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Kids in the kitchen! Five holiday recipes just for them

December 18, 2017

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been on hold for almost twenty minutes with a certain shipping company who will remain nameless. At the exact moment the agent came on the line, my two year old stood up and started the show that only occurs when I talk on the phone. He started shaking the maraca, jumping up and down singing Jingle Bells at the top of his lungs. I didn’t even know he had heard the song, let alone memorized it.

A couple days later, he informed me it was Christmas day. It was still November, and it occurred to me that if he was already anticipating the holidays at two years old, then he was certainly old enough to get in on a bit of holiday cooking action. So in the hustle and bustle, pull the kids into the kitchen. Give them an apron, a hand wash, and one more reason to love the holidays. Depending on the age of the kids in your life, some might need more help than others, so I’ll leave that up to you.

Continue Reading…

Turmeric and Ginger Quinoa

December 15, 2017

Sometimes the best recipes are so simple, it’s almost easy to overlook them as not being important enough for a whole blog post. But mastering these simple building blocks are how you learn to really cook.  I recently made a pot of this quinoa to mix in with a crunchy Vietnamese inspired salad of purple cabbage, kale, carrots, cilantro and mint (hence the photo). We ate this every day for lunch and never got tired of it.

I love to make quinoa risotto-style. This means starting with olive oil, then adding aromatics (the ginger and garlic), the adding the grain (quinoa) and toasting it for a few minutes. Then deglazing with liquid. I’m not gonna lie, making risotto might be a little more fun because there is parmesan cheese, wine and whipped cream involved. But hey, that’s for another post. The point is, even before you dress it up with your favorite accompaniments, there is A LOT of room to make a pot of quinoa amazing on its own.

You could add onion, jalapeno and lime for a taco filling or to pair with avocado and salsa.
You could add shallot, garlic, white wine and fresh thyme to pair with roasted veggies or chicken.
You could add raisins, nuts, cinnamon and a nut milk to make a hearty breakfast.

Ingredients
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1” piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 t. ground turmeric (or 1 T. fresh, peeled and chopped)
1 c. dried quinoa
2 c. water or veggie stock

Method

  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add turmeric and cook another minute more.
  4. Add quinoa and stir for a minute.
  5. Add water, bring to a simmer and cover cooking on low for around 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and quinoa is cooked.
  6. Fluff into a bowl with a fork and let cool.

Component in Action
-Use as a taco/wrap filling
-Spoon into a bowl of soup or stew
-Enjoy as a hearty breakfast
-Add cold to salads
-Add hot over greens that just need a bit of wilting, like kale or spinach. drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over, sprinkle with toasted nuts…a perfect side.

Immunity Boosting Vegetable Soup

December 4, 2017

I’ve been on a mission to keep our family healthy over the holidays, so I made a list of all the immunity boosting ingredients that popped to mind and crammed them all in a single soup that I will forever consider the official Sundquist family Immunity Boosting Vegetable Soup.

You could make this with vegetable stock. You could add some jalapeno’s for some heat. You could add chicken for extra protein. You could add fresh herbs like basil or cilantro. There are many variations and things you could play around with to make it your own official family soup:)

I hope this Immunity Boosting Vegetable Soup is as cozy inducing and delicious for your family as it is for ours.

Ingredients
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2″ piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 T. dried ground turmeric
1 lime, juiced
1 can of unsweetened coconut milk or cream
2 large carrots,
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 c. cauliflower, stems and florets cut into 1″ (bite sized) pieces
1/2 c. golden raisins
1 qt. chicken stock
4 c. kale, sliced
1 c. frozen peas
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
1.) Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2.) Add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for a around five minutes, stirring continuously.
3.) Add turmeric and cook another minute more.
4.)  Add coconut milk and lime juice and give a good stir with a wooden spoon to get any caramelized bits off the bottom of the pot.
5.) Add carrots, red bell pepper, cauliflower, golden raisins and chicken stock. Bring soup to a simmer.
6.) Let soup cook until carrots and cauliflower are tender around 20 minutes.
7.) Add the kale and frozen peas. Cook another five minutes.
8.) Add salt and pepper as needed.

Component in Action
-Enjoy simply as a cozy, immune boosting soup
-Spoon over baked sweet potatoes
-Spoon over rice or quinoa

 

Beet Greens with olive oil, garlic and lemon

November 17, 2017

Beets are one of the veggies that come with a free gift.  You know when your at the store and for some reason two hand soaps are wrapped together for almost the same price as one? You have no idea why this is happening but it is, and so you come home with two soaps feeling like you found some kind of treasure. It’s pretty much just like that.

