Ginger Cookies

Since Thanksgiving there’s been an onslaught of sweets in my life and just general overall food decadence.  I’ve been bombarded with sweet treats at work, tempted by holiday goodies at the grocery store and I find myself craving heartier, heavier meals.  It’s winter and I want all the yummy foods that come with the season.  Ginger is one of my favorite year-round flavors, especially in my morning smoothie, but ginger cookies are another story.  I love them!  These cookies are gluten and dairy free so you can indulge without the guilt!

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Simple summer sides for the win

The summer months are slow and easy, especially in my new home in the South.  The days are long and hot, which zaps my energy and leaves me with little motivation to spend a ton of time in a hot kitchen, unless I have wine, of course!  Lately, I’ve been picking up whatever vegetables and fruits are freshest and making meals with just that.  I figure many of you may be doing the same or want ideas about how to make a meal quickly and easily.  This was my dinner tonight: Brussels sprouts with lemon and parsley, a summer veggie salad with basil, smoked salmon and half an avocado.  So simple and I prepared it all in under thirty minutes.

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I washed and thinly sliced the Brussels, roasted them in a 350 degree oven with olive oil, sea salt and pepper for about 15 minutes.  Then, I dressed them with a mixture of lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and a generous amount of fresh chopped parsley.  There’s never enough parsley!

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While the Brussels roasted, I sliced fresh cherry tomatoes, a medium raw zucchini, one yellow bell pepper, chickpeas and torn basil.  I drizzled olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper on top and let it marinate, then added raw pumpkin seeds for a little crunch.  It’s divine and took ten minutes, plus it is gorgeous!

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With my two all-star veggie sides, I felt I had a meal, but I added smoked salmon and avocado to jazz it up a bit then sat outside and enjoyed it while the sun went down.  Talk about summer perfection.  Bon appétit!

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Burmese chicken & rice with green bean salad

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Even without traveling, food can teach us about different parts of the world. That’s something I love most about reading about food, and of course, eating food. My parents went to Burma last year (see photo above) and loved the scenery, the history, and the food. I didn’t get to go to Burma, but I got this cookbook, and love reading through the recipes, history and seeing the pictures of the people there and their food.

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My mom always raves about the long-bean salad with roasted peanuts recipe. What makes this dish is the fried shallots, and shallot oil that remains from the frying. I made a big batch and have since topped practically every salad with fried shallots. Salads will never be the same!

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The book, and Burmese cooking in general, calls for peanut oil quite often. I read in the book that the middle part of Burma, Mandalay and Bagan, provide ideal climates for growing peanuts. If you’re allergic to peanuts, you can substitute sesame oil. I will say, the shallots fry beautifully in the peanut oil!

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Banana Walnut Muffins

 

You know from past posts that I love muffins.  Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day, especially when muffins are involved.  This picture pretty much sums up my ideal breakfast: an egg, fried in coconut oil, topped with avocado and a muffin on the side.  Morning perfection, if I do say so myself!  How can you not win the day after a meal like this?  Oh, and coffee.

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Green Pea and Ham Soup

I am home in California, visiting my parents for the holidays.  Today in the San Francisco Bay Area it is bitterly cold.  Unusual for this area, it was a mere 38 degrees when I woke up today.  But, it’s beautiful, and the most perfect day for soup.

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My mom and I went to the farmers’ market this morning and nearly froze our hands off selecting local carrots for this split pea soup.

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Split pea is extremely satisfying – a comfort soup without a lot of guilt.  It’s dairy free, gluten free, and except for the flavorful ham hock the soup cooks in, it could be vegetarian, too.  But, the ham is necessary for a full-bodied, flavorful soup.  Chop your medley of vegetables: carrots, a yellow onion, celery and garlic.  Cook it all together in a nice olive oil and fresh rosemary.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

 

Nothing says Fall like a giant pot of warm, comforting soup.  In Arizona, it has just begun to dip into the mid-80s, providing the closest feeling yet to one of autumn.  This chicken tortilla soup makes my favorite season seem a bit closer, even with the warm sunshine beating down on us outside. 

 

This soup is full of deep flavors like red onion, lots of garlic and jalepeño peppers.  You can use olive oil, or butter as a base.  I used olive oil to keep it dairy free.  

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Kale Noodle Salad with Avocado Miso Dressing

Ahhh, KALE.  Healthy, green, kale that is one of the 2012 “food trends” that stuck.  To me, it’s a staple.  I love kale in smoothies, juices, salads, with quinoa and as chips!  But, when I read this recipe for a Kale Noodle Bowl, I had a good feeling.

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Kale is rough and tough, so removing the stems and cutting the kale into ribbons makes it easy to eat.  Especially when warmed by the buckwheat soba noodles we’re using.

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The noodles cook quickly, and you can prep the kale and the dressing in just about the time it takes the water to boil and the noodles to cook.  It’s fast!

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White Bean Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula

 

It is the end of summer and it is starting to (finally!) feel Fall-ish.  In Arizona, you don’t see colors change, but the air feels different and the sun is setting earlier.  I like it.  But, I will miss summer tomatoes.  This bean dish feels like a Welcome to Fall dish.

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It uses heavy, flavorful vegetables like fennel, carrots and onions — but we get a subtle sweetness from tomatoes, and a heartiness from the beans.

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I used great northern beans, which taste and look similar to cannelini beans, but these are a bit smaller.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten & dairy free)

 

It is just a fact.  Chocolate chip cookies, preferably warm, are one of the best things that exist.  I’ve long been a cookie connoisseur, working to perfect even the “best” chocolate chip cookie recipes.  My fascination started before I could do long division, but now as an adult and in a world surrounded by a plethora of flours and butter alternatives, I decided to try something that really is different from the typical two-sticks-of-butter chocolate chip cookie.

 

These cookies are many things, but vegan is not one of them.  A room temperature egg binds our cookie together and the coconut palm sugar creates the traditional brown sugar flavor.  

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The great thing (one of them, at least!) about this recipe: ONE BOWL!  It takes just one bowl to blend first the wet, then add in all the dry ingredients before blending again.  That’s a combination of almond meal and coconut flour.  I also used Celtic Sea Salt, which gives the cookies a salty-sweet flavor.  Unbelievable! 

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Homemade Almond Milk

I drink a lot of almond milk, and I absolutely love it!  I put it in smoothies and pour it over my homemade granola.  Recently though, I’ve been reading a lot about different additives that are used in store bought almond milk and decided to try and make my own.  Now, I am never going back!

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It is so easy and you can adjust the taste to your liking: sweeter with added agave or cinnamon, or subtle with just a touch of vanilla.  The first step is to soak a cup of almonds in a cup of filtered water.  You can do this for 5 minutes, or up to overnight.

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