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Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto

January 27, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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I MADE IT. I’M A SECOND SEMESTER SENIOR.

Basically, I have no idea what just happened to me? One minute I was walking through the door with my space cats backpack in August, and the next I was dragging myself out of school while wearing a Pusheen the Cat onesie and bright yellow sunglasses in January? Confusion?

A heavy snowstorm fell on my town the night after the last day of first semester, and when I awoke the next morning, the world was still, covered in a blanket of lovely white. I felt so peaceful watching the flakes fall from the sky, knowing that I had reached the stressful apex of my high school career and was about to giggle my face off on the ride down. With the heat cranked up and my fuzzy purple blanket wrapped around my shoulders, I took out a pencil and just…wrote. Wrote about everything I’ve felt, everything that’s taken place, everything I look forward to in the next few months. It was so nice to just breathe a sigh of relief, because the past five months have been insanely, insanely stressful at times.

On Sunday night, I decided to cook up this risotto after yoga class. And while it’s a delicious dish, I’ve come to realize that it’s more than that: RISOTTO IS A METAPHOR FOR MY LIFE. I know you are now groaning because I’m about to go off on a tangent, but BEAR WITH ME PLEASE, my English teacher this year doesn’t let me be creative and I need to let my imagination fly somewhere.

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The thing about risotto is that you have to stir it. CONSTANTLY. And it gets annoying at times and your arm starts to hurt and you start yelling at your spoon, but you keep going, because you will ruin that risotto if you stop. And just when you think your risotto is done, you take a bite and even after three additions of liquid, it’s still too al dente. But you keep on keeping on, stirring and tending to that risotto until it’s just perfect. And you eat it and cry because carbs are beautiful, especially on a winter night.

Right now, I’m in the transition: I’m stirring my own personal risotto, and it’s not done yet. I’m getting there, but it’s not ready. I’m still adding things, still adjusting the seasonings, still searching for a balance. I am a very impatient person when it comes to waiting for things, so I get anxious and frustrated and awkward at times, but I just keep going, because I know that a delicious future is ahead of me. And I just gotta breathe and get through it.

But hey, stirring can be fun. I can still sing and dance like a fool. I can still have a conversation with someone sitting across from me and laugh at how adorable that smile is. I can still do a spontaneous yoga pose, still think about the complexities of life, still be myself through all of this stirring. And that’s awesome.

Okay. My risotto metaphor is done now. You may now proceed with your life.

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This was one awesome risotto. I mean, sweet potatoes, fried sage, AND white wine?! Sign me up again. It was heavenly. Ugh. Now I’m hungry again.

So, make this risotto (possibly for me, cough, but wait, I can make this for myself hahahaha) and think deep thoughts about life and then just rejoice in delicious warm carbs. Good.

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Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto

Ingredients

Prep Time 5 min
Cooking Time 50 minutes, ish, I don't know, really
Total Time 1 hour, ish
Yield 4 servings

3 tablespoons of olive oil

8 large sage leaves

1 red onion, chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of arborio rice

1 cup of white wine

3 cups (approximately) of vegetable broth

Salt, to taste

A pinch of nutmeg

A pinch of smoked paprika

1 cup of roasted sweet potato puree

3/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

In the bottom of a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until glistening. Once hot, add the sage leaves, and fry until they are crispy and beginning to turn brown around the edges, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the fried sage leaves to paper towels and set aside.

To the sage-infused olive oil in the Dutch oven or heavy pot, add the chopped red onion and saute with a pinch of salt until beginning to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer, then pour in the rice. Stir frequently for two minutes, then slowly pour in the white wine.

Bring everything to a bubble, then reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring continuously, until all of the wine has been dissolved. Once things start to look dry again, slowly pour in a cup of the vegetable broth and keep stirring frequently until the liquid is again absorbed. Keep repeating this process until the risotto is thick, creamy, and the rice is fairly (BUT NOT TOTALLY) soft when you take a bite.

Yes, you have to stir constantly. Use it as an excuse for why you didn’t do your AP Stats homework. And no, I don’t know how approximately long this is going to take, or how much liquid you’re gonna have to add. Risotto is one of those things where you sit back, relax, taste as you go, and you’ll know when it’s done. Trust me.

