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Wednesday
Jan162013

PEANUT BUTTER BITES

I remember being anxious to be out in the "real world," but I really liked school. Not because I was a particular genius but I like assignments and tasks, and with school comes homework - something you start and complete. I loved binders and new folders and mechanical pencils and fine ballpoint pens. I made sure the dividers were labeled by subject so I didn't loose track of anything. I did my state report on Colorado with a more than adequate amount of decoupaging of magazine pages for visual effect and my mom and I built a California mission out of clay complete with plastic Indian men glued down in the courtyards for scale. Even when school was more about writing papers than crafts, I read and took notes the best I could. Diligently, if not the most comprehensive or pertinent come essay time. I've been out of school for years now and a similar pleasure comes from making lists of things to do for the week or what I want to cook, necessitating another list of what I need at the store, organized by section, mind you. I know, I roll my eyes at me too.

Hugh and I booked our big trip for the year. I mentioned it was in the cards but now we actually have tickets! I have already reverted into school mode with lists and researching hotels and figuring out the best neighborhoods to stay in and compiling must-visit bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants. I LOVE it. I adore travel, but the anticipation of it and having something to look forward to makes it twice as wonderful. I keep squeezing Hugh in gratitude for hoarding airline miles for years because I am giddy-happy. The rough plan is to do France, Belgium and The Netherlands. Not too much moving around because I like to just be in cities, not always hustling in and out of them. Each of us have visited Paris, but I'm over the moon to be there together. We'll train up to Antwerp and Amsterdam and be open ended enough to see and do what we want in between.

I've got a few months before I start packing the ziplocks, but these date sweetened peanut butter bites would make a fabulous travel snack. The texture and taste remind me of a slightly less sweet Lara bar. These "cookies" are made with ingredients you likely have in your pantry, take all of about 10 minutes from start to finish and can calm a sweet tooth without sitting too heavy. A few have asked about go-to snacks, or food for trips so I'm happy to hand this idea over. 

PEANUT BUTTER BITES // Makes about 16 small cookies

Recipe adapted from La Mesa

Because I know someone will be curious, I have not tried these with any other nut butter, but I suppose they're pretty versatile. If I had cocoa nibs on hand they would be incredible here. I wouldn't turn them down, but a peanut butter cookie is not my first choice. Peanut butter and chocolate however, makes more sense to my mouth. The sharp chocolate cuts through that unmistakable peanut richness and all is right. If you have cocoa nibs or want to add some finely chopped chocolate, I would guess a 1/4 cup will do and pulse it in with everything else.

1 cup almonds

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup pitted dates

heaping 1/2 cup peanut butter

two pinches of salt (if your pb isn't salted)

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until a coarse meal forms. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, dates, peanut butter, and salt if using. Pulse everything together until they are generally uniform in color and texture. The mixture should stick together when pressed between your fingers. If it seems dry, add another Tbsp. of peanut butter. 

Roll dough into scant tablespoon size balls. Press them down with a fork to make a cross hatch. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and keep chilled in the fridge. 

Thursday
Jan102013

SQUASH + GOAT CHEESE EMPANADAS

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My overarching theme for this year is about being brave. I realized at the end of last year, that fear motivates a lot of things I do or decisions I make. The fear of failing, of people not liking me, a fear of being misunderstood or undervalued, fear of pain or conflict or not having enough money. It's wasted time really, and I recognize that. There is a Donald Miller quote, "fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life," and I sure don't want that. The most rewarding moments I can remember have been those when I pushed myself a little. I don't have much to say on the topic besides that it's on my mind. To take risks, to make decisions prior to over thinking them, to stop worrying so much. No tiny violins at all, I just hope that in my writing, my food and my time here, I can trust myself a bit more. 

I haven't had the greatest luck with pastry dough but Hugh has an affinity for empanadas so they've been on my "to make" list for quite some time. Americans call them hand-pies, Italians call them calzones, the Argentinians call them empanadas and they're each some version of a stuffed dough. I love the spiced squash and goat pairing here, but you could play around and fill them with whatever you like. The small ones would make cute appetizers or the larger ones would be easy to pack for a picnic or a road trip. I will make these again, hopefully with a bit more patience on the dough side of things.

Hope you enjoy them. Happy weekend.

