Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

When it rains, it pours.

There was a time a couple years ago when my car got towed while I was away, traveling for a month. An entire month in a Philly tow truck lot costs the equivalent to an entire month of a lot of people’s salaries. It was an unfortunate way to return home from a trip. To further this unfortunate nonsense, my wallet got stolen the week that followed. And in the days that followed that, I got hit by a car (luckily without much injury). To end out that week, I was laid off from a steady freelance gig, because times were apparently tough for everyone that year.

It was a month of rain – the kind where lighting seems to strike down without warning, and the power goes out, and you’re left in silence wondering what to learn from the entire situation as you wait for the lights to turn on again. (Part of what I learned is that tears don’t work on Philly tow truck guys, ever. Ever. Sometimes money situations aren’t fun, but they aren’t usually worth that whole breath-stealing mountain of your stress. And sometimes it just pours in life, and if you don’t learn to move on, you’ll become a miserable human being. Like I imagine the tow truck people are.)

Fast forward two years later, and again, it appears to be pouring. However, this time it’s that good kind of storm, where the sun’s somehow peaking out while the drops are still falling, and you’re looking at the sky in pure awe. Waves of rain. That is life, at least from my own experience.

Kale

It feels like everything I’ve been working at for awhile now is starting to all pick up steam. All at the exact same time, spearheading in one single month. I’ve had my soup spoon in a million different pots these past few years, so a lot is going on right now. Crazy.

It’s a weird, terrifying, exciting, overwhelming[ly satisfying] feeling that often leaves me in this bright-eyed, slightly wiped area. My time these days is running short, which is where food and cooking comes in.

I’m a firm believer in finding balance and space to connect with those you love – and what better way than through food? Ideally, that’s in the kitchen, over shared conversation and creativity, if you have any creative steam remaining.

Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

This was one of those Sunday soups, dreamed up on a rainy (speaking literally here) afternoon with one of my good friends. She brought some tiny thai chilies from her parents’ garden, which inspired the hot sesame chili oil that gets drizzled on top. Collaboration – it’s the start of all good things.

Full of hearty-healthiness, this soup is perfect for when you need brain power and stamina, and just something that tastes downright awesome in your bowl. It’s nourishing, packed with kale, butternut, and seaweed, and warming for the winter. Feel free to adjust how many chilies you use in the sesame oil, depending on your desire for spice and warmth!

P.S. FoodFitnessFreshAir is coming alive tomorrow night! For all my Philly friends, I’ll be running the food truck inside Garage bar, serving up socca with tons of fancy sauces, and simple, quality toppings. 6p.m. till sold out! Introduce yourself. Come say hello. Join me.

On tap:
-Beet Pesto with Arugula & Bulgarian Feta
-Curry Coconut Lentils with Roasted Carrots & Spicy Thai Chili
-Fire-Roasted Eggplant with Black Tahina, Honey Labane, Crispy Chickpeas, and Pomegranate Sauce

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Dill

I cracked my first iPhone screen yesterday. It made me sad. That is a first world problem, I know, and nothing that a little creamy cauliflower cannot fix.

When life gets a little jagged in parts, keep your head up. Toss in some cream. You’ll be golden. Then praise the sun you have a house. And food. And life.

Garlic and Dill Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

One of my coworkers the other day told me about a practice he once did where you count how long it takes you to have six negative thoughts. He said it was surprising how early on the morning he would hit that limit.

It’s a practice I want to start doing – because while I feel like I’m a pretty positive person, I know there are a lot of areas surrounding this in which I could use work. Like appreciating the positive side of things I don’t always love. 2015. Cheers.

Now onto the recipe already…

Cauliflower

Mashed potatoes are a childhood favorite of mine. I mean, who doesn’t love mashed potatoes and gravy? This version uses cauliflower to lighten up the dish, and adds roasted garlic and fresh dill, so that no gravy is even needed. It’s packed with flavor, and every bit as creamy, if not more, than your standard mashed potato recipe.

