Tag Archives: heidi swanson

Curry with Cashews

Confession:  I love cooking, but I could LIVE on take out.  In particular thai take out.  My fave place in GR is Angels Thai on Monroe Center.  This is my “go-to” curry recipe adopted from Heidi Swanson’s 101cookbooks.com.  I add some more num num’s and make it for a crowd so that I have leftovers!  Curry lasts surprisingly well in the freezer and makes a great quick meal over rice or quinoa in a hurry.  I picked some hearty veggies and a sturdy bean so they stand up well later going from freezer to table later.  You can add just about anything you want into this dish.  Clean out the fridge if you like.  Just be sure to write it all down if it tastes awesome, or you won’t be able to recreate it later…this happens to me more times than I care to mention.

  • 2 cups lite coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs HOT curry powder (I use Penzeys)
  • 3 Tbs Mild or Sweet curry powder (Penzeys here too)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp fine grain sea salt (to your taste)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 block firm tofu, pressed and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch segments
  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cauliflower, cut into tiny florets (one large head)
  • 1/3 cup cashews, toasted
  • a handful of cilantro, loosely chopped

Toast the cashews in a wok briefly, until just browned.  Remove the cashews and allow to cool.  Next, toast the curry over LOW.  Do not burn it or your pan will smell and taste like burned curry for all time.  For real.  Add to the toasted curry, half of the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.  Whisk in the rest of the curry powder and salt, working out any clumps. Now stir in the chopped red onion and garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in the remaining coconut milk and the water, and then the tofu. Cook down the liquid for a couple minutes before adding the green beans, garbanzos, and cauliflower. Cover and simmer for just about one minute, maybe two – or just until the cauliflower and beans lose their raw edge and cook through a bit. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the cashews. Taste and adjust the seasoning (salt / curry powder) if needed. Serve with a bit of cilantro topping each bowl over rice or quinoa.

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Veg Tortilla Soup

It hasn’t exactly been soup weather here in Michigan (thank goodness)!  Yesterday it was 82 degrees, I’m sure we will pay for that later.  I love soup so much, that I couldn’t wait until it was cold to make some tortilla soup.  Heidi Swanson from 101cookbooks.com has some of the most simple and delicious soup recipes one could ask for, however, when I have extra delicious ingredients on hand or in the freezer…I like to embellish on her deliciousness.  Here is my version of Veggie Tortilla Soup.

  • 6-8 corn tortillas, cut in half and then into matchstick-thin strips
  • a big splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 20 small yellow or red cherry tomatoes
  • another splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne or other spicy red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle en adobo
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • a few sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of goat cheese, crumbled (omit if vegan)

Gently toss the tortilla strips with a glug of olive oil and salt. Turn them out onto a baking sheet, arrange them across the pan and bake in a 350F degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Set aside.

I usually do this whenever I have tomatoes that have to be used up in a hurry.  I call them “crack tomatoes”.  They have so many uses…limitless really as a fridge staple.  To make:  halve (or quarter) the tomatoes lengthwise and put them in a small roasting pan, oven proof dish, or rimmed baking sheet. Toss with a bit of olive oil and a pinch or two of salt. Bake in a 350F degree oven for 40-45 minutes (less time if you use smaller cherry tomatoes), or until the tomatoes are shrunken and golden around the edges. The tomatoes keep nicely in a jar for days (refrigerated).  If you are going to keep them for a little longer, douse them in olive oil and store them under the oil in an airtight container, I use a Ball glass canning jar.

For the soup itself – in a big pot over medium-high heat cook the garlic and onions in a splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt for just a minute or so. Stir in the spices and then the tomatoes, chiles, chipotle en adobo. Cook down for about five minutes or so, it should thicken a bit. For a smooth soup don’t add corn or beans then remove from heat, add one cup of the broth and puree with a hand blender (or puree in a traditional blender). Add the remaining 5 cups of broth and puree until smooth. Bring the soup back up to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.  If you like chunkier soups to mop up, don’t puree, and add the corn and black beans.  Serve as is.

Serve the individual bowls topped with plenty of tortilla strips, the roasted and sun-dried tomatoes, and some crumbled goat cheese. Alternately, as I mention up above, you can finish with sliced avocado, cilantro, white onions, and a squeeze of lime. If you like a creamier soup base add a splash of half and half, or stir in some extra goat cheese.

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If you plant a herb garden, you better damn well like pesto.

