Chicken Thyme Pate

Please note: This recipe was developed several months ago and I was very excited about it! But then my dietary restrictions tightened at the beginning of the year and pate was no longer in my diet. I figured that eventually I would post this when I returned to “normal” eating habits, but that hasn’t happened yet… And I really want this recipe to be accessible to you!

I still fully agree with everything I said when I wrote this article, regardless of my current diet.

Considering that our society has become hyper-conscious of both health and finances, it is baffling to me that pate hasn’t made a comeback. Yet, America seems so divided about pate: Some absolutely love it; some absolutely hate it. I didn’t used to like it, but after my time in England and France last year, I am just wild for it.

(By the way, it drives me crazy when people that say things like, “Oh, I don’t eat anything from the digestive track” and then smirk like this should be an obvious food philosophy. Liver is amazing– as you can see below– and the fact that it is part of the digestive track is inconsequential actually contributes to its amazing healthfulness.)

If you are some rare person who is on the fence about pate, or if you don’t care for it but would like to be convinced, here is what pate has to offer:

Low in Fat and Calories

High in Protein

High in Iron

(Looking at you, ladies!)

High in Amino Acids

High in B Vitamins

It is Dirt Cheap to Make

It is Easy to Make

You might strongly prefer one type of pate to another– For example, beef liver pate has a drastically different flavor from goose liver pate.

But here I give you Chicken Pate, which I find to be very mild and delicious!

CHICKEN PATE

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1 lb chicken livers

1 cup milk*

1 yellow onion

1 bulb garlic, peeled

1 stick butter

1/2 bunch thyme, stems removed

1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup brandy

*I used goat milk, but the milk is only used to soak the liver– so you don’t have to get too fancy with it. If you are lactose-intolerant, rest assured that the milk will not be added to the final product.

First, drain the livers from their natural juices and pull off and discard any fat.

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Put the liver in a bowl or container (like above) and cover with milk (like below). This will lessen the metallic taste that people don’t always like.

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Put in the fridge for an hour or two.

When the liver is closed to being properly soaked, roughly chop up the onion and the garlic.

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Melt half the stick of butter over medium heat, and add the onions and garlic.

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Saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

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Drain the chicken liver and add to the pan. Add the thyme, pepper, and salt.

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Cook until the outside of the livers are browned, and the insides are still pink but tender.

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 Add the brandy and continue to saute until all of the liquid has cooked off.

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Put all of it into a food processor. Cut up that last bit of butter and add that, too.

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Blend it up until it is smooth.

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Pour the pate into smaller servings, like ramekins, or into a mould if you want to cut it up. I used these cute little containers, and the recipe filled six (each container had 2-3 servings):

pateRefrigerate for about 6 hours, or overnight. Serve with crackers or pieces of toast.

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Please let me know if you try any experimentation! I would love to try this with different liquors, different livers, different herbs– But each batch makes SO MUCH! It makes it tricky to experiment!

Culinary Coinpurse: Seared Scallops over Creamy Polenta with Shiitake Tapenade and Hazelnuts

There are a few menu items to which I’m consistently drawn: Nut-crusted fish. Gnocchi. Seared scallops.

I try to figure out the recipes for dishes that I love so that I don’t have to depend upon expensive restaurants to fill my tummy and empty my wallet. We refer to the kitchen as my lab– Matt is supportive of my constant experimentation, with the understanding that with experimentation comes failure, at times. Sometimes epically so. But that also means that on a random Tuesday I might whip out something fabulous. Like this dish.

Veronica ate with us and carefully analyzed each component with the epicurean delicacy of a food critic. Her final judgment of the dish: Excellent.

SEARED SCALLOPS OVER CREAMY POLENTA

WITH SHIITAKE TAPENADE 

AND HAZELNUTS

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6-12 large scallops (3/person)

1 batch of creamy polenta*

2 large shiitake mushrooms

5 green olives

2 cloves garlic

olive oil

a splash of white wine

salt and pepper

fresh rosemary sprigs

10-20 hazelnuts (aka filberts)

I want to stress that this is a great recipe for experimentation. Try different sauces! Serve it over couscous or pilaf! Use a different nut!

