Monday, February 26, 2018

Meatless Monday--Cherry Pecan Breakfast Cereal (Muesli)

What do weekday breakfasts look like for y'all?  For most of us, breakfast is either an on-the-go situation or something you scarf down at your desk.  I'm definitely in the desk camp.  I usually eat while powering up my computer and checking my email.  It's probably not the greatest of habits, but it's how it works.

I absolutely am a breakfast eater--always have been.  I cannot imagine having enough fuel to power through my morning on coffee alone.  Nearly every morning, my desk breakfast is one of two things: yogurt with some kind of fresh fruit and granola or chopped nuts or overnight oats, which I'll usually warm up in the break room microwave.

I'll now be adding in a third option. 

This cherry pecan breakfast cereal (or muesli, as it would be called across much of western Europe) isn't a huge departure from my breakfast routine.  In fact, I'm sure I'll enjoy it over yogurt or heated up as an almost oatmeal while the mornings are still cold.  Let me tell you, though, the flavors are perfect.  It's very lightly sweetened, getting it's sugar from the cherries and just a touch of maple syrup.  In fact, the cookbook authors, the very lovely Sonja Overhiser and her husband Alex, of A Couple Cooks, even suggest an extra drizzle of maple syrup over your bowl.  The spices are thoughtful and present without masking the real flavors of the oats, coconut, pecans, and pepitas.  Each bite has such great texture, too.  You'll feel full and satisfied and ready to rule your morning, I promise.

On top of being absolutely scrumptious, it's easy and practical, too.  Making the muesli requires little more than some simple measuring, mixing, and toasting.  The finished product makes a good-sized batch and is stored in the freezer.  When it's time to enjoy a bowl (and when would it not be?), you can eat this almost directly from the freezer; it comes to room temperature in just a couple of minutes, helped along by the milk.  If cherries and pecans aren't your jam, use your favorite dried fruit and nut.  I actually swapped out the almonds in the original recipe for pecans.

Healthy, wholesome, simple, and versatile--what more could you want in your breakfast?

This healthy cherry pecan breakfast cereal (muesli) is a cinch to put together and keeps well in the freezer.  Make up a big batch on the weekend for easy breakfasts all week long!

Cherry Pecan Breakfast Cereal (Muesli)
slightly adapted from Pretty Simple Cooking

4 c. rolled oats (gluten-free, if necessary or preferred)
1 c. unsweetened large coconut flakes
1 c. whole pecans, roasted
1 c. dried tart cherries
1/2 c. pepitas (pumpkin seeds), roasted
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. dried ground ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 TBSP pure maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
2 tsp. vanilla extract
your choice of milk or yogurt, for serving


1.  Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2.  Spread the oats evenly on the baking sheet, then sprinkle the coconut in an even layer on the top.  Bake 7-10 minutes, watching closely, until the coconut is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

3.  Meanwhile, roughly chop the pecans and cherries.  Put in a large bowl and add in pepitas, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and sea salt.  When the oats and coconut are cool enough to touch, add into the bowl.  Toss to combine.

4.  Pour maple syrup and vanilla extract into a small bowl.  Stir to combine, microwaving up to 20 seconds, if needed, to loosen up the syrup.  Drizzle over oat mixture and gently mix to make sure syrup evenly coats the ingredients.

5.  Spread the museli back onto the baking sheet and bake 2 minutes more.  Remove and allow to cool and dry completely.  Stir to break up any clumps, then transfer to a sealable container.  Muesli keeps indefinitely in the freezer in a sealable bag with the air pressed out.  

6.  Serve with milk of your choice or yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.

yield: about 8 cups 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Meatless Monday--Moroccan-Spiced Golden Soup with Crispy Chickpeas

Fun fact--until I went to college back east in Washington, D.C., I'd never really realized I had a winter birthday.  Sure, my young childhood in Oklahoma meant wintery birthdays, but having spent most of my childhood and a good chunk of my young adulthood in Phoenix, I always thought I had a spring birthday.  I realize the calendar makes this clear, even if the Phoenix weather did not.  I can't explain my lack of understanding either.

Now that I'm in Dallas, I once again remember that I am, in fact, a winter baby.  Right around this time of year, I'm beyond bored of my sweaters and boots and ready for sundresses.  My arms are reaaaalllly pasty and I'm wishing for Saturdays spent day drinking with friends on the patio.  Still though, I am so thankful to live in Dallas.  After all, a cooler climate means more time for soups like this, right?

I'm a soup lover.  I've professed it over and over on this blog.  This thick, hearty soup is now another favorite in my rotation.  It's deeply spiced with a blend of Moroccan spices--smoky cumin, pungent coriander, and warming ginger and cinnamon.  Tumeric not only gives this meal its striking golden color, it also adds serious depth of flavor and a whole host of nutritional benefits.  With a drizzle of olive oil, crispy roasted chickpeas, and a healthy sprinkling of red pepper flakes, this soup will make you glad it's still least for a little while.     

