Slow cookers have been a fixture in many kitchens since the early 1970’s when Rival reimagined the slow cooker originally invented by Irving Naxon. In 1936 Irving invented a bean cooker so his Jewish mother could honor the sabbath by not working. By using his slow cooker pot, his mother was able to serve a traditional meal of bean stew called cohlent at the end of the sabbath after Saturday services, and still adhere to the tradition of resting on the sabbath. All I have to say is THANK YOU, IRVING NAXON! The invention of the slow cooker is arguably one of the greatest kitchen appliances of our time! I know personally, that there were many family dinners that would have never happened had it not been for my trusty slow cooker!
And yes…it’s a slow cooker, not a crockpot. Just as all facial tissues are not Kleenex, all cotton swabs are not Q-tips, and all petroleum jelly is not Vaseline. My personal preference for a slow cooker is the Ninja Cooking System. It has slow cooker, oven, and stove top cooking settings which make it extremely versatile and user friendly!
Today I’m sharing a recipe for Slow Cooker Red Curry Lentils and Vegetables that happens to be one of my favorite meals of all time! I love Indian food, but living in the middle of Iowa, authentic Indian is pretty hard to come by! I’ve experimented with several different recipes I’ve found on line and come up with my version of an Indian Red Curry that I love, and that my family will happily eat every time I serve it!
Put the lid on, set the temperature to low, and walk away while dinner cooks itself!
Your patience is rewarded…dinner is served!
Like all good slow cooker recipes, the preparation is simple and straightforward. And to save time, much of the prep work and recipe assembly, save for stirring in the lentils and coconut milk can be completed the evening before actually cooking the dish. The flavors are spicy from the red curry paste, roasted red chili paste, cayenne, and red pepper flakes, and warm and rich from the addition of more curry powder and turmeric. Potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and bell pepper add plenty of flavor and texture. Even my husband, a certified carnivore, loves this dish! Served over basmati rice it is filling and satisfying, and it’s one of those meals that I think is even better served leftover the next day!
Slow Cooker Red Curry Lentils and Vegetables
With minimal preparation, a warm and savory spicy red curry lentil dinner can be yours when you get home from a long day at work!
Spicy Quinoa and Beans is one of my favorite go-to dishes. It’s the dish I make when I’m craving spicy Mexican flavors, it’s the dish I make when I don’t feel like cooking (yep that happens), but want to have something healthy and tasty to eat all week, and it’s that one meal I turn to when I’ve over indulged (yep that happens too) and I need to get my eating back on track!
This recipe is a nutritional powerhouse full of protein, vegetables, and spices that are sure to satisfy and keep you satisfied for hours! Occasionally I’ll add shredded chicken to this recipe and that’s fantastic too! One time I added extra chicken stock and shredded chicken to make a healthy chicken tortilla soup that was to die for! Basically what I’m saying is – take the basics I share here and run with it! Create your own version…adjust the spices to your preferences. Maybe add some browned ground beef and cheese and turn it into a casserole. Add more vegetables if you like – I’ve made it in the summer when I have zucchini and summer squash coming outta my ears and it’s super tasty with those added in! In this recipe I used black beans and pinto beans, but those could be switched up too! Or how about roast a spaghetti squash and serve the quinoa and beans over the top? I like to serve it as pictured with fresh tomatoes and avocado, but it would be fantastic with salsa, sour cream, your favorite cheese, tortilla chips…you get the idea! The possibilities are limitless!
Start by sautéing the onion, peppers, celery, and garlic in olive oil or about 5 minutes – just until the vegetables start to soften.
Then add the quinoa and sauté another 2 or 3 minutes.
Next add the spices, then the beans and tomatoes, and then the chopped chipotle in adobo. Finally the stock is added, bring it all to a boil, then reduce the heat and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is cooked and most the liquid is absorbed.
Here it is after its simmered for about 30 minutes – the corn is added about 10 minutes before removing from the heat.
This is just such a colorful and satisfying dish! After eating it for a few days just exactly as I had prepared it, I addded some shredded chicken and homemade enchilada sauce and morphed it into Spicy Quinoa Suffed Peppers! It was super tasty and my husband loved it too!