*To start, follow the recipe for Crispy Polenta, but the polenta is done once you’ve finished cooking it on the stovetop. At 30 minutes this element takes the longest.

While the polenta is cooking, chop the shiitake mushrooms and dice the garlic. By the way, when you pick out shiitake mushrooms, they should be firm with a good shape, like these babies:

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Aren’t they pretty?

Saute the mushrooms, olives, and garlic in olive oil and white wine for a few minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and fragrant.

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 (Don’t forget to stir the polenta!)

When the mushroom mixture is done cooking, blend it up in a mini food processor. If it’s too thick to pour, add a little more wine.

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To sear the scallops, heat up olive oil in a pan over high heat so that it is extremely hot. Salt the scallops on both sides.

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Add the scallops to the pan and add pepper. Sear for only a minute, then flip and sear for just one more minute.

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To serve, scoop polenta into each bowl; top with three scallops; spoon some sauce over or around the scallops. Chop the hazelnuts and top each dish with them, then add a sprig of rosemary (I also seared the rosemary for a minute on the stovetop, so it would be crispy).

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This dish was clearly inspired by the lovely scallop appetizer that I had recently at Ahwahnee in Yosemite.

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Let’s look at the kind of savings you get by knowing how to make this dish at home.

The Ahwahnee scallop appetizer cost $17 (without tax and tip)

Fresh scallops cost me $12.10 for 9 of them, or $1.34 apiece, or $2.68 - $4.03 per serving (depending on whether you serve two per plate like Ahwahnee, or three per plate like I did at home).

Dry polenta cost about 50 cents for a cup, which made about 5 servings– 10 cents per serving.

The shiitake mushrooms were $2.20 for two, which made 4 servings, equaling 55 cents per serving.

All the other ingredients were just small amounts each, but I’ll say that they added $1 more to the production cost per plate.

So in total, the home-made scallop dish cost $4.31 with two scallops, or $5.68 with three. Let average it and say it cost $5 per serving.

If you make scallops at home instead of going out for them, you would save $12 per serving, or over 70%.

Let’s say you make something fancy like seared scallops once per week for your significant other/best friend. It would cost you only $40/month, or $480/year, compared with the restaurant price of $136/month, $1632/year.

I assume that you do not actually eat hundreds of dollars worth of fancy restaurant scallops each year. But by learning to cook nice things at home, these are the types of savings you’ll see!

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Vegan Paleo Chocolate Pudding

If you have never before made pudding with avocados as the base, this recipe is going to blow your mind. In fact, when I started this website a year ago, I got a small flurry of emails in the first few weeks asking about avocado pudding.

I don’t make it very often because I love avocados too much to keep them around to age, but let me tell you– If you ever get a deal on too-soft avocados, or if your avocados age a little bit past their best edibility, this is it. This is what to do with them.

That is, unless you don’t like rich, creamy, chocolate pudding…

VEGAN PALEO CHOCOLATE PUDDING

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1 cup dates*

2 overripe avocados

3 Tbsps unsweetened cocoa

water, as needed

(Variations with additional ingredients are listed below)

*Alternatively, you can use a few tablespoons of maple syrup or agave.

Soak the dates for about an hour beforehand. You can soak them for a whole day, but any more than that and they’ll start to ferment.

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Add the soaked dates and all the other ingredients to a food processor. It will look nothing like pudding and you’ll wonder if this recipe is for real.

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Blend up. Bam! Pudding.

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If it’s too thick, add a little water and blend again. I like to serve it with fruit for dipping– strawberries or bananas, or raspberries on top. It makes each bowl last longer.

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I also serve it with coconut on top.

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But the big winner is chocolate peanut butter pudding dip! I added a spoonful of peanut butter and processed it again, and It was fabulous with the strawberries.

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What are some other yummy add-ins you could use?

Random Food Love: Fancy Foodfest

Matt and I went to Yosemite for a few days last week, and I realized that in California, vacations tend to have two focuses: health and fitness (like hiking) and luxury (like good wine and spa treatments).

Our trip was the epitome of a California Vacation. We would hike all day and then curl up by the fireplace at our lodge or in one of the thousand hot tubs and drink wine and relax.

