Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Asian-Style Pasta Primavera

With so many great vegetables in our garden and at the farmer’s market right now, I decided to mix up the traditional Italian-style pasta primavera recipe and give it a bit of an Asian kick.If you would like to make it gluten-free, try this with glass noodles or rice noodles – it will be just as delicious.
Asian-Style Pasta Primavera 1 (8 oz.) package angel hair pasta 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth 4 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce 1 Tablespoon brown sugar 2 Tablespoons sesame oil 8 ounces shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced 1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced 1 small onion, halved, and thinly sliced 3 cups shredded cabbage 2 cups coarsely chopped baby bok choy 3/4 cup edamame, thawed (if frozen) and shelled 3 Tablespoons minced garlic 5 green onions, thinly sliced Salt and pepper, to taste 1. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. When prepared, cook pasta, drain and set aside. Note: I cooked mine using a wire mesh strainer, just placing the pasta in it, submerging it under water, and allowing to sit in the water for about 4 minutes, or until the pasta was cooked. This prevents the pasta from becoming overcooked and doesn’t leave a mess as angel hair pasta can be a bit tricky (and sticky) to cook because it is so delicate. 2. Mix vegetable broth, soy sauce and brown sugar in a medium bowl and set to the side. 3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan to coat, and cook bell peppers, mushrooms, and onion for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Add cabbage, bok choy, edamame, and garlic to pan, and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. 4. Add angel hair to pan, stirring to incorporate. Add soy sauce mixture and stir thoroughly, tossing to blend vegetables into pasta. Top with green onions and salt and pepper to taste.

Baked Blueberry-Banana Oatmeal

I love to eat oatmeal for breakfast and this is the perfect way to share oatmeal for breakfast or brunch. It makes enough to feed a crowd (or fill you up for a few days in a row) and can be made the night before so that you just pop it in the microwave and go. The only thing that makes this better is by topping it off with some coconut milk – simply delicious!
Baked Blueberry-Banana Oatmeal 3 cups old fashioned oats (not instant) 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 Tablespoons chia seeds (soaked in 4 Tablespoons water for 5 minutes prior to using) 1 1/2 cups dairy-free milk 1/4 cup applesauce 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries 2 bananas, sliced, and slightly mashed with a fork 1/2 cup pecans 1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the chia seeds, milk, applesauce, vanilla extract, and vinegar to mix. Gradually stir into oat mixture until incorporated. Let stand for 5 minutes. 2. Stir in blueberries, bananas, and pecans. Spoon into a 9 x 11 inch baking dish that has been coated with dairy-free butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.

Goodbye for Now

I laughed, I cried, I honestly loved this book. Goodbye for Now is a truly unique novel that focuses on how we love, how we grieve and how we let go. Sam, a software engineer, works for an online dating company and develops a program that can match people with their one true soul mate by looking at their true interests and honest online communication. Sam tests the program on himself and is matched up with Meredith, a woman who works just down the hall from him; their relationship quickly proves that Sam’s program was right on – the couple is a perfect match. Though it looks like everything is going well in their relationship, when Meredith’s grandmother passes away unexpectedly, she breaks down. Out of love and the desire to help her with her grief, Sam uses his relationship algorithm to create a program that allows Meredith to “communicate” with her grandmother through e-mail and video chat. Soon, Meredith and her cousin, Dash, urge Sam to turn his program into a business – it has helped them cope in a way that they never imagined, and they are certain that it will help others who are grieving as well. As their business (aptly named RePose) grows, Sam and Meredith’s relationship continues to bloom. Sam, Meredith, and Dash become adept at helping the mourners who seek their help, and watch as RePose becomes a vehicle for healing. In a twist of events, however, tragedy hits close to home, and the technological tool which was created to help others will be desperately needed by the team. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I won’t give any more details, but this story is absolutely great. It is a touching story that brings up the subjects of how we grieve and the never-ending power of love. Although love and technology seem like mutually exclusive concepts, Laurie Frankel does a wonderful job blending them together in this adorable and touching story. While it does have moments of tragedy, it is far from a sob-story – Frankel does a lovely job of making this into a contemporary love story and touching readers’ hearts with believable characters, universal questions, and modern themes. Furthermore, as a Northwest writer, Frankel has local details incorporated into this story, making it an extra-special treat for those acquainted with Washington state. This is a truly great read!

