Chickpea, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad with Tahini Lemon Sauce

So I planted Sungold’s this year and, thanks to the abundance of sun and heat we’ve had this Summer, those babies grew up real fast. As I picked almost a pound of tomatoes off of the plant, I knew I wanted to throw them into a fresh simple salad. I also have this awesome local sheep’s milk feta that I’m really excited about. Sheep’s milk is much more digestible than cows milk which is great news for people like me!

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Chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and feta tossed in a creamy tahini lemon dressing…so light, fresh and simple. This salad is very adaptable. Feel free to add in some walnuts, olives, avocado or anything else you fancy. Don’t get too crazy though, the simplicity is what makes it so fantastic.

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Chickpea, Tomato and Cucumber salad with Tahini Lemon Sauce (serves 2-4)
For the sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup  olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp white mellow miso paste
1 tsp maple syrup
For the salad:
1 cucumber
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce into a small bowl and whisk until uniformly combined.
2. Combine the cucumber, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley and feta in a large bowl. Pour sauce on top and mix until evenly coated. Serve and enjoy!

Raw Mini Key Lime Pie’s

Key lime pie is one (of many) desserts I crave in the summers but haven’t had in so long because it’s typically full of dairy and refined sugars.  I was determined to make something that was reminiscent of those tangy, tart, refreshing and creamy key lime pies.

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The ingredients are so simple and theres no need to soak any cashews overnight. I use avocados instead because 1. they are so creamy 2. they are green and so are limes and it just made sense, ok?

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Those crusts though…

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Ready for the freezer!

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Such a perfect little bite.

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The avocado lime filling is so smooth and creamy. The sweet honey and tangy lime juice balance one another out perfectly. Mmmmm…

Ingredients (makes 4)

Crust:
1/2 cup raw walnuts
5 dates, pitted
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Filling:
1 medium avocado
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp raw honey (sub maple syrup to be made vegan)
juice and zest of 2 limes (1/4 cup lime juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

Directions:
1. Put the crust ingredients into a food processor and pulse until there are no chunks and you are able to mold the mixture in your hands. If it’s not sticking then pulse a few more times or try adding a splash of water. Remove from the food processor and set aside in a bowl. Try not to eat all of it.
2. For the filling, put all the of ingredients into your food processor and process until smooth. Taste it and decide whether you’d like it more sweet (add honey) or more tart (add more lime juice).
3. Line a muffin tin with 4 muffin cups. Divide the date mixture evenly among the cups and press to create a mini compact crust. Then spoon the filling on to the crust. If you have extra filling then just pour it into another muffin cup for a crustless version…or just eat it right then and there with a spoon. Top with a sprinkle of shredded coconut and some lime zest, if desired.
4. Place in the freezer for at least a couple of hours or until solid. I like to let them sit out for 10 minutes to soften up a bit, but they are also good straight from the freezer.

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Basil Dressing

As I walked through the farmer’s market this morning, the sweet scents of basil and strawberries permeated through the air. I knew immediately I wanted to make some sort of creamy basil sauce (and stuff my face with strawberries). I eat a lot of kale salads and they can get old after a while which is why I like to mix it up and get creative with dressings. Kale is a sturdy green that I think tastes best with a thick and creamy dressing.

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Sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil are a magical thing. Almost as magical as fresh, local basil. Together, they make this dressing burst with bright flavor. The kale is a great vehicle, but I’m sure it would be amazing on some noodles as well.

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Please don’t skip the roasted hazelnuts. SO GOOD.

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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Basil Dressing (serves 2)
Ingredients:
3 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)
1/4 cup basil, packed
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp white miso paste*
3 tbsp olive oil (or more)
salt and pepper, to taste

6 kale stalks, chopped with stems removed
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:
1. Place the sun-dried tomatoes, basil and garlic in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add in the lemon juice, tahini, miso paste (see note) and olive oil and process until a smooth uniform consistency. Taste and adjust adding salt and pepper to taste. If you want it thicker/creamier, add some more tahini or if you want it thinner add more olive oil. Adjust to how you like it!
2. Throw the kale, dressing and hazelnuts into a big bowl and toss until coated. Enjoy!
*If omitting the miso paste, just be sure to add 1/4 tsp of salt

Chilled Avocado and Cucumber Soup

Another recipe submission that I volunteered to test for Food52‘s “Your Best Recipe with Green Stuff”. This is a close tie with gazpacho as my favorite summer soup.