When you think the risotto is just about done, add the nutmeg, smoked paprika, roasted sweet potato puree, and salt to taste. Stir continuously to slightly thicken the risotto, about 3-4 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. (Hey buddy, go easy on the nutmeg! It can overpower easily!) When you’re satisfied, stir in the cheese and remove from the heat.

Serve immediately with the fried sage leaves on top. Please pour yourself a glass of wine, because I can’t yet. Thank you.


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Until next time, my loves. <3 <3 <3


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Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto

January 27, 2016 Print this page

A lot of people get intimidated by risotto, but you really shouldn’t–it’s super easy to make, and it’s a delicious, hearty dinner for a cold winter night. I gave one of my favorite dishes a fresh new spin by frying some sage leaves, adding a splash (a, er, rather large splash) of white wine, and stirring in some roasted sweet potato puree just before serving.

Ingredients

Prep Time 5 min
Cooking Time 50 minutes, ish, I don't know, really
Total Time 1 hour, ish
Yield 4 servings

3 tablespoons of olive oil

8 large sage leaves

1 red onion, chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of arborio rice

1 cup of white wine

3 cups (approximately) of vegetable broth

Salt, to taste

A pinch of nutmeg

A pinch of smoked paprika

1 cup of roasted sweet potato puree

3/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

In the bottom of a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until glistening. Once hot, add the sage leaves, and fry until they are crispy and beginning to turn brown around the edges, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the fried sage leaves to paper towels and set aside.

To the sage-infused olive oil in the Dutch oven or heavy pot, add the chopped red onion and saute with a pinch of salt until beginning to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer, then pour in the rice. Stir frequently for two minutes, then slowly pour in the white wine.

Bring everything to a bubble, then reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring continuously, until all of the wine has been dissolved. Once things start to look dry again, slowly pour in a cup of the vegetable broth and keep stirring frequently until the liquid is again absorbed. Keep repeating this process until the risotto is thick, creamy, and the rice is fairly (BUT NOT TOTALLY) soft when you take a bite.

Yes, you have to stir constantly. Use it as an excuse for why you didn’t do your AP Stats homework. And no, I don’t know how approximately long this is going to take, or how much liquid you’re gonna have to add. Risotto is one of those things where you sit back, relax, taste as you go, and you’ll know when it’s done. Trust me.

When you think the risotto is just about done, add the nutmeg, smoked paprika, roasted sweet potato puree, and salt to taste. Stir continuously to slightly thicken the risotto, about 3-4 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. (Hey buddy, go easy on the nutmeg! It can overpower easily!) When you’re satisfied, stir in the cheese and remove from the heat.

Serve immediately with the fried sage leaves on top. Please pour yourself a glass of wine, because I can’t yet. Thank you.


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Roasted Tomato, Pepper + Garlic Soup

October 13, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hi everyone! So it’s t-minus three weeks until my early decision application is submitted (!!!) and boy, am I ready to be done with high school. Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be receiving a big green “ACCEPTED!” when December rolls around! To those of you out there reading this, please send good energy my way…

…and I in turn will send good soup your way. Good trade, right??? 🙂

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Now that the weather is growing cooler, we’re starting to move into soup season. That’s a good move, in my opinion: I love me a good bowl of warm, comforting soup.

Since we’re in the early days of fall, late summer produce like tomatoes and peppers are still available at the farmer’s market. They won’t be here for very much longer, so I thought I should make a soup to honor the last of this season’s nightshades.

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This soup is stupidly simple to put together…but there’s so much flavor it’s unbelievable! It’s all in the ingredients, folks: you really can’t go wrong if you prepare fresh vegetables and fruits in just the right way so their individual flavors sing.

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This really is so easy a kitchen novice could do it. All you do is slice up the tomatoes and peppers…

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…roast them in the oven with some garlic, put them in the blender, and cook on the stove to thicken.