Spicy Quinoa and Beans
A spicy and satisfying protein-packed nutritional powerhouse recipe sure to curb even the biggest appetite!
Raise your hand if you’re busy, stressed out, running out of patience, and burning the candle at both ends! I can almost feel the breeze from all those hands waving in the air! 😉 This time of year is without a doubt the most joyous for many of us, but it can also be the most stressful! There’s so much to do…year-end work projects, shopping, cooking, baking, holiday parties, school music concerts, church youth programs, house guests, decorating, secret-keeping, gift wrapping…the list goes on and on! But no matter how busy life gets, we’re better able to cope with the craziness if we’ve fueled up properly before heading out the door! To that end, let me introduce you to my Best Ever Slow Cooker Oatmeal!
This oatmeal comes together in a few minutes in the slow cooker, simmers for a couple hours, and makes enough to feed 8 people once, 2 people 4 times, 4 people twice….you get the idea! Make it on Sunday, refrigerator single serve portions, and heat them up in the morning when your rushing to get ready for work or to get the kids out the door for school! It’s deliciously satisfying and will keep you going all morning. There’s also something about a warm breakfast on a cold winter morning that just seems to set a more positive tone for the day! And as a mom I always felt better about sending my kids to the bus stop on a belly full of homemade oatmeal, though I rarely had time to make it for them. This recipe solves that issue!
Another time this recipe would be a perfect addition to your breakfast recipe arsenal is when you’ve got a house full of guests. Maybe family is in town for the holidays. Maybe your college age kids are home for the weekend with a couple friends in tow. Maybe your 10 year old hosted a sleep over and you’ve got a hungry bunch of kids to feed. No matter the scenario – whether you’re making a pot full for yourself to have for breakfast all week, or to feed a crowd, this oatmeal is fantastic – and it’s a recipe you’ll be sure to turn to over and over again!
One of the things I like most about oatmeal is that it’s like a blank canvas that can be painted with variety of flavors and toppings! This recipe itself is simple – unsweetened vanilla almond milk, water, old fashioned oats, real maple syrup, a dash of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, and a smidgen of almond extract combine to make the basic oatmeal. What you do to your own bowl of oatmeal is completely up to you! I suggest serving fresh berries, nuts, bananas, extra syrup for those who like it sweeter, and more almond milk for those who prefer it thinner. You might also serve it with applesauce like this homemade version, toasted coconut, dried fruits, or even chocolate chips for the kiddos! My favorite bowl is topped with blueberries, sliced bananas, and walnuts! There are no rules when it comes to personalizing your oatmeal!!!
Let this Best Ever Slow Cooker Oatmeal simplify the breakfast frenzy for you and your family! You’ll be happy they ate a healthy breakfast, and they’ll be fueled up and full until lunchtime!
Best Ever Slow Cooker Oatmeal
This will be your go-to recipe for a hearty and hot breakfast to feed your hungry crew, and keep them fueled up until lunch!
On Monday I shared a recipe for Crockpot Spiced Orange Cranberry Sauce and I promised a dessert recipe using that most delectable tart and tasty sauce…drum roll please…here she is…Spiced Orange Cranberry Torte! Isn’t she BEAUTIFUL?!? Ok…so yeah I’m probably a little biased, but I just get so excited when something turns out exactly even better than I imagined! And just take a gander at that crust to filling ratio…I love my crust!!! 😉
So not only is this dessert show-stopping gorgeous, and devastatingly delicious, it’s also vegan, sugar-free, and no-bake! C’mon…it just doesn’t get any better than that! With a little advance prep work like making the Crockpot Spiced Orange Cranberry Sauce, and the Honeyed Orange Peel, assembling this dessert is a cinch!
Do you remember eating those orange slice candies that come in a 2 for $1.00 bag? The kind you get at the farm supply or convenience store? I loved those candies growing up. My grandpa always had a bag in the glovebox of his car and every once in a while, my grandma would reach in and hand my brother and I one of those little gummy jewels! I loved the fresh taste and the way they made my tongue tingle just a little bit! I wanted to recreate something similar in taste and texture, but since I don’t use sugar I had to find an alternative method to and make “candied” orange peel. In the end I came up with Honeyed Orange Peel. It’s a little – ok lot – stickier than the kind made with sugar and water, but the taste is spot on, and even though the peels are sticky, they’re perfect in this recipe!
