Sunday, January 27, 2013


Do you ever feel as though life is flying past you? You glance behind to be sure of what just happened and then you miss what is right in front of you. It saddens me to see hours pass by that I wish would linger and moments with dear ones vanish before I fully appreciate them. Yet even as I wish for time to slow down, there are so many mornings that I wake up and pray that the Lord would help me to get to 5pm. The time when my day actually starts. Shouldn't there be balance between these two wishes? To slow the time I value so dearly and to hasten the time I dread?

Do you ever feel as though you're waking up to the wrong day? That time has passed you by and you don't know where it has gone or what has happened? You're confused as to who you've become and what you are currently doing. If you asked me (I've asked myself), what have you done for the last several months, I wouldn't know where to begin. Work would of course pass through my mind. Cooking pops up here and there. Sleep. But where is the depth? Where is the purpose and satisfaction that I would so love to tell you about. I can't seem to find it.

I'm torn between hoping I am not the only person who feels this way and hoping that this is not the case for you.

Voicing these questions makes me wonder where my focus has been. Has it settled without me even noticing? What am I devoting my time to? Where am I deriving satisfaction and nourishment? I sound exhausted.

I keep hearing all around me the exhortation to not float through life. To be aware, to trust, to cling to the Lord. To serve Him and serve others.

I wonder how long He has been sending me this reminder. Trying to tell me that my mind has been dazed and my heart self absorbed. How long have I been moving from day to day in this state? I look back over the past few months searching for times where I have served others. Times I have sought out The Lord. Times I have valued reading scripture, praying and nurturing my relationship with him.

Those moments whiz past me as though they are too short to be acknowledged. They are few and far between. They are moments that I wish would linger and yet I can't see them long enough to grasp them.

Realizations such as these can be heart breaking. How can frail humans handle such truth as this? That we are weak, selfish creatures who seek pleasure and satisfaction from worldly idols. That we, in and of ourselves, can't make it right on our own. 

(Read: By God's grace and love.)

I am so thankful that with this realization, The Lord has also reached out his hand to me. He has graciously shown me time and time again that my focus is wrong. But he has not left me to wallow in self pity and pick myself up on my own. Instead, He has waited patiently on me with His hand held open towards me. Not only has the Lord shown me my iniquities, but He has allowed me time to see them. Now, going forward, He will not abandon me to fix it on my own. Instead, He has taken my hand and will lead me down the right path. Never leaving me to walk it alone.

Chocolate Pomegranate Tart 
Slightly Adapted from Pastry Affair
Serves 10-12

Almond Tart Crust
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp natural cane sugar
8 Tbsp cold ghee, cubed
1 large organic egg
2 Tbsp ice water

  1. Mix Flour, sliced almonds, sugar and salt.
  2. Add in cubed ghee with your hands until dough is coarse.
  3. Mix in egg and water until dough pulls together.
  4. Press dough into the tart pan, making sure it is even throughout. 
  5. Stab dough with a fork to allow an even cook. 
  6. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to firm up.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  8. Bake the tart shell for 15 minutes, or until it is lightly colored and the shell feels dry to the touch.

Chocolate Filling
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup organic milk of choice (whole if possible)
2 large organic eggs
3 Tbsp natural cane sugar
1 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt

  1. Place chocolate and milk over medium-low heat. 
  2. Once melted, turn off the heat and add in eggs, sugar, flour and salt.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture into pre-baked tart crust and bake for 30 minutes.

Pomegranate Glaze
2 cups (475 ml) pomegranate juice
3 Tbsp natural cane sugar
Fresh pomegranate arils, for garnish

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together the pomegranate juice and sugar. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the juice thickens to about 1/2 cup. The juice will be thick and syrupy. Remove from heat.

