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Salad Challenge

I dearly believe that children watch you, learn from you, and mimic you.  With that said, I want to be a great influence for them. Some days, my patience wears thin as I feel tired and worn out, but I strive to be an image for them that I hope will create great thinkers, adventurers, cooks, friends, and generally good people.

Meals are an important part of physical performance.  Being sensitive to my body chemistry, I can feel when I’ve had too much salt, sugar, bread, not enough water,  & not enough sleep.  Being that today marks a year since our move, I figured I’d give myself a challenge.  I already eat really well, mostly cook from scratch, extremely limit processed food items, and drink ample water each day.  Since watching FedUp, I’ve cut down heavily on the amount of sugar I was allowing; which quite honestly was not too shabby anyways…but I am trying to abide by the recommended 25 grams/day. So, what does that mean?  I figured my challenge was to have a salad a day for a month, with the aim to go longer once I hit that mark.

Having an organic garden within 30 steps from our place, this is completely feasible.  My mom is great at getting my children to taste things they would otherwise turn their nose up; if it were me suggesting it.  It’s pretty funny that kids will listen to grandparents over parents sometimes. I’m thrilled that my own parents create an environment of curiosity. They now regularly partake dandelions flowers, nasturtiums, violets, fennel fronds, alpine strawberries, arugula, uncooked green beans, sweet peas, etc. They pretty much eat their body weight in the fresh food from these 6 acres. They are always full of chagrin when they’ve spent time with my mom in the garden and are eager beavers to get busy making their own salad. There are so many salads one can make: bean salad, fruit salad, green salad, etc. Hopefully, my children will join me on my salad challenge.  Will you?

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Today’s Salad: swiss chard, arugula, nasturtiums greens/flowers, quinoa, fennel fronds, dried cranberries, avocado, & toasted pine nuts dressed with home-made Honey-Dijon dressing.

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Chilled Beet Salad

We left for Washington State on July 5th; just shy of a year ago.  It has been a bittersweet experience.  We miss our friends so incredibly much, and think of them daily.  Their companionship, conversation, laughter, shoulder to cry on, ideas to bounce back and forth, and their genuineness is something that cannot be replaced.

Our recent journey back to CA was incredible.  This recipe makes me think of one of my besties, Brianne Wells.  It was at her house, prior to her son’s birthday party, that I was asked to prepare this.  I love everything about it.  Thank you Brianne for this recipe.

I will miss gathering this year, as we have done for the last 14 years or so, to celebrate our favorite holiday alongside you and your family.  Cheers!  I’ll be eating this beet salad on Saturday, and be thinking of you guys.

Ingredients:

6 large beets or 5 1/2 cups of medium diced beets

1 cup dill pickles, mince

1/2 cup “mayo”

1/4 cup pickle juice

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. dried dill

1 tsp. sea salt or to taste

dash ground black pepper

Directions:

Steam diced beets until tender. Set aside and allow to cool.  In a mixing bowl, prepare “dressing” by combining pickles, mayo, pickle juice, garlic, dill, sea salt, and black pepper.  Whisk well.  Add the dressing to the steamed beets, and mix well.  Allow to chill for two hours.

 

 

 

Blueberry Bundt Cake

 A plethora of summer fruit at my fingertips lead me down this path…. Blueberry Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon for blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup palm shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. flax meal
  • 8 Tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup vegan sour cream
  • 2 cups organic blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.

  2. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening, flax meal, sour cream, almond extract, and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Fold wet into dry.

  3. In a bowl, toss blueberries with remaining teaspoon flour; gently fold into batter. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan or a Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared pan.

  4. Bake bundt cake at 350 for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, top side up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Vanilla Bean Crepes with Orange-Cashew Creme

My family and I love waffles, pancakes, and crepes. I don’t make any of them often, as I see them more as a treat. But oh my goodness, when I do make them, they are so dang tasty. Typically a weekend morning splurge, we change-up the components on these bad boys to make them extra special.

