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Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup


The first time I had this lovely winter soup was many years ago, and I haven't had it since.  That is until we were looking for something to do with our autumn decor a few weeks ago -  after freezing 48 cups of pureed pumpkin, we needed to find some pumpkin recipes! 

The sweetness of the pumpkin and coconut milk balances nicely with the curry spices and red pepper flakes.

Those of you averse to coconut milk (which I find hard to imagine, but there are some!) can leave it out completely for a thicker soup, or use a milk or cream substitute instead.  The original calls for a dollop of sour cream, but it's not necessary if you're trying to stay away from dairy.

Don't forget the pumpkin seeds!

Tools needed: 
large saucepan or pot
40 minutes
Pumpkin Soup
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 stick butter or 1/4 cup butter substitute
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz can pumpkin (or 2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup coconut milk or even better, (coconut cream!)
Sour cream
Chipped fresh chives or cilantro
Toasted pumkin seeds
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in the butter in a large saucepan or pot until the onion is tender.
  2. Stir in the curry powder, salt, coriander and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the broth and mix well. Bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in the pumpkin and coconut milk.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Process the soup in batches in a blender until creamy.  Ladle the warm soup into bowls.
  7. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream (if desired - skip if dairy free) and sprinkle with chives, cilantro and/or toasted pumpkin seeds.

Mushroom & Green Onion Frittata


This simple recipe is tasty and hearty, an appropriate meal as we head into the cooler months of fall and winter.  Boyfriend and I made it for dinner this evening in under an hour and plan to have the leftover portion for breakfast in the morning with one of our fabulous fruit and green smoothies!  This recipe can easily be made dairy-free with milk and cheese alternatives - we used almond milk and soy cheese.

Tools needed: 
10" oven-safe skillet or baking dish
45 minutes
First Fab Frittata!
4 cups cubed baby red potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
6 eggs
1 cup milk (we used almond milk for non-dairy, soy would work, too)
1/2 cup cheese (we used soy cheese for non-dairy)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried, crushed oregano leaves
1 tsp dried, crushed sage leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes, until tender but firm.  Drain.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat, add mushrooms, cook about 5 minutes or until mushrooms start to brown.
  4. Add a bit more oil and garlic, cook until garlic becomes fragrant, stirring into the mushrooms.  Remove from heat - set aside in a bowl.
  5. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish or oven-safe skillet.  Evenly layer the other ingredients: mushroom and garlic mixture, then cheese, then green onions.  Add a little salt and pepper in each layer (or as desired).
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the milk and eggs until fluffy.  Mix oregano and sage into mixture at the end.
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet over the other ingredients.
  8. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until eggs are no longer runny and top is lightly browned.



This amazing vegetarian enchilada recipe is courtesy of my friend, Charlene, who was kind enough to share her grandmother's meatless version of a classic Mexican dish.  What a great way to do enchiladas without having to use a soy meat substitute or overloading them with gobs of cheese filling.  I've, of course adapted them a bit to reflect my taste, so adapt away, and enjoy your version!

Tools needed: 
9 X 13 baking pan, large pot,
1.25 hours
One large can of favorite enchilada sauce (I like Trader Joe's, which comes in a bottle)
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (rice or soy cheese works for dairy-free)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 dozen 6" corn tortillas
1 can pitted black olives, chopped (leave eight slices to decorate the top)
olive oil, enough to fry tortillas
1 medium (mild) pasilla pepper, deseeded and chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Open can of enchilada sauce (I like Trader Joe's) and empty into large post to simmer while you are putting the enchiladas together.  Sauce will thicken a bit.
  3. Put chopped eggs, onions, olives and 1 1/2 cups of cheese into a large bowl and mix all ingredients together, set aside.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil until hot.  Fry corn tortillas, one at a time until slightly crisp, remove and set on paper towels to absorb excess oil. 
  5. Carefully take fried corn tortillas and one at a time dip into hot enchilada sauce. (I found myself in need of assistance here!)
  6. Place dipped enchilada into dish and stuff with prepared filling, rolling the tortilla around the filling.  Continue until all tortillas are dipped and stuffed. 
  7. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over all enchiladas, sprinkle with remaining cheese, dot with remaining sliced olives and and bake for 45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
  8. Allow enchiladas to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with Girlbert's Guacamole and Black Bean and Corn Southwestern Salad
makes 12 enchiladas

Peanut Noodles with Shrimp


I'm still on a "fast and easy" kick (a la my salad post last week), but variety is the spice of life, huh?  And so Boyfriend and I have been on a mission to create a quick, but flavorful - ethnic, even! - dish to satisfy all of those requirements.  Behold our collaboration - a Thai-inspired peanut-y, noodle-y, spicy bowl of yumminess topped with some fresh greenery and crunchy shrimp, too!  And our "veggie" friends just need to bypass the shrimp and throw some tofu in the sauce while it cooks - easy!

