Wordless Wednesday.

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Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup

There was this little café near the river. We used to walk there hand in hand.  We visited often. There were freshly picked flowers on the table and room for about 30. At night, candles flickered and glowed.

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Their menu was concise and ever changing with the season. But the one constant was their focus on surprising (and tasty) soups.

It was there where our creative minds, which constantly bounce with ideas, found comfort and groundedness as we sat peacefully over two bowls of steamy soup.

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I think about that space in time often…

how there always seemed to be just one perfect table by the window waiting for us…

how the café’s size was intimate but its energy expansive….

and how the dining space was full of soft chatter and the tantalizing aroma of complex simmering soups.

While the café still remains by the river and ideas continue to fill up our heads, physically we’ve moved on.  But this week, my mind took me back there, to snowy Vermont.  And with those thoughts came cravings for soup. Flavorful spicy soup made with whole foods.

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So I pulled out this little gem of a recipe from Cookie + Kate and cooked it with love.

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This week, I hope you’ll take time to enjoy a quiet night with this simple soup with spicy notes… inspired by a little café called That’s Life Soup.

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Vegetarian West African Peanut Soup
{adapted from a recipe from Cookie + Kate, original recipe from Local Bounty: Vegan Seasonal Recipes}
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Ingredients
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch collard greens, ribs removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch strips
  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste, or 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • Hot sauce, like sriracha (AKA rooster sauce)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
Directions
  1. In a medium stock pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and salt. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
  2. In a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer 1 to 2 cups of the hot stock to the bowl. Whisk the mixture together until smooth, then pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well.Peanut Soup-7
  3. Stir in the collard greens and season the soup with hot sauce to taste. Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often.
  4. Serve over cooked brown rice if you’d like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.
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Until we simmer with spice again,
a+h

Homemade Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats

He is always there. Waiting patiently. Dancing between us in the kitchen.

Eyes big, eagerly waiting for something – ANYTHING – to drop.

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We tell him to move…scoot…watch out….get…move….MOOOOVE! It doesn’t faze him.

He lies down and creates a road block between the stove and the fridge.

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We trip over him; he doesn’t care. I accidentally spill flour on him; he doesn’t flinch.

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Eyes big. Intense focus. He stays vigilant just waiting for something – ANYTHING – to drop.

His sheer determination and patience should be commended; a lesson for us all to learn.

Good things come to those who wait.

His name is Turtle. He’s our biggest fan.

Today is his day. Today we bake just for him.

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Homemade Peanut Butter & Banana Dog Treats
{adapted from recipe by Adrianna on A Cozy Kitchen}

  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons creamy (natural) peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats

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1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the banana, peanut butter and egg; mix until completely combined.

3. In a medium bowl, add the flour and rolled oats; mix. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine until the dough comes together.

4. Transfer the dough to a piece of heavily floured wax paper. {Note: The dough will be REALLY sticky so flouring the heck out of everything (wax paper, rolling pin and cookie cutter) is important.}

5. Roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut out the cookies using a cookie cutter of choice; re-roll the scraps and cut out more cookies. Transfer the cookies to a parchment lined cookie sheet. These cookies won’t spread so placing them close together (not touching) is okay. If you don’t want to roll the dough out, alternatively, you can scoop teaspoon of dough onto a baking sheet, flattening cookies with the ball of your palm.

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6. Bake the cookies for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. {Note: Your level of dough thickness will determine your baking time. My cookies were slightly thinner so I baked for roughly 20 minutes.}

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7. Allow the cookies to come to room temperature on a cooling rack. Cookies will be good for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

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Until we bake for best buds again,

a+h

Ginger Cookies

Some days are icy… cold… frigid…heavy…you feel it in your bones.

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We had a couple of those days recently.

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On those kind of days I find comfort in all things quiet and cozy… a good book, a hot cup of blooming tea and a sweet and spicy treat. These ginger cookies seem to do the trick.

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I found the recipe in one of my new favorite cookbooks. I made them wearing furry socks. It was peaceful.

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Today I wanted to pass the goodness on to you.