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SQUASH + GOAT CHEESE EMPANADAS // Makes about 20 minis or 10 larger

Recipe adapated from Give Me Flour

I suppose you could use any winter squash you'd like here. I tried to give options for spice and herbs, so you can alter the filling to your preference. I used chipotle powder for a bit of heat, but smoked paprika will work well too.

// dough //

 

  • to spare repeating, see here
  • (the only change I made was sub in 3/4 cup whole wheat flour for some of the unbleached flour)

 

// filling //

 

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika or chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped green herbs (some combination of sage, parsley, cilantro, thyme)
  • 5 oz. goat cheese (her choice) or jack cheese (his choice)
  • egg wash (1 egg and a splash of water, well whisked)
  • sesame seeds

 

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Preheat the oven to 425'.

Follow the dough recipe according the link provided. Wrap it up and keep chilled in the fridge. This cane be done a day in advance.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Drizzle it with the olive oil and rub it into the flesh and a bit on the skin. Sprinkle it with salt and cinnamon and roast for about 45-50 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft. Remove and let it cool completely.

While the squash is cooking, saute the garlic and shallot in a bit of olive oil until just browned. About 8-10 minutes.

Once the squash is cool to the touch, scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add another pinch of salt, the paprika or chipotle powder, nutmeg, the sauteed garlic and shallots and the green herbs. Use the back of a fork and mash everything together well. Taste the mix and add as you wish, maybe a bit more salt, heat, etc.

Turn the oven down the 350'. Prepare a parchment lined baking sheet. Roll out the dough to about 1/8'' thickness on a floured work surface and press out the circles for your empanadas. You can use 4'' cutters for small ones, or 6-8'' for a larger size. Leaving plenty of space around the edge, put a dollop of the squash in the center, followed by a dollop of cheese, and fold the circle over. Press the edge with your finger to seal and then press along the edge with the tins of a fork. This got a bit messy for me, stay calm. Lay the empanadas on the baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and some thyme leaves and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes or until just golden. Enjoy warm.

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Thursday
Jan032013

GLAZED BEET + CARROT SALAD

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I'm not cynical enough to believe that people don't keep their New Years resolutions. I admit to giving an eye roll with the regulars in my pilates class. It's true. It will be crowded for the next two months and then go back to normal, but setting goals is never a bad thing. It's motivating to make a promise to yourself and follow it through with your best intentions. To believe you are capable... which is sometimes the toughest part. This year, Hugh and I continued a tradition we started a few years back. We bundle up and head to the top of the highest hill in town that looks out at the Pacific coastline. It's our spot. It is the place we got engaged and also the home of our new-year-goal-sharing-session. I will chalk it up to the most vulnerable conversation we have all year. Sharing your hopes and dreams, maybe dissapointments from the year past, with the person who matters most to you, can be a heavy moment. Heavy in a way that fills your soul. 

Earlier in the day, I sectioned my lined paper into six categories and tried to use my best hand writing to make note of the big things I hope for 2013. And I don't use the term big lightly. My list didn't have things like learning to salsa dance or loose five pounds (not that those aren't respectable goals), it was composed of huge markers like buying a house, going on a big trip to Europe in the spring, starting another book and other such things. It almost felt like a fake list when I looked at it. It scares me just as much as it motivates me. This year we will strive to check the items off both of our lists. Maybe none of them. Maybe all of them if I can push the fear out of my head. Either way, while life continues to build on itself, it feels good to start fresh with an entire sparkly new year ahead. 

On the subject of lots of people at pilates, I believe it is the season for light salads. The one here is creamy from the tahini dressing and naturally sweet with the beets and carrots. If you're keeping away from dairy, tahini is the answer to a craving for creamy dressing. It's the perfect kind of thing to make a little extra of so you can pack it for lunch the next day.

I intended to write a whole foods focused detox plan for the site, but I waited too long. January is on its way and Hugh dug up my whipped cream maker and while we're finding reason to top anything slightly appropriate with the stuff, writing a detox plan just didn't feel right at the moment. I contributed to the Action Plan that comes out in Whole Living this month, and I am completely behind how they design their detox plan, so pick up the January/February issue and take a peek at that if you are looking for ideas. 