Once the cranberry sauce and orange peel is ready, it’s a pretty simple assembly process. The crust is made in the food processor by combining pecans, almonds, walnuts, and dates with a little orange juice and zest and a splash of vanilla. The spiced orange filling is made in the blender from soaked and drained cashews, orange juice and zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, honey, and our honeyed orange peel! Since it’s a raw dessert the only real thing you need to keep in mind as far as prep time is that it does need a at least a couple hours to set up in the freezer, and preferably overnight if possible.
This Thanksgiving instead of making 2 separate desserts – one for the vegetarians/vegans at your table, and one for everyone else – simplify your menu by making just one dessert. This Spiced Orange Cranberry Torte is so delicious that absolutely everyone will be praising your dessert skills! And unless you tell them – they’ll never even suspect you fed them a raw vegan dessert! One dessert to please everyone…now there’s something to be thankful for!
Spiced Orange Cranberry Torte
A Thanksgiving dessert to be especially thankful for as it's sure to please everyone - from the carnivores to the vegans - at your holiday table this year!
2 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water at least 2 to 3 hours, then drained
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup chopped Honeyed Orange Peel
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch each of nutmeg & cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup Spiced Orange Cranberry Sauce ~ link to recipe in body of blog post
For the Honeyed Orange Peel
Place orange peel strips in large saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to a boil over high heat, drain, and repeat 4 more times.
After 5th boiling process return softened peels to the pan, add 3/4 cup honey and 1 cup water and stir to combine and coat the orange peels.
Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours until peels are translucent.
Watch closely last 30 minutes of cooking time so as not to simmer away all the liquids in the pan and burn the peels.
When translucent, remove peels from pan to cool, then store in refrigerator.
Reserve any leftover orange honey from the saucepan to include in the torte filling!
For the crust
Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor.
Process until mixture resembles crumbs and sticks together when a small amount is rolled in your hands.
Pour crust mixture into a 9" springform pan lightly greased with coconut oil.
Smooth and compress crust into bottom of pan.
Place in freezer to set up slightly while preparing the filling.
For the filling
Combine all filling ingredients except Cranberry Sauce and Honeyed Orange Peel in the pitcher of a high speed blender.
Blend until completely smooth, adding more orange juice if necessary.
When filling is smooth add chopped honeyed orange peel and pulse just a couple times to incorporate the peel.
Pour filling into chilled crust.
Cover with plastic wrap and return to freezer for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, to completely firm up.
Remove from freezer 20 minutes before serving.
Remove rim of springform pan, spread 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce on top and garnish as desired.
Cut into 12 to 16 small pieces with a very sharp knife. It's a very rich dessert - a little goes a long way!
Store leftovers in freezer.
As an alternative to spreading cranberry sauce over the entire torte, you could dollop a small amount on each individual piece. The leftovers are delicious even with the frozen cranberry sauce, but it stays frozen well after the leftover torte is ready to be served!
As I was thinking about what to write for this particular post it occurred to me that apples, for as much as we might take them for granted, are a very important part of our diet! From the very beginning we feed applesauce to our children as they progress toward eating solids foods, we give them apple juice in their sippy cups, and once they have teeth, we feed them sliced apples. As we get older we start to enjoy other delicious foods made with apples…pies, cakes, muffins, crisps, cobblers, breads, tarts, popovers, turnovers, cereals, butter, cider, vinegar, and of course – applesauce! We also can’t forget about the savory dishes that pair apples with things like pork chops or pork loin, stuffing, and salads.
As for cultural influences of the apple…how about the first one we all learn…”A is for Apple”! Or, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. We all relate to “As American as Apple Pie”. Remember The Osmonds singing “One Bad Apple”? How about the depiction from the Bible of Eve eating from the Tree Of The Knowledge of Good And Evil? In those pictures she’s always pictured eating an apple! And I can’t leave out Apple computers, iPads, iPods, and iPhones! I’d be lost without my iPhone and my iPad Pro!
