Spring has Sprung… and Vegetable Phyllo Rolls

Hi everyone!  I am happy to report that it FINALLY feels like spring around here… first, a recipe, then I’ll tell you all what else has been going on :)

Moroccon Vegetable Phyllo Rolls

This is a fantastic recipe for using up whatever veggies you have on hand… that’s how this gem was created!  The combination of spices give the rolls a bit of a Moroccon flair… I love that subtle sweet and spicy flavor.  Serves 3-4.

  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • lots of fresh spinach (I used almost a whole box, approx 10oz)
  • 1 cup cooked white beans
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 tsp curry, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp paprika, few dashes cayenne
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • olive oil to brush dough

Okay, I know phyllo can be intimidating, but I promise, this isn’t too hard!  Start by creating the filling.  Chop and sautee all of the vegetables, holding the spinach.  Once the other veggies are nice and soft, add the spinach to wilt (a few minutes).  Stir in the beans and smash everything together a bit.  Add raisins and spices and stir.  Give the mixture a little taste test and adjust spices to suit your preference.

The key to working with phyllo is being sure the dough is completely thawed so it doesn’t crack.  Line the countertop with parchment paper and lay out the phyllo dough.  I worked quickly and did not cover the dough.  Carefully lift one sheet and place on the parchment paper.  Lightly brush with olive oil.  Layer a second sheet on top.  Add a scoop of the mixture to the bottom part of the sheet, leaving a few inches at the bottom and on each side (I’m sorry readers, I really wish I’d taken more pics… next time I do rolls, lots of pics, I promise!)

Now tuck the sides of the dough and roll up like a burrito.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Repeat to make 4 rolls.  Brush the outside with olive oil and bake at 375F for 25 minutes.

phyllo(I’ll admit, not the best picture ever… some of the rolls split during cooking, but the finished product was absolutely delicious!)

In other news, Jonathan and I had a really lovely, relaxing spring day.  Our new Sunday routine consists of morning yoga at Zev followed by breakfast at Ceres Bakery.  In my humble opinion, Ceres has the most delicious baked goods in town and the very best egg sandwiches, probably because it’s served on freshly baked bread, toasted.  Also a great local hotspot for lunch ;)

We then hit York beach for a walk…..

york 24marWe still had to bundle up a bit, but at least it’s not completely arctic anymore!!  While at the beach, we saw a crazy lovely old lady feeding the gulls.  I HAD to get a picture (Kathleen, this one’s for you)

birds

And, I’m very happy to say the snow in our front yard is melting.  In fact, I spotted a little purple bud peeking out of the garden.  Upon closer inspection, Jonathan and I realized that there were a bunch of plants trying to peek out.  The gardens have this black cloth layer a few inches down… I think it’s supposed to stop weeds, but it looked like all of the plants were getting trapped.  So what started as ‘hey look a flower’ turned into a garden overhaul, including ripping out the black cloth layer and redistributing the dirt.  It felt great to play in the garden and enjoy some crisp fresh air.

This is our first spring in the new house, so we have no idea what is planted… can’t wait to see what comes up!!

Early signs of many flowers to come (at least, I hope so!)

spring has sprung

Here’s our little buddy that started it all…

 crocuscrocus2

Aaaahhhh a crocus… that means spring is truly here!!  :)

xox, Kristen

Making the best of winter… an outing to the winter market

Hi everyone!  I have to admit, I am less than impressed with today’s snowstorm.  I mean, tomorrow is the first day of spring!!  Apparently Mother Nature did not get the memo…..

So, one great thing about winter is the great selection of local WINTER farmer’s markets.  Yes, that is correct, you can get fresh local vegetables in the winter, even in New England  ;)

One of my favorite markets is in Exeter, NH and I had the pleasure of going this weekend with my friend Heather.  Heather worked on one of our local farms a few summers ago… for me, this experience (you know, second-hand friend-experience) started me on this journey of farm-fresh food and healthier whole food eating.

I’m pleased to report that the farmer’s market is so much more than just vegetables.  There is so much to see, and taste, that I could (and did) spend the whole morning there!  The highlights……..

