Squash Soup with Citrus

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If you’re starting to feel the chill of winter (shoutout to the northern peninsula of Michigan with its 15 inch snowfall forecast!) this squash soup with citrus is exactly what you need.  The butternut squash will warm your belly and the time it takes to roast in the oven will warm your house.  It all comes together in about thirty minutes so you can quickly cozy back up on the couch.

My mom actually blended up this soup when I was visiting last weekend and it was so tasty that I had to share it.  Usually I find squash soups a little bland, but that is not the case here.  The lemon and orange zest add a lot of flavor, so please don’t skimp on those two ingredients.  While this soup fits perfectly into the fall since squash is in season, the citrus flavors really remind you of summer, which seems so far away now.  It’s also a hearty vegetarian dish to add to your soup rotation for the coming cold months.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium to large butternut squash
  • 5 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBSP orange zest
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest
  • handful of roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 small sweet red pepper
  • small pinch of saffron threads
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

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The how:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the ends off of the butternut squash, peel it, cut in half, remove the seeds and cut into chunks. Spread the squash on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 TBSP olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg.  Roast in the oven until the squash begins to caramelize, about thirty minutes.
  • While the squash is roasting, chop the onion, garlic carrots and celery.  In a large soup pot, drizzle the bottom with the remaining 3 TBSP of olive oil (no measuring necessary-just drizzle enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan).  Turn the pot onto medium-low and add the carrots, onions, garlic and celery.  When the veggies start to turn translucent and soft, stir in the saffron, lemon and orange zest.  After a few minutes, add a quart of water, turn the heat up to medium and allow the veggies to fully soften, about 15 minutes.
  • By now your squash should be starting to caramelize.  Add the soft squash to the soup pot.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender (welcome to the club!) simply add the soup to your regular blender little by little and puree.  It’s a little bit messier and delicate since the soup is hot, but it works just as well. Once the entire contents of the pot is pureed add salt if necessary.
  • Dish out the soup into small mugs and sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds and finely chopped sweet red peppers on top.
  • This recipe is enough to feed 8-10 people.  If you plan on reheating the soup, I recommend doing in on the stovetop on low heat.

 

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I don’t know about you, but I am chest (cheeks?) deep in soup season.  This is the fourth soup I’ve made in two weeks!  I love the simplicity of only having to watch over one pot and I have to admit I love standing next to a hot stove.  My fingers and toes are always freezing so I tend to stand over the soup and stir it the entire time.  Maybe I was a witch in a past life?

*This recipe was slightly altered from a recipe found in Rachel Ray magazine.
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Fresh Apple, Carrot, Ginger Juice

Apples are our ingredient of the season. Before falling down the rabbit trap of indulgent baked goods, we’re kicking of this series with a wholesome, homemade juice.  liveseasoned_fall14_applecarrotjuice-8

Now that apple season has arrived, I find myself juicing those little gems on the daily.  We have a whole host of apple beverages in store for you this season, but we thought we would start out with some fresh cold juice while the weather is still warm.  I never feel better than when I wake up and immediately make myself a big jar of juice and a cup of coffee.  It’s 1 part routine, 1 part you’re doing yourself a favor-if you know what I mean.  I’m also not a big breakfast eater, so juicing allows me to fuel my bod without munching too early, which I almost never have the appetite for.

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Vegetarian Pesto Pasta Salad

Summer is in full swing, which means everyone needs a picnic pasta salad recipe, including you!  Cold salads are great for lunches, beach coolers and midday hikes so mix this up, throw it in a jar and eat it in the sunshine!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 large cucumber peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow or red sweet pepper chopped
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 box of your favorite penne or rotini (I’m a big fan of this veggie pasta)
  • 2 heaping cups fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts if pine nuts aren’t available)
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

The how:

  • Put a pot of water on to boil and add a tsp of salt to it.  Once the water boils, cook the pasta according to the box.  Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Clean the basil and add it to the blender along with the peeled garlic, nuts, 1/3 cup olive oil and the parmesan.  Add more olive oil until it reaches the desired consistency.  Add a few shakes of salt and pepper to taste.  Set the pesto aside.
  • Chop up the pepper and broccoli and add them to a large serving bowl. Peel and cut the carrots.  Peel the cucumber, cut it in half long ways and scoop out the seeds. Chop up the cucumber and add it to the bowl.  Rinse off the peas.  If you’re using frozen peas, defrost them in a bowl of hot water for five minutes then drain and add them to the other veggies.
  • Add the pasta to the serving bowl and mix in half of the pesto.  Add more pesto spoonful by spoonful until desired coverage is reached.  (Save the remaining pesto to hydrate the pasta salad in the future.)  Sprinkle some parmesan on the salad if you wish.
  • Keep covered in the fridge for up to a week.

