Gluten Free, Salad, Winter, Fall

SPICY BUTTERNUT + KALE CHOPPED SALAD

I have photos and thoughts to share of the newest addition to our team, baby Cleo Jane, but will get my act together on that next week. She blazed her way into the world three weeks ago and it is taking a little time to adjust, as expected - the rough nights paired with day time toddler tantrums - but I have been finding myself craving some sense of routine and normalcy regardless. It's a funny thing to carry on with life per usual after another person joins your family. I know the long nights slow, and then end, eventually. I can only say after doing this once before that newborns are easier than a walking, talking, child but also so hard in a completely different way. So, in an effort to keep moving forward, I have been cooking a little between the meals our gracious community of friends have brought by. I am trying to go on walks, slow ones and we have someone watching Curran one day a week so we can get some work done. Slowly but surely, we'll get there.  

This is a quick take on a veggie taco salad that I made in hopes that it would keep well in the fridge and Hugh could wrap it up in a tortilla and add chicken to make a quick meal of it. It feels healthy but still rich enough with the cheese, chips and avocado to actually satisfy. I imagine adding lentils or another bean of choice would help fill it out but I have a newborn with enough of a gas problem that this is likely to set her off in the middle of the night as is. So use this as a starting block or leave it as written. When trying to eat a little lighter, it's salads like this that don't leave me eating a grilled cheese after. Perhaps a personal problem ;) 

SPICY BUTTERNUT + KALE CHOPPED SALAD // Serves 4-6

As it goes with salads, you can alter the amount of add-ins to your taste. A little more cheese, add shredded chicken or roasted tofu or beans if you'd like, but it is plenty of a meal as it is in my opinion. The dressing is light and very simple. If you like extra to keep on hand, simply double or triple the numbers below. 

1.5 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 Tbsp. coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping tsp. taco seasoning (I like Penzeys or make your own)
1 large bunch of lacinato/Tuscan kale
3 green onions, sliced thin
1/3 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus more for garnish
1 avocado, diced
handful of tortilla chips

// dressing //
juice of one juicy lime
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. sea salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400'. Put the squash on the tray and drizzle with the olive oil, taco seasoning and a few pinches of salt only if your seasoning does not contain salt. Toss to coat and spread in an even layer. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 25 minutes or until just softened and the edges begin to brown. Remove and cool completely. 

Remove the stems from the kale and chop it well. Put it in a large mixing bowl with the green onions. Whisk your dressing ingredients together, pour it on the kale and massage it into the kale with your hands. This will soften up the leaves. You may do this a couple hours in advance, keep covered in the fridge. 

When ready to assemble your salad. Toss the pepitas, feta, avocado and cooled squash with the greens to combine. Crumble the tortilla chips on top along with a little extra feta cheese. 

Entrée, Winter

NOODLES WITH MUSHROOM BOLOGNESE

I know a new year is on the horizon and I should be thinking of goals and be excited for fresh beginnings, but to be honest, the discomfort of having a full grown baby in my mid section has slowed me down. The only new beginning I am interested in is having some semblance of my body back. We'll go from there. That is not a complaint, I know my words can get misinterrpreted in this space, but I'm ready to hold her in my arms instead of my hips and lower back. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. We're ordering take out, playing blocks by the fire and keeping social plans light for now. I hope this season has included some rest for you between the crazy. I know giving ourselves a break is harder than it sounds.

The thing about writing recipes for work is that it pushes you to try things outside of your normal. Late-pregnancy-Sara is just trying to get through the day, so our meals are often routine. I like the nudge to change it up, even if I have to be forced by deadlines and a paycheck. We've been working with the Electrolux blog this past year along with Ashley and will be again in 2016. The following recipe is one we recently shared there. I make a basic turkey bolognese with tons of minced vegetables in it for an easy meal delivery to a friend or for Hugh and Curran to have something ready in the fridge. I used the same starter ingredients but replaced the protein with a mix of mushrooms to keep it vegetarian. Vegetables don't give the same depth of flavor or fat that meat does, but I find mushrooms are the closest stand in and they contribute great flavor. It's been extra chilly, so perhaps a warm pasta dinner and a big green salad should be on your menu soon too. 

Happy New Year, loves!

NOODLES WITH MIXED MUSHROOM BOLOGNESE // Serves 4

Visit the Electrolux live.love.lux site for the full recipe along with many others!

Dessert, Winter

COFFEE + CARDAMOM SHORTBREAD

Have you had your share of treats? Sorry. I just got my kitchen in (rough) working order and it's the last week to go big. I generally am one for an underdone oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Maybe a brownie type cookie if it tastes like real chocolate and not just cocoa powder. I also love these Peanut Butter Cookies from Heidi that my sister in law used to make all the time. But a pal who knows her way around baking recipes sent me these delicious goat butter shortbread cookies months ago when Curran was a wee thing and it felt like a dream to get homemade cookies in the mail. Until then, I didn't realize that I really liked shortbread. It always seemed like such a plain choice amongst cookies. Sure, butter makes things tastes good, but I don't need a butter cookie. Give me your chocolate. I ate the whole package of those buttery little coins when I thought it'd be a cookie easy to refuse. Which brings me to this recipe that caught my eye when browsing for holiday cookies in The New Sugar and Spice cookbook. It is a shortbread recipe spiced with coffee grounds and cardamom and while I'm sure you could roll it out and use cookie cutters, Samantha suggests baking it in a fluted tart pan or springform pan so you can pop the disk out and cut it into wedges or geo shards as we did here. These are not as dry and snappy as a traditional shortbread. I replaced a mere 1/4 cup of the flour with nut meal because I love the warmth it gives to baked goods and I'm sure that contributed to the change but for shortbread, they are pretty tender. Not a bad thing, just not necessarily par for the shortbread course. They taste of butter, of course, but the heavy hand of spices and vanilla make them so much more of a cookie. It stands out on a platter for sure and there is still time to leave some for your neighbor, mailman or the UPS guy that is still delivering packages at 8pm. Perhaps you're sick of baked goods but the way I see it, we have another week before all the cleansing and salads so what's one more?

A very warm and bright holiday to each of you. You make our year that much richer, thank you for reading along. 

COFFEE + CARDAMOM SHORTBREAD // Makes 12ish large triangles
Recipe adapted from The New Sugar and Spice Cookbook by Samantha Seneviratne
 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, nearly room temp
2 teaspoons ground coffee (a light or medium roast)
1 tsp. cardamom seeds (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom)
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. almond or hazelnut meal
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup packed muscavado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325'. Butter  9" fluted tart pan or spring form pan.

Grind your spices until very finely ground. In a large bowl, whisk together the spice mixture, flour, nut meal, powdered sugar, muscavado or brown sugar and salt to mix. Into a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat in the butter and vanilla to combine. 

TIp the dough into the prepared pan using wet fingers. Press it into an even layer on the bottom, all the way to the edges. Freeze it until firm, about 15 minutes. 

Bake the shortbread on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any leaking butter. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Immediately, and while the dough is still warm, use a sharp paring knife to score the shortbread into wedges or slices as you wish. Set on a rack to cool completely. When it's cool, remove the cookie and gently break it apart along it's edges. 

Store the shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for a month.