I call these bonus veggies. They are vegetables that have edible greens shooting out from their tops. Turnip, carrot, beet and radish greens are the main ones that are easily found and just waiting to be added to soup, pasta, pesto or enjoyed on their own.

Beet greens are full of vitamins and minerals making them even more nutrient dense than the beets. They are an excellent source of iron, vitamin A, K and C along with a long list of others. Bottom line, beet greens are a pretty rad bonus veggie gift.

Beet greens are so lovely and tender. They can be eaten raw or cooked. This little recipe for beet greens gently sauteed in olive oil, garlic and lemon is so easy it shouldn’t be possible the outcome is so delicious, but lucky for us, it totally is. AND this side is so fast, you could probably ring the dinner bell before the greens even hit the pan and be done before everyone is seated.

Ingredients
2 T. olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 big bunch of beet greens, washed well and dried with a clean towel, torn or cut into pieces
1 lemon, zested and juiced
red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Method
1.) Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
2.) Add garlic. Let cook about a minute.
3.) Add beet greens. Stir and cook a couple minutes until they start to wilt but still are bright green.
4.) Add lemon zest, juice, red pepper flake, salt and pepper to taste.
5.) Serve immediately.

Component in action
-Shave a bit of Parmesan over the top for a true Italian treat.
-toss in a splash of white wine and a nub of butter along with some just cooked pasta. BOOM.
-Spoon on top of toasted garlic bread with a shaving of Parmesan for snack or appetizer.
-Want to switch it up? Add sliced red grapes and chopped raw almonds for a standout side.
-Top of BBQ sandwiches or burgers.

Sweet Corn Polenta

September 7, 2017

It all started with a much needed cleaning out of the pantry. I found a partial bag of yellow cornmeal which I usually use more in the fall and winter. But I also had some sweet corn in the fridge and we had some hot Italians to grill and before you knew it I had formed a plan and then couldn’t get over the fact that I have been mistakenly dismissing polenta during the summer months. Never Again!

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t stop pairing this creamy version with all kinds of summer delectable’s: brats, anything bbq’d and smothered in sauce, chicken, salmon, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, I could go on.

The point is, this quick (and I mean quick) sweet corn polenta can be used as a side, a smear, a dip, even a sauce. Enjoy!

You can also easily make this a vegan dish by using water instead of milk, using olive oil instead of butter and leaving out the parm.

Ingredients
2 T. butter
1 c. sweet corn kernals (fresh in summer, frozen in the off season)
1 c. whole milk
1.5 c. water
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. fresh chopped herbs like chives, parsley, basil, thyme (optional)

Method
1.) Melt 1 T. butter over medium heat.
2.) Add corn (and left over cob if using fresh). Cook for a minute.
3.) Add milk and water and bring to a boil.
4.) Remove left over cob (if using) and discard. (this just added a bunch of extra flavor!)
5.) Whisk in corn meal and stir until thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).
6.) Season with salt and pepper until it tastes amazing.
7.) Remove polenta from the heat add stir in remaining 1 T. butter, Parmesan cheese and optional fresh herbs.
8.) Serve

Component in Action
-serve with toasted bread
-serve alongside roasted or grilled chicken, salmon, steak, veggies
-a perfect pair for anything bbq’d
-use less liquid to make thicker polenta and more liquid to make thinner.

Ratatouille

August 24, 2017

There is a window of time each year where the stars align, the warm winds blow during the day (and maybe could do a better job of cooling at night) but hey it’s worth it, because the queen of all summer dishes has arrived…ratatouille.

The summer staple is smooth and elegant, has a complex texture, bright and bold flavors, and can be enjoyed in oh so many ways. Ratatouille originated in Nice, France where poor farmers cooked this simple vegetable stew to put to use vegetables available to them in the summer months.

This is also where the dried herb blend, herbs de Provence comes in. There are many variations to this regionally inspired spice blend, but the key ingredients are:
summer savory
thyme
basil
marjoram
lavender
parsley
oregano
tarragon
fennel seed and
mint.

