Pasta & Peas in Parmesan Broth

Pasta & Peas in Parmesan Broth

Spring has officially arrived, but the fruit and vegetables have to yet show they’re pretty little vernal faces.  The warmer weather is shifting us away from heavy, hearty foods to lighter, quicker fare.  We want to spend more time enjoying the spring sun and less time hovered over a huge pot of stew.  But it looks like there are still some cool days ahead before we can truly shed the sweaters and warm, comforting meals.  This pasta bridges that gap between craving light, springtime meals and still wanting something warm and satisfying.  And it comes together in less than 30 minutes, so we can all enjoy more time in the fresh spring air!

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Vegetarian & Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Potato Skins

Shepherd's Pie Potato Skins (Vegan & Vegetarian versions)

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here and every year my husband and I throw a party to celebrate the awesome food, music, and jovial spirit of the Irish!  Some of our favorite musicians (Imelda May, The Tossers, The Pogues, Glen Hansard) will fill the air of our house as we join in merriment with our dear friends.  And of course, one of my favorite parts about it is the food!  I love to come up with variations on Irish dishes and this year I’ve turned the quintessential Irish dish — Shepherd’s Pie — into an appetizer.  I did a vegetarian version (topped with Irish cheddar cheese) and a vegan version (topped with mashed potatoes)…they’re both insanely delicious and will have you tapping your toes to an Irish jig!

Vegan Garlic Cream Pasta w/ Roasted Broccoli & Mushrooms

Vegan Garlic Cream Pasta w/ Roasted Broccoli & Mushrooms

Creamy garlic sauce that’s vegan.  Skeptical I was.  No longer I am.  Like Yoda why am I talking?  I think it’s because this is some Jedi-like cooking going on.  It’s all Obi-Wan Kenobi up in here.  I did not think a vegan cream sauce could be this good.  But it is.  It’s magic…or the Force.  I wonder if a light saber would be a useful kitchen tool?  {oh boy, i think halloween is getting to me}

Potato Kale Cakes with Kimchee Mayo

Potato Kale Cakes with Kimchee Mayo

Over the past month I’ve made 2 new food discoveries: savory (the herb) and kimchee (Korea’s national dish).  I’m in love with both…and though they may seem like strange bedfellows, I’ve put them together in this recipe.

Savory, the winter variety, was introduced to me through my CSA; one of the many awesome benefits of being a member is experimenting with new foods and flavors.  To me, it tastes like a cross between thyme and flat-leaf parsley; it resembles the woodsy flavor of thyme, but also has a clean, bright quality similar to parsley. It’s a beautiful in-between seasons kind of herb.  I’ve been using it in everything, including these potato kale cakes.

Roasted Cherry & Brie Baguette Sandwiches

Roasted Cherry & Brie Baguette Sandwiches

In July of 2005 my husband went to London for a few weeks.  He was doing research for a college art class he would later be teaching.  The first day he was there the 7/7 bombings occurred.  The bombings targeted public transportation.  He was scared.  I was wigging out!  He spent the rest of the trip going everywhere on foot.  He walked and walked and walked.  He wore his shoes out, got many blisters, but he was safe.  And he saw much more of London that way; the nooks and crannies of the city that you only experience by chance while walking down an alley or stopping to look at graffiti art or noticing the curiosities of passers by.

Spring Veggie Pasta w/ Cilantro Pesto

Spring Veggie Pasta w/ Cilantro Pesto
Summer is nearing and we need to make room for the hot-weather veg about to grace our tables.  This is a fantastic way to use up any spring veggies you have on hand.

This pasta takes advantage of the spicier spring produce available: peppery arugula and piquant radishes.  The cilantro pesto — made with garlic scapes, toasted almonds, red pepper flakes, lime juice and avocado oil — compliments those flavors and steers us in the direction of the Southwest.  Fiber-rich black beans and fresh, milky mozzarella round out the dish for a hearty, healthy meal.  To add an additional kick of spice and flavor, drizzle on some sriracha!  Let’s get the party started!

