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whole grains

Spinach and Komatsuna with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

I recently teamed up with my friend Nicole over at Vestige Home to create this fresh and easy spring meal. Nicole makes gorgeous hand-carved wooden creations, like that walnut bowl pictured above.

Photographing food is always ten times easier when you have beautiful dish-ware to work with!

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Inspired by a CSA bounty, we settled on a greens and shiitake saute over this brown rice mix that Nicole picked up from a local New Jersey farm. I had nooo idea that rice could be cultivated on the east coast, let alone right next door to me in New Jersey. Apparently the farm, Bloom Moon Acres, uses a dry farming technique, allowing them to produce rice on a local scale.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

The rice was quite tasty and the perfect nutty and chewy compliment to the tender spinach and mustard that came to top it. I’d recommend using a black rice or a black and brown rice mix yourself if making this recipe.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Both Nicole and I were quite pleased with how quickly and easily this recipe came together. After cooking the rice, you can just about?pull this all together in 10 minutes or so.

That’s one of the perks to working with spinach, which cooks up fast in comparison to other greens, as does the komatsuna.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

What is komatsuna? Komatsuna is a Japanese mustard green with a flavor profile that lays in between spinach and mustard. It’s definitely a bit milder than regular mustard greens.

Most Asian markets should carry it, as will Whole Foods. However, if you can’t find it, you could swap it for mustard greens, but definitely seek out a baby variety so that you don’t end up with something too bitter for the delicate flavors of this dish.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

We chose toasted almonds to top complete the meal, adding a crunch and a subtle nuttiness that wouldn’t overpower the rest of the dish.

To toast, simply heat a skillet over medium-high heat and then add the almonds. Stirring regularly, cook for 5 minutes or so, until the almonds begin to brown. At this point, you’ll want to remove them from the pan so that they don’t continue to cook and end up burning.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

A squeeze of lemon finishes everything off, drawing out the brightness of all of the ingredients.

Serve among two to three people for a light lunch or share among many (six) as a side. Nicole has some nice serving dishes that can help you with this step…!

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Blackberry Oatmeal with Toasted Coconut Flakes

Blackberry Oatmeal with Toasted Coconut Flakes

This breakfast had no intention of making it to the blog. But after creating it and seeing it come to life, hitting the Internet was inevitable. I mean, gorgeous, right?! Its vibrance reminds me of the Quinoa Beet Tabbouleh I made over the summer. Colorful foods, in nature, are ones I want to eat. Kind of like colorful conversations. Those are the ones I most want to have.

Blackberry Oatmeal with Toasted Coconut Flakes

Speaking of, will you all help me get a conversation going on FFF’s Facebook page? My Internet marketing skills are failing. Oh no, the world is going to end. But really, I just get (entirely too) excited when something turns out great in the kitchen and I can share it with all of you. It’d be great to eventually build more of a community. Ya feel me? One day.

Anyway, back to this oatmeal. It’s really a simple recipe that plays off of the natural beauty of blackberries. I’ve been loving coconut flakes lately, and in their toasted form they really add a satisfying form of crunch. Toast up the walnuts too if you want for an extra cozy breakfast.

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Nori Brown Rice Bowls with Hoison Sauce

Nori Brown Rice Bowls with Hoison Sauce

I can’t seem to kick my iced coffee habit. The days are nearing a blustery 40 degrees, and I’m still walking out of my local cafe with ice in my java. My hands are cold, my nose is red, my coffee is staring up at me like, “girl, what were you thinking? Now I’m cold too.”

What can I say. I like high fives. I like to ride my bike. I like my coffee over ice. All year around.

Sushi, on the other hand, is not something I always reach for as wintery weather sets in. It’s by far one of my favorite meals to grab during the summer. But this time of year, it often gets ousted for soup.

Ooooh, fall.

Ooooh, fall.

