“Deconstructed hummus” and greens — a zesty lemon, tahini, miso sauce

The fact that I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks has been nagging at me.  One of my goals for this summer was to try and post something at least once a week, whether it be a recipe, tip, or even just some insight into my organization techniques for my hectic life.  But, life happens sometimes, and I can’t complain because my summer has been great so far.  Don’t mistake this hiatus from blog posts to mean that I haven’t been creating in the kitchen.  While I have been eating out occasionally, most of what I eat is still homemade by yours truly! But, because of my go, go, go days and nights, I’ve been sticking to a lot of my old trusty recipes. I haven’t made anything that made my eyebrows pop up like, wow this is goooood, I need to share this recipe… until last night’s dinner.

As you may know from reading my blog, I joined an organic CSA this year.  The beauty of this is that I end up having to buy very few, if any, veggies for the week.  The challenging part of this though, is coming up with ideas for meals based on what I’m given, as opposed to getting to pick out my produce for the week.  Braising greens are something that I have gotten in my share for more than a few weeks in a row.  I’ve cooked them up with tomatoes and balsamic vinegar to bring to a picnic, they were a big hit.  I’ve also sautéed them with sweet onions, and served with sunny side eggs for breakfast, another yummy meal.  But frankly, they’re not the prettiest thing to take pictures of (a wilted mixture of green looks sloppy no matter how much fuss you put into the plating), and subsequently I never became excited enough about the dishes to try and write up a mouthwatering description.

BUT, of course, since I am writing this, clearly I am excited enough about this dish to disregard the visually unappealing nature and try to get across this dish’s worth based on the flavor!

Deconstructed hummus and greens_a zesty lemon tahini miso dressing

I’ve been describing this dish as a sort of deconstructed hummus.  It has the same creamy, Mediterranean taste as hummus, and most of the basic ingredients one would use to make the dip.  The deconstructed part is based on leaving the chickpeas whole instead of blending them with the other ingredients in the dish.   Leaving them whole added another texture which was important in breaking the one note texture of the greens mixture.

The secret in this sauce though is the miso.  If you’ve ever had miso soup at a Japanese restaurant you may know the flavor, but it’s far from the only use for this delicious ingredient.  Miso is a fermented paste made most commonly from soy but there are also other varieties you can buy.  I prefer white miso, it has a more mild, salty/sweet flavor.  Miso is a complete protein, a good source of b-12, high in antioxidants, and because it is fermented it is an enzyme rich food.  It has also been shown to reduce risk for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.  Adding a little bit of miso not only bumps up the nutritional value but it also enhances the flavors of the sauce.

Here’s how I made it:

I receive a mixture of all different varieties of greens from my CSA.  Everything from kale, to collards, to swiss chard, so feel free to experiment with whatever you can find.  I prep them by cutting off the thick stems, rinsing and spinning them dry, and simply throwing them in a big pot of heated coconut or olive oil to wilt down stirring occasionally to make sure every leaf gets its chance!  If you’re making a lot, try adding the greens in batches so it doesn’t overwhelm your pot.

Once the greens were mostly cooked, I added one box (because they come in boxes instead of cans now!!) of organic garbonzo beans (aka chickpeas) and heated through.

For the sauce:  (these measurements are guestimates, because I didn’t realize how tasty it would be to remember to measure!!)

  • The zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 TBS organic tahini
  • 1 TBS organic white miso paste
  • A good dash of red pepper flakes (for a little heat!)

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until it forms a thick paste.  Then slowly add water, whisking to combine, until you get your desired consistency.  It’s really that simple!

Poured over the dish, this sauce coats the greens and chickpea mixture with just the right amount flavor, brightening the bitterness of the greens and pulling the whole dish together.  I served mine with a simple pan seared chicken breast, but I’d be interested to try out it in other ways too; maybe on soba noodles or in a stir fry? Lots of possibilities!!

Advertisements

Chilled ginger-citrus carrot and beet soup

Soup in the summertime seems like a ridiculous idea.  It’s already hot out; you don’t need your dinner to warm you up even more.  A chilled soup on the other hand, can end up being exactly what you might be looking for.  Last summer I had my first experience with chilled soups one Saturday afternoon while perusing the farmers market.  A woman was giving samples of her homemade cold soups, and after trying one I promptly bought 3 containers, it was that good.  The best one that I had was by far her chilled beet soup.  Beets are one of my favorite vegetables, I eat them hot AND cold so it makes perfect sense that a chilled beet soup would be a home run.  I wanted to see if I could do it.