My herbs are staging a coup d’état in the backyard.

I’m striking back with pesto.

One of my fave 101cookbooks.com blog posts is entitled “How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother”.  She’s right.  It’s a brilliant recipe; however, sometimes I do not have 1) pine nut cash allowance (so expensive!), 2) oh, I don’t know 1000 extra calories to inhale a 2 tablespoon mouthful of wonderfulness or 3) time to chop BY HAND (wtf?!) a zillion leaves into a paste-like substance-I guess that’s where the grandmother part comes in for Heidi Swanson’s recipe; grandmothers have lots of extra time for this stuff.

Tonight when I realized my parsley was about to FLOWER for goodness sake, I took it upon myself to hack it all down, grab some garlic and headed to the food processor to make, “Certainly not an Italian Grandmother’s Pesto” while muttering to myself, “it’s a damn good thing I like pesto.”

Pesto from the Fridge

  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 2 large handfuls of something delish and green from your herb garden (could really be anything)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, 2 if you are not interested in vampire protection (TrueBlood starts at the end of the month)
  • 1/4 C good EVOO

**To make this real pesto, add 1/2 C toasted walnuts or pine nuts,  sometimes called Pinons and 1/2 C grated parm cheese to the mix then increase your EVOO as needed to get a nice puree.

Hack down a bunch of your herbs you have been neglecting, use the tender leaf part for the pesto (wash and dry it) and the stems to clean out your garbage disposal, it will make it smell better after you grind them up in there and send them to their new water home.

In a food processor, take the peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, lemon zest and all of that beautiful greenery and blend while slowly adding the EVOO.  You might need less than 1/4 C depending on how liquidy you want the pesto.  I like mine a little bit on the dry side.

To store, I take an old ice cube container, spray a little oil in the bottom and on the sides then portion out my pesto in the little wells which happens to make a nice amount of sauce for 2 people when I decide I need a pasta fix; freeze and then pop out and store in a freezer bag.

I have also used this concoction as:

  • Tofu marinade
  • Combined with greek yogurt to make dip, or thinned with water to make salad dressing.
  • Mixed with more EVOO and a dash of balsamic vinegar to create a quick and flavorful vinaigrette.
  • Tossed with pasta and raw veggies for a quick lunch or dinner.
  • Tossed with pasta, a little pasta water, goat cheese and toasted walnuts for a yummy dinner.
  • On top of crusty bread for the base for bruschetta or plain as garlic bread.
  • Tossed with saute’d mushrooms.
  • Base for marinated olives and bocconcini (baby mozzarella balls) skewers.
  • Base for tortillini soup.
Technically this recipe might be considered a Coulis due to lack of cheese; but whatever the case, it’s a flexible, cheap, quick and yummy way to put that herb garden to use and just about any herb or green will due.  I’ve even used spinach with fantastic results.  Pulling one of these little cubes out of the freezer in February makes my heart remember spring.

Eat Cake. Press Tofu. Juice Lemons. Make Buttermilk.

One of my gal pals celebrated a birthday last week and NO ONE made her a cake.  This is basically a crime.  Ina Garten would have been be pissed; hence, I dropped everything and made some Barefoot Contessa cupcakes.  Fear not, while the cupcake recipe DOES start with nearly 2 sticks of butter, for dinner I made Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry which basically cancels out the butter!  Eat up!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature (I never have this on hand, so I “made” buttermilk using 1 cup skim milk and 1 T lemon juice-it really does work)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows

Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Peanut Butter Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

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I have a lot of friends that hate working with tofu because it’s “too spongy” or too this, or too that…I create extra, extra firm and combat spongy, with a very scientific pressing technique that I have perfected in my kitchen, you can see it in the first few photos post cupcake in the slideshow.  Hint: it involves a cast iron grill pan.  Very complex.

For the record, the birthday girl hated the stir-fry, but learned that she loves chickpeas.  One small victory.  I on the other hand decided this is one my fave Heidi Swanson recipes.  Different strokes.

Lemony Chickpea Stir-Fry

  • Recipe from 101cookbooks.com
  • 2 tablespoon ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 1 small onion or a couple shallots, sliced
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine, if you don’t want to cook up a pot of dried chickpeas)
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 1 cup of chopped kale
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee/olive oil In a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in a big pinch of salt, the onion, and chickpeas. Saute until the chickpeas are deeply golden and crusty. Stir in the tofu and cook just until the tofu is heated through, just a minute or so. Stir in the kale and cook for one minute more. Remove everything from the skillet onto a large plate and set aside. In the same skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of ghee/olive oil, add the zucchini and saute until it starts to take on a bit of color, two or three minutes. Add the chickpea mixture back to the skillet, and remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, taste, and season with a bit more salt if needed. Turn out onto a platter and serve family style.

