Sesame Seared Ahi Salad

IMG_3294This recipe is a bit of a tease for me. I love love love seared ahi tuna but for the next 5 months it is off limits (one of the many perks of being pregnant…major sarcasm). Making this salad without taking a bite of the ahi was torture, but I managed to do it. Lucky for Taber he got double the amount of ahi while I enjoy the salad vegetarian style.

This salad is crisp and refreshing, which is a nice break from holiday comfort food. I tossed the cabbage, carrot, pepper and tomato mixture with a sesame dressing and then topped it with seared tuna. It is substantial enough for a main course salad.

With that I will leave you the recipe. The more I write about it the more I want seared ahi. So this post is done.

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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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Shredded Brussels Sprouts + Caramelized Onions + Sausage Sauté

IMG_3265Shredded Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad seems to be this years food version of twerking  (super trendy). It is all over the place. In magazines, on cooking shows and on seasonal restaurant menus.  I’m 100% ok with this, it is a tasty salad packed full of health supportive ingredients.  Hopefully it won’t fall off the trend wagon anytime soon. On the flip side, I hope twerking falls off the trend wagon very soon, like yesterday.

Today I set out to make my own version of Shredded Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad. I had my ingredients and I had a plan. Then my plan didn’t go as planned. What started out as a salad ended up as a sauté. Minus the Kale. I caramelized the onions and added the shaved brussels sprouts. My next plan of action was to toss it with kale, organic sausage, almonds and a dijon vinaigrette. I didn’t make it that far.  The caramelized onions and brussels sprouts looked delicious on their own. They were begging not to be made into a salad.  I complied and tossed the warm brussel sprouts and caramelized onions with a dijon vinegrette, almonds and organic sausage. The kale was left untouched on my cutting board.  My unplanned plan ended up being perfect. This recipe was warming and flavorful.

Now what to do with the bunch of Kale I have sitting in my fridge. I am thinking Cheesy Kale Chips… Stay tuned.

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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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B.L.A.T. + Horseradish Aioli

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Today I took on a classic, the BLT.  I jazzed it up a bit by adding avocado and a horseradish aioli. Does that make it a B.L.A.T.H.O.? Hmmmm I think we will stick to calling it a B.L.A.T. (Bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado).  The end result was the perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy.

Fresh horseradish can be tough to come by and a bit intimidating. Feel free to substitute prepared horseradish for the fresh horseradish. Prepared horseradish can be found down the condiment aisle of your grocery store in a jar. Fresh horseradish is very strong, so if using a jarred version increase the amount of horseradish in the aioli.

On a side note- If you ever have a stuffed up nose, take a sniff of fresh horseradish and you will be cleared out within seconds.

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHT                                                                                                                                                                           Horseradish

Horseradish has been used medicinally since the Middle Ages. Beyond the pungent spice it lends to recipes, it is also high in a compound known as glucosinolates, which aids in the prevention of cancer.  It is also high in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and treat the flu/cold. Have body aches or sore muscle? Using horseradish topically can soothe sore muscles, joints and head aches. Horseradish helps stimulate blood flow to the skin surface and to inflamed areas of the body. So many health benefits stuffed into a small (not so pretty) root.

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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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French Onion Soup

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Have you ever taken a bite out of a raw onion? Not awesome. Have you ever taken a bite of caramelized onions? So awesome. French Onion Soup is like a continuous spoonful of glorified caramelized onions. Sweet, savory and satisfying.  Making French Onion Soup is pretty simple- onions are slowly cooked down to a syrupy golden brown, mixed with a few herbs, wine and broth to create a hearty soup. Although it is simple, it takes time and patience. Slow and steady definitely wins the race when it comes to caramelizing onions. As a result of the natural sugars browning,  raw pungent onions transform into a deep, rich and mild flavor. I should also add that no mints are needed after eating French Onion Soup.  So go ahead and make this on date night.

By topping each bowl with an individual crostini melted with parmesan cheese rather than covering the entire bowl with melted cheese,  this version of French Onion Soup is lighter than it’s traditional restaurant counterpart. It also makes for a very pretty presentation.

I used ghee (clarified butter) to caramelize the onions. You may use butter or olive oil, whichever you prefer. Looking for a vegetarian French Onion Soup? Sub vegetable for the beef broth.

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