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*Drool*

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Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Garlic Soup

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 min
Yield 8-10 servings

2 pounds of mixed tomatoes, halved or quartered if on the larger side

4 large bell peppers, sliced into big pieces

1 head of garlic, outer skin removed

1 teaspoon of sea salt

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1-2 teaspoons of unrefined cane sugar (optional)

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two large baking sheets with olive oil and set aside.

Divide the halved and quartered tomatoes and peppers evenly between the two baking sheets. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Toss to coat and put in the oven.

Put the head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle it with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap it up into a little bundle and put it in the oven, too.

Roast the tomatoes and peppers in the oven until soft and beginning to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Once soft, remove the garlic from the oven, too.

When the vegetables have cooled off a bit, transfer the tomatoes and peppers to a large blender. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and put it in there too. Pour in the salt and add a dash of cayenne, then puree until completely smooth.

Dump the contents of the blender into a large pot or dutch oven. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and add a bit of sugar, if necessary. If the soup seems incredibly thick, pour in up to 1 cup of vegetable broth or water.

Serve hot.


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For now, peace out, Girl Scouts. I’ll just be here, thinking of my future college days and hoping this dream becomes a reality very, very soon…


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Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Garlic Soup

October 11, 2015 Print this page

Have you ever tried roasting tomatoes before? If you haven’t (or even if you have), you HAVE to give this soup a try. Rich and filling, it’s filled with hearty flavors that make a perfect late summer or early fall meal. Serve with some homemade crusty sourdough bread if you’re into that kind of thing.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 min
Yield 8-10 servings

2 pounds of mixed tomatoes, halved or quartered if on the larger side

4 large bell peppers, sliced into big pieces

1 head of garlic, outer skin removed

1 teaspoon of sea salt

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1-2 teaspoons of unrefined cane sugar (optional)

Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease two large baking sheets with olive oil and set aside.

Divide the halved and quartered tomatoes and peppers evenly between the two baking sheets. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Toss to coat and put in the oven.

Put the head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle it with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap it up into a little bundle and put it in the oven, too.

Roast the tomatoes and peppers in the oven until soft and beginning to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Once soft, remove the garlic from the oven, too.

When the vegetables have cooled off a bit, transfer the tomatoes and peppers to a large blender. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and put it in there too. Pour in the salt and add a dash of cayenne, then puree until completely smooth.

Dump the contents of the blender into a large pot or dutch oven. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and add a bit of sugar, if necessary. If the soup seems incredibly thick, pour in up to 1 cup of vegetable broth or water.

Serve hot.


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The Best Summertime Light Meals + Snacks

August 8, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hello everybody, and happy summer! As we speak, I am sitting on my grandparents’ porch, feeling the warmth of the sun and marveling at how pretty dappled trees look in August. The air is filled with energy, the days are long, and everyone seems to be in a good mood.

By the way, did I mention that I’m volunteering on a farm this summer? Well, in case I didn’t, yeah, I’m helping out over at Amber Waves Farm. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

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It’s amazing to be outside in the mornings, pulling vegetables out of the ground with my hands and smelling the earth around me. I’ve done “pick your own” produce since I was a child, but I often forget about where my food is really coming from, so being on a farm is the perfect solution for someone who loves to cook. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to pull cucumbers from the field and eat them for lunch a few hours later, or eat fresh sugar snap peas right off the stalk. Such a nice change of pace from my life as a student.

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(Yes, there is a baby in the CSA box. No, babies are not offered in Amber Waves’ CSA box.)

With the warmer weather also comes warm weather food, which is always best on the simpler, quicker side. Who wants to crank up the oven to 450 degrees or slave for hours over a stove when it’s already hot outside to begin with?! Not I! There’s also suddenly so much more local produce to buy (or for me, to pick), so a savvy chef would best make use of what he or she can find at the farmer’s market, or at least conveniently at the grocery store.

Here are a few ideas for some lighter meals and snacks you can make on these warmer summer days, or at least what I’ve been eating a lot of lately. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Avocado Toast with Fresh Vegetables

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One day in late spring, I needed to pack myself something for lunch and didn’t have much in the fridge to choose from. I saw half an avocado, some Ezekiel bread, and a leftover tomato from the night before, so I figured, “Well, how bad can it be?!” I toasted up two slices, smashed on some avocado, added the tomato, and garnished everyone with sea salt and black pepper…and when I took a bite, I was WOWED. How could something simple taste so good?!

