Multigrain Sourdough Loaf

I am so excited to share this recipe with you! As I mentioned in a previous post, sourdough is a new kind of monster for me, so I didn’t want to post a recipe until I had experimented and felt like I had a handle on it.

Well…it is so fun! Alex and I have had a blast caring for our little sourdough starter baby, trying new recipes (sourdough pancakes anyone??), and of course…eating our homemade bread. I highly recommend it…BUT it does take some effort to get your starter up and running. In my post about starting a sourdough experiment, I included some links to articles I found helpful when researching how to make a sourdough starter and I also added some tips that I learned through trial and error.

Once you have your starter…here’s an awesome recipe that I just made and fell in love with. It has the taste of sourdough, but the nuttiness of hearty multigrain bread!

Multigrain Sourdough Loaf

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sourdough starter (levain)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3.5 cups white flour + more for dusting
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T flax seeds
  • 1 T rolled oats
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 – 2 T pepitas

Directions

  1. Day before: Activate your starter! Get it out of the fridge and feed it (discard all but 1/2 cup of it, then add 1 scant cup flour and 1/2 cup water. stir and leave on counter covered lightly but not air tight). Feeding it the day before will get it active!
  2. Night before: Approx 12 hours after feeding it, take 1 tablespoon of your active starter and mix it with 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. Leave it overnight to feed and get really active! This will yield approx 2/3 cup starter! You can also just measure out 2/3 cup of starter 12 hours after feeding it but I have had better results with the 1 Tablespoon, 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water mixture. (Put the rest of your starter back in fridge until you want to use it again.)
  3. Mix your active starter in with 2 cups of warm water. Use your hands to ensure it is dissolving in there.
  4. Add the olive oil and rye, spelt, whole wheat and white flour to the water mixture. Total amount of flour is 5.5 cups (you can switch up the amounts but the majority should be white in order for it to have a high enough gluten content to hold together and make a good textured loaf!). Use your hands to mix it together – stop once it is fully incorporated.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for at least 30 minutes for the dough to rest and absorb the moisture (called the autolypse).
  6. Add the 1 T of salt and sugar and knead into the dough by folding it in. If you need, add a little bit of water to help dissolve the salt and sugar. Mix until you no longer feel grains underneath your hands!
  7. Fold in the oats, flax, sesame and sunflower seeds – no need to knead the bread a lot, just get them in there.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and leave 4-6 hours in a warm spot so it can rise. Keep an eye on the bread and every once in awhile you can give it a few folds by pulling the dough over itself from top to bottom, rotating the bowl so you do it four times on each side of the dough. This helps get air into it to form the nice bubbles you want!

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    Dough after folds!

  9. Tip: If your kitchen is really cold, I sometimes turn my oven on WARM just for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and pop the bowl in there. If it feels TOO hot, let it cool down for a second before popping the bowl in. It is just nice to make it nicer than room temperature to help the yeast do it’s job and make the dough rise.
  10. Coat outside of the dough with pepitas and lightly flour it! After 4-6 hours and the dough has risen (maybe doubled in size), scrape the dough out of the bowl and roll it in pepitas (or sprinkle them on top of it), pressing them gently into the dough so they stick. Place the pepita covered dough on a lightly floured work surface. Fold the dough again by pulling the dough over on itself, rotating the bowl so you do it 4 times in each direction. The loose bits should be facing up, while the side on the counter is smooth and coated in flour.
  11. Shape the dough into a round shape by rotating it on a nonfloured work surface. Pinch the loose bits together and then carefully pick up the dough and flip it so the loose bits are down – place it on a non-floured area of the counter. Gently cup the dough with your hands and rotate it multiple times on the counter. It needs to be an un-floured area so the surface tension helps the dough stick to itself and form a tight ball.
  12. Line a bowl with a lightly floured kitchen towel and place dough in it (bottom up) for a second rise. Let it rise 30-40 minutes while you preheat the oven!
  13. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place your dutch oven inside it so it heats up.

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    ❤ my dutch oven!

  14. When you are ready to bake, carefully tip your dough out of the bowl and into the hot dutch oven. Heating up the dutch oven ensures your bread won’t stick. If you don’t want to heat your dutch oven, you can put corn meal in the bottom – that has also worked for me!
  15. Use a sharp knife to score the bread. Simple is once down the middle or a cross on top. I’m still not an expert at scoring, I’m excited to try fun shapes. The important part is that you cut it enough that the dough can open up. Creating this weak spot for your bread to expand will ensure your bread doesn’t crack in other places!
  16. Bake covered in dutch oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. 
  17. Reduce temperature to 425 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes covered. 
  18. Uncover the bread and allow it to bake another 20 minutes at 425. Keep an eye on it – the crust should get golden brown, almost to the point where you think it’ll burn – this helps it develop a nutty flavor and delicious texture inside.
  19. Remove from oven and allow to fully cool on a wire rack before you cut into it!
  20. Store in an airtight plastic bag! Enjoy 🙂
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Dal, Saag “Paneer”, Raita & Naan