The Heron Pond Farm farmstand… this is where Jonathan and I usually do our CSA membership!  Tons of fresh produce, always a treat…. and the owners are really great.  Come to think of it, I’ve never met a farmer that isn’t great… must be something about all that fresh air and fresh food that makes a person happy :)

market veggies

Fresh bread and local cheese….. (I ONLY refrained because we are still working our way through a loaf of foccacia at the house)

market bread

Fresh pasta!!  Need I say more?  Well okay, I do have more to say… Valicenti Organico is has tons of pasta options, including some made from farro and grains other than your traditional wheat.  He also had so many different ravioli choices.  I was ten minutes deciding… I went with the multi-grain portobello with spinach and chevre.  Yum!!

market pasta

White Heron is another favorite.  I just love their teas.  I enjoyed an iced cranberry ginger at the market.  They also had a tasty looking quinoa salad… I didn’t buy it, but I did stare at the label long enough to memorize the ingredients.  Can’t wait to make a batch ;)

market tea

And here I am with Heather, Shelly and Tamara… Shelly is one of the owners at Burnt Swamp Farm.  I plan to get her fresh eggs until Jonathan lets me have some pet chickens.  She has 224 chickens… I would be happy with just 3-4, totally manageable, right?  ;)  And I would be remiss if I failed to mention her greens.  Fresh spinach and kale, delish!  I also love the market because it’s a chance to catch up with friends and chat with new people.

market girls

If you are curious about the market schedule, and live near me, you can check it out here (this is not an exhaustive list!)

Hmmmm… now what to do with all this fresh food?  A delicious meal, of course!!

Winter Market Bowl

This meal combines some of winter’s best harvest.  Paired with a gingery soy sauce, this bowl is tasty and satisfying.  This recipe was also my first use of wheat berries… SO GREAT!  Of course, you could serve this with rice or quinoa, but once you try wheat berries, you won’t want to.  Serves 2 with extra wheat berries.

  • 2-3 small beets, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup broccoli, broken into small pieces
  • ~2 cups kale, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • sauce: 3Tbs tamari or Bragg’s, 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar, 1Tbs olive oil, 1 tsp tahini, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2-1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • toppings (optional): chopped almonds, nutritional yeast

Start by getting the wheat berries going… bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Add a dash of salt and 1 cup wheat berries.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until all of the water has absorbed and the berries are cooked, about 45 minutes.  The veggies will cook quickly, so give the wheat berries about 30 minutes of cook time before starting the vegetables.

Chop the carrot and beets.  Roast at 450F for 5 minutes then add the corn kernels and roast an additional 5-10 minutes.  I like my veggies a bit crunchy.

Here’s the coolest thing ever… Jonathan got me a bamboo steamer!

bamboo steamer

It is so quick and easy, and vegetables come out perfectly!  Bring an inch or two of water to a boil over high heat.  You can just pop this steamer on top of the pot… if you don’t have a steamer, a collander works well too.  The broccoli and kale were cooked to perfection in 5 minutes.  Here it is in action:

bamboo steamer2While the veggies are cooking, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients.  The raw garlic and ginger can be a bit heavy for sensitive taste buds, so you may want to strain the sauce before serving to remove the bits.

Easy assembly… add cooked wheat berries to a bowl… top with veggies.  Drizzle with sauce and (optional) top with chopped almonds and nutritional yeast.  Not to toot my own horn, but this was seriously one of the best meals!

market bowl

Mmmmm… transport me to southeast Asia… away from all of this snow!!  Tomorrow is the first day of spring.  I’m crossing my fingers that I wake up to 50 degree weather  ;)

Stay healthy… winter is almost over!!

xox, Kristen

Pancakes… on a school day??

Good morning everyone!!  Despite having been out of school for over a decade a short while, I will always think of Monday to Friday as the ‘school week.’  And maybe a little denial about being a grownup  ;)

Well, great news… with this recipe, you can enjoy hearty, filling, healthy pancakes in minutes.  Totally do-able for a weekday breakfast!

Oatmeal Powercakes

Enjoy this quick and filling pancake in minutes… pancakes no longer need to be relegated to a weekend-only meal!  And you can top with anything you like.  I event heard about a girl that topped hers with chocolate chips… perhaps that was just an urban-pancake-myth, or maybe that person was me  ;)

  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup oats (I like texture of the thinner cut variety or ‘quick cook’)
  • 3 Tbs egg whites (or 2 egg whites)
  • dash of pumpkin pie spice
  • toppings: strawberries, blueberries, almond butter

Heat a skillet to medium heat, it’s important that the heat isn’t too high… you want the pancake to cook through without burning the outside.  Smash the banana with a fork and mix in the egg white, oats and spices.  Add to the skillet and cook until set, about 5 minutes.  My first few pancakes were more like pancake scrambles because I flipped to early.  Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Top with berries and almond butter and enjoy!!

oatmeal powercakesYou all know how much I love my morning oatmeal… I must say, this is a contendor for weekday breakfast favorites!