Avocado toast is a no-brainer on a warm day. It’s filling but not stuffing, and you can really use whatever vegetables are in season, be it cucumbers, tomatoes, or even fresh corn. I recommend investing in a good sea salt, because it’s SO worth it. Add a little lemon zest or juice if you have a second; otherwise, just dig in.

If you’re gluten-free, feel free to use gluten-free bread as your toast or brown rice cakes (which are AMAZING with this). If you’re paleo, try smashing an avocado on top of big slices of raw zucchini or jicama–just find something relatively large and crunchy.

Smoothie Bowls (and Smoothies in General)

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When the weather gets hot, eating a bowl of oatmeal is like a sentence to sluggishness and sweating at 8:00 A.M., at least for me. I need to eat something cool in the morning, or I have the strong urge to go back to sleep, for some reason. Does this happen to anyone else?

Anyway, I love having a big smoothie bowl first thing in the morning. I usually do something simple for the smoothie base–maybe a frozen banana or two with some almond milk or a bit of cocoa powder–then top it off with lots of fresh fruit, especially berries. For some protein, I’ll throw in some cacao nibs, chopped nuts, or hemp seeds, and that keeps me full and happy until lunch time.

I highly recommend adding a handful of spinach or kale to your smoothie, or using a teaspoon or two of spirulina powder to get some veggies and additional nutrients in. If you’re an athlete, feel free to include a scoop of protein powder in your smoothie.

Sushi with Whole Grains

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Sushi tastes SO GOOD, and surprisingly, it really isn’t that difficult to make. It’s light on the stomach, filled with different textures, and can be made to scale: if you’re alone for dinner, sushi is a great choice, and if you’re having six or seven guests, sushi is still a great choice. Just decide how much rice you’d like to make–I’d say about 1/2 (dry) cup per person, to be generous–and get rolling.

Of course you can use the classic white rice, but sushi is delicious with brown rice or even quinoa! With these less starchy grains, I recommend adding a little rice vinegar mixed with some water and a bit of sugar to help hold everything together.

Personally, I’m a big fan of vegetable sushi filled with cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, a little avocado, and some fresh mango, but you can also use fresh seafood if you’d like. (Just make sure it’s sushi grade!) If you’re looking for inspiration, check out my Purple Vegetable Sushi, where I show you how to roll and assemble your own sushi from scratch.

Pasta Loaded with Vegetables

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Not gonna lie, I’m super into pasta. What I love about it is that it’s like a blank canvas for other flavors and can be thrown together in under a half an hour. Even in a typical grocery store, there are so many different kinds of pasta to choose from in all shapes and sizes: pick what looks appealing to you! I love the heartiness of whole wheat pasta, so that’s my usual go-to, but I’m also a fan of brown rice and quinoa pasta. (By the way, the pasta pictured above? Oh yeah, those are llama-shaped, and made out of quinoa. Cool beans.)

Use whatever vegetables you have on hand–onions, garlic, tomatoes, broccoli, the list goes on–and give them a quick saute in some olive oil. Add a splash of wine or broth and maybe a little tomato paste, and voila, you have a great base! Throw in your desired pasta, give it a stir, and garnish with some fresh herbs, sea salt, and pepper.

My best piece of advice is to use a pasta that’s in a similar shape to the vegetables you’re using. For example, if you’ve got little cherry tomatoes in there, use shells or orecchiette (helmet-shaped pasta); if you have sliced onions or julienned zucchini, go for linguini or spaghetti.

Ice Cream and Sorbet…Basically 24/7

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My first dessert was ice cream, and ever since then, it’s been my favorite. I love it all: ice cream, gelato, sorbet, sherbet…if it’s a frozen treat, I’ll try it.

