Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Butternut Winter and Japanese Squash with Carrots Soup

Outside the weather is still cold, and the thought of having a cup of warm squash soup is inviting. The texture of the soup, whether thin or thick, complex or simple, is good to me. I prefer to choose to make simple soup with healthy ingredients that are on hand or in season.  Soup can be made and frozen well.  Soup also can be served as a first course or as a meal with salad. Today, I will prepare a simple soup with a few ingredients. The combination of these ingredients makes a hearty, healthy soup.

1 lb. total combination of:
Butternut and Japanese squash, carrots, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped white onions
4 cups kale broth
1 cup Almond milk
Spice ingredients:
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp honey
Salt and black pepper to taste

 Garnish with green onions and cilantro

Heat 1 tbs oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add the combination of squash and vegetables and sauté until golden brown.

 Add the shallots, garlic, and onions. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in all spice ingredients and mix well. Add broth and bring to boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes or until the squash mixture is tender.

Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Add Almond milk; Adjust the seasoning with more honey or salt, if needed.

 Simmer for 5 minutes more. Ladle soup into a serving bowl and garnish with green onions and cilantro. Serve hot.

Monday, February 1, 2016

French Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise or the term à la nicoise refers to dishes typical to the style of Nice, located on the beautiful seaside of France. This is the area surrounded with potatoes, tomatoes,, capers, olives, and, of course, fish. I adapted the method of making this recipe from salade Nicoise because I like the hard-boiled egg, the potato, and anchovies in this recipe. The salad itself is a meal with all the good protein contained in the dish. I do not use tuna for my salad because I like to grill fish and serve it on the side. There are many recipes available to create this dish. The salad prepared varies in both the ingredients chosen as well as the dressing depending on personal taste. I prepare this salad for my own taste and the ingredients available in my kitchen.

2 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and quartered
4 red potatoes, washed
1/2 cup green beans
1 tomato, quartered
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1 tsp capers
4 anchovies
2 cups lettuce
Vinaigrette dressing ingredients:
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbs white wine vinegar
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 cup good olive oil

Cook potatoes in salted water for 15 to 20 minutes or until fork tender. Cut cooked potatoes into bite size uses.
Cook green beans in salted water and some murderous in cold water to keep the bright green color
To make the dressing:
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar with lid. Shake well.
To serve salade:
Place lettuce on the bottom of the serving plate. Scatter the potatoes, tomatoes, black olives, green beans, and capers over the plate and decorate with hard-boiled eggs and anchovies. Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve some salade dressing on the side.



Easy Moist Honey Chocolate Cake

This is a easy to prepare moist cake. Use parchment paper to remove the cake from the cake pan. Enjoy this cake warm or served with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. This is a hastily created cake, but it is simple and delicious.

Dry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cups chocolate chips
Wet ingredients:
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 375°.
Line the bottom of a 8 square in. cake pan with parchment paper. Lightly oil the paper bottom and the sides.

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk well.

Combine the wet ingredients in a Vitamix blender container. Secure the blender’s lid. Select variable 1 to begin and then slowly turn to variable 10 and blend for 15 more seconds.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serve warm.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Powerhouse Quinoa, Millet, and Lentils Salad

For healthy living, the choices now are super-foods such as kale, coconut, chia seeds, and grains. A trio of super foods are quinoa, millet and lentils.  I grew up eating millet for porridge or mixed with rice because rice is more expensive than millet. The Westerner misses out on the health benefits from all these grains. A healthy diet comes from natural food intake. Kale is also known as a nutrient powerhouse because it provides Vitamin, A, B, etc... If the body lacks vitamin A or B, it could cause trouble for eyesight and leads to cataracts.  I am not an expert nor give advice to people, but I know well enough that the super-foods can be combined together to make a super healthy meal. The salad that I am introducing in my blog today contains all of these wonderful grains, the green vegetables and beans. I also use garlic and cumin for the dressing. The last ingredient to complete this powerhouse salad is avocado; As studies have shown, one cup of avocado has 35 percent of one's daily allowance for vitamin K. This vitamin is associated with bone formation and proper blood clotting as well as the transport of calcium through the body (Web MD has all this information). I mixed and matched the ingredients, but this powerhouse salad is one of my favorites of all time.

1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup lentils, the red, green, or pink are okay
A small piece of kale
2 cups of water
1 tsp salt
The salad ingredients:
1 cup kale
1 cup spinach
1 total cup of:
Cucumber, celery and red or yellow bell pepper, cubes
1/4 cup red onions cubes
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1/2 avocado, cubes
Chopped cilantro and green onions
Dressing ingredients:
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup total of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine quinoa, millet, and lentils in bowl of water and rinse well. Drain and add into the rice cooker. 

Add water, piece of kale, and salt. Close the lid and turn to cook. When done cooking, fluff with fork and let cool.

To prepare the dressing:
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select variable 1. Turn the machine on and slowly increase the speed to variable 10 and blend for 30 seconds. If you do not own a Vitamix blender, just whisk the ingredients well in a bowl. Refrigerate until using.
To prepare the salad:
Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch kale for 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove and place into cold water to stop the cooking. Blanch the spinach the same way. Let both of them cool and then chop

In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa mixture with the rest of the vegetables and drizzle the dressing over it. Mix well.

