recipes

Summer in the Kitchen

June 24, 2014

My favorite time of year to cook is summer. Growing up in Northern California taught me an appreciation for seasonal and fresh foods, and while I enjoy every season’s own taste and goodness, Summer has a sweetness, a freshness that is all its own. There is something magical about biting into the first local strawberry, or the last cherry tomato of the harvest. Choosing my menus based on what is in the garden or at the farmer’s market makes cooking a bit more fun and spontaneous.

One of the requests that I hear from my boys every year is to take all their meals out of doors. Picnics become the norm, and our kitchen table is replaced by our patio table as we eat breakfast and lunch and dinner under the sky. There are a few staples that I just could not go without, and this year flavored lemonade, veggie pasta with basil aioli, and raw vegan pie are just a few that will grace our table (or picnic blanket) often.

Making homemade lemonade is one of those sticky sweet traditions that I remember with such fondness from my childhood in the northeast. My tiny town in suburban Boston would be littered with stands selling fresh lemonade for a nickle, and there was never a hot day that went by that my mother did not allow me to indulge.

Today making fresh lemonade holds the same appeal, and adding pureed fruit has become a welcome addition. Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are perfect for changing this up, and the addition of rosemary, mint and basil adds a special kick. Cherry lemonade is on our summer solstice menu, and steeping this drink with rosemary for a few hours creates an aromatic drink for both children and adults alike. It can also become the base for an afternoon cocktail with friends.

Cherry Rosemary Lemonade

3/4 cup raw sugar
1 cup water
Juice of 6 lemons
4 cups cold water
1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped.
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and water and heat on low until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Add the syrup mixture to the lemon juice and the 4 cups of cold water and stir. Pour the lemonade into a blender and combine with the cherries. Add the rosemary sprigs to a pitcher and pour the cherry lemonade over it. Allow to steep for 2 hours. Serve over ice.

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No matter where a picnic is held, from our backyard to the banks of the Poudre River, I like simple and fresh cooking. Packing my basket should be simple, and clean up almost non-existent. Pasta salad has been a tradition in my family since long before I came along, and that tradition has come along with me as I have had children. Although a great pasta salad is always a hit, we are also a gluten free family who has had their fair share of misses in the pasta department.

Gluten free pasta tends to soak up sauce quicker than standard pasta, and so when creating a cold (or room temperature) pasta dish, I like to make a sauce that is thick, creamy, and will hold up to the GF pasta.

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Prosciutto, Zucchini, and Lemon Basil Aioli

Pasta

4 oz prosciutto
1 small zucchini
16 golden or red cherry tomatoes
Basil, torn as a topping
1 lb pasta

Aioli

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
Juice of one lemon
1 medium garlic clove
2 tbsp mustard
zest of 1/2 a lemon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup light olive oil-based mayonnaise
Pinch of cayenne

Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, add your prosciutto to a pan and sautee until golden brown. Set aside. Slice zucchini in ribbons, and cut the tomatoes in half. Set aside.

To make the aioli, process of all of your ingredients together in the bowl of a food processor, and set aside.

Once your pasta is done cooking, add to a large bowl, and toss with vegetables. Add the aioli and stir until the pasta is completely coated. Top with torn basil and prosciutto.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Of course, no picnic is ever complete without the addition of pie. Recently I have fallen in love with the creamy and incredibly good for you raw vegan pies. There is something so satisfying to eating a delicious and healthy treat at the end of each meal. I first learned about how to make this type of pie from Heather of Beauty that Moves, and her recipes continue to inspire many changes in our diet and well being.

On of our family’s favorites is raw vegan lemon cream pie with blackberry coulis. The recipe is simple, the taste fresh, and the smiles plentiful. We hope that this recipe will be enjoyed by your family as much as it has been by ours.

Raw Vegan Lemon Cream Pie with Blackberry Coulis

Crust

1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dates (pitted and soaked overnight)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pie Filling

3 cups of whole cashews (soaked overnight)
1/2 cup agave nectar
4 dates
Juice of two lemons
1/4 cup coconut oil melted
3 tbsp. cold water

Blackberry Filling Base
6 oz. Blackberries

Place the pecans and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients.  The crust should just stick together. Press it into the bottom of a deep dish pie plate, and freeze until filling is ready.

