03.30.2016

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I love a good book club (in fact I love it so much I just started a cookbook club…more on that below) – the snacks, the drinks, the chatter, and (of course) the push to read a little. But really, it’s about the snacks. All of my fellow book club members are moms of young children so by the time we all plop on someones couch and open a bottle of wine we are feeling equally exhausted and ecstatic to be face to face with friends and eat undisturbed. Our meetings are certainly a time to indulge so I recently prepared these incredibly simple but totally delicious small ice cream sandwiches built from gingersnap cookies, peanut butter, and chocolate ice cream. I ate four while we discussed Fates and Furies (our next book is Not That Kind of Girl which is comforting as I thought I was the last 34 year old fan of Girls).

And this cook book club? Well, after I realized that half the time I bring cookbooks into bed at night it occurred to me that a cookbook club would be SO FUN! especially when we all bring a dish from the chosen cookbook to our meeting – talk about a killer potluck. Our first cookbook club read was Soul, Food, Love (I made Shrimp Stew, recipe below) and now we are reading (and will cook and eat from) A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus.

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^As seen on my instagrm, our kitchen awaiting cookbook club.

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Gingersnap, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Box of your favorite gingersnap cookies

Jar natural peanut butter

Pint of chocolate ice cream

I remember seeing this recipe, or one very similar, in The Forest Feast. It’s really an idea more than a recipe. Essentially, you just spread peanut butter on two cookies, scoop some ice cream on one, and sandwich them together. Place all the assembled sandwiches in the freezer until serving time.

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This shrimp stew was incredibly easy to make and feeds a crowd. I was hesitant to put a full teaspoon of cayenne pepper into the pot but the heat and flavors were perfect. At cookbook club we ate the stew over white rice but I enjoyed leftovers served over farro too.

Shrimp Stew from Soul, Food, Love

serves 6 to 8

2 cups chopped onion

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large green bell peppers, seeded and chopped

5 green onions, chopped

2 cups chopped celery

4 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 pounds peeled and deveined medium shrimp

4 bay leaves

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (reserve some for serving)

Cooked rice, for serving

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In a large pot, cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, green onions, and celery and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, shrimp, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salt, and parsley, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour.

Ladle the stew over hot rice in individual bowls and garnish generously with parsley.

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01.06.2016

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If you are not on a January food cleanse you probably know someone who is or has, at the least, made some resolution about food. I have mixed feelings on winter cleanses (I write this while I am on day 4 of one – ha!). The benefits are pretty clear – from reestablishing healthy eating patterns to zapping that steady steam of holiday alcohol consumption. The tough part is that it is winter. Sure, there are fresh vegetables to be found but the offerings pale in comparison to warmer months.

If you are in some eating state between vegan, gluten-free, raw, dairy free, or some creative combination of these, here are my favorite cleanse recipes that fit most programs. But really, when it comes down to it, simply cutting out packaged and processed foods does 95% of the work.

I’m off to make a kale salad and hide the final half bottle of pinot under the sink.

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Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado & Pumpkin Seeds

serves 6

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and leaves separated
2 tablespoons raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced

Whisk together lemon zest and juice and mustard in a bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, toss dressing with brussels sprout leaves and pumpkin seeds. Gently stir in avocado, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

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Winter Juice

makes 2 small glasses

6 carrots
1/2 a cucumber
2 apples
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
4 celery stalks

Simply juice the fruits and vegetables according to your juicing machine’s instructions. We start with the softest produce and work our way up to the hardest (typically carrots). Pour into glasses and enjoy.

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Spinach & Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

makes about 15

1 cup quinoa

2 eggs

1/4 flour of your choice

3 tablespoons tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter

1 tablespoon red or white vinegar

1 package (10-ounces) frozen spinach or kale, thawed and squeezed dry

1 cup finely grated sweet potato

1/4 cup finely diced onion

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon salt

A pinch of freshly ground black pepper or cayenne pepper

Olive oil, for the baking sheet

Start the quinoa cooking immediately so it can cook white you are prepping the other ingredients. Combine the quinoa and 3 cups water in a pot and boil it until it is soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well.