As you know well by now, Alex and I like making different cuisines in our kitchen. Sometimes we try to make it as authentic as possible and sometimes we try to incorporate different ingredients for the sake of experimentation or for using up what we have in the fridge. I think it is important to give yourself flexibility and room to breathe – do not hold yourself to such high standards that you are scared to try cooking the food of other cultures. Having said that, Alex and I are very aware that when we are preparing food from cultures other than our own, we will never be experts and our food will never be authentic. So when we made this feast, we were very conscious of the fact that it is simply Indian-inspired. We did not have all the traditional ingredients, so we have simplified the spices. I hope that makes these recipes accessible to you and that you are encouraged to try making these dishes.

When we go to our favorite local spot for Indian food, Radhika, Alex and I know we are going home with leftovers. It is one of those cuisines where we can’t help but order too much because 1) everything looks amazing and 2) the combinations of various plates is crucial to the experience! Like Thai food, when we go out for Indian we expect to get lots of plates and share. I cannot imagine going to an Indian restaurant and ordering Lamb Vindaloo and then sitting across from someone who ordered Veggie Korma and not getting to taste it. Ah, that would be torture! For me, the meal is made by the combination of the spicy, sweet, creamy, or tangy dishes on top of rice and bread.

With this in mind, Alex and I decided to make a full meal of Indian-inspired dishes. We have experimented with a few dishes in the past but had never made a full homemade feast. We had a great time preparing everything and an even better time eating it. Whether you want to try out just one dish or you want to go big and make the whole meal – enjoy!

Timing your feast:

  1. Prep your naan dough and let it rise 2-4 hours.
  2. In the last hour of dough rising, begin your Dal and let it simmer.
  3. Make your raita and pop it in the fridge so it’s ready when everything else is.
  4. Prep your ingredients for saag paneer and begin cooking the onions.
  5. Form and roll your naan so they’re ready for cooking. Melt butter.
  6. Add the other ingredients for the saag paneer and finish cooking – turn off heat and keep it warm!
  7. With everything else done – it’s time to cook your naan!
  8. Serve dishes and eat! 🙂

 

Naan

Since I’ve been having fun baking bread, we decided to try out Naan for the first time! It was so fun to make and it turned out amazing! It wasn’t quite as thin and crispy as we wanted it, so we’re excited to try it out again – but it bubbled up and had blackened bits just like in the restaurants, so we were thrilled and proud of ourselves.

Here is the naan recipe we used for guidance. Our notes and suggestions:

  • We left out the seeds.
  • Prep your dough earlier and let it rise for 2-4 hours. We didn’t plan in advance so we only let our dough rise 1 hour because we were hungry (it turned out great but we will try longer next time to see the difference).
  • Cook other parts of your meal during the last half hour of the rising process. Then roll your dough before you make your saag paneer and cook your naan last, once your saag is complete. That way it will be piping hot when you get to the table!
  • The hardest part for us was getting the dough to form a “teardrop” shape like they call for in the recipe. It was hard to control the dough and get it narrower at the top and wider at the bottom. We ended up using our hands to kind of push it into that shape but we also just decided it wasn’t our priority and kind of let it be whatever shape it wanted as long as it was thin!
  • Keeping it in the towel lined basket was perfect for keeping our breads piping hot until they were all ready and our dinner was served!

Dal

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp cumin + more to taste
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper + more to taste
  • 1 sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes + juice
  • 4 cups veggie stock
  • salt + pep to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Add diced onion and let cook for a few minutes until softened but not brown. Note: a lot of recipes call for Ghee (clarified butter), I have never used this. You can juse olive oil or vegetable oil just fine.
  2. Add ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (& japapeño if using), sugar, bay leaf, salt, pepper and lentils to the pot. Stir to ensure the lentils get coated in the oil and spices. Sauteé for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and rice vinegar, then pour in the vegetable stock. Bring it all to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cover. Let cook while you prep your other dishes!

Raita

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain yogurt (we use a Greek variety)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 medium cucumber finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Sprinkle of cumin & coriander (optional)

Directions

Combing all the ingredients in a medium bowl (we use a tupperware so if we don’t eat it all we can easily cover it up and pop in fridge). Chill in the refrigerator until other dishes are done!

