Ethiopian Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

Yesterday I had my first omg-are-you-sure-this-isn’t-child-birth moment to announce the coming season. Okay, okay so that’s probably (definitely) a bit dramatic.

However, after running through burst after burst of frigid winds, it did feel as though I just experienced a 45-minute tattoo session. There’s nothing like inking your legs with icy, sunsetting winter temps. Those winds stung.

Red Lentils

Luckily, on the other end of that run, I had these spiced and warming, Ethiopian-styled lentils waiting for me. What I did not have was much sun to take their beautiful, natural-lit glam shots.

So begins the rough season for all food bloggers, sans studio space. Good thing I like challenges. I really like red lentils, too.

Full of protein, and creamy once cooked, red lentils make for the perfect topping to smear across flatbreads. They are a staple in Ethiopian cooking, often found accompanying the unleavened bread, known as injera, that most Ethiopian recipes use to replace both fork and spoon.

With this recipe, I’ve tried to replicate a go-to lentil dish that I often order at my neighborhood’s Ethiopian spot. I wanted that buttery, spice-infused dish that they create, and through research, called upon my spice cabinet to help me execute this properly. The only spice I was missing seemed to be allspice. However, I can’t say I noticed its absence.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Ain’t no party like a sweet potato party. Or a crostini party. Or a tahini party. Or a Friendsgiving party. Or a Thanksgiving soiree with all your family members you see but once or twice per year and still don’t really know what to talk about besides sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

I can’t say I’m a fan of the word ain’t. (In fact, I had to look up its spelling just for this blog post.) But, I’m a huge fan of parties, even those semi-strange family ones, and I’m  equally a fan of all the ingredients listed above.

Tahini. Sweet potatoes. Honey. Toasted walnuts and baguette. Now that’s a party in a single, not-entirely-too-awkward bite to eat.

I.e., you’re going to want to put this guy on your Thanksgiving party plate list.

Sweet Potato Crostini with Toasted Walnuts and Tahini

Aside from crostini packages that offer a ton of flavor in one fork-and-spoon-free bite, I’m a huge fan of healthy appetizers. Let’s face it, parties aren’t always the most health-friendly activities, Thanksgiving included. In fact, recent research for my day job informed me that the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, or the equivalent of the calories you’d use to jog 10 hours straight. Yowza. That’s a party in which I’m not too interested.

Luckily, this recipe packs in the nutrition, sneaking in a little protein while it’s at it. That bean-powered protein and creamy sweet potato fiber will keep you satisfied till the main meal arrives, and keep you feeling good, too.

If that sounds great to you, I invite you to kick off your next party FFFreshAir style, and let this crostini start your taste bud tango. I promise, it’s got way better dance moves than I do.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

Real talk here – emojis are one of the best attributes to ever appear in the smartphone world. It’s not infrequent that I’m texting half in emoji-speak, and dying in my bed from my own emoji-induced laughter.

Emojis are great, and so are the other goofs who can appreciate them as much as I do. Hopefully that’s you, otherwise you’re probably praying for my sanity right now.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

While I am forever anticipating the creation of a carrot emoji, I can say I frequently get down with the eggplant icon while I wait. Its purple radiance, with its bright green top, does wonders to add life to my muted text messages.

Eggplant emojis, for the win.

Japanese eggplant

You know what else is an eggplant win? When you add its roasted form to your hummus. You’ll find a recipe for that below, which is essentially a babaganoush meets hummus situation that can only be described as yum-o.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

By adding roasted eggplant into the chickpea mix, you create a slightly creamier spread to smear across your toasted bread or pita. I wanted to throw a little texture back in, so I toasted up some cumin seeds and added them, too. Like poppy seeds on a cracker, their small pop works well here, and really takes the spice infusion to another level. The toasty aromatics and nuttiness you derive from the whole form of cumin seed is worth the extra step.

Spread on pita with thinly sliced cabbage, spinach, and maybe some feta, too, or serve simply as is with warm, toasted bread and a drizzle of EVOO.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

As soon as the first crisp days of autumn arrive, I subconsciously, and rather rapidly, begin to shift my diet to match the shifting environment that surrounds me. Outside my window, I admire the many shades of orange spreading across the sky. Then soon after, near as many orange hues start appearing on my kitchen counters.

Squash of every variety, and sweet potatoes too, fill up my empty wooden baskets, my ceramic plates, and now my mason jars, too.

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

When Williams Sonoma kicked off this week with the theme of “Not Your Average Smoothie”, naturally I knew I needed to throw some squash into my blender.

I’m all about going outside the traditional smoothie box, and I’m also all about squash, so it seemed like a perfect platform for experimentation.

I turned on my oven, said bottoms up, and began getting to work.

Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

I decided upon butternut, loving its creaminess in soups that I often create with apples. I figured, why wouldn’t that be delicious iced and turned into a smoothie, too?

After testing out this smoothie several times, I finally came up with a recipe that’s a little weird, a little wild, yet totally straw-worthy and insanely refreshing.

Through my testing, I learned to save the oven for the squash soup, and stick to steaming for the smoothie. Steaming enables the squash to stay juicer and not as dense so you end up with a shake that has a nice light, whipped consistency. Along with some spirited spice – curry powder and a kick of cayenne (ow ow!) – this smoothie embodies some of fall’s best warming qualities while remaining refreshing till the last sip.

Feel free to try swapping the butternut with sweet potato, or even pumpkin. Just be mindful of possibly needing to adjust the liquid. If you want to step further out of the box, add some spinach. I did this to one batch, and the results were great (even if it sounds a little weird). To get a little wilder, top your smoothie with toasted walnuts or pecans. Or an extra kick of that spicy cayenne, if you like it hot.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…

Roasted Curry Butternut Seeds

So, this past weekend I made not one, but two fully furnished cutting boards. I also made a butternut squash, and toasted its seeds. And a bumblebee costume from yellow duck tape, wire, and saran wrap (for the wings).

A productive weekend, if I do say so myself.

Now we shall see how productive this week becomes, as I sit and dream about crafting more woodworking projects. And eat crunchy, curried seeds as my mind drifts afloat.

Roasted Curry Butternut Seeds

Far too often, I quickly open butternuts, and toss the seeds without thinking twice. Yet, I’ve toasted the seeds on numerous occasions, and should know better than that by now.

Butternut nut squash seeds are tasty. They can be salty. And spicy. Or sweet. Or both. And are certainly worthy of saving.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE…