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Faux Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Based on my last few posts, the crisp fall air is obviously affecting my food choices.  But, what the heck, soup is so full of nutrition, and with the abundant amount of apples that we just picked from the orchard, my next post will be apple based. So, soup lovers, I hope you enjoy this one too. For me, I can never get enough soup. I think an absolutely wonderful meal consists of soup, salad, and bread crisp.

The first time I encountered this soup, my dear friend Brianne Wells had prepared it.  At the time, we lived right next door to one another, and it was truly a Melrose place experience with other besties, Peder and Phi, on the other side of the yard, and my younger brother one street over. It proves to be one of the highlights of my twenties, and having that experience being surrounded by amazing friends.

Brianne and I would often share food that we had prepared by hollering over the fence and trading.  Being able to invite at a whim’s notice, for dinner guests was quite the blessing.  Our dinners often consisted of all 6 of us around the table, enjoying food and company.  When we began having children, the gatherings became even more memorable.  Oddly, we moved into our first homes the same exact day.  Though 20 minutes apart, and with new experiences, I really miss having that bond.

Though I slightly altered it, whenever I make this soup I think of her, and inside thank her introducing it to me. Yield: 8 servings.

SOUP:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2  stalks of celery, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 cloves garlic

1/4 of a white onion, diced

1 cup green beans, roughly chopped

8 cups water

2 bay leaves

2 cups faux chicken strips by: Beyond Meat (gluten-free/vegan)

3 cubes vegetable bouillon (The Organic Gourmet)

dash of freshly minced rosemary

DUMPLINGS:

1 cup finely ground spelt flour

1/2 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/8 cup olive oil

1/4 cup almond milk

DIRECTIONS:

For the soup: In a soup pot, saute celery, onion, and carrot and garlic in olive oil until al dente. Add green beans, water, and bay leaves. Allow to slightly saute with the other mixture for 5 minutes. Add water and bring to boil, then lower to simmer for 10 minutes. Add  “chicken” and bouillon cubes and simmer for another 10 minutes; stirring frequently.

For the Dumplings: In a mixing bowl add spelt flour, baking powder, and sea salt together. Whisk. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, and almond milk.  Whisk well.  Combine wet to dry, and with a spatula, fold together.  Form the dough into balls the size of golf balls.  While the soup is in the last stages of simmering, place the balls one at a time into the soup mix.  Allow each one to float to the top before adding an additional dumpling ball (to prevent sticking).  The dumpling mixture makes 8-10 dumplings.  Enjoy.

 

 

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Creamy Potato Leek Soup

Yesterday afternoon it began sprinkling. My hopes began. I said a quick prayer for rain, and then it happened.  An entire night of blissful tappity-tap-tap on the barn’s tin roof.  Yes, we sleep in a barn. There are no animals in the barn, unless you include a hamster and a family dog; or three children.  When we transitioned from Southern California to Washington, we were blessed with living quarters on my parents six acres to focus on business and family; get away from the hustle and bustle and jobs that drained us spiritually & emotionally.  A fresh start.

These six acres also blessed my oldest brother and his family 4 years ago when he pioneered his way here from San Luis Obispo seeking the same change we do now.  This homestead is nestled amongst antique maple trees, and settled upon a hill overlooking the Puget Sound.  Not only am I able to see Mt. Rainier on one spectrum, I can also see the Olympic Cascades.  In all the wonder lust, these six acres provide the space my children need to run, play, scream, and laugh to their heart’s content. To play in dirt, run barefoot in rain, forage for berries, and hunt for chanterelle, this place is a nature seekers Heaven.  It’s like an adventure playground for kids and adults. My palate has never been more satisfied at all the fresh offerings right on this property.

One of my favorite things here is that each morning, my oldest runs down to spend some time with her grandparents.  There is something so completely peaceful and important about this.  Her sisters eventually join her, while I prepare breakfast and daily home school lessons.

But, back to that tappity-tap-tap.  That rain! Oh, that rain! That rain brought 2 1/2 inches in less than 24 hours. I was in my glory!  I may be a native Californian, but I do love my rain.  It was such a perfect setting to enjoy fall flavors of fare and to pour my energy into an evening of preparing creamy potato leek soup (home-grown potatoes and garlic).  From fresh made rustic bread, to home-made crackers, from-scratch hummus with hand-picked cucumbers, and farm picked fruit smoothies, this potato leek soup was just one of the many recipes that were dived into with utter appreciation today.  This place is amazing!