Luckily, I got beets in my CSA this week! How convenient.  What makes this even better is that I have also been getting the most delicious Napoli carrots for the past few weeks too.  They are just the right amount of sweet with a clean crisp finish to them.   I can almost eat the whole pound raw in one sitting.  Good thing I refrained this week, because into my soup they will go!

organic beets

As with almost everything I make, I pretty much made it up as I went along.  I immediately knew the flavor profile that I wanted.  A bright note of citrus and a zip of ginger would definitely compliment the sweet carrots and earthy beets.  I thought back to my basic soup making knowledge and went at it.

Ingredients:

4 medium sized beets – cut into small chunks (the smaller the pieces the faster it cooks!)

About ½ pound of carrots (I just couldn’t part with them all!) – also cut into small chunks

About 4 ½ cups of organic vegetable stock – low sodium

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 spring onion bulb, diced – I also received these in my CSA, they have a light, sweet, onion flavor that I knew wouldn’t be too overpowering.  If you can’t find them, try using a shallot.

1 TBS olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

Juice of ½ orange

1 TBS grated ginger – As I’ve noted in other recipes, a good tip is to keep your ginger in the freezer.  It stays fresh longer and you don’t have to worry about peeling it, you just use a microplane and grate what you need!

 

Making this was pretty simple, here’s what I did:

  • Sautee the garlic and onion in the olive oil (you want to cook out the raw flavor)
  • Add the stock and bring to a boil
  • Add the beets and carrots and cook until they are fork tender
  • Add the lemon juice, orange juice, and the grated ginger to the pot, stir, and take it off of the heat. *The last thing you want to be doing is adding a hot liquid to your blender, so make sure you let it cool down!!*
  • Once it’s cool, pour it all into the blender and blend!
  • Chill in the fridge for about an hour and EAT!!

chilled ginger citrus carrot beet soup in blender

 

I garnished mine with some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and it tasted great!!

chilled ginger citrus carrot and beet soup

You can definitely eat this soup hot too, so keep it in mind during the fall and winter months.  Just reheat it on the stove after you blend it and enjoy.

Spicy white bean, sweet potato and kale soup

“Well the weather outside is frightful”….ok ok I won’t start singing winter wonderland songs but it’s really quite true lately.  It’s been chilly and rainy for days with the exception of one nice day…where is the nice weather?!! So I decided to give in and cook myself something warm and comforting to cozy up on my couch with and embrace this crappy weather….and what’s better than soup?!! I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe on the blog, because for me, soup is EXTRA hard to pay attention to what I’m putting in it.  It gets a little of this and a little of that, and oh, no wait, a little more of that…soup is about tasting as you go and tweaking it to perfection by building the flavors.  But this was so simply delicious, I will do my best to explain it all 😉 and please, tweak as you go too! Start with little dashes and add more if you like the way it’s going, it’s a great way to introduce new flavors to your palate.

Spicy white bean, sweet potato, and kale soup

The basic ingredients:

2 TBS EVOO

½ white onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

About 2 cups of organic kale

1 medium sweet potato, diced into small cubes (I like to leave the skins on)

Organic vegetable broth, low sodium (I used about 3/4 of a quart container)

Seasonings:

Salt and pepper

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Ground cayenne red pepper

 

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium and cook the onion until translucent
  • Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add the kale and sautee until wilted
  • Add the beans and sweet potato and stir to combine
  • Pour the vegetable broth over everything until you have a little more broth than you would want if you want it soupy, or a little less if you want it thicker.  The broth will cook down and thicken up some so keep that in mind.
  •  Now I add my seasonings.  Like I said, dash and taste and figure out what works for you.  With the cayenne I started out with just a little bit and built it up to make sure it wasn’t too hot.  The cardamom and cinnamon, I did a couple dashes of each since I love those flavors together, especially with sweet potatoes! And as always, season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring up to a boil, cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, check your seasonings again.  You want a balance between the sweetness of the potatoes and cinnamon and the heat from the cayenne.  Adjust as needed and ENJOY!!

