Over the years I’ve tried many, many, many Italian seasonings and each one was different. After I finished the last one in my pantry, I decided that if all these companies could make up their own Italian Seasoning blend, why shouldn’t I?! Most of the blends included basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. Some blends also included parsley, cilantro, marjoram, sage, garlic, and black pepper. Different spices and different quantities of the spices led to totally different flavor profiles. I played around with the spices and settled on the blend below. I intentionally left out the garlic and black pepper because I like to add fresh garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. I also opted for parsley instead of cilantro since I associate cilantro with Indian and Mexican food and parsley with Italian and French.
These cranberries are sweet, tart, crunchy, and unbelievably addictive- a perfect autumn snack! In addition to just snacking on them, I think they pair really well with cheese boards. They are also a fun alternative to cranberry sauce for a Thanksgiving spread. You have to plan a bit in advance since the cranberries sit in simple syrup overnight, but the actual cooking time is short.
One of the few things from Costco that I don’t need help going through is their 1.5 lb box of cremini mushrooms. Roasting the mushrooms seems to concentrate the flavors and make them extra satisfying. I like this recipe because its easy and uses ingredients I usually have in the house. A pound and a half of mushrooms sounds like a lot, but they seem to disappear quickly! There are so many ways to use these garlicy roasted mushrooms (e.g., as a side dish, with mashed potatoes, chopped up in wraps or a pasta dish, tossed in omelettes, plain, etc.)
This is my year for playing with shrubs (fruity vinegar concentrate that can be mixed with water / sparkling water / alcohol to make a super refreshing drink). I love this shrub since it uses something you normally throw away- pineapple core! You can also use the pineapple chunks if you don’t have the core. There is a difference if you use pineapple chunks vs pineapple core- the chunks yield a more pronounced pineapple flavors, whereas the core yields a more pronounced ginger flavor with a hint of pineapple. I like the sweet, spicy, herby combo either way, which tastes even more fun when you dilute it with sparkling water.
My Hungry Harvest box this week had fresh green beans that looked so good that I didn’t want to overcook them. This recipe is one of my favorite ways to make green beans since its relatively quick and so satisfying. A perfect weeknight dish!
Velvety and versatile. I’m totally addicted to this spread- it’s so simple and adds an interesting dimension to dishes when you use it. Although the ingredients look basic, the end result it truly greater than the sum of the parts, with no one flavor standing out. Trader Joe’s sells a similar spread, but they use canola oil, so I wanted to make a healthier version. I used avocado oil since I’ve been trying to incorporate more of it in my diet, but you could use any neutral tasting oil. Note: This spread does not heat well since it is mostly oil.
If you haven’t had a shrub before, it’s basically a fruity vinegar concentrate that can be mixed with water / sparkling water / alcohol to make a super refreshing drink. I have also used this strawberry shrub to make a light vinaigrette dressing for a strawberry-baby spinach-candied pecan salad. I’m sure there is a proper way of making it, but I like the method below because it is easy. You can let it sit longer or shorter in the fridge prior to straining depending on how strong you want the flavors to be. I wait until the strawberries look washed out and have lost some of their color.
Tiger nuts, tiger nut milk, and tiger nut flour- YUM! Years ago, when I was visiting Spain, I tried these tiny little snacks called tiger nuts. They were sweet and nutty, and so addictive! Many of the places I visited also sold tiger nut milk, which tasted like dessert. I was so surprised when I learned that they are actually root vegetables, and not nuts! Anyhow, I saw some in the store and had to pick them up. I started munching on them the minute I checked out at the cashier. In addition to just snacking on them, I made tiger nut milk (soooo good when chilled). Since I couldn’t bear to waste any of the tiger nuts, I turned the fibrous pulp into “flour” and now have a new flour to play with in the kitchen. I’ll post recipes using the flour as I work on them.
I know you can buy marinated hearts of palm in a jar, ready to eat, but I just don’t like the flavor as much as marinating them myself at home (sans preservatives!). The recipe below takes about 5 minutes, and is totally worth the effort. I make the marinade so that I can use it as a salad dressing. A quick lunch idea is to chop up romaine, add a handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds and these marinated hearts of palm (without draining them).
