Fig Butter Crostini

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“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”
-Cesar Chavez
 
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I was invited to an Oscar party this past Sunday and was in charge of bringing an appetizer. Now, let me tell you, my friends and I could really have ANY excuse to get together. Anytime there is a slight chance to share a drink or a stunning recipe we will take full advantage! In reality, what are we without our friends to indulge in food and contagious laughter with??  I wanted to bring something that would present itself beautifully, like the actors we were admiring on the big screen. I knew I would need to make something that not only was “dressed to impress” but that was easy enough to assemble because, of course, I was short on time. It was clear to me that I needed to make something fancy enough that could stand up next to the wine and gorgeous main course that was in our near future. Once I arrived, I was given a glass of crisp and cool white wine and it just so happened to pair excellently with the crostinis. I recommend that when you make these you serve something along the lines of a sauvignon blanc or dry chardonnay because, let me tell you, the combination was heavenly. Now, go invite your friends and family over for dinner to share in each other, in the food, and in laughter. I promise, that IS what life is all about.

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Fig Butter Crostini

Makes 15 Crostinis
(Prep time: 10 min, Assembly time: 15 min)

 

1 Multigrain Grain Loaf, cut into 15 slices.

1 6oz package of Chevre goat cheese

1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream

5 TBSP Fig Butter or Fig Jam

15 slices of proscuitto (Vegetarians: omit this and add plenty more chopped figs)

1 Cup Dried Black Mission Figs, stems removed, chopped in quarters

1 Cup micro Arugula

1 tsp sea salt

1.5 tsp black pepper

Wild Honey for drizzling

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1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut multigrain loaf into slices and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 min or until toasted and slightly browned. Chop the figs into quarter pieces.

2. While the bread is toasting; mix the goat cheese, milk, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spread the goat cheese/milk mixture onto each slice of toast. Spread a thin layer of fig jam on top of the cheese. Add one slice of proscuitto, and then with a few pieces of the chopped dried figs.  Sprinkle the micro arugula over the top and drizzle a bit of honey over each crostini. Serve immediately.

*It is important to serve this appetizer immediately. Make sure to toast the bread right before serving, it is best when it is slightly warm and still has it’s crunch. If you are having guests over, and want to minimize the time it takes to prepare, set up all the accoutrements in an orderly assembly line. My assembly line looked like this: small bowl of goat cheese/milk mixture, fig butter jar, proscuitto removed from paper lining and separated into 15 slices, chopped figs in a small bowl, micro arugula, and then honey. It should only take about 5-10 minutes to assemble if you work efficiently and in an orderly fashion. Work smarter not harder!

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Creamy Kale & Black Rice Bowl

Creamy Kale & Black Rice Bowl

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Rainy days make me want to live in my kitchen. I love standing by the heat of the oven while the rain hits the windows. There’s just something about these kind of days that truly gets me inspired. Inspiration today, came in the form of a bowl. My poor hubby has been sick, and when it came to making him lunch, I knew I needed to make a bowl full of wholesome ingredients. I scoured my pantry and the farm box and came up with this colorful meal that could really be enjoyed at anytime of the day. It turned out exactly how I had hoped (which is always a nice surprise anytime I just wing-it). This bowl could be so versatile and would be delicious with whatever you have on hand. I am sure that this recipe could work with any rice or grain of your choice; quinoa or couscous could be an excellent substitution. The creamy kale and leek combination really give this bowl substance and a lot of flavor, but you could substitute the Tuscan kale for another sturdy green leaf like swiss chard. It took me about an hour to make this, but  would suggest that you could use leftover rice and potatoes from your dinner the night before, and cut the time in half. Also, if you are dairy-free, I would try adding plain almond milk instead of the heavy cream. I believe this hearty, adaptable, delightful bowl was worth the time it took to make. Needless to say, Kris loved it and he’s looking like he feels better already.
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Creamy Kale & Black Rice Bowl {Vegetarian, Gluten Free}

Makes 4 bowls
Prep time: 45 minutes, Cook time: 15 minutes

 

2 large leeks, chopped in half moons and rinsed well

5 small red potatoes

1 cup black wild rice, uncooked and rinsed well

3 cups Tuscan kale

4 organic large brown eggs

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup organic heavy whipping cream

1 tsp garlic powder

1½ sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp lemon pepper

A sprinkling of red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)

