Three Bean Vegan Burger with Triple Berry Srirachi Sauce

Here is what we will be making at Williams Sonoma on Saturday, for my “Plantiful and Healthier You” in 2018. I did a cooking class and these burgers were a hit, even the meat eaters loved them. The thing about this recipe, is you can add different beans and legumes to give change the texture and flavor. I sometimes use lentils, instead of black and red beans and when you add different flavors like, sundried tomatoes, basil and a piece of mozzarella, you get a total new burst flavor.  You can also keep it very vegan and add vegan cheddar, mustard, ketchup, a good pickle,  and you have a good old fashion American burger. It is not as hard as we think, to incorporate more plant based foods in our everyday diet. All we have to do is take our regular meat recipes and look for ways to add more veggies, or substitute the meat for a vegetable options.  The best to start is with pizza, spaghetti, lasagna and even now with this recipe, burgers.  The big thing here, is to get creative in the kitchen, while add more healthy foods to your diet, that are good for you and your family.

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Three Bean Vegan Burger with Triple Berry Srirachi Sauce

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Three Bean Vegan Burger with Triple Berry Srirachi Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup Kroger’s organic triple beans or any store bought brand ( cooked)

1 small red bell pepper (chopped)

1/2 cup chopped smoky sundried tomatoes

1/2 cup of chopped onions

1/2 tbsp of chopped garlic (fine)

1 tsp of olive oil

1/2 cup gluten free oats

1 tbsp of ground flax seed flour (binding)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp of smoked paprika

1 tsp of garlic powder

1/8 tsp chipotle powder

1/8 tsp of sea salt or more to taste

 

Directions:

1. Heat a pan, add a tsp of olive oil and garlic. Once it starts to sizzle,
add chopped onion, sundried tomatoes and peppers. Cook for few minutes until
they are slightly mushy. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper
flakes. Cool the mixture and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, add cooked beans with your
hands or back of a spoon, mash them together. Add the vegetable
mixture, the spices, gluten free oats and flax seed to mixture. Mix well and adjust
salt & pepper if desired.
3. Take a small ball of the mixture and make patties out of
them. I like to allow my patties to set in the fridge for 30
mins., so they can harden. This will allow them to keep their shape
during cooking.
4. When ready to cook, heat rest of oil in a pan and add one patty at
a time,, no more than four in a medium saucepan. Cook each side on medium low heat, until it’s crunchy and golden
brown.  Don’t flip the patties often. Just cook them slowly each side
for 4 to 5 minutes and gently flip with a wide spatula. Lay on a
toasted bun and add the triple berry srirachi sauce, lettuce and any of your favorite toppings, better yet add it on a bed of greens with our favorite vinaigrette.

Makes 4 – 5 medium size burgers.

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Three Bean Vegan Burger with Triple Berry Srirachi Sauce

Triple Berry Srirachi Sauce

This is very simple recipes

1 cup Triple Berry jam

1/4 cup blueberries

1 tsp srirachi sauce

In a small saucepan, add the triple berry sauce, the berries and the srirachi sauce under a medium heat, stir and allow the berries to cook down for about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool down. Once the sauce is cool, add to the your bun or on top of your burger.  This sauce is amazing over some toast with a cup of cinnamon tea, or mix with apple cider vinegar, olive oil and make a nice vinaigrette.

 

 

 

 

Healthy Alternatives for Chips ~ Roasted Red Curry Chickpeas

So the biggest thing that gets me when I am trying to eat healthy, is having that crunchy and salty experience of a potato chip. I must have the crunch! I am slave to the crunch. The great thing is there is so many other alternative out there, that is so much more healthy for you and delicious.

Kale chips and Zucchini chips are a very good option and I got you covered, click the links to try these yummy crunchy alternatives, Spicy Garlic Kale Chips and  Zucchini Chips  recipe. But if that doesn’t take care of your crunch, my Roasted Red Curry Chickpeas are loaded with fiber, plant-based protein and a bit of a nice crunchy bit. They are super easy to prepare and make a  wonderful on the go snack.

Red Curry Chickpeas
Red Curry Chickpeas

For the Red Curry Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

1 can of organic chickpeas

1 tbsp of olive oil

1/2 tbsp of red curry powder, more or less based on your preference or Harissa powder

1 tbsp of  no salt garlic herbal seasonings

sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Direction:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, and season with red curry powder, no garlic seasoning and sea salt and cayenne pepper, to taste.  Spread on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until browned and crunchy.