POTATO LEEK

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup of freshly chopped leeks

4 large potatoes, cubed 1/2 inch

2 cloves of garlic

6 cups of water

2 bouillon cubes (I like using The Organic Gourmet-Vegetable Bouillon)

salt & pepper to taste

*** If you have vegetable broth, use that in place of the water and bouillon cubes.  Use 6 cups just as you would water.

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a soup pot, saute leeks and garlic in olive oil, until tender.

2. Add chopped potatoes and continue to saute with the leeks and garlic for flavor.

3. Add water and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then turn to simmer for another 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste

4. With an emulsifier or blender, blend until completely creamy or pureed. Garnish the way you choose. We like to eat ours alongside a salad with a toast crisp.

 

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Creamed Curried Coconut Cauliflower Soup

About 15 years ago, our paths intertwined with this amazing couple from our church. Rich and Lucy  are the type of people who light up a room; charming, funny, inspiring, uplifting.  They are the kind of people you can’t get enough of.

One evening, in an unusual torrential Southern Californian downpour, we were fortunate to be the lucky recipients of a meal hosted by them at their cute little Costa Mesa abode.  Fortunately for us, the rain dissipated so we could enjoy their lovely backyard lit up with decorative lights set amidst their quaint city garden to partake of the amazing meal Rich prepared.

Rich is probably one of the best cooks I have met.  He can pair flavors together with such intrigue, that I find myself dissecting the meal so that I can replicate it at another time. But, he is similar to me, in the fact that often times, I prepare a meal and do not write down the recipe.

This wonderful meal consisted of a main dish of creamy curried coconut cauliflower soup. Such a depth in flavor, and the perfect accompaniment for the fresh garden salad, and rustic bread and garlic spread that he created.  Since that evening, this soup has been on my top five favorite soups list.  I cannot prepare it with the same umph, as he, but it comes close enough to where I can allow my palate to be content.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 head of  cauliflower, chopped

1 small white onion chopped

2 large cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. coriander

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup cashews

1 tsp. sesame oil

6 cups of vegetable stock

* salt and pepper to taste

1 can coconut milk

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl, mix together olive oil, cauliflower, onion, garlic, curry, turmeric, coriander, cumin, sea salt, and pepper. Allow to roast for 30 minutes until cauliflower is softened.  In a soup pot, place the roasted cauliflower mix with vegetable broth, coconut milk, and cashews. Bring to boil for 5 minutes, then simmer for another 15.  Blend with an immersion blender until creamy.  If you don’t own an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender if yours is fine with heat.  Add the sesame oil, and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

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Raspberry-Pear Pie with Pecan Nut Crust

One thing I love about Washington, is all the abundant seasonal local fruit.  These pears came from an organic farmer not far from my folks home.

I can barely wait to experience fall in Washington. The leaves are just beginning to change to vibrant golden hues with touches of cranberry speckles. The air is crisp in the morning, providing that need for the lightest of sweaters until the afternoon sun warms you.  So, this raspberry-pear pie sets the tone for the changes stirring about. I can barely hold back my desire to partake in frequent bowls of soup throughout the week.

Praying the cooler weather comes soon. I’m ready for fall!

PECAN NUT CRUST:

1/2 cup oats

1 cup pecans

1 cup organic all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

4 Tbsp. Earth Balance, melted

pinch of sea salt

RASPBERRY-PEAR FILLING:

3 pears peeled and sliced

1/8 cup organic cane sugar

2 Tbsp. arrowroot

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. lemon peel, minced

2 cups of fresh raspberries

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

For the crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place oats and pecans into a blender or spice grinder and coarsely grind.  In a bowl, mix the pecans, oats, flour, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Melt the Earth Balance in a saucepan, then add to the mixture and fold in the earth balance. Press the crust into a pie tart pan. Bake at 375 for 7 minutes, then set aside on a cooling rack.

For the filling: Peel and slice pears and place into a mixing bowl.  Sprinkle on the sugar, arrowroot, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, lemon peel, and vanilla. Fold in gently to combine all of the ingredients.  Gently add the raspberries and fold until mixed with the other ingredients.  Add the pie filling to the crust and then bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Collard & Millet Croquettes with Corn Hollandaise Sauce

These GF croquettes are a wonderful accompaniment with sautéed kale and fingerling potatoes.  Millet is such a great alternative for those on a gluten-free diet. With its sweet and mild taste, you’ll often see it offered as a hot cereal.  It is commonly seen in bird seed.  But, this wonderful grain is  not just for the birds.  Millet is high in copper, maganese, magnesium and phosphorus, and iron.