They’re wholesome and yummy, so when it’s one of those days, try these… have a few.

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I bet they’ll make you warmly smile.

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Ginger Cookies (adapted from Super Natural Every Day)
{makes about 48 tiny cookies}

  • ½ cup large-grain raw sugar
  • 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao)
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 2/3 cup fine-grain natural sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 1 cup plump dried apricots, finely chopped

1.     Put the large grain sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

2.     Chop the chocolate into 1/8 inch pieces, more like shavings, really. (I just roughly chopped chocolate chips that I had on hand. Although they were not quite shavings, they worked just fine)

3.     In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt.

4.     Heat the butter in a saucepan until it is just barely melted. Stir in the molasses, fine-grain sugar, and fresh ginger. The mixture should be warm, but not hot at this point. If it is hot to the touch, let it cool a bit, then whisk in the egg.

5.     Pour this mixture over the flour mixture and add the apricots. Stir until barely combined.

6.     Stir in the chocolate, then chill for about 30 minutes, just long enough to let the dough firm up a bit.

7.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

8.     Scoop out the dough in exact, level tablespoons. Then tear those pieces of dough in two and roll each piece into a ball.

9.     Roll each dough bowl in the large-grain sugar (in your small bowl) to heavily coat the outside with sugar.

10. Place the cookies a few inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

11. Bake the cookies, two sheets at a time for 7 to 10 minutes until cookies puff up, darken a bit, are fragrant and crack. If you’re not sure, peek at the bottom of one of them; the bottom should be deeply golden.


Until we stay cozy again,

a + h

Homemade Veggie Potstickers

He loves to teach. Go ahead. Ask him a question. He’ll show you how. A hand drawn illustration almost always is included.

Trust me. I know.

Over dinner at Mizu, I asked about potstickers… “how they’re made”, “what’s his technique”, yada yada

The following night he had me elbow deep in potsticker dough. The time: midnight.

creating dough for potstickers

Like I said he never just tells. He loves to teach. Luckily I love to learn.

So about those potstickers…

1. They are a bit time-consuming to prep but super freaking easy to make. You could use pre-made potsticker wrappers but we made a simple dough from scratch using the ratio below.

  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of boiling water

hand stir until the mixture forms into a round ball that will be smooth

creates roughly 30 potsticker rounds

2. When rolling out your dough, be sure to make your dumpling rounds large enough to fill and properly close without tearing. It might be worth testing out a few sample sizes to see what works best for you. We went with about a 4-inch diameter.

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3. The filling options are endless. We’re trying to back off of meat a bit (after our holiday meatapolloza here and here) so we went veggie. We had cabbage and carrots in our fridge so we used that as our base and lightly braised with ginger, shitakes, spinach, onions and some of Nathan”s ‘light you up’ dried peppers from Shore Farms.

filling for veggie potstickers

3. Did you know that the name potsticker stems from their cooking technique? They literally stick to the pot. To cook you first fry them lightly in a liberally oiled pan until the bottoms brown. Next water is added to the pan (Be careful! Expect some sizzling commotion!). You’ll need to cover to steam the tops while you also release the sticky bottoms from the pan.

searing potstickers

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5. Feel free to freeze. You can quick freeze them separately on parchment paper on a sheet pan if you do not need (or immediately devour) the entire batch. Be sure that they do not touch in the freezer, and once frozen solid, place in a freezer bag for safe keeping. They’re perfect for entertaining at the last minute or for sneaking out for a late-night snack… like I do.

Until we stick and steam again,

a+h

AHHHHHHHH Christmas

The holiday season is like a race to the finish line in this family. Here, the advent calendar serves as a countdown to sleep and a startling reminder of the diminishing number of days left to get it all done.

Wrapping paper flies and delicate bows are tied with a fury. We run through that final gift list as the stores’ doors close with a bang of finality on Christmas Eve. Ah Christmas; or more accurately – AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Christmas!!

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Do you ever feel the same?

But on that night before Christmas, as our table was set, the candles were lit and we hugged and cooked all that warms our souls, the season finally settled in. There was a comfort in the stillness that night and we were merry….

