Category Archives: Seasonal Cooking

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.


Spicy Coconut Green Bean & Sausage One Pot Wonder

 

We ate this at my in-laws house over Christmas and I loved it. If you were to step in my mother-in-law’s (Cherie) kitchen, she would be the first to boast of her ineptitude in the kitchen. However, I think she’s much harder on herself than anything. So I’m here to boast of her dish and give it special spot on my recipe wall of Fame. It’s simple, quick, tasty, you can forgo the small pan to toast the nuts and make it in one pot. Plus, it has cumin, fits our eating plan & did I mention tasty? Try it.

 

A Year Ago: Posole & Cinnamon-Almond Danish Rolls

Spicy Coconut Green Bean & Sausage One Pot Wonder (printable recipe)

My sweet mother-in-law made this for us while we were visiting during Christmas. I made a couple changes…mainly increasing the amount of cumin, because lime/cumin/pepper flakes are divine.

Ingredients:

1Tb olive oil or coconut oil

2 Tb blanched slivered almonds

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 Tb + 1 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp paprika

1/2 – 1 tsp red chili pepper

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1 lb sausage (pastured-raised)

1 can coconut milk (full fat)

1 lb of trimmed green beans, or broccoli

Juice of 1 lime (or two if you like)

Directions: In a small saucepan, heat 1 Tb olive oil or coconut oil over low-medium heat. Add slivered blanched almonds and
toast. Constantly stirring the almonds to avoid burning (it doesn’t take long to toast). Transfer the almonds to a small bowl and set aside for later. In a large saucepan, add the remaining Tb of olive or coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions, stirring until they get a bit soft. Add the garlic & stir (about 20 seconds). Add all spices, ground cumin, cumin seed, coriander, paprika, and red pepper chili flakes. Now, stir constantly for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The goal is to toast the cumin seeds and cook up the spices. It will get a bit dry and that’s okay–just keep stirring.

Add the sausage & salt to the pan and thoroughly stir the onion/garlic/spice mixture into the sausage. Continue stirring occasionally until the sausage is completely cooked. Pour the coconut milk in, stir. Add trimmed green beans and stir around. Turn the heat to low and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Cover the pan and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes (depending on how soft you like your green beans). Squeeze fresh lime juice over it and stir. Add the toasted almonds and serve.


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!


Roasted Chicken

This morning marks the beginning of week three of Lean & Green Challenge (via Jogo Crossfit Gym).  I must report that the lady writing on Paleo day two is quite different from the one writing in front of the computer today.  There are some areas that are still the same.  For instance, walking into the grocery store and seeing the lovely pastry bat it’s eyelashes at me is a bit tempting.  However, what’s most noticeable is my overall health.  It’s not just physical energy, but mental energy.  So when you hear that phrase, “you are what you eat;” well, I think there’s something to it.  My mental state seems to be at its peak.  I don’t want to attribute it all to how I’m eating, but I truly believe what I’m putting in is making a difference to thinking more clearly.

It’s interesting when you think of the various methods people deal with stress & anxiety.  There are those that I know who attempt to drown out the noises by numbing the pain with drugs.  I’ve always thought, “well, at least I don’t do that,” but there is something to be said about what I have used to numb the pain.  I never thought I used food as a “way out,” but on Saturday, it seemed like the advise I had given my friend of being mindful, drinking some tea, etc, didn’t cut it.  As I’ve briefly mentioned before here, we’ve dealt with various difficulties with our oldest.  In front of her, there are many obstacles (in terms of developmental delays) most of which, she has no idea; however, as her mama, I’m fully aware of them.  On Saturday we received a letter from a visit we had with a genetic researcher/doctor.  It didn’t leave me with warm fuzzies either, but more of that pit feeling.  You know the pit.  It appears to be an unconquerable wall standing in front of you, and if you look at this way, then that’s what it will be.

It was in that moment, as my stomach turned with that unwelcome old friend “anxiety,” that I wanted a mocha, or something sweet to deal with that moment.  But alas, I knew it was my will versus the wall, and I wasn’t going to let it conquer me.  It didn’t and I found that my soul needed time to be creative.  To let out tears of the unknown, talk with God about it, paint (something I haven’t done in a while) and create, and I found my soul (and stomach) was the better for it.  I’m learning a lot about myself (and my jeans have also noticed–in a good way).  One of those things is my renewed love of cooking, while baking takes a backseat.  This roasted chicken is one of them.  It will definitely earn you a couple of “ooos” & “awws” in the kitchen, while not taking much time standing in the kitchen.  Again, thanks for reading and sharing with me in this journey.  I’m certain that I’m not the only one with that unconquerable wall staring at me, but I’m certain you too can conquer it.

