Moroccan Carrot Soup

Another soup, already? Yep. Sorry about it, but…

I’ve been hit by, I’ve been hit by, a smooth (soupy) criminal.

Soup has now robbed my kitchen and all my recipe idea brain space. After that first bowl last week, on one of the first fully chilly fall nights, my mind was stolen. More soup, please.

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I hope you can get on board with that. And if you’re skeptical, let me tell you why it’s a good idea.

The best of fall’s harvest is in. Soup is gladly here to take it all in, and to fill you up and warm you up without weighing you down before the holidays.

For a hearty, yet light meal to welcome in autumn, I can’t think of anything better than soup.

Which means, I’m serving up two of those spoon-ready recipes in a row. Hope you can handle it. High five to you if you’re more than ready.

Carrots

This is one of my more favorite carrot soups I’ve had in awhile. It’s layered with flavor stemming from two main components: the caramelization from the roasted veggies and the toasted hints from the cumin.

Roasted Carrots
Buying the whole cumin seed and grinding it yourself is well worth the extra step. After toasting up those seeds in your skillet, you’ll see why. The fragrance they give off needs no explanation written out here on this blog.

Bottle that up and place it in a spray bottle, and you bet I’d spritz that all around my house. Likely on my clothes, too.

Moroccan Roasted Carrot Soup

If you don’t have a spice grinder, a coffee grinder will just as well do the trick to quickly grind up your toasted cumin seeds.

Their slight smokiness goes so well with the natural sweetness that radiates from earthy roasted carrots. Add a tangy dollop of yogurt to the mix, and it’s like heaven in a bowl.

Or a smooth criminal, that’ll try to steal your bowl, or mind, for the next few days.

Toasted Cumin

Healthful yet so tastefully satisfying, it’s likely I’ll be making this again soon. Don’t worry, it won’t show up on the blog again. Although, I can’t say the same for another soup soon.


High five again if you’re okay with that.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Curry Harvest Soup

In Philly, sweater weather has official set in. I’m zipping around a little faster on my bike and keeping my jackets zipped up a little higher. All in the name of keeping warm while I watch the leaves turn, fall, and land from their treetop post.

When I set this soup upon the table yesterday evening, I have to say, I was feeling pretty good about autumn. Warm, crusty bread and an Oktoberfest beer paired by its side, it’s safe to say I think you’d feel the same.

Curry Harvest Soup

If you find yourself ever getting the fear-of-winter blues, like me, make soup. Soup is pretty much the solution to everything.

After a crisp, October run, with the sun setting just a wee bit too early, a spoonful of this will assure you, autumn will be more than okay. And for a few warm moments, it’ll make you forget all together about winter.

I call it soup meditation.

It clears the mind. It clears the nose…especially if you put enough curry powder and spice.

Curry Harvest Soup

This particular soup has plenty of spice, although not in a notably fiery way. It remains light given all its vegetables and brothy composure, yet with some of the season’s best – sweet potatoes and kale – has a heartiness that makes it more than satisfying. I find this balance makes it perfect for mid-fall, when you need a little warmth but not a heavy sauna in your bowl.

Curry Harvest Soup

Make sure you don’t skimp out on the toppings. The parsley and nutritional yeast really do wonders to enhance this simple recipe and play off its seasonal freshness.

Curry Harvest Soup

Additionally, feel free to use all sweet potatoes, if feeling so inspired. You can rarely go wrong with an extra sweet potato in the pot.

As for the yellow squash, slightly matured ones, characteristic of this time of year, are fine and maybe even preferred. The heartier flesh pairs well with the other ingredients going on here.

Serve with some earthy bread and a nice fall beer, and you’ve got yourself the perfect evening.

More soup to come soon, guaranteed.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

The best Saturdays are ones where you wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and immediately start scheming lunch creations with your friend. (Foraging figs, going on a photo adventure, and scheming up breakfast, all follow close behind.)