We did go to the fanciest restaurant in Yosemite– The glorious Ahwahnee– but we brought our own fancy snacks and wine from home, so we saved some moolah that way (and we had also gotten a great deal on our lodge through Groupon).

For the trip we brought rosemary and sea salt Marcona almonds, strawberries, mandarins, bananas, apples, white bean hummus, dried snap peas, rye crackers, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and cereal and milk (for Matt). And a few bottles of wine and champagne. Overboard? A little.

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The dinner at Ahwahnee was one of the nicest I’ve had. Check out these beautiful dishes:

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My appetizer: Seared sea scallop appetizer with smokey grits, sweet basil, piperade

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Matt’s appetizer: Onion soup gratinee with three cheeses and baguette crouton

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My main course: Grilled Pacific swordfish with coucous, arugula pesto, and olive tapenade. The most ingredients I’ve ever seen in a single dish!

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Matt’s main course: Rotisserie free-range chicken with pesto penne and roasted tomato vinaigrette

I cheated on my diet a little with the couscous since I haven’t been eating wheat, but c’est la vie– A girl’s gotta live!

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On the road trip home I cheated way more with a chicken crepe (chicken, feta, wheat– all violations). But I went back to being strict about my diet when I got home.

108 122 131The rest of my restaurant adventures over the past two weeks: standard fish taco/shrimp taco combo on date night (this time we split a ceviche tostada, too) from Taqueria Vallarta; dairy-free Huevos Rancheros from Saturn Cafe; tofu tacos from Hula’s. Clearly I’ve been on a Mexican kick!

Onto what I’ve been cooking…

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Baba Ganoush with rice crackers and rye crackers.

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…and Baba Ganoush corn tortilla wraps, with cucumbers and tomatoes.

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Seared Ahi. (Have you noticed that we haven’t been going out for sushi lately? This dish has been scratching that itch every week)

121Roasted kabocha squash with Earth balance, maple syrup, and hazelnuts.

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Vegan Cream of Tomato Bliss with rye cracker “croutons”.

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Roasted beets with walnuts.

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Almond-Crusted Salmon with mango and greens, and home-made creamy leek soup (vegan). The soup was delicious (Matt polished it off the first night), but it didn’t photograph very well.

078Strawberries dipped in vegan chocolate peanut butter pudding. Hells YES the recipe is coming for the pudding!!!

120Ginger carrot soup with fancy toppings (shredded carrots, chopped apples, and hazelnuts). Recipe’s coming!

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I made three Cauliflower Crust Pizzas for a potluck– This was all that was left five minutes after arriving (and the rest went fast, too!). These ones had basil-beet greens pesto and tomatoes.

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Middle-of-the-night breakfast taco.

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Seared sea scallops over creamy polenta with shiitake tapenade, hazelnuts, and toasted rosemary. This was clearly inspired by the wonderful dishes at Ahwahnee. Veronica and Matt melted over it– Even after the scallops were gone, they kept scraping the pots of polenta and tapenade. I promise that the recipe is coming soon!

What is the best food you’ve had lately?

Home-Made Honey Kombucha

SPOIL ALERT: Making kombucha at home is easy, inexpensive, and tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff.

Kombucha: In the world of nutrition fanatics, this is the elixir of health. Outside of that world, you probably wouldn’t have heard of it– It has glorious cleansing properties, but tastes like sour, carbonated rotten fruit juice. That is, store-bought kombucha tastes like that (and smells like garbage). But you get used to the taste and learn to love it.

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With home-made kombucha, you have control over the sweetness so that you only let it ferment to the level of tartness that you like. For me, that means that it ends up tasting like a delicious, lightly-carbonated sweet plum soda. And the process is so low-maintenance, and so fun.

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It is standard to use regular table sugar to make kombucha, but I’ve been using honey and the outcome has been glorious. I have learned that it may be possible to hurt your scoby (the main “ingredient” of kombucha) if you use raw honey, because the honey might contain organic fragments that attack the scoby. I’ve also read that the honey might weaken the scoby over time, because honey contains anti-bacterial properties and that too can attack the scoby. I have not experienced either of these results and I don’t think there have been very extensive studies done, so– experiment! And share your results!