I’m also obsessed with making ice cream and sorbet, if you haven’t been able to tell from my Instagram page. I love coming up with unique flavors and figuring out a way to make them healthier and vegan, if possible. Some of my favorite flavors I’ve tried this year are Cheap Date (date-caramel ice cream with a splash of rum–get the joke?!), black raspberry-sweet corn, and roasted apricot with ginger and walnuts. The possibilities are endless…or you could just be boring and make vanilla or chocolate ice cream. 🙂

Speaking of which, here’s a recipe for you, giving you the low-down on how to make your own sorbet! I tried to be as clear and specific as possible, so whether you’re a novice or an old pro you can still make your own frozen treat to enjoy.

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Sorbet 101 (vegan)

Are you absolutely terrified of making your own ice cream? Has your ice cream machine sat untouched in your closet for years? Do you just eschew from frozen treats because of all of the cream and sugar? Then this recipe is for you: there’s no cooking involved, and all you need is a blender–you don’t even necessarily need an ice cream maker!

Use whatever fruit is in season, or use thawed frozen fruit or tropical fruits (like a combination of bananas and mangoes) in the wintertime.

Pictured in recipe index is an almond-dragonfruit sorbet I made in Hawaii. 🙂

Ingredients

Prep Time 5 min
Cooking Time
Total Time 24 hr
Yield 6-8 servings

4-6 cups of fruit of choice (I love the combinations of strawberry/banana and raspberry/peach)

2/3-1 cup of unrefined cane sugar or coconut sugar

1 tablespoon of vodka or alcohol of choice

1/2-1 tablespoon of vanilla, almond, or citrus extract (optional)

1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice (optional)

Handful of herbs, like thyme, sage, or lavender (optional)

Directions

Here’s how it works: first, put all of your fruit in the blender with NOTHING else. Blend until everything is pulverized, then look on the side and see how many cups of fruit puree you have.

My rule of thumb is to use 3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit puree: for example, if you have 4 cups of fruit puree, use 1 cup (or a little less) of sugar. It doesn’t have to be exact: just round up or down to the nearest whole number if you have, say, 3 1/2 cups of puree.

Feel free to scale back the sugar a little bit, but DON’T overdo it. Because sorbet has no fat, you’re in a battle against liquid to prevent your frozen treat from becoming too icy, and sugar helps keep things from becoming an edible igloo. With tarter fruits–like strawberries and blueberries–you’ll definitely need more sugar, but with sweeter fruits–like bananas and really ripe peaches–you can use less.

Once the fruit has been blended, add the calculated amount of sugar, vodka (this also helps prevent the igloo problem), and extract/citrus juice/herbs, if you’re using them. This is your chance to be creative with your flavors, so go crazy! Here are some combos I’ve made:

  • Strawberry/banana puree with lemon juice and vanilla extract
  • Raspberry/peach puree with lavender
  • Dragonfruit puree with almond extract

Blend again. Once everything has been well-incorporated, pour the puree into a bowl and place it in the fridge to cool for 4-6 hours. This is critical: you don’t want to be putting warm ingredients into the frozen ice cream machine base.

When the cooling time has elapsed, pass the puree through a sieve to remove any seeds or big pieces of herbs that didn’t get blended properly. Now you’re ready to get things rolling!

Here are the two methods for churning the sorbet:

ICE CREAM MACHINE METHOD: Pour the fruit puree into the ice cream machine’s base and churn according to your manufacturer’s instructions. (I churn mine for half an hour, usually.) Once churned, pour into a glass loaf pan or plastic container, cover with a piece of plastic wrap or a lid, and let harden in the freezer overnight (or for at least 12 hours).

BLENDER METHOD: Pour the fruit puree into a large flat glass dish, cover with a piece of plastic wrap, and freeze until just solid, 1-2 hours. Remove the dish from the freezer and cut the contents into squares–it doesn’t have to be perfect–and put them into the blender. Blend until just incorporated, about a minute, then pour the puree back into the glass dish and freeze for another 1-2 hours. Repeat this process twice more, then pour the finished product into a glass loaf pan or plastic container. (The purpose of this is to add air to your sorbet, which will make it creamier and also allow it to freeze better.) Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or a lid, and let harden in the freezer overnight (or for at least 12 hours).

Let the sorbet sit out and thaw for 10 minutes before scooping and eating.


What are some of your favorite summer foods? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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