In other news, this week started the 21-day meditation challenge with Deepak and Oprah!!  Jonathan and I have participated every day so far!  I had big plans to finish unpacking our spare room and create a beautiful meditation space before the challenge stared…. alas, I got busy and the room is still in disarray!  But, this proves that you don’t need a special zen garden to start a new practice and reap the benefits of meditation.  I often find that making just a humble beginning is all it takes!

I hope everyone is having a great week!

xox, Kristen

An Ode to the Stolen Menu

Hi everyone!  I have some bad news… my very favorite, favorite breakfast restaurant has closed.  Not even ‘is closing’ …as in, I could get there one more time.  Closed, past tense, done (wipes tear).  Such a bummer!

The cafe was called The Stolen Menu.  The food was the best… always delicious, with inventive combinations and the freshest ingredients, and lots of veggies, which naturally, I love.  I also loved the name and concept… the ‘stolen’ menu was inspired MJ’s own experiences eating and cooking good food, and she aspired to one day have a menu that others would want to steal from.  Well, that day has definitely arrived!  I actually swiped a menu during a visit with the intent of borrowing some of her masterpieces.  :)

My parents introduced me to this gem… so, Jonathan and I invited them over for a farewell brunch while I recreated of one of my favorite dishes.  It was a hit!

Stolen Farm-to-Table Breakfast

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite meals at The Stolen Menu in York, Maine.  It’s almost a Benedict with the poached eggs, toasted foccacia and pesto drizzle… but way more delicious!!  And it goes together super fast, which is important when you wake up hungry.  Oven roasted sweet potato homefries are a perfect side.  Serves 4

  • 2 portabella mushrooms
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 12 stalks asparagus
  • fresh baby spinach
  • eggs (1 or 2 per person)
  • 4 slices foccacia bread (if you make your own, I’m really impressed, I picked up a loaf at a local bakery)
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 4 Tbs milk
  • thinly sliced swiss cheese (I used Jarlesburg, sliced with a vegetable peeler)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, optional as a side dish

stolen ingredients

If you are serving the sweet potato homefries, scrub and chop the sweet potatoes into small cubes.  Toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet.  Roast at 450F for 35 mins while you prep the rest of the meal.

Thinly slice the mushroom, zucchini and red pepper.  Chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces.  Sautee the veggies over medium-high heat, I like to keep them a little crisp.  I had an OCD-moment and cooked the veggies separately for plating purposes, but you could definitely cook them together.

stolen sautee

Toast the foccacia and keep warm in the oven.  Heat the pesto and thin with a few tablespoons of milk.  You can throw this in the oven to stay warm as well.

Now poach the eggs.. this goes quickly, so make sure everything else is ready!  Bring a pot of water to a boil, you only need 3-4 inches of water.  Here’s my little trick: first crack the eggs into a cereal bowl and then slide the eggs from the bowl into the boiling water.  So much easier than breaking eggs directly into the boiling water!  You can crack all of the eggs into the bowl and slide them together into the water.  Turn the heat down and watch carefully.  I check them constantly.  Depending how runny you like ‘em and how many eggs you are cooking (more eggs take longer), poaching takes about 5-8 minutes.

To serve, start with a small bed of baby spinach.  Add the toasted foccacia and layer thinly sliced cheese with the sauteed vegetables.  Top with a poached egg and pesto drizzle.  Serve alongside sweet potato homefries.

stolen bfast

stolen bfast2

And an up-close of Jonathan digging in…… it makes me so happy to see people enjoy my cooking!  :)

stolen digin

Everyone loved breakfast!  The pesto drizzle works really well with the vegetables… the crunchy foccacia softened by the poached egg and hint of cheese… it’s really a perfect combination of flavors.  MJ, your lovely cafe will be missed!  Warm wishes to you and yours!

xox, Kristen

Cold weather and bean soup

Hi everyone!  Although it’s only been a week, it feels like ages since I’ve blogged!  I guess it’s been a busy week :)

I played hooky from work and hit the slopes with the girls!  Well, it wasn’t really hooky since I requested the day off in advance… but being off on a random weekday still felt rebellious and awesome.

slopeside

Here I am with Heather and Sheila at Sugarbush, which is quickly becoming one of my very favorite places!  Wow, the picture makes the trail look so flat… must be an optical illusion.  Seriously, it felt much steeper!  ;)

In other news, Jonathan and I had a great weekend, we spent time with both of our families, plus had a fun date night in Boston.  We went to Life Alive for dinner… we both love this place so much that we’ve already decided what to try next time we go!  (Life Alive owners, if you happen to be reading this, pretty please open up a restaurant in Portsmouth.  I promise, I’ll be there all the time!!)  After dinner, we saw a comedy show with Janeane Garofalo, which was hilarious, I love her smart humor.  And then…….

cannoli

We totally indulged!  In fact that less-than-gracious picture is me holding a chocolate chip cannoli… no plate… no napkin (!!)… just cannoli, straight up!  In my humble opinion, Mike’s Pastry has the BEST cannoli in the North End, as proven by the ever-present line out the door.

