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vegetable

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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Spiced Butternut Apple Smoothie

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.

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Vegetable Nori Rolls with Crunchy Lentils and Turmeric

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

It’s crazy how much can happen in a year. How fast time can move. How change can progress. At the beginning of 2013, I quit a full-time job that, while paying my bills, was doing little else but bringing me down. I then cycled through a jillion part-time jobs, took a jillion and one photos, fell in love, fell out of love, traveled on impulse, flew out to Paris, photographed my first wedding, launched a few new ideas, schemed up a few more, had a ton of “is this real life?” moments, met a lot of clients, made new friends, shedded old friends, have become really comfortable with myself and learned a ton about what it means to live life if you really want to live it. At my age, it means taking chances. Trying new things. Learning what, and maybe who, it is you love. And practicing all of that, one way or another. Maybe that goes for every age. Probably so.

Rainbow Veggies

This year has also been a year of more and more experimenting in the kitchen, seeking out new inspiration, and growing my food photo skills. The food blog world is continuously proliferating. I saw it this past year more than ever, and find myself endlessly inspired. I’ve also come across some new friends with similar visions to spread healthy eating, and who share in the joy of eating and cooking with others. This, as well as stumbling upon some new start-ups in my city with similar viewpoints, excites me more than ever. I can’t wait to keep filling my life up with these connections and companions, and venturing into new directions. And of course sharing some of the successes here on my blog.

Vegetable Nori Rolls with Crunchy Lentils and Turmeric

A few of my favorite ingredient discoveries this year include coconut flakes, ground cherries, raw honey and the turmeric root I’ve used to spruce up this wintertime sushi. Turmeric root is a gorgeous, and incredibly healthy kitchen ingredient in which lately I simply cannot get enough. You can find it at Whole Foods, masked in a form that resembles the root-like structure of ginger. In fact, the two look nearly identical until you peel the outer layer, and find the vibrant orange of the turmeric masked beneath. A common spice in Indian cooking, likely you’ve used, or at least tasted, its powdered form before. In its fresh status, it takes on a slightly less pungent flavor that crosses its inherent characteristics with that of both ginger and carrot. At least, that’s what it tastes like to me.

Vegetable Nori Rolls with Crunchy Lentils and Turmeric

For these sushi rolls, feel free to use whatever staple ingredients of the season you have on hand. This time of year, steamed sweet potato could be nice, or maybe some kohlrabi, sliced thinly into matchsticks. I chose to go with this colorful array I had in my fridge, running out only to obtain an avocado. Don’t miss that component if you can help it! Once cubed, slightly sprinkle it with salt. This really draws out the flavor of avocado.

A fresh start to the New Year, we could all fair well to commit ourselves to a path of healthy eats. As I’ve said before, a healthy body = a happy mind. That’s worth repeating and remembering. Cheers to all of you and another year ahead. With all that happened in 2013, I’m brimming with energy for what this next year will bring. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Vegetable Nori Rolls with Crunchy Lentils and Turmeric

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Pumpkin Coconut Veggie Curry over Black Rice

Pumpkin Coconut Veggie Curry over Black Rice

I’ve been doing a ton of cooking with friends lately, which I love. There’s something special about gathering around cutting boards and cookbooks, and creating something from scratch. Especially when it means spending time with people who make you laugh and forget all your worries. Nights of food and laughter will always be my favorite.

This month has been filled with lots of those, making it feel as if Christmas came early. Minus all the Christmas cookies. I have yet to bake one holiday treat this year! Gasp. Throw me some ideas, friends. This weekend, I  shall bake. And get down with some DIY gifting.

Because all that free time spent cooking lately means I have lots and lots of gifting to catch up on this weekend. Cue morning yoga and evening wine to keep my sanity. And some of this leftover pumpkin coconut curry from an earlier silliness-filled cooking sesh with the help of Louie, my new sous chef. (Every food blogger needs a sous chef, right? My mom likes to think I need a dishwasher, too…but that’s another story.)

Pumpkin Coconut Veggie Curry over Black Rice

Coconut curry holds a sweet spot in my life. As of lately, black rice does too. Combine the two, and you’re in for a treat. Not only does the orange pumpkin in this recipe look beautifully with the rice, but it compliments its nuttiness as well.

Creamy and slightly rich, but packed full of so many healthy ingredients, this is the kind of meal to bring out when dining with company. Want to show the world vegan food can taste great? Make coconut curry. And add pumpkin, cashews, veggies and cilantro.

This is not faint on flavor. Add it to your dinner rotation and it too will feel like Christmas came early, all times of the year.

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Beans and Rice Italian Minestrone Soup

Beans and Rice Minestrone Soup

Yesterday, I put sweatpants over my tights, stuffed my hat inside my helmet, and zipped my coat up above my upper lip. Boots on, I braved the 20 degree weather that waited for me on my 2-wheel ride to work. Morning wake-up call at its best.

This was not, however, before tackling a stubborn frozen bike lock. Running late, I waddled my layered self back up to my apartment to grab a cup of hot water. Luckily, I discovered, that would do the trick. Anyone else ever have this problem with their lock in the winter?

Thyme

Ten frozen fingers later, I successfully made it to work. Good thing I forgot a change of shoes. I love rocking winter boots with tights and a dress, and all the funny looks that elicits. One of those days.

black rice

I’ve expressed before, winter’s not my favorite. But making soup is. There’s something about mindlessly throwing a bunch of ingredients in a pan, and knowing that meddling their flavors will produce guaranteed results.  Soup-making is pure simplicity. And brings the warmth that I crave after bike rides home from work.

This, I tell you, is one warming bowl of soup. Beans, rice and a kick of spice, it’s like bringing a thermal to the dinner table. Serve with a slice of crusty bread and a glass of wine, and you’ll be good to go.

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