 

A Year Ago: Traditions

Roasted Chicken (printable recipe)

I love roasted chicken, because it appears that you’ve been slaving in the kitchen much longer than you actually did.  Plus, take the carcass and turn it into chicken broth.

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
bundle of fresh thyme
coconut oil
3 strips quality bacon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425.  Have ready a dutch oven.  Take your chicken and remove all the insides, clip any nails still attached and rinse with cool water.  Pat dry the outside & inside of the bird.  Be generous in sprinkling salt inside the cavity of the bird, along with ground pepper.  Rub coconut oil on the outside of the bird on the breasts, along with under the breast skin.  Sprinkle salt & pepper under the breast skin & on top of the breast.

Put the bundle of thyme inside the cavity.  Place your whole bird in the dutch oven.  By using a dutch oven, you will not have to deal with trussing the chicken.  Take the wings and tuck them behind the back of the chicken.  Now with a pair of kitchen shears, snip an opening on the fat portion near the birds downside (butt) on both sides, in order to tuck the drumstick ends through the holes (consult picture).


Place the three strips of bacon across the breast and put into the oven, cook for 20-25 minutes.  After 20-25 minutes, remove the bacon and turn down the heat to 350.  Baste the chicken.  Cook for an additional 25-35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 165 (poke it between the drumstick & breast).

Once it hits 165, remove from oven.  If you want to make gravy using the drippings go ahead.  Serve it up & enjoy.  Be sure to use the carcass for some great stock.


Paleo Week 2: Harvest Salad

I told myself that I would not have any obligation to post everyday during this 30 day challenge, and I’m glad about it.  I went to a conference this past weekend (Friday & Saturday) in Seattle.  I was pleasantly surprised, because my expectations were very low.  I went prepared, while carrying around my little strawberry tote bag everywhere, which was loaded with Paleo supplies (celery sticks, nuts, apple slices, hazelnut butter, etc).  I also discovered that club soda is not nearly as awful when your taste buds have been devoid of sugar.  In fact, the soda water was AMAZING!

It also must be said that I still miss chocolate, red wine, and ice cream doesn’t sound too bad.  However, despite those non-L&G foods, I think I could see making this as part of our lifestyle.  Not necessarily 100%, but in the high percentages.  I will let you know about next week, because I’m told that come third week–your body feels better than good.  The downside to the challenge during this second week is how my performance at the gym has been low.  When running–my legs feel like lead.  When lifting–my arms feel like noodles.  I’m hoping week three will be better than good.

This salad is probably my go to salad.  My friend Jessica fell in love with it that she went out to get the ingredients that day.  And you can easily make it Paleo by nixing the blue cheese (just make sure the cranberries don’t have sugar with them).

A Year Ago: Roasting Pumpkin

Harvest Salad (printable recipe)

Ingredients:

Head of lettuce (romaine, red leaf, green leaf), washed, dried, & torn into bite sized pieces

1 apple (Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, whatever you want–just not Red Delicious)

1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, Roquefort

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 Tb mustard (regular or dijon)

1 tsp dried basil (crunch it in your hands to release the oils)

Directions:  Pretty straightforward, put the washed/torn lettuce into a big bowl.  Sprinkle the nuts, dried cranberries, & blue cheese on the lettuce.

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, add extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar.  Add the mustard and whisk together.  It should start to combine.  Add the basil.  No need to pour all of it on the salad, but start small and mix to combine.  If you need a bit more, then add it:)


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.


Paleo Day 1: Pistachio Crusted Salmon

Before we had children, I participated in the South Beach diet with Ben.  The premise is removing grains, some fruit carbs, white potatoes & sugars.  You take everything out the first two weeks, then add in some other items the third week.  I’m not really one for going on diets, but I was game for this one for Ben’s sake (not his Lemonade Cleanse though).  The first day was fine.  I had eggs, some veggies, and probably chicken for dinner.  The next day took a turn for the worse.  This is where that little old friend called “drama” sneaks its way into my head and clouds any clarity or logic.

I called up Ben sobbing the second morning saying something along the lines, “I can’t do it.  If I eat eggs I’m going to puke.  Seriously, I can’t do this anymore–what can I eat?  I can’t…”  Drama is my middle name and I will never live this down, as Ben has already said today that he is expecting a call tomorrow with “nutty wife syndrome.”

