moderately easy

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.

Orange-Pumpkin Spice Bread


Okay, so it's really just cake, but it's the pumpkin holiday time of year, so let's have some dessert!  I made this recipe many years ago, but recently needed something to bring to a luncheon, and this was the perfect complement to our after-lunch tea.  I  switched it up a a bit by changing some of the sugar in for some applesauce and it was just perfectly moist, and not too sweet.

Tools needed: 
1 9-in loaf pan
1.5 hours
Orange Pumpkin Spice Cake
1/2 15oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pureed apple (or store-bought applesauce)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1 3/4 cup flour (original recipe calls for bleached all-purpose, but I used whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs orange zest, plus 1 tsp orange zest
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a small saucepan over medium heat until steamy.
  3. Stirring continuously, cook until pumpkin is stiff and starts to stick to the pan bottom, about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a medium bowl; whisk in 3/4 cup water, then brown sugar, then applesauce, then oil, then eggs, until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients, then fold into the pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  6. Mix in 1 tbs orange zest.
  7. Scrape batter into well-greased pan.  Top with remaining 1 tsp orange zest.
  8. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 45 minutes. (or until toothpick comes clean)
  9. Turn onto a wire rack and cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Recipe doubles easily (what else are you going to do with that half can of pumpkin?) and freezes well.

12 slices

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins (GF)


I usually don't bake, but I found this recipe on an old friend's blog, and the moment I saw it, I've been itching to make it!  My friend's version is gluten-free, but I didn't have all the right ingredients, so I altered the recipe a bit  to make them for myself, but I'm including the gluten-free exchanges in the ingredients.

I loved the idea of combining chocolate and one of the most underated, but prolific vegetables together, in one, delicious muffin!  I made them this morning, and I was not disappointed - not too sweet, but not too 'veggie', either!  If you like chocolate, and like me, know that you can never eat too many veggies, this is the treat for you!  And your kids, too, a la Jessica Seinfeld, huh?

Read about Erika's amazing life and family here.

Tools needed: 
hand mixer, muffin tin(s), muffin cups, whisk, rubber spatula, 2 mixing bowls
1.5 - 2 hours
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
2 cups flour (for gluten free, use GF flour and 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I left out, used a little extra regular sugar)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
3 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
3/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place paper cups in muffin tins, or spray two 8in. loaf pans.
  3. Place flour (and xantham gum, if GF version), salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder in medium bowl.  Use wire whisk to combine.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, place oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Mix with hand mixer until fluffy.  Stir in applesauce and shredded zucchini.  Stir in flour mixture until just combines.  Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Divide batter and bake for 50 minutes for loaves or 25-30 minutes for muffins or until a toothpick comes out clean.

TIP: Don't have any applesauce, but have an apple? Cut up 1 large apple into chunks, remove core/seeds, blend with some water until consistency you like, simmer on the stove for a few minutes...voila!  1/2 cup applesauce!  Or make more and save some for later - I like to put mine on pancakes or waffles in lieu of syrup. (Got that from Boyfriend's sister-in-law - thanks, Isabel!)

Many! Makes 18 muffins

Amaranth-Chocolate Chip Cookies


We made, enjoyed, and gifted these unusual cookies as our Official Christmas Cookie this year.  Protein-packed, popped amaranth not only provides a hearty crunch and tantalizing texture, but a healthy excuse to make cookies, too!  But you're not losing any sweetness in the flavor department with the addition of chocolate chips.  Go ahead, you need your protein!

More about all the nutrition benefits of amaranth.

Tools needed: 
cookie sheet, non-stick frying pan with corresponding lid
1.5 hours
Popped Amaranth Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter or butter substitute
2 eggs
2 tbs vanilla
2 cups plus 2 tbs white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 cups popped amaranth (directions below)
1 generous cup chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  1. Cream together butter and sugars.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.  Add dry mixture to the above ingredients.
  4. Once beaten smooth, add popped amaranth, chocolate chips, and cranberries (if desired).
  5. Beat the mixture well.  Drop cookies 2 inches apart on a well-greased cookie sheet and bake to 7-9 minutes.  (If cookies spread out too much, add 2 tbs of flour.)

Directions for popping amaranth: (General rule is 1/4 cup unpopped produces about 1 cup popped.)  Heat frying pan.  Once hot, test 2-4 amaranth seeds to see if they pop quickly.  If so proceed by adding 1-2 tbs of amaranth to the pan.  It should pop quickly.  Cover and keep the pan moving, checking every 15 seconds or so.  Don't leave unattended, or it will burn.  Like popcorn, not every kernel will pop, but it'll will be just fine in the cookies!Enjoy!

Makes 60 medium-size cookies!

Raw Almond Milk


After making my decision to go 'high raw', I kept coming across nut milks - making nut milk, the many minerals and nutrients provided by drinking nut milk, nut milk as a replacement for dairy, using nut pulp in raw recipes, the elusive nut milk bag...

The information was endless, but it all came down to one thing: Raw, fresh nut milk is good for you and you can make it yourself!

