Quickie: Shiitakes & Soba (v, gf)

Mushrooms! So tasty, so good for you. Shiitakes, specifically, are a well-known source of iron and immune-boosting properties (hear ye, hear ye, vegans and vegetarians: rich veggie iron source). The ever-popular goop recently published a piece on the health benefits of mushrooms (more on that here) and ideas on how to work them into your diet; here’s my very quick, single serving, weeknight-friendly take on their “Stir Fried Noodles with Mushrooms.” Enjoy!

mushrooms 4

SHIITAKES & SOBA

Adapted from goop

Ingredients:

  • 1 bundle soba noodles or 1 cup cooked soba (note: soba noodles must contain ONLY buckwheat flour to be considered gluten-free) mushrooms 5
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced; Whole Foods sells an especially tasty 1/4 lb package
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • drizzle sesame oil
  • sesame seeds

Directions:

Cook your soba noodles according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Chop your aromatics while the noodles cook (love the word aromatics). Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until browned, stirring to ensure they don’t stick, about 5 minutes.

mushrooms 2

Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute, stirring. Add the cooked noodles, green onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil, tossing to coat and heat everything through. Remove to a bowl, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy! Really tasty 10-minute dinner! The best kind!

mushrooms 3

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Party Popcorn! (veg, gf)

Brought this sweet, salty, spicy snack to a punch party last weekend. PunchPartySayWhaaa? Ya. PUNCH PARTY. A party where a very generous, very fun cocktail-minded couple serves several authentic, throw-back, boozy bowls of punch- fancy little punch cups and all.  God love ’em for doing it.

popcorn4

I needed a quick recipe and wanted to use what I had in the cupboards. Hmm, can of pumpkin purée? Not exactly a crowd-pleaser…. Cat food? Better not…… Box of arborio rice? Too crunchy…. AHA! Popcorn kernels! Et voilà- a star was born. A thrifty, 5-minute party snack hit for the ages. The punch party patrons partook with pleasure. Please, prepare your own personal pot (insert When Harry Met Sally paprikash joke below).

PARTY POPCORN! EMOJI

Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

This recipe moves quickly, so set yourself up first. Grab a small saucepan for the glaze and a wide, lidded one for popping the popcorn. Ready a large bowl and a spatula for glazing the popcorn and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper to turn the finished product onto. In the wide pan, heat the tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels and shake the pan around like a madman/woman until all kernels are popped. This will happen fast- about a minute thirty or so.

Shake, shake, shake until the popping slows down. Remove the pan from heat and dump into the large bowl. On to the glaze! Add all remaining ingredients to the small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium, stirring constantly. Boil for about a minute, then remove from heat to cool for another minute.

Pour the glaze over the popcorn in the large bowl and toss to coat with the spatula. It will be hot, so watch those delicate digits! When the popcorn is coated, spread it out onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and let cool. Break up any large clumps and serve! Try not to eat the whole dish before your guests arrive…

popcorn3

Cut to tomorrow (ooh! time travel)!: I highly suggest nursing your next-day case of the zings with a jazz brunch, a proper bloody Mary, and a trip to your local art museum. Worked for me, but it was also 63 degrees outside- in December. Just the way I like it!

popcorn7

Aformentioned WHMS joke, as promised. Oh, Nora.


Snack Du Jour: goop’s Chai Gingerbread Detox Shake (gf, veg)

A genius post-Thanksgiving damage control shake in a facepalm seasonal flavor combo.

Adapted from goop, herself.

chai 4

sneaking in my pot of rosemary as a backdrop

CHAI GINGERBREAD DETOX SHAKE

Ingredients:chai 1

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1-2 small scoops vanilla whey protein, optional
  • 2 cups hot, brewed chai rooibos tea OR 1 cup brewed tea if not using protein
  • 1/2 cup almond milk if not using protein

Mix dry ingredients in a blender bottle. Shake them up. Add the hot tea and almond butter and shake again. Add almond milk, if using, and shake again. Et voilà. Since I’m so proud of my rosemary, which survived an entire season in my care, please enjoy this gratuitous photo:

chai 5

HAVE A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Quickie: My New Favorite Baked Potato (gf, veg)

Perpetual baked potato cravings have become somewhat of a thing with me. My go-to is classic: a plate-sized Yukon gold smashed with butter, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and lots of sour cream. The winds of change had me in their grips the other day, inspiring me to mix it up. I madly added things from the fridge like a [hungry and impatient] mad scientist and chuckled when I realized that my combo was green- a Frankenstein potato!

