Soba Noodle Salad with Creamy Peanut Dressing

IMG_7374Hello Old Friends,

I’ve had a lot of requests lately for vegetarian recipes, so I thought I would dust the cobwebs off my blog and share one with you. Oh the technical hurdles I had to leap to get here! But now that I am here, it feels right. I apologize for my pictures. My Nikon (like my hair) have seen better days so I am taking my pictures with an iPhone (and eating lots of biotin).

This recipe is an adaptation from the cookbook Plenty and was recommended to me by a friend and amazing mom-chef. It’s become a staple at our table much to my youngest daughters dismay. Hey, three out of four likes at our dinner table is a success in my mind.  I hope you love it as much I do!

Let’s get started.

Ingredients

1 package organic soba noodles,

1/4 cup shelled edamame, blanched

1 cup chopped broccoli, blanched

1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red bell, thinly sliced

avocado

cilantro and green onions

nori

For the dressing

1 clove garlic, minced

2 t ginger, peeled and minced

1 T sesame oil

3 T natural, smooth peanut butter

3 T lime juice

2 T tamari

2 T- 1/4 cup filtered water

First, set a large pot of water to boil. Done.

Next, assemble and prep your veggies. There are no rules here, so use whatever you like or whatever you have in your fridge. I quickly blanched my broccoli and edamame, everything else is raw and thinly sliced.

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Once the water comes to a boil, cook your soba noodles according to the package directions.

While the noodles are cooking, let’s make the dressing. Combine the minced ginger and garlic with the sesame oil, peanut butter, lime juice, tamari, sugar and water. The amount of water you use is up to you. I personally like the sauce to be on the thinner side. I feel like it blends better and still coats the noodles nicely.

Drain your soba noodles and add them to a large salad bowl.

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Top with your prepped veggies, and toss with your peanut salad dressing, chopped cilantro, and green onions.

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I like to add half an avocado sliced onto each plate. Next time I make this I will also add chopped up strips of nori. 



IMG_7382This is one of those righteous dinners that leaves you feeling full and satisfied but not weighed down. Make enough so you can eat the leftovers for lunch the next day!

 

Carrot Cashew Pate at a Superbowl Party?

My relationship with football started with my Dad when I was a young girl. My Dad loved the Chargers, watching football with my brothers, and drinking Coors Light on a Sunday. I naturally wanted to be included.

When we were kids, if you were going to ask Dad a question, even a simple one, you had better be prepared for a 3 hour seminar. You should’ve seen the way his eyes lit up when I asked him to explain football to me. He ran to get charts, markers, chalkboards, you name it. The X’s represented the offense and the O’s the defense. My Dad suddenly had become an NFL coach.  There was nothing he didn’t know about the game, and he was going to explain every detail to me.

Within the first few minutes of my football lesson, something happened to me. It was really quite magical and I didn’t know I was even capable of doing it. What happened you ask? Well, my brain turned off, and my mind went to my happy place. I continued to nod my head and smile but I was a million miles away and nothing went in. Nothing at all.

My first date with Bill (aka my football fanatic future husband) was to a Ducks football game. I was a freshman in college and he was a junior. The night before the game we were at a party when he asked me if I liked football. “Yes!” I lied, “I love it.”

So bright and early the next morning he was there with his friend Ryan to pick up me and my friend Martine. He was there 4 hours before the game started, mind you! 4 hours! 8am on a Saturday is very early for a hungover college kid, but I really liked him so I got myself up and out of bed. My closet at that time of my life was a colorful collection of black jeans, black t-shirts and black hoodies. Dang, no green and yellow. Strike one. (Wait that’s baseball.)

Over the river and through the trees to Autzen stadium we went. We found Bills’ family at a tailgate party and I kid you not every family member, from wee little babies to Grandma, was dressed from head to toe in green and yellow. Now I know there are a lot of college football families around the country that bleed their school colors, but they’ve got nothing on the Terry family. Nothing!

I stood around in the freezing cold, trying to act like I wasn’t completely out of place, and forced myself to drink a Coors Light. Bill’s family saw right through me. “Who’s your friend Bill? Doesn’t she know to wear green and yellow to a Ducks game?” Strike two.

Finally, we went into the stadium and the game started. We sat in the student section, and when I say sat, I mean we stood. The group of drunk, smelly, shirtless guys behind us wore only body paint to keep warm. They stomped their feet and chanted, and when I say chanted, I mean shouted, “F U CLA!” the entire game. Well…. probably the entire game. I don’t really know because Martine and I didn’t make it through the entire game. We left at halftime. Strike 3, you’re out! Bill and I didn’t go on another date for 2 years.