If you want softer Chickpeas, bake on for 20 to 25 minutes.

Millet and Red Quinoa Balls

I love this dish, because it is one that brings beautiful memories of me sitting in my friend’s garden, enjoying a nice glass of Pinot Noir, along side her olive tree, with yummy crusty bread on the side, lots of laughs and a few tears. One of my favorite memories, is just watching the hummingbirds flying around and allowing ourselves to just be in the present moment.

This recipe is a wonderful alternative for a “Meatless Monday”, it can also be a great vegan recipe, just omit the parmesan cheese. The flavor is in the red bell peppers, garlic, onions, basil and fennel. This is one you will want to make with your family over and over and again.  If you have balls left over, please freeze them, they do great in the freezer.

I hope you enjoy it just as much as we do and maybe it will be bring fond memories for you, when you Set the Table with Love for those special people in your life.  Enjoy! 🙂

 

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Millet and Red Quinoa Balls in a Simple Marinara Sauce

Millet and Red Quiona Balls

Ingredients

1 cup of Millet
1/2 cup of Red quinoa
4 cups of water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves ( minced)
1/2 cup onions diced
1/2 cup of red bell peppers, diced
1 cup of parmesan cheese, if vegan omit the cheese or use a vegan cheese instead
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder

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Millet and Red Quinoa Balls in a Simple Marinara Sauce

1. In large deep sauce pan add the 4 cups of water. Allow it to come to boil. Add millet and red quinoa. Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Turn down the heat to medium low simmer, cook for 20-25 minutes. Stirring occasionally. You want a nice fluffy mash potato like texture. This makes the balls easy to roll up.
2. Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil to a sauté’ pan and sauté’ the garlic, onions and red bell peppers, cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to season the veggies. Add the sauté’ vegetables to the mixture along with the dried basil, fennel seeds and the cup of parmesan cheese. Taste and season with the black pepper and sea salt, as needed.
3. Stir completely, incorporating all the ingredients. Wet your hands
slightly and roll the mixture into medium balls. You can put the balls in the fridge to harden for about 30 minutes. This will help the balls to hold together when you are browning them in the sauté pan.
4.Once the balls are firm, add the remaining olive oil in a sauté’ pan and sauté’ each ball until golden brown on each side on medium heat. Add goat cheese, basil and lemon zest for garnish, if you desire.
Makes 20-25 small millet and red quinoa balls

 

Simple Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.)can crushed tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
2 1/2 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp of sea salt
2 tsp. organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 bay leaves
Directions:
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic until tender.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato puree, basil, oregano,sea salt (or to taste), organic cane sugar, red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 40 minutes.
Serve the Millet and Red Quiona Balls on top of the Marinara Sauce.
Use pieces of basil as garnish with a little lemon zest.

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Heart Shaped Quinoa Coconut Macaroons 

This is one of my favorite holidays. I am such a hopeless romantic. I love Love.❤❤❤

Valentine’s Day can be decadent and nourishing. We usually see quinoa used for savory dishes, but this is one of my favorites. You guys know how much I love quinoa. Check out all the delicious recipes here on my blog, but try this one first. 😘

< y Chocolate Heart Shaped Quinoa Macaroons is one you will come back to often. Enjoy these on Valentine’s Day or any day of the week. It’s an awesome recipe to share with your kids as well.  b>Ingredients 6 tablespoons egg whites (from about 3 large eggs)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 1/2  cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup cooked  white quinoa. Follow package instructions.

Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:<<<
bine the egg whites and maple syrup in a heatproof bowl.

Begin by tempering the eggs, which will create a nice crispy cookie exterior. Place the bowl over a pot with boiling water and whisk the eggs and maple syrup  together until creamy and warm. When they’re warm to the touch, they are ready to go.

Remove the bowl off the heat and add in coconut, quinoa and salt, mix well.

Chill in the fridge for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a non-stick baking mat or double parchment paper,( so they will not burn under the bottom)

Spray canola oil inside a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Using an ice cream scoop, place the mixture in the heart shaped cookie cutter and fill to the top.<<<
tly press down the mixture into the cookie cutter, molding it into a heart shape. Remove the cookie cutter and continue until you have used all the mixture.  Separating the cookies about 1 inch apart.

Bake in the center of a warm oven for 15 minutes until the cookies are nice and golden brown.

Let them cool for at least 10 minutes or until completely cooled.