***Please note that I am not an expert in fermentation, and if you are interested in the finer points of the fermentation process, you should consult a specialist (I recommend the literature of Sandor Katz).

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HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE?

Each batch will be ready, from start to best drinkability, in a minimum of 10 days. Brewing and cooling the tea is done overnight, then the kombucha sits and ferments for at least one week, and then it is bottled and carbonated for two days.

Each batch will yield almost a gallon, a bit more than three wine bottles full. If you want to make multiple batches, you can start with one and then your key ingredient (the scoby) will double so that you can make two batches next time, and then those scobies will all double, etc. Just keep in mind that you’ll need more equipment.

EQUIPMENT YOU NEED:
(You probably have most of these already)

a 1-gallon glass jar/container

a wooden or large plastic spoon

a clean mesh cloth, towel, or coffee filter

a large (~a quart) glass jar

a large pot (for boiling water)

3 wine bottles with twist-on tops*

*It is really fun to pick out new wines to try, based on twist-tops

 THE SCOBY

There are a few names for the scoby– the mother, the mushroom, the baby– but “scoby” is the acronym for Symbiotic Culture (or Colony) Of Bacteria and Yeast. The scoby is what makes kombucha, instead of just sweet tea. It’s what guides the fermentation process. It is a big flat white rubbery mushroom that sits on or in your tea to protect it from the elements while it eats away at the sugar in the tea and turns it probiotic. And every ten days or so, you finish a new batch of tea and a new (baby) scoby is born. That means that if you know just one person who makes their own kombucha, they have a new scoby available with every new batch. It’s fine to ask if they could spare one.

You don’t want the scoby to have any contact with metal, so make sure that you only use wooden, plastic, or glass instruments with the kombucha once the scoby is in the tea.

INGREDIENTS

1 scoby*

 3 1/2 quarts filtered water

8-10 English breakfast tea bags

~1 cup honey

2 cups kombucha from previous batch*

*Your first scoby will probably be delivered to you in a jar with 2 cups of kombucha

Here is a summary of the simple steps to make the kombucha, followed by extended instructions:

1) Make and cool sweet black tea.

2) Add the scoby and let sit for a week.

3) Bottle and let carbonate for a couple days.

So simple, right? Here’s the longer version…

1) MAKE AND COOL SWEET BLACK TEA

Measure out the water into a clean pot and bring to a boil (it’s ok if the pot is metal, since the scoby isn’t involved yet). Transfer the boiling water to the gallon jar and add the tea bags and stir in the honey. Brew the tea until the water has cooled, overnight or all day. (I have also seen online recipes that instruct you to brew the tea in the pot, and transfer it to the gallon jar once it has cooled.)

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Tip: I tied the tea bags to a non-metal spoon and propped up the spoon across the top of the jar, per the advice of my boss, Jill. It’s a great method.

 

2) ADD THE SCOBY AND LET SIT FOR A WEEK

Once the tea has cooled completely, gently pour your scoby and the 2 cups of kombucha into the gallon jar.

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Cover the gallon jar securely with your clean mesh fabric or coffee filter. I use a thin apron and secure it with the apron strings.

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Let it sit, covered, in a comfortably warm area of the house, out of direct sunlight, where it will be reasonably undisturbed. The scoby might float around, or it might settle on the top, and either is fine. Keep an eye on it because it’s totally fascinating, but try not to poke at it. If the mother scoby is floating around the middle of the gallon jar, a new scoby will grow over the top; if the mother scoby covers the top, the baby will grow as a second layer underneath it. Check out these trippy pictures of my scoby!:

024 022 023 020 019Fascinating stuff, right?! The kombucha may start with lots of bubbles on top so it looks like something is going wrong, but be patient. After a few days the protective top layer will become more apparent.

Long strands will hang off the scoby, and there may be darker and lighter spots on the top. That is all fine. What you want to look out for is mold, or the entire scoby turning black. I haven’t experienced this, but if it happens, it means that organic matter got in there, or there was a bad balance with the honey or something. Just start over with a new scoby.