That was a long time ago. Since then there has been a lot of growth in my relationship with football. Truth be told, more times than not, I’ll be staring at the TV, listening, paying attention when my mind starts to wander to my happy place and I’m suddenly brought back into the moment by the shouts of “Touchdown!” So what if my cheers are a few beats too late.  I’m proud to say that I genuinely enjoy football now, and when I say genuinely, I mean sometimes. I own all kinds of Ducks t-shirts and I wear them (to the gym) with pride. And if nothing else who doesn’t love hanging out with friends, drinking beer and eating?

Which brings me to eating. Have you ever had Carrot Cashew Pate? Delicious! It’s one of my favorite snacks. It’s vegan, creamy, healthy and has a lovely, bright flavor thanks to the lemon and dill.

Should you eat it as a dip instead of hummus? Yes! Should you spread it on a toasted rice cracker and top it with arugula and tomatoes? Yes! Should you try it wrapped in a collard green leaf with sprouts and cucumbers? Absolutely! Should you make it for your Superbowl party this weekend? Ummmm… You know, I might not be the right girl to answer that question.

Carrot Cashew Pate

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

1 cup cashews

1 TB fresh dill

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 slice onion

1 clove garlic

1/2 lemon

1/2 t salt

pepper

1/4 cup water

Kickoff

I only had raw cashews on hand and I really wanted roasted, salted cashews. So I preheated my oven to 325 and gave my cup of cashews a quick 10 minute toast. You can do this if you want or you can skip it if you’d like to keep the recipe raw, or you can buy roasted cashews from the store.

Next, get your cusinart out and get all your ingredients together. I use the grater attachment on the Cusinart to shred my carrots.

Throw it all in the cusinart with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the juice of half a lemon and a few cracks of black pepper.

Turn it on and slowly add 1/4 cup of cold, filtered water until it all comes together.

Garnish with chopped fresh dill and serve with crudités, flat bread or crackers.

Here’s to another great football season! Until next year,

 

Fresh Squeezed Salad and Bucket-Filling

As we were driving home from school the other day I overheard my kindergartner talking about bucket-dipping. Hmmmmm? Have you heard of this before?

“What’s bucket-dipping?” I asked.

Here’s how she broke it down for me:

“Mom, if someone is being mean to you or if they say they don’t like you, that’s bucket-dipping. If you want to have fun and be happy with lots of friends you have to have a full bucket. You can be a bucket-filler too. If you see someone who’s sad and you ask them if they want to play with you, that’s bucket-filling.” [Read more…]

Lentil and Farro “Falafel”

I’ve been trying lots of new things lately in the kitchen and in life.

I find that the older I get the more anxiety I have about this.  It is most important to try new things when you feel a resistance to stepping out of your comfort zone.

Why you ask?

Well for me, it is so I can find the compromise between the person I want to be and the person I actually am.

The person I sometimes think I want to be is a bit of an extremist. She has a clean car, organized closets and she is radiating health from a raw food diet and a day of kayak surfing.

Yeahhhhh.

I made I made a raw, vegan cashew cheese. Have you ever had that before? It’s pretty good. But then I remembered that I’m not vegan and not on a raw diet and real cheese is really just so much better. I made it half a day on raw cashew cheese and salad and then had a feeding frenzy snack attack like none other when my kids got home from school.

And as for kayak surfing, the only wave I caught was the shore break that sent kayak, paddle, hat, and myself scattered along the beach in front of a small but notable audience.  Not exactly the graceful ocean exit plan I had in mind. Luckily for me awkward is the new cool. [Read more…]

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers at Home

Do you ever have a craving for something but you can’t put your finger on just what it is? It’s like when you can’t think of the name of a movie. You can visualize it, you know who’s in it and what happens, but your brain can’t make the connection and the title eludes you. Isn’t it the most satisfying feeling when it finally hits you and you can tie up that loose thread in your mind and neatly stow it away? My friend Sarah, aka the Ohana Mama, would call it an Ah-ha moment. Ah-ha, the movie I couldn’t think of was Raising Arizona and I was craving Basil Gelato! Ah-ha!

Well, I’ve had one of those moments on a big time scale. Yes, yes, I was craving roasted cauliflower with capers but it’s even bigger than that. [Read more…]

Broccoli Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

 

I don’t know about where you live, but it summer in Oahu. Kids are getting out of school, everyday is gorgeous, and I am so ready to get my summer on! Lazy mornings, late nights, sunsets, sandy feet and of course, barbecues!

The beginning of summer will forever remind me of college in Oregon. After a long, wet and very cold winter the sun would finally come out and everyone would be outside listening to music, starting up barbecues, tapping kegs, and wearing tank tops and sunglasses. This was always slightly amusing for a girl who grew up in year round summer weather, but it was impossible not to get swept up in the “summer’s here” excitement.