Keep the winter blues at bay with this bright, sunny, deeply-spiced vegan golden soup.  With cauliflower, cashews, cinnamon, and a healthy dose of turmeric, it's sure to comfort and warm you from the inside out.

Moroccan-Spiced Golden Soup
adapted from Pinch of Yum and A Couple Cooks


For the chickpeas:

2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

For the soup:

2 TBSP olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets (about 6 cups)
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 c. unsalted cashews
1 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
6-8 c. vegetable broth
red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)
green onions, for serving (optional)
lemon wedges, for serving

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Toss chickpeas with oil and spices.  Spread on to a rimmed baking sheet and roast until semi-crispy, stirring halfway through, 30-40 minutes.  Chickpeas will become completely crispy when cooled.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  When oil is warm, add cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and black pepper and toast until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.  

3.  Reduce heat to medium, then add garlic, cauliflower, onion, carrot, and cashews.  Saute until cauliflower begins to soften, approximately 10 minutes.  Add broth and salt.  Simmer 15 minutes, or until cauliflower and carrots are both soft.

4.  Turn off the heat.  Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a traditional blender, puree soup until smooth, adding broth to reach desired consistency.  Warm the soup before serving, if needed.

5.  To serve, ladle into bowl and drizzle with olive.  Top with crispy chickpeas, red pepper flakes, green onions, or any other desired garnishes.  Squeeze lemon juice over the top or serve lemon wedges on the side.

yield: 4-6 servings      

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Roast Salmon with Sweet Chipotle Glaze

Just take a look at that super short ingredient list and even shorter directions.  I mean, tell me that isn't enough to at least pique your interest.   

Can I sweeten the deal?  How about if I tell you this simple salmon is topped with a glaze that's the perfect balance of smoky heat, sweet-tart orange marmalade, rich salmon, and acidic red wine vinegar?  Still not enough to convince you?  Let me add in you can make the glaze a few days ahead of time and save yourself another couple minutes off a dish that, served alongside some roasted vegetables, is already primed to be the star of a meal that can truly be on the table in 30 minutes.

To make it happen, I made some adjustments to to recipe that inspired this post.  By reducing the oven temperature to 425 degrees, it matches my preferred method for roasting vegetables, which means each component of your dinner can cook at the same time in the same oven.  For me, it went like this:

  • Preheat the oven.  Line two baking sheets with foil and place one in the oven to begin heating.
  • While the oven heats, cut up sweet potatoes and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • When the oven reaches temperature, spread sweet potatoes on baking sheet that was heating in the oven.  Roast 15 minutes.
  • While sweet potatoes roast, cut up fresh green beans and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  
  • Place salmon on second prepared baking sheet and spread with part of the glaze.
  • After 15 minutes, toss sweet potatoes and make room to add green beans to baking sheet.
  • Place mixed vegetables and salmon in the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes.      
With that, dinner is served.  Healthy, homemade weeknight meals just don't get much easier.

Sweet, spicy, and super simple--what's not to love about this crowd-pleasing roast salmon with sweet chipotle glaze? 

Roast Salmon with Sweet Chipotle Glaze
inspired by Bon Appetit, April 2011

3 chipotle peppers in adobo, finely minced
3 TBSP orange marmalade
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt, plus more for fish
black pepper, to taste
4 (5-6 oz.) skin-on salmon fillets (about 1 in. thick)


1.  Preheat oven to 425° F.  

2.  To make the glaze, put all ingredients except the salmon in a small bowl.  Whisk to combine.

3.  Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper.  Spoon three fourths of the glaze over the fillets.  Roast the salmon until opaque in the center, 10-12 minutes.  Remove salmon from oven, place on plates, and drizzle with remaining glaze.

Yield: 4 servings    

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lemon Chess Pie

Ten years.  I've been doing this for ten years.

I can't believe it, to be honest.  I know it's trite, but I feel like the time has both blazed past and stood nearly still.   

Part of me still can't quite fathom the fact that I've been doing anything other than just existing for ten years.  Wasn't it just the other day that I got up before the sun to head out to the farm with my Pappo?  Am I not still spending weeknights climbing up on the countertop or standing on a step stool to cook with my mom?  Did I really blink for so long that trips with my Mammo to Tom's Drug Store for chocolate ice cream and a couple of stolen creamers from her coffee have ended forever?  Have I really left home, graduated, and found my own career and my own way? 

Life, as they say, never turns out according to the plans you've made for yourself.   Ten years ago, I never would've told you I'd be knockin' on the door of forty, single and without children.  But you know what?  I also never would've told you I'd have moved back to the part of the country where I feel I belong, bought myself the cutest little house, earned a Master's degree, gone after and gotten a job I'd described as my dream, but didn't know existed anywhere, and paid off my grad school loan in two years.  I wouldn't have been able to tell you about all the incredible people who would stick by me and help me see past the darkness when I couldn't see for myself.  

Ten years ago, I didn't know not everyone defines love the same way.  I didn't understand there are people out there who will do anything to keep others down so they don't have to confront their own shortcomings.  But I also didn't realize just how beautiful and empowering it is to look at a room full of people who love you, support you, and celebrate you, even when they know your deepest secrets, fears, and flaws.  I didn't know how much more important it is to be one of those people.