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

A little while back I had the pleasure of ‘talking food’ with one of my sister’s closest friends Emily and her husband Andy.  It’s not every day that I meet people who get excited about vegetables like I do, (and I completely plan to steal from their garden this summer 😉 haha).  But tonight’s recipe was inspired by them.  While we were swapping food favorites and looking through old pictures of dinners (because I’ve been taking pictures of my food long before I ever had a blog… I’m weird I know) Andy came across one that he immediately wanted the recipe for.  If you know me, or have read my blog before, then you are well aware that I am not good at recipe writing.  I also rarely make the same thing twice, partly for that reason.  However, I can always decipher what ingredients I had used in something and frankly, it’s more fun sometimes to use the same flavor profile but find new ways to re-invent it!!  This is a twist on the dinner that they saw and it came out delicious!!

Baked squash stack with white beans and stewed tomatoes

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium yellow squash

1 medium zucchini (you can swap these two depending on which one you want more of; I just happened to have these quantities so I went with it!)

1 can organic cannellini beans (no salt)

1 can organic stewed tomatoes with Italian herbs

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder

Italian seasoning

Directions:

  • Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and transfer them to a small bowl.  Using a fork, mash the beans into a chunky paste.
  • Also, drain the stewed tomatoes and put them in a separate bowl.  (squash give off a lot of liquid when they cook so you won’t need the extra from the tomatoes)
  • Slice your squash and zucchini into thin rounds, keeping them each in separate piles
  • Spray a baking dish (mine was 8×8) with non-stick spray and lay out an even layer of your first yellow squash in the bottom of the dish.
  • Season the layer with garlic powder and Italian seasoning
  • Take ½ of the mashed cannellini beans and dot it on top of the layer
  • Take ½ of the stewed tomatoes and using your fingers break them apart it into chunks, spreading it on top also.
  • Next, layer your zucchini and repeat the same seasoning steps followed by the remaining cannellini beans and stewed tomatoes.
  • Top with the final layer of yellow squash
  • Season with Italian seasoning and drizzle with 1 TBS of extra virgin olive oil to allow the top to brown up in the oven
  • Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the squash are tender and cooked all the way through, test this by sticking a fork in it! (the bake time will vary depending on how thick or thin your rounds are and also the size of your baking dish)
  • Broil for a few minutes at the end to brown the top

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes Overhead

Baked Squash Stack with White Beans and Stewed Tomatoes Sideview

I also think this dish would be amazing sprinkled with some fresh grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (but since I’m dairy free 😦 you’ll have to let me know!!!)

Coconut banana chocolate protein pancakes

Part of what I love about cooking is how much flexibility I have with my food.  I can open my fridge and just create dishes from what I have on hand, throwing a little of this, and a little of that to build flavorful meals.  So when it comes to baking, or anything where ratios and measurements are concerned, I tend to shy away.  I like getting the occasional inspiration from recipes, but not following them.

This is something I’m trying to change my mind set about.  Measuring shouldn’t be my enemy, and I can still make recipes “my own” while following someone else’s direction.  So I wanted to try out something I hadn’t made before, protein pancakes.  My view of pancakes was always that the batter was a difficult thing to perfect.   You were either using a box mix (no thank you), or measuring out ingredients exactly (yikes), or you were ending up with a disaster.  I’m actually not a huge fan of regular pancakes, they leave me feeling too full and weighed down, but this healthier version piqued my interest and I decided to start researching it.

In looking around the internet at recipes I realized that most of them all had similar base ingredients and similar ratios.  Happily, I decided to compile a general outline to follow and then decided to put my own twist on them.

The result: Coconut banana chocolate protein pancakes, drizzled with honey, natural peanut butter and dark chocolate dreams peanut butter.  A-MAZ-ING.

Coconut banana chocolate protein pancakes

I’ve decided to count this as a positive step and compromise in my fear towards recipes and a hopeful move in the direction of easing my fear of baking.  😉 There will be more experiments to come I’m sure!

Here’s what I used:

1 scoop protein powder (I use Garden of Life Organic Raw Cocoa Protein)

½ cup egg whites

½ organic banana

¼ cup organic oats

1 TBS organic coconut flour

1/8 cup (Silk) coconut milk

1/8 TBS baking soda

2 dashes of cinnamon (optional)

Dash of nutmeg (optional)

Blend it all together.  You can use a regular blender or I used my smoothie blender cup (kind of like a magic bullet but cheaper haha)

Cook over medium low heat in a skillet sprayed with coconut oil.  You know they’re ready to flip when bubbles start to form and pop!  This made 3 decent sized pancakes for me, and yes, I ate them all. 