After one week, taste the kombucha by gently dipping in a clean glass or mug. You can either bottle it now, or wait for it to ferment more. If you let it ferment more, it will be stronger, more effective, it may get up to 1% alcohol, and it will grow more and more tart. You can let it ferment anywhere from one week to one month. (And if you can’t take care of it for a while but want to keep it alive, you can either just let it sit out or in the fridge, for up to a few months.)

3) BOTTLE AND LET CARBONATE FOR A COUPLE DAYS

Once the kombucha is the right flavor for you, you can use clean hands to carefully lift the scoby from the gallon jar into the quart-or-so-sized jar, and fill the jar the rest of the way with the new kombucha. Use a funnel to pour the rest of the kombucha into the wine bottles, up to about an inch from the top. You’ll want a little air in there, but not much.

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Twist the caps on firmly and let the bottles sit at room temperature for two days. Once you put it in the fridge, it will stop carbonating. The longer you let it sit outside the fridge, the more it will carbonate. I only like it lightly carbonated (2 days), but some friends of mine had lost a jar of kombucha that I had given them, and they accidentally let it carbonate for two weeks before they found it. They loved the intense carbonation.

Serve up, and keep refrigerated. It will have a gorgeous honey color and tastes like heaven.

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VARIATIONS

If you don’t want scoby residue in your kombucha, you can filter the kombucha before you pour it into the wine bottles to carbonate.

You can add additional flavoring, if you’d like. I’m a fan of the regular kombucha flavor– like I said before, it naturally tastes like sweet plum soda– but I’m planning to try out some added flavors soon. For example: lemon and ginger, or a sexy kombucha with aphrodisiac flavors, or different fruits, or even turmeric juice for a super-magical healing elixir. Flavors can be added when you bottle for carbonation, or you can make it a separate step and fuse the kombucha in a jar with the flavors after it is fermented, but before you filter and bottle it.

EXPERIMENT

There are so many ways to experiment– So be safe, but play around!

Use different sweeteners. I’ve heard that you can even use straight fruit juice.

Use different teas. I’m going to experiment with green tea soon. Just make sure that you are using simple teas that don’t have floral oils (like Earl Grey).

Let it ferment and/or carbonate for different amounts of time.

Try adding different flavors.

Let us know in the comments if you try any experiments, have any questions, or have any other advice!

Crispy Polenta With…

I love when the vegetarian option on a menu is “Crispy Polenta with [ANYTHING]“. It used to be that the default vegetarian option was always pasta. Usually with a heavy cream sauce. But I hope those days are over, because crispy polenta with [anything] is delicious and versatile, and can accommodate not only vegetarians, but vegans, people with gluten sensitivities, and people with lactose sensitivities. (Most menus have a meat-and-vegetable plate so Paleo dieters are accommodated. Our crazy dietary restrictions could practically be covered with just two dishes offered!)

Anyways, this recipe is simple and you can get a LOT out of it. If either you want to make a week of food in advance, or you want to accommodate a large group of dinner guests with multiple dietary issues, this is an awesome way to go.

CRISPY POLENTA WITH…

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4-5 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 cup dry polenta cornmeal

1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

olive oil

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. It is important to over-salt polenta, because the polenta will mute out a lot of the salt. Once boiling, pour the cornmeal in a little at a time, stirring (so that it doesn’t get clumpy like it did the last time I posted a cornmeal recipe).

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The polenta will be raging like the ocean during a thousand tempests.

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Reduce the heat to low, add the optional nutritional yeast and stir, then let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it seems to be getting too dry, add a bit more water.

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(At this point the polenta will be warm and creamy and delicious, and you should probably eat a bowl of it.)

Line a baking pan with parchment paper, and pour and spread out the polenta so that it is the thickness you’ll want.

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Refrigerate for at least half an hour, until the polenta is firm.

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Cut into whatever size and shape pleases you. If you have kids (or even if you don’t), it would be fun to use cookie cutters to make interesting shapes. I cut it in diagonal lines to make diamonds.

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When you are ready to serve, saute the polenta in a little olive oil for a couple minutes on each side. (Don’t do this step in advance– The polenta won’t stay crispy.)

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Serve and top with whatever you want, and have fun with the presentation!

Here are three different presentations of the same toppings: sauted mushrooms, roasted bell pepper, and Vegan Cheezy Sauce.