Saag “Paneer”

This dish of spinach, indian cheese, and spices is a favorite! My sister-in-law Jessica fell in love with Saag Paneer at her longtime favorite restuarant in DC, Masala Art because it is without fail a bright & fresh green color. However, she hates that when she and my bro try to make it at home it turns brownish! Alex and I aren’t as turned off by the brown as she is so it hasn’t bothered us in the past. BUT this time, it stayed green! I think it’s because we used a food processor to get the spinach really finely chopped and then we didn’t cook it for very long at all. We’ll see if using those same methods next time work magic again!

A lot of recipes give you instructions for how to make your own paneer (Indian cheese) at home but we have not yet attempted it! Instead, we use feta – not authentic but still delicious! We stick to a sheep’s feta that comes in a block and we cut it into small cubes. It has worked well for us but we are excited to make paneer at some point and try that out too!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4-6 cups fresh spinach, chopped VERY finely or blended in a food processor
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, finely diced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • sprinkle of cardamom & cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Directions

  1. Use a food processor to finely chop the spinach. If you do not have a food processor, chop it as finely as possible with a knife.
  2. Heat a large sauteé pan with olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally so the onion softens and gets aromatic without browning too much. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices. Add a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook 5 more minutes, stirring to keep the spices from sticking to the pan.
  3. Add the spinach and stir. Then add the tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Turn off the heat before the spinach turns brown!
  4. Add the yogurt by the tablespoon, stirring after each one and stop when you achieve the desired creamy green appearance. Then add the feta blocks and stir.
  5. Taste and add additional salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, or cayenne pepper as needed!

After completing the Saag Paneer, put the top on to keep it warm and continue working on your naan! Once all dishes are done – plate your meal and serve! 🙂

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Have fun! 🙂

Spice Recommendations: We have enjoyed buying different Indian Spice Mixes from a spice store near us. It’s fun to add a bit of these mixes to these dishes. Right now we have Vindaloo VooDoo from SpiceStation. We have also purchased other curry mixes. However, the basic necessities are Cumin, Coriander, a pinch of Cinnamon & Cardamom, a little sugar and a little spice. So stick with those if you don’t have other mixes!

Sesame & Flax Crackers!

Making bread really changed my attitude about what is possible to make at home. I had never even considered baking it at home, so it really opened my eyes to the possibilities. Making my first batch of crackers was a similar experience. When I announced to my coworker that I had made crackers – she looked at me funny and then was like “Wait, how do you even do that?”

To be honest? It is so flipping easy, I wish I had discovered it sooner. The base is quite literally flour, water, salt and baking soda. Add a few extra ingredients to make it tasty. Roll it super thin and cut into your desired shape and TA DAAAAAAA!

The scary thing is how easy it is…because once you realize that, you’ll be making them all the time and eating your weight in these thin & seedy crackers. Not a huge problem, because I guarantee these crackers are more nutritious than those sold in a box, but everything in moderation is still a guiding principle I fully support.

So do what you will with portions- but definitely make these because they’re so dang easy and so delicious topped with cheese or hummus!

Sesame & Flax Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 – 3/4 cup spelt flour (I also did a batch with white flour & whole wheat flour – they were all delicious)
  • 3 tbsp melted butter (vegan? Veg oil or melted smart balance would work!)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional – I’ve done with and without and both were great)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (adds complexity and delicious flavor!)
  • Sprinkle of paprika (feel free to experiment with different flavorings…rosemary would be delicious!)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Add in: 2 tbsp  flax seeds, 2 tbsp sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Then add honey, vanilla, paprika and water. Once mixed, stir in the spelt flour. Mix and knead with your hands, forming a ball with the dough.
  3. Sprinkle salt and baking soda evenly over top of dough and knead until you are confident they are mixed throughout the dough.
  4. Add flax & sesame seeds and knead to mix thoroughly.
  5. Divide dough into 4 small dough balls. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen cloth so the dough is kept moist while you work with each piece.
  6. Cover a work surface with a rectangle of parchment paper and cover it with flour. (If you don’t have parchment paper – you can do it right on the counter and then transfer the crackers to the baking sheet after, it is just slightly annoying to transfer each cracker!)
  7. Take one dough ball and place it on your floured parchment paper. Use a rolling pin and some muscle to get the dough as thin as possible. If you think it’s as thin as you can get it…roll for another 2 minutes! The thinner it is, the more crisp your crackers will be. The first time I did this, the crackers turned out tough because they were too thick, so take this part seriously!
  8. Once formed into a very thin, large rectangular shape (the edges will be uneven, don’t worry), use a knife to cut the crackers in 1.5 inch strips. Then cut them into squares by cutting them the other way. The edge crackers won’t be square, but they’ll still be delicious and perfect for dipping into hummus.
  9. Lift the edges of the parchment paper and carefully transfer the crackers to the baking sheet.
  10. Put into the oven for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, take them out and check how they’re doing. You want them browned on edges and crisp. If not ready, flip them over and put them in for another 2-5 minutes, keeping your eyes on them to make sure they don’t burn. When you think they’re ready, take them out of the oven and let cool. As they cool, they crisp up so don’t worry if they don’t seem crunchy when you first take them out.
  11. Sample a cracker once it is cool enough to eat. If you like the taste, do the same steps with the other 3 pieces of dough.
  12. If you want to add extra salt, feel free to sprinkle it on top of the crackers before baking OR mix more into the dough. I also added a lavender & oregano seasoning to one batch and it turned out delicious so you can get creative if you want to make different flavors 🙂