Tried and True. Asparagus Stir Fry.

In an effort to get Spring to hustle up a little, I bought asparagus today from my new fave food store Horrocks on 44th and Breton in Kentwood.  It’s not quite Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but it is a fine substitute.  When I saw asparagus was on sale, I started dreaming of my fave stir fry recipe from Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks.com.  When I think of stir fry, I think of this recipe. Salty, sweet, crunchy, tart, easy to add ingredients to, a great clean out the fridge starter recipe and very, very pretty, super green.  It just reeks of good for you.  And if you serve it over soba noodles or brown rice, it will net you 2 dinners and 2 lunches.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Stir Fry

  • toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed 1/2″
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 hand full pea pods
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger (peeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • a couple big pinches of fine-grain sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 big handful of toasted cashews, chopped up a bit
  • a few handfuls of spinach, or chopped kale, or chopped chard
  • zest and juice of two limes
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 small handful fresh mint, slivered
  • 1 small handful fresh Thai basil, slivered

Have all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach of the stove. Heat a splash of sesame oil in a large pan, or well-seasoned wok over medium high heat. Alternately, you can do this in a dry non-stick pan – one of the few occasions I still use non-stick. When it is hot, add the tofu, and cook until golden – a few minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.

Add another (generous) splash of oil to the pan and, as soon as it is hot, add the onions, ginger, red pepper flakes, asparagus, edamame and salt. Stir fry for about a minute, then add the garlic, cashews, and spinach and stir-fry for another minute, or until the spinach wilts. Return the tofu to the pan. Stir in the lime zest and juice and the hoisin sauce. Cook for another 10-20 seconds, stirring all the while.

Remove from heat and stir in the mint and basil. Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.  I like to serve this over soba noodles or brown rice.

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Simple Split Pea Soup

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You know it has been too long since last you blogged, when you can’t remember the login or password to your WordPress account.  Sorry friends.  I have a few backlogged items to share with you in the next few days and then hopefully next week some new cooking (I have a few new cookbooks, shocker).

This easy and super cheap soup comes to use via my fave Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com.  You can pre-order her newest and greatest cookbook on Amazon right now SuperNatural Every Day.  If not for the recipes buy it for the food porn pics.  She is as good a photog as she is a veggie chef.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I used Fustini’s Meyer Lemon)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dried split green peas, AND 1/2 cup dried split yellow peas, picked over and rinsed.
  • 5 cups water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the zest)
  • a few pinches of smoked paprika
  • more Meyer Lemon olive oil to drizzle

Add olive oil to a big pot over med-high heat. Stir in onions and salt and cook until the onions soften, just a minute or two. Add the split peas and water. Bring to a boil, dial down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through (but still a touch al dente). Using a large cup or mug ladle half of the soup into a bowl and set aside. Using a hand blender (or regular blender) puree the soup that is still remaining in the pot. Stir the reserved (still chunky) soup back into the puree – you should have a soup that is nicely textured. If you need to thin the soup out with more water (or stock) do so a bit at a time. Stir in the lemon juice and taste. If the soup needs more salt, add more a bit at a time until the flavor of the soup really pops.

Ladle into bowls or cups, and serve each drizzled with olive oil and topped with a good pinch of smoked paprika and a touch of lemon zest.

Serves 4 to 6.

This froze well, and all my work friends were jealous when it was beef on noodles day again in the cafe’ and I was eating a bowl of spring yum.  Also pictured with the soup was home-baked (from a freezer loaf) bread topped with chili sea salt and Meyer Lemon EVOO.

Adzuki!!

Sometimes I look at recipes on veg websites, scan the list of ingredients and then set off to stump my local health food grocer.  West Michigan lacks a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s which typically has all of these little bulk dried treasure bins and so, after I looked for a way to get rid of a butternut squash that was going to go bad this week, I found a recipe by Heidi Swanson adapted from a vegan cookbook that uses adzuki beans as a source of protein.