This is optional, but adds a third dimension to the dish. I kind of think of it as without herbs de Provence you are sitting in a beautiful restaurant enjoying a simple and delicious summer lunch. When you add herbs de Provence to ratatouille, it’s like the window next to your table is pushed open and a balmy summer breeze enters the room. All of a sudden you notice the garden outside, you can smell the fresh herbs and onions growing just a stones throw away, the stalks of purple lavender sway back and forth and you relax back into your chair and reach for your wine, THAT’S the (totally optional of course) magic of this herb combination.

This recipe calls for the vegetables to be cut into a 1/2 inch dice. You can easily change this to 1 or even 2 inch. This is a rustic dish so it is not as important how big or small the pieces are, but rather that all the pieces are roughly the same size so they cook evenly.

Ingredients
4 T. Olive oil
1 T. Herbs de Provence
Pinch of dried chili flakes (optional)
1 large red onion, 1/2 in. dice
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 T. Tomato paste
1 medium eggplant, 1/2 in. dice
2 red bell peppers, 1/2 in. dice
2 medium zucchini, 1/2 in. dice
3 ripe medium tomatoes, 1/2 in. dice (or can of whole tomatoes, crushed)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. Fresh basil leaves, sliced or torn

Method
1.) preheat oven to 400.
2.) heat oil in a Dutch oven style heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
3.) add herbs de Provence, dried chili flake and cook for a minute or two.
4.) add onion and garlic and cook for about five minutes stirring frequently.
5.) add tomato paste and cook another minute.
6.) add eggplant, red bell pepper, zucchini and tomatoes to pot and stir everything together.
7.) transfer pot to oven and cook for about one hour.
8.) add fresh basil before serving.
9.) enjoy hot or cold!

Components
-serve over pasta or quinoa
-enjoy warm on its own
-serve over squash or sweet potatoes
-serve cold on sandwiches
-serve on toasted bread
-serve over polenta/grits

Hummus

June 16, 2017

If summer was a team in the basketball finals, I’d name hummus MVP. You can dip, drizzle, spread and smear on burgers, raw veggies, in dressings, on pretty much anything grilled.

There are two ways to make hummus. You can used dried chickpeas which take a bit more time to soak and cook, but result in a richer, more flavorful puree. Or you can used canned chickpeas and will be done from start to finish in less than ten minutes. I make both versions, depending on what I have the time for. Don’t waste a second feeling bad if you use canned chickpeas, just know there are two options to choose from depending on what’s working for you at any given time.  This week I’m going right to the source, sharing a recipe adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks that came out on Ten Speed Press by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi entitled Jerusalem (2013).

You can make it thicker to dip and thinner to drizzle (less water/more water).  You can add other ingredients like jalapenos, cooked beets, extra garlic or fresh herbs like basil or chives to spice things up.

After a few times making it, you’ll probably have the recipe memorized which is pretty sweet when you need to whip up something fast. It not only plays well with others, but when you take hummus off the bench it’s consistently a slam dunk. It doesn’t get much better than this when your putting together your summer line up of essential recipes. Cheers all around for summer and hummus<3.

Ingredients
1 c. dried chickpeas or 1 can (15 oz.) cooked chickpeas
1 t. baking soda (only if you are using dried chickpeas)
1 c. tahini (sesame paste)
4 T. fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
6 T. cold water
salt, to taste
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top (optional)

Method
1.) The night before: If you are using canned chickpeas, put your feet up with a glass of wine and see you tomorrow. If you are using dried chickpeas, put them in a large bowl and cover them with enough water to double in volume. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Ok, now put your feet up with a glass of wine:) Easy peasy.
2.) If you soaked dried chickpeas over night, drain them and put them in a big pot with the baking soda. Stir and cook them for about three minutes.
3.) Add about six cups of cold water and bring to a boil, skimming off foam and skins as they come to the surface. The chickpeas will take anywhere from 40 minutes to a couple hours to fully cook depending on how fresh they are and how long they soaked. You want them to be break easily when pressed between your fingers. Drain. If you used canned chickpeas, drain and rinse.*
4.) Put them in a food processor or high powered blender (I use my nutri-bullet for hummus and it works beautifully. Blend for a few seconds until they break apart.
5.) Add tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
6.) Process, blend or pulse until smooth, adding water a Tablespoon at a time until the hummus is silky smooth. Check seasoning and add more salt as needed.
7.) Cover and refrigerate for a half hour or so before serving. Drizzle with high quality olive oil before serving.

