Posts tagged ‘winter’

January 10, 2014

the best all-purpose yogurt sauce + a warm winter salad

sweet potato-carrot-apple cake with sweet chili cilantro yogurt sauce

You know you’re doing alright with healthy eating when you open the fridge and your leftovers consist of cooked quinoa, chickpeas, and extra batter from these sweet potato-carrot-apple cakes. I’m lucky enough to naturally enjoy eating (and taking the time to cook) all these foods over the processed, fried and fast foods inundating our supermarkets and restaurants. But where I don’t have such an easy time is my unrelenting sweet tooth…. will it ever go away?!

Healthy eating is also much easier when you already have prepared foods on hand – like leftover quinoa, chickpeas, and veggies that are ready to be tossed into a salad the minute you decide you are starving for lunch. Sounds a bit like me today! Sometimes my leftover concoctions turn out to be not as appetizing as I’d hoped, but this was one that magically combined so nicely that I had to write up the recipe to share with you – and so that I can make it again!

a warm winter 'leftovers' salad

Sometimes I find it hard to eat salads as often in the winter. Cold and crunchy just doesn’t do it for me when it’s 14 degrees out! This salad was nice because I put a warm pan-fried veggie cake on top of spinach and arugula (rather than lettuce which does not stand up well under something hot) along with reheated quinoa and chickpeas and some fresh veggies. A warm, hearty and filling wintertime salad – perfect.

January 6, 2014

New Year Soup

very green lentil soup for the new year

Happiest new year to everyone! Hope you are staying warm and happy and healthy and are ready to enjoy everything 2014 brings…. I have some pretty big ventures planned this year so I sure am :]

I know I didn’t post any holiday treats this season, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t indulging in them the whole month of december (see christmas cookies below….)

December 29, 2012

Overnight Christmas Strata

kale, herb + gruyere strata

It’s about time I added this recipe to the blog, after it appeared on our table many a Christmas morning and days after while we had family at the house for the holidays. Let me tell you what’s great about this breakfast/brunch dish:

  1. you prepare it the night before so all it takes is a pop in the oven in the morning,
  2. the herbal aroma warms your whole house as it bakes,
  3. the combination of eggs, good bread, cheese and herbs is comfort food at its best for cozy winter mornings,
  4. its appetizing looks make you quite the impressive cook when you have guests around,
  5. everyone loves it (even my non-dairy-eating sister can’t resist).

Unfortunately I didn’t get to share this before prime holiday time and all those family gatherings, but perhaps you can try it as your hangover cure on New Years Day, or for your next lazy Sunday morning brunch. The recipe is not strict about add-ins or spices, so feel free to change it up with different kinds of bread, cheese, no cheese, or different combinations of greens and herbs. This is my favorite version, and I’m not a big cheese eater so I would also love it without.

DSC_3627

Overnight Kale, Herb + Gruyere Strata, adapted from Good Housekeeping

  • 6 large eggs (can substitute liquid egg whites for 3 of the eggs)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • salt + pepper
  • big handful of spinach or kale
  • a bunch of chopped fresh herbs – basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley
  • 1 loaf French bread OR multigrain loaf OR rosemary loaf
  • 6 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
    read more »

December 13, 2012

cozy wintertime stew

hearty chicken, butternut + quinoa stew

It’s important at this time of year, to maintain a balance between Christmas cookies and healthy, wholesome meals. Because as long as we take full advantage of winter’s nutritious harvest at meal times, no one need turn down a scrumptious holiday cookie (or two, or three..)

We’ve had our fill of both at my house—perhaps leaning towards the indulgent side—but leafy greens and bright orange squash are still part of our everyday diet. I had this recipe for chicken stew with butternut and quinoa marked for a long time, and like most recipes I finally get around to making I think, why did I wait so long?!

hearty chicken, butternut squash + quinoa stew

This is definitely a keeper in my recipe book, as it’s everything I love in a wintertime meal. Hearty, healthy, balanced, wholesome, cozy, savory, sweet, filling, and lick-the-bowl GOOD!

Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash + Quinoa, adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

  • 1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded + chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • couple handfuls kale, roughly chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
    read more »

November 5, 2012

southwestern polenta bowl

This time last year (strangely, this exact day), I discovered and posted about my newfound love for polenta. The obsession lasted a good while, as it was an easy ‘cooking-for-one’ meal while I was in school and always comforting during the colder months. Then springtime cravings for salads and fresh veggies took over my attention, and my bag of corn grits was left to its lonesome in the back of the pantry.

Until now! The moment I whisked up these grits today and heaped them with some southwestern-inspired fridge finds, it all came back to me. Deliciousness. A warm, nourishing, well-balanced, fuel-filled meal that’s anything but bland. A comfort food, but one without the post-indulgence guilt.