Dream big. Eat lettuce. I'm coming for you, 2013. 

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GLAZED BEET + CARROT SALAD // Serves 4

Inspired by Grace Parisi at Food + Wine

I changed the original recipe around because I had already roasted a bushel of beets (both red and yellow, hence the bleeding coloration of the beets in the photo). My recipe below reflects using beets that are already roasted, but you can click back to the original if you want to start with raw, baby beets. I also used full sized carrots and cut them down to a similar size of a young carrot. 

  • 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow beets, roasted and peeled, cut into 1/2'' wedges
  • 3 carrots, halved, large halves quartered if needed
  • sea salt + pepper
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini
  • 1 Tbsp. orange or lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 12 cups mixed baby lettuces
  • 1/3 cup cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, white or black or mixed

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In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the carrots and beets and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring once or twice, until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the honey and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly glazed, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl to cool.

Whisk the remaining tablespoon of vinegar, tahini and citrus into the skillet along with the cumin and a generous pinch of the chopped parsley.

Toss the baby lettuces, remaining parsley and garbanzos with a light coating of the tahini dressing. Plate the greens and top with the carrots, beets and sprinkle the sesame seeds. Serve immediately. 

* You can prepare the salad a day in advance by making the carrots and beets as directed, and keeping them covered in the fridge overnight. The dressing can also be kept covered in the fridge for up to a week. Toss everything and assemble just before serving. 

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Thursday
Dec272012

{skhisandhers} GIN SPARKLER + OLD FASHIONED

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Be it through email, while teaching classes, or during Q+A for some book events, people seem to be curious how I cook and eat with Hugh as our food preferences are a bit different. I can't say I even noticed until strangers started asking. Making two versions of certain foods has become second nature, I know him pretty well, so it doesn't take much extra thought at this point. I made a lentil bolognese yesterday and put mine on a big bed of greens and his on toasted bread with melted cheese... and a mini bed of greens, of course. No need to reinvent the wheel, just tweak it a bit. He likes a sweet breakfast, I prefer savory. He will always choose the burger on a menu, I will always choose a salad. He drinks black coffee, I like a drop of cream. Because others were asking, I started noticing our food preferences and it has transformed into our joke as well as a self-imposed Instagram hashtag - #skhisandhers.

Beer or whiskey are Hugh's drinks of choice. I can't say they're mine, I'm a wine or gin lady myself, so we crafted two drinks that are easy to make individually, or something fun to make with friends as you're ringing in the New Year this weekend. Because gin is an herbal spirit, I wanted something that I could work just a bit of rosemary into. I poked around my favorite sites and remembered Heidi posting a gin cocktail a while back. Found it! It was exactly what I was looking for and her photos are always quick to convince. The cocktail is perfectly sweetened, easy on the eyes, and just the thing in the throws of citrus season when the oranges are sweet and juicy.

sprouted kitchen

GIN SPARKLER // Makes 1

Recipe from 101Cookbooks

I prefer the slightest wisper of rosemary taste, so I made a small amount of the rosemary syrup, enough for 4ish drinks. If you think you'd like more of that flavor or want the syrup on hand, triple the recipe. Heidi says it keeps for about a week in the fridge. 

  • // rosemary syrup //
  • 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. rosemary leaves

  • 3 Tbsp. gin
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed and strained blood orange juice
  • 1-2 tsp. rosemary syrup
  • sparkling water, lemon sparkling water or tonic

To make the syrup, put the sugar, water and rosemary leaves in a small pot. Simmer the mixture for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let it infuse about ten more minutes. Strain the mixture and set aside.

Fill a tall glass three quarters of the way with ice cubes. Garnish the insides with thin slices or blood orange or rosemary sprigs if you'd like, just be sure they sit under ice cubes so you're not getting furry rosemary in your mouth. Add the gin, fresh juice, rosemary syrup and top it off with the sparkling water. Add a dash of this or that to your taste and cheers!

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Hi folks. This is Hugh.

Often times I am a creature of habit, and that is certainly the case when it comes to ordering cocktails. The Old Fashioned (bourbon) is my go to. That being said, I've had some really good versions (simple, pure) and some really bad versions (too much bitters, half an orange, mystery mixer filling up the glass), and there are few drinks less enjoyable than a poorly made Old Fashioned... maybe that mason jar of green "juice" Sara brings home every once in a while from the yoga studio in the harbor... I dunno. Anyway.