Top with Chocolate Ganache<<<
colate Ganache

4 oz dark or semi milk chocolate baking bar, chopped

1/2 cup milk or organic almond milk or any non dairy milk or heavy cream

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Easy version<<<<
ce chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat milk on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour milk or cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and stir. Drizzle over cooled heart shaped macaroons and Enjoy!!<<<<
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Harissa Roasted Chickpea salad with acorn squash, mint and pumpkin seeds

This recipe is so delicious and full of exotic flavors, well at least I think so. LOL.

This salad will fill you up and give you tons of plant based vegan protein. You do not have to be a vegan to enjoy this salad. It’s important to incorporate more plant based foods in our diets, because it will help you look and feel better and it will give you tons of energy. I maybe help drop a few unwanted pounds. Who doesn’t want more energy and a few pounds out the way?  Me, me, me!!

I got something for you, in this simple to make salad. I hope you enjoy the flavors and how you feel later. Harissa maybe a new ingredient you are trying, so let me break it down for you.

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Roasted Harissa Chickpea Salad with acorn squash, mint, pumpkin seeds and micro greens

Harissa is a North African hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, Baklouti pepper, serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, saffron, rose or caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil for preservation.

This Harissa I used in this recipe is a powder form that I got form my local William Sonoma.

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Roasted Harissa Chickpea Salad with acorn squash, mint, pumpkin seeds and micro greens

For Chickpeas

1 can organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, and season to taste with salt, harissa seasoning or cayenne pepper. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crunchy. Set aside to cool.

For the Lentils

1 cup dry lentils

3 cups of  vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

Cook on a stovetop, using 3 cups of  vegetable broth to 1 cup of dry lentils. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender. For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Vegetables

1 small acorn squash, chopped in to 1 inch slices

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 small red bell pepper, cut in slices, save a couple of slices to chop up to top the salad

1/4 cup  poblano peppers, chopped

1 cup red cabbages, sliced thinly

1/4 cup red onions, diced

6-8  mint leaves, small to medium

1 cup micro greens, or baby arugula

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Directions:

After the legumes are cooked and cooled, turn the stove on medium high heat, place a large saucepan on the stove. Add your oil allow to heat up, then add the acorn squash, red bell peppers and poblano peppers to the  pan. Season with salt and black pepper.  Cook for 4-5 minutes or  until the squash is golden brown, but not mushy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To assemble:

In a salad bowl add the roasted chickpeas and lentils, gently toast together. Add the cooked vegetables and the raw cabbages, mint, red onions and the chopped raw red bell pepper. Top with micro greens and pumpkins. Squeeze some lemon juice and drizzle olive oil over top the salad with a pinch of sea salt and gently toss, incorporating all the ingredients.

Enjoy. This makes a large salad for 4-6 or a great meal for lunch and dinner for 2.

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Purple potatoes on top of lemons with thyme and mediterranean sea salt

Who says that vegan food cannot be beautiful and elegant? Well you haven’t tried my roasted purple potatoes with lemon and thyme. This makes an excellent side dish or main course with a side salad. The recipe is super easy.

Roasted Purple potatoes with lemon and thyme
Roasted Purple potatoes with lemon and thyme

All you would need to do is preheat your oven at 35o. Roasting time 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.  
You will need:

4 petite purple potatoes, sliced, read below how to slice the potatoes or you can skip this step.

1 medium lemon, sliced into circles about 1/2 inch thick

2 sprigs thyme 

olive oil

Mediterranean course sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

Using a sharp kitchen knife, carefully start making a series of vertical cuts width-wise through the potato, making sure not to cut all the way through – cuts should only be 3/4 of the way through the potato. 

Next, slice lemons into circles about a half inch thick. Place the lemons on parchment paper on a cookie sheet  and add the potatoes on top of the lemons, drizzle the lemons and the potatoes with olive oil generously, season with the Mediterranean Sea salt and top with thyme sprigs. 

Roast for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender. Once cooked, remove from oven. Set aside to cool a bit.  Transfer everything onto a plate and drizzle with olive oil and a little lemon juice.

Roasted Purple potatoes with lemon and thyme
  

Cooking today with William Sonoma ~ Gluten Free Holiday Treats ~ Sneak Peak

It is always a pleasure to come out and share my passion for delicious, healthy eating with William Sonoma’s staff and customers. Today I am cooking up some yummy, decadent and   gluten free holiday appetizers and my gluten free brownie bites with a twist. I will be using William Sonoma’s famous Original Peppermint Bark as a topping for these rich and luscious brownies. I will also be making tuscan white beans stuffed in a roasted campari tomato and yummy zucchini bites stuffed with gruyere and parmesan cheese.