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It’s full of healthy fats from the coconut milk and avocado, so it’s surprisingly filling.  The cucumber and yoghurt make the soup refreshing and light, while the avocado and coconut milk create a wonderful rich, creamy texture. The addition of cumin and cayenne gives it a nice spicy kick.

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Recipe from A Pleasant Little Kitchen
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
avocados, pulp removed
English cucumber, peeled
1/4 red onion, chopped
garlic clove, halved
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup plain yogurt
cup water
lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Lime wedges, for topping
Chopped cilantro, for topping

Directions:
1. Place all of the ingredients except the toppings into a food processor or high-powered blender. Puree/blend until smooth
2. Store in the fridge until chilled. Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
(I sprinkled a generous amount of cayenne on top for some extra heat)

It doesn’t get much easier than that. I hope this one becomes a finalist!

Soba with Parsley Pea Pesto

One of my favorite food sites, Food52, has themed recipe contests every week or so. The current theme “Your Best Recipe with Green Stuff”. I just found out that they like to have their viewers sign up to test these submitted recipes and give them feedback. How awesome is that?? I skimmed the recipes that still needed testers and this one was an easy pick. Super simple ingredients and easy to throw together.

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I looove soba noodles! I usually eat them with some kind of peanut sauce or just a sesame dressing, but this took them to a whole different level. Also, if you buy the 100% buckwheat noodles they’re an excellent gluten-free option for noodle salads.

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My review: the parsley pea pesto is thick and creamy (which is how I like them, some people like them on the looser side in which case you just add more olive oil) and held on perfectly to the soba noodles when I tossed them together. The peas make this pesto on the sweeter side. I think it would be improved with a couple cloves of garlic to add some zest to cut the sweetness and maybe just less peas. When I first tasted the pesto alone, I thought it was too sweet for me, but once I put everything together it made more sense. I would have liked some toasted slivered almonds for garnish to add some crunch and some fresh grated parmesan never hurts. The chopped kale gives the dish more body and color since this is, after all, a ‘Green Stuff’ contest! Overall, this is a wonderful light and simple spring noodle salad that just needs a little bit of tweaking.

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It’s so pretty and springy!

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I like this recipe testing thing. I signed up for another one: Chilled Avocado and Cucumber Soup. I’ll let you know how that one goes!
Now that I do it as a job, I don’t really have the urge to get creative and cook once I’m back home which is why I haven’t been posting much lately. The recipes are obviously TOP SECRET so I can’t share them with all of you 😦

Oh and check out the website for the cookbook: Run Fast Eat Slow
I feel so lucky to have found such an awesome gig with such wonderful people!

Soba with Parsley Pea Pesto (click here for original recipe link): serves 2
For the pesto:
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
generous splashes of balsamic vinegar (I did about 2 splashes)
up to 1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/4 cup plus drizzle more)

Directions:
1. Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor and pulse until roughly combined.
2. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and continue pulsing until mixture comes together. Add more olive oil as needed, 1 Tbsp at a time, if pesto needs to be thinned out. You want it to be loose enough that it will lightly coat your noodles.

For the noodles:
100g (or so) of dried soba noodles (I used 100% buckwheat soba)
salt
2 cups frozen peas, thawed (I used half this amount since I thought it didn’t need too much extra sweetness)
2 cups kale, chopped
1/2 cup parsley pea pesto

Directions:
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Once water has come to a boil, add dried soba noodles, give a good stir, turn off the heat and cover. Set aside for 5 minutes. I like my soba al dente and find that it is very easy to overcook. This method ensures that the noodles maintain their bite.
2. While noodles are cooking, heat frozen peas in the microwave (about 2.5 – 3 minutes on high, stirring halfway through). Add a small amount of water to the peas before microwaving them.
3. Once noodles and peas are cooked, drain and rinse the noodles with cold water and return to the pot. Drain the peas and add to the pot along with the chopped kale and pesto, toss to coat evenly.

Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

More commonly known as Nutella, this chocolate and hazelnut combo has a special place in my heart. Now that I live in Oregon, the land of hazelnuts, I thought it time to pay homage to the states famous (and my favorite) nut. It only requires 4 ingredients and you end up with a rich, decadent yet healthy spread. I highly recommend you give this one a try.

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Ingredients:
1 cup hazelnuts (145g), roasted*
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted (optional for a smoother, thinner nut butter)

*To roast hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350F and put the nuts in for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan at 5 minutes to ensure even roasting and prevent burning. No need to remove the skins!

Directions:
1. Place the roasted hazelnuts into a food processor and process until smooth — this takes about 5 or so minutes (that’s a complete guess). First it turns to hazelnut ‘sand’, then it gets thicker and eventually will turn into a hazelnut ball and THEN finally it will smooth out into a thick nut butter. Be patient, I promise you will not regret it.
2. Then add the remaining ingredients and pulse again until everything is mixed properly. If you want a less thick nut butter, then melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil and blend that in as well. Do a taste test and adjust it to your liking — add some more sweetener, salt or cocoa powder.
3. Store in a mason jar in the fridge and enjoy spread on toast or by the spoonful. I opt for ‘by the spoonful’ but I also like it with a banana or spread on toast. Enjoy!

Raspberry Thumbprint Coconut Macaroons

Best. Cookies. Ever. Thank you Oh She Glows for creating this magical recipe. I’ve made these at least 5 times already and they always come out perfectly. It’s a super easy, simple recipe that’s pretty hard to screw up. It also just so happens that they’re gluten-free and vegan. I already posted about these cookies here when I made them using blueberries, but just couldn’t resist with the raspberries — they’re so pretty!

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That raspberry chia seed jam though.

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And the assembly begins. The hardest part about this recipe is trying not to eat that batter.

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I’m in love with these little guys.

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The final product is a chewy, sweet outer cookie with a tart raspberry center. The maple syrup gives these cookies a wonderful sweetness that isn’t overpowering. The almond flour makes it perfectly chewy while the coconut flakes add a nice chunky texture. Honestly one of the best cookies I’ve ever made.

Recipe from Oh She Glows

Macaroons (makes about 10):
1.5 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
1 cup almond flour (or almond meal)
scant 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut butter, softened (no subs – this binds the cookies together)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Chia seed jam
1.5 cups frozen raspberries
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Make the chia seed jam first by adding the raspberries and maple syrup to a small saucepan. After about 3 minutes, add the chia seeds and let simmer for about 10 minutes so it can thicken up. At the end, add in the vanilla extract. Put the jam in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 mins to an hour. You just want it to be gelatinous enough to go into the center of your cookie. I often get impatient and only let it sit for 15 minutes and it turns out fine.
2. Preheat the oven to 275F. For the cookies, combine the coconut, almond flour and salt  in a bowl and mix until combined. Melt the coconut oil either in the microwaves (be careful not to burn) or in a double boiler over low heat. Add the coconut butter, maple syrup and vanilla into the almond flour mixture and stir to combine. The dough will be very wet and sticky, that’s normal.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Start scooping the dough using your hands (about 1 tbsp in size) and gently form a little divot in the center, using a wet finger to prevent it from sticking to your fingers. This is a delicate process, because the cookies are very wet, so you have to kind of use both hands to shape it. Once all the cookies are ready for jam filling, take the jam out of the fridge and using a tsp, plop it into each cookie center. I tend to be very generous here because I like the jam:cookie ratio to be almost 1:1.
4. Place in the oven for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the bottoms and edges are golden. Let them cool because they will be very soft, but will turn into a perfectly chewy cookie once cooled. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

“Sushi” Rice Bowl

Sushi is by far my favorite food. My entire family would probably say the same thing. Whenever we went out to dinner as a family, it was always sushi. As a result, I’ve turned into quite the sushi snob. A lot of places drop the ball on the fish to rice ratio. In my opinion, it should be around 3:1 (fish to rice, that is).

