Category Archives: vegetarian

Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes

We just returned from a family getaway.  Ben had planned a surprise adventure for our family for the earlier part of January.  Unfortunately for us, we needed to reschedule to do a bit of a tornado hitting his work staff all at once, leaving Ben to tend to work.  We stayed on Discovery Bay between Sequim & Port Townsend.   The place we stayed had a kitchen, so it made meals so much easier and healthy.  There was also an indoor pool, which Tayers thought was the “big adventure,” and whenever we drove somewhere she would cry out, “I want to go on the big adventure!”

Our family time was relaxed, filled with laughter, reflection, and many joyful moments.  It was the probably the best family vacation we’ve ever been on (and I hope many follow suit).  We also experienced some breathtaking sunrises (the kind you wake up just to make sure you don’t miss it). 

I played my guitar, read, and wrote a personal mission statement, as well.  This little break helped clear my head, refocus and evaluate who I am and what I, Kamille, am called to do in this life.  It was good, so very good and yet so simple too.  It’s kind of like these Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  They aren’t fussy, pretty straightforward and simplistic.  Yet, sure to dance on your palate in such a way, which leaves you looking forward to the next time you get to eat them.  I have some great things in store for Evangitality this year and I hope you will continue to join me or better yet, add to the discussion:)

A Year Ago: Banana Macadamia Praline Scones

Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes (printable recipe)

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs sweet potatoes, scrubbed & peeled, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh and finely chopped
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment and put the sweet potatoes in an even layer on top. Add the coconut oil and thoroughly coat, using your hands, the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, combine lime juice, lime zest, additional 1/2 tsp salt & cilantro. Once sweet potatoes are done, transfer to a serving bowl and pour the lime/cilantro mixture over them while hot. Gently mix to combine and serve.

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Sour Cherry with Grand Marnier Creme Brulee

I recall having a traditional creme brûlée years ago and not liking it. I don’t remember where, just that this raved upon dessert tasted a bit like an eggy mess.  It turned me off completely.  Then, one Valentine’s Day, six years ago my dear sweet friend and old neighbor Allison brought Valentine desserts over to Ben and me.  Allison has this knack of having mismatched, yet whimsical, plates, bowls & cups and other trinkets in her home.  She converted me to forgoing paper napkins, due to her assortment of linen napkins I would find her using with her lunch, or serving me with a cookie on it.

There she was with two little black foiled containers filled with creme brulee sitting on one eclectic small plate; along with a cut out paper heart placed on those white paper doilies.  Allison and I shared the love of eating fine food and here she was sharing this delectable creamy treat with us. As she stood there describing her love of these specific creme brulees (from a local bakery), I stood there smiling with a very thankful heart.  What I didn’t tell her was what I was thinking, which was, “Oh, how incredibly thoughtful, but I don’t like creme brulee.  I won’t let Allison know.”  I placed the plate on the table and gave Allison a big thankful hug and said goodbye.

After I shut the door I said, “Ben, Allison brought over some dessert for us for Valentine’s Day,” to which he replied, “that’s nice.”  “Yes, it was, but do you know what she brought? (because Ben knew I wasn’t fond of creme brulee),” I said, “Creme Brulee!”  I recall Ben laughing at my predicament and then asked, “well, are you going to try it?”  Like any good foodie, regardless if past experience went awry, I responded with an astounding “Yes!”

I got two spoons and dipped my spoon to remove just a little bit.  And what I tasted was nothing like scrambled eggs mixed in cream.  It was simply heavenly.  All Ben heard was, “MMM, OHH!  Ben! (another bite) This is amazing!  You have to try this! (another bite) I could eat yours if you want!”  I was transformed.  So when my dear friend Talia was coming over for a little birthday celebration, I knew I needed to make her creme brulee.  Except, I wanted to put a spin on it by adding the sour cherry with Grand Marnier filling on the bottom.  I recommend ensuring that the creme is very cold while the brulee is warm when you serve–it’s the best way to eat it in my opinion (plus, did you know sweet is more pronounced when it is warmed up, so the cold creme doesn’t allow the sugar to become overbearing).  You’ll be sure to win over even the biggest anti-creme brulee person with this dessert.

