flax seed
1 large banana, mashed
1/4 cup no sugar added, natural applesauce
1/2 cup milk (almond milk)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin tin with 11 paper liners.
Whisk the egg in a medium bowl. Mix in the milk, applesauce, orange zest and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg mixture. Mix until just combined. Add the mashed banana, honey and raisins. Stir a few times, just to combine.
Spoon into lined muffin tray until 3/4 full. Bake at 400°F for 15 – 20 minutes until a thin knife inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.
I’m always looking for healthy snacks. I had given up on energy bars because, nutritionally, most of them are no better than candy bars when it comes to added fat and added sugar.
Then I discovered Larabars. Larabars are made from whole foods – mostly dried fruits and nuts. Most bars contain three items, dates being the main ingredient, and none of the bars contain more than nine items. My favorite, cherry pie, is made of dates, almonds and dried cherries. That’s it. And while I love to have one of these bars in my purse and work drawer at all times, they can get a little pricey at $1.25-$1.99 a bar.
So when I came across a few recipes for homemade bars, I had to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. These cherry pie bars came together in a snap. The most laborious task was pitting the dates and even that wasn’t too difficult. A few weeks ago, I made almond milk. There’s quite a bit of almond ‘pulp’ left after straining the mixture. I couldn’t bear to throw it away so I kept it hoping to find some use for it. It worked really well in these bars.
Experiment with the dried fruits and nuts for different flavor combinations. I think dates, apricots and almonds would be delicious. Or dates, walnuts and dried apples. I can’t wait to get to work on the next batch.
Vegan. Gluten free. Soy free. Delicious.
Homemade Larabars/Energy bars (Based on Larabar)
1 cup dried, pitted Medjool dates
1 cup raw almonds, toasted (I used 1 cup of almond pulp from homemade almond milk)
1 cup dried cherries
If using whole almonds: To toast the almonds, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the almonds to a plate to cool.
Place the dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until a gooey paste forms (Start slowly. The dates are really sticky and may get caught in the blades of the processor. If this happens, stop pulsing, scrape down the sides and continue to pulse ). Transfer the dried fruit into a large bowl.
If using whole almonds: Put the almonds in the processor and pulse until small bits remain. Transfer the almonds to the bowl (or the almond pulp, if using) with the dried fruit. Knead the dried fruit and almonds together until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan, lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil, to about 1/2-inch thickness and refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes. Invert the contents onto a cutting board and slice to desired size.
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Guacamole and potatoes? Yes, please.
This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” recipes. I like guacamole. I love potatoes. Why didn’t I ever think to put them together?
Besides being delicious on its own, the avocado in this salad is a great, healthy alternative to mayonnaise. Avocados area an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, which may improve blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.
With temperatures inching higher, and spring and summer on the way, I anticipate many servings of this creamy, delicious, slightly-unexpected side dish.
Creamy Avocado Potato Salad
Adapted from Vegan Brunch
2 lbs fingerling or baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons lime juice, from a lime or two
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 plum tomato, chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced small
1/2 English cucumber (or regular cucumber), diced very small
Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat to a rolling boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool. I put them in the refrigerator while I prepared the dressing.
To prepare the dressing, place the garlic clove and cilantro in the food processor and process for about 10 seconds, until the cilantro and garlic are chopped. Next, split the avocados in half, remove the seeds and scoop the flesh into the food processor. Add the garlic, lime juice and salt and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed. Once smooth and creamy, add the tomato and onion. Pulse three or four times, until they are incorporated but not completely blended.
Put the potatoes and cucumbers in a large mixing bowl. Add the avocado mixture and mix well, being sure not to mash the potatoes. Taste and add more salt and lime juice to taste. Sprinkle a little extra cayenne pepper on top, if you like.
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