I decided to make smoothies as a post-Halloween “candy detox” and pre-holiday food coma. We’re in this small window of time where all of the good Halloween candy has run out, yet the holiday baked goodies aren’t yet being brought to the office on a daily basis. It’s the perfect time to blend smoothies and soups and get all of your vitamins and nutrients in before the holidays!Read More
This dish is the perfect combination of simple and complex. It's easy to make yet the flavors complement each other so wonderfully, that it appears more complex than it really is. I most certainly did not grow up eating Brussels Sprouts, but I did grow up in eating kumquats, as there are kumquat trees aplenty in south Louisiana (but certainly no Brussels sprouts!). When I was in Louisiana over Thanksgiving, I had a friend bring some by. I knew that I wanted to try roasting them with Brussels sprouts!
Kumquats are really unique because they're like tiny oranges, but you can eat them whole--peel and all. This is likely because they're too small to bother with peeling. The taste can be a little bitter, but the peel makes them packed with flavor. When I first made Brussels Sprouts, about a year ago, I was told that I should cook them in bacon fat. Although I will indulge in pork occasionally, having bacon fat as a mandatory ingredient for my Brussels Sprouts was far from enticing.
However, I do love the smoky flavor that smoked meats impart. So, when I came across Runamok's Pecan-Smoked Maple Syrup, I knew it would be something really excellent to complement these tiny green cabbages. Plus, the sugar from the maple syrup helps these veggies caramelize, making them all the tastier!
I didn't exactly measure the amount of Brussels Sprouts I used, but I did roast them in two batches because I didn't want to crowd them. If you place too many on the pan you use, they'll steam instead of getting that wonderfully brown color and flavor.
I also used these tips from the New York Times on how to cook Brussels Sprouts.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Kumquats
1 and 1/2 pounds Brussels Sprouts, rinsed, bottoms trimmed and halved 1/4 cup kumquats, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon pecan-smoked maple syrup salt pepper 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds 2 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon pecan-smoked maple syrup (whisk to combine).
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment Paper.
Rinse your Brussels sprouts, trim the bottoms and cut in half. If they are quite large, you may quarter them. Remove any loose sprout leaves. (If you attempt to roast any loose leaves, they will burn and be quite charred.) Rinse the kumquats and slice (the kumquats have a strong flavor so it's best to slice them quite thinly. Add the sprouts and kumquats to a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
Place all of the sprout-kumquat mixture on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes in all, stirring every 10 minutes. Watch them carefully--if they start to become too brown, you may remove them.
Remove the sprouts and top with fresh pomegranate seeds, desired amount of vinaigrette, and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
I had a wonderful and indulgent Thanksgiving. I just got back to New York yesterday, so I decided to do something I don't normally do--meal prep. I picked up some beautiful pomegranates at the market, so I decided to make a favorite salad of mine that is wonderfully accented by the burst-y crunch of fresh pomegranate seeds. I thought about naming this salad “Crazy Salad” since it is Crazy Colorful, Crazy Vibrant, Crazy Delicious, Crazy Filling, and Crazy Healthy.
Before making this salad, I had never cooked black rice before. Black rice turns its cooking water a deep aubergine color. You can substitute the black and wild rice with just about any grain. The total time to assemble this salad is about an hour. I love having healthy breakfasts and lunches during the holiday season so that I feel less guilty when it's time to eat all of the delicious holiday goodies ;)
Layered Wild Rice Salad and Roasted Squash Salad
Ingredients 1/2 cup black rice 1/2 cup wild rice 1 medium butternut squash 1/2 cup olive oil, divided 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons honey 2 green onions, thinly sliced 1 cup pomegranate seeds 2 cups parsley 1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped
Preheat oven to 450 F. Roast the squash with 1/4 cup olive oil on a baking sheet.
Cook black rice and wild rice in a covered pot on low, with 2 cups of salted water. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes. (Taste to determine when rice is done and be sure to add water if the rice isn’t cooked by the time all of water evaporates.) Drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.
Roast the squash until it is browned and tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Prepare the red wine vinaigrette by whisking red wine vinegar, honey, and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl.
Distribute the vinaigrette among several medium-sized jars. For the second layer, add the black rice and wild rice. (This way, the vinaigrette won't cause the other ingredients to be soggy.) Distribute the roasted squash among the jars for the next layer, followed by the green onions, pomegranate seeds, pistachios and parsley. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Nothing says cozy to me like a warm bowl of soup made with autumnal squash. I strayed from my traditional pumpkin soup since I didn't have any fresh pumpkins on hand--just a butternut squash and an acorn squash. Since acorn squash isn't very sweet (or orange for that matter), I also threw in a few small carrots and an apple for good measure.
This recipe uses coconut milk instead of cream. I converted to coconut milk in my squash soups after hosting a fall dinner party last year for friends, many of whom don't consume dairy. I made two pumpkin soups--one that was vegan and dairy free and one that wasn't. The vegan one was by far superior, and I've been using coconut milk ever since.
I've tried this recipe with boxed or canned squash, and I highly recommend roasting fresh squash. By roasting the squash, you get a wonderfully nutty flavor that imparts an elegant complexity to the soup. Also, I'll include what I used in this soup, but with any soup, be open to free styling. You don't have to follow the recipe exactly. If you like your soups thin, you'll want to add a little more water. If you like them thick, a little less water. As a Louisiana girl who's no stranger to spicy food, I love the kick from the curry powder and cayenne pepper, but maybe you'll want to tone those flavors down. Make this soup your own!