It’s pumpkin season!!! This is a quick, easy recipe for pumpkin “hummus.” I’m calling this hummus even though there are no chickpeas because the texture resembles hummus. The milder bean allows the pumpkin and spices to shine. I may be partial, but I think the Indian flavors complement pumpkin well to make a warm, autumny dip/spread. I served the pumpkin hummus at party this weekend with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Soup Crackers. It seemed to vanish, so I’m not fussing with the recipe any more! =) You can make this a day or two ahead of time, and it will actually be better since the extra time will allow the flavors to meld better.
I’ve been really craving a chocolate dessert lately. I was walking around town, and none of the restaurants had chocolate desserts that were sugar-free (including no sugar substitutes) and gluten-free. So… I decided to play around with making one at home. Based on what was in my pantry, I came up with this super-easy “mousse.” I poured the mousse into these Hazelnut Coconut crusts. The final product is a rich, decadent, thick filling in a thin, nutty crust. As you can see in the photo, it sliced beautifully. I added a small amount of vanilla whipped cream before serving to lighten it up. As a result, one small slice was so incredibly satisfying =)
This is a quick and simple crust that I use as the base for tarts/pies. I love the texture because you can press it thin, and when it’s finished, it still holds together, but is crumbly and easy to cut with you fork/spoon. It’s also neutral (no sugar, pinch of salt), so it can be used for both sweet and savory tarts. You can also add flavors to the crust if you want (cocoa powder, Italian seasoning, etc.). The recipe below makes a thin crust for 2 4-inch tart tins or a medium thick crust for 1 6-inch tart tin. You can scale up as needed for bigger tarts.
August = peaches!!! Nothing beats fresh, ripe peaches in late summer. I got 4 peaches, a few tomatoes, and basil in my Hungry Harvest box this week. Instead of eating them straight or making a sweet dish, I decided to make a savory one. The 100 degree weather has really put me in the mood for a nice, chilled gazpacho. I wanted to add a little more flavor to the gazpacho without adding too many ingredients, so I grilled the peaches before adding them. I also had this Mango White Balsamic Vinegar, which added the tart and sweet flavors without being too punchy or overpowering the other ingredients. I listed the topping as optional since some people prefer smooth gazpacho, while I prefer the texture variation that the finely minced topping provides.
My Hungry Harvest box this week contained a gigantic, healthy head of cabbage. I couldn’t bear the idea of shredding it, so I decided to try making cabbage rolls. In my ongoing quest to avoid carbs, the giant cabbage leaves made a perfect wrapper for one of my favorite quinoa fillings. The recipe below looks labor-intensive (and it it is!), but it’s also easily modifiable to make a quick weekday dinner. I’d consider the recipe below more of a technique than a hard-and-fast recipe. You can use your favorite tomato sauce instead of making the one below. You can also stuff the cabbage rolls with leftovers!
Every now and then (especially after I get back from traveling), I just don’t have the produce I need to make a full meal. Luckily, I keep an assortment of sauces, stocks, and gravies in my freezer for these occasions! I normally make karela with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. But, since I had none of these in my kitchen, I decided to use a Coconut-Tamarind Gravy instead (it has onions, garlic, tomatoes and much more!).
This recipe is one of my staples. I love the tartness of the tamarind, the creaminess of the cashews, and the tropical feel of the coconut. I’m posting this as it’s own recipe because it really is worth making a double batch and keeping it on hand for a quick meal. You can add this gravy to fully cooked veggies and it makes them so much more satisfying! I like to go on the drier side when i use it in dishes, but you can thin it out with a little water when you add it to veggies to make it more saucy.
A few weeks ago, I made this Apple, Fennel, Manchego Salad. I used the fennel bulb in the salad, but was left with a whole cup of fronds. I couldn’t bear the idea of throwing them away, so I thought I’d stick them in vodka and see what happens. It’s delicious! It has a light, fresh taste and the pale green is so summery- it’s perfect for this weather! Today, I added a spoonful to sparkling water and it was really refreshing. Next, I plan on playing with a fennel-cucumber drink… stay tuned!
I was traveling for work the last few weeks and totally in withdrawal from not being able to cook. Luckily, my Hungry Harvest box this week had some awesome fresh ingredients like yellow squash, tomatoes, cilantro, and green bell peppers. They looked so tender and colorful, that I wanted to use them as soon as possible. To make the dish more balanced and filling, I added edamame and soya flour chunks (Nutrela).