Bowls like these, however, combine the best of two worlds. Fresh veg, rice and nori, all wrapped up in a warm package. Feel free to add other sushi favorites, like avocado, sesame seeds, and maybe even a splash or two of rice wine vinegar into the cooked grains. This is essentially a free-form salad, inspired by Asian flavors, not entirely adherent to sushi. The bowl is what you make of it, my friends.

Nori Brown Rice Bowls with Hoison Sauce

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Summer Rice and Quinoa Tabbouleh with Beets

Summer Tabbouleh with Beets

Can we talk about how fast life moves after graduating from college? And I’m not even at a 9-5 job anymore. Nor do I have kids…I can’t image how time will feel when that happens. I’m picturing similar to how this 800 mile per hour high speed train would feel, if it ever gets built.

This summer seems like a blur. Late August and evening sweater weather, how did you creep up so fast? Please leave me be for another few weeks. I need some time to contemplate. (i.e., to lay on my back in a pool, and stare mindlessly up at the sky). Ya feel me?

At least I can say the past few months have been entertaining ones, and packed with a tabbouleh salad full of new experiences. This last week, I had the opportunity to teach yoga to a class of senior citizens, a group of former homeless drug addicts, and Temple University’s volleyball team. Man, was each experience different. And tremendously rewarding. Occasions like this really make me reevaluate life. If only I had more time to ponder over those feelings. In a pool. Or a lake. I won’t be picky, summer, if you just stay a bit longer.

Summer Tabbouleh with Beets

So while life has been busy and all over the place, I’ve been making a lot of no-recipe tabbouleh salads. Ones in a huge bowl that will last for the week, and are packed with farmer’s market veggies to keep me charged and thinking straight.

On these occasions, there are no measuring cups or spoons present, excluding the one I’m using to taste as I go. There is no exact science involved. Or open laptop being splattered with veggie juice, tracking every ingredient’s use. While I love recipe development, more often than not, this is how I enjoy cooking the most. Improvisation based off of the ingredients I have at hand.

I hate to snub you guys of a precise directions here, but I want you to simply use this as inspiration to create your own version of tabbouleh. No stressing if you’re missing ingredients from the recipe, well, because there is no recipe. And no freaking out if it doesn’t look like some photo. Below is simply a loose blueprint to get you started. Also, just an FYI, one beet can go a long way. You don’t need much to add that gorgeous pink vibrancy you’ll see in the bowl above.

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Creamy Kale and Rice Soup

Is it really 2013? This marks my 613 post on this blog. That’s 500+ published recipes I’ve created or made in the last three years. Holy mise en place, that’s a lot of onion chopping.

It’s crazy how much this little blog has shaped my life. Launched at a time when my personality was quickly shifting and evolving, my passions forming and cementing, this early college venture has become a huge part of who I am. From my potential career goals (who wouldn’t want to be a full-time, food blogging Smitten Kitchen? Or food journalist. Or photographer…among other things), to the reputation among my friends as the constant cook, I probably wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t started this blog.

I wouldn’t be pitching to food magazines. I wouldn’t be writing a seasonal veggie column. I wouldn’t be networking among other bloggers. Likely I wouldn’t be the photography enthusiast I’ve become today. There are so many doors this blog has opened, and so many people it has brought to my life, and so on this first day of January, I just want to give thanks to all that the hard work has brought.

As much as I would still love my mom to pack the occasional lunch or be at my apartment to whip up dinner after work, I have learned to absolutely love cooking on my own through this experience. And writing too. I’m finally secure in my desire to be a journalist, food-related or not, and know that one day I will do so on a full-time basis.

I hope you too are looking back on the year with a positive reflection, and with that, I say Happy New Year. Let me leave you with this recipe, a perfect start to 2013. Let’s lighten things up after the holidays with this warm, nutrient-packed soup. The creamy kale recipe was inspired by callaloo, a green soup I once ate daily on a trip to Grenada. Whether feasting in the Caribbean or dining on the version below, this will leave you refreshed and ready to take on the year ahead.

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