TIP:  The peanut sauce can also be used over salad or as a dip.  Bonus!

Tools needed: 
Large saucepan and pot
20 minutes
Peanut Noodles
8 oz. spaghetti or rice noodles (we used rice noodles for gluten-free)
1 - 4 oz. can cooked shrimp (we used Trader Joe's Wild Pink Shrimp)
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp hot chili pepper
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs rice vinegar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
1-2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro or basil (or both!)
1-2 chopped green onions, white and green parts
Lime juice (optional)
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
  2. In a blender combine sesame oil, onion, garlic, and hot chili pepper; blend for 1 minute.
  3. Empty the mixture into a large saucepan and place over low heat until the mixture starts releasing aroma.  Add peanut butter and mix well over low heat.
  4. Add water and let it simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Stir in vinegar and sugar; continue to simmer for another 1-2 minutes.  Tast and add more vinegar and sugar if the mixture does not have enough sour or sweet taste.
  6. Pour sauce over noodles, and mix to coat.
  7. Add basil, cilantro, green onions and shrimp; toss and place in serving bowl.
  8. Optional: Squeeze fresh lime over the top just before serving.

Note to vegetarians/vegans: replace shrimp with cubed tofu - just cook the tofu in the sauce while heating.TIP: The peanut sauce can also be used alone as a salad dressing or a veggie dip.


Black Bean and Corn Southwestern Salad


I like a little bit of everything in my salad, and now that corn is officially in season, I needed a salad recipe to make use of its sweet summer deliciousness.  So I just started adding stuff that fit a southwestern theme and added the black beans and quinoa for substance.  The avocado or guacamole add to the richness as well.  Behold, a hearty summer salad with enough substance to call a meal!

30 minutes
Black Bean and Corn Southwestern Salad
8-10 cups of your favorite lettuce or salad greens, crunchy romaine seems to hold up to all the other ingredients well
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (skip if you hate cilantro, add more if you love it!)
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh corn, cut off the cob (yes, raw!; and use a serrated knife)
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cup quinoa or rice, cooked
1/4 cup chopped red or green onion
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
avocado or guacamole
  1. Place lettuce, bell pepper pieces, and cilantro in a large salad bowl.  Drizzle with oil and vinegar; toss until thorougly coated.
  2. Mix beans, rice/quinoa, and onion in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat, covered, for a minute or two in microwave, just until warm.
  3. Toss all in ingredients, but avocado, in large salad bowl until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.  Top with diced avocado, guacamole or your favorite salsa/dressing.

Girbert's guacamole recipe.Girlbert's Raw Tomatillo Salsa recipe.


Apple and Mixed Greens Salad


This is currently my favorite summer salad - the combination of flavors and textures is a trip for the taste buds because of the shredded apple!  I created my own version of this salad after seeing apple shredded into a salad at a local restaurant - what a perfect way to incorporate the tart, juicy apple into the greens without have to do all that dicing!

Tools needed: 
cheese grater with large size holes
20 minutes
Apple and Mixed Greens Salad
1 crisp apple, washed and shredded with cheese grater (I like Gala or Granny Smith)
1/4 cup candied walnuts, chopped
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1 red (any color really!) bell pepper, sliced or julienned
1/2 to 1 cup tomatoes cut into bite size pieces, depending on preference
8-10 cups of your favorite greens (or more!)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or goat or feta are yummy, too)
2-3 tbs good olive oil
1-2 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Make it your own! I've added fresh blueberries, cucumbers, avocado, and quinoa - add whatever you like!
  1. Mix greens, bell pepper and tomatoes in a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil, vinegar and toss until coated.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss again.
  4. Add in shredded apple, cranberries and cheese, tossing as you go.  Mixing the ingredients thoroughly is key, more flavors in each bite!
  5. Sprinkle with candied walnuts just before serving to keep their crunch! 