Behold, my creation!

destiny! destiny!

destiny! destiny!

BAKED POTATO WITH AVOCADO AND GREEN ONION  

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium/large Yukon gold potato
  • butter
  • salt and pepper
  • avocado
  • sliced green onions

Bake or microwave your potato. I am a microwaver. When I want a baked potato, I want it within the next ten minutes. No judgement here for my lazy, impulsive kinsfolk. Cut in half, smash up with a fork, sprinkle with salt and crack on pepper, add a few pats of butter and smash up a little more, smash on some buttery avocado, and top with green onion. Hell of a snack.

29 Of The Most Ingenious Moments From Mel Brooks Movies


Secret Ingredient Black Bean & Quinoa Chili (v, gf), Quickie Caulifower “Rice” (v, gf), and BeckyAmyLew

happy feet, happy place

After a lovely, relaxing 4th of July weekend spent fishing, reading, and sleeping at the cabin of some dear family friends, Dave and I came home happy and calm… and in dire need of a s’mores and hot dog detox. It was a vegemergency. While running through the grocery store on a typical post-holiday “we have no food in the house” weekday evening, I racked my brain for a vegan meal that would take little prep work and would allow me to get a few things done while it cooked.  An enticing Fit Foodie Finds recipe I’d Pinned recently popped in my mind and thought I’d give it a whirl.

I’M SO GLAD I DID.

chili split

ignore my ominous, hulking shadow… Lauren hungry, Lauren want food

This chili hit the spot, despite the 95-degree St. Louis summer upon us. Use any veggies you have lying around for your version; edit and add to use what’s in your pantry. Whatever you toss in will add bright, veggie goodness. We had a beautiful home-grown zucchini my in-laws gave us over the weekend (thank you!) and decided to add it to the mix; carrots, broccoli, potatoes, different beans, different peppers, or more or less of the ingredients listed below would all work well. I do recommend keeping the secret ingredient, though…

SECRET INGREDIENT BLACK BEAN & QUINOA CHILI

Adapted from Fit Foodie Finds

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped into large dice
  • 3+ cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water + 3 tsp vegetable base, or 3 cups vegetable stock + 2 cups water
  • 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
  • juice of one lime
  • 3 tbsp good-quality chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • avocado, green onion, sour cream (obviously not vegan), hot sauce for serving
  • And…… 

The secret ingredient is…. a cinnamon stick!! BOOM! Vegan chili mic drop.

Directions:

OMIGOSHYOUGUYS. The chili was so very easy to throw together. There are just three little steps: chop veggies, sauté veggies, simmer chili. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy stock pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, green pepper, zucchini, and poblano pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent- if you want to. You could very easily dump all ingredients into the pot and crank up the heat. If you’re sautéing, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add all other ingredients (gah! so easy!). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and cover, simmering for 50 minutes. Put chili in face. 

chili simmering

The genius addition of a cinnamon stick gives this chili a smoky, sweet quality that’s hard to pinpoint and plays well with the other spices and veggies. The cinnamon flavor isn’t overwhelming and having a secret ingredient to add makes this dish even more special.

hearty veggie goodness

hearty veggie goodness

Now- for the cauliflower rice, which you can whip up while the chili is simmering. I adapted this recipe from BeckyAmyLew, my old friend Becky Lewis’ paleo-friendly recipe and running blog. Cute site name, huh? Becky is a talented and creative home cook with international influences and lots to share. She describes herself as an:

“amateur Foodie and social media enthusiast living in the middle of America, USA. An expert in nothing. Simply aspires to inspire people through the gift of sharing.”