Note: Your first batch may feel difficult because you have to roll 4 different times and keep an eye on the crackers while doing the 4 different batches. After you make the crackers a few times, you’ll get the hang of the timing. I bake two sheets at a time and prep the next batches while the first two are baking – it just takes time to get the process down. It’s important to divide into small balls, if you try to do more dough at once, it won’t get thin enough!

Storage: Store crackers in an airtight container. They should last a few weeks, but I doubt they’ll be around that long! Top with homemade hummus or other of your favorite dips and cheeses!

Quinoa Bowl with Kabocha & Tahini

Jumpstart your healthy eating routine with this Quinoa Bowl with Kabocha & Tahini!

The other day, Alex and I both became aware that our bodies were feeling a little bit sluggish and our pants were fitting a juusssssst a little bit snugger. Recognizing that we had enjoyed ourselves quite a bit the last few months, with brunches, birthday parties, happy hours, homemade cookies & crackers, etc. we made a conscious decision to clean up our act the next few weeks.

I don’t know about you, but when we decide to get serious about eating healthy – we have to make a plan that will actually work for us and not try to limit ourselves so insanely that we can’t sustain it for more than a few days. We’re not paleo people or low carb people – we simply commit to being more conscious of our eating and supporting each other so we make healthy choices together.

Here’s our go-to philosophy for clean eating regimens:

  • conscious of portions – no mindless eating!
  • eat when we’re hungry, not out of boredom
  • no alcohol during the weekdays
  • no baked goods during the weekdays
  • don’t have unhealthy snacks & chips in the house
  • pack healthy lunches & eat dinners at home during the weekdays
  • prep healthy grains, protein and veggies in advance so meals are easy to put together

A few samples of what this looks like in practice:

  • Breakfast: Overnight Oats with raw nuts, seeds & berries (no PB)
  • Lunch:
    • Salad with filling protein & delicious veggies
    • Warm Quinoa Bowls
      • with roasted chicken, chard, tomatoes, and sriracha
      • with chickpeas, roasted kabocha squash, chard, tomatoes, and tahini
      • with chicken sausage, saurkraut, and roasted beets
    • Healthy Wraps (multigrain or flax wraps with lower calories than bread)
      • with roasted chicken, avocado, hummus, cucumbers and sriracha
      • with roasted veggies, avocado, sprouts and balsamic dressing
  • Snacks:
    • Small yogurt or kombucha
    • Cucumber & carrot sticks with 1 tbsp of hummus
    • Hard boiled egg
  • Dinner:
    • Roasted chicken & veggies with green salad
    • Cumin crusted salmon with zoodles and mint yogurt
    • Tofu & Veggie Stirfry with quinoa (or small portion of brown rice)
  • Dessert???
    • Strawberries or mango for a sweet palate cleanser is my go-to when I really need a treat

Out of love for our bodies and compassion for ourselves, we try not to do strict diets where we completely cut out certain food groups or count calories – instead we come up with healthy recipes together that excite us but limit less healthy grains, sugars, and fats. It’s also fun to grocery shop with this in mind – we go crazy in the produce aisle and buy lots of veggies that will hold us through the week.

Over the next few days I will post guides & tips for a few of the meal recommendations above. To get you started though….

Warm Quinoa Bowl with Kabocha & Tahini

Ingredients

Meal Prep – quinoa and kabocha

  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
  • Spices: cumin, paprika, salt & pep
  • 1/2 can chickpeas
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 kabocha squash, halved, seeds removed
  • Coconut or olive oil for brushing

Lunch Bowl Add Ins

  • 2 chard leaves, chopped into bite sized pieces (or kale or other green veggie)
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • sriracha