The version below is based off of an Old Fashioned I had at the Tasting Kitchen, a spot that knows their cocktails. This is a very simple drink, and as with most things you'll find on Sprouted Kitchen this simplicity can shine through using good ingredients. Find some bourbon or rye whiskey that you enjoy, Angostura Bitters, some fresh citrus and you're off to a good start.

OLD FASHIONED // Makes 1 

  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • Angostura Bitters
  • orange
  • lemon
  • ice (I leave a couple ramekin-sized tupperwares filled with water in the freezer for Old Fashioned purposes)
  • 1 1/3 ounces of bourbon or rye whiskey

Add just a pinch of sugar, between an 1/8 and a 1/4 teaspoon. Hit the sugar with two splashes of bitters (the image below looks like more than that, as the bitters had time to bleed around the cup while I reached for the camera, so if you're following along and measuring visually, it shouldn't look like that much). Add orange and lemon peels, about 2 inches each, and muddle with the sugar and bitters. Add the ice and whiskey, and stir thoroughly.

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Wednesday
Dec122012

CHOPPED SALAD WITH QUINOA, SWEET POTATOES + APPLES

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I knew it would work it's way into my writing at some point, but I have yet to mention here that I spend some of my days working at Trader Joes. While the blog and cookbook are my love and dream, I really enjoy being around people, having that routine and the great healthcare benefits :) This is relevent because I spend a majority of those days at the demo station. If you shop at a Trader Joes market you know the sample booth in the back. Everyone loves a free snack, it's a popular corner. I waver between loving and hating it, for reasons that those who have worked in the service industry can likely relate to. As you may assume, I meet a lot of people in the work of giving away free food. I've explained food allergies and a number of diets, I've walked aisles helping an older fellow just learning to cook for himself, whose wife had passed days earlier and I've planned a romatic dinner menu for a man surprising his wife. But I also meet people who solely have mac n' cheese and frozen orange chicken in their carts, some who refuse to cook with anything but microwave, or those enraged that in mid-December, our strawberries are white (the NERVE!). I have seen and heard the gamut of relationships that people have with their food. I love ice cream and dark chocolate peanut butter cups as much as the next guy, but eating well is your responsibility. Sometimes I want to scream from behind that corner, it is not always easy or quick or cheap or tidy but you taking care of your insides is important. Period.

The more I hear, the more I am thankful for good food. I'm thankful that I have been inspired to learn to cook, that I enjoy the process, that we can afford good quality ingredients, and the knowledge to know the difference. I have a community, you people, who engage me in this passion and send me emails and leave comments that you care about good food too and that makes me want to share it. Thank you for nurturing this in me. Yes, we offer you recipes and photos, but you give me so much.

Wishing you a Christmas filled with wonderful food, even better company and time to soak it all in. 

sprouted kitchen

CHOPPED SALAD WITH QUINOA, SWEET POTATOES + APPLES // Serve 6

Barely adapted from Food + Wine November 2012

I am bringing this salad to two Christmas meals as I imagine it will hold well. Everything can be prepped in advance, kept in bags and then tossed all together when it's time for dinner. It's a simple salad, so take the liberty to add some toasted nuts, shaved asiago or chopped hard boiled eggs if you want to make it even more filling. As with most things around here, alter to your taste. 

 

  • 2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes (about 2 large), cut into 1/2'' cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 2 large apples, diced (granny smith, fuji, honeycrisp etc.)
  • 8 cups packed baby greens (arugula, kale, red romaine...a mix looks pretty)
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 of a medium red onion, thinly sliced

 

 

  • // dressing //
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper

 

sprouted kitchen

Preheat the oven to 400'.

Put a drizzle of olive oil in a pot and add the quinoa to toast over moderate heat for two minutes. Add 1 1/3 cups water and bring it to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15-18 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa and set aside to cool. 

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and hearty pinches of salt and pepper. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes until golden. Let them cool. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the cider vinegar, mustard, olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Add the cooled quinoa, potatoes, apple, greens, parsley and onionand toss everything to coat. Serve immediately.

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