A Year Ago: Spicy Caramel Popcorn

Sour Cherry Creme Brulee with Grand Marnier (printable recipe)

Keep the egg whites to use for another recipe. And if you stay tuned, I’ll share a Coconut Lime Macaroon recipe to utilize them.  If you don’t have a blow torch, then put your cooked & chilled creme brulee ramekins in 9×13 pan (or roasting pan) and fill it with ice, in order to keep the custards VERY cold.  Turn your broiler on and put your ramekins (with the sugar on top) sitting in the ice bath directly under the broiler for only 30 seconds.  Check the sugar (brulee) to ensure it doesn’t get too burnt.  If you need it to cook a bit more, then put it back in for another 15 seconds and continue until it reaches your desired burnt sugar liking.

Sour Cherry Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh/frozen sour cherries ( I used frozen sour cherries that were fresh in the summer)
  • 1-2 Tb raw honey
  • 1 Tb arrowroot powder
  • 2-4 Tb Grand Marnier

Creme Brulee Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier (optional)
  • 6 egg yolks, large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar for brulee part

Sour Cherry Filling:

Put all of the cherries, along with the juices into a heavy-bottomed saucepan (ensure there are no seeds in the cherries). Turn the heat to medium. If your cherries are frozen, wait before adding any of the other ingredients until the cherries are completely thawed. If your cherries are thawed or fresh, add 1 Tb of honey and allow to bubble, stirring occasionally. Keep it in this stage for about 10 minutes. You are working towards a nice filling consistency.

Sprinkle the arrowroot over the cherries and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is bubbling rapidly, turn the heat down, in order to avoid burning. You want it to simmer/bubble. The filling should start to set as you stir occasionally. Taste throughout to see where the filling sweetness is at. If you feel that the filling needs another tablespoon of honey, add it now. Once the filling has thickened (dip a metal spoon in the filling and it should coat it), add two tablespoon of Grand Marnier (I used 2 Tb). Adding more than two tablespoons will make the filling taste more boozy; however, once the filling is added to the ramekins and cooked with the creme, the Grand Marnier burns off a bit with just two tablespoons. Cook on stove top for an additional minute, then remove from heat to cool.

Creme Brulee Ingredients:

Combine the milk, cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until it reaches the boiling point. Set aside to steep until it cools down.

Preheat oven to 300 F, and adjust a rack slightly lower than center.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks & optional 1 tsp of Grand Marnier briefly. Add the cream mixture very slowly into the yolks, whisking well with each addition. Once blended, strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Put cherry filling into 8 or 9 (4-ounce) shallow ramekins (about 2 inches high) to cover bottom (about 2 tsp), then pour the custard mixture on top of the cherry filling, and bake them in a water bath for 35 to 45 minutes, until centers are softly set. “Remove from oven and cool in water bath until comfortable to handle. Cover the dishes and refrigerate for 2 hours. These can be stored for 1 or 2 days before serving.

To serve, sprinkle each top with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of brulee sugar and torch to caramelize. For thicker caramelized crunch, use more sugar.


Whole 30: Day 30 & Key Lime Pie Kamillebars

Well friends, today is day 30 of my 30 day challenge.  It is officially over at 12:01 am, but I will avoid any temptation of getting out of bed for a glass of wine.  These 30 days have been quite remarkable, in the physical yes, but even more in the emotional, mental & spiritual realm.  It’s interesting when I tell people about this challenge, because there have been typical responses.

  1. Eyes pop out of their head
  2. They realize their eyes popped out and try to compose their facial expression to a more subdued look.
  3. Nodding of the head (as in I cannot believe you are doing this to yourself).
  4. The response, “Wow, you must have a lot of willpower,”
  5. Or my other favorite response, “That’s amazing (but I wonder if they really think I’m nuts), but I couldn’t live without…FILL IN THE BLANK!”

As for willpower.  I guess if you asked my mom about me being a girl, if I had a strong will, she’d say yes.  If you asked Ben the same, he’d probably agree.  However, I think willpower is more about seeing the potential for something good and setting on the course to achieve it.  It’s making choices everyday because you see the end goal.  I make choices now as a mother to discipline my girls, in order for them to know of life’s consequences and how to have enough “willpower” to say no when faced with life’s bigger dilemmas (you know the ones that have catastrophic effects).

When I looked at myself in the mirror even three years ago, I didn’t see someone who was healthy or someone I wanted to be.  But when you hit a place in health decline, whether that’s being overweight, chronic health issues, lethargic, etc, you can easily get so trapped and wonder, “How did I get here?  And how do I get out?”  This goes for any challenge in life, it just happens to be nutrition & exercise for me.  And specifically, this 30 day challenge was a challenge; considering I love to bake and my shelves are overflowing with cookbooks.  Yet, when I see myself now compared to the girl who walked into Jogo August 4th for a basecamp fitness introduction (ached for days), I remind myself of her.  I see that girl and think, “that’s willpower, to get up at 5:30am to come workout, completely out of shape and all because she wanted better in life.”