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Brush the inside of your kabocha squash with coconut or olive oil. Season with paprika, cumin, salt & pep. Optional: brush it with a little red curry paste. Place the halves face down on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until it is golden and has some crusty bits on the edges. A fork inserted into the flesh should go in easily. Once done, set aside on the baking sheet and let it cool – it is verrrrrrry hard to handle when it’s hot!
  3. Put 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa in your rice cooker (or pot over medium-low heat on the stove) and cover with 3 cups water. Season with a few shakes of cumin and paprika and with salt & pep. Let it cook for 10 minutes, then add in canned chickpeas and give it a stir. Continue cooking until fluffy and the white ring on the quinoa becomes visible.
  4. At this point, you can store the quinoa and the kabocha in the refrigerator and use them throughout the week for lunches or meals at your convenience.
  5. When prepping your bowl, place about 3/4 cup cooked quinoa/chickpea combo in the bottom of your microwave safe tupperware bowl. Top with raw chard and tomato slices.
  6. Cut a wedge of kabocha squash and remove the skin with a knife or your fingers – careful not to lose a lot of the tasty orange squash along with the skin! Chop the squash into large cubes and place ontop of the bowl.
  7. Combine lemon juice and tahini and drizzle on your bowl, finish with a squeeze of sriracha or hot sauce.
  8. When you’re ready to eat it – microwave with a top on for 1-2 minutes. Leaving the top on will help the quinoa heat up without becoming dry, the steam from the tomato juices will help wilt & soften the chard and the tahini will flavor everything deliciously 🙂

Enjoy and feel good.

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Make this bowl everyday for the week using the quinoa and squash you prepared. OR add quinoa to any green salad to make it more filling. Kabocha can be eaten as a side OR throw it into a stir fry or curry. I love kabocha so much I’ll eat it on its own as a snack – the consistency is buttery and delicious!

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Fresh Spring Rolls

As a kid I had lots of energy and was never quite able to slow down or stop moving- those who know me will say not much has changed in the last 20 years. Dinner was particularly difficult. Our family always sat down to eat together and I was usually so excited and energy-filled that I spent more time chatting away about my day, getting so involved in stories that I would be up out of my chair demonstrating things, than actually eating. At some point this actually became somewhat of a problem because living in a family with two older brothers – if you didn’t eat quick, you didn’t eat at all!

Filled with energy, I fondly remember the meals we got to assemble at the table. Often, my mom and dad would prep different ingredients and toppings for burritos or tacos and then we would each make our own. I enjoyed these dinners, funneling my energy into putting together creative combinations of toppings. It seemed like a dream come true, getting to play with my food and assemble the meal exactly how I wanted it.

Today, DIY meals are still some of my faves. Prepping a lot of ingredients and then allowing each person to make their own wrap, taco, or roll is a great way to have an interactive dinner party. Sushi tacos are one of those meals we like to bust out for fun dinners with friends – see recipe here.

Another DIY meal that is sure to please? Fresh spring rolls! Stuffed with your protein of choice, crunch veggies, and fragrant herbs, dipped in heavenly peanut sauce – these will impress guests OR can make a quick and healthy weeknight meal.

Fresh Spring Rolls

Ingredients

  • Rice paper wrappers (available in most grocery stores with other Asian cuisine ingredients)
  • Tofu (Or protein of choice – ex: shrimp)
  • Vermicelli noodles
  • Cucumber, cut into thin spears
  • Carrot, cut into thin spears
  • Avocado
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • 1 tbsp Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Hoisin Sauce
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp Sambal Chili Paste
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Sriracha

Directions

  1. Put vermicelli noodles in a pot or bowl. Pour boiling water on top and let soak for 8-10 minutes, until soft but not goopy. Drain and cut with scissors a few times, so the noodles are not too long.
  2. Prepare tofu by cutting it into small rectangles and pan frying them on each side until they’re lightly browned! Set aside. (If not using tofu, prep your protein of choice as desired.)
  3. Mix up the sauce by combining peanut butter, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, lime juice, chili paste, and water together. Taste and add more of whichever ingredient you like the most. It should be nutty, tangy, and a little sweet! Add sesame seeds if you want 🙂
  4. Put hot water in a shallow bowl or pan and place on the table, along with all of your prepared toppings – including herbs, veggies and sauces!
  5. When ready to eat, soak rice wrappers one at a time in the hot water, dipping it on one side and then the other – careful not to leave them soaking for a long time. Once the wrapper has started to soften but is still holding together, place it flat on a plate.
  6. Load with your toppings, but be careful not to over stuff it or the wrapper will break! Tuck in the ends and then roll like a burrito, pulling it tight so it sticks together and makes a dense wrap.
  7. Make a bunch at the beginning of the meal and chow down without interruption, or make wraps one at a time as you eat them. We love making them one at a time – creates a fun dinner activity that is interactive and lets you play with your food!

Overnight Oat Bowls

Lately, I’ve been really into breakfast bowls with overnight oats and different combos of toppings. I realized that I’ve been posting them on my Instagram (see below) all the time but haven’t put anything on the blog!

As someone who has cooked my oats for the last 25 years…it was strange to try soaking my oats to soften them instead. But it is so easy! I have leisurely mornings since I work 11am – 8pm, but for those of us who need to eat breakfast on the go, this is perfect! You prep your breaky the night before and it’s all ready to take to work or eat in the car.