Serve warm or cold

Crock Pot Potato-Mushrooms Soup

This soup is the perfect way to be introduced as an easy weekend meal.  Most of the recipes for potato and mushroom soup use heavy cream or half and half added to the soup.  I use almond or cashew milk to make my recipe on the healthier side. Commercial almond milk is very good.  However, the Vitamix cookbook has an easy version of making almond milk.  Since I own this cookbook, I will share this almond milk recipe here too.  I am not a milk drinker, so I prefer to make milk at home for my cooking. This is a simple straight forward potato and mushrooms soup. The crock pot and a handheld blender can do everything. This easy-to prepare soup is healthy, tasty, and will warm up a cold winter night.

8 oz. mixed mushrooms is good, sliced
1/2 lb. potato, peeled and chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth or water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup almond milk

In a skillet, heat oil and add onions, carrots, celery, garlic,, and thyme. Stir to cook until soften (about 1 minute).

 Add mushrooms and potatoes.

 Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook for two minutes. Place in crock pot and add the broth.

Cover and cook on low from 4 to 6 hours or high about 3 to 4 hours. After a  few hours of cooking, Use a held blender to blend the soup to smooth.

Add almond milk and adjust the seasoning.

 Cover and cook for another 30 minutes. Serve with salad


To make the almond milk:
1 cup raw almonds
3 cups water

Soak almonds for at least 8 hours and drain well. Place soak almonds with water in a Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select variable1. Turn the machine on and slowly increase the speed to variable 10, then to high, and blend for 45 seconds.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vietnamese Vegetarian Crispy Pancake

According to numerous studies on health in the world, it is now believed that the vegetarian diet is a good way to protect the health of individuals and is also as a way of protecting the environment. Vegetables or beans when processed together create good and necessary nutrition for humans. Also, eating vegetables will save all kinds of animals, which would not be killed unnecessarily. A vegetarian dish of Vietnam is the crispy pancake, which is easy to make and economical. Besides that, the Vietnamese pancake is typically served in family gatherings or with friends. The bánh xèo presented on the table comes with other green vegetables and a dipping sauce is always a source of inspiration for the family dinner. We eat slowly and use the time to connect to each other again for sentimental moments and to share news with each other. Bánh xèo is a rustic dish from South Vietnam, but it is very popular everywhere nowadays. Today, I will make this dish using vegetables instead of typically using pork and shrimp.  I had some spaghetti squash left over to add more vegetables on these vegetarian pancakes for extra nutrition. Usually, tofu is the main substitute for meat or shrimp. I do not have tofu today, so my dish is prepared without tofu. However, I will give a lot of beans and mushrooms even though the pancake was already full of nutrients.

Batter ingredients:
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup total cornstarch and Korean frying mix
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups club soda
Filling ingredients:
1 cup sliced mushrooms, your choice
1 cup cooked spaghetti squash*
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup cooked mung beans*
1/2 cup red onions, sliced
 Other ingredients
Vegetarian dipping sauce (recipe was posted on March 25, 2015)
Vietnamese vegetable plate
Coconut oil for frying cake

Combine all the batter ingredients and mix well. Let stand a few hours.

Prepare the fillings and set next to the stove.

Heat 1 tbs coconut oil in a nonstick skillet and swirl it around. Add onions and mushrooms. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the flour mix in the hot pan, Swirl it quickly and then add the mung beans (the amount of the batter can be divided into 3 portions for a large pancake or 4 for a smaller size pancake).

Cook over for 1 minute and add squash and bean sprouts. Lower the heat and fry over low heat until the pancake becomes crispy (about 5 to 7 minutes).

Serve with dipping sauce and a salad plate with fragrant herbs 

*Add garlic and chili paste or fresh chili to the dipping sauce when ready to serve.
*For this recipe, wash and soak 1/4 cup dry mug beans in water for a few hours. Bring the soaked mung beans with water to boil. Boil  the mung beans for 3 to 4 minutes  and drain out all the water. Cover with lid and turn the heat to low. Let mung beans cook for another 20 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash Coffee Cake

My friend told me that she makes most of her cake now by using a Vitamix blender.  At first, I was a little skeptical about her method of making cake by using a Vitamix. However, the Vitamix blender is perfect for beating the wet ingredients. I always have cake mix or self-rising flour in my kitchen. The spaghetti squash is left over from yesterday. Because I have thought of many recipes for cake before by using yellow, butternut, and zucchini squash and carrots before, then using spaghetti squash should not be any different no different. On the contrary, I think like spaghetti squash will make a moist and tender cake. This cake can be served in the morning for breakfast or with afternoon tea. My family is small, so every time I make spaghetti squash, there is always some leftover do create some other dishes. This is a healthy cake because most of the sweetness is from the squash, honey, and the applesauce.

Dry ingredients:
2 cups self-rising flour or cake mix
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cooked spaghetti squash
Streusel topping ingredients:
1/4 cup walnut, chopped
1/4 cup butter, diced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oat meal
2 tbs all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease and flour a 9 inch diameter baking pan with oil or butter.

Sift all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Mix the streusel topping ingredients in a bowl. Use a fork to mix until combined.

Combine the wet ingredients except the cooked spaghetti in a Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select the variable1 speed.
Turn the machine on and slowly increase the speed to Variable 10.  Blend for 15 seconds. Add the squash and blend for 2 seconds.
Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients using a spatula to mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

 Top with streusel and bake in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Serve warm.