I am so excited to share some of my families favorite holiday treats today with William Sonoma’s customers, as they shop for wonderful gifts for their love ones. So stop by and find some great gifts for your family and have a brownie on me. Here’s a sneak peak of today’s menu.  

Zucchini Bites

INGREDIENTS

2 cups zucchini, grated

1 egg

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced,finely 

1/2 cup cheese gruyere

1/2 cup parmesan 

1/2 cup gluten free  bread crumbs – I used Italian style

Salt and Pepper, to taste. 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a mini-muffin tin with non-stick spray, set aside. Grate the zucchini and then place in a dish towel to squeeze out the excess water- like when using frozen spinach.  In a bowl combine, the egg, onion, cheese, bread crumbs, zucchini, salt and pepper. 4. Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, fill the muffin cups to the top. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is browned and set.  

  • Gluten Free Brownies with Chocolate Ganache these will be topped with William Sonoma Original Peppermint Bark

1/2 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips 

4 ounces Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs 1 egg yolk

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten free-purpose flour. I love Bob Mills Gluten free baking flour or Pillsbury Gluten-free baking powder. 

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. Chop the 4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate bars into 1″ pieces. In the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, melt the 4 chopped chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir the brown sugar and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and mix well. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, mixing well until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 -35  minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 2-inch squares.

This recipe is gluten free, gluten-free flour can take a little more time to bake. It usually takes about 33 minutes on these. 

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  • Campari Stuffed with Tuscan White Beans with a balsamic glaze

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Raw Chocolate Ganache Three Ways, inspired by a journey HOME.

Some encounters bring you back home to what your soul is yearning for. This year has done that for me and my family. I have been around people and places that have made me feel like, I was coming home. One of those encounters inspired me to move my culinary creative juices back to Raw Foods. Raw foodism is the dietary practice of eating only uncooked, unprocessed foods. It only includes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Now I AM NOT A RAW FOODIST, VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN, but my diet is about 80% plant based. I believe eating whole foods is better for my body, mind and spirit. So, how did I come back home to raw foods? My best friend. She wanted to take a yoga class one morning and  I did have the time, I had so much work to do. I was behind schedule on several projects, I felt run down and just wanted to work and maybe catch a nap in.  However, inside of me, my spirit was calling from some release, so I went.

The funny thing is, as we were driving to the studio, it hit me where we were going, to my old yoga studio. The place I learned about the healing beauty of yoga and meditation, ironically another one of my best friends introduced me to this studio, 13  years prior. I got some teacher training here from some the best yoga teachers in the United States. I was very ill during that time, fighting kidney disease and trying to take care of a toddler.

The yoga studio was a place of love and great healing for me. As we walked into the yoga studio, there on her mat was the owner and one of my first yoga teachers. My heart felt so much joy. I felt like I was back HOME.  The class was amazing and I felt more energy in my body and spirit, plus so much peace.

My yoga teacher and I caught up and we talked about health issues. She shared with me her journey of healing and it hit me why I was there. Food has been a healing art for me. So of course, my best friend and Creative Marketing Director of my wellness company, mentioned what I had been up to lately with food. My yoga teacher was excited, she had been eating raw to heal, but she runs three businesses and doesn’t have time to prepare the food. She asked me to help her and of course it was my pleasure to say, YES. The yoga studio and her classes brought me so much healing and now I could give back. Life is always trying to bring us home, if we just take the time out to slow down and listen.

Here are three ways you can use my Raw Chocolate Ganache.

