Twice Baked Sweets with Kale & Goat Cheese

A interesting holiday recipe or an easy weeknight meal, these babies are quick and full of creative options if you’re feeling’ fancy. Sweet potatoes and yams (different species but interchangeable in most recipes) are bursting with flavor and nutrients and have far more to offer your body than a regular white potato. Twice baked white potatoes are typically loaded with greasy cheese, bacon and not much else good for ya- while these Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Kale & Goat Cheese are an interesting and delicious alternative. This recipe can also be made entirely vegan or you can jazz it up even more with some high quality pastured bacon and anything else the might tickle your fancy. Check out the “tips & notes” for some fun ideas and watch the video for the quick 411 on how to make it happen!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Kale

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Mixed Mushroom Parcels with Sherry & Herbs

Everyone is looking for exciting vegetable side dishes. These tasty little parcels are super fun, fast and a neat crowd pleaser. Many different veggies will work and you can even place a piece of fish inside the parchment for a full and flavorful meal.

Mixed Mushroom Parcels with Sherry & Herbs

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups mixed sliced mushrooms, such as shiitakes, oysters or chanterelles or portabellas, cleaned and de-stemmed
1 small head of fennel, tops and core removed and sliced very thin (I use a mandolin)
6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
6 large stems of tarragon or dill, stems removed and chopped
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup dry sherry, marsala or madeira
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of butter, about 1/8 inch thick (optional)

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Vanilla Cashew Milk

This Vanilla Cashew Milk recipe is a revelation for me. Some of you know of my “milk conundrum”. That is, my long time battle with what kind of milk to take in my coffee. I used to use fat free organic dairy milk. If you don’t know what that was a bad choice read this post.

I switched to store bought organic almond milk. I follow the rule of not using anything with ingredients that I cannot pronounce…almond milk was my only exception. Why not make my own my own you ask? Because it’s grainy and separates in my coffee and I refuse to be annoyed before 7am. So then I went to grass-fed whole milk. This didn’t quite sit right either, as I try to lessen my environmental impact and eat vegan much of the time.

I went back and fourth for a long time. Then the “ahhhhh ha” moment came. Cashew milk was the answer! Creamy, rich, vegan, easy to make, no straining and it doesn’t separate in my coffee…victory! You can make it plain for universal applications or put vanilla or other fun stuff in it.

Creamy Vanilla Cashew Milk

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water to cover for at least 4 hours
1-1/2 cups filtered water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder* or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (more…)

Raw Energy Bars

Raw Energy Bars

1 cup nuts such as walnuts, pecans or almonds or a mixture of
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins or dried cherries
1 heaping packed cup pitted medjool dates
1/3 cup cacao nibs
1-2 Tablespoons filtered water, if needed

Makes 12 bars or 24 balls

Place the nuts, chia seeds, coconut flakes and sunflower or pumpkin seeds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the mixture is the texture of coarse sand. If you would like some more texture in the bars you can take out a little of the nuts, coconut and seeds before mixing and add them in later.

Add the dates, cranberries and the cocoa nibs and blend until the mixture begins to come together in a sticky dough. If this is not quite happening you can add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until it is sticky and moist and will come together easily in your hands. At this time mix in the chunky pieces if you kept some aside and pulse just until blended.

For Bars:
Line a baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper and press the mixture down into a rectangle about 1/3 of an inch thick, making the sides as even as possible.

Place in the fridge for 1 hour. Remove and flip over onto a cutting board and peel off the parchment. Cut into 12 even pieces and store in a glass container or wrap individually in plastic wrap for easy transportation.

For Balls:
The faster method is to roll the dough between your palms into balls about 1 ½ inch diameter.

Both methods will keep in fridge for up to a month or at room temperature for a week.

Pear and Fennel Salad Rolls with Toasted Walnuts

Everyone loves portable food, especially these days. These salad rolls wrapped with Asian rice paper wrappers are so easy to work with and can turn many different foods into a something that you can take on the go. Fill them with just about any kind of salad or cooked veggie and even add some protein and VIOLA…a meal on the go!

Pear and Fennel Salad Rolls with Toasted Walnuts

Ingredients:
5oz of mixed greens or arugula (1 bag)
1 medium ripe pear or apple, cored and sliced thinly
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dill, roughly chopped (optional)
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped*
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
Asian rice paper wrappers as needed**

For the Dressing:
1+ Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

Servings varied depending on how big you make the rolls.

Directions:

Place all ingredients for salad up to the wrappers, into a large bowl. In a small bowl; whisk the vinegar, mustard and olive oil together and pour over the salad. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Taste and adjust the vinegar and seasoning if needed.

Fill a wide bowl filled with a few inches of room temperature filtered water. Have a clean cutting board or counter (preferably wood or plastic) in front of you and the salad in arms reach.

Lightly oil a serving plate with olive oil and set next to the cutting board.

Dip the first rice paper in the water for about 8-10 seconds; making sure that every bit of the paper gets wet. Remove, shaking off the excess water and lay the wrapper on the cutting board in front of you.

Starting at the edge closest to you; place a good handful of the salad on the paper in a horizontal shape but not going all the way to the edges. The wrapper will begin to soften as you do this.

When the paper feels pliable; pick up the end of the wrapper closest to you with your thumb and forefinger and fold tightly over the salad and then fold in the sides. Do not let go and continue to roll using your pinky fingers to continue to tuck the sides in so that nothing is poking out. Roll until the end wraps around and sticks to the outside the paper. This may take a few attempts so have a few extra papers just in case.

Cut the finished rolls in half and place on the oiled serving plate. Repeat until you have used all of the salad. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Tips & Notes~

This salad works well with pretty much any kind of nut.

You can use these wrappers with all kinds of salad, they make a great portable meal or a party appetizer.

*To toast the nuts~ Spread them on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake at 325 degrees until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool, and then coarsely chop.

**The rice paper wrappers are available in the ethnic section of many grocery stores or in an Asian market.

Basil Mint Pesto Recipe

Pesto is one of the easiest things to make and it is such a versatile condiment. I use it for sandwiches, over eggs, as a source for grilled veggies or fish or as a dip. I like to change up the classic version by using different herbs and nuts, sometimes I make it vegan by using nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese. This formula will work using the classic basil/pine nut combo or you can experiment a bit!

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