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I promise this pesto pasta salad will rival the classic mix of meat, cheese and pasta that your mother used to make.  Enjoy!

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Cold Oat Noodle Salad {Gluten Free}

If you’re willing to experiment in the kitchen, there’s nothing more fun that moving out of your comfort and cultural zones for ingredients.  Have you visited any of the many Chinatowns in the US? That’s where I had my first bubble tea (over 14 years ago now!) and some delicious meals, but when I want to really go shopping, I search out the large grocery stores. My exploration started when I discovered a large Asian grocery store in Philadelphia and then Ming’s Supermarket in Boston. Leaving behind the large markets was one of the urban luxuries that I mourned when moving to central PA, but, as luck would have it, our little town has a number of Asian markets! While they aren’t as big as their city counterparts, they have a surprising amount of variety in a small space.

Side note – did you hear the This American Life episode on Coincidences? The Asian grocery stores in Philadelphia and Boston were both on Washington Ave. When still finding my way around Boston, that little coincidence was a sign to me that everything would be ok! Silly? yes.

What do I buy when I go to the markets? Anything that catches my eye! I went shopping a couple of weeks ago and took a few pictures to show you both what I buy and why I love the markets.

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Rice & Pulses Two Ways

I originally wanted to title this post “Rice & Beans Two Ways”. After a bit of research I learned that lentils are not officially a bean, but chickpeas and lentils are both pulses.  Pulses are the subset of legumes that are harvested for their dried seeds, differentiating them from other legumes like green beans and peas that are eaten fresh.  On with it then…

While the term rice and beans may conjure up images of Mexican or Tex Mex cuisine, today’s dishes reflect the flavors of middle eastern cuisine. I like both recipes because they push me outside of my seasoning comfort zone. We all have that selection of herbs and spices that we use on a regular basis, and we’re happy with the results, so that’s not the issue, but sometimes it’s nice to shake it up, and that’s what these dishes do!

Speaking of seasonings, another good reason to get out of your comfort zone and eat dishes with a variety of herbs and spices is because there are so many health benefits associated with both. Cumin, my favorite spice lately, protects against cancer and encourages the secretion of pancreatic enzymes necessary for good digestion and nutrient absorption. The second recipe contains turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant with proven cancer-blocking activities. Parsley’s a rich source of antioxidants and vitamin C, the latter protecting against rheumatoid arthritis. Cinnamon is considered to have one of the richest sources of antioxidants and studies have shown that it lowers the risks for a variety of type 2 diabetes factors.

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Smoothie Round Up

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I’m a smoothie fanatic.  Growing up I’d make milkshakes almost every night of the week, but as I got older my tastes changed and I’ve moved on from ice cream and milk to fruit and juice.  Lucky for me there’s about a million more options in the smoothie department.  A big smoothie is a great substitute from breakfast or lunch.  I especially like to drink them at the start of a big road trip that way I’m not tempted to stop for fast food or right before work as I’m running out the door.

You don’t need to follow a strict recipe for smoothies so feel free to sub in or out any of the ingredients listed.  Today we’ll make three smoothies from seven ingredients (oats are optional).  As long as you have frozen fruit and juice, you’re good to go.  I also like to add greek yogurt and any little extras I have lying around like oatmeal, chia seeds, maca powder or hemp hearts.  Plug in your blender, grab a jar and a straw and let’s blend.

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Green Goddess

  • ¼ c yogurt
  • ½ c orange juice
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 6 ice cubes

I drank a Green Goddess every day for a month last summer and I felt light and airy like a little fairy (hehe).  It’s cheap, easy and healthy.   If I’m away from home and there’s a blender where I’m staying I always pick up these four ingredients.  It’s a great way to save money on the road while staying healthy and energized. If you think this sounds like a weird combination, you’re in for a tasty surprise.  You can barely taste the spinach; it’s actually a tangy and sweet smoothie.

Be sure to clean your spinach well since it’s part of the dirty dozen (one of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables) or buy pre-washed or organic spinach. I named it the Green Goddess because among the many benefits of spinach, it’s has a high vitamin A and C content.  Vitamin A is key for sebum production to keep hair moisturized; it’s also necessary for the growth of all bodily tissues, including skin and hair.  Vitamin C is imperative for the building and maintenance of collagen which provides structure to skin and hair, therefore this smoothie will keep you looking like a goddess.