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Other toppings ideas?

tomato sauce and pizza toppings

sauted veggies

poached eggs

…What would you serve over crispy polenta? 

Banana Oat Cakes

These are really clean and simple, and they make a GREAT breakfast or snack– chewy and sweet, like portable balls of oatmeal. A great recipe for kids! (But I don’t have kids so I ate them all.)

BANANA OAT CAKES

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2 ripe bananas

1 cup rolled oats

optional:

nuts (I used pecans)

dried fruit (I used goji berries)

fresh fruit (I used diced apples)

chocolate chips

First, combine the bananas and oats and mash together until it’s an even consistency.

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Add your optional ingredients and mix.

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Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon the mixture into small cakes. The cakes will not spread out, so make them in the shapes you want and feel free to put them close together.

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Before cooking.

Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 15 minutes. When they are done, they’ll pretty much look the same as they did going in.

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After cooking. Pretty much the same look.

Serve up!

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These keep well in the fridge, and don’t be afraid to gorge! If you eat half the batch, you’re only consuming one banana, a half-cup of oats, and half the optional ingredients. Healthy and yummy!

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What are other optional ingredients you’d bake into these?

Random Food Love: Giving Blood

I honestly didn’t think I’d have enough pictures to post for this week’s Random Food Love– And then I loaded the pictures from the past two weeks, and YOWZA! I had so many great dishes! What was I thinking?

To check in with you and give an update, my weight-loss has slowed considerably since January, but I’m still losing weight and have gone down a couple pants sizes. And my overall health has been great! I gave blood on Saturday and my blood pressure was perfect, and my blood was so healthy and had such a strong flow that the entire pint was donated in 5 minutes 35 seconds (whole blood usually takes 8-10 minutes).

I love the do-gooder aspect of giving blood, but it’s also been great to check in on my blood health every two months.

Without further ado…

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What is that pretty little thing? EEL! A friend at work caught me a monkeyface eel, and holy cow– It was delicious. It is now my favorite seafood. Here, it was pan-fried in gluten-free flour and topped with a roasted bell pepper sauce, with a side of vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup and arugula with avocado. Don’t be deceived– I ate 3x as much eel as is in the picture.

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Zucchini over polenta with butternut squash sauce (aka Vegan Cheezy Sauce) with a side of roasted acorn squash. Squash, squash, side of squash.

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Fresh strawberries in chocolate tofu pudding (I just blended up tofu, unsweetened cocoa, and maple syrup).

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“Hey Matt, is this a ‘thing’”? I asked after topping arugula with cilantro hummus. “It is now,” he said.

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Most beautiful farm breakfast that my Mama made me when I visited the farm (Usually I’m in charge of brunch, but I’d made dinner the night before, with my sou-chefs, Daddoo and niece Emily). Farm eggs with potatoes, salsa, and pea shoots.

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A big ol’ pile of roasted bell peppers and eggplant. The eggplant ultimately became Baba Ganoush and the peppers have been making random appearances in LOTS of things.

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My favorite snack, as of late: pistachios.

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More Cauliflower Crust Pizza, with Dandelion Pesto, zucchini, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts.

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Seared tombo tuna (prepared like Seared Ahi), and my new super-cute piggy cutting board that used to be my Grandma’s.

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Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup. So good.

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Arugula with crab, avocado, walnuts, and roasted bell pepper.

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Roasted sweet potatoes with Earth Balance.

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Prepping for giving blood: 3 eggs scrambled with Spanish rice, pinto beans, avocado, and salsa (left over Mexican food from date night, below), and a few big glasses of coconut water.

002More polenta with butternut sauce, sauted mushrooms, and roasted bell peppers. The recipe is still coming, I swear!

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Restaurant Food Love!:Top left, Pad Thai from Charlie Hong Kong; top right, Goin’ Abroad Salad from Global Village Cafe; bottom left, take-out from Taqueria Vallarta; bottom right, the same food (a fish taco, a shrimp taco, beans and rice) with avocado and salsa dumped on it. Matt and my latest cheap Friday night dates have involved Mexican take-out and movie rentals.

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Thin rice noodles with shrimp, red cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cilantro, and green onions.