Check her out, especially if you’re looking for clever paleo recipes. In her cauliflower “rice” post, Taiwan-born Becky describes the globally important grain as a favorite and as what she misses most in her no-grain paleo diet; I completely relate and was drawn to this recipe instantly, as my Dominican bones also pine for white rice with each meal (damn healthy choices, depriving me of diabetes and the joy in life…). Rice is such a love of mine, my “dying wish” meal is my aunt’s habichuelas con arroz blanco, Dominican beans and rice. Becky’s cauliflower substitute was so satisfying, I just may update that wish.

CAULIFLOWER “RICE”

Adapted from BeckyAmyLew

Ingredients: 

  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • Seasonings to your taste, optional (I used Goya Adobo)

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, pulse the cauliflower in batches. You’re looking for a rice-like shape and size, small but not ground into meal. This is a surprisingly easy consistency to achieve. Just pulse, pulse, pulse and keep an eye on it as you go.

cauliflower in blender

Set the cauliflower aside and sauté the diced onion in the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium until the onion is translucent. Add the cauliflower and salt and pepper to taste, stirring well to combine. Cover the mix and let steam for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently and checking often.

"rice, rice," baby

rice, rice, baby

 There you have it! Cauliflower “rice!” Pairs perfectly with chili, stir-fries, and other saucy foods. What other grain alternatives have you tried?


Quickie: Max & Fanny’s Open-Faced Tuna and Fennel Sandwiches (pes)

As if belonging to the YMCA doesn’t make me happy enough, my local Y has started a book exchange program (a well-intentioned, pile, rather) in its lobby. Members donate books they’re done with to the pile and the donated books become fair game for anyone who’s interested. On my way in and out, I stop to scan the boxes and bags and bins of books for new finds. The selection is delightfully varied and makes me love my fellow members even more, quirky smarty pantses that they are. Recently, I made quite the haul when I lifted a few tattered textbooks to find six (SIX!) Peter Mayle books peeking out from underneath the castoffs like rays of Mediterranean sun. “Bring us home!,” they said, “love us and read us and dream of meals in Provence with us!” Um, OKAY GUYS!

It’s cliché to be an escapist American or Brit who loves to read Peter Mayle, but I’m an American who loves to read Peter Mayle. I really, really do. His books fill the mind with Provençal scents and smells and breezes and dreams of sunny, lazy lunches soaked in wine and olive oil that are much cheaper to read about than to create (faster, too). A Year In Provence and Encore Provence are favorites of mine, as is A Good Year, which Ridley Scott made into a Russell Crowe-starring movie in 2006. Also cliché: women who love Russell Crowe movies. I don’t want to, I try not to, there’s nothing interesting or noble in doing so… but my heart can’t be swayed. He was wonderful in A Good Year, as was lovely Marion Cotillard. Such pretty people in such a pretty setting. Who wouldn’t want to watch that? Speaking of the pretty setting, let’s take a look at the grounds of Château la Canorgue, where the movie was filmed. Le sigh.

So very lovely. A Good Year, both book and movie, are near and dear to me. If you want to make a fast, faux getaway to the south of France, check out A Good Year or A Year In Provence. Here’s my warm-weather recipe inspired by the currently very warm St. Louis weather, the good luck of finding a stack of favorite books, and the hazy, sepia-toned romance of A Good Year. I imagine Max and Fanny serving this in the leafy shade of their terrace on a sunny Provençal day…

tuna 5

OPEN-FACED TUNA AND FENNEL SANDWICHES

Adapted from Real Simple

Ingredients:

    • 3 6-oz cans of good quality albacore tuna, drained
    • 3 tablespoons capers, chopped
    • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced into bite-sized pieces
    • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
    • wheat toast or sliced baguettes

 

Directions:

Grab two bowls. In one, mix the drained tuna, the chopped capers, 3 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, and about 1/4 tsp black pepper.

In the other bowl, toss the sliced fennel, the chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a large pinch kosher salt and another 1/4 tsp pepper.