1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 tsp for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and remove dirt from skins of the red potatoes. Using a fork, poke several holes into the potatoes. Bake potatoes for 30 minutes and then set aside to cool. Prepare 1 cup of black wild rice per package directions (takes about 45 minutes). While the rice is cooking and the potatoes are baking, chop leeks into half moons and rinse well to remove dirt & sand, set aside. Remove the fresh thyme leaves from their stems and set aside.
  2. Add about 1 tsp extra virgin olive to a medium pan. Heat till it starts to smoke and add leeks, 1 tsp sea salt, and ½ tsp black pepper, and 2 tsp of lemon pepper. Sauté the leeks for about 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the heavy cream, the TBSP of fresh thyme leaves, and the kale and cook for about another 3 minutes or until kale is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In another pan, heat about 1½ teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add chopped potatoes, ½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp pepper, and 1 tsp garlic powder. Toss the potatoes in the olive oil to coat and cover with lid. After 5 minutes, toss the potatoes and then recover with lid for another 5 minutes. It is important not to stir the potatoes too frequently because you want them to get nice brown marks. After the potatoes have cooked for ten minutes turn off the heat and set aside on a plate.
  4. Using the same sauté pan that you used for the potatoes, (make sure it is still greased well) crack one egg into the center and fry for about 1-2 minutes, flip, and cook another 1-2 minutes. Repeat this process for however many bowls you are making.
  5. To assemble: scoop black rice into the bottom of the bowl, top with creamy kale and leek mixture, the sautéed potatoes, and finally the organic fried egg. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and fresh thyme leaves.

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Curry Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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The last few farm box deliveries have left me with an overwhelming amount of butternut squash. They were piling up on my counter top and before I knew it, I had 5 of them begging me to give them some attention. Since it’s suddenly so chilly outside, I decided that the perfect use for these beauties would be in a warm bowl of soup filled with spices. The butternut squash with the curry, cumin, and ginger are a match made in heaven. I used light coconut milk to give it that creaminess and subtle, yet, impressive coconut flavor. Had I mentioned how incredibly good for you Butternut squash is? It has an ample amount of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and that gorgeous rich orange color means that is extremely high in carotenoids. Carotenoids have been shown to protect against heart disease and act as a deterrent for some cancers.  So let’s eat up!

I only used up 2 of the squashes for the recipe, so I am going to have to think of something else, quickly, for the rest of them. Looks like butternut squash is on the menu for the next week….and I am not bummed!

Curry Roasted Butternut Squash Soup {Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Paleo}

Makes about 4  bowls
(Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time 35 minutes) 

 

2 medium Butternut Squash; peeled, seeded & chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 14oz can Light Coconut Milk

2 cups Vegetable Stock (or chicken stock)

1 TBSP tomato paste

2 TBSP butter

2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

4 tsp curry powder, divided

1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 TBSP of fresh minced ginger)

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder, optional (does give it a little kick!)

1 1/2 tsp sea salt, divided

1 tsp pepper, divided

4 tsp Creme Fraiche (or sour cream or plain greek yogurt), as garnish

Sprigs of cilantro for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 425° and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Peel, seed, and chop the butternut squash into 1″ cubes. Lay the cubes on the baking sheet, drizzle with about a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp curry powder and bake for 25 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. While butternut squash is roasting, get started on the soup. In a large pot heat up the butter and 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add in garlic and toss to coat for about 30 seconds or until fragrant then add the onions, and season with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1 tsp sea salt. Saute until onion turns transluscent (about 6-7 min.). Sprinkle in the seasonings; 3 tsp curry, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder. Saute for another minute or two.
  4. Add tomato paste, light coconut milk, vegetable broth, and the roasted butternut squash and stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil then let simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Use an immersion blender and puree until desired consistency is reached. If you do not have an immersion blender then puree in small batches in a regular blender. Be careful to hold the lid on because the soup will be very hot. Return to the large pot and add extra broth depending on how thick/thin you want it and season to taste. You may also strain through a sieve if you like a soupier consistency (I did not do this). Serve with a toasted piece of rustic bread, a dollop of creme fraiche (or plain greek yogurt or sour cream), and some cilantro sprigs. Enjoy!

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Heart Beet Brownies

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Did anyone ever tell you that beets and chocolate are a perfect match? A brilliant pair? An excellent duet? A superb alliance? If not, I’m telling you now. Seems unlikely, but beets and chocolate love each other so much. I made a chocolate beet cake about a month ago and dreamed of making something similar for my husband for Valentine’s day; and here we are, the day has come. It is unfortunate that him and I both work this Valentine’s day, so to celebrate a day early, I made brownies. After all, it is our first Valentines day together as husband and wife. Since this is a day of “firsts”, I had to come up with something that could set a precedence for years to come. These brownies are soft, chewy, and perfectly moist, but most importantly we are getting a serving of vegetables in our dessert!!  Mind blowing, I know. Now, don’t get me wrong; these are an indulgence, not an excuse to eat brownies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They have just the right amount of nutrition to take the guilt away, but are meant to be savored sparingly.