This weekend we enjoyed some that I’d like to share with you. They are vanilla bean crepes; lovingly speckled with fresh vanilla bean and filled with home-blended cashew creme with a splash of orange extract. It’s almost like taking in the scent of budding flowers on afternoon day, while lying in tall green grass with the sun kissing your winter skin. It’s the simple things in life that need not be taken for granted.

Ingredients:

Batter: 

1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. ground flax meal

4 Tbsp. expeller pressed safflower oil

2 1/2- 2 3/4 cups of almond milk, adjust if you need it thinner (I light mine a bit on the thicker side)

1/2 of 1 vanilla bean, scraped

1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon scented vanilla extract (by Edwin and Lesha)

Cashew Creme:

2 cups of roasted cashews

1/2 cup of filtered water

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp. organic brown sugar

1/4 tsp. of orange extract

pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees for holding prepared crepes until you are ready to fill.

For the batter: Add all dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk thoroughly (flour, baking powder, sea salt, sugar, and flax meal) Add wet ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk well (safflower oil, almond milk, vanilla bean, and cinnamon-vanilla extract).  Combine dry to wet and mix well.

For the cashew creme: Add  all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Set creme aside in a bowl.

To prepare the crepes: In a crepe pan, heat a small amount of safflower oil, and then place 1/4 cup of batter into heated pan.  Swirl into a circle and prepare the same way you would a pancake. Make sure one side is cooked before flipping to the other. Place on a cookie sheet in the warmed oven until you are ready to fill.  When you are done preparing the crepes, take each one and place 1 Tbsp. of cashew creme on half of the crepe and then fold in half, or roll.  It’s all up to you how you’d like to display or eat them. We like them folded two ways, and garnished with fresh fruit.

 

Black Bean Mushroom Burgers with Cilantro Aioli

My kids fought over who got the last burger. THAT is a good sign. This was an attempt on my part to create a gluten-free burger that was satisfying, full of flavor, and a great source of fiber/protein.  Cost effective, and easy to prepare, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Ingredients (yield: 6 burgers)

Burger:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup diced leeks

1/2 cup diced crimini mushrooms

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans

2 Tbsp. flax meal

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/8 tsp. chili powder

1/8 tsp. cinnamon powder

Breading:

3 Tbsp. ancient grains GF flour

1 Tbsp. organic cornmeal

1 tsp. sea salt

Cilantro Aioli:

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 clove of garlic

4 Tbsp. mayo substitute (Just Mayo)

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup filtered water

1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds

1 pinch of sea salt

1/8 tsp. jalapeno pepper hot sauce

Directions: 

Burgers: In olive oil, sauté leeks, mushrooms, and garlic for 7-10 minutes. Add pumpkin seeds, and cooked black beans, sauté for 5 more minutes. Add flax meal, cumin, paprika, sea salt, chili powder, and cinnamon.  Saute for 5 more minutes.  While still warm, mash well with a potato masher, then set aside while preparing breading and aioli.

Breading: Combine ancient grains, cornmeal, and sea salt onto a platter.  Mix well.  Form burgers mixture into circular patties (about 2 inch L x 2 inch W x 1/2 H) Bread each side of burger with the platter mixture.  Lay on parchment and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours+ prior to grilling.

Cilantro Aioli: This is not a traditional aioli. There are no eggs in this combination.  To prepare this mixture, you can place all the ingredients into a bowl and emulsify until pureed.

To Grill Burgers: When you’re ready to grill the burgers, heat olive oil in a pan and carefully grill on each side until darkened.  They are gluten-free, so handle with care. I served mine with avocado, butter lettuce, grilled pineapple, grilled red bell peppers/red onions, and cilantro aioli on a sourdough baguette. Sourdough, from research, is better for digestion. Some gluten-free folks believe it is okay to consume because of the fermentation that occurs when preparing. If you are incredibly gluten-free sensitive, and prefer not to take a chance, I know Udi’s make’s decent burger buns.