To Assemble: 

  1. Once tart has cooled slightly, pour pomegranate syrup evenly over the top. 
  2. Garnish with arils.
  3. Allow glaze to set.
  4. Serve at any temperature.
  5. To store, cover and refrigerate.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Supper Club; Part One

(Missing Allison! And...sorry for the bad picture) 

Once a month 5 other girls and I get together to eat a home cooked meal. We have divided the 6 of us into 3 teams of 2 and we rotate which team will cook each time we gather together. It has been such a fun time trying new recipes and getting to know each other. We are a group of very different personalities. We have bold, quiet, silly, poised, sweet... I could go on. It amazes me how little we knew each other and how different we are. Yet each time we gather together, I am wonderfully encouraged and look forward to the next meeting even more.

This past supper club was my team's turn to cook. The temperature was dropping and all I could think about was warmth. Warmth and ease. I almost always look forward to cooking, but sometimes with my new job I just want to eat instead. I want to skip the step of chopping, cooking and cleaning and I want to go straight to eating. Ha! I could feel this temptation creeping in and knew I had to find the balance. I was in need of a new recipe to try, learn and share but also something that wouldn't take hours (that I didn't have). My teammate (Emily) and I stumbled onto the perfect dinner. It was easy, quick and cheap but still elegant and worth serving and sharing at a Supper Club. After all, you don't have Supper Club to eat turkey sandwiches, now do you? Didn't think so.

Emily and I both have a flare of fancy and this hit just the spot. Fancy but rustic. Flavorful yet simple. Rich and satisfying. In my opinion, these are the perfect words to sum up this meal.

Warm soup is usually something I would eat in the winter, however tomatoes are not in season. But I am not about to sit here and tell you that I don’t eat tomato soup in the winter. That would be a full fledged lie. I LOVE tomato soup. Let me clarify: I love homemade tomato soup. Please, oh please, do not even offer Campbell’s canned tomato (or any kind!) soup. I can’t do it. I’ve been making homemade soup for too long and can’t go back now. Am I the only one who notices the tin flavor? The excess sodium? The lack of satisfaction from eating a can of soup?

I know, you probably hate me now. What a snob I am. But... I still feel the same way. I die a little inside when people eat soup out of can. I wish I could make them a homemade soup on the spot. With fresh and healthy ingredients, it's so much more satisfying than a can of soup. If only I had a portable soup making kit with 100% fresh produce all the time. HA.

Anyway, this soup. This amazing, homemade, so simple, better than any can, tomato soup. You need to make it. Make it in the winter, make in the summer -- I won’t judge. Although I will say since this soup uses fresh tomatoes the flavor will be significantly better in the summer, when tomatoes are in season. You could easily do a chilled soup in the summer, which would be extremely refreshing. Even though we made this soup a few weeks ago, when tomatoes are not in season mind you, it was fantastic. Warm, filling yet light, and oh so delicious. So like I said: make it in the winter, make it in the summer -- I don't care. Just make it! You won't regret it.

Rustic Tomato Soup
Slightly Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
Serves 6

Tomatoes (about 12 Large Tomatoes)
1 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion
6 Garlic Cloves
3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Good sprinkle of Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
4-6 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable or Chicken Broth (depending on how thick you like your soup)
2 Tbsp. Organic Tomato Paste
Good handful fresh herbs
Rustic Bread
Mozzarella or Goat Cheese

**If you want a creamier texture you could add in white beans, milk of your choice (nut, goat, cow etc) or yogurt. I didn't

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Chop tomatoes into rustic chunks and scoop out the seeds
  3. Slice the onion into thick chunks
  4. Smash and peel the garlic
  5. Spread the tomatoes and onion on a rimmed baking sheet
  6. Drizzle oil over the vegetables and toss
  7. Tuck the garlic into the tomatoes to keep them from burning
  8. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper
  9. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes (I like to use the middle rack / also time varies on ovens)
  10. Heat chicken stock and tomato paste in a big stock pot to let dissolve
  11. Add roasted vegetables and bring to a simmer until warmed through (5-10 minutes)
  12. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until desired consistency. (If you don't have an immersion blender, then just pour into a blender or food processor. Be sure not to fill it up all the way since it is steaming hot; puree until smooth).
  13. Slice and toast bread; top with cheese and broil until bubbly
  14. Ladle soup and top with crusty, cheesy bread.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

*If adding white beans, do so before pureeing. If adding yogurt or milk, do so after pureeing.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Today was my grandmother’s 91st birthday. She was a wonderful lady and I miss her dearly. She was an excellent example of a woman who loves the Lord first and foremost, and unceasingly cares for all those around her. 