Currant Apricot Syrup

This recipe came about out of necessity – I had purchased a pint of red currants at the local co-op and was so excited to eat them. My husband, however, was not a fan (these little fellas are tart), so I decided to sweeten things up with this thick currant syrup which is perfect on top of pancakes, but would also be great on toast or stirred into oatmeal. It is so simple to make, and the apricot jam does a nice job of taming the tartness. Just make sure that the jam that you use has apricot listed as the first ingredient otherwise it will make the syrup too sweet.
Currant Apricot Syrup 1 1/2 cup currants, removed from stems and washed thoroughly (approximately 1 pint) 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup apricot jam (see note above) 1. Bring water to a boil and mix in sugar and currants, stirring consistently. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the currants begin to burst. Stir apricot jam in to mix, and cook for a few more minutes, or until thickened.

Chocolate Protein Muffins

These vegan muffins are a great way to sneak protein into your diet. They are light, fluffy, and the chocolate taste disguises good-for-you ingredients like black beans, zucchini and flax seeds. Extra yummy!
Chocolate Protein Muffins 1 1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder 1/2 cup chocolate protein powder (I used Olympian Labs Pea Protein) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup black beans, slightly mashed 1 cup cane sugar 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar 1/4 cup canola oil 2 Tablespoons flax seeds mixed into 1/4 cup water (mix before incorporating) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup shredded zucchini 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Mix first six ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix next six ingredients in a separate bowl, and when just mixed, add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the large bowl. Add zucchini and incorporate completely. 3. Spoon ingredients into 12 prepared muffin liners. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork inserted into the center of a muffin comes out cleanly.

Jam On

I was honestly giddy as I read this book! Jam On by Laena McCarthy is a treasure trove of recipes that is absolutely perfect for this time of year with all of the berries ripe for the picking. McCarthy does a wonderful job of making jam, preserves, and even syrups, approachable and exciting. Her featured stories (including her journey to becoming a jam queen) are intriguing, but her recipes are even more fascinating. With enticing flavors like watermelon and lemongrass jelly, spiced beer jelly, sour cherry preserves, and Meyer lemon marmalade, Jam On is a contemporary cook’s dream. There are exotic flavors like blackberry and lavender jam, and the good old standbys like wild blueberry jam. With thorough descriptions and step-by-step photos, this book is as fun for first-time jam makers as it is for preserving pros. Plus, there is an entire section dedicated to all of the ideal pairings for the homemade jams and jellies featured in the book. Recipes like Laena’s Ginger Scones, Anarchy Marmalade Manhattan, and Panpepato Honey and Spice Cake, make this book more than just a jam and jelly cookbook. Jam On is a delight with a great assortment of the preserved, pickled, and just plain delicious!

Blueberry Crisp

I was so excited to go blueberry picking the other day! Summer has finally arrived in our little corner of the world and I went a little crazy with the blueberries. Fortunately, however, I have this little number which is a variation of a crisp that I used to make with my grandmother. It is veganized and absolutely delicious!
Blueberry Crisp Filling 6 cups fresh blueberries 1/4 cup light brown sugar 1/2 cup cane sugar 2 Tablespoons flour 1 Tablespoon corn starch Juice of 1 lime Topping 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1 cup flour 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats 1/2 cup coconut oil (I prefer extra-virgin for this because it retains the coconut flavor), plus more for pan 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 pan with coconut oil. 2. In a large bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients, tossing to coat the blueberries thoroughly. Pour into the baking dish. 3. In a small bowl, toss the first three topping ingredients together. With your fingers, mix the coconut oil into the oat mixture until coarse crumbs develop. Spread evenly over the blueberry mixture. 4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crumb topping is golden. Allow to cool before serving.