This recipe is for raw almond milk, but it is the same for any type of nut or seed out of which you wish to make a delicious milk.  Just keep in mind that each type of nut or seed will offer a distinct flavor to your milk, so experiment and have fun!  Note that dark-skinned nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts must be soaked overnight or at least eight hours.  Cashews and most seeds only need to soak for 2-4 hours.

Raw nut milk is high in fat, so a little goes a long way.  We like to add to tea and coffee, so the creamy consistency of this recipe is perfect.  You may want to add more water to this recipe if you like a thinner milk.

So get yourself a nut-milk bag and start making your very own!

Tools needed: 
blender, nut milk bag
20 minutes
First Attempt at Nut Milk - Cacao Almond Milk - YUMMY
1 cup soaked rinsed, soaked raw almonds (soaking water has been poured off)
2 cups filtered water
1 tsp raw agave or honey (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Variation: Chocolate almond milk!
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder or soaked raw cacao nibs (unsweetened)
1 more tsp agave or honey (or more, to taste)
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend until rattling stops.  You don't want to grind nut until finely non-existent, but until chunky and pulpy.
  2. Place nut milk bag in a wide mouthed measuring cup large enough to hold all the contents of the blender plus the bag.  Pull the top of the bag up around the mouth of the measuring cup.
  3. Pour the contents of the blender or food processor into the bag in the measuring cup.  Gently pick up the bag over the measuring cup, pull drawstring tight, and squeeze the bag over the measuring cup until all the liquid is strained out.  
  4. Save the nut pulp in a glass storage container in the refrigerator for up to a week for use in other recipes.

Keep in the refrigerator in a tightly lidded, glass jar for up to five days.  Shake before pouring.To soak raw nuts: Place nuts in a glass container and cover with filtered water.  Cover and refrigerate.  Dark skinned nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts) must be soaked at least 8 hours, or overnight.  Other nuts and seeds (cashews, sunflower seeds) can be soaked 2-4 hours.  Drain soaking water off to measure, soaking nuts nearly doubles them in size.Watch this great video to get you familiar with the process.

2 (makes approximately 2 cups)

Cornmeal Flapjacks


These breakfast treats are sweet enough to eat without syrup.  They can also be frozen and reheated by popping in the toaster.  I like to top them with homemade applesauce: Just cut up an apple or two, removing the seeds, stem and core.  Put in the blender with a little bit of water, and blend until it's the consistency you like.  Pour the raw applesauce into a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Yummy!

Tools needed: 
non-stick skillet
40 minutes
Cornmeal Flapjacks with Applesauce
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons agave
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk (soy or almond milk works, too)
1/8 teaspon salt
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt (soy yogurt works, too)
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter or soy margarine, melted
1/2 cup applesauce, optional
  1. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in agave and milk when all dry ingredients are mixed.
  2. Mix yogurt and eggs together with a fork in another bowl.   Stir into flour mixture with melted soy margarine just until incorporated.
  3. If using blueberries, stir gently into batter.
  4. Heat a lightly greased large nonstick skillet over moderately low heat until hot.
  5. Pour 1/4 cup measures of batter into skillet in batches, forming approximately 3 inch cakes, and cook about 3 minutes, or until undersides are golden.  Turn and cook 1 minute more, or until golden.
  6. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 250-degree oven while cooking remaining cakes.
  7. Optional: Top with applesauce just before serving.



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,

Mock Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps


I had been missing tuna salad, but not anymore!  Ever since I learned there was raw, vegan, mercury and cruelty-free version of one of my favorite foods ever, I've been experimenting and tweaking to get it just the way I like it, and there's no turning back!

Tools needed: 
food processor or blender
30 minutes
Mock Tuna Wraps
The salad base:
1 cup sunflower seeds (soaked in filtered water for 2-4 hours)
4 stalks celery, diced
2 scallions, diced, white and green parts
2 tbs dill (fresh or dried)
For the dressing:
juice of half a lemon
1-2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup almond pulp
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbs stone ground mustard
1/3 red bell pepper
For the wrap:
Romaine lettuce leaves
tomato slices
  1.  Drain the water and pat the sunflower seeds dry.  Pulse them in a food processor until mostly ground, leave some chunks for texture.  Mix in a bowl with the remaining salad base ingredients.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in the food processor or blender.  Whizz until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add dressing to the sunflower seed base.
  4. Spoon into lettuce leaves and top with tomato slices.

Save any extra salad in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 


Brown-Buttered Zucchini Ribbons over Gnocchi


Gnocchi with all those farmers market tomatoes and zucchini make the perfect summer meal.

Tools needed: 
mandolin or vegetable peeler, large skillet
20 minutes
Brown-Buttered Zucchini Ribbons over Gnocchi
1 pound gnocchi, cooked according to package instructions
2 tbs butter
2 medium shallots, chopped
1 pound zucchini (about three small) sliced very thinly lengthwise
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook until the butter is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.
  2. Ad shallots and zucchini to cook, stirring often, until softened, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add tomato halves, salt, nutmeg and pepper and continue cooking, stirring often, until the tomatoes are just starting to break down, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Stir in parmesan cheese and parsley.
  5. Add gnocchi and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
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