Gazpacho and Spring Cleaning

That title is probably totally weird to you, but yesterday I did probably like my 10th spring cleaning of the year so far, and it always feels so great. Once I’m done, anyway. I tackled about 6 loads of laundry, deep cleaned both bathrooms, organized our closet and coat closet among other tasks {we are still going to clean the kids bedrooms out this weekend – they come home in 11 days!}.

All the spring cleaning, plus the 80+ degree weather {finally!} and our extremely well-behaved puppy at the park all made me think of those simple things that remind me of summer; lazing around on a hot summer day at the pool or a park, all the windows wide open letting in fresh air…

But one thing that’s not really my all-time favorite summer activity is cooking. If you recall, last summer I made a handful of different soups, which sounds crazy in hot weather. My logic is that you just throw everything in one pot, cover it and let it sit. No slaving over a hot stove or multiple burners heating up your house.

Something that {I honestly have no idea why or where I got it from} I have been wanting to make for the past week or two is Gazpacho. I did some reading up on this cold soup, and it’s just my kind of dish. I like foods that don’t always have an exact recipe, rather a backbone that you build off of to fit your palette/fridge/budget.

It was so refreshing and surprisingly FILLING. I couldn’t eat my entire bowl {I think maybe because the water content is so high} but I wish I could have. This recipe makes a huge pot and could probably serve 6 comfortably as a side dish. Possibly the best part is that there’s no heat required.

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| Gazpacho

Serves approx. 6

5 Roma tomatoes

1 red/purple onion

1 large cucumber

1 red bell pepper

4 celery stalks

3 cloves garlic

1/2 jalapeno

a handful of cilantro

3 TBS tomato juice

3 TBS olive oil

3 TBS white wine vinegar

1/2 TSP salt

avocado to garnish {optional}

1/2 TBS agave

Finely dice the first eight ingredients. Put half of all the vegetables in a blender plus the last 4 ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour out the blended mix into a large bowl and set aside. Add the other half of the vegetables to the blender/food processor and pulse until they become minced, but not pureed. Add in the minced vegetables into the blended vegetables and stir well.

It is best if this soup sits in the fridge for 8+ hours.

Garnish with slices of avocado and a couple sprigs of cilantro, if desired.

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Enjoy on a hot day!

Pasta Puttanesca

I’ve heard some very interesting stories about this Italian dish. The name literally translates to, “Whore Style Spaghetti”. One story is that the ingredients were so cheap, it was a staple for Italian night walkers. Another is that prostitutes would make this pungently aromatic, spicy dish and place it on their window sill to draw in men. Whatever story is true, the dish is truly alluring.

I’ve wanted to try my hand at Pasta Puttanesca since I first saw A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s extremely inexpensive, and utterly fool proof. There is a basic recipe here, but the point is that you put in what you have or what you feel like. My ingredients vary a tad from the basic recipe, but it’s mighty fine.

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| Pasta Puttanesca

Serves 2

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 TBS minced garlic

1 TSP red pepper flakes

1 – 16 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice

2-3 TBS chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 TBS capers

1/4 C kalamata olives, roughly chopped

a dash of salt

2 servings spaghetti, cooked

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Saute garlic, crushed red chili flakes and capers in olive oil on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in the can of tomatoes and add the rest of the ingredients plus a couple tablespoons of water. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sauce reduces a little, add in cooked spaghetti and stir well to incorporate.

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Serve and enjoy!

Warm Cabbage & Fennel Salad

Normally, when I think of salad, I definitely don’t think of warmth on my plate. I think of cool, crisp leaves with sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado and crunchy onions with some sort of a tangy dressing.

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But, when April is almost over and it’s still snowing, thinking of a summer salad sort of depresses you. Monday and Tuesday it snowed about 5 inches, but today I am not complaining. Almost all of the snow melted late afternoon yesterday, and with this 50 degree weather today and my 10 day forecast, I believe we’re in the clear {knock on wood, cross my fingers, say a little prayer}.

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So when I’m craving a salad, but the weather isn’t cooperating {don’t get me wrong – it’s possible to have a cold salad when the weather’s cold – just doesn’t feel right to me}, a warm salad is the way to go.

I have been eating a lot of cabbage over the last week. For one, it’s cheap as dirt, and two, read this.

