Entrée

GOODNESS WRAPS

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I cook for another family once a week. I spend a half day in their home planning a menu, shopping, cooking and packaging up a few dinners and a baked good for them to enjoy during the week. A few of you have asked how I got into doing this and honestly, it sort of fell into my lap by way of a family friend. I generally haven't found catering to be lucrative with all the work it entails on the backend as I am a one-woman show, but I do enjoy cooking for people and getting paid for it so this particular situation works well. I don't have the confidence to be much of a teacher but I get to cook alone in the quiet of an empty house which is dreamy for me, given what feeding a family and work has become in my own home with two toddlers underfoot. There aren't a lot of guidelines - they are all pretty flexible eaters - and it makes me think about complete meals which is good for me. 

Anyway, I post about it on Instagram every now and then and I am always reminded by the comments and feedback of what a chore it can be to make dinner every night. I don't mean to sound dramatic but really, it comes along so frequently right?! I am a snacker and nibbler, I don't really eat full meals very often because I eat all day, so meals aren't my strong suit as you may have noticed. At the end of the day, I have a table of four to feed and eating all together beats standing over the sink with a banana and spoonful of almond butter. Meal ideas are what people are most often looking for inspiration for, as it is typically the time a family or couple or individual is home from work or the busyness of the day and you sit at a table and enjoy a meal together. It is so special, but also a bit... fussy.

So how can we make this whole dinner thing work more efficiently for us? I find that dinner is the best place to set yourself up for another meal the next day, as we'll inevitably find ourself in the same place. I make extra rice, chop extra veggies, prepare more than we need to ensure leftovers, which can either be eaten again or repurposed into something different. While you're there futzing in the kitchen, do yourself a favor for the following day. Does this take a second thought? It does, but less so than an entirely new meal the next day. These wraps are a great example. They get wrapped in lavash or tortillas so they're easy for the kids to eat (I just tell them they're burritos for less resistance). I like mine in bowl form, always. I make extra sweet potatoes and kale to put in a frittata or into enchiladas with some black beans and cheese the next day. The extra rice gets made into veggie burgers or served with curry or Asian bowls with stir fry vegetables. The biggest complaint from people wanting to eat healthier is that it takes more time and costs more money. Both of which are true, but I think it pays off. So this recipe here, an inspiration for your next dinner, is both affordable and healthy. Full of fiber and color and so much produce and a delicious creamy sauce that makes the whole situation unique. Most of our meals are different versions of the same thing - a whole grain or veg alternative (zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash), roasted seasonal vegetables, greens, maybe a legume or a grilled protein and a yum sauce. The sauces are what pull everything together, and I love the one listed below because tahini is creamy, non-dairy deliciousness. I usually make a mustardy vinaigrette, jalapeno ceasar, an avocado or nut based creamy something...maybe we need a post on this, yes? Just a dressing/sauce arsenal?

So here we are, with dinner. From someone who doesn't always like making it, but likes eating it in good company. 

This post is sponsored by McCormick spices. All recipes, photos and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting sponsored content so we can continue to do the work we love to do here!

GOODNESS WRAPS // Serves 4

If four sounds like too many wraps, know the components save well to be made up for lunch the following day. Not into wraps? Make these into bowls. 
If pickled onions aren't your thing, sub shredded cabbage or beets for color and texture.

2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. dried basil


1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cane sugar
1 small red onion, sliced thin

1/3 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. turmeric
dash of cayenne
fresh ground pepper


1 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped
oil and lemon juice

1 cup cooked brown rice
2 large avocados
microgreens, optional

4 tortillas or wraps of choice (here is a grain-free option)

Preheat the oven to 425' and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Pile on your sweet potatoes, drizzle with the oil, salt, basil and toss to coat. You want all the potatoes lightly coated. Spread them in an even layer. Roast the potatoes for 25 minutes. 

Quick "pickle" your onions. Put the vinegar, salt and sugar in a bowl and stir. Add in the sliced onions and let them sit (if you like yours softer, warm up the vinegar first). 

To make the dressing, combine the tahini, garlic, oil, water, salt, maple, cider vinegar, turmeric, cayenne, fresh pepper and stir everything to mix. Taste and season as needed. 

Put the kale in a bowl. Drizzle with a bit of oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and massage it all to soften and marinate. 

Assembly time! Or do bowls. Lay out your wrap. Smash in some avocado and then big spoonfuls of rice, kale, sweet potatoes, onion, microgreens and then a generous drizzle of the sauce. Wrap everything up tight. Slice in half and enjoy! 

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Entrée, Gluten Free, Soup, Winter

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + KALE MINESTRA

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I feel weird that I called it a "minestra." That is the Italian word for a mixed vegetable sort of soup, think minestrone, and it sounds way more intriguing that way right?! I skipped the pasta here, though you could totally add it or some brown rice or shredded chicken to fill it out if you're into that sort of thing. I have a tough time with salads when it's chilly out, so this pot of goodness serves as an alternative to pack in the vegetables. It is made of easy, pantry staples and some easy to find produce. Boring on its own (sell it, girl!), as brothy, all-vegetable soups go, so a heavy hand with the parmesan croutons is necessary. It tastes better the next day, so lunch leftovers or delivering it to a sick friend is encouraged. 