*Its important to mention that at this point you could peel the chickpeas. It will make your hummus extra smooth and velvety. It will also take you about ten minutes to gently squeeze the chickpeas between your fingers and the skins will pop right off. Totally optional.

Component in Action
-use as a dip for raw or cooked veggies, toasted pita or even apples
-drizzle over salads, grilled steak or chicken, even fish
-add a spoonful to lemon vinaigrette for creamy salad dressing
-spread on crackers, cucumber slices, toasted bread or even sandwiches

Rhubarb Coulis – The sauce of early summer

June 2, 2017

There is no question, rhubarb is my favorite fruit of early summer.  It begins raw and inedible, streaky red and green stalks that are usually in need of a good scrub when I lug them home, sticking this way and that out of the bag, already tart and sassy before I even get them home. All that’s needed is care and a bit of time, to coax out their bright flavor and luscious texture. With a bit of sugar to balance out their natural acidity, this humble fruit transcends to its full potential and is always the highlight of the season.

A few weeks ago my husband was making his famous Swedish pancakes for brunch. At the store I was looking for a jar of lingonberry jam (if only we lived near Ikea!) and couldn’t find any, so instead I picked up a few stalks of rhubarb. I ended up making this coulis and to everyone’s surprise, even the Swede in the group, it was a perfect match for the light and airy pancakes. The next day I served the left over coulis with some soft cheese and that awesome. The next morning, we drizzled it on plain greek yogurt for a delightful breakfast treat. I’m only sad we used it all up before I could spoon it on ice cream, but hey, I still have a little time before the rhubarb harvest is over.

A coulis is a French sauce, thick and velvety smooth, made with vegetables or fruit. I could have just cooked the rhubarb and not blended the mixture. This would have been called a compote. Enough cooking vocab, let’s get to the sauce of the season<3.

Ingredients
1.5# rhubarb (washed, trimmed and sliced)
1 c. sugar (granulated or raw)
2-4″ strip of orange peel (or lemon..or both<3)
1 c. water

Method
1.) Bring everything to a boil.
2.) Simmer for 20 minutes.
3.) Turn off the heat and let the fruit steep (just sit around like you’re making a cup of tea) for 30 minutes.
4.) Blend until smooth.
5.) Taste. If is tastes too sweet, add some fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Component in Action
-drizzle over pancakes, french toast, crepes
-spoon over ice cream
-serve with goat and soft cheeses
-use to flavor your own yogurt
-use as a jam substitute (think toast & biscuits)
-make with other fruits too! blueberries, strawberries, cherries, plums, peaches…

How to Build a One Pot Wonder

May 8, 2017

Tonight I needed to make dinner fast for many reasons. Fox is four months and teething and River is four years and wanted to put together every puzzle in the house…together. This is what life is made of. This is what I’ll think of longingly 20 years from now I’m sure, yet I always feel like I am trying to do stuff so I can go do other stuff. For some reason the other stuff seems more pressing, like dishes and laundry and even making meals. But today we made all the puzzles, I nursed the baby so many times I lost count and Hans was able to come home for a quick dinner before heading back out again. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, i was feeling stressed by the time five rolled around. After all, I had been trying to make a cup of tea since 1pm. All of this is to say that we have to make choices everyday and sometimes those choices need to include more time with family and less time in the kitchen.

There are a few things I try to keep on hand in the pantry and fridge: fresh garlic, fresh ginger, lemons, coconut cream or milk, fresh dark greens like spinach or kale and turmeric. It just so happens that these ingredients saved the day. But just because these specific ingredients saved my day, doesn’t help you much if your fridge and pantry tell a different story. This is why learning how to build a one pot wonder is so much more important than just following a recipe. You are the pot stirrer. You are the flavor expert for you and your people. Once you know what blocks to use, then you can start to riff in the kitchen and feel more confident.

You build a one pot wonder from the pot up. A hearty glug of olive oil over medium heat and then you begin building, stirring as you go.