I finished them off with a drizzle of honey, and then melted in the microwave a healthy tablespoon of Whole Foods fresh ground natural peanut butter and Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter.  Simply delicious!!

Healthy Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

I’ve been having really hectic weekends lately.  Between the semester almost ending and all the presentations and school work that go along with that, and all of the friends in my life having babies and getting married, I haven’t had much time to prep my weekday meals like I usually do.  What this means for me is I’ve been eating a lot of salads and tuna haha. 

Luckily, last night I finally had some free time to get back in my favorite place, the kitchen.  I wanted to make a dish that I knew would yield a lot of food for me, but wouldn’t be a lot of work because I was exhausted! I love this dish because it’s not only packed with veggies, but it’s simple and easy to make!! I’m not a huge fan of take-out food, but if you’re a fried rice lover, I highly suggest trying this instead.  It’s a much healthier and more nutritious option and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much it tastes like you’re actually eating fried rice!

cauliflower fried rice

You can really throw whatever veggies you want into it, but here’s what I used:

  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper diced
  • Hand grated 5 baby carrots (because that’s what I had in my fridge!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • Fresh grated ginger

You’ll also need:

  • 1TBS oil (I use extra virgin coconut oil)
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 TBS low sodium soy sauce
  • Any protein you may want to add
  • salt and pepper of course 😉

Start by sautéing your onions in 1 TBS of oil until translucent.  Then add the garlic, ginger, and other veggies and cook through.

While the veggies are cooking, cut off the florets of the head of cauliflower.  Some stem is ok, just not big pieces of it as it doesn’t process as nicely as the florets do.  Pulse them in your food processor until you get a rice-like consistency.

Add the cauliflower rice to the pot of veggies and stir to combine.

While the added cauliflower is cooking through, I whisked together the 2 eggs and scrambled them in a separate small pan. 

To finish, add the soy sauce and scrambled eggs, (add whatever cooked protein you would like at this step too) mix it all together and voila! Dinner is served! This made 4 servings for me, but really I wanted to eat it ALL! I served it with some hand cut chili spice sweet potato fries that I made also, but that’s another post! Hope you enjoy!!

cauliflower fried rice and chili spice sweet potato fries

Zucchini noodles with fire roasted tomato, artichoke, and tempeh sauce

Meatless Monday is a trend growing in popularity, and I love the idea of people incorporating more healthy, meat-free meals into their diet.  While I’m someone who can, and has, gone strict vegetarian in the past, I decided to take the opportunity to experiment more with vegan options for dinners on Mondays. Vegan can be a scary word to some, and even I never thought it was something I would be able to do, mainly because of my love for cheese. But since cutting dairy from my diet, I’ve found it’s really not that far from how I usually cook anyways.

Zucchini noodles with fire roasted tomato, artichoke, and tempeh sauce
The sauce is a mock meat sauce made with organic tempeh with flax, organic fire roasted tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Tempeh is a great source of protein and alternative for vegans and vegetarians. It’s made up of fermented soy and brown rice and this particular kind I purchased also had flax in it. It has a distinct nutty flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Instead of using pasta, I made my favorite alternative, zucchini noodles.  Its a staple in my summer meals when I literally have friends giving me tons of zucchini from their gardens because they can’t eat it all.  It’s light, crisp, and refreshing all while upping your veggie intake and providing you with tons vitamin C and fiber to fill you up.

The sauce: Crumble 1 package of organic tempeh into small pieces, sauteing in 1 TBS of organic coconut oil until lightly browned.  Add 1 can of organic fire roasted tomatoes, and dice and add 1/2 can of quartered artichoke hearts.  Season with garlic and onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  I also kept about 1/4 cup of water on the side which I added occasionally to make the sauce slightly thinner because I prefer my sauces that way, but it’s optional.  Simmer for about 20 minutes to let all the flavors come together.

The “noodles”: I used 2 medium sized organic zucchini, and it made about 3 servings worth of noodles.  Trim the ends off the zucchini and use a vegetable peeler to peel the length of the zucchini into linguine-like strips.  Work you way around the zucchini peeling until you get to the center of the vegetable where the seeds are .  You can either eat the noodles raw or throw them in a steamer basket for a few minutes to soften them up some.  Be careful to not over cook them because they will get mushy.  You want them “al dente” like a pasta would be 😉

Because I miss my cheese so much, I also sprinkled some nutritional yeast on top, which has a nutty cheese-like flavor.  And there you have it! Light, vegan friendly and delicious!