CROQUETTES:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup of sliced leeks

1/4 cup sliced collard greens

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup yellow squash diced

3 cups cooked millet

2 Tbsp. parsley minced

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (there are both GF and non GF varieties, make sure you buy the correct one if you do this GF)

2 heaping Tbsp. flax-seed meal

1/4 cup water or vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

parchment paper

CORN HOLLANDAISE SAUCE:

15 oz. of fresh or canned organic sweet corn

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. tabasco

salt and pepper to taste

cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer

DIRECTIONS:

For the Croquettes: Pre-cook millet in a pot and set aside to cool. In a skillet, heat oil and saute leeks, collards, garlic, yellow squash, parsley until softened. In a bowl, combine cooled millet with the sautéed vegetables and add nutritional yeast and flax-seed meal. Add water or vegetable broth.  Salt and Pepper to taste. Mix well.  Form patties and  allow to refrigerate for 1 hour to thicken up on a sheet pan lined with parchment. To bake croquettes, set oven to 350 for 30 minutes.

For the Corn Hollandaise Sauce: Take 15 oz. of corn (either canned or fresh) and cook for 5 minutes.  In a blender, blend the corn along with 1/2 cup water until mix is pureed. Remove blended corn and using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, strain the pureed corn into a sauce pan. This allows for the husk on the corn to be removed and for the sauce to be smooth.  In the saucepan, heat the hollandaise on low for 15 minutes or until it thickens. This mix will naturally thicken because of the natural starch and sugar. Because of this, you need to stir it throughout the 15 minutes of heating to prevent sticking to the bottom of your saucepan. Add lemon juice, Dijon, tabasco, salt and pepper.  Whisk again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Zucchini-Raisin-Walnut Bread

I enjoy cooking. I really do. But, I LOVE to bake.  So here is another yummy recipe, this time using fresh zucchini from my mom’s garden.  If you hate zucchini, try this regardless. I think I’ll make a lover out of you.

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 finely ground spelt flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 Tbsp. flax meal

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup maple syrup or cane sugar

1/3 cup safflower oil

1/4 cup almond milk

1  cup freshly grated zucchini

1/2 cup organic raisins

1/4 cup walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Stir together flour, baking soda, sea salt, flax meal, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Whisk until blended.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup  (or sugar) safflower oil, and almond milk. Mix wet into dry.

3. Grate 1 cup of zucchini and gather 1/2 cup raisins + walnuts (optional). Fold in to wet/dry combo.

4.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

5. Allow to cool before slicing.

 

 

 

 

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Crispy Crackers

Why make your own crackers, you might ask? Any mother could understand why.  This recipe takes a total of 25 minutes of my time. That being said, by the time I strap my three young daughters into their carseats, and make my way to the grocery store, and meander down the aisles with their harmonic wants and persistent grabbing at products, and then return to strapping them back into the car and back, and make my way home…. you get the point. I could be done without ever leaving home.  Plus, they are fresh and I know exactly what goes into them. The temporary displacement of scrambling for a quick grocery jaunt, is completely eliminated.  This is a recipe my mom passed along to me, and one I wish to share with you. These are delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup olive oil or butter

1/2 cup water, plus more as needed

1/4 cup sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix the flour and salt. Then add the oil or butter and water. Lightly blend the ingredients, adding more water as needed.

2. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until it has reached a thickness of no more then 1/8 inch.   If the dough is thicker then 1/8 inch, the crackers won’t be as crisp as they should be, so this is important.

3. Transfer the dough to an ungreased baking sheet, and lightly mark the dough into 2-inch squares using a knife. Don’t cut all the way through the dough.  Next, use a fork to poke tiny holes in the top of each cracker.

4. Sprinkle the crackers with salt and sesame seeds, and bake until crisp for 15-20 minutes. If you crackers are more then 1/8 think, extend the cooking time. Makes 36 crackers.

* I have tried the seeds two different ways, one the way the recipe suggests (topping before baking), the other is mixing them into the dough before adding the wet to dry. I prefer the second way to the first because the seeds and nuts stay in the cracker, as opposed to falling off.  Also, I added flax, chia, and sunflower.  Be creative. This recipe is just the beginning of what you can alter to make your own way.

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My at home co-op brings fresh vegetables every other day.

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Here, I topped the crackers with home made hummus, fresh picked mache, garden picked arugula, home grown lemon cucumbers, and heirloom tomatoes.