This was the first full weekend I’ve been completely free in awhile. Two Philly mornings in a row with no set agenda. No photo gigs. No work engagements. No client meetings, camping trips, or out-of-town excursions.

While I love all of the above, it felt great. And it felt even greater once this socca landed on my Saturday plate.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

On Friday night, I saw Aziz Ansari do stand-up. His act was hilariously relatable, to say the least, ranging from riffs on the factory meat industry to creepy boys to relationship vs. single life status. He hit all the right topics, and made my abs hurt from laughing so much.

Although, there was one joke with which I just couldn’t agree. And it had to do with carrots.

Carrots

You see, Aziz claims, you walk into a house and someone’s cooking bacon, and often you’ll say, “Plate me up a few pieces!” Aziz is convinced bacon exudes a pheromone-like lust that veggies just don’t have. He says, walk into a house where someone’s steaming carrots, and you won’t find anyone screaming, “Pull me up a plate of those.”

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

But Aziz, I must tell you, you’re wrong. This carrot-loving [weirdo?] individual would far prefer carrots to bacon. And no, not for health reasons. For taste.

Carrots are hands-down my favorite, and since the mention on Friday night, my Saturday morning mind inserted them straight into that afternoon’s lunch plans.

Roasted carrots? One of fall’s best assets, if I have to say so myself. Perhaps steaming wouldn’t do the trick, but throw carrots on a baking sheet and into the oven, and I bet at least a few would be enticed by the caramelized smell they give off. Plate me up, please.

Black lentils

With the orange beauties in mind, my friend and I got to work on this fall-inspired socca pizza.

Here, carrots are roasted up, and then pureed into a slightly sweet, slightly spicy curry sauce that lends itself perfectly to a flavorful flatbread destination. Topped with salty feta, fresh cilantro and some crispy baked onions, this is a better-than-restaurant-quality meal, fit into a single cast iron pan.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

You’ll find multiple steps below in making this recipe. Don’t get intimidated. Each is simple, and you can get going on many of the layers simultaneously. For instance, as the carrots roast, prep everything else.

Roasted carrots

Far better than bacon? A definite. Stemming from carrots? Heck yeah.

Roasted Curry Carrot Socca with Lentils & Feta

You tell me – what healthy fall ingredients are on your mind? Any featuring veggies that you know could out-do bacon in a heartbeat? Please share!

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

Septemblur.

That’s all I have to say about this last month of summer. A good month for certain, but even more certainly, a fast one.

With just one (single!) day left of summer and one day till autumn, I have two words to say right now — s w e e t    p o t a t o.

Sweet Potatoes

I don’t know about you, but it feels like I woke up one morning, and poof, out of thin, (brisk, leaves-falling-through-it) air, autumn suddenly appeared. Sundress weather turned to sweater weather practically overnight, and sundown hours setup fort before I even had time to tell them I’d prefer they wait a bit longer.

That is life. You turn into this thing called an “adult” — generally the same meaning, but just a shorter form of the word adolescent — and life begins to blur.

Summer, don’t leave me. Please.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

On the bright side, fall brings with it an array of awesome qualities outside of just the dreaded onset of winter. Fall foliage, apple picking, apple pie, apple oatmeal, apple everything.

Like Bubba on shrimp, I could talk endlessly about the things you can do with apples. But instead, let’s talk sweet potatoes. After all, they define the warm color of this season, exemplifying its deepest shade at their best.

What am I looking forward to most this fall? Orange.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

I’m not ready to jump ship from summer. Don’t let this recipe deceive you. However, I admit, I am ready for sweet potatoes. When the weather crisps up, their soft heat brings more warmth to the table than my favorite winter sweater. And you know I am always ready for kale on that table, too.

So, here it is, my first autumn recipe of the year. Even if you’re a weeping-for-summer-to-stay kind of person like me, one thing’s for sure, this meal won’t disappoint. I say that even if the first cool, can’t-eat-outside evening you consume it during does. (Okay, okay. I know. Chilly evenings aren’t as bad as I’m making them out to be.)

