Monthly Archives: December 2013

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

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MY SEMESTER IS FINALLY OVER. Yet I don’t feel any weight has been lifted because I know I have to go back in a few weeks… sigh. I guess all I can do to comfort me is eat some wonderfully warming food (including lots of chocolate).

I know this isn’t very festive, but I’m not in the festive mood. And I had left over pumpkin puree in my freezer. And I was craving a velvety smooth soup. I contemplated having a pumpkin and ginger soup, but I feel a bit over loaded on ginger these days so I used cayenne pepper to add a hearty, spicy punch. The leftovers thickened up very nicely; I dipped crackers and veggies into it like a dip. I also had one serving of leftovers with wild rice and cilantro and pumpkin seeds – pictured at the end (it was nice having something a bit heartier in the soup to add texture, but I liked it better without the rice – maybe on top of brown rice or quinoa would be better?).

SPICY PUMPKIN SOUP: (serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 4 small garlic cloves
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • scallions, for garnish
  • pepper, to taste

Method:

In a medium sauce pan, heat the grapeseed oil on medium heat an sautee the onions and garlic until the onions are transparent; about 3 minutes.

In a high speed blender, blend the cooked onions and garlic with the pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric and salt until very smooth. (I let the blender run for about 90 seconds)

Pour the puree into the medium sauce pan and warm on medium heat. It’ll only take 3-4 minutes to warm the soup up.

Garnish with chopped scallions and black pepper.

Leftovers with wild rice, cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

Leftovers with wild rice, cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

Apple Fennel Tempeh and Cherry Quinoa Salad

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So, my exams are done! And so I return to the kitchen.

This meal was awesome because the tempeh has NO sweetness to it, but the cherries in the quinoa salad add that bit of sweetness. I really loved the flavours of the fennel and apple with the cherries and cilantro. If you’re craving a sweeter entree, this may not be your thing. But the tempeh fillets are satisfying and the quinoa salad is joyous!

I bought a package of plain tempeh and marinated it overnight with apple and fennel and just plopped it on a plate with some quinoa salad. The only reason I have cherries in DECEMBER (how does time pass so fast?), is because President’s Choice sells bags of frozen sweet cherries! I love them in smoothies, but they lend themselves well to de-thawing and being chopped into a salad.

I find the ingredients to be reminiscent of spring time (or even fall), but it turned out to be an awesome winter meal which I paired with a tall mug of tea.

APPLE FENNEL TEMPEH: (serves 2)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 small Fuji apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 300g package of plain tempeh, cut into 8 (or 16) 1/4 inch pieces

Method:

Combine the everything except the grapeseed oil and tempeh pieces in a large bowl. Pour a quarter of the marinade into a shallow dish, place the tempeh pieces on top and cover with the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate for minimum 4 hours (overnight is best!).

When you’re ready to serve, heat the grapeseed oil in a large skillet and cook the tempeh pieces until they’re golden and crispy on the edges (2-4 minutes on each side).

CHERRY QUINOA SALAD: (Serves 2)

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/3 cup cherries, quartered
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • pinch of paprika

Method:

In a medium sauce pan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add the quinoa. Lower the heat to a simmer and let cook until all the water is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes). Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl and let cool in the refrigerator.

Once the quinoa is cooled, add the remaining ingredients and combine.

 

To serve, place half the quinoa salad and half the tempeh pieces on each plate. Include some apple and fennel bits with the tempeh. Serve with an extra slice of lime and a small grind of salt over everything.

Not-So-Classic Guacamole (& Birthday Tacos)

DSC_0829As I mentioned in my last post, it was recently my birthday. So for the celebrations, my roommates and I had tacos and beer. It was awesome. We played Christmas tunes and lit festive candles and had a great evening (I was a party pooper and went to bed at midnight because I’m a tired baby and my body was exhausted). It was a nice little break from all the studying and school things we’ve been doing lately.

There are so many cool recipes out there for more exotic tacos (Like these or these), but I just wanted classic tacos. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a classic taco. But this is what tacos are in my mind. And it was my birthday so no one could contradict me… right? So, we bought a can of refried beans (Amy’s brand – delicious!), we bought some tortillas, chopped up some onion, tomato, and cilantro, and I made the guacamole. It was soul soothing in an odd way.

Today, I present you with the guacamole. This is from Grazings which is an awesome book full of snacks and dips and finger foods. It may be full of meat recipes but there are some gems (like this one – it also has some really cool meat dishes that have worked well with meat substitutes!) It’s not your average guacamole… actually it’s pretty fancy. But since the flavours used aren’t often paired together, it’s a wonderful surprise (actually your taste buds will go crazy with how good it is). The sweet fruit and the creamy avocado and the spicy pepper basically rock my world. If you’re not having the guacamole with tacos, it’s also fabulous with simple crackers or pitas or other veggies. It’s also good in a sandwich with slices of tofu, tomato, and lettuce… Just trust me.

GUACAMOLE: serves 4

  • 2 large avocados, very ripe
  • 3/4 cups pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup green grapes, chopped
  • 1 small red pear (or your favorite variety of pear)
  • 1/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Mash everything together with a fork to make it as smooth or as chunky as you like. Season with a generous amount of salt and a touch of pepper.

Holiday Quinoa Salad (with Black Beans, Cucumber, Pomegranate, and Avocado)

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A festive salad! (from here) It also happens to be wonderfully hearty. The quinoa and the beans make it super substantial, the cucmber adds crunch, the pomegranate adds sweetness, and the avocado is a smooth surprise (I almost typed “creamy surprise”… just… no).

I loved this salad. It’s made me really excited to go home for the holidays. It’s been a tough semester (to say the least) and the emotions have been high lately as the semester comes to a close. I’m most looking forward to seeing my fam, and my doggies, and fires, and decorating the tree, and trolling around in large amounts of snow, and not having to think about moral goodness, and not having to think about what life means. I just want to plunk down in front of a fire with a giant rum and coke and all the books. And a big plate of cookies.

But before I can do that I have to get through a few more exams and papers and technical evaluations. I can’t believe how fast time is progressing… scary business. Next thing I know I’ll be 65 and probably just as cynical as I am now.

Speaking of books, I’m reading Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. It’s the sequel to The Shining; has anyone read it? I’m burning through it and it’s awesome. I DIGRESS, on to the salad.

HOLIDAY QUINOA SALAD: serves 4

  • 3/4 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 15oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve under cool water and place in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover. Let cook for 15-20 minutes (until the seed is translucent and the little stringy bit has detached). Remove from heat and let cool completely.

In a medium bowl, combine the rinsed beans, cucumber, pomegranate seeds and avocado with the cooled cooked quinoa. Pour over the olive oil, maple syrup and red wine vinegar and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

It keeps well in the fridge; the next day it was awesome with a squeeze of lemon!