Overnight Oat Bowl

Basic Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk of choice (almond or coconut is my fave!)
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup or honey to sweeten
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp of yogurt!
  • Mix-ins of your choice (nuts, seeds, nut butters, dried fruit, etc.)
  • 1 jar or small tupperware to store overnight
  • Toppings of your choice (fresh fruit & berries, additional nuts, etc.)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients (except fresh toppings) in your jar
  2. Shake to mix thoroughly
  3. Put in fridge and go to sleep. (ZZZZzzzzzz)
  4. Wake up, add additional fresh toppings, and eat!

Easiest thing ever!!!!

Some of my favorite combos so far? Click the pics for descriptions. And follow my Instagram to never miss a breakfast bowl post!!!

Shakshuka!

I had never heard of Shakshuka until I started following a bunch of instagram foodies. Then, all of a sudden, it was in my Insta feed…seemingly every day, all of the time, everywhere I looked. At first I was curious what it was, then I was intrigued about making it, then the other day I was like I HAVE TO MAKE THIS NOW!

So…that’s what I did.

However, I was so impatient about trying it that I didn’t want to wait and go to the store to buy all the ingredients. I had a full fridge, so it seemed silly to go buy some additional ingredients to make this one specific dish.

In true Emie fashion, I decided to make some substitutions and just go with the flow. I used a recipe for guidance but then used whatever I had and threw in some ingredients I wanted to use up or thought would be a tasty additional!

If you’re trying to make an authentic Shakshuka? Not the way to go. BUT if you’re trying to make something delicious and convenient – adding and substituting things that you have on hand is perfectly acceptable!

Shakshuka

I used this NYT Recipe for inspiration. It is also a somewhat untraditional rendition of the dish, because it calls for feta crumbles on top. I love feta and had some on hand, so it was a perfect addition!

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped (wanted to use it up, so I threw it in)
  • 1 tiny clove of garlic (I have a garlic sensitivity and get stomach aches if I eat too much – feel free to add the 3 cloves the recipe calls for)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (didn’t have sweet paprika)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (we like spicy!)
  • 1 fresh tomato, diced + 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 large leaves of chard, chopped finely (wanted to add greens and use them up)
  • salt + pep
  • healthy sprinkling of feta cheese (vegan? ditch the feta, it would still be tasty!)
  • 4 eggs
  • Homegrown chives & oregano for garnish (they use cilantro)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in cast iron pan. We didn’t have an onion so we skipped that step and jumped right in to the bell pepper. We cooked it for 10-15 minutes until soft. Then added zucchini and garlic, sautéing for 2 min and then added the cumin, paprika and cayenne. After a minute or two, add the tomatoes and season with salt & pepper.
  3. Simmer until tomatoes have thickened. NYT says 10 minutes but it took mine a little longer. I add the chard in right near the end to let the leaves soften. Then stir in the feta – we just eyeballed it, stirring in less than the recipe called for but still a healthy amount!
  4. Crack eggs in over the tomatoes, careful to note break the yolks, and season with more salt & pepper.
  5. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the eggs are just set. Recipe says 7-10 minutes but our egg whites were still jiggly when we moved the pan. We left it in another 5 minutes, checking periodically. When we removed ours, the yolks were a little harder than we would have liked, so next time we will remove ours a minute or two before we think they are done!
  6. Season with herbs and serve with hot sauce. We served ours with buttered sourdough toast – though pita or challah bread is more traditional!

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Enjoy! We were ooohing and ahhing over every bite. It’s such a fun experiment to try a new recipe and realize you LOVE it. We will probably end up making this on a regular basis now! I encourage you to experiment and throw in what you have in the fridge – who knows, maybe you’ll like it even more than the traditional version of the dish!

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The Açaí Bowl

I’m not going to lie, when I was studying abroad in Brazil, I did not care for Açaí…Which is a bummer really, considering Brazil is the Land of Açaí. Men (in tiny bathing suits) run down the beach carrying coolers on their backs shouting “Açaí, Açaí, Açaí!” and if you call them over, they pull out a small bowl of the purple superfood and a pack of granola, selling you the nutritious and hearty treat to enjoy while you laze and tan (read: burn) in the hot, Brazilian sun.

I didn’t like the stuff. Something about the taste put me off, not sure exactly what it was. I wanted to like it so I kept trying it, but it wasn’t my thing so I focused on other Brazilian treats (sooooo many pão de queijo) and didn’t think much of it.

Fast forward a few years and Berry Bowl opened up in Highland Park on York Boulevard. After a few months of avoiding it because the smoothies seemed insanely over priced, I walked in with a friend, enjoying a leisurely morning and was tempted by their Açaí Bowls. They mixed in other fruits and tastes to switch it up, offering a lot of different renditions of the original açaí na tigela from Brazil. As a sucker for Peanut Butter, I obviously went for their PB Açaí Bowl.