Happy Birthday, Grandma! : )


Grandma had many passions and talents that she shared with those around her. One of her passions (that I now realize was passed down to me) was a deep rooted desire for wellness. She had a vast knowledge of all things nutrition: food, exercise, medicine, etc. She had books upon books dealing with ...wholesome. Just that word makes me think of her.

This is the perfect cake to make on her birthday. Not only does it have vegetables in it (!) but it’s all natural without any refined flour, sugar or unhealthy fats. The only thing I would’ve (should have?) changed, would be to actually cook the pumpkin myself. Grandma would have. But I decided to take advantage of the cans of pumpkin in my pantry and use that extra time to go for a run. Yes, I ran!. I think she would be proud to know that her desire for wellness was passed down to me (and other family members -- Hey, Emily!). And here I am on her first birthday in heaven, making her a wholesome, delicious birthday cake.

This cake is wonderful for many reasons. First, as I said before it’s free of all refined sugars and flours (yes!). BUT it also includes some very health savy ingredients. One of those being Chia seeds. What are Chia seeds you ask? Well, I asked the same thing.

Chia seeds are seeds!

Ha, sorry. They are edible seeds (from a desert plant in the mint family...who would have thoughtl!?) that boast an amazing variety of nutrients. They are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, lots of fiber!, calcium, magnesium, iron and many more! According to Dr Weil, chia seeds are much like flax but even better. The large quantity of antioxidants drastically slows down the deterioration of the seed, thus allowing them to be stored for a much longer time frame. These little guys are an excellent source of fiber and let me tell you, I am all about that! But we’ll get into fiber another time. Just know, you need it (lots of it!) and chia seeds are an excellent source!

Another fantastic ingredient in this cake is spelt flour. Spelt was one of the first grains to be used for bread. (That is crazy!!) It's in the wheat family so it does have gluten, but it also has lots of fiber! (wahoo!) The first thing I love about spelt is that it has a tough outer shell, which helps protect the grain from absorbing diseases and pests. That’s awesome, because who wants any of that?

...Yes, please -- I’ll have a side of pests and the disease for dessert. ...NO THANKS.

Secondly, spelt is considered a whole food. Don’t you love that? That means it's as close to it's natural state as possible. Spelt's germ and bran are located in the inner part of the grain so when it is milled, they are not as easily lost in the process. Many other grains loose these vital parts in the milling process and therefore loose much of their nutritional value. Just FYI: you should note that grinding your own grains allows the grains to retain many more nutrients in general. But again, that’ll be another post!

Ok, ok! You’ve heard the health and now for the recipe. I promise it tastes as good as it is nutritious!
(aka this is crazy delicious and nutritious...if you didn't get that memo...)

Pumpkin Hazelnut Cake with Coconut Vanilla Frosting
Slighty adapted from My New Roots
Serves 12

Just a little note --  I usually don’t love nuts in my sweets, breads, cookies, etc but the roasted hazelnuts really add a wonderful depth of flavor here. I really encourage you to use them on both layers!

Dry Ingredients:
2 Cups Spelt Flour
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ginger
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
2 Tbsp chia seeds

Wet Ingredients:
1 ½ cups canned (or fresh!) organic pumpkin
½ cup  100% pure maple Syrup
½ cup local honey
6 Tbsp olive oil (you can’t taste it!)
1 large ripe banana
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add all wet ingredients except apple cider vinegar to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together until well blended.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  5. Once completely mixed add in apple cider vinegar and whisk quickly.
  6. Pour batter into two round cake pans (I believe mine were 8 or 9 inches)
  7. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and out it comes all clean. : )

Coconut Vanilla Frosting:
3 cans of coconut milk
¼ cup creamed honey (not the same as regular! I got mine at Whole Foods)
1 vanilla bean

  1. Place cans of coconut milk in the fridge for 4 hours to solidify and separate.
  2. Once separated, drain the liquid and scoop out the cream (I saved the liquid for other cooking uses and will let you know how that goes!)
  3. Combine creamed honey and solified coconut cream and beat together.
  4. Slice the vanilla bean down the center and scrape the seeds out; add to coconut and honey mixture.
  5. Place icing in the fridge to set.

