Strawberry-Pepper Shrub


Strawberry Shrub

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.

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Marinated Hearts of Palm


hearts-of-palm

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).

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Nut crackers (vegan, gluten free)


nut-crackers

One of the biggest challenges to a high-fat low carb diet is not having the bread and crackers to snack on, use to dip, or round out a meal.  Sometimes veggie sticks and cabbage leaves just don’t cut it!  I love these crackers because they at fairly easy to make, full of good fats, filling, and last for a while in an air tight container (the ones in the photo are 2 weeks old).   I have been using them to make open faces sandwiches, appetizers with flavored cream cheeses and herbs,  croutons for salad and soup, and just plain as a quick snack when I get hungry.  If you want variety, you can add spices to the mix.

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Pickled Watermelon Radish


Pickled Watermelon RadishMy 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.

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Tahini, Thyme, and Cumin Roasted Carrots


Tahini CarrotsOne 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.

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Espresso Vinaigrette


Espresso DressingI 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.

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Grilled Romaine Salad with Grapefruit Mint Dressing


Grilled Romaine

Summer = grilling! So why shouldn’t that extend to salads? It’s amazing how something as simple as grilling can change an entire dish.  This recipe is centered around dressing up grilled romaine hearts. But really, it’s just to give you ideas… play with the dressing, cheeses, nuts, and other toppings!  I like the thinner dressings like the one below since it soaks into the romaine between the leaves.  The picture shows one romaine heart plain, and one dressed up with blue cheese and pecans.

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Mint Cilantro Coconut Chutney


Mint Cilantro Coconut ChutneyI made this green chutney for Mother’s Day since it was gorgeous weather outside and we decided to grill.  The flavors are so light and fresh that I love it in sandwiches, wraps, with roasted veggies, as a soup garnish… pretty much anything summery.  It’s also very versatile: thin it out with water to make a dressing, mix it into yogurt to make a dip, whisk it with olive oil to make a pasta salad.  It also gets bonus points for freezing well.  It’s amazing how a chutney so healthy and easy to make can be sooooo good!

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Chunky Bread Salad


Bread SaladThis salad is inspired by multiple delicious panzanella salads I’ve had over the years.  It’s not actually a panzanella salad because it deviates from the traditional ingredients and process, so I’m going with “Chunky Bread Salad.”  I love how easy this salad is to throw together, especially if you make the Spicy Sourdough Croutons ahead of time.

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Spicy Sourdough Croutons


Spicy Sourdough CroutonsYou may never want to buy croutons again… These are super easy to make and soooo addictive!  I end up making extra because I know I’m probably going to eat half of them before they ever make it to the soup or salad.  If you don’t have day old bread, you can dry it out by cutting the cubes and then heating them in the oven at 200 F for a few minutes.  Also, these croutons freeze really well- just take them out of the freezer long enough to allow them to come to room temperature.

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Basil Arugula Spinach Pesto


PestoI realized that I use pesto in a bunch of my recipes, but never actually posted a recipe.  Surprising, since I consider this a staple.  It a quick way to make an okay meal taste special (pasta, sandwich spread, soup, grilled veggies, etc).  Adding the other greens keeps the color nice and bright, and adds some additional flavors.  Also, if I don’t have pine nuts, I substitute cashews and it still tastes good.  This sauce also freezes well, so I often make extra and keep it.

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Homemade Pumpkin Pulp


Pumpkin Pulp 2

Until last year, I always used to buy pumpkin pulp from the store, and I’ll admit, I still do if I’m craving pumpkin dishes and don’t have a real pumpkin on-hand.  However, now, if I plan ahead, I prefer to buy my own pumpkin and cook it.  It feels like the epitome of fall to go to a farmer’s market and pick out a pumpkin to bring home.  I like using pie pumpkins because I find that they have less seeds and less stringy flesh.  Don’t be intimidated- the toughest part is cutting the pumpkin in half… =)

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“Roasted” Red Peppers


Roasted Red Pepper 2I realized today that I use roasted red peppers all over my blog, and haven’t actually described how to roast them at home.  I put “roasted” in quotes since these are actually broiled (not sure what the difference is).  The first time I roasted the peppers, I was really careful not to burn it.  Turns out, it actually tastes better if you completely blacken it!  You can buy ready-made roasted peppers from the store, but I prefer roasting them at home.  It’s fun and I find that it tastes more flavorful to me.

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Yam and Kale Salad


Kale Yam SaladThis salad hits the spot for me when I want something sweet and savory with a variety of textures.   It requires a bit of prep work, so I make a double batch.  It keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and actually picks up more flavor as it marinates.  It’s very flexible in terms of replacing ingredients.  I like the tart and sweet of the dried cherries, but you can substitute craisins, raisins, currants, etc.  Same for the seeds- I use pumpkin seeds, but I imagine sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc would also taste good.

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Strawberry Balsamic Dressing


This is a great quick dressing that adds a natural sweetness to salad.  I used it on a Strawberry Hazelnut Salad. I strongly suggest using fresh strawberries if they are available.  You may need to vary the amount of salt based on how tart/sweet the strawberries are, but it’s worth the unpredictability since fresh strawberries taste so good!