I am now an açaí convert and will never turn back. Mixing these power packed berries with other fruits and flavors was a game changer. I quickly became addicted and needed to be able to make them at home. I wanted to save the money, the plastic cup, and some calories, since I can control what I put in and how big I make my bowls!

Unlike other berries, açaí is fairly high in calories and higher in fats than other fruits so I do not recommend eating this on the regular, or on days when you are just sitting around the house, catching up on (read: binge watching) your netflix shows. But when paired with an active lifestyle, this can be a wonderful breakfast to refuel and I love it after a workout for a boost!

You can buy Açaí puree in certain grocery stores. I buy mine at Vons. Make sure you get the UNSWEETENED variety – otherwise it is packed with unnecessary sugar.

The Açaí Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Sambazon Pure Unsweetened Açaí
  • 1/2 banana (I like it frozen, but it takes longer to blend up!)
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • Approx. 1/4 cup almond milk (incorporated slowly)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • Toppings: 1/2 banana, berries of your choice, granola, coconut, nuts, anything!

Directions

  1. Remove your pack of açaí from the freezer and run it under hot water for 10 seconds so it softens slightly. Break it into pieces and put in your blender. Add your other frozen fruit and pour a LITTLE bit of the almond milk.
  2. Blend until it stops and is too thick to continue. Stir a bit, scrape down the sides, add a little more almond milk. Continue blending.
  3. Continue adding more milk and scraping down the sides if necessary to get it blending. Try not to add too much milk at once because then you’ll have a smoothie and not a bowl (not the end of the world).
  4. Once blending successfully, add the Peanut Butter if you want. Blend to mix and then stop.
  5. Pour into a bowl. Top with your favorites and serve. Alternative? Put it in a jar and take it on the go! Just keep cold until you eat it!

Other potential add-ins? Flax powder, chocolate hazelnut spread , almond butter, frozen strawberries, frozen mango…the possibilities are endless! I’m excited to try a bunch of other combinations too.

What are your favorite açaí toppings???? 🙂

Vegetarian Sushi “Tacos”

Alex grew up making open-faced sushi at home. His mom’s side of the family is Japanese and despite being in the United States for quite a few generations, they enjoyed preparing the cuisine of their ancestry (who wouldn’t…Japanese food is amazing!).  Sadly for me, sushi was not in my family’s cooking repertoire. I did, however, grow up feeling jealous of my friend Annie who brought seaweed rice balls to school for lunch and homemade sushi rolls to potlucks (inspired by her family’s time living in Japan). Her sushi rolls would have simple but delicious ingredients: tuna fish, cucumber, carrot sticks, avocado, sprouts, etc. I remember being so excited each time I got to try some of her homemade rolls, but for some reason I never even thought about making it at home.

About a year ago, Annie came to visit me and Alex in Los Angeles. She had just come back from teaching English in Japan and we had a great time catching up. To repay us for crashing on our couch (like she needed to pay us back – it was a treat to have her), she wanted to make us dinner. Lucky for us, she prepared sushi tacos with lots of different fillings and toppings so we could assemble our own at the table. It was wonderful and seeing it prepared as an adult, I had a realization…it’s not hard! I wish I could go back in time and tell my high school self to give it a try – I spent so many years being envious of Annie’s lunches only to realize now that I could have made it myself.

Since then, Alex and I have made Vegetarian Sushi “Tacos” on a pretty regular basis.  Despite having sushi rolling mats, we like to stick to the open-faced variety – it’s less hassle, easy to do on the fly, and just as tasty. Just hold on to them tight as you dunk it in the sauce (or play it safe and pour the sauce on top) – if you get sloppy with your technique, the toppings tend to pop out!

Vegetarian Sushi “Tacos”

Ingredients

  • Seaweed squares *
  • Half cucumber, cut into spears
  • 2 large carrots, cut into spears
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cube tofu, cut into thin rectangular slices
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 2 cups white rice (+ 1sp vinegar & sprinkling of sugar to make sticky)
  • Dipping sauce: Soy sauce & rice vinegar mixed.
  • Sriracha

*We buy large ones and then cut them in 4. You can find them in Vons next to the other asian cuisine ingredients. You can buy the seaweed snacks that come in the little boxes too. They will be slightly smaller and there’s more plastic packaging which is why we buy the bigger ones.