Adzuki beans?  Yeah, until last year I hadn’t heard of them either.  In popular Japanese and Chinese culture, they typically sweeten them and turn them into delicious desserts.  Turns out they are a substantial little bean that hold up well in chili, soups, and stews. They take little time to cook from a dry state and store beautifully in your freezer in Ziploc bags, so you can make a bunch at a time.  Additionally, they make a great non-refridge salad to pass at potlucks or picnics in the summer in this zesty Adzuki Bean Salad recipe from Whole Foods.

Adzuki & Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (dried) coriander
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle pepper (from can, or rehydrated from dried chile)
  • 2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • 2 medium-large onions
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 5 – 6 cups water
  • 5 whole canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups cooked or canned adzuki beans
  • cilantro drizzle (optional)*

To make adzuki beans from a dry state.  Rinse, rinse, rinse.  Pick through for any duds, toss those.  For 4 cups of cooked beans, try for 2-3 cups of dry beans.  I had 4 1/2 cups of dried beans on the shelf, so I decided, if I’m gonna cook 4 cups I may as well cook what’s in my jar; thus, came out with 13 cups of cooked beans, of which I froze the extras not needed in the recipe.  Put beans in a large pot with cold water covering over the beans about 2 inches, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for about 30 minutes.  They don’t take too long.  The bean is perfect when it takes a little pressure to smash it against the roof of your mouth when you are testing and burning yourself 🙂  This is obviously a VERY scientific method here.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cinnamon, coriander, chipotle, cumin and salt and saute for a minute or two – until aromatic. Add the onions and saute another 5 minutes or so, until they start to go translucent. Add the garlic and butternut squash, stir well, and then add 5-6 cups of water. Increase the heat to bring to a boil, and once boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for a few minutes, until the squash begins to soften – 5 – 10 minutes.

Once the squash has softened, use a potato masher and break up the squash pieces a bit. Add the tomatoes, and cook a couple more minutes before adding the beans. Serve drizzled with the cilantro.

Serves about 8.

* I made a cilantro drizzle by putting one bunch of cilantro leaves into my mini-chop food processor with about a tablespoon of EVOO and a pinch of salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes for good measure.

Adapted from 101cookbooks.com

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101 Cookbooks Serving Up My Meals For A Solid Year (at least!)

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If you aren’t checking out what Heidi Swanson is doing at least once a day, you might not even be able to consider yourself a lover of food.  She’s everything that a food blogger aspires to be and she happens to actually make and photograph good food NOT just write about it like some of those other bloggers.  Heidi is the master behind 101 Cookbooks and will make you look good no matter what recipe of hers you choose to try.  I recently received her book Super Natural Cooking for my birthday, and I don’t read it for the recipes, her food photography is beautiful.

Last night, Mr. Wonderful and I feasted on Coconut Red Lentil Soup (it did get down to like 58 degrees last night after all) over long grain brown rice.  #Walterthewonderdog helped in picking up the peas that fell to the floor while I harvested them, and also, by stealing carrot sticks when he could.  Yes, my dog eats veggies.  I’m not gonna lie, this recipe is maybe the most delicious thing I’ve made at home, ever (and I make a lot of tasty stuff at home).  It totally tastes like restaurant soup, but not super buttery/greasy which equals perfection.  If you haven’t tried to cook with lentils before, try this, it’s an easy win-win for your first time in the lentil arena.  If you just read the word lentil 2 or 3 times there and have no idea what I am talking about, here is the WIKI for it.  They aren’t frightening, they happen to be CHEAP, the little guys taste delicious in fact, and make an excellent base for tacos for vegetarians.  Try them out.  I like running my fingers through them while rinsing them under water to clean ’em up a bit.  It’s heaven.

So in true Veggie Bon Vivant style here are my recipe revisions for what I had on hand last night for the Coconut Red Lentil Soup.  Try it!

  • 1 cup / 7 oz / 200g yellow split peas
  • 1 cup 7 oz / 200g red split lentils (masoor dal)
  • 7 cups / 1.6 liters water (I used 8 as I like mine a little thinner to start)
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 c fresh shucked peas
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced-greens and whites
  • 1/2 cup / 1.5 oz / 45g golden raisins
  • 1/3 / 80 ml cup tomato paste
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • one small handful cilantro, chopped
  • cooked brown rice or farro, for serving (optional)

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, peas, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

Enjoy a ladle or two of this over your fave cooked whole grain with green onions and cilantro sprinkled on top.  This recipe, minus the sprinkles and rice, freezes beautifully.

Serves 6-8.