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A low fat, non-dairy break from oil and vinegar. Use on salad or to dip veggies. All amounts are approximate. Adjust for taste. 

Put the following in a multi-speed blender:

1/2 pkg (about 10 oz) soft (but not silken) tofu, cut into 1″ chunks

1/4 cup coconut (or soy) creamer

1/2 cup parsley (no stems)

About 1/3 cup fresh chives, roughly chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 scallion, trimmed and chopped into small pieces 

A few fresh basil leaves (or dill)

1 t spice blend (Trader Joes 21 season salute) or onion powder

1/2 – 1 t sea salt, pepper to taste

1 T olive oil

1 T cider vinegar 

Blend on low speed increasing to medium-high speed.  Add coconut (or soy) milk until desired thickness. 

Taste and adjust seasoning and herbs. Garlic will become stronger over time. 

Store in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups. 

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Everyone here is allergic to chicken eggs and/or cow dairy, so this recipe uses goat yogurt as a dressing base. This recipe is kind of a no-brainer; no surprises. Nothing unusual.

1/2 cut up roast chicken (from the night before, here)
2 large scallions, slit once lengthwise and chopped thinly
2 stalks celery, slit a few times lengthwise and chopped
Handful of chopped greens. I used Italian parsley– you could use baby kale, beet greens, etc.
1/2 cup + roughly chopped raw cashews
1/2 cup dried cherries (or raisins, currants, chopped dried figs…)

For the dressing:
About 1 cup goats milk yogurt
About 1 T curry powder (I used Maharaja)
1/2 t stevia (or 1 T agave syrup or equivalent sweetener. Or not)
Salt and pepper to taste. With the curry you don’t need as much salt, I’ve found.
Adjust seasoning

This would also be good with 1/2 cup chickpeas added (rinse well if canned). You could even make it with chickpeas and/or beans instead of chicken.

Use soon and refrigerate. I’ve found that when I use yogurt for salads like this that it separates and gets kind of watery.

Butternut squash soup

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Fall ushers in soup time. The house is cool enough that I can leave a pot of chicken stock on the back of the stove overnight, and winter squash and root veggies are everywhere and make hearty, warming meals.

I made this butternut squash soup for lunch. Butternut squash soup is perhaps the most ubiquitous winter vegetable soup and is so easy to make.

I cut about three inches off the small end of a butternut squash and chopped it into 1″ cubes. In a saucepan I covered them with water and boiled until tender. I drained some (but not all) of the water and added homemade chicken stock– ladled right out of the pot (about 1 1/2 cups). After throwing in a large clove of garlic, salt, pepper, about 1/2 t each of ancho chile powder and paprika, and 1/4 t cumin, I blended it until it was fairly smooth. It’s better to start with less liquid and add after blending so you get a consistency that appeals to you.

When served you can add chopped parsley or cilantro and avocado…

Pesto

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I made this pesto for my daughter and her vegan friend. My daughter often is not fond of pesto because of the strong basil taste. This recipe incorporates spinach, which makes the flavor much more mild and eliminates the need for a side salad or veggie. I had mine with macerated tomatoes on the side (diced tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, chopped basil and Italian parsley– combine and let sit for an hour or more).

Pesto
In a food processor, combine (amounts are approximate– adjust for your taste– I added a little extra basil when I made it again for myself):

1 (packed) cup basil leaves, rinsed
2 (packed) cups baby spinach, large stems removed if you’re ambitious, rinsed (don’t worry about residual water)
3 cloves of garlic
1 t sea salt
1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts, cooled
1/3 cup raw walnuts (adjust nuts to your taste– I like a lot. The walnuts add good protein)
Olive oil until the pesto is combined and soft– approx 1/3-1/2 cup. I like a lot of olive oil– it makes the pesto creamy and soft.
If you like, add a couple 1″ cubes of Reggiano cheese.
Blend until creamy. Combine with cooked pasta– something that hold the pesto well. Serve with macerated tomatoes and red wine (water for the kiddies).

Cauliflower Soup

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If you’re like me, you have at least a gallon of turkey stock on the back of the stove from the thanksgiving bird. I love making soup after the holidays, the simplicity is restorative somehow.

I boiled (in water) about a half of a head of cauliflower (you could use romanesco) and most of a leek, cut into smallish pieces. When it was all tender, I drained the water and added turkey stock, a little half and half (less than1/4 cup), about a 1/4 t of curry powder, some fresh ground nutmeg, and salt and pepper. I blended it with the hand blender. So easy.

Banana- nut bread

This is a really great banana bread recipe from Nancy Silverton’s pastry book from La Brea Bakery. It’s really moist and flavorful. I substituted black walnuts for the pecans, and only toasted the regular walnuts. Black walnuts can be difficult to find but are well worth tracking down. If you’re from New England, you will recognize them as what makes that delightful and intoxicating turpentine- like smell when you run over them in the rain.

2/3 cup walnuts
2/3 cup pecans (or black walnuts)
4 bananas, mashed (Nancy has you mashing 3 to make 1 1/4 cups and using one whole banana for garnish. We made a half- recipe with 2 bananas and used them all mashed in the bread.
2 extra- large eggs
1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 1/4 t baking soda
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t kosher salt (i used sea salt)
1 t cinnamon
3/4 t freshly ground nutmeg
scant 1/4 t ground cloves
1 T poppy seeds (we used 1 T for our half- recipe. We love poppy seeds)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (we used coconut palm sugar, normally used in place of brown sugar but has no molasses flavor, so…)
1/4 cup plus 2 T light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 and toast the nuts until lightly brown (if you use black walnuts in place of the pecans, only toast the traditional, English walnuts), about 8-10 minutes. Cool, chop coarsely, set aside. Turn oven up to 350.

Whisk banana puree, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and poppy seeds. mix on med-low until softened. Add sugars and turn up speed to medium high and beat until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, scraping sides as necessary. Add the flour and banana mixture in parts starting with the flour, mixing enough to just combine. Remove paddle and mix in nuts by hand. Pour into prepared loaf pan (I greased liberally with coconut oil and then floured). If you saved the 4th banana, cut 2, 1/4″ strips from the banana, lengthwise. Place on top, slightly interlocking the arcs. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes. We did a half recipe, which turned out to be about 40 minutes. Test with skewer, it should be not gooey. Don’t over bake!

Allow to cool in pan slightly, then turn out onto cooling rack. SLice and eat with butter, immediately.

So, I was curious about the pre-cooked, frozen langostino tails at Trader Joes. It was about 90 degrees today and I really didn’t want to turn on the stove. I put the frozen tails (about 1 lb.)  into cold, brined water [about 2 T sea salt to a half- gallon of water– I don’t measure]. They’re small, they thaw quickly in about 20 minutes. I drained them and added the juice of about three limes, 2 T very thinly sliced onion, cherry tomatoes (halved), a pinch of epazote, oregano, cumin [tiny amount,] dried chile guajillo moido, salt, chopped cilantro, about 2 T of mezcal, and half a seedless cucumber, peeled and diced. I let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, then added a diced avocado.

I served it with a thick avocado/chile salsa/sauce on top:
1 pasilla chile, grilled, peeled, and cored
6 medium tomatillos. paper removed, grilled well, skins removed
1 avocado
juice of 1 to 2 limes
salt
2 T cilantro

Put all ingredients in a foor processor and puree until desired smoothness.

It would be great with some homemade corn tortillas, shredded lettuce, and a huge margarita…