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Valentine’s Day Dinner


VDay Dinner 2013I love all holidays, and that includes Valentine’s Day!  I made dinner for my parents today to celebrate an early Valentine’s Day.  Initially, I wanted every dish to incorporate red- but later decided that might be too much.  So instead, I settled for a mix of dishes that let me play with a variety of foods and techniques.  The menu is below and the recipes will follow soon!  Hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day!

Labneh (Yogurt cheese)


This is my new, healthy substitute for sour cream and cream cheese in recipes.  Although lately, it hasn’t even made it into recipes- I end up finishing it with toast and crackers!  Its so simple and tastes soooo good… slightly tangy and creamy.  The only thing to remember is that you need to start making it at least one day before.

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Quinoa Tabouleh (Gluten Free)


 

I think this is my new favorite summer salad.  It has that marinated, fresh, crunchy taste that I love.  I will say, this salad requires a lot of preparation since there is so much chopping involved- especially because I like cutting the veggies very small (I make them ~1/8 inch pieces) and adding a lot of them. The Quinoa Tabouleh salad is a twist on the traditional bulgar wheat tabouleh.  The main difference is that quinoa is super healthy and is gluten free to fit in with the detox program led by Linda Petursdottir (http://simplewellbeing.com/)- this recipe is a modification of a recipe she provided.  

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Spicy Black Bean Salad


This is a great summer salad that has a nice mix of spicy, sour, and smooth tastes.  You can vary the spiciness by the amount of pepper, but also by the type.  I alternate between jalapenos, poblanos, and the long, thin green chilies, Also, there’s enough lime juice in the salad to keep the avocados from turning black after cutting, but I would still add them as close to eating time as possible.

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Marinated Mozzarella


What’s better than mozzarella? Marinated mozzarella!!!  I love adding these marinated mozzarella balls to salads (I don’t need dressing then), sliced on top of pizza, on top of crackers, or even just plain.  The best part is that it is relatively easy to make and stays good for a while!  Also, you can make it a few days before you need it- actually, you should since the flavor gets better with time. 

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Pumpkin Feast (Vegetarian)


A few weeks ago my sister and her fiance threw a surprise birthday party for me- and the second best part (first best being everyone coming of course!) was that it was pumpkin themed!!!  The really amazing thing was that there was such a wide variety of dishes, appetizers, main dishes, desserts, drinks, etc.- and all vegetarian!  I was completely blown away by the variety- hence calling the post “Pumpkin Feast.”  

Sadly, in the shock of being surprised, I forgot to take pictures, but take my word for it- every single thing was delicious and I highly highly recommend them.  The menu is below and as I get the links from people, I’ll connect them.

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Black Bean Avocado Salad


This is a great summer salad, that has a nice mix of differently textured colorful ingredients.  I highly recommend using fresh corn, the difference in taste is amazing!  You can prepare the corn ahead of time if you need too (Step 1).  Also, there’s enough lime juice in the salad to keep the avocados from turning black after cutting, but I would still add them as close to eating time as possible. 

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Dried Fruit and Cous Cous Salad


This salad came about because I had ingredients at home that I wanted to use up (mainly the citrus vinegar and small quantities of various dried fruits).  I liked it and will definitely make it again because it was really easy to make (minimal cooking and chopping).  Next time, I might substitute currants, raisins, dried apricots, or dried peaches for some or all of the dried fruits listed below.  Also, it stayed good for a few days in the fridge (meaning I didn’t have to make lunch…always a good thing!)

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Egg-less (Vegan) Egg Salad


This is essentially a recipe for egg salad, but tweaked to be vegan.  Even though I eat eggs, I don’t like the egg-y taste that regular egg salad/potato salad/coleslaw has, so this I love how this comes out.  The main thing is to find vegan mayo like Nayonaise or the reduced fat mayo from Trader Joe’s to hold everything together.  You can add anything you like, but this recipe has things that are on the crunchy side like celery and carrots.  You can definitely eat it plain, or with crackers, but I like putting a thick layer of it a sandwich to make it a more of a meal.

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Summer Picnic


This is an extremely belated post since it is from the picnic we had for Mother’s Day.  So, although Mother’s Day is gone, the dishes we made for the picnic are great summer foods.  We decided to have a variety of salads and dips instead of one main dish, and we were definitely stuffed when it was over!  Some of the things we picked up from Trader Joe’s, but the rest we made at home.

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5 Bean Salad


I generally don’t feel like eating big meals in summer, so this is a great salad since it’s marinated, cool, and filling.   It’s very easy to modify based on how much work you want to do (dried vs canned beans) and what kinds of beans you like.  I used dried canary beans, volcano beans, great northern beans, anasazi beans, and adzuki beans (all bought from Whole Foods).  You could just as easily used kidney beans, black beans, pink beans, etc.  Just remember that if you use canned beans, you should use ~1.5 cups of each since the measurements I have below (1/2 cup each) are for dried beans.

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Garlic Cucumber Salad


It’s nice outside today, so I was in the mood for summery foods- like salad.  It’s also a nice side dish for heavy food like pasta, stews, etc.  This is a quick recipe (only 4 ingredients!) that you can make up to a  day ahead of time.  The fresher and crunchier the cucumbers, the better.  Also, I like using cucumber that don’t have a lot of seeds, but that’s totally just my taste preference.

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