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There you go – the perfect ratio and super fresh, melt-in-your-mouth fish. The best sushi I’ve ever had — Haiku in Cross Rive, NY.  A hidden gem.

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I just moved to a house conveniently located right next to Sushi PDX, a sushi food truck. Sushi from a food truck sounds a little fishy (ha) but I gave it a try and it was actually really good. The fish quality was amazing. This could be dangerous.

I could go on for hours talking about sushi, but let’s talk about this bowl. What makes this bowl sushi-like? The rice is tossed with a sauce made primarily with rice vinegar and tamari and has strips of nori and scallions mixed in. Those flavors alone remind me of eating sushi (minus the fish). For the add-ins, I decided on avocado, shredded carrots, edamame, broccolini and marinated mushrooms.

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I love having bowls like these. They are so simple and satisfying.

Ingredients: serves 2
1 cup brown or white rice
3 scallions, green parts thinly sliced
1/2 pack of toasted nori snacks, cut into thin strips
1 bunch of broccolini, steamed
6 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup edamame, shelled
1 avocado, sliced
sesame seeds for garnish
For the sauce:
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
For the marinated mushrooms:
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp olive oil

*Optional: spicy mayo
mix together a 3:1 ratio of mayo to sriracha

Directions:
1. Cook the rice according to the packaged directions.
2. While the rice is cooking, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. I estimated the proportions, so please adjust to taste.
3. Next, place the mushrooms in a bowl and toss in the marinade. Let that sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. I saved the marinade and tossed the broccolini in it after it was steamed for some extra flava.
4. Once the rice is done, fluff it with a fork and then add the sauce, scallions and nori strips. Now all you have to do is assemble the bowl with the various add-ins — broccolini, carrots, edamame, mushrooms, and avocado. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and the spicy mayo if you please.

Chocolate Hazelnut Balls

Chocolate’s best friend: the hazelnut. I mean seriously, it’s a match made in heaven. My childhood favorite chocolate: the almighty Ferrero Rocher. Every Christmas I would get one of those giant Ferrero Rocher towers. As time went on and my lactose-intolerance kicked in and the annual tower was no longer. These little guys fulfill my needs with no tummy issues.

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I definitely made these with the intention of having them for dessert. However, I couldn’t stop eating them as snacks. Were there other, more logical things I could snack on to preserve these balls? Yes. But they just seemed like the better choice at the time. They aren’t overly sweet, so you don’t get that nasty sugar rush after eating a couple.

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I ran out of hazelnuts, so I coated some in shredded coconut. Not as good as the crunchy hazelnut coating, but still delicious.

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The perfect bite. The dates add a caramel-like subtle sweetness. The hazelnuts are so wonderfully nutty and rich. Ahhh the power of chocolate + hazelnuts. These are my all-time favorite balls.

Ingredients: (these are approximations) makes about 15 balls

1 cup roasted hazelnuts, +1/4 cup reserved for coating
6 medjool dates, soaked in hot water for 5-10 minutes
2-3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp almond milk (if needed)

Chocolate coating:
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa poweder
1-2 tsp maple syrup to taste
* this makes a very thin chocolate coating which I prefer. If you want it thicker, add in some melted chocolate chips.

Directions:
1. Pulse the hazelnuts in the food processor until fine crumbs are formed. Set some aside to roll the balls in. Add in the dates and process until combined.
2. Add in the vanilla extract and cocoa powder and process again until combined. Now taste the mixture so you can adjust if you want it sweeter or more chocolatey. Now, try and form little balls — if it’s too dry then add in some almond milk (water would probably work to) until they are easily formed.
3. Mix together the ingredients for the chocolate coating. Roll each ball in the chocolate and then into the ground hazelnuts. Repeat with each ball. Place balls in the freezer to set the chocolate. I stored them in the freezer in an airtight container. These lasted a day at my house…yeah they’re that good.