If you’re ringing in the New Year on a light note, but still want a touch of creamy comfort, know that you can do both. Think positive, and know that this recipe is proof.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Creamy Carrot Soup with Tahini

Happy first Monday of 2015! If that doesn’t sound so cheery, happy first FFF recipe of the year instead. Can we raise our spoons to that? This one is one of my favorites, so whether your with me or not, my soup-destined silverware will be flying high.

Please don’t leave me hanging.

Creamy Carrot Soup with Tahini

This recipe’s actually a simpler rendition of one of my top picks from 2014. A hint of sweetness from the carrots, a touch of not-too-overbearing smokiness from paprika, and a toasty spiciness from the cumin, this velvety soup hits all the right areas. And the tahini on top really seals the deal.

Spicy carrot soup + tahini = heavenly combination. Perhaps the top “omg I need to get healthy” combination of the New Year.

Its tagline? Making resolutions easy, since 2015. Put this Creamy Carrot Soup on your January recipe list, and you’ll soon realize there’s truth in that statement. My recommendation? Pair it with a slice of crusty whole wheat sourdough, and you’re all set. Cheers.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Turmeric Ginger Tea

This is my savior when sick.

It’s my go-to wintertime tonic, and sometimes my morning replacement for coffee, too. Or afternoon pick-me-up. Or my I-need-some-color-to-brighten-this-dull-dreary-December-day drink. It’ll work for a number of occasions, and it’s rather simple to make.

turmeric

Perhaps it’s the anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric, or the zing from the ginger, but either way, this tea comes with a natural boost of energy upon drinking. This is why you may find it particularly useful when your immune system is down. While sleep is the ultimate savior, you can make this your second saving grace for when you need to get through the morning hours. Then take a nap, and repeat the tea-making upon waking.

That’d be my advice. That is, if you find yourself catching the cold that everyone in my universe seems to be enduring right now.

Adjust the honey to your taste. If you want to get fancy, seek out fresh turmeric root from your local market (Whole Foods often carries this) and grate some of the its gold on top.

If you want to learn why it’s so special, here’s a quick start. Oh, and don’t forget about stomach-soothing ginger, too.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Swiss Chard

I’m about to give a bit of a confession here – I have yet to buy one single Christmas gift.

That holiday, which I celebrate, is just a handful of days away. Yikes.

In my defense, I have constructively made five cutting boards in the past month. (Hello new, awesome, expensive-but-oh-so-worth-it hobby.) While I may shed a tear as I part with each of them, I’m fairly certain they’ll make for good gifts. For the whole family.

I mean, my five-year-old niece will love a nice, smooth piece of wood, right? Yeah, maybe not.

Harvest Stuffed Squash

While I’ve been neglecting a Christmas shopping trip, I have not been neglecting the season’s signature colors. Rather, I’ve been embracing those reds and greens quite frequently in my kitchen lately, this dish included.

If you squint, or dim the lights, swiss chard will shed a nice holiday crimson onto your counters. Keep that in mind if you were about to call me out. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Hey, swiss chard is pink. You should probably go get your eyes checked.”

Kabocha Squash

Bringing green to your plate is one of the best gifts you could give to yourself this winter. Add some nutty winter squash and creamy tahini, and your tastebuds will be more than pleased, too.

With food-filled gatherings, often left and right, now more than ever do I appreciate a meal like this. It’s hearty so it’ll leave you satisfied, but not feeling weighed down like a typical heavy holiday dish.

Swiss Chard

If you do want to richen it up a bit, double the tahini sauce. You can really rarely go wrong with an extra spoonful of tahini on top of cooked winter squash.

Also, feel free to ditch the whole “stuffed” idea, and simply serve this as a pilaf. You can use any squash variety that you like for this dish. So, if you’re using something like butternut, likely it’s not going to have a round enough bowl to really stuff, and that’s okay. Mash the extra and serve it underneath.

I will say though, there is something that feels magical about turning a squash into a bowl. I used a kabocha, which I’d highly recommend if it’s available to you.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…