Raw Chocolate Ganache: You can use this for many other desserts

Ingredients:

1 cup maple syrup
1 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup coconut oil, pinch of sea salt

Directions:
Using your blender, mix together syrup and coconut oil until well combined. Add in your cacao powder and a pinch of sea salt, and process until smooth – scraping down the sides as needed. Use immediately, or keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a couple weeks. If using the ganache after being refrigerated, simply place the container in warm water for a few minutes to let it soften up a bit, or roll out ganache truffles using a melon scoop. 🙂

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Raw Chocolate Ganache Torte with Pistachio Dust and Black Berries

Raw Chocolate Ganache Torte with Pistachio Dust and Black Berries

1/2 cup black cherries, thawed out frozen cherries

 

3/4 cup Raw Chocolate Ganache

1 tbsp maple syrup

crushed pistachios and a black cherry

Using a blender Blend everything together, using a biscuit cutter, place on a sheet pan with parchment paper . Pour the ganache mixture into the biscuit cutter, almost to the top, leave room to add the pistachios. Add the pistachios and top with a black cherry. Put into the freeze and allow to set over night or for at least 2 hours to get it very firm. When ready to serve, allow to set room temperature for about 2-3 minutes, this will make it easier for you to push the torte out of the biscuit cutter. Gently remove, by pushing up from the bottom with a frosting spreader or the back of a spoon.

Serve and enjoy immediately because the base is made of coconut oil, it must be eaten immediately or kept frozen.

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Raw Chocolate Ganache Torte

 

Pears Dipped in Spicy Raw Chocolate Ganache topped with walnuts and cardamom with a side of cardamom coconut cream

Ingredients:

1 pear cut in half and seeds removed

Raw Chocolate Ganache, in it’s liquid form. if using the ganache after being refrigerated, simply place the container in warm water for a few minutes to let it soften up a bit.

crushed walnuts

whole coconut milk

1 tsp cardamom and a little more to dust over the pears

1 tbs maple syrup

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Pears Dipped in Spicy Raw Chocolate Ganache topped with walnuts and cardamom with a side of cardamom coconut cream

Directions:

Super simple. I add a little lemon juice to the pears, so they would not brown. Dipped them  into the ganache. I dipped half of the pears here, added crusted walnuts, sprinkled with cardamom, you can also drizzle maple syrup, honey or agave over them for more sweetness.  Put the pears into the fridge for an hour or overnight so the ganache can harden on the pears properly. The coconut cream is also super simple.

Open up a can of coconut milk and remove the creamy top part and add to a bowl.  Using an electric hand mixer whisk attachment, beat the cream until fluffy and smooth. Add in maple syrup and cardamom.  Put whipped cream in the fridge to harden a bit, about 10 minutes. Remove the pears and whipped cream from the fridge. Add whipped cream to the pears and serve immediatley.

NOTE: This ganache has a coconut oil base so it will melt fast, so keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.img_4922

Pears Dipped in Spicy Raw Chocolate Ganache topped with walnuts and cardamom with a side of cardamom coconut cream

 

Last one, but oh so good.  My grandson helped me make these, notice the heavy handed areas of pistachios. Love it.

Raw Chocolate Ganache Bark with Peppermint and Pistachios 

Ingredients:
3 tbsp cacao
2½ tbsp raw virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
small pinch sea salt
2 tbsp crushed pistachios
1 crushed soft peppermint stick

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Raw Dark Chocolate Ganache Bark with Peppermint and Pistachios

Instructions
Whisk together melted coconut oil, raw cacao and maple syrup in a small bowl until completely smooth.
Add a pinch of sea salt and combine well.
Add nuts and peppermint

Line a cookie sheet with non stick parchment paper.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the lined cookie sheet and spread out evenly using the back of a spoon, spread it thick so you bark doesn’t melt so quickly when eating it. 🙂 Add the goodies on top.

Place the container in the freezer for 30 minutes until the chocolate is completely hard.
Break up the pieces and serve immediately.
Store in the freezer.
PSA
Since the base of this bark is coconut oil it will melt at room temperature, so please keep it in the freezer, until ready to serve. Eat immediately.

 

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese 

I love Mac and cheese. It is definitely a holiday favorite .  This year I wanted to do something different .  I wanted to see if I  could make my mom’s incredible mac and cheese recipe and make it a little healthier. My mom made the best mac and cheese ever, buttery , cheesy, creamy and loaded with lots of flavor. I knew this would be a feat. 

So how would I  do this? I  believe it’s best to use what you have first. A lesson my mom taught me growing up. I looked on my counter and there was a butternut squash. I  love butternut squash and the color reminds me of sharp cheddar cheese. Now how will I  I corporate this in  my  recipe. Substitute the cheese. Now the butter, that easy, make the roux with olive oil instead .  The milk also, no biggie, use 2% or a non dairy unsweetened milk .  I went for the 2%. 
I  got an opportunity to try out my recipe on a local talk show, Women on the MOVE, hosted by Kim McNair. You have check out her talk show, it’s very inspiring  highlight incredible women here in the Atlanta area and local celebrities that are making a difference in our community. 