In this one-bowl meal, polenta [or corn grits] serve as the base as lettuce does for your springtime salad, and you get to be the creative genius to toss whatever your tummy desires on top.  Possibilities are endless, of course, but this one deserved to be documented and made again and again in exactly the same way…..

:]

southwestern-inspired polenta bowl

  • 1/2 cup yellow corn grits
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • onion
  • ground veggie sausage
  • black beans
  • roasted cubed pumpkin
  • chopped kale
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh spicy salsa / pico de gallo

Bring vegetable broth and salt to a boil in a pot. Add oil. Lower heat to simmer. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Keeping heat low, cover and let cook for 20 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

While polenta is cooking, in a pan sauté some onions with crumbled/ground veggie sausage and sprinkle with a little s+p. I then added in some black beans, leftover roasted cubed pumpkin and chopped kale. Once the sausage is cooked through, you may want to pour in some vegetable broth to help wilt the kale and keep everything from sticking.

When polenta is thick and creamy, spoon into a bowl and pile on your sautéed medley. Top with fresh cilantro and spicy salsa and devour!

Enjoy! -m

January 18, 2012

curried sweet potato-carrot-apple cakes

Two years ago on Christmas morning, my sister Tara threw together these “pancakes,” which were more like a sweet and zesty stir-fry-hash-mixture of shredded carrot, apple, sweet potato, egg, curry powder, cinnamon and cumin. They didn’t quite stay bound in cake form as planned, but I could care less as I shoved forkfuls in my mouth and declared I would eat this every day of the year.

Unfortunately my hatred of shredding vegetables by hand kept me from making this 6+ times per week, but the few times I did reminded me that this combination is just deliciously worth it. The Indian flavors of curry, cumin and garam masala add savory heat to the sweet apple, potato and carrot. This time around I added a bit of chickpea flour to bind the batter together enough to form solid pancakes on the griddle. ‘Twas a success, but I must say the mixture is just as tasty in stir-fried-hash form. The key to this dish, I repeat the KEY to breakfast bliss, is serving your cakes with a dollop of sweet chili sauce, perhaps a squirt of sriracha mixed in.

Curried sweet potato-carrot-apple cakes, inspired by Tara, recipe by me

  • 3 cups shredded sweet potatoes, carrots + apples, in any ratio you prefer. I do about 1 cup carrot, 1 ½ sweet potato and ½ apple
  • 1 or 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup egg whites, or 1 egg
  • 1 T milk (I use vanilla soy)
  • ½ cup chickpea flour (any flour will do)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • ½ t garam masala, or cinnamon
  • 1 t sea salt
  • sweet chili sauce + sriracha to serve

Peel and coarsely grate sweet potato, carrot and apple until you have 3 cups, in any ratio you prefer. Set aside in a colander or bowl on some paper towels to drain.

Combine flour, baking powder, spices and salt in medium bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in egg whites and milk. Squeeze excess juice from potato-apple-carrot mixture (I recommend saving the juice because it’s a sweet and nutritious combination!) and add mixture to bowl with the flour-egg mixture. Add scallions and stir to combine. Batter should be moist but not runny. If too stiff, add a tablespoon or so of milk until consistency is right.

Spray a nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high. Drop heaping spoonfuls or 1/8 cup of pancake mixture in skillet and flatten with back of spatula. Cook each side about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy. Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce and sriracha. You may store unused batter in a container in the fridge for several days to use whenever you please!

*Alternatively, leave out flour and stir fry as a breakfast hash.

Pancakes (above) versus a big pile of potato-apple-carrot hash (below). A perfect breakfast or brunch!

Enjoy! -mich

This recipe is shared at My Meatless Mondays, & Fresh Bites Fridays

January 4, 2012

A holiday recap

The winter holidays at our house always revolve around food, whether we want them to or not. It’s always been a time to indulge – a time to make the Christmas cookies everyone’s waited for all year, a time for big healthy breakfasts and hearty, planned-out dinners. And as much as we all complain about the constant eating and having too much stuffed into the refrigerator, we all look forward to the lazy days of whipping up our favorite traditional recipes and new ones we’re eager to try.

This year we surpassed our typical homemade deliciousness with all kinds of handmade gifts. I don’t know what it was, maybe the our obsession with pinterest over the past year and all the inspiring ideas it presents. So we brought on the creativity and went wild with homemade gifts – or I did at least!