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Berry Blend

  • ¼ c yogurt
  • ½ c cherry juice
  • ¼ c milk or water
  • ½ c frozen mangoes
  • 5 big strawberries

Strawberries and cherry juice blend together to make the perfect mix of sweet and tart in this smoothie.  I used 100% Cherry Juice from Trader Joe’s.  It’s deliciously strong, which is why I also added some milk, but feel free to sub in water (or coconut water), a non-dairy milk or another juice if you’re vegan.  If you go the water route, don’t worry the taste won’t suffer.  Cherry juice is a good source of antioxidants, it helps regulate blood sugar, and is a proven aid in exercise recovery.  It’s also a great source of melatonin, which regulates your body’s internal clock.  Strawberries also pack a punch.  They’re heart healthy, full of vitamins and good for your teeth.  Strawberries are a great source of polyphenols, a compound that inhibits the breakdown of starches in mouth, while also fighting the bacteria that contributes to gum disease and tooth decay. Pretty sweet, right?

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Sunrise Smoothie

  • ¼ c yogurt
  • 1 c orange juice
  • ½ c frozen mangoes
  • 1 frozen banana
  • big spoonful oatmeal (optional)

The Sunrise Smoothie is a mild fruity blend to start your day off on the right foot.  It will wake you up, help you get energized and give you a whole host of benefits without you even knowing it.  Orange juice is a great source of Vitamin C, which aids in collagen production and helps control free radicals that cause early aging.  OJ also lowers bad cholesterol, reduces inflammation and balances blood pressure.  Bananas are the most widely consumed fruit and for good reason.  There are too many benefits to mention here, but for starters, bananas help one overcome depression, reduce PMS symptoms and protect against muscle cramps.  Here’s an interesting study conducted by Oklahoma State University concerning new health benefits of mangoes, which include aiding in blood sugar regulation and reducing body fat.  Top it off with a scoop of oatmeal to add texture, fiber and protein and sip away.

I hope you enjoyed these simple smoothie recipes.  Smoothies are a cheap, easy and quick meal substitute if you’re constantly rushing around or just don’t have the energy to cook something up.  Stay healthy friends!

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Sweet (Heart) Potato Skillet

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If you’re looking to shake up your breakfast menu, try this sweet potato skillet.  It’s a quick and hardy dish with the perfect amount of spice.  The eggs are a great source of protein and the sweet potatoes add lots of fiber and potassium to the dish.  What’s my favorite aspect of this recipe?  The lack of dirty dishes.  Since you cook and eat out of the  skillet, clean up is easy peasy.

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Ingredients:

  • Splash of olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ an onion
  • 1 small sweet pepper
  • few sprigs of cilantro
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • shake of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Equipment:

  • Finely chop half an onion, the pepper and a clove of garlic.  Over medium-low heat, add a splash of olive oil to a small skillet.  Add the chopped onion, pepper and garlic. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the onion mixture.
  • Wash, peel and julienne (or grate)  the sweet potato while the onion mixture is sautéing.
  • Stir in the grated sweet potato and turn up the heat to medium.
  • Finely chop the cilantro and add it to the sweet potato mixture along with the cumin, cayenne and red pepper flakes.
  • Stir every so often until the sweet potato begins to soften.  About seven to ten minutes.
  • Place a rack at the top of the oven and turn on the broiler.
  • Make a heart shape in the middle of your skillet and crack two eggs into it.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the raw eggs.
  • Place your skillet in the oven, under the broiler, to lightly cook the eggs.  Anywhere from 2-5 minutes depending on your preference.  I broiled my skillet for only two minutes because I like my eggs runny. (Katie here ~ what? you like your eggs runny? I’m not sure if we can be sisters anymore!)

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If you’re serving it with toast you can put the slices under the broiler too.  I ate my skillet with an expensive ($8!), but delicious gluten-free loaf from the Saturday Farmers’ Market.  I’m not allergic to gluten, but the loaves at Imagine That Gluten Free looked so delicious that I had to give them a try.  It was a cold and windy (read absolutely freezing) Saturday and I was wandering around near closing time so the vendor even gave me a baguette ($6) for free!  That combination of friendliness and deliciousness will keep me coming back for more.  I wish I had a photo of the baguette.  It seriously looked like a piece of art.  My guy and I scarfed it down that day.  Stay tuned via Instagram and I’ll snap a picture of the beautiful baguettes this Saturday.

I hope you enjoyed this simple yet filling recipe.  The heart makes me smile every time I serve this up.  Do you ever play with your food?  Morph your pancakes into any fun shapes lately? If so, snap a picture, share it on instagram #foodart and tag us!  I’m off to make dinosaur pancakes and heart-shaped donuts!