The first time I made twice baked potatoes was in college. It also happens to be the same night I kissed my future husband for the first time. It was 1am in the kitchen of my tiny apartment, The Clash was playing on my CD player, and I was waiting to pull a batch of twice baked potatoes out of the oven. I guess when you are 20 years old, cooking at 1am for all your starving college friends is a relatively normal thing to do. It does amaze me that I had all the ingredients though…

We would have kissed anyway, but without those potatoes would that kiss have gone straight to his heart convincing him that I was his soul mate and the girl he would choose to spend the rest of his life with?

Probably.

But they were damn good potatoes.

I always make this dish on Father’s Day and on my husband’s birthday. They are his favorite and of course they hold a lot of sentimental value.

I gotta believe there is truth in the statement “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I’m sure on that night of our first kiss I packed those potatoes full of sour cream, butter, and fake bacon bits. These days to keep that heart healthy we go with non-fat Greek yogurt and broccoli. Still delicious! We also now eat at a reasonable dinner hour. (Most of the time)

I’m pretty sure that if you bring a tray full of these to a barbecue you will be a hero. Actually I know this to be true.

Broccoli Stuffed PotatoesTwice Baked Broccoli Potatoes

3 Large Baking Potatoes

1 1/4 Cups Non-Fat Greek Yogurt

1/3 Cup Milk

1 1/2 Cups Broccoli

1 t salt

cracked black pepper

1/2 Cup Finely Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Green Onions for garnish

Dash of Lawry’s

Preheat oven to 400. Wash and stab your potatoes all over. Throw them into the oven until they are fork tender, about an hour. Take them out and let them cool down. (Trust me on this one, ouch)

Slice the potatoes in half  long ways.

Scoop out the insides of the potatoes into a large mixing bowl doing your best to keep the skin intact.

Add your greek yogurt, milk, salt and pepper. Essentially what you are doing is making mashed potatoes. So mash it up and make sure it tastes good.

Get a pot of water boiling and an ice bath ready. Drop your broccoli into the boiling water and blanch for 45 seconds. Then drain and transfer the broccoli straight into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Chop up the broccoli into little, tiny florets. Add to your mashed potatoes.

Then stuff the new and improved potato filling back into the skins and top each with cheddar cheese. I like to add a dash of lawry’s seasoned salt to the top of each potato just to give it that Grandma homemade taste.

At this point you can either wrap up your potatoes and put them in the fridge until go time, or you can turn on the oven to 375 and get to the twice baking part. Leave them in the oven until they are hot and the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. About 30 minutes. If you made the potatoes the day before and they are very cold, you might need more oven time.

Garnish with green onions.

Twice Baked Broccoli Potatoes

Serve with a kiss,

Grape and Ricotta Pizza with Thyme and Pine Nuts

I have finally made it through the holiday tornado that tore through my house and life. Yes, it was a whirlwind of family, friends, fun, food, drinks, presents, cooking and cleaning. And did I mention fun?

Here were the highlights: [Read more…]

Deconstructed Summer Roll Salad

Here’s what’s going on. I’m making an oldie but a goodie. A tofu rice noodle salad with a sesame soy vinaigrette. A sort of deconstructed summer roll if you will. And total honesty, I’m listening to  Psy – Gangnam Style  I can’t help it, it’s so gosh darn catchy! And the video, amazing!

Anyone want to join me? Let’s do this!

Yesterday when I was at Costco I passed by the electronic section and what song did I hear blasting? Yep, you guessed it, Gangnam Style. Apparently I am not the only one who finds this song awesome because there in the speaker section was a guy (older, skinny, long hair) dancing.

He had some surprisingly decent moves, you could tell he practiced often. At first I thought maybe he was doing a demo. Showing people how much fun they could have if they bought this speaker system. Then I thought, finally I am going to witness a flash mob! YES!  Nope, he was just a guy dancing. Having his own party at Costco with free snacks and free tunes.

He looked so comfortable and natural that hardly anyone even noticed this Costco free spirit. I guarantee that if I started dancing in the speaker isle, people would stare, raise eyebrows, it would be awkward, and embarrassing, OMG is that Tiare’s mom?

Good for you Costco free spirit! [Read more…]

White Sauce Pizzettas with Ribbon Zucchini, Arugula and Pine Nuts

Pizzettas with White Sauce and Zucchini

 

Turns out you don’t need a good reason to make fancy pizzettas! I thought you did, so sadly I have been depriving myself and my cravings for about a month now.

It’s not just the food. It’s the cute dress, the ballet flats, the special wine, the nice platter: what am I saving this stuff for?

Let’s redefine what a “good reason” is, shall we?

Here’s what I came up with. Life is short, it’s summer, I love to barbecue, I love Napa inspired cuisine of all sorts. You should always listen to your body and my instincts are telling me that eating miniature pizzas with big flavor in a cute dress with a delicious glass of wine is the right thing to do!