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And thanks to this ginormous standing rib roast, we all fell asleep peacefully and well fed.

standing rib roast

sauce

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devils food cake cookie sandwich with peppermint gelato

Until we eat with twinkling lights and merry hearts again,

a+h

Black Bean Hummus {Summer Days}

“So how exactly do you make hummus?” I casually ask as we’re driving down the road in wet swim suits. The windows are down and the warm breeze feels nice on our cool skin. We just spent the afternoon floating on tubes and showing off our swimming skills in the clear reservoir water among the green mountains. It was the perfect way to soak in yet another toasty summer day.

He starts right in like he’s been waiting on this question all day. “Well hummus is traditionally made with five base ingredients,” he says and holds up his right hand to start counting each one off with his tan fingers. “Olive oil. Chick peas. Tahini. Garlic. Lemon juice. And I like to add a little shallot or onion in mine for sharpness. Sometimes some black beans and cumin too for flavor.”

He pauses and looks off. I can see the wheels turning. Perfect. He’s already making it in his mind.

I clear my throat. He comes back to me. “That’s a really random question. Do you want some hummus or something babe?”

I slyly smile. “Why yes, a matter of fact I do. I thought you’d never ask.”

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The perfect snack for these warm summer days… Let’s let loose on some black bean hummus, shall we?

Ingredients:

  • (1) can of chick peas, rinsed
  • (1/2) can of black beans, rinsed
  • (3) cloves of garlic
  • (2) Tablespoons of onion or shallot, rough chopped
  • (3) Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • (1) Tablespoon of ground cumin
  • (4) Tablespoons of olive oil….can add to mixture in 1 Tbsp increments
  • (1/3) cup of Tahini
  • (1) and ½ teaspoons of salt (maybe more for personal preference)
  • And a little water for smoother consistency

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, process your garlic, chopped onion/shallot.
  2. Add in our chick peas, black beans, tahini, cumin, lemon juice and salt.
  3. During the processing, occasionally add a little olive oil and a little water as you go to help create your desired consistency.
  4. Once you achieve a smooth blend, you’ll need to finish by adding a little more olive oil and salt for a final blend or to your desired taste preference.

Alternate prep: We only have a mini-processor here in our little red cabin in the woods. Ideally you want a standard sized processor to process all of these ingredients together. Instead, we processed our chick pea mixture in batches with the black beans and then combined it all in our Kitchenaid mixer for a final light blend.

Enjoy with fresh summer veggies as a dip or on a sandwich like we did, made with fresh focaccia bread from Elmore Mountain Bread.

Until we pull from random inspirations again,

A+ H

How To Roll Your Own Sushi {Date Night}

Happy Valentine’s week, friends.

Some embrace it. Some hate it.  Some could care less.  We’re a little indifferent, but always appreciate any holiday that inspires a time to chill, connect and cook.  Instead of splurging on a fancy prix fixe menu at a restaurant, you’ll find us roaming the local grocery store menu planning on our own.  This year, we’ve been craving sushi … and beets.  So we spent a night in rolling, experimenting and playing, making loads of our own creations at a fraction of the cost of going out.

Want to make sushi for your Valentine?

A few tips:

1.    It’s all about your rice.  Carefully follow the directions on your sushi rice package.   You’re looking for a sticky texture.  Seasoning is also key.  Try creating a rice wine vinegar reduction with a four to one ratio of vinegar to salt and sugar (Example: (4) Tablespoons of rice wine vinegar to (1) Tablespoon of salt to (1) Tablespoon of sugar).  Amount will vary depending on the amount of rice you make.  Master your rice and you’re well on your way.

2.    Put plastic wrap around your bamboo mats for easier clean up and to help roll inside-out rolls easier.

3.    Have a bowl of water nearby.  Dip your fingers in the water each time you add more rice to your mat.  This keeps things a little less sticky and you won’t have rice sticking to your fingers.

4.    Roll slowly.  Roll it tight.  Roll it evenly.


5.    Don’t stick with just a few ingredients.  Have options.  Try out different flavor profiles.  You know what we’re saying … let loose!

Until we eat again,

A + H