tomato-basil soup.

Yesterday was cold and dreary and rainy. So it was “let’s make a bunch of soups to freeze and enjoy all winter long” day. (Also, maybe being on my feet in the kitchen all day and smelling all the goods will convince babe that this world is just fine, and it should come enjoy it all with us!)

This delicious soup comes courtesy of Ina Garten via my dear friend Chelsea. Chelsea loves all things tomatoes and basil, so this just suits her. And I owe her a whole lot for bringing this into my life, because it has become a cold-weather staple in our house!

This soup can be tweaked in a bunch of ways, depending on your tastes. If you like a little more kick, add more red pepper. If you can’t handle any spice, cut that part out. If you want a little sweetness, add a bit of sugar. If you want to bring in more spices (rosemary, thyme, oregano), go for it. It’s simple enough that you can make it exactly what you want it to be! Or, if you’re like me, it will just happen to turn out a little different every time, and that is just fine!

Make sure you serve with some delicious toasted bread or grilled cheese, and you are all set!

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Tomato-Basil Soup

Ingredients:
3 lbs. ripe tomatoes (I use “farmhouse” or “on-the-vine”)
olive oil
salt and pepper

2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 small or 1 large)
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on your taste)
2 T butter plus extra olive oil
1 can (28-oz) canned tomatoes, with juice (I use whole or sliced, stewed)
4 c fresh basil leaves
1 t rosemary
4 c (1 quart) vegetable stock

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and spread out on a baking sheet.
  3. Toss tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Roast tomatoes for 45 minutes.
    While tomatoes are roasting … 
  5. In a large stockpot, saute the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes with butter and olive oil for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
  6. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, rosemary and vegetable stock.
  7. Add the roasted tomatoes – make sure to get all the liquid and “extras” on the baking sheet!
  8. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
  9. Pour everything into a blender or food processor and pulse until you reach a desired consistency (I usually need to do this in two parts).

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Enjoy!

nut butter banana muffins.

Well, the waiting game is on. The due date has come and gone, and babe is still snug as a bug in my tummy.

I’m working hard to fill my time. For the next week, our schedule is pretty much cleared, so every day is a question of “What will I do with myself today?” Today, I listened to my wise sissy and did some baking. These muffins are a bit too yummy to store all of them for post-baby breakfasts, so I might just need to bake some more tomorrow and freeze those!

I adapted this recipe for a bit healthier and heartier version of a muffin that everyone loves. You can’t find too many people who don’t enjoy bananas and peanut butter. Put those flavors in a muffin and you’ve got some happy eaters!

In this recipe I used spelt flour instead of all-purpose flour. My friend Tina of Voeden was the first person who I heard of spelt flour from, and I love it. Spelt is related to wheat, and it bakes pretty similarly, so it is very easy to substitute in recipes. However, spelt contains a lot more nutrients and is much easier on the digestive system.

I also traded out the brown sugar for honey – an easy 1-to-1 swap. Plus getting local honey into my treats gives me the sweet I love but also the added benefits of local honey: more nutrients and immune system boosters.

These muffins will be perfect for mornings when I need an easy but filling breakfast. But I will also be enjoying just a few before babe comes!  IMG_1109

Nut Butter Banana Muffins
adapted from: food.com

Ingredients:
2 cups spelt flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter this time, but almond butter would be perfect too)
3/4 milk (any kind will do)
2 T coconut oil, melted

Optional add-in’s:
chocolate chips
blueberries
walnuts
dried fruits

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and then bring it down to 375 degrees (this will help the muffins get that nice, rounded top).
  2. Grease a muffin tin.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Whisk bananas, eggs, honey, nut butter, milk, and coconut oil in a medium bowl until well-combined.
  5. Fold the dry mixture into the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  6. Fill your muffin tins almost to the top.
  7. Bake your muffins in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Enjoy!

chocolate avocado pudding with cashew cream.

I’ve been on hiatus as we’ve been finally settling into our new home! I can’t wait to show off a few things I’ve made (particularly for babe’s room), but since the house still looks a bit like a tornado hit it, I decided to share tonight’s dessert.

A few years back, a dear friend and mentor (who has helped open my eyes to the world of natural health and whole food diets) had me over for lunch. (Let’s be honest … I was in the habit of just stopping in on a whim, and she always had food ready for me. The image of hospitality, she is.) She asked if I wanted some “pudding.” Obviously I said, “Yes.” What I got was mind-blowing.