Okay back to the  mac and cheese .  The crew tore right into and loved the flavor. I think my mom would be proud. Of course, she would say  Lisa you should  have added a little butter.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and remember this holiday season to Set the Table with Love and holiday cheer. 

Ingredients 
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions

1 large butternut squash

6 tablespoons olive

¾ cup all-purpose flour

7 cups 2% milk 

pinch of nutmeg

1/4 cup smoked gouda  shredded 

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded 

1/4 mozzarella, shredded  

1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded save 1/2 cup for the top of the mac and cheese 

1/2 cup herb Japanese panko breadcrumbs

 Salt

 Pepper

Directions 

Heat oven on 375.

Peel the squash, cut the butternut squash in half, remove seeds and cut the squash in cubes.  In a large pot of boiling water add the squash. Cook until squash is tender. Drain squash and add to a blender.  Purée until smooth.

Make cheese sauce. Add olive oil in saucepan. Add flour. Stir to make a roux and cook 3 minutes, stirring the entire time. Add 3 cups milk, pinch of nutmeg and stir until thickened. Add the rest of the milk and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add shredded cheese, (leaving out 1/2 of the sharp cheddar cheese out) and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the dish: Place cooked elbow macaroni in large bowl. Pour half of the cheese sauce over and add puréed butternut squash. Fold together. Add the remainder of the cheese sauce according to your cheese preference. Top with the remaining sharp cheddar, panko breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.  Place in an ovenproof dish and cook until cheese is melted and golden brown. 

Veggie Plate Special of the Day ~ Roasted Eggplant, Charred Okra, Lemons and Sautéed Northern Georgia Candy Squash.

I remember growing up and going to those cafeterias with my family, that served the, Blue Plate Special, which included one meat, two veggies, bread and a drink. My family loved these deals, they were inexpensive and you got a good amount of food for the price. It was a great deal for a family of 5 and my dad and brother could eat, so they were in heaven.

My favorite thing was the veggie specials. You got all these yummy vegetables on your plate . I would fill my plate with collard greens, green beans and potatoes, sweet potato mash, corn and a big piece of cornbread.   Well, here is my version of a veggie plate special.

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Veggie Plate Special of the Day ~ Roasted Eggplant, Charred Okra, Lemons and Sautéed Northern Georgia Candy Squash.

The awesome thing about this version, it’s totally Farm to Table and still very inexpensive, but much fresher and a bit more creative. Hope you enjoy! Hey, let’s eat more veggies and support local farmers. As always, remember to Set the Table with Love.

 

Roasted Eggplant

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, then cut each half  crisscrossed. Drizzle olive oil over them and sprinkle dried thyme and sea salt over each eggplant.
Roast in the preheated oven until softened and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

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Charred Okra and Lemon

For the okra:

Trim the stems from the okra and cut each pod in half lengthwise. Place in a large bowl, add the salt, and toss to combine; set aside.
Heat a large, cast-iron skillet over high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Working in 2 to 3 batches so as not to crowd the pan, add the okra, cut-side down in a single layer, and sear undisturbed until charred on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the okra and cook until crisp-tender, about 30 seconds more. Remove to a medium bowl.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the okra in the bowl. Recipe from Chowhound: Charred Okra

For the lemon:

Cut a medium lemon into slices . Add the lemon to the okra pan, allow to cook until caramelized, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and place in a separate bowl.

Sautéed North Georgia Candy Squash

Peel the squash. Cut it in half, right in the middle of the squash, where you have rings of the squash. Remove the seeds, cut the squash into 1/2 inch rings. In a large sautéed pan,  add enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan, cook on medium heat. Add the rings, add salt and smoked paprika to the rings and allow to cook until golden brown on one side, 2-3 minutes, flip them over and sauté the other side, add salt and the smoked paprika and sauté into golden brown and tender.

Serve the veggies on a nice plate and even add a piece of Gluten  Free cornbread

Southern Girls ~ Gluten Free Stuffed Cornbread with Spicy Mexican Beans and Dessert Maple Apple Cinnamon Nice Dream

The best thing about this dish is you can use your imagination and come up with your own Veggie Plate Special of the Day.

img_4707Veggie Plate Special of the Day ~ Roasted Eggplant, Charred Okra, Lemons and Sautéed Northern Georgia Candy Squash.