Friday, February 28, 2014

Creamy cauliflower soup

Creamy cauliflower soup

Although we had a sneak peak of spring last weekend, the cold and snow have returned in my neck of the suburban woods.  Steamy bowls of comforting soup help take the edge off the chill.  This simple soup is thick and velvety without any added fat (the secret is a sweet potato) and nutritional yeast gives it a rich cheesy flavor.  It whips up in a flash, so you can make this even after you come home at the end of a long day.

Creamy cauliflower soup

serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a starter

4 cups of water
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 head of cauliflower, broken into large florets
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1 cup milk (I used almond)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a stock pot over medium high heat, add the water, chopped onion, garlic, salt, rosemary and tarragon.  In a food processor, pulse the cauliflower and  sweet potato until finely minced.  (You can also cut these on a cutting board into small dice.)  Add the chopped vegetables to the water and bring to a boil.  Adjust the heat until the mixture is at a simmer and cook until the vegetables are soft.  Remove from the heat and add the milk and nutritional yeast.  Puree the mixture in 2 or 3 batches in a blender or use an immersion blender and puree in the cooking pot.  If the consistency is too thick, add a little additional milk.  Season with fresh cracked pepper and additional salt if desired.  Garnish with a few croutons, pumpkin or sunflower seeds or chopped herbs.

Thanks for reading!

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy:
Smoky Split and Fresh Pea Soup
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Snow along the creek bank in Ellicott City, MD
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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Creative adventures

Starting upper left:  tree trunks at US National Arboretum, heart paperweight on the snow, chocolate cherry truffles, planter at arboretum, peas and carrots, mixed media piece for welcome gift, snowy VA Beach, vegan brunch at home

The weather has made it challenging to get around lately, but I still managed to sneak in some creative fun.  Here are some highlights from my recent adventures:

Trip to Virginia Beach to the A.R.E. health spa for holistic massage and browsing in the bookstore for hubby's birthday

Attended Zen and the Lenses workshop at the US National Arboretum

Inspired by the workshop, registered for the 4-week Zen and the Art of Photography course at the arboretum in May

Penned Zen Gypsies blog posts on mindfulness and photography and expansiveness

Culinary exploration in the kitchen for some upcoming Suburban Hippie blog posts

Trip to the art store to browse and happily use a gift certificate for some new supplies

With new art supplies, spent a sublime afternoon creating a mixed media piece for a gift for a housewarming/new baby party 

Penned Suburban Hippie blog posts on peas and carrots and chocolate cherry truffles

Hosted a bunch for a friend exploring vegetarianism and looking for meal ideas

Completed reading The China Study, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows and The Love Powered Diet from my reading list in preparation for the Vegan Academy

Submitted application and photos for Annemarie Gardens and Art Center Insta-Artist competition

Registered for this year's Rooting DC all day free garden forum on March 2

Submitted applications for dance performance slots for Tribal Remix and Zen Gypsies in upcoming spring festivals 

Spent some quality time in front of the fireplace with my art journal (new art supplies are so inspiring!) and got to use some beautiful images from Japanese Papers I snagged on clearance at the museum store during a visit to the yoga exhibit at the Smithsonian's Sackler Art  Gallery

The sun is shining and the day is calling me to explore.  May your weekend be filled with creative adventures.

At the US National Arboretum

Friday, February 14, 2014

Truffles of love - chocolate cherry truffles

Chocolate cherry truffles

No matter if you celebrate Valentine's Day or not, it's always a perfect day to treat yourself or someone else to these little truffles of love.  These little homemade morsels are slightly tart and sweetly delicious as well as having more nutritional value than those that come in heart shaped boxes. If you make a batch to share, that's the best gift of all.

Chocolate cherry truffles

1 cup raw nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans - I used a mix of pecans and walnuts)
1 cup pitted medjool dates
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup cocoa powder + extra for coating
1 tablespoon coconut oil, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
agave nectar (optional)

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture starts to clump together.  If the mixture isn't sticky enough to hold together, add a few more pitted dates or a little agave nectar and pulse a few more times.  Roll the mixture into large marble sized balls.  Roll in additional cocoa powder to coat which will keep from sticking together.  Store in the refrigerator to keep firm or they can be frozen for long term storage.

May every day be a celebration of love.

Thanks for reading!

Heart shaped paperweight in the snow

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Eat your peas and carrots

Savory carrots and peas

I took a quick chance of checking in on one of the cold frames in the garden to see how things had fared so far during the unusual ups and downs of our winter weather this year.  To my delight, the carrots were doing just fine.  They were deep orange in color and nicely sweet from exposure to the cold weather.  There was just a little bit of frost damage to the tops of a few that had poked up above the insulation of the dirt, but overall, I harvested a nice haul. I decided to make a simple, but flavorful side dish of carrots and peas to celebrate the natural goodness of this little harvest.  This dish was inspired by a recipe for Carrots Lyonnaise in the cookbook Simple Food for the Good Life by Helen Nearing.  

Carrots harvested from the winter garden

Savory carrots and peas

makes 5-6 side dish servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
1/2 cup water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey or maple syrup)
2 cups peas (frozen will work)
1 heaping tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (or more if you like)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is transparent.  Add in the carrots, water, lemon juice, thyme, and agave nectar.  Cover and simmer until the carrots are as tender as you like.  Add the peas and nutritional yeast flakes and stir.  Heat just until the peas are warmed through then remove pan from the heat.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste before serving.

Thanks for reading!

Melting snow at Virginia Beach, VA

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