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Garlic and Dill Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

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.

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Holiday Recipe Recommendations

Roasted Squash and Onion

I’ve been eating a lot of other people’s recipes lately. And it’s been great for inspiration.

If you ever feel stuck in your own cooking rut, go explore! Now more than ever, there is a vast world of cookbooks, food blogs, and restaurants out there for you.

Roasted Squash and Onion

One of my longstanding favorites is this one from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem. And by longstanding, I mean, as of last year when I was first introduced to this creamy Roasted Butternut, Red Onion and Tahini dish. It’s so simple to make, yet when it comes out of the oven and gets dressed with that 3-ingredient tahini sauce, it’s mind-blowing. I’ve been making it quite frequently since that first time last year.

Toasted Sesame Seeds

The original recipe calls for pine nuts, which are nearing the price of gold these days. You needn’t need them to make this recipe still taste like pure gold. A variety of toasted, nutty crunches would do. I went with sesame seeds to play off the tahini vibes of the dish.

Roasted Butternut and Onion with Tahini

If I were you, I’d put it on your next holiday meal’s to-make list. It’s easy, and memorable. Surprising, yet crowd-pleasing. And even healthy, too. Oven-roasted gold.

If you’re looking for something a little more sinful, or brunch-worthy, perhaps consider checking out this Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

If you do, I’d consider adding some walnuts (black walnuts, if you’ve got ’em) into the mix. Also, I like my cream cheese icing a little tangy, so I reduced the sugar, upped the cream cheese, and threw in a squeeze of lemon, too.

Aside from these lovely blogger and cookbook authors’ recipes, I’ve been relishing in the recipes of my two new fav. restaurants in Philly: High Street on Market, and also Good King Tavern. Both are adorably cute, and offer a solid menu from start to finish. The bread at High Street is some of the best I’ve ever had, and only helps enhance their well-crafted sandwiches. They make some rather memorable salads, too, if you’re looking for a light meal in between all of the holiday madness. Good King Tavern often has socca on the menu, which of course holds a sweet spot in my heart. Their Eggplant 3-Ways is also excellent, as is there bread pudding, when on the menu.

If you’re all over the place this holiday season like I’ve been, take a breather with someone else’s recipe. I can vouch that these won’t disappoint, and if you’re in Philly, would recommend a night out at one of the two spots mentioned above. Cheers!

Vegetarian Bean Chili From Scratch

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

Have you ever looked up close at a bean, in its uncooked form?

Beans are pure beauty. They’re definitely one of my favorite single ingredient items to photograph, and while their cooked appearance isn’t quite as pretty, it’s hard to deny that a big bowl of chili in the wintertime is a beautiful thing, too.

Dried Beans

This particular chili recipe is destined for a hungry crowd. I whipped this up last weekend before a cookie-making session with some friends. The intention was to void off an overloaded sugar consumption in exchange for sustenance instead. (It worked. Sort of.)

If you’re not trying to feed a large crowd, simply share some of the extra with your freezer. The chili will hold up well, and will be the perfect pal to call upon the next time you’ve got corn bread coming to visit.

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

When it comes to this recipe, and why it’s worth making in a jumbo-sized cauldron so you can feed your whole village (or freezer, or entourage of friends), the secret’s in the dried beans.  Yep – those beautiful guys I mentioned earlier.

Starting from scratch creates a flavor level you just can’t replicate with canned beans. If you have a pressure cooker, it won’t take much time at all, either. This isn’t some chili-on-the-stove-all-day kind of recipe. My stomach rarely has time for that.

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

This has plenty of spice, too. In fact, feel free to slightly cut back on the cayenne, if spicy isn’t your thing. It’s not overbearing here, but you will notice a slight kick. Most notable, though, is the chili powder. Yet, even with all that chili powder, the taste of those dried-turned-extra-soft beans shines through. It’s a beautiful thing. Kind of like that beam of sun catching my colander down below.

Dried Beans

 

Top with all of your favorites – avocado, cilantro, maybe even a dollop of salsa and yogurt or cheese. And serve alongside either that corn bread I mentioned before, or a bowl of brown rice with some tortilla chips on the side. That’s a kind of hearty meal that’ll make winter feel alright. And your friends warm and content.

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Ethiopian Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry

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.

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Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

I’m convinced I live in the best neighborhood in Philadelphia.

My apartment is just blocks away from the Mecca for persimmons by the bucket, 2-for-$1 avocados, and unlimited other cheap produce deals. AKA, the Italian Market. It also happens to be a prime destination for people-watching, which my camera and I enjoy quite often.

Cauliflower

Within this special place is Fante’s, a kitchen storefront with every type of gadget, pot, pan, canning material, etc. that you could ever need. You want an “asparagus steamer”? They’ve got it — along with special asparagus tongs, several kinds of asparagus peelers, and a platter to serve it all on. I  try not to frequent Fante’s because I also try not to let my bank account go underwater.  There’s a Whole Foods up the street that I save for that job.

Yes, just a few blocks in the other direction from my apartment lay two grocery stores. Whole Foods is one of them, and here I’m caught far too often fulfilling all my bulk food needs and trying to keep myself away from the hot bar. Sometimes I’ll nerd out with the Whole Foods employees about black rice and kombucha.

Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

In my ‘hood, Bella Vista, (in Italian, meaning “beautiful sight”), there are two wonderful yoga studios within walking distance, several coffee shops — one of which I’m convinced is in the running for the best iced coffee in the city — and an awesome spot to play late night pool.

On top of it all, it’s within biking distance of nearly every other main neighborhood I frequent in the city.

For me, it’s the place to be in the city, and for some reason I feel the need to write about this as the rain keeps me tucked inside my small apartment on its streets.

If I just had all of my friends here, a garden, a mountain, and a lake out my back door, I’d be set for life. Ha. While Bella Vista is awesome, I think “beautiful sight” by my standards might be a bit of an overstretch.

Kale and lentils

What is undoubtedly a beautiful site, however, is this mighty head of cauliflower I snagged yesterday at the market. And also this piece of fabric I picked up in fabric row, just another couple blocks away. A $2 piece of fabric and a $1.50 cauliflower + a priceless meal = beauty.

I whipped up a huge batch of this so I could freeze some of it for later meals. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if that’s not a project you want to do, or you don’t plan to feed a crowd.

The ragout itself is light, yet hearty, which I love. All of the spices make it feel rich, while its staples — cauliflower, kale, and lentils — keep it light. Top it with Parm or nutritional yeast, and it becomes a meal you could eat all week. What you place underneath is up to you, so you choose the grain/pasta that strikes your mood.

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