Directions

  1. Cook your rice in a rice cooker or on the stove, as you would normally.
  2. While it is cooking, heat up a frying pan with 1tbsp of oil (coconut or veg). Place your tofu in a single layer and let fry. Check the bottoms and once browned, flip them to the other side. Once browned on both sides, remove from pan and place in a bowl.
  3. Scrape out any tofu pieces that are left in the pan, and then heat the pan again. Pour in the scrambled eggs, swirling it around so it’s a thin layer all around. Let cook until firm, and lightly browned on the bottom side, then flip carefully with a spatula. Turn off the burner, let the bottom side cook in the hot pan for a minute and then remove from heat. Cut the egg pancake into rectangular strips. (Note: if your pancake rips and falls apart a little bit, that’s fine. Just make sure it is thin and gets firm on both sides.)
  4. Prepare the dipping sauce with 2 parts soy sauce & 1 part rice vinegar.
  5. When rice is done cooking, stir in 1 tbsp rice vinegar and sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar. Use a piece of paper or an oven mitt to fan the rice while you stir it so it cools slightly and the vinegar/sugar mixture makes it sticky.
  6. Cut your seaweed squares and serve all toppings in the dinner zone – dinner table, kitchen counter, floor in front of TV (no judgement here!)
  7. Assemble your tacos as you eat them, switching up the toppings in each one savoring each bite! I recommend spreading the rice in a thin layer and then layering on the veggies & protein. Top with sriracha, pour a little sauce on top (or try to dip it…just be careful not to lose your toppings!) and enjoy!

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Multigrain Mushroom Risotto

Alex and I went to CostCo yesterday to stock up on some of the ingredients we use all the time. Now, I get overwhelmed in shopping malls & IKEAs like nobody’s business, but when I walk into CostCo, my anxiety melts away and I’m like a kid in a candy shop. Seriously.

We got the most ginormous container of FAGE greek yogurt at half the usual price in the store. We also bought a vat of coconut oil the size of my head for like $20 which is incredible considering the small jars usually cost $8. IT’S AMAZING!

One thing we use a lot of is quinoa, so we like to buy it in bulk at CostCo instead of buying small bags at TJs that we go through in two weeks! This time though, we decided to buy the multigrain mix that has quinoa, millet, and amaranth.

Amaranth is an ancient grain that I had never heard of until I worked in Mexico as a volunteer with Amigos de las Americas. It was cultivated and widely used by the Aztecs but then it stopped being grown (I didn’t know why, but Wikipedia says the conquistadores banned its cultivation during their conquest of the Aztec nation…weird!). It is very nutritious and easy to grow in central america so groups, like Amigos, are working hard to reincorporate it into the local diet to improve health and reduce hunger! Meanwhile, a woman at a grain stand at the Atwater Farmer’s Market, described millet to me as the quinoa of Africa and Asia. It is very easy to digest (and gluten free) so it is often recommended for sensitive stomachs!

Anyways, the multigrain medley looked wonderful and nutritious, as well as cheaper than the pure quinoa, so we went for it. We cooked some up yesterday in a mushroom risotto and it was amazing. Loving it!

Risotto typically calls for arborio rice, but we often use regular rice or quinoa to make it and it works wonderfully. It’s the full flavored taste that is important, and cooking quinoa longer than usual definitely gives it time to soak up the different tastes. Making risotto with quinoa also amps up the protein. You can serve this risotto as a hearty side dish OR as a main course. I love eating the leftovers for lunch, paired with a green salad.

Multigrain Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa/millet/amaranth mix
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms (crimini would work too)
  • 1/2 zucchini chopped
  • 2 green onions diced, white part separated from green
  • 3 cups water, veggie or chicken broth + 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup grated/shaved parmesan cheese
  • Optional: 1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
  • salt & pep

Note: if you do not use broth, I highly recommend adding some additional herbs and spices. We used sage because our stoop garden is thriving. We also added a sprinkling of celery salt. Add your favorite spices to up the flavor, though the white wine and parm are the stars of the dish.

Directions

  1. Heat up your rice cooker OR medium pot (over medium heat). Add your olive oil and half the butter and stir together. Let the fat get hot, then add the white parts of your green onion and let cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the grain and the mushrooms to the pot and stir so they get coated in the butter and begin to cook a bit. After a minute or two, add your 3 cups of liquid and stir to combine. Add salt & pep. Then cover and let simmer until most of the liquid is gone. Check occasionally to be sure it isn’t boiling over but try not to keep opening the top and letting out the steam.
  3. Once most of the liquid is absorbed, add another cup of water, the white wine, and the chopped zucchini. Stir and continue simmering until the water is mostly gone.
  4. Add the final cup of water  – stir and then cover to keep simmering.
  5. Once the quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid and is puffed up and soft, add the sage (or other fresh herbs), parmesan cheese and the rest of the butter. Stir to incorporate, letting the cheese melt!
  6. Garnish with the green tips of the onions, salt & cracked pepper. Serve immediately!

We paired our Multigrain Mushroom Risotto with dry rub salmon and spicy green beans stir fried with pepitas!