So here's to maturity, to growth, to truth, to peace, and to power.  Let's celebrate with a slice of silky smooth lemon chess pie.  It's tart and it's sweet and it's reminiscent of the second recipe I ever blogged--a lemon bundt cake made with lemons from one of my mom's ever-bountiful lemon trees.  I couldn't make this pie with her lemons--we live too many states apart for that now.  But without her, my first and most important kitchen teacher, I wouldn't have found my love of cooking, my confidence, or my love of self at all.  

Ten years later is a good place to be, y'all.  Thank you for being a part of it.  

Silky, rich lemon custard combines with mouthwatering, flaky all-butter pie crust in this lemon chess pie.  Share a slice with those you love to celebrate simply being together.   

Lemon Chess Pie
from Food52; pie crust adapted

1/2 recipe perfect pie crust (make the full recipe and freeze the other half for pie emergencies)
zest of 1 lemon
1 2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 TBSP stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
5 large eggs
2/3 c. heavy cream
7 TBSP fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
3 TBSP fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


To blind bake the crust:
1.  Preheat the oven to 425° F with a rack in the lower-middle position.  

2.  Roll out the pie dough and fit into an extra-deep pie plate.  Trim, leaving the slightest overhang, if possible.  Crimp, if desired.  Cover the dough in the pie plate with parchment paper, fitting it snugly to the sides, and fill with dried beans or pie weights.  If cutting decorative elements for the outer edge, do so from the dough remnants and set aside. 

3.  Bake until the edges are light golden brown, 12-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and lift the pie weights out by grasping the corners of the parchment paper.  Be mindful of where you set the pie weights, they will be hot!  Return the pie crust to the oven, uncovered, and bake 5 minutes more until the bottom no longer looks wet.    

To make the pie:
4.  Lower the oven heat to 325° F and move the rack to the middle position.  Place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

5.  In a large bowl, stir together the lemon zest, sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt.  If using a stand mixer for this recipe, do this step in the bowl of your mixer.

6.  Stir in the melted butter.  Add in eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Mix briskly Until the filling is thick and light in color.  Stir in the heavy cream, followed by the lemon juice, orange juice, and vanilla extract.

7.  Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell, if possible.  Add decorative pie crust elements to the edge, if desired.  Bake 45-50 minutes, rotating when the edges begin to set, about 35 minutes through baking.  The pie is finished when it is lightly golden on top and the edges are set and puffed slightly at the center.  The center will be liquidy, but will still wobble slightly.  If more time is needed, add on it short intervals as overbaking can case the pie to separate.

8.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  The pie will keep at room temperature for one day or in the refrigerator for two days.   

Yield: 8-12 servings

Monday, January 15, 2018

Meatless Monday--Senegalese Soup

Resolutions--do you make them?  I don't really.  Instead, I set an intention for the year; something I want to focus on throughout the year to make a lasting change.  It's usually something I've already been thinking about and I choose a word, quote, or Bible verse to think about, meditate on, pray about each day of the year.

For many of you, health becomes a fresh priority at the beginning of the year.  I love that.  Over the past couple of years, I've greatly refocused the way I think about my health, my diet, and my exercise regimen.  I've found something that feels much more natural and sustainable for me.  I don't follow a diet with any specific name.  Instead, I try to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as I can, in decent portions, of course; it's actually kind of fun to see if I can "eat the rainbow" everyday!  Coupled with being mindful of my meat and sugar intake and doing all the yoga my heart and body desires, I'm feeling pretty good!

This recipe is completely indicative of the way I like to eat most of the time.  It's packed with vegetables and bold flavors and it's warm and comforting on winter's coldest days.  Plus, the leftovers are stellar, so nutritious lunches are a breeze for the week. 

So here's to a stellar 2018, readers.  May you spend it feeling just like this soup--healthy and bold.  

Start the new year off with this healthy, vegan Senegalese soup packed with nutrients and bold, bright flavors.   

Senegalese Soup
adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

2 TBSP olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
up to 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
6 c. vegetable stock
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz.) can lite coconut milk
1 (15-oz.) can fire-roasted crushed or diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. Madras (yellow) curry powder
3 TBSP peanut butter
cooked brown or white rice
chopped cilantro
chopped unsalted peanuts
1 lime, cut into wedges

1.  Over medium heat, warm oil in a Dutch oven.  Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapenos.  Season with salt and pepper and sauté until tender, 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds more.

2.  Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, broth, chickpeas, coconut milk, tomatoes, curry powder, salt, and pepper.  Increase heat to high and bring the soup to a boil.

3.  When soup is boiling, use a measuring cup to scoop out 1/2 c. liquid.  In a small bowl, stir together with the peanut butter until smooth.  Stir peanut butter mixture into the soup.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until carrots and sweet potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Taste soup and adjust seasoning, as needed. 

4.  To serve, scoop rice into the bottom of each bowl.  Top with soup, garnish with cilantro and peanuts, and serve with lime wedges. 

Yield: 6 servings