Transfer the quinoa to your favorite mixing bowl. Add the eggs, flour, tahini, vinegar, spinach, sweet potato, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir, knead, and smoosh all the ingredients together until they are one tight-knit family. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes if you have time.

Preheat the oven to 400 F with the rack in the middle. Oil a baking sheet. To shape the cakes, first wet your hands. For each patty, scoop up 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mixture with your hands and form a 1/2-inch-thick patty, firmly patting it so it stays together (loosie-goosies will fall apart). Arrange the patties on the baking sheet.

Bake until the cakes are lightly browned and crisp, flipping them over once halfway through the baking time, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with a dipping sauce.

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Farro Kale Salad

From Kale, Glorious Kale by Catherine Walthers

5-6 cups kale leaves, stripped off of stalks and torn or chopped into small pieces (1 small bunch)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small red onion, minced (or in my case sliced thin)
1 cup of farro
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1 tart apple, diced, or 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries (or any combination)
4 ounces feta cheese

Dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wash and spin dry the kale. Chop into small pieces. Add to a large bowl, lightly salt and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Vigorously toss and massage the salt and oil into the kale until well coated.

Place farro in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Farro has a similar texture to barley when cooked, and has a nice toothy texture. Drain well, and combine with the kale. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Chop the onion, dill and parsley, and add to the kale and farro along with the pomegranate seeds, and apple or dried fruit, if using. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and gently toss. Place in a serving bowl or platter and top with the feta cheese.

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Winter Muesli

makes about 4 cups

2 cups classic rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
5 dates, pitted and chopped
Milk (hemp, nut, coconut, cow) or yogurt for serving

Using your hands, simply toss everything together in a large bowl. Be mindful of the sticky dates as they tend to clump together but once everything is in contact with the oats the clumps will loosen up. Muesli can be eaten with milk like a traditional cereal, sprinkled over yogurt, or soaked in milk overnight to soften up its texture. I like it all three ways. For those who like a little sweetness, simply drizzle over some honey or maple syrup.

A large mason jar filled with muesli, tied with a ribbon, and small recipe card attached would make a great gift for those left on your list (especially beloved teachers and neighbors). Because muesli is gluten free (if you purchase certified GF oats), vegan, and easily adapted to be nut free (substitute walnuts for pumpkin or sunflower seeds) it works for everyone. If you want to make a few personal mixes some additions that I especially enjoy are dried unsweetened cherries, shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and dried blueberries.

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Detox Smoothies

Choose between a sweet or tart green smoothie.

 

Sweet Green Smoothie

1 pear, roughly chopped

2 cups baby spinach

1/4-1/2 a lemon, peeled (depending on how sour you like it)

1 cup water or coconut water

Tart Green Smoothie

3 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

1-inch piece peeled ginger root

1 grapefruit, peeled and roughly chopped

3-inch piece of cucumber

1 cup water or coconut water

Blend everything together until smooth.

04.24.2015

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Typically when I make a green smoothie I include fat and protein (nut butters, coconut milk, avocado, yogurt, nut milks, coconut oil) for health benefits and to fill me up.  This week I have been craving fresh and light smoothies made simply from fruits, vegetables, and water. It’s spring break for Vineyard kids so my new found detox smoothie habit could be because we are living outside in the spring air or because I am so crazed chasing two boys around that all I can think of is throw it in the blender. Either way, I’m happy to find myself in this new rhythm and already feel the benefits from it.  If you are looking for a light raw breakfast these work great but they also pair nicely with an egg or slice of whole grain toast. The mix of fruits and veggies that I’m using here are often found in juicing recipes but I prefer to blend the ingredients together to retain the fiber and because throwing everything in my blender is easier then assembling the juicer. The trick is to keep the motor running for a good few minutes to really break everything down.

