Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup

This is seriously one of the best things I’ve ever made.  It’s one of those “wow this is so good I can’t believe I made this” moments.  It’s crazy flavorful and it’s easy to make.  Proof that amazingly delicious good food doesn’t have to be complicated with fancy schmancy ingredients and techniques.  One of my secrets to this is a good vegetable broth.  Some have zero flavor.  I happen to love Edward and Son’s Not-Chick’n bullion cubes that I get at Whole Foods.  I use one cube dissolved in three cups of water for this recipe (package says one cube in two cups water but I reduce the sodium).

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

5-6 baby carrots diced (that’s what I always have on hand or use 1 carrot)

3 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

1 Tbsp tomato paste

3/4 cups red lentils

3 cups vegetable broth (see note)

Juice of half a lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper for heat (optional)

Method

Add olive oil to saucepan and heat over medium-low.  Add onion and carrots with a dash of salt and cook 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and cook 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and the lentils, then add the broth and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.

Season with salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper to taste.

Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Note: recommend using a quality, flavorful broth such as Edward and Son’s Not-Chick’n bullion cubes. Dissolve one cube in three cups hot water for this recipe.

Fab Fall Outfit – Chunky Sweater & Leggings

 

img_5277

I’ve got to highlight one of my favorite outfits of the season which is super comfy – a chunky knit sweater with leggings and boots, go flat like riding boots or even Uggs if you’re doing super casual or dress up with boots with a chunky heel like I have pictured here.

Lace Up SweaterChicwish lace up is all rage and not just in shoes.  I love seeing this trend in clothing too!

Ponte LeggingsLOFT these are thicker, high quality leggings.  Comfortable, slimming, and I like the double seam on the side.  These are thick enough to wear as work out pants too, meaning you don’t have to worry if your butt is covered by your top because they aren’t see-through.  🙂

Chunky Heel Suede Boots – Carlos by Carlos Santana on 6pm.com I love that chunky heels are back.  Much easier to walk in! These are OTK (over the knee) though on me they’re just at the knee.  Great tip – on 6pm.com you can filter by shaft height along with many other filters.

And my Stella & Dot jewels to accessorize of course!  I went with rose gold to play on the neutral blush tone of the sweater.

 

picframe-1

Tiered Lariat

Pave Spear Earrings

Renegade Bracelet

Pave Spear Ring

Peanut Butter & Jelly Banana Muffins

 

 

My PB&J Banana Pancakes were so delicious I just had to turn them into a muffin.  I worked from my Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe with a few minor adjustments based on what I had on hand.  I didn’t have any Earth Balance vegan butter so I figured I would make these without any added fat.  I had a Silk strawberry soy yogurt so I threw in that in lieu of the Earth Balance (applesauce is also a good sub for butter or oil in baking).  Since I was going healthy with these I used whole wheat and oat flour.  I’d say they turned out pretty great for a healthy little treat.  I’m also going to try baking this in a loaf pan and adding extra layers of jelly so stay tuned for that!

 

 

Ingredients

 1/3 cup Unsweetened Almond or Soy Milk

1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar

1 1/2 cups Flour (I use 1 cup Whole Wheat + 1/2 cup Oat Flour)

1/2 cup Quick Oats

1 Tbsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter, softened (optional: sub applesauce or soy yogurt)

1/4 cup Sugar

1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)

3 very ripe Bananas (medium-large size), mashed

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

 

Jelly or fruit preserves (raspberry or strawberry are my faves)

 

Peanut Butter Glaze

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

3 Tbsp almond milk

3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter

 

Method

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin pan, set aside.Mix lemon juice and soy milk in small bowl and set aside (this will curdle slightly).

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl (flours, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon), set aside.In another bowl add butter, sugars, mashed banana and mix with an electric mixer on low speed (or whisk by hand) for about a minute or two. Next whisk in the almond milk/lemon, and vanilla. Whisk together until mixed.Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until just combined (you don’t want to over mix). Add heaping tablespoon full of mixture to muffin tins, should be about half full.  Next in each muffin tin add about a teaspoon of jelly to middle.  If you want more peanut butter flavor then add a bit on top of jelly (see pic below).  Then take remaining batter and dollop on top gently smoothing out.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

While baking make your peanut butter glaze by whisking the ingredients together in a bowl.  You can adjust ingredients to taste.

When muffins are done, let cool and then spread glaze on them.  Can be topped with chopped peanuts for crunch or a sprinkle of powdered sugar to make them pretty!

 

Casual Fall Weekend Outfit

After 80’s this week, it finally cooled down again and I was ready to embrace Fall again and  break out the flannel and boots!

 

img_4911img_4939

Merona Field Jacket I this jacket at Target and I’m loving olive green this season!  And it was only $40.