Mike's!

By the end of the weekend, we were both pretty tired.  Plus, the last few days have been cold and a bit dreary here.  A perfect time for a big ol’ pot of soup!

No-Limits Bean Soup

The great thing about this soup is that no bean is off limits!  You can use any combination of dried beans… as many different types as you like.  I used Bob’s Red Mill brand mixed dried beans, or mix and match your favorites.  This recipe does require a little planning as you will need to soak the beans overnight… not a ‘spur of the moment’ meal, but totally worth the extra time!  And dried beans are far yummier and healthier than canned.

beans

  • 1 cup dried beans (expands to about 2 cups after soaking)
  • 3 small leeks, about 2 cups chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalked, chopped
  • 1 lg. can of tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • avocado (optional garnish)

Begin by soaking the beans overnight.  Be sure to cover the beans with a few inches of water as they will expand.  Rinse the beans after soaking.

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, sautee the leek, carrot and celery until slightly soft.  Salt and pepper to taste.

beans2

Add the vegetable stock, canned tomatoes, and soaked beans.  Bring the soup to a boil and reduce to simmer for approximately two hours.  After cooking, add water or vegetable stock if needed to thin and more salt and pepper to taste.  You can always add hot pepper, but I kept the recipe mellow.  Serve topped with sliced avocado.

Now, it was a particularly cold day and true comfort food was in order… so we ate the soup with mini grilled cheese sandwiches.  Mmmmmmm!!  As there are only two ingredients, I won’t walk you through a grilled cheese recipe, but I will say this: get really good bread and good cheese… and you can’t go wrong.  We used roasted garlic baguette and smoked gouda.  And it was ‘so gouda’  (you like what I did there)  ;)

bean soup

The longer cook time on this soup really lets all of the flavors melt together.  Nothing like grilled cheese and soup to ward off the freezing weather!  And this guy…..

ice moose

15 days til Spring!!  Hang in there friends!!  xox  Kristen

Fruity granola bars… and a challenge

I love granola, I really do… especially in the form of highly snackable granola bars.  In fact, we eat a lot of granola / kashi / cliff / power bars at my house.  So, in an effort to take another small step away from packaged food… and a step towards whole food goodness… I bring you, fruity, nutty homemade granola bars!!

Fruit and Nut Oat Bars

These bars are sweet and chewy with dried fruit, crunchy nuts, and just a touch of dark chocolate.  I used what I had on hand… these would also be delicious with dates, figs, dried cranberries or other types of nuts.  Oh, and be sure to look for dried fruits without added sugar… otherwise, they can pack a mean little sugary punch.  I get mine in the bulk bin at the grocery or health food store.

  • 1/2 cup prunes
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (of course I use my own)
  • 1/2 cup chopped or crushed walnuts
  • 1 cup oat flour (just pulse oats in your blender or food processor)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (I like the texture of the thick cut rolled oats)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (the good stuff, aim for > 70% cocao)
  • about 1/2 cup water (see explanation below)

Preheat oven to 325F.  Combine all of the dried fruits in a mini-chopper or food processor and pulse until well chopped… you could try to do this by hand, but trust me, it will be hard to achieve what can be done 1-2 minutes with the processor.

Transfer to a bowl and add the almond butter, nuts, oat flour and oats.  Start by adding 1/4 cup of water and mix by hand.  Slowly add more water until you have a dough.  I used 1/2 cup… excess water will cook out, so it’s better to add a little more rather than have a dry dough.

Line an 8x8in baking dish with parchment paper.  Press the dough into the pan and bake at 325F for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool, cut and serve.  Makes 12.  I like to cut bars into different sizes… because sometimes you just want a little bite, and sometimes you need more!

fruity granola barsfruity granola bars up close

I recently received an email from Deepak Chopra (well… okay, I’m on a mailing list… it wasn’t from him personally)… his center is doing a FREE 21-day meditation challenge starting on March 11th.  You just sign up, then you receive a daily email and have access to a new guided meditation for 3 weeks… and did I mention that it’s free?  Oh, and as if this could get ANY better, guess who is co-hosting with Deepak.  No silly, not me… Oprah!!  It’s bound to be fantastical!  Plus, developing a mediation practice is one of my goals, and this sounds like a perfect way to start!  Who’s with me??

xox,

Kristen

Super Sweet Blog Post

Hi everyone,

I have some exciting news!  I was nominated for the Super Sweet Blog award!!

