I’ve come a long way in the kitchen. Back in my college days my mom used to have to write the brand name she’d buy next to the ingredients on my recipes. What can I say? I was challenged when it came to shopping at the store. I still have to look at a recipe 20 times or so to make sure I’m doing it right (no I can’t make things up on my own…I wish!) But needless to say I’ve progressed in my cooking. I have always thought that my food tasted good, but when others are now trying things out and they say it tastes good, it has to be good, right?? I still dream of the day of maybe opening up a restaurant where all the food is healthy, tasty, and homemade goodness. We used to say that my brother would catch the seafood, my mom would do the bulk of the cooking and I would do the nutritional analysis. That dream could still be a possibility one day.
Little by little I’ve started to make things all homemade. I made ketchup recently. So simple and no need to add the sugar that they do to the bottled stuff. I also made marshmallows the other day. No need for them, I just wanted to be able to see if I could make them homemade. A little challenge for myself if you will. I can check that off the list. If I ever come across a recipe that includes them, I can easily whip them up (yes, they’re not that hard). Bread is still on my list of items to make homemade. But I’ll be honest. There have been a few failures with bread that I try not to talk about. I will attempt more times this year, because I really do want to make my bread homemade. Have you ever taken a look at some of the nutrition labels for bread? Too long a list and too many names my grandmother wouldn’t recognize. It’s incredible. So, yeah, bread is definitely on my list to conquer. If anyone has an easy starter one, let me know!
Over the last couple of months I’ve been cooking up a storm! As I always do, I weed out the good from the bad so you don’t have to. If you’re new to the blog here is my definition of a “Keeper” - a recipe that I’ve tried and that can be a repeat recipe. The key word being repeat – I haven’t repeated any in quite a few months, but I know I have my tried and true recipes when/if needed. Here are a few of the latest rounds of keeper recipes.
Cashews might be one of THE most versatile nuts/seeds out there. I love turning cashews into “cashew cheese” as well as turning the cashews into a savory/sweet dessert. Yes they do that too! Over the holiday break I stumbled across a program on Create TV (my public broadcasting station here in Miami) that featured 3 vegan chefs on the program). I had never seen the program and decided to watch. That particular day was a lady named Tony Fiore. She whipped up a cashew “mascarpone” cheese. I will tell you that I love cheese. I often think that’s one of the reason I can’t completely go vegan. I just love cheese so much. But this version of cashew cheese was PHENOMENAL!! I loved it so much. The sundried tomato pesto enhanced it quite a bit along with all of the fresh herbs. SUPERB. DELISH. I can’t wait to make this again!
Quinoa made its way into being popular a few years back and it’s still hanging around. And with good reason! Quinoa is technically a seed. It comes in three varieties, white, red, and black. It’s a nutritional powerhouse. One cup contains 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, iron, magnesium, folate and some omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. So nutritious. This bark mixes the quinoa (uncooked) along with almonds, cashews, and a mix of hemp and chia seeds. The binding agent is maple syrup mixed with a little coconut oil and then you bake it in the oven. Once out of the oven you melt the dark chocolate and spread it over the top. Throw it in the fridge to set and voilá – start breaking apart the bark into small pieces. Crunchy, delicious, and nutritious!
I have made homemade hummus before. If you pass by the hummus section in the grocery store these days, there are a lot of flavors now making plain hummus sound boring. I stumbled upon this blog, Half Baked Harvest, the other day and after making her quinoa bark, thought I’d give her beet hummus a go. The color is stunning. I just wasn’t sure if the flavor would be great (beets are super earthy tasting to me and they are not my favorite thing – I try to like them and embrace them, but they’re just not my favorite). Needless to say the flavor is on point. A mix of the chickpeas, tahini, and almond butter really does mesh with the beets in a way I wouldn’t have thought it would. The recipe states to peel the skin off of the chickpeas for a smoother hummus. I’ve never had a smoother hummus before in my life. I’ll be honest, I’ve never taken the time to peel the skin from the chickpeas. This is a must step and one you won’t regret!
Main Dish – Thai RedCurry with Vegetables
Traditional Thai flavor cooked in your home in right about 30 minutes. Okay it might have been 35 minutes with all of the slicing (for the vegetables), but dinner in 30 minutes? I’ll take that. I always tell people to eat a colorful array of vegetables and while I didn’t plan on my picture looking like a rainbow, it kind of does, doesn’t it? Simple yet flavorful. I added tofu to my dish to keep it vegetarian, but feel free to add the protein of your choice to make the meal fully balanced.
Condiment – Berry ChiaJam
Berries, chia seeds, and maple syrup. That’s it. You’ll have your own homemade jam in 10 minutes. Pretty sure I’m never buying store bought jelly/jam again. I told you I was taking this “make everything homemade” thing seriously! So simple and so flavorful. I made this jam for the complete recipe below, the vegan wagon wheels, but I’ve since made the jam just to have on hand. The vegan wagon wheels are out of this world. If that sounds up your alley those are a keeper as well, by the way. But I truly believe the wagon wheels’ main attraction and why I liked them as much as I did was because of the jam. The cookie dough wasn’t bad either J
Dessert: Clementines, Dark Chocolate, and Pistachios
This is actually a simple concoction of my own. No recipe required. Simply melt some dark chocolate and dip the clementines into the chocolate. Mash up some pistachios and then dip your clementines (with the chocolate side) into the pistachios. Let them sit in the fridge for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to harden some. And voilá, a little bite of heaven. That chocolate with orange flavor, magnifique!
So there you have it – a few more recipes that have recently made it into my “keepers”. I hope you see a recipe or two that you might like to try. My stack of “recipes to try” keeps growing. I wish they ALL were keepers!