Mossimo Flannel Shirt  I’m obsessed with this flannel shirt.  Nice comfy fabric, slightly roomy (I probably could have gotten a small) and it’s only $23.

Gap Skinny Jeans I’ve had the jeans since last year, they were called the Always Skinny but looks like they’ve rename the fit to True Skinny.  And these are on sale for under $60 🙂

The riding boots were from last year from one of my FAVORITE shoe websites – 6pm.com.  They have amazing deals and I got these for under $100. Best feature is being able to filter the shaft height.  I’m 5′ 7″and I often have boots that end up being too short.

 

And I styled with some of my Stella & Dot favorites.

img_4955
Ally  Wrap Bracelet
img_4958
Nomad Stretch Bracelets
img_4959
Nova Pendant

img_4957
Celestial Choker
img_4956
Bungalow Hoops

Sundried Tomato Cream Pasta

photo-2

Another delicious “I can’t believe it’s vegan” cream sauce.  I’m officially obsessed with cashews now that I’ve discovered just how rich and creamy they can make sauces, soups or anything.  With this the fresh basil really adds a lot of flavor that compliments the sundried tomato very nicely.  Another great addition to stir in at the end, kalamata olives or pine nuts.

Printer Friendly

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/3 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight

1/4 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/3 cup sundried tomatoes from a jar (drained of oil)

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)

1/2 – 3/4 cup vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups cooked pasta, cooking water reserved

Fresh basil (optional but really amazing in this)

Method

Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt over medium heat until onion is translucent; about 3-5 minutes.  Add to food processor or blender with cashews, sundried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth.  Puree adding more broth as needed.

Heat skillet over low-medium heat and add enough reserved pasta water to just cover the bottom.  Add in sauce and pasta, stir and cook 1-2 minutes or until heated through.  Add a tablespoon of pasta water at time to thin out if needed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat, stir in basil, drizzle with a little oil from sundried tomatoes or just plain olive oil if desired and serve.

photo-3

Fab Finds: Trader Joes Beauty Products

I’m a bit of a Trader Joes junkie.  Always have been!  So while I often talk about my favorite food products, there’s also some fab beauty finds there and guess what…they’re really affordable.  Here’s just a few products I am currently loving, though there are many more so stay tuned for round 2!

pumpkin-body-butter

Pumpkin Body Butter  $5

Top of my mind right now as we’ve just begun October and pumpkin is everywhere!  Not only does it smell deliciously like fall but it’s so rich and luxurious in how it feels on your skin.

 

fullsizerender-1

 

Midsummer Nights Dream Lotion $4

This is a fantastic everyday lotion for dry skin.
Smells great and a good bang for your buck.

 

 

 

 

mango-shave-cream

Mango Shave Cream $3.50

My favorite shaving cream.  A little goes a long way, moisturizing for your skin and has a lovely tropical smell.

81ptterexul-_sl1500_

 

Lavender Salt Scrub $6

I love this exfoliating scrub and the scent of lavender
is so relaxing.

 

 

make-up-remover

 

Make Up Removing Towelettes $4

These are great for travel or just to have on hand when your too lazy to wash your face.

 

 

 

 

img_4751-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Vegetable Soup

img_5005

 

A hearty, veggie packed with soup with carrot, celery, onion, tomato, potato, cauliflower, zucchini, kale, peas and lima beans (I guess these are technically a legume but I’ll just count them as a vegetable too).  This soup will freeze well too! I created a batch with 6 servings and for some of the vegetables I only used smaller amounts so here are some tips to getting the most out of some of the fresh vegetables:

Carrots:  With a bunch of whole carrots cut up the extra for snacking or use baby carrots.

Celery: I get it off the salad bar because I never end up using a whole bunch.

Zucchini: I also got this off the salad bar but if you don’t use a whole zucchini, saute extra with olive oil and add to pasta and sauce.

Printer Friendly

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 cup diced zucchini

1 small yukon gold or red potato, cubed (about 1/2inch)

1 can diced tomato w/ juice

4-5 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup small cauliflower florets

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen lima beans

1 large kale leaf, rib removed, chopped into small pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Add oil to a large soup pot and warm over medium heat for a minute.  Add onion, celery and carrot with a pinch of salt.  Cook 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and basil and cook another 2 minutes.

Add zucchini, potato, cauliflower and toss to coat; cook for a minute.  Add tomatoes and 4 cups of broth.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add peas and lima beans, cook 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in kale. Season with salt and pepper.

Pumpkin Sage Cream Sauce

photo-3

I’ve used my got-to cashew cream in lieu of heave cream to make a rich, creamy pasta sauce that no one would ever know was dairy-free.  The sage makes this super savory but it can be strong so if you want to lighten up the intensity just simmer a couple whole leaves in the sauce, then remove.  Add in more pumpkin if you you like or even sub with mashed butternut squash.