 

*I highly recommend buying a julienne peeler.  It basically transforms any veggie into a noodle.  It’s my new favorite toy.
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Butter Lettuce Salad with Roasted Beets, Pumpkin Seeds and Citrus Parmesan Dressing

This salad’s citrus dressing combined with the flavor of roasted beets and the crunch of the pumpkin seeds creates a flavor that’s sure to please, making it a super healthy alternative for lunch or dinner.

Do you ever dine out and wonder why restaurant salads seem so much tastier than those prepared at home?  It’s because the chef had a certain vision and flavor combination in mind instead of chopping up every veggie in the fridge. I know I’m guilty of the latter eighty percent of the time, but not with this one!  The fewer the flavors, the more you actually recognize, taste and appreciate them.  I wanted a salad that had a warm feeling, hence the roasted beets, while simultaneously waking up my taste buds, which is where the citrus dressing comes in.  Butter lettuce is a great vehicle for the beet and pumpkin seed power couple.  Even though there are only four ingredients, this salad is packed with vitamins and minerals that have some pretty powerful effects and there’s even some protein in the mix.  If you prepare the beets ahead of time, you can throw this together in five minutes, making it perfect for lunch or a colorful appetizer before dinner.

Quick tip before you begin:

  • Roasting beets takes some time, so I usually do this step the night before.  I like to roast a bunch of beets at once so I have them in a pinch.  You can store roasted beets for up to a week in the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • Head of butter lettuce
  • 4 small beets
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 4 stems Cilantro
  • 2 oranges, juice and zest
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs parmesan cheese
  • 2 shakes of salt and pepper

Equipment:

  • Sheet pan
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Pairing Knife
  • Skillet

 

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.  This is a flexible temperature; if you’re cooking something else you can throw them in at that temperature. Cut the leaves off of the beet near the bulb and then scrub them clean. Wrap each individual beet loosely in aluminum foil without drying them off first.  Place them on a baking sheet in case they drip.  Check on the beets after 25 minutes by sticking a fork through the center.  If it goes in easily then they’re finished.  The bigger they are the longer they’ll take, but most beets are cooked completely after an hour.  Once the beets are finished roasting, take them out of the oven and unwrap them to cool.  Once they’re cool enough to be handled, peel them by rubbing them gently with a paper towel or using a pairing knife.  The peel should separate quite easily; if it doesn’t then the beets probably need to be a roasted a little longer.
  • Next you want to roast the pumpkin seeds.  Put them in a small skillet over medium heat.  Shuffle them back and forth every two minutes or so until they’re lightly browned.  The seeds quickly turn from roasted to scorched so keep an eye on them, it should only take about five minutes.

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  • While you’re roasting the pumpkin seeds, wash the lettuce and chop up the beets.  Pull the leaves off of four or five stems of cilantro and add them to the mix.  Top with the warm seeds and your salad is complete.

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  • Now it’s time to mix up the dressing.  Juice two oranges and add a little zest to the juice.  Mix in the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, cheese (leave it out if you want to keep it vegan) and a few shakes of salt and pepper.  Whisk it with a fork and give it a taste.  Adding a bit more of anything your taste buds think it lacks.

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  • Pour some dressing over the salad and then cut it with a knife and fork.  I think this is the best way to mix all the flavors together, which is why I don’t rip up the lettuce leaves while prepping the salad.  Take a big bite and enjoy your fresh and healthy meal.

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A note about our star ingredients: If you’re not a beet lover, I’m begging you to give them another chance.  Beets are high in vitamins like A, B and C and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, and iron just to name a few.  I’m always looking for ways to get more iron since I eat a veggie heavy diet (otherwise meat is a great source of iron) and that’s where beets and pumpkin seeds come in handy-they’re loaded with iron.  Back to the beets, they contain betaine, which is used to help treat depression and tryptophan, which relaxes the mind similar to chocolate.  Beets are also an aphrodisiac because they contain high levels of boron, which is directly related to the production human sex hormones, so eat beets and get busy.  If all that isn’t enough, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you, but if you come over for dinner be prepared to eat it or beat it!

Now about those pumpkin seeds, you can substitute in another roasted seed or nut, but I chose pumpkin seeds because they’re a good source of vitamin B, E and K and they have loads of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.  Like beets, they also contain tryptophan which helps produce serotonin.  Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc, which means they’re a natural protector against osteoporosis.  They also add some protein to the salad.  The list of benefits goes on, but I don’t want to overwhelm you, just go ahead and pat yourself on the back for treating yourself to this salad.

While you’re chowing down, think of all the great benefits of beets and pumpkin seeds and know that you did something great for yourself today.  Even if making a salad is the only thing you did besides sitting in bed, typing posts and dreaming up new recipes.  If you’re one of those who thinks a salad won’t cut it for the entire meal, that’s cool and that’s me most days, just whip it up as an appetizer!

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