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Same as the previous, but with wider rice noodles and Peanut Sauce. I hadn’t made any noodle dishes this year since I’ve limited my grain intake, but there are so many veggies that there isn’t actually much pasta in either of these dishes.

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This is the magic combo for improving, like, 95% of common ailments: turmeric root juiced with apples, with an avocado/black pepper chaser. Look a little crazy? Turmeric is an amazing root that soothes inflammation, which helps to cure headaches, sprains, skin irritations, etc. The apple juice mellows out the taste (it’s actually pretty good, but very strong), the pepper helps activate the turmeric, and the avocado helps absorb the nutrients.

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And lastly, my fabulous new project: Home-made honey kombucha! If you buy kombucha at the store, it tastes a bit like sour, carbonated, rotten fruit (yum?) and costs about $3 per bottle. It has amazing health benefits and if you drink it enough you will get used to the taste, but home-made kombucha is delicious– It tastes like plum juice. Each batch yields a gallon of kombucha every 10 days or so, you have control over the sweetness/tartness balance, and it is so much fun to see everything develop! I’ll write more about this later.

What have you been eating lately?

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

Andrea requested that I develop this recipe, and I owe her a thousand thank-yous because this soup is now one of the best soup recipes at SoyMilkMustache. It actually rivals the amazingness of vegan Cream of Tomato Bliss! (I didn’t think anything would ever rival Cream of Tomato Bliss.)

This tastes and feels like a delicious mushroom gravy, but it has fewer than 100 calories per cup…

VEGAN CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP

Soup 1

2-6 cups mushrooms*

1 medium head of cauliflower

1 onion

2 cups almond milk

2 cups water

2 Tbsps bouillon

1 cup white wine

2 sprigs rosemary

4 clovesgarlic

*I know this seems like a huge difference, but I’ve made it with 2 cups of mushrooms, or 6 cups– It depends on whether you want the mushroom flavor to be more subtle or strong. Matt votes for the stronger mushroom flavor– 6 cups– but he fawned over it when I made with 2 cups, too.

Here are pictures of both:

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Recipe using 2 cups of white mushrooms

Soup 2

Recipe using 6 cups of crimini mushrooms

First, chop the mushrooms, cauliflower, onion, and garlic into chunks. You’re going to blend them up at the end, so don’t worry about uniformity. (I got carried away and cut the mushrooms unnecessarily small. I was distracted by Archer.)

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Here are what all the ingredients look like, besides the water and bouillon:

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Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot.

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Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for about a half-hour, until the cauliflower feels soft when you poke it with a fork.

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In batches (to avoid overflow), blend up the soup in a food processor or blender. You can also use an immersion blender.

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Return it to the pan and stir so that the mixture is consistent. Serve up.

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Works awesomely as a gravy substitute for mashed potatoes, too!

Pretty simple, right? There are a lot of ingredients compared to other recipes on this site, but they’re all pretty common and inexpensive. The soup sure doesn’t taste common and inexpensive, though! The wine, garlic, and rosemary make this taste so fancy and wonderful.

Bon appetit!

Super Simple Peanut Butter Honey Oat Bars

My friend Brookie suggested this recipe to me on Facebook, and within an hour it was in my stomach. They are that simple. And isn’t it nice when treats are simple?

These are such delicious, naughty-tasting treats that have no idea that they’re actually clean and nutritious. At 200 calories per bar, it’s a perfect snack/breakfast/dessert (but try not to eat the entire batch. Try.).

PEANUT BUTTER HONEY OAT BARS

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1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

2 cup oats

This is so simple of a recipe, it’s barely a recipe.

First: Heat and stir the peanut butter and honey over medium heat, so that it all softens and mixes easily.

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When it is nicely blended, add the oats, mix, and turn off the heat.

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Press the mixture into a parchment paper-lined pan, making it as even as possible. The mixture isn’t runny, so you could even do this on a baking sheet.

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Refrigerate for an hour, or if you are too anxious to wait that long, you can freeze it for 20 minutes instead.

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Cut into squares and serve.

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This is an extra great treat for kids, but Matt and I polished off the whole pan in less than a day… Like I said, TRY not to eat the whole batch!