Makes enough sauce for 2 good-sized portions of pasta

Ingredients

1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked 4-8 hours (go with 8 if you don’t have a high powered blender)

2/3 cup water

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small shallot finely chopped

1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage

1 Tbsp vegan butter

1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Add soaked cashews and 2/3 cup water to a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Should be the consistency of heavy cream and should yield about 1 cup of cashew cream.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add shallot and sage.  Saute a 3-4 minutes.

Stir in vegan butter, then pumpkin and add the cashew cream.  Simmer about 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly.

Add in nutmeg, salt and pepper and serve over pasta.

photo-1

Sweet Potato Apple Hash

img_5379

I first published a recipe for this years ago but it desperately needing updating, both with the method and the photos.  So about this dish, simply put it is all about Fall with my favorite 2 produce items of the season!  It only has a few ingredients and it’s easy to make so that’s a big win in my book.  I like the red onion in this for a little color but any onion will do.  Also, a favorite of sweet potatoes or yams (what is the difference anyway? Read this) is the Garnet Yam!

Printer Friendly

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes

Olive oil

1 apple, cored and diced

1/2 red onion, diced (about ½ cup is good)

1-2 Tbsp vegan butter (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Heat iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium heat with enough olive oil to coat the bottom.  Let warm for a few minutes.  You don’t want to throw your sweet potatoes into a cold skillet with cold oil – it should sizzle a little bit.

Add sweet potatoes and stir around a little to coat in the oil.  Let cook untouched for about 5 minutes.  Then give them a toss, bottoms should be a little browned, and cook another 5 minutes.  Add additional oil in needed to keep them from sticking.

Add onion and apple, cook 4-5 minutes until everything is tender and the sweet potatoes are browned.

Stir in butter if using, give a toss to melt it and coat everything.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

img_5385

DC Vegfest 2016

 

This past Saturday I ventured out to DC VegFest in Washington, DC and was so excited to try some yummy vegan food!  I was only there for just over an hour so I didn’t get to check out every booth or vendor.  I actually had looked at a map of the exhibitors and vendors thinking I could be strategic with my time but then I just went freestyle and wandered, stopping by whatever had a crowd or sounded good. So here’s a quick recap of a few of my favorites.

Ben & Jerry’s – Non Dairy PB & Cookies

pb-and-cookies-non-dairy-detailWhen I saw the Ben & Jerry’s trunk I made a beeline through swarms of people, dogs, unruly kids, and strollers. Yep that’s right, Ben & Jerry’s has non-dairy ice cream.  And not just fruity sorbet.  This is was actually where I started because why not have dessert first.  This was soooo good that I actually had to question whether it was real ice cream and I had to remind myself that it was an all vegan festival so it had to be. Even my dairy ice cream loving BF couldn’t believe it was non dairy.  We gobbled this up before I could get a photo.

 

 

Barefoot Bucha

img_4524I always enjoy trying new kombucha and I really liked that this was kind of local to me.  Just 2 hours south in Afton VA which is near Charlottesville.   Side note – great area to visit…lots of amazing wineries and breweries there and the Farmhouse at Veritas is a fantastic place to stay.  Back to Bucha – I sampled the black raspberry and LOVED it!  I had to have more and shelled out $5 for a 12oz pour and it was well worth it.  They were serving on tap which was kind of cool.  Apparently that is a thing, kombucha on tap, and they serve at Whole Foods.  I’ll be checking my neighborhood WF soon for this.  Also pretty sweet is how green they are for selling on tap and you bring your glass bottle to refill.

 

Treeline Nut CheeseTreeline Nut Cheese

treeline-nut-cheese-herb-garlic
Photo credit: http://www.treelinecheese.com

I am always excited to try some of these “fancy” nut cheeses and this one had line to get a sample so I had to get a taste.  My favorites were the soft French style cheeses almost like a spread.  Herb Garlic and the Chipotle Serrano Pepper were two standouts for me.  I thought the Herb Garlic would be a great cream cheese alternative to put on a bagel.  I gobbled up my samples before I could get a photo.

 

 

Yeah Dawg

hot-dogsAfter checking out the food vendors, all of which had long lines, I settled on a vegan hot dog.   If I was going to buy a full size meal, I wanted something good and something I couldn’t get anywhere.  These guys are from New York and I can’t actually get their hot dogs down here, plus just in general it’s hard to find a good veggie dog.  And judging by the line, I thought they must be good!  So 30 minutes in line later, we had 2 tasty dogs.  A New York with kraut, relish, and mustard, and a Cali Kush with kale ceasar, avocado, coconut bacon, and chipotle mayo.  Sounds like a lot going on but this was actually my favorite of the two.  The dogs are actually gluten-free too!