Who would’ve thunk it?  Certainly not me, but I’m SO VERY THANKFUL for it.  In fact, it’s amazing how alive your taste buds are when you take away sugar for 30 days.  Dates are simply ethereal (and a bit dangerous) and figuring out how to make my own Larabars were even more so.  I first had a Key Lime Pie Larabar during the challenge, and I could have sworn there was cream cheese in it.  The ingredients simply said: dates, cashews, almonds, key lime concentrate.  I set out to do what any rational person would do…figure out how to make my own.  And they’re good, really good!  But, I’m warning you right now to only save a couple and share the rest, because 1. you’ll be sure to make friends that way and 2. you’re body will thank you later.

Key Lime Pie Kamillebars (printable recipe)

I have made these twice.  The first time they turned out better than the second time, merely because the nuts didn’t get finely chopped in the food processor.  I realized that the first round I used dates from Trader Joes, which were more dry.  I think more dried dates work better in this recipe.  While the second time I had these wonderful, soft dates from Costco.  Due to the dates being quite soft, they pureed before allowing all the nuts to puree.  So the pureed dates caused everything to stick without chopping.

Ingredients:

16 ounces dates (weight is based on dates with pits still in)

2 cups/225 grams raw cashews

1 1/8 cup/165 grams raw almonds

1 cup/80 grams unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 tsp pure lime oil

3-4 key limes, juice OR juice of 2 limes (the kind you find at the grocery store)

Directions: Place cashews, almonds, coconut, & pitted dates into the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the nuts are almost pureed, just not into a nut butter.  You may want to pulse a couple times.  Once the the nuts & dates are chopped well, add the lime juice & oil and pulse to combine.  You will want the mixture to be a bit sticky.  Taste to see if you need to add more lime juice.

Put in a 9×9 square pan, patting down evenly.  You can slice fairly soon after.  I cut mine into small squares; rather, than the traditional bar.  If left out they will dry a bit.  So cover them if you want to retain some moisture.


Thankful with Sweet Potato Goodness (& so much more)

The words that penetrated my soul the most, “my sons were hungry and the only thing I could give them was water.” This was part of a guest speaker’s story. She was a small Honduran woman, measuring a mere 4 feet and 9 inches, but she made up for it with tremendous heart & conviction. Her name, Danubia Orellana Lopez, and she is apart of the Agros village of Brisas del Volcan.

Danubia was the speaker at the Agros International fundraiser dinner Ben and I attended at the end of October.  It seemed fitting that we attended just days before we plunged into doing this 30 day challenge.  Agros is an amazing organization, who seeks to empower people in Central America & Mexico through micro loans to purchase land.  Many of these people, like Danubia, lived in the slums and had to wake up at 2:30 am to walk 2 hours to get to the farm (to which she & her husband worked for someone else), work an 18 hour day and only get paid $.40 a day.  She recalls the times when payday arrived and the owner of the land wasn’t there to pay her & her husband.  Those were the days when all she could offer her children was water to fill their bellies.  She also recalled a time at the age of 14, when her mother only had 3 eggs to feed the 14 kids….I am truly blessed.

I can’t imagine that world.  To feel absolutely defenseless and unable to give your children a basic necessity.  Agros seeks to extend both physical means to these people who are willing to work REALLY hard to till their land; but, also give them emotional/spiritual means.  They come in to teach the people how to cultivate the land, how to educate themselves, how to make financial deals, etc.  What Agros does, is tell these people like Danubia, that if they are willing to want something more, then they can have it.  More importantly, what Agros does & says to them, “You are worth it!  You have value!”

Danubia spoke of telling her mother that she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.  Her mother said, “Danubia, people like us don’t dream, because our hearts just get broken.”  After Agros came in to empower Danubia, her family & community, she and other women worked together to make the men realize that they are just as important & valuable as them.  And you know what, after the women worked just as hard, the men realized that these women, their women, had dignity & value.

When I think about what Evangitality means–this is it.  This is the global representation of it.  It’s finding value, dignity & worth in each individual, because they are created in God’s image.  It’s empowering them by giving them a hand up, and not a hand out.  It’s not entitlement, because there are many people who choose to stay in slums so they can keep their TV or refrigerator.  Instead, it’s for the people who want something more, who want to dream.  Life without dreams isn’t a life worth living, and Danubia knew this.