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How could avocados and cashews taste so indulgent?

Since it’s summer and I’m pregnant, I want sweets, but I also don’t want to go overboard (my daily scoop of ice cream is probably not the best option). Looking for a healthful dessert, I looked through various recipes to see how I could replicate this delicious treat from my past. This one was the simplest and after a few adjustments, I’ve got my measurements down pat.

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This is such a simple recipe, and as long as you’ve got your cashews and dates soaked long enough in advance, it should only take you about 15 minutes (that might even include getting your dishes washed!).

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Don’t be afraid. The sum is definitely greater than the sum of its parts here.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding
INGREDIENTS:
– 3/4 cup Mashed Avocado
– 1/4 cup + 2 T Maple Syrup
– 1/4 cup Pitted Medjool Dates, soaked overnight (or for a few hours)
– 2 T + 1/2 tbs Cocoa Powder
– 1/4 cup Water

1. Process dates, maple syrup, and vanilla (1/4 tsp) in food processor until smooth
2. Add avocado and cocoa powder and process until creamy
3. Occasionally scrape down sides with a spatula and add water to achieve desired consistency (you will likely not use all the water).

Cashew Cream
INGREDIENTS:
– 1 cup Raw Cashews, soaked overnight (or for at least 4-6 hours)
– 3-5 Dates, soaked overnight
– 1 tsp Vanilla
– Sea Salt
– Cream as needed (can be coconut, to keep this a vegan treat)

Drain cashews and blend with other ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor. Add cream to achieve desired consistency.

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Enjoy!

melting moments.

Just in time for Christmas, I’m sharing my absolute favorite cookies that my momma makes! These always make an appearance at Christmas, but they also show up at parties, showers, and pretty much any gathering.

These little yummies just melt away in your mouth – hence the name, Melting Moments. You have to pop the whole thing in your mouth at once if you don’t want crumbs all over, but then they simply melt. Mmm…

Enjoy these tasties for Christmas and keep the recipe on hand for any occasion!

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Melting Moments
Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour, sifted

1. Cream the butter.
2. Add sugar, cornstarch, and flour.
3. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. Form into 36 balls and place on ungreased baking sheet.
5. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees (or until brown the bottom).
6. Cool and frost.

Frosting
Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T melted butter
1 t vanilla
cream – just enough to help spread
food coloring – color for occasion

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and frost cookies.

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Enjoy!

cauliflower soup.

To some this might sound like the WORST.

To some this might sound like the BEST (though I am not sure that I can find many who would say this).

And to all who see this soup, you are probably thinking, “Baby poop.”

But I can honestly say … all who have tried have enjoyed. Or at least have been willing to eat. Including my dear husband, who is not keen on weird textures, colors, or even cauliflower, for that matter. Tonight he proclaimed, “This baby poop is delicious!!”

I don’t know what it is that makes this soup delicious. It doesn’t really taste like any of its ingredients. It takes on a flavor all of its own. The flavor is hearty, full of spice (even though there are minimal spices), autumnal, earthy, and warm. It is a weird phenomenon, but one that I am MORE than OK with. Thank the Lord for wonderful sisters who share recipes with me 🙂

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Cauliflower Soup
Ingredients:
2 T butter
2-3 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, cubed
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
4 c vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in a large saute pan. Add the garlic until lightly roasted.
2. Saute the onion and mushrooms until caramelized. This will take about 15-20 minutes. You want them to brown and get really fragrant.
3. Add a little vegetable broth (about 1/2 cup) to the onion and mushrooms to get all of the brownings off the pan.
4. Put cauliflower and sweet potatoes into a large pot. Add in the onion and mushrooms with the broth. Pour in the rest of the vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Let the vegetables cook until very soft (an hour or so).
6. Once vegetables are soft, transfer to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer back to pot.

Serve and enjoy! 

sage-walnut pesto.

In case you haven’t heard, it’s fall and everyone is happy. Last weekend the husband swept me away to Traverse City to celebrate our third wedding anniversary, while sipping wine and staring with mouths agape at the colors. There is absolutely no comparison to the fall colors than those in northern Michigan.

Coming back from our getaway, we needed something light but flavorful. We had a spaghetti squash, we had walnuts, and we had sage (there is basically a bush in our garden). I put these flavors together, and the result was “yum.”