*I recently learned, sadly, that Parmesan cheese is not technically vegetarian.  Sorry if this is news to you, but I try to stay honest with my recipe tags, and this recipe is only vegetarian if you use another (vegetarian) type of cheese.


Mediterranean Quinoa Salad


This is my own version of a Trader Joe's "sample" recipe.  The original called for couscous, but I like the protein packed-punch of the quinoa instead.  I've been cooking with quinoa a TON these days, great for making ahead of time and keeping in the fridge to throw in with whatever.

Quinoa-Feta Deliciousness!
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can garbanzo beans
2 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup kalmata olives, diced
1/4 - 1/2 cup sesame/tahini/Goddess dressing (pick your favorite brand)
  1. Cook the quinoa in the vegetable broth, according to package directions.
  2. Fluff with a fork, then add beans, onions, cheese and olives.  
  3. Dress and toss lightly.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes & Olives


A friend introduced me to spaghetti squash just recently and I've been dying to cook it ever since.  I couldn't wait to use it as a pasta substitute in a the right recipe, and here it is!

When cooked the flesh of the spaghetti squash comes out looking just like its namesake, so it makes an excellent grain-free stand-in in any pasta dish!  Have fun!

Tools needed: 
baking sheet
45 minutes
Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (or parmesan or cheese substitute for vegan)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance.  Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.
  3. Meanwhile heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion until tender.  Add garlic, and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook only until the tomatoes are warm.
  4. Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl.  Toss with the sauteed vegetables, olives and basil.
  5. Scoop servings into serving bowls.  Top with cheese.  Serve warm.

Sesame Seared Tuna


When Boyfriend was in Mexico last month, he got to go fishing with some friends for a day just outside of Puerto Vallarta.   Apparently the pros running the boat were really good, and they caught A LOT of fish!  Boyfriend actually caught the biggest fist: a 130-pound yellowfin tuna!  He brought a lot of tuna home, and it's a good thing we LOVE us some tuna! 

The first time he made this, I nearly died and went to heaven, it was so delish!  The key to really good seared tuna is having fresh, sushi grade steaks and it should just melt in your mouth when seared.  We like this particular seasoning, but you could add teryaki to sweeten the flavor a bit, too.  Experiment!  Enjoy!

Tools needed: 
non-stick frying pan
Sesame-Seared Tuna
1 pound of fresh, sushi grade, tuna steaks (about 4 steaks)
2-4 tbs sesame oil
For the seasoning:
4 tbs wasabi powder
2 tbs sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 fresh lemon
  1. Wash and dry tuna steaks.
  2. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly.  Spread dry ingredients evenly on a plate.  Roll or lay tuna steaks on plate with wasabi/sesame seed mixture until all sides of the fish are coated.
  3. Heat non-stick pan until hot.  Put enough sesame oil in pan to coat it evenly.  Heat until just starting to smoke.  Place tuna steaks in pan.  Cook for 3 minutes on each side.  Add more oil if necessary.  Remove from heat immediately, you want most of the center of the tuna still pink.
  4. Squeeze fresh lemon over fish (if desired), and serve over salad or rice.

Vegetarian Borscht


After discovering that it was Easter weekend, Boyfriend made the comment, "I miss Borscht."  So I'll be making this for him tomorrow.  I can't wait to try this vegetarian take on a traditional Polish recipe it with him!

Tools needed: 
large pot
30 minutes
Vegetarian Borscht
1 pound beets (beetroot), peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 medium onions, sliced into half-moons
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3/4 pound white cabbage, cut thinly into shred
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper
Sour cream (use vegan sour cream or omit for vegan soup)
Finely chopped parsley or chives (optional, for garnish)

1. Peel and cut the onions, carrots, and beets (alternatively, shred the carrots and beets using the shredding blade of a food processor) and sauté over medium heat in the olive oil with a pinch of salt in a large soup pot. Reserve a small amount of beet to grate and add near the end to enliven the color. 2. In the meantime, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. When the vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes), add the shredded cabbage and the hot stock. Bring to a boil and simmer 15-25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. With a few minutes left, add the reserved grated beet. 3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the lemon juice, aiming for a pleasing but subtle sour taste. Serve with freshly grated black pepper, a dollop of sour cream, and chopped parsley, if desired.About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. He is currently living for the year in Tartu, Estonia.

Blake Royer, Paupered Chef,
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