Tara worked on her laser-cut jewelry (which she has been selling lots of!), and made some adorable wooden painted wall hangers for air plants, which unfortunately I don’t have a photo of. Melissa and I spent a few days straight making t-shirt scarves inspired from pinterest, and she also made some adorable holiday-themed cake pops! I took on a hanging-plant-in-a-canning-jar project, created a bread baking book from scratch for my sister Tara (with many tasty sounding bread recipes I’ve collected around the blog world), made a couple photo calendars for family, and baked cookies and nuts and granola to package up all festively for gifts. Jamie made some beautiful (and so easy!) etched wine and drinking glasses, and Jeremy gave my parents some of his homemade “honey badger hard cider” and beautiful handmade maple wood cutting boards for several of us. Whew. That’s a lot of handmade goods, lots of time, and lots of love. It may be our most crafty Christmas yet!

January 2, 2012

coconut curry pepita granola

This stuff is the ultimate sweet-salty-spicy-crunchy combination, the kind of snack that leaves you crazy addicted after one bite. So, sorry in advance if you eat the whole batch in one day… I warned you!

The ingredients complement each other perfectly: spicy curry and cinnamon, sweet maple syrup, a good dose of sea salt and toasty coconut, all caramelized around the crunchy roasted pepitas and rice puffs.

Also it’s gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free and so delicious that you won’t even notice.

I tried three different batches, playing with the ingredients each time until I tasted that perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy. The original recipe was more of a pepita brittle rather than granola, with lots of the gooey stuff and fewer seeds. I’m sure that is delicious but I wanted a more snack-acceptable treat, so I added some oats and rice puffs to make it granola-y.

This is perfect for jarring up and gift-giving, as I did for Christmas, or just leaving in a bowl on the counter for whenever you need a zesty bite to wake your taste buds. Just beware, one bite will turn in to seven… or 25.

coconut curry pepita granola, adapted from here

  • 1 1/2 cups raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 1/2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup oats (use gluten-free oats if desired)
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 3 T coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 T curry powder
  • 1/2 t Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/2 T sea salt
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or not—it’s up to you)

*for a lower sugar version you can replace 1/4 cup of the maple syrup with unsweetened applesauce (I haven’t tried this but it should be fine), and use unsweetened coconut.

Heat oven to 350º F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Measure pepitas, rice puffs and oats into a large bowl and set aside. Place curry powder in a small saucepan and heat over low flame until it is lightly toasted and fragrant. Then add maple syrup, coconut oil, salt and cinnamon, whisk to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat.

Pour maple mixture over pepitas and rice puffs, stirring to mix. Spread coated granola evenly over the surface of the parchment-lined cookie sheets in a thin layer. Place in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from oven and stir shredded coconut into mixture, then bake for another 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until seeds are toasty and granola is golden. Keep a close eye on it this time as the seeds and coconut can burn quickly. Then remove from oven.

Place baking sheet on a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. The seed mixture will harden as it cools. Some areas will be very toasty and crisp, while other areas will be gooey and caramel-like :] When cooled, break granola into chunks. Serve when warm and delicious or store in an air-tight container and eat within 2 weeks (..as if it will take that long)!

^ this was my first batch, which was close to the original recipe with mostly pepitas and I added a few almonds.

mid-baking, adding the coconut.

Enjoy!

-mich

December 28, 2011

Seeded Butternut Squash Braid

This bread was so good we made it twice within 3 days and gobbled up every last crumb.

My sister Tara is a bread baker wannabe and her first attempt over our Thanksgiving break was good but not what she wanted. The whole wheat dough was wet and didn’t exactly rise. So when our other sister brought home this recipe for a butternut squash braid [Tara's pretty obsessed with squash :], she decided to go for round II.

It smelled delicious, looked incredible, definitely doubled—maybe tripled—in size, and tasted… divine. Perfection, with the exception of being slightly undercooked and doughy, which didn’t bother our family of dough-lovers. We ripped off wads of it like challah and let it melt in our mouths, sinking into a ball of dough in the pit of our stomachs that stayed there all night. Quite filling, but it was impossible to have just one piece!

So after the successful test run my sisters decided to make it again for Christmas dinner. We let it bake all the way through this time, the crust turning a shiny golden brown. The inside texture was airy and soft—the way it’s meant to be—but we actually preferred the dense, doughy loaf :]

Moral of the story: we’re not master bread bakers, so this loaf should be fairly simple and  fool-proof for beginners if you follow the directions. The butternut gives it a richness and makes it soft and moist, and the texture reminds me of challah. This is definitely a keeper in the bread recipe files!

Seeded Butternut Squash Braid, from taste of home

Prep time: 45 min + rising, Bake: 20 min. Yields 18 servings.

