Veggie Spring Rolls + Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

IMG_3728Now that the Seattle Seahawks are officially in the Super Bowl (we all saw it coming), it’s time to start menu planning for the big party.  First on my list- Veggie Spring Rolls. They are the perfect balance to the typical heavy game day appetizers. Light enough to keep you out of a food coma yet fulfilling enough to keep you satisfied.

Speaking of the Seahawks…unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past week there is a very good chance you have heard about Richard Sherman’s interview declaring he is the best corner back in the NFL. Well if you haven’t, let me fill you in. He proclaimed his amazingness in an interview with Erin Andrews seconds  after he tipped the ball out of a 49er’s hand to secure the win for the Seahawks. His adrenaline was still pumping and he may have let his mouth run a bit too much. At the time I thought he should have kept his confidence on the hush hush, but after making these veggie spring rolls I can relate to him.   Had Erin Andrews been in my kitchen the moment I finished folding my 12th spring roll I would have proclaimed (with certainty) that they are the best appetizer of all football appetizers. Just like Sherman I wouldn’t have been able to control my words or my confidence. Unlike Sherman, my declaration that veggie rolls are the best super bowl appetizer would not have made it on national news or in every single facebook post.

On a side note- This may be the only time in my life I will be able to relate to a NFL football player. Actually check back in a few months when I am 9 months pregnant. There is a slight chance I will feel as big as a line backer.

 

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Piña Colada Green Smoothie

IMG_3683The entire country seems to be jumping on the cold weather band wagon.  I think it is safe to say we could all use a break from the bone chilling weather. Lucky for you I have a way you can bring a tropical vacation into your kitchen, no airplane ticket or packing required. My Piña Colada Green Smoothie will take you from the numbing cold to white sandy beaches in seconds. It tastes like a vacation.

There are a few reasons this green smoothie has become a favorite of mine. Number 1- It tastes like a vacation. Number 2- it is the smoothie that turned my husband into a green smoothie lover. He is always a bit reluctant to drink my smoothies, but this smoothie was different. He smelled it, took a sip, took another sip and then finished it off in one big gulp. It was a proud moment of mine when he told me he could drink it everyday. I could too.

Swap kale for spinach or any other greens you have on hand. You’ll still achieve the full tropical vacation effect. If you don’t have any hemp seeds, feel free to use flax seed, chia seed or a mix of all three. They all blend well into this recipe

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Mint + Dark Chocolate Smoothie

IMG_3304Our house is officially ready for Christmas. This past weekend I bought Target, Hobby Lobby and Michaels out of all their Christmas décor and pasted it all over our house. Nothing makes me happier than walking through the door to a festive house. Actually, there is one thing that makes me happier than walking through the door to a festive house…that would be sitting on the couch, watching Home Alone while sipping on a holiday inspired smoothie. That is exactly how I spent my night last night. It was awesome. I put a festive holiday spin on my usual green smoothie by adding fresh mint leaves and dark chocolate. It tasted more like a milkshake than a smoothie. Very indulgent without being super heavy. A green mint smoothie is the perfect addition to a cozy night in or a great way to start a day of holiday shopping.

I used hempseeds in my smoothie. Flax seed or chia seed would also work well.

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Honey + Cinnamon + Vanilla Almond Milk

IMG_3290The other day I was roaming the grocery store when I passed an entire section dedicated to flavored milks. That’s right, an entire shelf!  Pumpkin, eggnog, peppermint, hazelnut…the list goes on. Those flavors sound great, especially for the holiday season, but it got me thinking…if I were to drink a flavored milk what would I choose? I settled on honey, cinnamon and vanilla almond milk. Once an idea is in my head I get a bit obsessive. It’s all I can think about until I make it. Thankfully this recipe idea conveniently came to me while in a grocery store. Which meant I could buy the ingredients, head home and have the almond milk made before sunset. Oh boy, was I wrong. I got so caught up in my excitement that I forgot almond milk takes time and patience. The almonds need to be soaked for 24 hours before transforming them into milk. I did have the almonds soaking in water by sunset, but would have to wait until the following day to turn them into honey, cinnamon and vanilla almond milk.

The wait was worth it. This milk is happy dance material. The kind of yumminess that automatically makes you shake your booty. You can drink it straight up, in tea/coffee, or blend with some ice and a banana to make a bomb milkshake. Using a vanilla bean made the milk taste (and look) extra special. Vanilla beans are pricey so feel free to substitute vanilla extract for the bean.

Using a nut bag is the easiest way to drain the almond milk from the almond pulp. They can be found at most grocery stores. You may also use a few layers of cheesecloth.

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Roasted Tomato Soup

IMG_3230My kitchen has looked like a bomb zone the past few weeks. Every night I clean it only to get it messy  the following day. I can’t stop recipe testing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Through all my recipe testing I have learned that it’s vital to have a few prepared meals in the fridge I can slurp down between measuring, whipping, roasting and baking. My favorite go-to has been my Roasted Tomato Soup. It is simple and classic. I make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy it throughout the week.