Dill Pickle Grilled (Goat) Cheese Sandwiches & Creamy Tomato – Dill Soup

Dill Pickle Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches & Creamy Tomato - Dill Soup
Winter is over (’bout dang time!).  Spring produce isn’t quite ready (asparagus, I’ve got plans for you).  But I’m already craving the familiar flavors of summer…tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and dill to name a few.  Lately, I’ve really needed a hot-weather food fix.  So I decided to seek solace in the comfort of my pantry and freezer.  Last summer my dad taught me how to can tomatoes and pickles.  This is a life skill no Bloody Mary-loving, spicy pickle-obsessed gal (or dude) should be without.  It ranks right up there with knowing how to change a car tire (which I don’t) and knowing when to pull the pot off the heat before the sugar burns when making kettle corn (which I do!).   Priorities, amiright?

Salad Greens with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Tempeh Sticks and Balsamic-BBQ Dressing

Salad Greens with Roasted Sweet Potato, Tempeh Sticks and Balsamic BBQ Dressing
This salad was born from a glorious idea a friend gave me.  Something so simple, so quick it’s really a non-recipe recipe:  slice up some tempeh, saute it, then dip it in barbecue sauce.  I think that little idea changed my life.  Who doesn’t need one more option of something to dip into barbecue sauce?  After that, I realized it was my duty as a citizen of this earth to pass along that gem.  You’re welcome.

But what else can I do with that?  I needed to find it a veggie companion, without dismissing the barbecue sauce.  I have a box of sweet potatoes in the basement, so they were destined to enter the picture.  At the end of the farmers market last season, I purchased a 25 lb. box of sweet potatoes for $25 to last me through the winter.  That was the end of October and I’m just now starting to see the bottom of the box.  The farmers don’t clean the dirt off the potatoes so they’ll keep longer, and they have!  I highly recommend it if you have that option.  So, sweet potatoes, check!  I had a golden beet in the fridge along with some red onion and goat cheese.  And the BBQ sauce?  Let’s turn that into a dressing!  Hows about a salad?  Let’s do it!

Books + Soup: Winter Reading and Eating

Winter reading list

Books and soup, a marriage made in polar vortex heaven. They’re a perfect pair; they go together like Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (just can’t get enough Sherlock). This winter, my reading seems to be about discovery…or rediscovery.  I’ve been delving back into some cookbooks I’d shelved for a couple years (Power Foods and Forks Over Knives), getting super stoked about new recipes and techniques in the kitchen (The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and Wild Fermentation), and FINALLY reading some Michael Pollan (I’ve read several essays and articles by him, but not one of his books).  I’m also about halfway through Outliers by Malcome Gladwell (more on that in a minute).  I’m not the best at reading BOOK-books; I usually just read cookbooks.  And I do mean I read them; I love reading recipes.  My husband will sit in bed at night with a book-book — ya know, lots of words, no pictures — while I sit in bed with cookbooks, reading recipe after recipe and ogling the beautiful food photos. But I am trying to read more non-cookbook books and cram some knowledge into this food-obsessed brain.

Golden Beet Soup with Cumin and Lime Sour Cream

Golden Beet Soup with cumin and lime sour cream

This is sunshine soup.  It’s the the kind of soup that will cheer you up in the dead of winter.  In fact, just peeling and dicing the beets, exposing their brilliantly yellow flesh, put a great big smile on a my face.  There’s just something about that color – sunny, warm, cheerful – that will wash away all the gray, stuck-indoors feelings of a frigid January.  Smokey cumin and spicy red pepper flakes evoke the cradling heat of a dry Mexican desert while a burst of lime leaves you resting on the white beaches of a tropical getaway.  Daydream.  Forget about winter for just a moment and brighten your day with this sunshine soup!

golden beets