Walking back to the hotel that night, I told Ben, “You know, the poor in America aren’t that poor.  They still get assistance.  They’re not putting their children to bed without food.”  It has made me more thankful than ever.  And that’s why I give thanks before my meals.  I thank God that I have more than enough to fill my family’s bellies.  So when I’ve been cranky during this 3o day challenge, or hear people whining about, “Oh, I ONLY get meat, vegetables, limited fruit & nuts, and eggs,” I’m reminded of Danubia’s words, “my sons were hungry and the only thing I could give them was water.”  Oh how I have nothing to complain about, and everything to give thanks about.

I’m thankful for simple meals too.  So simple it seems almost too good to be true.

A Year Ago: Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Sea Salted Caramel Frosting &   Oatmeal Carmelitas

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Goodness (printable recipe)

This is for one sweet potato, but you could easily increase the amount and play with the ingredients.  If you’re not a cinnamon fan, sub some nutmeg (but go easy on it) or add some smoked paprika.

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

1 tsp coconut oil

dash sea salt

2 Tb pecans

sprinkle cinnamon

Directions: Bake a sweet potato on 350 for 30 minutes or so (check a source, I’m that person who pops it in and doesn’t worry about it).  Do this the day before if you’re having it for breakfast.  Remove the skin and cut up the sweet potato into chunks.

Heat up coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Add the sweet potato & salt.  Stir around letting it get a bit golden, about 3 minutes.  Add some chopped pecans & a sprinkling of cinnamon.  Cook for an additional 1 minute or so.  Serve and enjoy!


Paleo Day 2: Spinach Salad with sauteed shiitakes & subdued garlic

If only garlic started with an “S” then I’d have won for alliteration.  It’s only day two and at this rate, not sure if posting everyday for the next 28 days is possible; however, let’s give it a shot (not going to try too many firsts here).  Last Wednesday at my little gym, my coach Emilie led the “chalktalk” on this upcoming “Lean & Green Challenge,” where she laid out the ground rules, fears & ideas to rally the troops in to complete the mission.  Challenge: “no grains, dairy, sugars, legumes for 30 days.”  Well, that’s not TOO bad–right?!

But it got me thinking about the various people who have gone Paleo and never looked back.  Their phrases were sung to the melody of “the hills are alive.”  And the thing is, they didn’t have those looks that you can easily call out in a crowd as a bluff.  They really were holding an ace high straight flush and want to lead as many people to the goods who will willingly follow.  So, just in case you’re not following, after the 30 days, they didn’t want to go back.  They didn’t want to go back to gluten-filled goodness, rice cakes (oops how did that get there), cream in their coffee, or a place where the beer flows like wine.  Mostly, people didn’t want to go back to the gluten, because it affected their systems; however, seeing as half of my recipes here consist of that little beauty–I can’t help but get a little sad. To think of Christmas without having Vetekrans, a blustery Autumn weekend having Pumpkin Pecan Scones, or enjoying a getaway with my friends with Homemade Oreos.  Seriously, never again (insert sad face).

As for day two–it’s close to over and I should be reporting to sleep duty.  What I do know is this morning Ben did wake up to “nutty wife syndrome” (didn’t say it wasn’t coming), tonight was easier than last, and maybe, just maybe I won’t miss all of the said above items and long for this simple Spinach Salad (one can dream right).  Sweet dreams friends!

A Year Ago: Pear, Apple, Cranberry Crisp

Spinach Salad with sautéed Shiitakes & Subdued Garlic (printable recipe)

Ingredients:

A whole bunch of washed, dried spinach (preferably pre-washed)

8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems cut off and sliced

1-2 Tb almond oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tb olive oil

salt

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

freshly ground pepper

Directions: In a large bowl, put your spinach in it.  In a medium saute pan and on medium heat, heat almond oil.  Add the mushrooms and stir occasionally.  Once they have gotten nice & sautéed, then add a pinch of salt.  Put sautéed mushrooms atop the spinach.

With the same pan, add the olive oil (on medium-low heat) and add your minced garlic.  Stir around and keep all the garlic simmering in the oil.  You DO NOT want it to brown.  Your simply simmering out the garlic to soften both texture & flavor (1 -1 1/2 minutes).  Add a pinch of salt to garlic.  Empty onto the mushroom & spinach.

Spread out the thinly sliced mushrooms atop.  Drizzle a bit more olive oil (not too much) & grind some pepper.