BUTTERNUT + KALE MINESTRA // Serves 6
Inspired by Williams and Sonoma
I understand wine and vinegar are not often subs for each other, but I hate when I have all but one ingredient. It's winter, I stock red wine in the cool months ;) The recipe listed here leaves you with a fairly stewy soup. Add a bit more broth, and you can add in a cup of cooked orzo, brown rice, some shredded rotisserie chicken or what not to bulk it up. 
Use a rich tasting vegetable broth if dietetically preferred, but a bone broth or fresh stock will add more body to this light soup. The soup can be made in advance, add the kale in the warm up to preserve its bright color. 

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt and pepper, as needed
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (3 cups)
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup white wine (or 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. dried oregano
dash of cayenne
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can white beans
3 cups low sodium broth, vegetable or chicken
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and roughly chopped

parmesan croutons
1/2 a loaf of day of bread (gluten free bread works too)
1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan, plus more for serving

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and saute until they begin to brown. Add the butternut squash, another pinch of salt, whole herb sprigs and saute. Add the white wine and let it cook down, leaving the lid ajar so the squash softens, about 6 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cayenne, tomato paste, roasted tomatoes, white beans and broth (more or less based on how thick you like your soups). Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, leave the cover ajar and cook for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If it tastes flat, it likely needs more salt, maybe more cayenne and a squeeze of lemon. Stir in the chopped kale until it just wilts, about a minute or two.
While the soup cooks, make your croutons. Preheat the oven to 375'. Rip the loaf into rough 1" pieces. Toss them in the oil to coat, pinch of salt and pepper, and parmesan. Bake the croutons for 12 to 15 minutes until dry an browned on the edges. Set aside to cool.

Ladle the soup into bowls, finish it with a drizzle of olive oil, a heavy handful of croutons and more cheese. 

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Chocolate, Dessert, Feeding Babies, Gluten Free, Snack

CHOCOLATE CRISPY SUNFLOWER BUTTER HEARTS

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I love when Curran brings crafts home from preschool. I do not hang them or keep them, but I love that someone else is doing crafts and artsy things with him so I don't have to. I don't like junk or tchotchkes and I suppose crafts feel like a waste of materials and money. No offense, personal opinion, and I appreciate that other people love them but one cannot be good at all of the things. HOWEVER. My heart is not completely made of stone and I love my children so I went to Michaels (a store specifically for crafty people) last week to pick up Valentines supplies. Cards, stickers, glitter hearts, paint, heart cookie cutters, we're going for it. I really wanted to buy that $4 box of pre-made Minion cards, staple a bag of mini pretzels to it and call it done but my parents always made Valentines really special for my sister and I, so I'm going to do crafts for a minute in the spirit of family tradition. My (crafty) mom still sends us homemade Valentines. Where I do fail them in enthusiasm for crafts, I make up in cooking projects. They like to bake because they've caught on to the outcome. These sunflower butter hearts fit within all the allergy rules at preschool and my kids think cookie cutters are magical. They make a mess and push each other and the whole of it is harder and slower, but I think that is the refinement happening in me at this stage of parenting. Everything is harder with them. It just is, and when I quit fighting it and resign to things like Cleo never sleeping in the car no matter how far the drive or Curran being highly sensitive and crying easily, I give up the loosing battle for control. Instead of trying to fix it or solve it, for their sake or mine, I'm better for all of us. I'll be damned if they look back and think I didn't let them in on being in the kitchen, a place I love, because it made it harder and slower for me. Our food will be our crafts if that's how I need to do it. 

So. I applaud you if you have mini bags of pretzels or conversation hearts, but if you're up for a pretty simple, two dish cooking project, these could not be easier.

/// EVENT! ///

Hugh and I are hosting a food photography workshop in Seattle, WA on April 28+29. Tickets and a few more notes are available on the shop page. This will be our third workshop at Aran's beautiful studio and the whole experience is so refreshing for us and what we do for work. Hugh will go over light and composition and editing and I'll jump in for some styling and prep food with Aran and we get to bounce ideas off each other and learn how to be better at our craft. Basic understanding of your camera is recommended but you could just use your phone too, it doesn't really matter. We'd love you to come. Feel free to contact me with any questions at all. 

CHOCOLATE CRISPY SUNFLOWER BUTTER HEARTS // Makes 12ish

Because I know someone is thinking, "can I use all maple?", the answer is not really. Brown rice syrup is thicker and sets better than maple. It's the sweetener used in most packaged protein bars. I cut it here because I like the flavor of maple better and I wanted the hearts to be a little more tender. In short, you can go all brown rice syrup for the liquid sweetener yield, but not completely maple. They sell it at all health food stores, some conventional grocery stores or more conveniently, albeit more expensive, here
These are mildly chocolatey. If you want more, add a generous handful of chocolate chips to the mixture. 

1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup sunflower butter
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup rice crisp cereal
1 cup quick cooking oats*

* the quick cooking ones have a softer texture. The old fashioned sort will work, but have a bit of a raw taste in context as they're thicker. I'd suggest pulsing them in a blender or food processor if you go this route. 

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Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. 

In a large saucepan, warm the rice syrup and maple. Add the sunflower butter and coconut oil and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and let it cool a moment. Add the salt, cocoa powder, rice cereal and oats. Stir to mix. 
Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth down the top with damp hands. The mixture will be sticky, damp hands will help. 
Let it set in the fridge for a couple hours before cutting them into squares or using a cookie cutter for shapes. 
They are best kept in the fridge, and will keep covered for 3-5 days. 

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