Roasted Hazelnuts:
1 cup Hazelnuts

  1. Bake nuts for 10-20 minutes at 350 - until you can smell them!
  2. If desired, place hazelnuts in cloth and rub together. Discard unattached skins.
  3. Roughly Chop.

To Assemble:
  1. Once cake is completely cooled, slice of part of the rounded top so that it will lay evenly.
  2. Place the first layer on the cake stand.
  3. Layer with plenty of frosting.
  4. Sprinkle plenty of chopped hazelnuts on top.
  5. Layer second piece of cake.
  6. Spread frosting.
  7. Sprinkle hazelnuts.
  8. Slice and serve. YUM.

Sarah B has four layers in her cake. To do this, simply slice each layer in half. I would suggest using a smaller cake pan if so.

Enjoy!! This was a delicious dessert but I think it will be just as good as a snack or breakfast with tea. After all, it has all those good for you ingredients in it and you can't go wrong with that. : )


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Roasted Root Vegetable and Hummus Wrap

This weekend. (big sigh of relief). Even though it's only Saturday night, this weekend has been wonderful. Full of cooking, much needed down time, girlie music and a picnic at the park. Just wonderful. : )

I wish weekends were longer. They're so rejuvenating and refreshing. They allow me time to do some of the things I really enjoy; to cook, to be outside, to sleep in and to drink my coffee in peace. I just love them.

The picnic today was the perfect addition to a relaxing weekend. It was 80 degrees outside and sunny!! A few close girlfriends and I packed a lunch and met at the park to be silly, talk loud and eat. What's more fun than that?

Our conversations have morphed over the years from how gorgeous we think Heath Ledger is in The Patriot (Hello, 7th grade!) to buying homes, moving to new places, and starting careers. It's strange to think how many years have passed by us -- it seems like only yesterday I was crying over Jack and Rose not being able to spend the rest of their fictional lives together (!).

I love that our conversations are not only silly but heartfelt and serious when needed. We can discuss anything together, whether it be silly Hollywood crushes (Ok, maybe those still exist at age 24..?) or serious life decisions. We're there to walk with each other through all of those situations and to enjoy each other's company along the way. Especially on a beautifully sunny day at the park! ; )

Here's to wonderful friends who stick together through it all!


Roasted Root Vegetable and Hummus Wrap
Serves 4

4 whole wheat tortillas
2-3 roasted organic carrots cut into strips*
1large or 2 small roasted organic beets cut into strips*
a few handfuls fresh organic spinach
a chunk of organic, humanely raised goat / sheep's milk feta cheese
kalamata olives
homemade hummus

*To roast: lay cut vegetables on cooking sheet and drizzle with olive oil or ghee. Roast on mid to top range oven rack at 375 until tender (15-20 minutes depending on thickness).

Homemade Hummus:
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 can chickpeas 
1-2 cloves roasted garlic 
1 tablespoon tahini 
juice from 1/2 a lemon 
a couple glugs of rosemary olive oil (or regular olive oil is fine)
a good sprinkle of salt 

Cook the chickpeas and then peel the skins. Deb suggested rubbing the chickpea between your fingers and the skin should rub right off. I did exactly that and couldn't agree more.  

Whirl the chickpeas in a food processor until chunky. Throw in the other ingredients and continue to blend. Stream in olive oil and blend until creamy. 

Since this is full of fresh ingredients I really encourage you to buy local, organic produce. You can taste a difference in flavor. When food is in season, it's bursting with flavor. (Plus, support your local farmers!!)