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A note to Kris:

My sweet, beautiful husband. Words can not express the love I have for you. You are someone who  I admire so dearly, because you are so inherently kind. You haven’t ceased to impress me since the moment I first met you. If only the rest of the world could live the way you do, we would all be better off. I am truly blessed to call you my own, and will forever live in gratitude  for this gift. Happy 1st Valentine’s day. I’ll love you forever.

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Heart Beet Brownies {Vegetarian}

Makes 1 13″x9″ pan 
(Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 20 min) 
 

2 Cups Raw Beets (about 3 medium beets), peeled & grated

2/ 3 cup Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, melted

3/4 cup Maple Syrup

1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar

3 eggs

1/2-3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (or chocolate chips of your choice)

1 Cup Spelt Flour

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder, Aluminum-free

5 TBSP Raw Cacao (or unsweetened cocoa powder)

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 TBSP Instant Espresso Powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350º and grease a 13″x9″ baking pan.

2. Peel the beets. Using a cheese grater, grate the beets until you accumulate about 2 cups. Place in a medium size bowl, add the rest of the wet ingredients, and with a spatula mix together.

3. Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl, and whisk together to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before using heart-shaped cookie cutter. Cut out as many hearts as you can, minimizing “scrap” pieces. Do not discard scraps because this is your chance to indulge and nobody will know 🙂 Serve warm with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a drizzle of honey. These would also be nice with a little dusting of powdered sugar or more cacao. Give your husband/wife, lover/friend one of the “Heart Beets” and tell them just how much you love them!

Happy Valentine’s day! Xo.

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Raw & Sprouted Breakfast in a Jar

DSC_0516nutsOne of the greatest ways to start off your day is  with some sort of raw food. Raw food is uncooked, unprocessed and usually organic when found in nature. Eating raw allows our bodies to absorb all the essential nutrients obtained in the food. This is why we should eat raw for breakfast; because we are starting our day with all the energy possible! Absorbing all the vitamins and minerals first thing in the morning allows us to face the day ahead with vigor and liveliness.

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Whether you embark on your day with a piece of fruit, sprouted nuts, vegetables, or this recipe….vitality is yours.

I came across this recipe, yesterday on one of my favorite blogs, Green Kitchen Stories. I changed up only a few things to work with what I had at home. Green Kitchen Stories photographed this raw breakfast porridge so incredibly that I just had to try it. I hope that you are as inspired as I was and make this immediately.

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Raw & Sprouted Breakfast in a Jar {Gluten Free, Vegan, Raw}

Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories, Raw Buckwheat Porridge De Luxe

1 cup Organic Gluten Free Steel Cut Oats or Oat Groats, soaked in water over night to sprout

1 cup Organic Raw Walnuts, soaked in water over night to sprout

1 cup Organic Raw Almonds, soaked in water over night to sprout

1 Large Fuji Apple, chopped in 1″ chunks (skin on)

4 Mandarins, peeled

1-2 tsps ground Cinnamon

1-2 tsps ground Ginger

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

3-4 TBSP Organic Vanilla Almond Milk (Optional: if trying to eat raw, omit this and add water or homemade almond milk if you need a thinner consistency)

Garnishes:

Pomegranate Seeds

Blueberries

Bee Pollen (optional: if vegan)

Raw Honey (optional: if vegan)

1. Place steel cut oats, almonds, and walnuts in separate bowls and cover them in water to soak for a minimum of one hour, best over night. Soaking the  oats and nuts is an important step and allows them to sprout. (Read more about that here). In the morning, drain the nuts and oats in a sieve and then add to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse for a few minutes, scraping the sides when necessary.

2. Peel and add mandarin slices to the oat and nut mixture in the food processor. Pulse a few times. Add the chopped apple, spices, and vanilla extract. Pulse to combine.  Taste and add more spices if needed. If your mixture is very thick, like mine was, add almond milk through the feed tube as it is running, until you reach the desired consistency.

3. Pour into individual glass jars to enjoy for the entire week and store covered in the fridge. Lasts about 3-4 days. Top with garnishes right before eating.

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