Coconut Ginger Butternut Squash Soup

Starting Monday, Ben & I will be joining our gym’s call to partake in the “Lean & Green Challenge.”  Before I divulge into what it entails, let me say that I can already imagine the expression on your face as you continue reading.  And I’m actually looking forward to it (in some respects).  It is a Paleo eating style, which means we will be eating as Paleolithic people.  You got that? Okay, well, it means we only eat lean meats, vegetables, limited fruit, nuts & seeds and good fats (olive oil, coconut oil, nut oils, nut butters, etc).  That means we will not be eating any grains (containing gluten and gluten-free), dairy, sugars, or legumes (yes peanuts are a part of that).

I, of course, prefaced it with what we can eat, because most people upon hearing what we can’t eat automatically ask, “Well, what CAN you eat?”  The next question, “Kamille, why are you doing this?  What does this mean with baking?” Good question!  Ben and I have been looking at our Family Mission (reading this great book) and our top priority is getting our family healthy.  Ben joined Jogo in March, me in August, my mental health turned for the worse and we want more from life. Friends & co-Jogomates have testified the goodness of doing Paleo.  How aches, pains, intestinal problems, weight around the gut, etc went away after following a Paleo food lifestyle (Robb Wolf), along with regular cardio-exercise.  So really, I would have to ask myself, “Why wouldn’t I join the “L&G Challenge?”

And about baking…well, to be quite honest, I haven’t really wanted to bake much these days.  Maybe it’s a mixture of exercise, lack of time, demands of family?  And maybe I’m just burnt out.  What I am excited about is loving my family in these next 30 days by preparing & cooking food that will be good to their body, help me menu plan (for once anyway) and most likely have a tighter rein on the food budget.  Plus, we have a 1/2 a cow in our deep freezer, so here’s to using it.  One of my recipes is this soup, which puts a twist on an Autumn classic.  The coconut is subtle enough, which is why I didn’t use a whole can (but you certainly could) and plays on the creaminess known to the butternut squash.  The ginger adds bite & spice to make it come a bit alive.  Stay tuned as our family embarks on this adventure, and hopefully share a recipe or two:)

A Year Ago:  Simple MealsJuxtaposition

Coconut Ginger Butternut Squash Soup (printable recipe)

If you want to substitute the water for warm chicken broth, go right ahead, because it would add a greater depth of flavor to it.

Ingredients:

2 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 small onion, roughly cut into large dice

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

1/2 cup coconut milk

3-5 cups water

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp finely grated ginger

Garnish options: olive oil, kosher salt, red pepper chili flakes, cilantro

Directions: Preheat oven to 425.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place butternut squash & onion on parchment paper.  Drizzle with olive oil, mix around with hands, sprinkle a bit of salt on top.  Roast for about 30-35 minutes, check the squash (a fork should pierce right through).

Add the roasted squash & onions in batches to the blender.  Add 1/4 cup coconut milk and about 1/2 cup of water.  Put a towel on top of the lid to avoid getting burnt by the steam.  Blend until completely pureed.  You most likely will need to add more water along the way.  Continue doing this, until all the squash/onion mixture is pureed; as well as, the coconut milk is gone.

Transfer the puree to a large pot and bring up to medium heat.  Add more water, 1/2 cup portion at a time, until you get the consistency you prefer.  Add ground ginger & freshly grated ginger (using a microplane zester).  Add salt to taste.  If you need a bit of acid, then squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lime–taste and if you think it needs the other 1/2–go ahead and add it.

Ladle into bowl, drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, along with red pepper chili flakes, some cilantro and a pinch of coarse salt.


The Family Meal (Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup)

There is so much research showing how important it is to eat together for meals.  I understand that eating every meal together is not completely feasible, so maybe it’s making a goal for one meal a day.  Granted, I don’t have teenagers or any after school sports during this stage of life.  However, I think I hold it so dear, because growing up we didn’t have regular “check-in” time during a meal (meaning every member of the family sat together).   I love how Ben regularly asks the girls, “Girls, I forgot to ask (insert enthusiasm), what was your favorite part of the day?”  Tayers will routinely announce, “OH..HUCK! (as in a character from Strawberry Shortcake).”  But you know, it’s not about dinner being intricate or fanciful; rather, it’s simply about being present to feed both the body & soul.

I wish you could come into our home to share a meal with us, because contrary to mislead beliefs, we rarely have exquisite platings.  Typically, it’s fairly humble and sometimes a flop (with a very humble husband still eating it).  If there’s something I want to impart to you in the kitchen is take risks, expand upon what you know, but do it with little steps.  And if there’s another thing I want to impart is take advantage of what the farmers are growing, because it most likely tastes REALLY good.