To assemble wrap:

Spread hummus on whole wheat wrap
Pile on the fresh spinach 
Layer the sliced roasted vegetables
Sprinkle the feta cheese
Tuck some olives in there somewhere 
Wrap in foil like a burrito and you're good to go! 

It takes a lot of wisdom to be silly.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Foody Friends

Mmm. This was so good! So good in fact, that I still think about it... 2 years later!! This picture was taken on a FUN foodie / friends night during the first winter after college. Yes, yes, I do realize that neither asparagus NOR tomatoes are winter produce but this meal was so, so good. And, I'm working on sticking to the seasons! Nobody is perfect, right? I'm definitely not. :)

This meal was at my first (rental) home! My first "I've graduated, have no money, and live in a dump" home! This home was CUTE but old (aka cold and cock roach infested...YUCK!). But I have some wonderful memories there. This meal being one of them.

Two of my closest girlfriends (Sarah and Courtney) who also love to cook came over to help me create it. We used to get together and cook all the time - oh the days!! Why is life so busy now?

We pulled the meal together from my at-the-time favorites (Food Network and Pioneer Woman). I actually still love both, but PW is harder for me to use since I've become lactose intolerant and more health conscious. (But boy, do I love her blog! She is hilarious!)

So, what's on the plate you ask?? Well, I'll tell ya! Delicious Sticky Chicken and tomatoes, lemon asparagus and rosemary bread. For dessert we made blackberry crisp with lactose free vanilla ice cream.

Now before I keep going, let me state some disclaimers. Some of this food is not in season. None of this food is organic. Some of it I wouldn't consider my best option if I am going forward in a "whole foods" direction. I'm aware of this and need YOU to be aware of this. However, this dinner was so fantastic that I would make it again, albeit with a few healthy changes.

Jamie Oliver's chicken recipe I wouldn't change. I really like his passion for whole, natural foods. Not only that, but he's an activist. I'm encouraged by his actions, not just his words. You should check out his website to learn more about him and his vision.

As for the rosemary bread, I did use olive oil instead of butter. However, my more recent knowledge regarding fats and their burning points would prompt me to use Ghee...and probably not frozen bread. But to each his own! ; ) As for the dessert, I don't even remember the recipe...but I would definitely make this one at Sprouted Kitchen!

Next post I will actually have my own dishes and recipes written out...this was just for memories sake. Memories of "bottlecaps, hot water heater, yummy food we made together, tools of the trade, washer/dryer countertop space"

Here's to sweet memories!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Year; A New Blog

I was fortunate enough to have a job right out of college. I was a travel agent! I thought I had landed my dream job. I hoped I would someday get to travel. I assumed I would know the ins and outs of booking flights and hotels and would fulfill my dream of traveling the world! Ahem....then real life settled in. Sound familiar? Yeah. I found myself swamped in the summer season when everyone wanted to go on a cruise (note: cruise NOT flight) and bored to tears during the other seasons when everyone wanted to plan their own vacation (read: I still know nothing about booking flights). Fortunately, my boss was great. He understood that there wasn't enough to do, so he let me shop online and surf the Internet. (!) Unfortunately for me that meant my credit card bill went up (at least my closet was stocked!) but it also meant I had all the time in the world to look at food blogs and plan my cooking adventures.

Oh, those were sweet days. Of course, all good things come to an end... for this situation, it was my appreciation for a lack of deadline. As such, I eventually landed a new job. It was a great change, albeit my days of arriving to work, pouring a not-so-great cup of coffee and sitting down to a plethora of food blogs were over.

I always wonder why I did not start my own food blog during that time. I had plenty of time to work on it and I was cooking every meal for myself -- how could I not when I drooled over so many great options all day! However, I believe everything happens for a reason and whatever that reason may be I am starting my first food blog now; several years later.

Funny enough, my current job is stressful and exhausting. I already feel less motivated to come home and cook dinner. Yet here I am: thrilled to begin this process in reality -- not just in my head! I'm sure there will be times where the last thing I want to do is cook (and cook wholesomely) but I'm hoping this blog will be an encouragement for me to do so anyway.

Here's to cooking often and cooking well!