Roasting the tomatoes with garlic and carrots is the secret to this soup.  The roasting takes a bit of extra time, but it is worth it. The depth of flavor is taken to the next level. This soup definitely falls into the comfort food zone. It is not only perfect for a quick meal while recipe testing, but also on a cold Fall day.

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Pomegranate + Gingertini

IMG_3217With November in full swing and December around the corner, there is good chance your weekends will soon be filled with holiday parties. Which also means your weekends will be filled with  sugary cocktails. Those drinks taste good going down, but usually make you feel a bit bloated and headachy the following day. Bloated and headachy…not the best way to spend your weekends, especially when you are wanting to rock a small sparkly dress.  Don’t fret, there is a way to stay Merry during the holidays and still enjoy a few cocktails. It requires some seasonal fruit, coconut water and a blender. That’s all you need to stay healthy during the cocktail party season. Sounds pretty easy, right? It is. I blended fresh pomegranate seeds with an orange, coconut water and some fresh ginger. Gave it a whirl in the blender and wa-la a healthy holiday cocktail. Add your alcohol of choice or drink it in the virgin form. Both will leave you feeling Merry and Bright.

You may want to start off with a 1/4th inch piece of ginger and add more to your liking. I like the spice the ginger adds so I used a 1/2 inch slice of ginger. If you are feeling extra bold, add even more.

 

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Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

IMG_3200Remember when I said in this post that we should wait until the Halloween treats digest before blasting Christmas music? Well…I lied. Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey Christmas carols have been blaring through my Pandora this past week. And I am loving it. When I hear Christmas music I want to sprint to the kitchen and cook. There is something about it that gets me in the cooking mood.

When you think of sweet potatoes, what is the first thing you think of pairing them with? Maple syrup, brown sugar, honey…sweet toppings, right? Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet (the “sweet” in sweet potato gives that away), so topping it with more sugar can be a bit of an overload. Today I  decided to take sweet potatoes in more of a savory direction. Even with the savory ingredients, the natural sweetness of the potatoes comes through. The balance of sweet and savory is spot on.

I baked my potatoes before mashing them. Boiling or steaming is another option, but I find the best flavor comes from the baking method.

Are mashed potatoes on your holiday menu?  Sweet potatoes contain more vitamins than white potatoes. They are significantly higher in Vitamin C, Folate and Vitamin A. Plus, I think they have more flavor.  Think about swapping white potatoes for sweet potatoes. You will send your guests home a little bit healthier than when they arrived.

Fall Salad + Maple Tahini Dressing

IMG_3178The first of November marks the day I officially start planning my holiday menus. It also appears to be the day stores start playing Christmas music.  I love Christmas music and was definitely singing along, but shouldn’t we let the Halloween treats digest before jumping to December?  Anyways…back to holiday menu planning. It is one of my all time favorite things to do. If I were on match.com it would forsure be in my bio under interests. Thank goodness I am not on match,  I am pretty sure that would deter all potential (cool) dates. By the second week in November I have a folder full of potential dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. When I am not brainstorming recipe ideas, I am in the kitchen recipe testing. Gotta test out the recipes and make sure they are holiday table worthy! Today I tested a Fall Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing. It definitely passed the test and will be on the holiday table. Tart granny smith apples mend well with the sweet dressing, salty pumpkin seeds and red onion. I threw in some chewy dried cranberries, which complements the crunchy apples and seeds. Very well balanced and a  great way to get some greens on your holiday plate.

Use whatever nuts or seeds you have in your pantry. The pumpkin seeds are perfecto in the salad, but walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds or any other nut/seed would work well too. A little blue cheese would also taste great on this salad.

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Gluten Free + Baked + Pumpkin + Doughnuts

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I have never been a super fan of doughnuts. I like them, but I don’t love them. Well, that all changed on Saturday morning. I was itching to bake something (I blame it on the season change) and knew I wanted to use pumpkin. I had already made pumpkin bread the week before and didn’t feel like making a pie. I was racking my brain on what to bake when I spotted my trusty doughnut pan. Ah-ha…baked pumpkin doughnuts. They ended up being the perfect weekend breakfast along with a cup of chai tea AND they transformed me into a doughnut lover.

Don’t have a doughnut pan? This recipe would work well as a muffins.

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Spice Apple Cider

IMG_2907OMG…buy some apples, get out your juicer and make this cider right now. Or even better, make this cider, put it in a to-go cup and head straight for the pumpkin patch. If you follow these commands directions, your Fall will be complete.  I promise. There is something so nostalgic about apple cider. It transports me straight back to the days hyper color t-shirts were still cool (I am afraid they will make a comeback), when my mom would bring home jugs of freshly pressed apple cider. It was the perfect way to warm up after a crisp fall day. To this day, she still has the fridge stocked with apple cider during the holidays.

If you don’t have a juicer, please don’t turn your back on this recipe. You can still make homemade apple cider by using the old school (and flavorful) boiling method. Quarter your apples and place them in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the apples. Add the spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for an hour or until the apples are very mushy. Once apples are mushy, mash with a potato masher. Place a very fine colander over a large bowl. Drain the apple mixture. And there you have it- apple cider without a juicer.

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