Blend your blackberries in the bowl of a food processor or a blender until just slightly pureed. Pour into your crust.

For the filling, add all of your ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 tbsp of water at a time. Pour the filling over the blackberry filling, and freeze until firm. You can eat as is, or top with blackberry coulis.

Blackberry Coulis

Add one cup of blackberries and 2 tbsp agave nectar to the blender and blend until smooth. Pour over the pie and enjoy.

Summer in the kitchen is so very sweet, and from our table to yours, we wish you the best that the season has to offer.

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Baby-Knitting

POPCORN

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Autumn has been absolutely spectacular here on the Front Range, and we could not have asked for more golden hues and tones to photograph and play in.

Our days have been filled with mid-autumn activities: soccer tournaments, apple picking, pumpkin carving, and leaf burning to name a few. The boys have been outdoors more this year than in any other autumn in the past, and Emma Jeanne and I have enjoyed the abundant sunshine and lack of wind that is normally so prevalent in these parts. The colder days are coming, but how nice to get all the way into November until they do.

There is still a good amount of casting on, and coming off of the needles, and while I am loving knitting, I have to admit that the recording of the knit wear has been a little slow going. Ravelry is a gift of a site, for so many reasons, but lately I have done a terrible job of cataloging what I have completed. I find myself a good 20+ projects behind, and in desperate need of getting it done before I flat forget just what pattern or yarn was used. If only the sun would go in for just a little bit, perhaps then such a task could get done.

Currently I am working on the Emma Tunic for my Emma Jeanne. This is my second go with this wonderful pattern, as I knit one in Malabrigo Lettuce when she first arrived. The tunic works well for a young babe, and it leaves a bit of growing room, going from a dress to a top over time. I am crazy for pink right now. Not bright, neon pink, but more of a muted rose. It is funny how each of my children have had their own colors, and so clearly, since they first arrived. Jacob was the deepest of blues, Elwood a sea green, and Landon a soft yellow and natural toned little dude. Emma is an earth girl, for sure. Those sage greens, muted roses, and soft creams suit her well, and I now find myself enjoying an entirely new color palette in my yarns.

The boys spent the entire weekend on the soccer field, as did their coach of a dad. Emma Jeanne and I, along with grandparents and friends, popped in and out when we could, but there is only so much soccer that a 3 month old can take. Elwood brought home the championship in his age division for the third season in a row, and he was a very happy guy. One of the concession stands was selling pumpkin and apple and cinnamon popcorn, and of course, both boys were begging up a storm. As we were leaving the field on that last day, I agreed to let them try each of flavors, only to find out that both contained gluten. In my mothering moment of seeing their eyes drop, I agreed to immediately go home and try my hand at a recipe. I am not really sure what I was thinking of here, as those two flavors are not exactly easy to recreate in a home kitchen. I gave it my best shot, but the pumpkin spice is still a work in progress. We did, however, manage a recipe for an apple cinnamon flavor that I think may become a family favorite.

Apple Cinnamon Popcorn

1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup coconut oil – melted
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup freeze dried apples
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup candied walnuts (optional), chopped

Place your freeze dried apples in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse into a fine powder. Add you salt and spices, and pulse only until combined.

We love to cook our popcorn on the stove in the Whirly Pop. I am not afraid to admit how much I love this popcorn pan. Never once have I had anything burn or stick, and the popcorn just comes out so fresh and light. My friend Heidi recommended it to me a few years back, and I am oh so grateful she did.

Melt your 1/3 cup of coconut oil over med-high heat, and cook your popcorn any way you choose. While the popcorn is popping, melt your 1/4 cup of coconut oil over low heat. Remove from the stove, and add your maple syrup, apple and spices.

Place your popped popcorn into a large bowl, and stir in your oil mixture. Add in your walnuts, if using, and eat right away.

This popcorn has a nice, tart bite, and can even be enjoyed topped with nutritional yeast.

 

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