Roasted Acorn and Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
One butternut squash, quartered
One acorn squash, quartered
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 small carrots, roughly chopped
One small apple peeled, cored and chopped
One can of coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon curry powder
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Roasted Pumpkin seeds, to garnish (optional)
A note about garnishes: Here's your chance to really go wild. Try topping it with roasted walnuts, crumbled chèvre, sautéed shrimp or crispy bacon. I also used pumpernickel croutons which were an excellent vehicle to soak up this soup with, made from my botched pumpernickel bread making this weekend.
Place the quartered acorn squash and butternut squash on a lined baking sheet. You can leave the pulp and seeds in tact. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and bake in an oven at 375 F for about one hour. The squash should be lightly browned and have a few brown spots. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, remove the stringy pulp and seeds with a spoon. Scoop the remaining flesh out and reserve in a bowl.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and saute them until they soften, about five minutes. Add the carrots and sauté an additional five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for three minutes.
Add the chopped apples, squash, coconut milk (reserve a couple of tablespoons to use as a garnish), maple syrup, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne powder, curry, fresh thyme & vegetable stock. Increase the heat to high. Once the soup begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer on low, covered, for about 15 minutes.
Remove the thyme sprigs. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup**, or transfer the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning by tasting the soup to see if it needs anything else. If the flavors aren't there yet, add a little more salt. Or maybe you want to add a little more curry powder. If it's too thick, add a little water to thin it out. This is the most important step--be bold in making sure your soup is flavorful.
Transfer the soup to bowls and garnish with coconut milk, fresh thyme, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, or any other toppings you fancy. Serve immediately.
**I purchased an immersion blender after accidentally pouring piping hot soup on myself instead of in the blender. Be very careful!
It's late summer and finally tomato season. I picked up some gorgeous yellow cherry tomatoes, sun sugar tomatoes, at my weekly market. I decided to make whole wheat pasta with a vegetable and ground turkey sauce, topped with the delicious and vibrant tomatoes and fresh basil.
These tomatoes are definitely delicious enough to eat on their own. They are the sweetest and tangiest of the cherry tomato varieties. I used fresh basil from my basil plant growing on my windowsill--one of two plants in my apartment that I have managed to keep alive all spring and summer.
I make spaghetti pretty much the same every time I make it. I chop an onion, bell pepper and some garlic. This time, I added mushrooms. I sautee these ingredients, then I add ground turkey and creole seasoning.
Once the meat is cooked through, I add a jar of pasta sauce and let it simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. I then added the noodles, fresh basil and tomatoes and served. This dish was the perfect Sunday dinner. The fresh tomatoes as pasta toppings added a refreshing burst to each bite that balanced the otherwise heavy pasta dish. I served it with a side of steamed collard greens--satisfying and nourishing.
- 1 box whole wheat spaghetti noodles
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound mushrooms, washed thoroughly and chopped
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- creole seasoning OR salt and pepper
- 1 jar tomato sauce
- handful of basil leaves, chopped
- 1 small carton yellow cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
- Cook 2/3 of the box of noodles according to directions. Drain and set aside. (I like my pasta to have more sauce than noodles, so if you like more noodles, just add the entire box to the dish.)
- Saute the chopped onion in a large skillet over medium heat until the onion softens and just starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue to stir.
- Add the chopped bell pepper and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms soften.
- Add the ground turkey and season with creole seasoning. Stir until the turkey breaks up and is cooked and brown throughout.
- Once the ground turkey is cooked through, stir in the jar of tomato sauce. Once the sauce starts to simmer, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, for 10 or 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil and chopped tomatoes. Correct the seasoning by adding more creole seasoning or salt, if needed.
- Stir in the noodles and serve.
This recipe for salmon skewers can be made outdoors on a grill, or inside in the kitchen. Either way, you will have delicious, moist salmon kebabs that are simple to prepare and nourishing for your body.
Salmon is a favorite of mine, but the hefty cost of wild-caught salmon (both financially and environmentally) prevents me from consuming it on a regular basis. However, we must be in the middle of salmon season since I found wild-caught salmon at my local grocer for less than $9 a pound!
This entire recipe can be made start-to-finish in less than 30 minutes. I made a little extra marinade that I brushed on the kebabs once they were on the grill. Since I live in a tiny studio apartment with no access to outdoors, I grilled these in my kitchen on a cast-iron griddle. They came out absolutely perfectly. I intended on bringing these for my lunch today, but I had an entire serving as soon as they were done since they were so flavorful and moist right off the grill.
To make the marinade, I mixed fresh dill with Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I then reserved about 1/3 of the marinade in a small bowl and set aside. Next, I cut the salmon into chunks and mixed it into the marinade. I allowed the salmon to sit in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes while I sliced the lemons and prepared the grill.
Once the griddle was hot, I grilled the kebabs for about 3 minutes on each side, lightly brushing with the remaining marinade. Serve immediately!
- 1 pound wild-caught salmon, scaly part of the skin removed
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons light/refined olive oil or safflower oil (do not use extra virgin olive oil--you need an oil with a high smoking point)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 small garlic cloves, very finely chopped.
- Skewers (if using wooden, soak them overnight)
- In a large bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, dill, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour 1/3 into a smaller bowl and set aside.
- Cut the salmon fillet, skin removed, into 1 and 1/2 inch chunks. Mix the salmon chunks in the large bowl of marinade. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the lemons by thinly slicing them. Prepare the grill. If using a stove-top griddle, light the heat to medium-high.
- Prepare the skewers by alternating the salmon chunks with the thinly-sliced lemon. Once the grill is hot, add the skewers and brush remaining marinade on the kebabs. Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side, until done. Serve immediately.