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Spaghetti squash is one of the best fall foods for me. It is a delicious and nutritious alternative to wheat pasta, and it holds that hearty fall flavor. It is easy to cook, with a quick roast in the oven and a fork to string it out. And it is versatile. I can think of countless flavor combinations or simple sauces to top it with.

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This pesto was one I’ve been wanting to make for a while, and fall gave me the perfect time to do it! I grew sage in the garden this summer, mostly because I love its smell. It has been a great addition to floral arrangements, but I knew the amount I had would go great towards a pesto (which requires a hefty amount of herbs). I also always have walnuts on hand (and they’re cheaper than pine nuts!), so this combination just made sense.

Once the spaghetti squash was roasted, I tossed it in the pesto, topped it with some apples and walnuts that had been lightly sauteed, and we had a perfect fall meal!

Sage-Walnut Pesto
Ingredients
2 cups of fresh sage (lightly packed)
1 cup of walnuts, toasted
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Toast the walnuts in the oven until fragrant.
Combine all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor.
Pulse until combined.
Slowly start adding in the olive oil. Continue adding until desired consistency is reached.

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Serve warm and enjoy!

superfood salad.

After a bit of a hiatus, here I am, trying to pick this back up. We’ll see where it goes. I certainly have things to share – let’s just work on getting the time to share it all! 🙂

Husband and I recently finished a cleanse. We used the AdvoCare system, which is a great model and provided us with supplements and a few tools that helped us get through. I’d say we did it pretty faithfully for our first time, and if nothing else we established some good habits and tried a few new recipes. This, however, is not one of those new recipes. This one is tried and true!

Most people who grew up in my parents’ house – both family and friends – would agree that my mom’s beet salad is one of the best. She has a knack for dressing it perfectly, as well as having the prefect proportions.

I’ve taken that, added some kale, and it’s pretty much a superfood salad. Kale and beets are some of the best foods you can put into your body to cleanse and strengthen your system. Kale can be tough to eat for some people. If you need it softened up a bit, you can always lightly sauté it. But I think this salad, with the dressing massaged into the kale, is still pretty easy to eat and enjoy!

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Kale and Beet Salad
Salad:
1 bunch of kale
1 beet, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
2-3 T goat cheese, chopped
raw sunflower seeds

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 T raw honey
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Whisk the dressing together.
2. Tear the kale into small, bite-size pieces.
3. Massage the dressing into the kale – use those hands! You can let it sit for a little while to let the kale absorb the dressing. But if you don’t have the time, that is OK too!
4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the salad. Use a spatula or big spoon to combine well. Top with sunflower seeds.

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Enjoy!

muesli.

I spent a summer during my college years living in Switzerland. One of the best and most life-changing summers, to be sure. While living there we had a lot of “set” meals, and one of my favorites was Thursday morning muesli. I had never heard of muesli before, but the Swiss version was basically oats and fruit mixed into yogurt and allowed to set over night. It created a rich, think, delicious breakfast!

In the states muesli isn’t prepared a specific way. It’s more of a combination of oats, seeds, and dried fruits, prepared however you’d like. Bob’s Red Mill makes a great muesli and I thought it was simple enough to make my own.

I used what I had on hand, so this recipe can be very flexible. If you have something else on hand or a different preference, it is easy to tweak however you’d like!

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Muesli
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
10 chopped dates
3 tablespoons chia seeds

other options: flax seed, wheat germ, hemp seed, almond flour, any other dried fruit

 Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Serve with milk, yogurt, or any other way you can imagine!

Enjoy! 

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any fruit crisp.

A couple of my dear friends have recently tipped me off to this delicious “any fruit crisp” from Shauna Niequist’s latest book, Bread and Wine. It is a great starting point and easy to adjust to your liking. With endless fruit options in the summer time (and apples to look forward to!), I’m so glad to have this tasty, flexible recipe on hand!

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Any-fruit Crisp
4 cups of fruit of choice (I’ve used strawberries, rhubarb, and blueberries so far this summer!)
1 cup old fashioned oats (I like Bob’s Red Milled Thick Rolled Oat)  
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (any nut will do)
1/2 cup almond meal (coconut flour would be another option)
1/4 maple syrup (honey or agave would be great alternatives)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 t salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all of the ingredients (except the fruit) in a bowl.
3. Pour the fruit into an 8×8 pan.
4. Top the fruit with the topping mixture.
5. Cook for 35-40 minutes, until heated through and the topping is lightly browned.

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Enjoy!