 

 

 

 

 

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Split Pea Soup

The weather got down to 33 degrees here in WA  a couple of days ago, with expected snow on Thursday.  Nothing sounded better after a family soccer scrimmage then a hot bowl of Split Pea soup.  Split Peas are high in protein and fiber. Simple, yet satisfying alongside oven roasted garden grown potatoes, a green salad and cranberry-pumpkin loaf.  Absolutely loving experiencing seasons. In southern CA, we never got to completely grasp true weather fluctuations.  It’s truly fun.

* Un-soaked peas take from 1 to 2 hours of simmering; soaked peas take about 40 minutes. Also, the only difference between yellow and green split peas is color. Split peas absorb lots of water as they cook, so check the soup often and add liquid as needed. The peas only need to be cooked until they are tender.(yields: 6-8 servings)

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of split peas

1/2 white onion, diced

1 carrot, sliced thin

1 1/2 stalks of celery, diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 cubes of bouillon

8 cups water

salt and pepper

olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a soup pot saute onion, carrot, and celery along with garlic in a splash of olive oil (roughly 2 Tbsp. of olive oil). Allow the vegetables to soften for 5-7 minutes.  Add the split peas to the vegetable mix and stir in for 2 minutes coated well.  Add the water and bouillon cubes and bring to boil for 8 minutes. Then place on simmer for up 1-2 hours (depends on if you soaked the peas beforehand) Check your water often. If you like a thicker soup, then 8 cups should be fine. If you like a looser soup, alter the water as you cook.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

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Pumpkin & Apple-Fennel Tamales with Cinnamon Masa

A favorite thing of mine to do is develop recipes. I love getting creative in the kitchen, and look forward to the outcome.  One important word of advice given in culinary school was….experiment. Sometimes things turn out great, other times you go back to the drawing board and make alterations here and there.  In the end, it only helps to make you a better cook.

Tonight I needed to use up some fresh pumpkin that I had roasted and pureed for a previous recipe; my cranberry pumpkin loaf.  I love to bake, but unfortunately cannot live off of baked goods. So, the pumpkin & apple-fennel tamales were born.  Seasonally appropriate, these tamales were delicious.  (yield: 10 tamales)

MASA INGREDIENTS:

3 cups masa harina

2.5 cups warm water

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup olive oil

1 tsp. sea salt

TAMALE FILLING:

1/4 cup carmelized onions

1 tsp. orange zest, minced

1 Tbsp. fennel fronds, minced

1/4 cup apple, minced

pinch sea salt

1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp. organic brown sugar

* 10 tamale corn husks, soaked.

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the masa: Place 3 cups of masa harina in a bowl. Add cinnamon, and sea salt and whisk.  Drizzle in water and olive oil and fold the wet into the dry.  Set aside

Soak the tamale husks in warm water for 3-5 minutes to soften.

Prepare the filling: In a saute pan, caramelize onion. Add orange zest, fennel fronds, and minced apple.  Saute for 7 more minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt and vanilla extract.  Then add pureed pumpkin and 1 tsp. brown sugar.  Saute for 3 more minutes.

Prepare the tamales: Place husks flat with pointed tip towards you (almost like a triangle tip) and the wider side away from you.  Press 1/8 cup of prepared masa onto the husk and make a flat surface to place the filling.  Place 1 heaping Tbsp. onto the masa and then cover filling with another 1/8 cup of masa; encasing the filling with the dough.  Take the pointed tip and fold onto the pile of uncooked tamale, then fold one side towards the other, rolling in the process.  You can tie the tamales with twine if they feel loose, or keep them piled with the fold on the bottom to prevent unfolding.  Repeat this step for each tamale.

Cooking the tamales: I have a 30-year-old tamale steamer I use, but I suppose you can use a steamer  if there is enough space for the tamales to cook thoroughly.  Allow 60 minutes to cook completely due to the pumpkin puree.  Otherwise, it will be mushy.  I like to accompany this meal with cumin scented pinto beans, Spanish rice, fresh salsa, a side vegetable, and home-made guacamole.

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