Ingredients
1 onion
a couple T. of fresh ginger and garlic (chopped)
a heaping t. of curry powder
a t. of ground tumeric (or if you have fresh add it chopped with the ginger and garlic)
salt (to taste)
big splash of white wine (optional)
juice from half a juicy lemon
1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream (unsweetened)
1 head of chopped cauliflower (or riced cauliflower)
around 10 dates (chopped)
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 c. frozen peas
a bunch of fresh spinach (washed well)

Method
1.) Add onion (chopped or sliced)
2.) Add some aromatics, in this case I added finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic.
3.) Add dried spices. Tonight I added curry powder, ground turmeric and a sprinkle of salt.
4.) Deglaze. This means add a bit of liquid to release everything from the bottom of the pot. I had an open bottle of white wine in the fridge so I added a big splash of wine, a half a lemon juice and a can of coconut milk.
5.) Add in hard vegetables and anything you want to cook. I added a bag of riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s and some chopped dates. Let it cook for fifteen minutes.
6.) Now add anything that doesn’t take long to cook. I added a rinsed can of black beans and a cup of frozen peas.
7.) A few minutes before you sit down to eat, throw in a bag of fresh spinach (or other cooking greens) and put a lid on for five minutes. Boom!

Component in Action
-In addition to adding the onion at the beginning, you could also add carrot, celeriac, celery or tomatoes, bell peppers or even bacon.
-some other options for aromatics? try lemongrass, fresh tumeric, rosemary (finely chopped or whole sprigs so you can pull out later, fresh thyme finely chopped)
-Instead of curry, you could add herbs de provance, or even dried chilis or chili powder. You could also skip this step and wait until the end and add lots of fresh herbs like basil or cilantro or parsley or chives.
-for deglazing you could also use stock or even a few big splashes of cream.
-Instead of cauliflower you could add butternut squash, sweet potatoes, soaked dried beans…
-Instead of canned beans and frozen peas you could throw in towards the end other green vegetables like broccoli
-Instead of a bunch of spinach at the end you could also throw in other greens like swiss chard, rapini or kale.

Butternut Squash Soup

January 29, 2017

It’s been one of those weeks where on Thursday I was sure it was Tuesday, and small tasks like going through a stack of paperwork on the desk was the big project of the week. Such is life with a six week old baby and we are soaking in every moment of getting to know our sweet Fox. This week we learned that he likes to have his arms raised above his head and he rewards us with the biggest smile each time, which is pretty much the best thing ever. When River was born (who is almost four now), I was always looking ahead, eagerly anticipating the next phase or shift in development. I have thrown that anticipation to the wind with Fox, because now I know how freakishly fast it all goes. So it’s been blissful and exhausting all jumbled together.  All of this is to say, it took me three days to find a window of time to throw this soup together and it took less than an hour!

This week, when planning out our meals, I knew a soup would be easy and would last for a few lunches and dinners. I had a butternut squash and a big yellow onion that needed to be used. I checked the cupboard and saw a box of chicken stock hiding behind a box of ziti. I opened the fridge and saw there were a couple apples with bruises, and Oh! I found a can of coconut milk too… This is how soups can be a great way to save food from going to waste. This is also a perfect playground to let yourself wander away from a rigid recipe, enabling you to practice trusting your instincts and taste buds.

Ingredients
1 butternut Squash (halved and seeds scooped out)
2-3 T. olive oil (or butter)
1 large yellow onion (cut roughly into 1 inch pieces)
1-2 Apples (peeled and cut roughly into 1 inch pieces)
1 t. ground turmeric (or 1 T. fresh peeled and sliced)
1 t. Ground cinnamon
2 T. brown sugar (optional)
1 can, unsweetened coconut milk or cream
Vegetable or chicken stock to cover by one inch

Method

1.) Rub both inside halves of squash with olive oil and season with salt.
2.) Roast in the oven at 400 f. Until tender when pierced with a knife.
3.) While the squash is roasting, heat 1-2 T, of olive oil or butter in a heavy bottomed soup pot.
4.) Saute onions and apples over medium high heat, stirring frequently until they turn a golden brown.
5.) Add brown sugar if you want, turmeric and cinnamon. Stir and cook for another minute.
6.) Pour in the can of coconut milk to deglaze, and with a wooden spoon scrape all the caramelized goodness from the bottom of the pot.
7.) Once the squash is roasted, scoop the squash into the simmering pot.
8.) Cover by one inch with stock.
9.) Bring soup to a simmer and season with salt to taste.
10.) Working in batches, blend the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

Component in Action

-substitute the butternut other kinds of squash or pumpkin
-use a little less stock to make a thicker version and use as a base under grains like quinoa or brown rice
-use as a sauce under fish or scallops
-spread on toasted garlic bread
-use as a warm dip for pita chips and apple slices (great for kids)