If that’s not good reason, I don’t know what is.

Make these and let me know what your “good reason” is! [Read more…]

Spinach, Feta and Roasted Bell Peppers in Puff Pastry Shells

If you have ever been to a party at my house or if I have ever catered for you, chances are you have tried these little puff pastry treats. I always make these for a party. They taste great, they make the house smell amazing, and there are never any left over which I take as a good sign. But the real reason why I always make savory, spinach puff pastry shells is because I can make them and freeze them weeks in advance.

Yep, I just totally blew my cover, but that’s ok, we’re friends. Right?  I’m sure Super Woman has a few tricks up her sleeve. Not that I think I’m Super Woman. Well make these for yourself and see if you feel at all like a culinary super hero.

If you are planning a big party and attempting to do most the cooking on your own it is essential that you find a balance of low maintenance foods and foods that require attention and detail. If you don’t find that balance in your menu planning it is very likely you will go down in flames in the kitchen with frizzy hair and a frazzled expression on your face in front of all your family, friends, guests and/or employers. Overly dramatic? A little. Serious? Very!

These Greek inspired puff pastry shells are a low maintenance menu item, hooray! All you have to do during your party is pop them in the oven and set a timer. All the high maintenance work is done in advance on your own time. So a few weeks before your party if you have a day where you’re just cruising at home, make a batch of these and keep them in the freezer. You will not be disappointed. They taste so much better than the pre-made frozen ones you buy at the store, it’s not even comparable!

You will need a mini muffin pan. This recipe makes 48.

Get creative with these. Everything tastes good in puff pastry so go wild and use what you have on hand. I’ve made fillings of brie, cranberries and pistachio, also roasted artichoke hearts and olives, how about mini apple pies? Yum.

Ingredients

2 Puff Pastry Sheets Defrosted

8 oz cream cheese (room temp)

1/2 Cup Crumbled Feta

2-4T Milk

1 head Garlic

1 bag frozen chopped spinach (defrosted with all the water squeezed out)

1 red bell pepper

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1 t finely chopped fresh oregano

1 T finely chopped fresh parsley

flour for dusting

Directions

Preheat your oven to 450.

First thing to do is get roasting. Chop the top off your head of garlic. Put it on a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Wrap it up in the foil and put it in the oven next to your red bell pepper on a sheet pan. Leave the garlic in for about 25 minutes or until your house smells like roasted garlic and you remember to take it out.  (No harm no foul) Unwrap it and let it cool. The cloves should be soft and squeezable.

Flip your bell pepper over every so often until the skin is evenly blackened and roasted on all sides. About 45mins to 1 hour. Once you have accomplished this put your pepper in a ziplock, close it up, and let it steam.  Once it has cooled down you can peel off the skin and scrape out the seeds. Try not to rinse it under water cause that will wash away all the flavor you just worked so hard to achieve.

While all that roasting and steaming is going on, get out your mixer and add your cream cheese, feta, milk, parsley, and oregano. Squeeze out all the cloves of roasted garlic into the mixer. Turn it on with your paddle attachment until you have a nice thick and creamy mixture. You can add more milk if you need to thin it out a bit. You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a mixer.

Next get your spinach ready. Put it in a pot with a few tablespoons of water and cook until it is not frozen. Drain, and I mean drain! I like to squeeze out all the excess water through a clean dish towel. Add the spinach to the mixer. Dice up your roasted, peeled and deseeded red pepper and add it to the mixture.

Lightly toast your nuts and add it to the mixture. It should look something like this.

Now that your filling is ready lets get to work on the puff pastry. Lightly dust your clean work surface with flour and unfold one puff pastry sheet on it. You can even it out with a rolling pin if you like just be careful not to overwork the dough.  You are going to cut the dough into 24 pieces. This requires a little thinking. 3 cuts one way and 5 cuts the other way, right?

Get your mini muffin pan, and spray it with Pam. As a rule, when in doubt, spray Pam! Fit your puff pastry pieces into the muffin pan and add about a tablespoon of spinach mixture into each.

 

After they are all filled up, cover the pan with syran wrap and put it in the freezer. You should have about half the spinach mixture left, put it in the fridge. Eat some lunch, take your kids to ballet, do some laundry, maybe some crunches. Whatever.

Once they have frozen into their new and improved muffin tin shapes, pop them out using a butter knife and put them into a ziplock freezer bag. Store them in the freezer for up to one month. Repeat with the other puff pastry sheet and remaining mixture.

During your party, calmly preheat your oven to 425. Put your pan in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.  Let them cool a bit before popping them out with a butter knife and serving. They will go fast but you will be ready with another bag in your freezer.

Hope you have a great party!

Love,