Tomatoes.  They’re still abounding here in western WA and you don’t want to pass them up.  My girls love tomatoes, as do I, and we all love a good tomato soup.  Growing up I hated tomato soup, because you only found in a white & red can labeled Campbell’s (Could it get any worse?).  So in my infinite 8 year old wisdom, I deduced that all tomato soup was evil (as were those sad little Circus Peanut Candies).  Then, I grew up and tried a different tomato soup, come to realize I had it partially wrong.  Not all tomato soups are created equal (I was right about the Campbell’s brand).  This tomato soup is fairly straightforward & easy.  You won’t see if featured on 30 minute meals, due to the roasting time alone, but well worth it.  You can choose to serve it a la rustic (less smooth & without pressing it through a sieve) or a bit more refined (pressing it through a sieve), but it’s entirely up to you.  Whatever you do, I hope you sit down, give thanks for even the simplest of meals, breathe in deep for this moment you’re given, and do with those people you love most:)

One Year Ago: Day One & Two of Culinary Intensive Course

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup (printable recipe)

Please don’t be afraid of salt here.  Salt is like the focus button on a camera, it is there to enhance the flavor.  A tomato in season is going to be great; however, when you add a bit of salt to it…it’s WOW factor increases exponentially.  Use however, much water you think you need to create the consistency, which suits your fancy.

3 lbs heirloom tomatoes
Handful of sungold tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
sprinkle of unrefined granulated sugar
sprinkle of kosher salt

2 tsp unrefined sugar, evaporated cane juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1-1 1/2 cups water
freshly grated parmesan cheese
crack of fresh ground pepper
light drizzle of olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.  Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut heirlooms into quarter slices, while leaving the sungolds as is and put on tray.  Quarter the red bell pepper & place on sheet as well.  Drizzle the olive oil over the nightshades (tomato & peppers fall in the nightshade family), then sprinkle with salt & sugar.  Roast for an hour.

Transfer everything, even the oil, to a food processor.  Process until smooth (45 seconds to 1 minute).  Taking a fine meshed sieve or food mill, pour some of the pureed mixture through to strain the seeds & skin pulp.  Take the strained soup mixture and add 1/3 cup at a time to create the right consistency for you.  I used 1 cup of water.  Then, added a little bit more sugar & salt to make the tomato flavor pop.  Heat on the stove top.  Garnish with freshly grated parmesan, cracked pepper, & light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Peach Pico de Gallo

The trees around here tell me that Autumn is on the move.  However, in Bellingham it is known that summer doesn’t fully start until the Fourth of July and sticks around till end of September.  Today would prove otherwise.  But, I’m not letting it get to me and trying to make up for so much lost time in the kitchen this summer.  Peaches, nectarines, apples & plums are in abundance.  In fact, you can still get strawberries, blueberries & raspberries at Joe’s Garden (oh how I love thee).  Not to mention the nightshade vegetable/fruit family abounding everywhere.

And since we’re leaving to Vegas this week for my sister-in-law’s wedding, I needed to do something with the tomatoes & peaches before I left.  A peach pico de gallo sounded wonderful.  I think it was two summers back we would buy this mango-peach salsa from Costco & simply loved it.  It was more on the sweet side, not as much spice, but perfect for grilled chicken, salmon or even better…scrambled eggs.  My version is less sweet and it tastes like a pico de gallo should–fresh.  You can up the spice factor however you like.  It takes me to the beaches of Mazatlan where my grandpa lives, except this time I’m older and can drink a beer with it.  Enjoy!

P.S. We got our camera in the mail this week (must use the word “our,” as I’ve already said “my” once–OOPS!) & I love it!

A Year Ago: Sour Lemon Scones

Peach Pico de Gallo (printable recipe)

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 large red pepper, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced (the heat is in the inner white spine, so you can remove that to make it less hot)

6 hothouse tomatoes (Joe’s Garden), diced

1 1/2-2 lbs peaches, chopped & skinned

pinch of salt

juice of one lime

Optional: If you want more heat, add more jalapenos.

Directions: This is relatively easy to make.  The work is done with a sharp chef knife, cutting board and bowl.  Cut, dice, chop, etc and put it into the bowl.  Mix together, taste for flavoring & add more of what you think you need.  Eat with chips, serve on eggs, chicken, salmon, fish tacos, cod, halibut.  Add a mango if you like.


Beet Salad Done Right!!