  • 2-3/4 cups uncooked cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas or sunflower kernels (we didn’t use)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (we used Earth Balance)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup pepitas or sunflower kernels

Place squash in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash squash (you will need 2 cups); cool to 110°-115°.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk and water. In a largebowl, combine the pepitas, butter, egg, brown sugar, salt, cooked squash, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into thirds. Shape each into a 26-in. rope; braid ropes. Transfer to a greased baking sheet; form into a circle, pinching ends together to seal. Cover with a clean kitchen towel; let rise in a warm place
until doubled, about 45 minutes.

For topping, beat egg and water; brush over braid. Sprinkle with pepitas. Bake at 350° for 18-23 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf (18 slices). Per slice: 192 calories, 7 g fat, 31 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 7 g protein.

December 24, 2011

December: the month of cookies

Where it lacks in warmth and sunshine, it makes up in sweetness. Sweetness of the plethora of sugar and butter and chocolate in the kitchen, soon whisked and stirred and baked into treats of all flavors, from caramel to cinnamon, butterscotch to coconut, lemon and raspberry, maple, almond, and peppermint—let’s just say we have it all covered in this kitchen.

Am I cookied out?

Never!

What a silly question.

December is cookie month, and it only gets richer each year. This year I added to mom’s classic collection with  a couple of my less-guilty recipes: raspberry-chocolate thumbprints and sugar plums, along with a few indulgent ones: dark chocolate cherry pistachio bark and cinnamon roll cookies.

Mom’s classics [and definitely not guilt-free ;] include peanut butter balls, mint squares, pinwheels, three-pepper spice cookies, seven-layer bars, lemon Christmas trees, toffee-almond triangles, cappuccino caramels, and extra-guilty saltine toffee :]

The cinnamon rolls were my favorite to make because they’re so pretty and nothing is more comforting than the smell of hot cinnamon buns in the oven. I had come up with the idea of creating a cinnamon roll in cookie form after last Christmas, and have since seen my idea come to life on a couple of different blogs! I decided to test the recipe of Baker’s Royale, mainly because the pictures were so mouth-watering. And the cookies turned out just so. They taste exactly like cinnamon rolls—I would argue even better. And because I refuse to follow any recipe exactly, I traded white flour for whole wheat, used Earth Balance instead of butter, egg white instead of yolk, and a bit less brown sugar for the inside swirl. So at least I could feel a little better about the ingredients, and they still came out crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with that buttery-cinnamony-sugary swirled middle. Bliss in Christmas-cookie form.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies, from Baker’s Royale

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 T whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 t cinnamon, plus 1 T for divided use
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ cup Earth Balance (or butter), softened, plus 3 T for divided use
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, plus ½ cup for divided use
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 T of light corn syrup
  • 1 t vanilla

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoon of milk
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Place ½ cup butter, granulated sugar and ¼ cup of brown sugar in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until light in color. Add in egg white, applesauce, light corn syrup and vanilla and beat to combine. Turn off mixer.
Using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, fold in flour mixture until just combined.  Dough may have some flour streaking. Do not over mix. Divide dough in half and wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place remaining 1 T of cinnamon and ½ cup of brown sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Now divide cinnamon and brown sugar mixture in two; one for each portion of halved dough. Set aside.
Remove one wrapped dough. Dough will sticky so place it between two large pieces of wax paper and roll out dough to 1/4inch thickness. Using a pastry brush spread 1 1/2 tablespoon of softened butter on dough. Then sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top and gently press it into dough (I didn’t use the entire cinnamon-sugar mixture). Roll up dough, beginning with long side. Place roll seam side down on plastic wrap and cover tightly. Repeat this once more with reamining dough and 11/2 tablespoon of butter, along with remaining cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Place both rolled doughs back in refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
Remove chilled roll and cut into ½ inch slices. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
To make glaze: Sift powdered sugar and add in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until drizzling consistency is achieved.
Drizzle tops of cooled cookies with glaze and let stand at room temperature until glaze dries completely. Store cookies in an airtight container or freeze to keep longer.
To offset (albeit hardly) these days of munching our way through plates of cookies, we’ve been “training” for a Christmas Eve 10k my sister Tara organized with neighbors and friends and family on a beautiful hilly country road, the same run/walk route we did on Thanksgiving but a bit longer to make it a 10k. The sun finally came out from the clouds for the morning and we had about 30 people and 10+ dogs come out for a wonderful run/walk and breakfast party afterwards. It was great! And no surprise that the winners were two brothers, one of which just did a 50-miler. We gave them a basket with some of the sweet treats and chocolate we had around the house, still barely making a dent in our sugar supply. But hey, with all this running we’ve been doing we need the sugar, right?
Sure….
the dogs sure are into it!
and here come the winners!

So it’s Christmas Eve, the sun is still out (maybe the first time in about a week), the family is all here, and we have more than enough cookies to satisfy Santa tonight.

Happy Holidays!

-mich

This post is linked to: Sweets for a Saturday

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