Spread a bit of the tuna salad on toast, then top with fennel salad. Grab your loved one and whisper a sweet nothing into his or her ear. Bonus points if you whisper it en français.

fanny and max

“I would like a lifetime spent with an irrational and suspicious goddess, some short-tempered jealousy on the side, and a bottle of wine that tastes like you, a glass that’s never empty.”

I may be getting carried away by Max & Fanny’s love story, but this post is dedicated to my husband and how he makes every day feel like a day in Provence.


Quickie: Peanut Butter & Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Dip (veg, gf)

Re-sharing a big hit. Yummy, healthy dip!

allez! gourmet

Pretty simple entry- this is a healthy and delicious dip for apples, bananas, and probably anything else you can slather it on. It’s a quick and easy snack you can make a large batch of and keep in the fridge for a fast and filling and high-protein accompaniment to fruit. Here it is!

does a body good does a body good

PEANUT BUTTER & CINNAMON GREEK YOGURT DIP

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups fat free Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut or almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp- 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (two large dashes)

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Quickie: Kimchi Tofu Soup and the Benefits of Fermented Foods (v, gf)

So it’s springtime. Allegedly. Can’t verify that for you right now, I’m too busy scraping ice off of my windshield. Or at least I was this morning… Sheesh! This should be the time to make chilled soups and bright, minty salads dotted with neon green peas! Instead, I find myself craving warmth, spice, and honestly, detoxification, thanks to an overzealous Friday night with friends (who are totally worth celebrating- hello, ladies). So I suppose that will be my spring theme for this delectable Korean-inspired recipe: renewal!

kimchi soup

The spicy, fragrant, good for you star of this detoxifying soup, kimchi, is a Korean side dish made with fermented vegetables, mainly cabbage. While kimchi is near and dear to my heart, all fermented and cultured foods are powerful nutritional underdogs. I’ll quote Casey Seidenberg’s  Washington Post rundown of why we should all be eating fermented foods: Seidenberg, co-founder of D.C.-based nutrition education company Nourish Schools, says,

“Organic or lactic-acid fermented foods (such as dill pickles and sauerkraut) are rich in enzyme activity that aids in the breakdown of our food, helping us absorb the important nutrients we rely on to stay healthy. | Fermented foods have been shown to support the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. In our antiseptic world with chlorinated water, antibiotics in our meat, our milk and our own bodies, and antibacterial everything, we could use some beneficial bacteria in our bodies. | When our digestion is functioning properly and we are absorbing and assimilating all the nutrients we need, our immune system tends to be happy, and thus better equipped to wage war against disease and illness.” 

underdog

What a delicious way to get the good bugs in our systems- by EATING! If kimchi’s not your style you can nosh on sauerkraut, beer (easy, tiger, easy), stinky cheese, dill pickles, yogurt, miso, sourdough bread, and kombucha to make your tummy and immune system happy and healthy. Or if you like kimchi and have five minutes, you can make this soup. Happy winterspringtime, everyone!

KIMCHI TOFU SOUP (KIMCHI JJIGAE)

Adapted from Competitive Cyclist

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of your favorite kimchi, packed and chopped (I used two packages of Trader Joe’s napa cabbage kimchi)
  • 1 package tofu, cut to medium dice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp low-sodium vegetable cooking base or 2 tsp bouillon
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Korean chili paste or garlic chili paste, such as Huy Fong
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced and divided
  • eggs, optional

Directions:

Chop your kimchi into bite-sized pieces. You may eat as much as you want as you chop. Watch your fingers.

kimchi chopped

Dice the tofu block. It’s really fun.

tofu chopped

Mix the kimchi and vinegar and add to a large stockpot. Add the water, cooking base, tamari or soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, and half the scallions. Stir this together, then gently stir in the tofu blocks and bring the soup to a boil. If you’d like, crack a few eggs into the boiling soup and cook until the whites are opaque. If not, serve and top bowls with remaining fresh scallions, passing sesame oil around. So very tasty and so, so good for you.

kimchi soup cooking