I’ve been suffering from a bit of writer’s block.  In college when it came time to write my history papers I would fumble & fumble with the introduction.  And that’s how it’s been feeling when I sit down to write a new post.  I can’t seem to find just the right words to begin.  But, in a way, it’s exactly how life is going in the here & now.  Take breakfast for instance.  It’s 8:00 and I’m actually showered & ready, so breakfast should be a snap.  Not quite.  When I came downstairs I found my “risen bread” to be not so risen, but quite fallen.  I didn’t want to waste it, so I began thinking what I could do instead.

Then, insert two little girls under the age of four asking for, “Mama, can you put Shortcake Swing on?” Me: “Yes! (still looking baffled at my dough).  And since I didn’t move in .milliseconds I was asked the same question again.  Then, Tayers needed her boots on like sissy.  Oh, but my hands were sticky, so go and wash, help with said boots, then back to dou…oh wait, there’s dirt all over the floor.  Find broom.  Another question asked of me.  Me wondering if I had something I was doing in the kitchen.  By the time I got back the dough was sticking to the board.  Eventually, I made a sad excuse for a breakfast pizza (eggs cooking on top, dough a bit soggy [because it was intended for bread in the first place]); however, the girls didn’t seem to mind.

Oh, what I also forgot to mention was the time when we finally ate…oh about 9:15.  Because what ensued from the time I started to the time I finished, well, I have no clue at this point in the afternoon.  I do know that I lost my marbles at one time with a bit more boisterous mama (some call it shouting) saying, “I need to think!  Out of the kitchen…get out of the kitchen!”  I think I was the one who needed an immediate time out and my apologies & reminding myself in front of the girls how we are to “use our words.”  That’s what my introductions to posts feel like.  My life at present is like the first time I learned to drive stick, a whole bunch of jerking stops not knowing how (or if I should) to begin again.

But you know, I find a bit of solace amidst of all this (granted, it’s almost 8 hours later).  As I was picking up the toys, hats, shoes from the floor for the umpteenth time I thought of the people without kids (whether it be the barren, the empty nester, etc) and how this mere “inconvenience” is full of life.  Our home is full of non-stop chatting, laughter, cries, music, movement & breaths.  The silence is more than appreciated & needed, but there’s something about that little voice after nap, which gladly says, “Hi Mama!”  There’s something about it all that I wish I could stuff it into a bottle so it never fades.  It’s contentment in these little things, that makes a Monday feel like a Friday.  This little salad does just that.  The acidity from the marinated beets, sweet licorice blend from the fennel, and the creaminess from the avocado.  You could eat it by itself or put it on top of salad greens.

A Year Ago: Superlative Chocolate Chip Cookies & Cabbage-Apple Salad

Beet, Fennel, & Avocado Salad

This salad can be eaten without salad greens, or with.  I found a good washed kind from my Farmer’s Market (had kale, mustard greens, herbs, bibb lettuce).  Be sure you don’t throw out your beet greens.  You can either saute them up with a little minced garlic, olive oil & salt for later.  Or, chop them up to use as part of your salad greens for this here salad.

(printable recipe)

Ingredients:

1 bunch of beets (if you can get a variety sold at a Farmer’s Market–that would be optimal)

4-5 small fennel bulbs (or 2 big ones)

2 ripe avocados

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Kosher Salt or Sea Salt

Olive oil

Mixed Greens

Directions:  Chop the beet greens off (save them for later use by steaming or cut up & put as part of your salad).  Scrub the beets, but no need to peel them.  Thinly slice them using a mandoline.  Put them in a bowl and pour enough raw apple cider vinegar to cover them.  Allow them to marinate for minimum 2 hours.  Once your beets have marinated (I marinated mine for 3 1/2 hours), drain them & if you want to barely rinse them, go ahead.

Slice the fennel with the mandoline (think thin as well).  Put them in a ice water bath, then transfer them to a salad spinner to get the water out.  The ice water bath shrinks the fennel, allowing it to be crunchy.

Transfer the beets & fennel into a bowl.  Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top, sprinkle with salt & cubed avocados as well.  Lightly mix with your hands.  Place a portion on top of mixed salad greens.  Drizzle with a little bit more olive oil and you’re good to go.


Bulgur, Arugula & Baby Artichoke Salad

I heard my oldest saying, “Mama, I need to go pee!”  I helped her undress from the said leotard that she “needed” to wear as she quickly went about her business to promptly stand up to announce, “Okay mama, let’s go see Miss Jill!”  Miss Jill is her physical therapist (PT) she’s been seeing a couple of times as we are on the waiting list.  How do I put it?  She absolutely loves her “exercises” she does with Miss Jill (a.k.a. gym time).  Isn’t it amazing how exercise is “play & fun” to a child, while it’s “work” to the majority of the population over 18.