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|Warm Cabbage & Fennel Salad

serves 4

1 head white cabbage

2 fennel bulbs

1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

1/2 TSP minced lemongrass

a TSP olive oil

a pinch of S&P

Cut the fronds off the fennel, then quarter and cut 1/4 inch slices. Begin to saute the fennel and onions in olive oil on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the fennel and onions are cooking, quarter the cabbage and slice into ribbons. When the fennel and onions begin to caramelize, toss in the cabbage and lemongrass with a few TSP water. Cover, raise heat one or two notches, and stir every few minutes for a total of about 10-15, or until cabbage has wilted and begins to brown {add a TBS of water at a time if the veggies are sticking to the pan}.

Remove from heat, add S&P, tossing to coat.

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Enjoy!

Oven Roasted Daikon and Baby Carrots

So I have been hearing rave reviews about daikon radishes, but I’m going to be honest with you; this veggie loving girl isn’t as aroused by radishes as one would think. Not raw, anyways.

I find their bite to be overwhelming, so with such an attention-stealing vegetable, I think it’s best to go the simple route.

Daikon Radish

I do have to tell you, I was a little nervous as to how this would turn out, but as the carrots were caramelizing and the radish was browning in the oven, the overwhelming smells of everything melding together truly captured me. The garlic salt is absolutely necessary, and is the period at the end of the sentence for this meal.

I am pleased to say I was very satisfied. Served over some brown rice or quinoa with a pinch of soy sauce, you will find yourself asking for more.

| Oven Roasted Daikon and Baby Carrots

Serves 1

1 large daikon radish

3/4 C baby carrots

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1/4 TSP garlic salt

a pinch of sea salt

1 TBS soy sauce

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Peel the daikon and chop off the ends. Slice into 1/2-1/4 inch rounds. Drizzle the olive oil on a 1 inch deep baking sheet, and toss in the radish slices and baby carrots. Sprinkle in the garlic salt, sea salt and pour the soy sauce over the top. Toss everything to coat, arranging everything in a fairly even layer.

Place the dish in the oven for 30-40 minutes, tossing the veggies about every 10.

When everything is soft and the edges begin to get fairly crispy, the veggies are done. Serve immediately.

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Enjoy!

Smoky Sweet Potato Hash with Kale and Black Beans

So, I literally just realized that I am writing another post about sweet potatoes. Seriously? Good thing they are quite versatile.

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And also, kale? Kale is the trend when it comes to health food these days, and I can totally see why. Kale has more iron than beef {that’s awesome news for those with deficiencies}, more calcium than a glass of milk, and significantly more vitamin C than spinach, among many other things.

Purple Kale

Kale, for me, is better cooked. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat it raw, but I prefer it cooked, and this combination is not only a huge handful of many super foods, but also freakin’ delicious. Plus, it’s a one-pot meal, perfect for those lazier days.

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| Smoky Sweet Potato Hash with Kale and Black Beans

serves 2-3

1 TBS olive oil

1 large sweet potato, chopped into very small pieces

1/4 red onion, chopped

7 oz black beans {half a can} drained and rinsed

3 large Kale leaves, cut into thin ribbons

a dash of salt

a dash of cayene

1/2 TSP smoky paprika

In a large skillet on medium-high heat, cook in an even layer the sweet potatoes, covering. Stir every couple of minutes for about 15 minutes total.

Add in the chopped onion and continue cooking for a couple more minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the beans with the spices, again in an even layer after being well incorporated, and cover for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

When everything is nice and somewhat crispy, add in the ribbons of kale, and cook until just wilted.

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Enjoy!

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

So, this recipe is a little redundant considering it has many of the same main components of the last post, but hey, you work with what ya got.

Over the past several months I have been mildly… wait, no… over-the-top-obsessed with sweet potatoes. I probably eat one about 5 times a week. I have been eating them plain with the teeniest amount of sea salt, and can’t get enough.

After I saw this sweet lady’s post about her obsession with the root and how she’s been eating them, I decided to try some new things. This recipe was just what I felt like adding at the time, but if you make these, you should add whatever you have in your fridge, or whatever sounds good to you. Garbanzos, turnip greens, collard greens, parsley, cilantro, kidney beans… you get the picture.

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| Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 1

1 medium sweet potato

a handful of kale, torn into bits

a handful of baby spinach

a couple TBS black beans

a couple TBS white beans

nonstick spray

a pinch of sea salt

Bake your sweet potato for one hour in a 350 degree oven.

A few minutes before the sweet potato is finished, saute the greens on medium heat with nonstick spray until wilted. When the potato is finished and slightly cooled, cut it open lengthwise. Stuff it with the greens, and top it off with the beans. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and lunch is served!

Stuffed Sweet Potato

Enjoy!