If you like sweet juices and smoothies give the Sweet Green Smoothie a try as the pear flavor takes over. If you like crisp and spicy drinks try the Tart Green Smoothie (I can’t get enough of the grapefruit and celery mix).

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Sweet Green Smoothie

1 pear, roughly chopped

2 cups baby spinach

1/4-1/2 a lemon, peeled (depending on how sour you like it)

1 cup water or coconut water

Blend everything together until smooth.

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Tart Green Smoothie

3 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

1-inch piece peeled ginger root

1 grapefruit, peeled and roughly chopped

3-inch piece of cucumber

1 cup water or coconut water

Blend everything together until smooth.

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PS. These boys are the very best company (even if I am too tired to speak after 7:30 pm). XO

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04.17.2015

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Spring is starting to creep our way. Instead of celebrating the firsts of things like on Wednesday when I rolled the car window down for the first time or on Monday when we noticed our open daffodils, I find myself celebrating the last of things. And (drum roll) this is officially the last bowl of soup for a good long while – mark my words. I am gleefully dressing the boys in the morning thinking this is the last time you will wear those fleece lined pants!!!, the hockey skates have officially relocated from my trunk to the basement, and I’m not eating a root vegetable for at least a month. This is progress. That said, for a last bowl of soup to close out the unrelenting season of winter, this is as good as it gets. The white bean balls slowly soften up and fall apart into the soup – it’s delicious.

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White Bean Ball & Kale Soup from Thug Kitchen

serves 6

White Bean Balls:

1 large yellow onion

3 cups cooked white or cannellini beans

1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup nutritional yeast or flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil, and oregano

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Soup:

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup small dried pasta (I used alphabet pasta)

9 cups vegetable broth

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 cups chopped kale or other dark leafy greens

1/4 teaspoon each salt and ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil

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1. Preheat oven to 400 F and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or oil.

2. Make the bean balls – chop up the onion and measure out 1/4 cup. Save the rest but push it to the side for later. Mash up the beans in a large bowl until they form a paste. Some whole bean bits are okay. Stir in the rest of the ingredients including the 1/4 cup chopped onion and mix it all up so that everything gets distributed. You might need to use your hands. Roll the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball and put them on the greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through.

3. While the balls are cooking, get your soup ready. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the rest of the onion from earlier, the carrots, and celery and saute until the onion starts to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and pasta and cook for 30 more seconds. Gently pour in the broth and let it all simmer together until the pasta is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Fold in the lemon juice, greens, salt, pepper, and parsley and turn off the heat.

4. When everything is ready, place 3 or 4 bean balls in the bottom of a bowl and gently ladle the soup over them. Serve it up right away. The balls will slowly break apart as you eat.

02.18.2015

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You would think that juicing in the dead of winter is really a good sign. It means we’re being proactive with our health, getting in front of those flu germs, and gulping down fresh fruits and veggies, right? Well yes, I guess it is all those things but really it isn’t a good sign at all – it’s a desperate one in fact. We have whipped out the juicer more often this week because it is the last trick in my bag. This weather has taken us through dozen of puzzles, a new gallery wall of marker art, and enough snow play to last a lifetime. Small appliances however (especially with plungers and fierce motors!) are new and exciting. So we are juicing almost everything in our refrigerator drawers as edible experiments. Most have come out well (besides a very bitter orange juice) but this mix is our favorite.

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Winter Juice
makes 2 small glasses

6 carrots
1/2 a cucumber
2 apples
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
4 celery stalks

Simply juice the fruits and vegetables according to your machine’s instructions. We start with the softest produce and work our way up to the hardest (typically carrots). Pour into glasses and enjoy.

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Juices from years past:
Sunny Juice
Healing Pink & Green Juice
Pear Lemon Ginger Juice
Apple Carrot Ginger Juice

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Cheers to only 29 more days until Spring!

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