As I mentioned in my previous post about joining Jogo (which actually means play), I’ve been amazed at all the body parts being worked, thoughts circulating: “I can’t do that,” when I can and how what I’m doing strengthens core muscles that V is in need of strengthening, as well.  I read this snippet by a Crossfit trainer (who is certified to teach Kids Crossfit) and it made me smile.  When I hear from Jill that V is accepting various movements and shows great signs of improvement; as well as, read articles about individuals who use what seems like “work” to me–is extremely beneficial for people who deal with a myriad of special needs–I’m beyond grateful.  It’s amazing how exercise is so much more than looking good in swimsuits, or fitting in smaller clothing, or feeling affirmed by Hollywood’s standards.  When I look at my little girl, it’s allowing her a chance to function with others, manipulate common objects we, with full functioning central nervous systems, take for granted (using a fork, zipping, drawing, etc).

Then, I think about heaven.  I see people with physical disabilities.  There is this young man who has some mental disability in town, but loves dancing.  You’ll see him at the local events with music dancing to his rhythm.  I smile and I see him in heaven dancing with full range of motion, no inability–just complete freedom.  I know our daughter’s disabilities really are minute compared to others, but I delight in seeing her blossom through PT & I delight in knowing that someday, God’s redemptive love will transcend it all (not just her, but all of us).  So in this here & now, we try to bring acts of God’s redemptive love to others.  I see Jill doing that for our daughter.  I see our good friends the Pells (whom I’ll talk more about in a later post) who, like many, adopted their son from Ethiopia.  If my eyes are open a bit bigger, then I see it in so many places.

And as you either experience through giving or receiving this redemptive love, maybe you can do it around a shared meal of this wonderful salad.  It’s great even the next day.  Ben after eating it said, “by looking at it you think, this is healthy.  And, when you taste it you know it’s healthy, but not in a bad way,” which in a simple way is—it’s healthy without lacking flavor.

Bulgur, Arugula, & Baby Artichoke Salad (printable recipe)

You could easily put some toasted walnuts with this salad.  If you don’t have walnut oil, then just use olive oil.  I really like the addition of preserved lemons, but you can easily substitute lemon zest.  Canned artichoke hearts would work fine, but I would plead with you to make use of baby artichokes if they’re available in your area.  And this would easily work as a main dish salad & perfect for gatherings.

Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 cups medium grind bulgur
6 baby artichokes
2 medium carrots
1 small onion, thinly sliced in crescent-like shape
1-2 lemons
2 Tb chopped preserved lemons or 3-4 Tb of fresh lemon zest
olive oil
walnut oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Artichokes: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside.  Baby artichokes don’t have all that choke part like the big ones, so cut off the stems, along with a 1/4 inch of the bottom.  Cut off 1/4-1/2 inch off tops.  Quarter the artichokes and remove the outer leaves, until you see the leaves that don’t have any green on them (don’t worry too much if the tops are a bit green).  Put them in a bowl and squeeze with lemon to prevent browning as you prepare the rest.  Put all the prepared artichokes on the lined baking sheet with the insides facing up, drizzle with olive oil so they’re coated and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Roast for 20 minutes or so, check for doneness.  Once finished, transfer to a dish leaving the parchment lined sheet available for further roasting.  Increase heat to 415 degrees.

Bulgur:While the artichokes are roasting, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Once the water hits a boil, add your bulgur; stir & cover.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat & drain excess water.  Using a fine-mesh sieve, cool with cold water and gently squeeze out excess water.  Transfer to a serving bowl.

Onions: Slice onions in half with the root attached to both ends of your halves.  Then, with a chef knife, thinly slice with the grain into crescent shapes (don’t cut on the part as if you were making half onion rings).  Place on used parchment sheet and roast for 7-10 minutes.  Do not use any oil.  Once done, transfer to a bowl.

Carrots: Peel carrots, then shave them into long, thin slices.  Put on parchment lined sheet and toast for about 2 minutes.

Arugula: Remove stem part, wash & spin out excess water.  Cut into large chunks.

Putting it altogether: If you want to slice the roasted artichokes in half you can.  Remove the outer leaf if it’s too tough.  Add the chokes to the cooked bulgur.  Add the arugula & carrots.  Mix together with tongs.  Add minced preserved lemon or lemon zest.  Drizzle with walnut oil (about 2-3 Tb) & squeeze juice from lemon.  Combine with tongs.  Add a bit more oil to taste, along with salt & pepper.  Top with onions & serve.