Today hasn’t been too bad of day one Paleo.  The hardest is when there are multiple child meltdowns, the comfort of an Americano with cream or a latte is not an option, while I keep pressing on towards the goal.  Reminds me of the Apostle Paul, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Granted, Paul was talking about something a bit different from restraining oneself from sugars, grains & dairy; but, I think it’s the connection of seeing the end goal (whatever it might be).  Right now I’m choosing to embrace this challenge (hopefully without so much drama like before) and I think tonight’s dinner proved a gold.

Pistachio Crusted Salmon with sautéed Shallot & Fennel (printable recipe)

Ingredients:

2 lbs Coho Salmon

mustard

2 cups shelled pistachios

sea salt & ground pepper

4 Tb olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Ground pistachios in food processor until nicely ground.  Put your salmon skin side down.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Put a thin layer of mustard all over the salmon.  Cover with ground pistachios.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Just before the salmon is done, add olive oil to saute pan and turn to medium heat.  Saute shallots, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Add the fennel and keep mixing it up a bit.  It’s okay to have some of it brown & get a bit crispy on some of the pieces.

Put some of the shallot/fennel atop a good portion of pistachio salmon.


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.


Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars

I will continue to love Autumn more than any season, and I don’t think it will ever leave, to which I’m grateful.  The vibrant colors alone rap my heartstrings (doesn’t take much).  And nothing says Fall quite like the wafting aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & cloves.  Puddle jumping never seemed so invigorating.  Then, there’s the visit to the pumpkin patch or apple orchards, while bundled up in “sweater weather” with the crisp air and crunch of the leaves with each step.  Oh Autumn, can you stay like this well into late November?  Autumn seems to call out, “come inside, bundle up, sip some cider by the fire, and be.”

 

 

How they smile for the picture

 

With the busyness of summer feeling a bit nomadic, Autumn let’s us know that it’s okay to be sedentary, to regroup and develop a game plan (fitting that football is in the Fall) of where you’re going next.  I’m reminded of traditions being rekindled or brand new ones beginning.  I know our family has been like running one 800 meter to the next without a time to catch our breath, much less time to ‘know’ one another.  This season reminds me of how I can make room for the new college student who has moved to town as well; but, it reminds me that if my family is on a constant chase without any reprieve, then it’s pointless.

I rarely make dessert specifically to be eaten after dinner, but sometimes having dessert planned with dinner when you’re not having guests over can be…well, special.  And I think making a dessert for my family, unannounced communicates that I think they’re pretty darn special.  These Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars are perfect for that.  Plus, they taste better the next day.  So, you don’t have to be in the kitchen making dinner & dessert all for the same meal.  They’re wonderful, and these little gems are sure to procure you praise for at least a couple of days (reason enough to make them).  I would love to hear what you do to usher in Autumn!

A Year Ago: Rarely for the Planned

Sour Cream Apple Crumble Bars (printable recipe)

This recipe is adapted from The Good Cookie cookbook.  It reminds me of an apple pie baked from Dutch Mothers in Lynden, WA, but without having to deal with the rolling & chilling that comes from making a pie crust.  The key is to let it cool to get the best overall taste.


Crust:

1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup unrefined evaporated cane juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp cold water
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Apple Filling:

1 pound Jonamac apples; peeled, cored, & sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tb apple juice or cider
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tb brandy
4 Tb unsalted butter
1/2 cup rapadura sugar

Topping:

1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup unrefined sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/3 cup rapadura sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Sour Cream Mixture:

1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

Make the crust: In a food processor, add the flour, sugar, & salt, combine 30 seconds.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, pulse 6-8 times.  In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, cold water & vanilla.  Then, with the food processor running, add the liquid and combine for 15-20 seconds.  Dump the dough into a 9-inch square pan and pat it down evenly with your hands.  Bake in preheated oven of 350 for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Make Apple Filling: In a medium bowl, combine the peeled/cored/sliced apples, lemon juice, cornstarch, brandy, & apple juice.  Toss it around and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the sugar to cook.  Stirring constantly until there are no more lumps.  Add the apple mixture and bring to a boil.  Cook for 5 minutes, or till the apples are soft on the outside but still slightly crunchy inside.  Empty contents into a bowl and allow to cool completely.

Make the topping
: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon & salt.  Add the melted butter and mix with a fork, stirring until the dry ingredients are all moistened.  Set aside.

Make the Sour Cream Mixture:
In a small bowl, whisk the egg until well blended.  Add the sour cream, cinnamon & salt to the whisked egg and whisk till combined.

Assembling the bars:
Take the sour cream mixture and combine it with the apple filling.  Stir well and spread evenly on the baked crust.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the sour cream apple mixture.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and set.  Cool the bars completely before serving.  You can dive right in if you’d like; however, they taste so much better when they’re completely cooled.