In this unbelievably hot weather, we were in the mood for something tart and refreshing. Homemade sorbets are amazing because you can taste the freshness. As a bonus, you can also control the sweetness (I often find store sorbet too sweet). This kiwi basil sorbet really hit the spot in 90+ degree weather! I left the seeds in for the crunch and because it looks pretty, but if you want a smooth sorbet, you can strain them out.
My Hungry Harvest produce box this week came with 1 pound of watermelon radishes. If you haven’t had them before, they are tons of fun. The outside looks so boring- usually white or pale green, but then you slice it open and see bright pink/red! I find the taste is mildly peppery and slightly sweet. I usually just slice them thinly and put a little salt, pepper, and sometimes even butter for a fun snack. This time though, I wanted to make the 1 pound last for a while, so I pickled it. This pickle is great on a cheese board, in sandwiches, mixed into salads, or even just to munch on. I used a spiraler to get thin slices, but you can also just cut them by hand into thin slices.
One of the best things about getting fresh produce boxes is the surprise of finding what is inside and thinking of how to combine them in new ways. My food box this week contained a ton of fresh thyme and a pound of rainbow carrots so I decided to make some savory roasted carrots to use in dishes throughout the week.
This is an easy soup that has lots of flavor and really lets the ingredients shine. That being said, use good quality, fresh produce- it makes all the difference! If you are short on time, you can roast the veggies ahead of time and blend it later. The photo shows the soup topped with my attempt at a basil foam, but usually I just top it with basil ribbons.
Why did I ever buy pumpkin pie spice when it is this easy to make?!?! I ran out today as I was making some muffins. After panicking for a minute, I realized that I had all the spices that go in to pumpkin pie spice at home. So I played with mixing the spices in varying proportions (it was very scientific!). The recipe below is what I settled on. I listed everything in teaspoons so it is easy to scale up if you want to make a larger batch.
I made this dressing for my dad’s birthday a few days ago (you’ll be seeing a few more posts from that dinner soon). I wanted to make something with coffee since he loves it. Since this was my first time making this, I kept adding ingredients and changing quantities till I got a taste I liked- meaning I ended up with a lot of extra dressing- I’ve made a few different salads with it, and will post my favorite next: Pear Cocoa Nib Salad. The dressing has just a hint of espresso, so it actually is more versatile than you’d imagine. I normally use honey in dressing, but used sugar in this one because honey was interfering with the espresso taste.
I’ve been playing with a recipe for spicy nuts for a while now, and finally settled on this. I tried various combinations of spices and peppers, but ended up settling on one of the simplest ones… sriracha and lime with a little extra kick, courtesy of smoked paprika. While these are not as spicy as I was envisioning, they pack a lot of flavor so I’m happy munching on them.
We were talking about non-dairy milks at dinner last night, and hazelnut milk came up. I don’t know how I never thought of making this before! I made three small batches today to test different proportions and additions, and loved the recipe below. Toasting it really brings out a different flavor, which felt richer to me. I also added a small bit of chocolate to one batch and it tasted like a Nutella drink. You can also add sugar if you want, but I prefer it unsweetened. However, the recipe below is more versatile, so I’m posting the plain version.
We had an ice cream party at work this week, and the forecast for the week was in the 90s… totally put me in the mood for pina coladas and pain killers! The sorbet below started out as a pina colada sorbet with just pineapple and coconut. But, somehow, it morphed towards a pain killer as I kept adding/adjusting ingredients. I love how the final sorbet came out- a slight kick of ginger with a creamy ice cream-like texture. I will definitely be making it again this summer!
Gazpacho is one of my favorite summer soups- straight from farmer’s market treasures! I’ve seen and tasted so many different gazpacho recipes over the years, and one thing that hits me is how forgiving they are. The recipe below is a general guide, but you can vary the ingredients based on what’s fresh and available. How can you not get hooked on a recipe that’s this quick and easy and light!? =)
My breakfast for the week. I’m considering it relatively healthy since it has whole wheat flour, nut flour, and nuts. These can be modified to be vegan by replacing the milk with almond or coconut milk- both taste great with slight differences in flavor.