Garlicky Kale

Here, garlicky kale and simply steamed sweet potatoes make for a classic pairing, yet an innovative, fall-feeling sushi. The ingredient combo also elevates an already healthy cuisine to a whole other level, which is exactly how I like to embrace the changing of seasons — on the right foot for my body.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

You’ll find sweet potato sushi as an option on many vegetarian sections of sushi restaurants. Yet, it’s rarely an item I reach for, given it’s often just sweet potato rolled up in rice. Make it yourself, however, and add some sautéed kale to that equation, and you get an incredibly flavorful roll, with sweet-bitter and soft-chewy contrasts. Creamy avocado, a mainstay in all my sushi dreams, makes the whole thing complete, along with wasabi to offset the sweet potato.

Still a simple roll, no part of this is really complicated. Yet together, it all works so well.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

Grab a sushi mat and get ready to roll. Even if you’re mat-less, a clean flat surface, and press from your hands can do the trick. Just don’t tell the sushi chef masters I ever suggested that. CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

Certain neighborhoods of Philly are infiltrated with Banh mi. The classic Vietnamese sandwich essentially acts as the Chipotle of the Asian food world, but even cheaper. You walk in, select your “meat”, and leave within 5-10 minutes with an aluminum wrapped, $5 foot-long sandwich, ready to be eaten. It’s a great feeling.

Scallions

Since it’s so easy to pick up a Banh mi around Philly, I rarely take the time to make it. Yet, it’s hands-down one of my favorites of the sandwich world, and so on the occasion that I’m getting a simultaneous desire for both Banh mi and a chef’s knife in my hand, I put on my cooking hat and grab my own tofu to be canvassed.

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

When Banh mi making is going down in my kitchen, you can nearly guarantee it’s going to have a little flair to it. What’s the point of making the original version when I can grab that anytime, with little detriment to my bank account?  Besides, if I’m recreating a dish, I’m always about finding further ways to maximize its flavor since the ingredient make-up lays entirely in my hands. No doubt, that’s going on with this recipe. Wassuppppp wasabi?

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

I don’t eat a ton of white bread, but when it comes to Banh Mi, a chewy white roll will always oust a whole wheat counterpart. This is one instance where whole wheat just won’t work. The flavor is unfortunately just too overpowering.

Collard wraps, on the other hand, those can create some Banh Mi magic.

CollardWraps_blog11

Here, collard wraps are able to balance the delicate freshness of the traditional Banh mi composition, while adding an even extra layer of freshness on top of it all. It lightens up the whole meal, while enabling more flavor to shine through. Peel back that one-inch layer of bread, and the notes of deliciousness from the slaw, cilantro and other jamboree of ingredients are able to reach their fullest potential.

Shredded carrots

Be patient with the tofu, and make sure it gets a nice crisp so it can add that contrast to the creamy peanut sauce you’ll place beneath it.

For a fun, spicy twist, this peanut sauce receives a generous punch of wasabi that’ll make it stand out among other sauces. I love the flavor it brings to the subtle sweetness of the peanuts and the carrots.

CollardWraps_blogmontage

True to the grab-and-go nature of banh mi — but more so with the intention to make your wrap-eating a little less messy! — envelope your collard packages in aluminum foil. This will seal in all the flavors so they don’t end up on your shirt. Although, if you’re like me, that’ll probably happen anyway.

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

I brought that big pile up above into work last week, and served it with a slide of Asian slaw for my coworkers. Two thumbs up, all around.

Since these are destined for pre-packaging, this will makes a great recipe for your own workweek lunch. While best the first day, the wraps can certainly withstand being rolled up the night before and kept in the fridge till you head out.

Tofu Banh Mi Collard Wraps

Crispy tofu with a memorable, punchy sauce, getting all smitten together as a result of my love for collard wraps…this has FoodFitnessFreshAir written all over it. Collar’, collar’ GREENSSSS. Cheers.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…