Cupcake4

As a new blogger, I am still a little surprised when people (other than my family) read my blog… I mean, strangers reading what I’m writing.  Isn’t the internet cool?  It’s really inspiring to be part of such a huge community.

Thank you very much to Rosita for the nomination!  Click over to check out her site… she has tantalizing recipes, punctuated with her humor… a pleasure to read.  Her tagline is ‘reclaiming food with fun and yumminess’ … it couldn’t get any better than that!

For the nomination… I answer 5 Super Sweet questions about myself and then pass on the love with nominations to 5 blogs that I find to be Super Sweet.  Here we go….

1. Cookies or Cake?

Cookies… definitely!  I enjoy a nice slice of cake on a special occasion, but cookies have some definite advantages.  Namely, you can go from craving to cookies in under a half hour.  Second, you can whip up a small batch, which is much harder to accomplish with cake.  And finally, cookies are so portable… hard to toss a slice of cake in your purse ;)

2. Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate!  The darker the better!

3. Favorite sweet treat?

Creme brulee!!  I realize this seems to contradict my answer in #2, but what can I say, I absolutely love creme brulee.  And I’ve had chocolate creme brulee and it’s heavenly!  And raspberry brulee… and caramel.  I once had a ginger brulee.  See it’s a worthy favorite.

4. When do you most crave sweets?

Okay, you will think I am weird now… sometimes I have the most wicked sugar cravings in the early morning.  I have found that if I keep to a healthy diet, I tend to crave sugar a lot less… but if I indulge in a sugary dessert, I literally wake up wanting more!

5. Your sweet nickname?

I am one of those people who has always gone by their full name… seriously, very few nicknames have crossed my path.  So I asked Jonathan for help on this one… his reply was ‘dark cocao’ because if he thinks of me and sweets, dark chocolate is the first thing that pops to his mind.  Hmmmm…. maybe because I have been slowly replacing all the ‘normal’ chocolate in the household with the dark variety.  Looks like he’s caught on ;)

And now for my nominations… this was difficult as there are so many blogs I enjoy reading.  In keeping with the theme, I went with my favorite sites for Sweet recipes ;)

All this talk of sweets and cookies has brought on a serious craving!  Seems like a great time to share my favorite cookie recipe ;)

I really love baking my own cookies… it means that I can control the quality of the ingredients I use… and they ALWAYS taste better than the icky store-bought variety.

Classed-Up Classic: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are my husband’s favorite… I knew we would be a good match!!  This recipe is made often at our house.  It’s fabulous because you can whip up a small batch with quality ingredients. in short time  This is also my ‘base’ cookie recipe, so feel free to mix it up with the ingredients.  Makes 12.

  • 1 cup spelt flour (or 1 cup minus 2 Tbs whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • teeniest dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup neutral flavored oil (like coconut or canola)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (what’d I tell you about dark chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (treat yourself to the no-added-sugar variety)
  • 1/4 cup nuts, pecans or walnuts are fab here

Preheat oven to 350F.  Now this is a super easy assembly – simply combine all ingredients in the listed order and mix.  And the BEST part about vegan baking (aside from being cruelty free, obviously) is that you can EAT the dough whenever you want… no raw eggs to worry about!

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Spoon dough in tablespoons size balls and flatten a bit on the cookie sheet.  Bake at 350F for 11 minutes.  Eat them as soon as you can handle it, without burning your mouth!

cookie tray

cookies!!In other Super Sweet News….

Jonathan and I have a double date tonight with our friends Ed and Halle in Boston!  I’m not sure when this happened, but we suddenly all have responsibilities and commitments, so we don’t get to see each other nearly enough.  I am so excited!!

Tomorrow we are off to our friend Allyson’s wedding.  I love getting to witness a couple express their love.  Super Sweet is right!

And Sunday, I am meeting my youngest sister Eleanor’s new beau.  Love is in the air.

Oh, and to top it off, I’ve had the most Super Sweet day!  I was off work today… sweet!!  It was really sunny and warm (well, warmish for February), so I spent some time at the beach this morning… my favorite spot on earth… the ocean was kicking up some huge waves this morning…

waves crashingI jumped more than a few times and almost got soaked!!

When I got home, I mastered the elusive art of omelette making!  I can do a mean scramble but have NEVER really been able to figure this one out.  My dad makes excellent omelettes… I figured the gene skipped a generation.  But wait, today…

omlette

Seriously, have you ever seen a better-looking omelette?  Could this day get any better?

Health and happiness to you all!  And have a Super Sweet day.

xox, Kristen