Sunday, November 20, 2011

Purple Broccoli

Look what I picked up today at the market! Local and organic purple broccoli! I've seen purple cauliflower before, but I've never seen purple broccoli. Isn't it gorgeous? I'm sure it's super high in antioxidant anthocyanins, thanks to its beautiful purple color. These nutrients in colorful fruits and vegetables are vital to our health and combat free radicals in our bodies. They also are known to prevent cancer and premature signs of aging. I can't wait to enjoy my purple broccoli later on!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thai Spiced Butternut and Carrot Soup

 I'm in love with the color of this soup. It's so beautifully bright and definitely stands out during this cloudy dreary weather we've been having. And it has a surprising, yet mellow kick from the the Thai red curry paste and ginger. Did I mention that it's also an absolute breeze to put together? I can totally see this as a starter for Thanksgiving.
The bright red curry paste, and vibrant orange from the carrots and butternut squash, combine to make an almost neon orange color soup. We all know how fresh, brightly colored fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, so eat up!
 Winter squashes, like the butternut, are packed with nutrients that we definitely need during these colder months. They're quite affordable and adaptable, too. While I still miss my summer vegetables dearly, I welcome the winter ones. Here's to many more healthy squash recipes.

Thai Spiced Butternut and Carrot Soup (makes at least 8 servings)

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped in 1-2" cubes
4 carrots, sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
sea salt
1-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste, or more to taste
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
5 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup coconut milk
cilantro for garnish

1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute onions in coconut oil with a large pinch of salt until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Then, add cubed squash, sliced carrots, and vegetable stock.

2. Add the grated ginger and bring to a boil. When the soup begins to boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash and carrots are fork tender.

3. Turn off the heat, and stir in the red curry paste. It will pretty much dissolve in the soup. Then, puree the soup with an immersion (or regular) blender or food processor until the soup is very smooth. Taste and add salt if needed.

4. Stir in the coconut milk and serve. Top with cilantro and a bit more coconut milk if you wish.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cranberry Apple Crisp

 I honestly cannot believe how fast November is flying by. It seems like it was yesterday that I was basking in the sunshine in Italy, eating Caprese sandwiches and gelato. Oh, how I miss it. Well, at least I have Thanksgiving and all of the seasonal deliciousness that comes along with it to look forward to.
Every year on Thanksgiving, my dad makes a cranberry apple pie. I look forward to this all year long and it's seriously one of my all-time favorite desserts. The sweet-tart combination of the apples and cranberries is perfection. I didn't have the patience to make a pie crust for this dessert, so I put together a simple, yet oh-so-delicious crisp with some freshly picked apples and beautiful ruby cranberries.
If you've never had this combination of fruits, there's no better time like the present when both are perfectly in season. And there's nothing better than the smell of caramelizing apples and cranberries baking in the oven while the cool autumn wind is blowing outside. Enjoy.

Cranberry Apple Crisp

For the filling:
6 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

For the Topping:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced (just shy of one stick)

1. Preheat oven to 375. In a 9"x13" glass baking dish, combine sliced apples and cranberries. Sprinkle with flour and sugar (if you're using the sugar) and toss to coat the fruit.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients with clean hands until the mixture looks a bit like thick cookie dough and the butter is fully incorporated.

3. Take handfuls of the crumble mixture and flatten it with your fingers and lay over the apples and cranberries in the baking dish. Distribute the topping until the fruit is mostly covered by the crumble mixture. It's ok if there are areas where the fruit is uncovered.

4. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the fruit is bubbling a lot and the topping is golden brown. If the topping is getting too brown, lower the heat to 350 for the remainder of the baking. Let cool briefly before serving to allow the filling to set a bit.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Miso-Curry Delicata Squash

 I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to use winter squash. After all,  there are so many types in season right now and they're relatively cheap and full of vitamins. This particular recipe is by far one of the best squash recipes I've ever made and it's all thanks to my lovely new cookbook by my favorite food blogger. Yes, this dish is from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson. It's a charming cookbook with unique and healthy vegetarian recipes on every page, along with some beautiful photographs. This week, I've been cooking from the book exclusively, and eating dinner every night has been pretty exciting.
This recipe uses delicata squash, which has edible skin, meaning that there is no peeling required. And the miso-curry sauce that bathes the vegetables is so delicious that I found myself licking it off the spoon. This was my first time using red Thai curry paste, and honestly, I think it will be a new staple in my kitchen. Now, I'm a girl that does not like spicy foods and believe me when I say this: this is not a spicy recipe. It's full of flavor without the burn. It's simply perfection, if you ask me.
 Heidi's recipe calls for tofu, but I tend to stay away from tofu. I added some butternut squash to the mix (I had a tiny one that I wanted to use). She also uses extra virgin olive oil, while I used coconut oil instead and absolutely loved the results. Also, I mixed both white and red miso pastes because I had both. I will leave you with her exact recipe here, but know that it can be slightly tweaked to your liking.

Miso-Curry Delicata Squash (from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson)

12 ounces delicata squash
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white miso
1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste
8 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
4 medium new potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups chopped kale, tough stems removed
1/3 cup tasted pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven.

2. Cut the delicata squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to clear out all of the seeds. Cut into 1/2- inch thick half moons.

3. In a medium bowl, wisk together olive oil, miso, and curry paste. Combine tofu, potatoes, and squash in a large bowl with 1/3 cup of the iso-curry paste. Use your hands to toss well and then turn the vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.

4. Roast 25-30 minutes, until everything is tender and browned. Toss once or twice along the way to prevent burning. Keep a close watch, though; the vegetables can go from browned to burned in a flash.

5. In the meantime, whisk the lemon juice into the remaining miso-curry paste, then stir in the kale until coated.

6. Toss the roasted vegetables gently with the kale, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. Serve family style in a large bowl or on a platter.

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