Anyway, my point is that apples are such an integral part of our lives that we sometimes don’t appreciate them for the nutritional powerhouses that they are! They’re high in fiber and vitamin C, low in calories, contain only a trace of sodium, and have no fat or cholesterol.
Interesting Apple Facts:
They come in all shades of red, yellow, and green.
There are over 2500 varieties grown in the United States, with apples grown in all 50 states.
The world’s top apple producers are China, the United States,Turkey, Poland, and Italy.
In 2005 the average U.S. Consumer ate an estimated 16.9 pounds of fresh market apples.
A peck of apples weighs 10.5 lbs.
It takes 36 apples to create one gallon of cider.
The apple is the state fruit of Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Vermont,Washington, and West Virginia.
Apples are a member of the rose family.
Apples have 5 seed pockets, or carpels. Each pocket contains seeds with the health and vigor of the plant determining the number of seeds per carpel.
Interesting….right? I love learning new things about the foods that I eat and feed my family. I find it especially interesting when I learn cool new things about a food like apples that I, for one, tend to take for granted sometimes! Having said that – this recipe for Sugar-Free Spiced Crockpot Applesauce is so good! Fall is probably my favorite time of year, and if you’ve read some of my recent posts you’ve learned I’m not a huge pumpkin fan…don’t judge…I just prefer other flavors more! So to me fall is epitomized by butternut squash and apples! I love visiting apple orchards, I love eating apples out of hand, and I love, lovE, loVE, lOVE, LOVE, cooking with apples! There’s something extremely comforting about the scent of warm spices mingling with the scent of the apples themselves. Sweet, warm, spicy…the feeling it conjures for me is cozy…and who among us couldn’t do with a little more coziness in our lives?!?
I’ve been making this Sugar-Free Spiced Crockpot Applesauce for as long as I can remember. When my kids were young I used a little less spice, because they preferred it plainer – and certainly adjust the spices to your own personal preference! Now that I’m cooking for just my husband and I, I prefer to add cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to our applesauce! It makes the house smell absolutely heavenly. And I would certainly rather have my home scented naturally by the foods I prepare than by a candle any day! But I haven’t outgrown all my childish ways…my favorite way to eat this applesauce is with a piece of toast slathered in nut butter…preferably homemade cashew butter!
And thanks to the modern marvel that is the crockpot, this applesauce could not be easier! I wash the apples, cut them up, toss them in the crockpot with the spices and a little water, turn it to high for a couple hours….and voila…applesauce! Well – cooked apples anyway! You’ll have to mash the apples a little to actually make the sauce. How much you smoosh is up to you! We like ours a little chunky, so I just use the back of a spoon to mash the cooked apples. A potato masher works wonderfully as well, and if you want perfectly smooth applesauce, I’d opt for using an immersion blender.
Stay tuned…coming up in a few weeks I’ll have another recipe that incorporates some of this applesauce…any reason to make another crockpot full works for me!
Sugar-Free Spiced Crockpot Applesauce
Incredibly easy and unbelievably delicious homemade applesauce that far surpasses anything you could buy at the store!
Every once in a while I get super excited about something I’ve concocted in the kitchen, and this amazingly delicious Raw Chocolate Espresso Torte is one of those times! This is also the final post in my Cashew Cream Recipe Series, and to be honest, I’m kind of sad about that! I’ve had so much fun coming up with new and unique ways to use cashew cream that I kind of hate to see it end. But like Chaucer said…”All good things must come to an end.”
I’m so happy with the way this torte turned out. The crust…oh my goodness…the crust is to die for! I’ve always preferred a nice thick crust on bars, cakes, and tortes, so I made sure this one was extra thick, a little chewy, a little crunchy, a little sweet, and a little salty. Basically it’s a perfect crust and you’re going to love it as much as I do! But of course, a torte is not a torte without something luscious to top off that perfect crust! This filling is so good you guys! People who know me, know how much I love chocolate and how much I LOVE coffee, so that classic flavor combo was a no-brainer for this fantastic dessert!
I know you’re wondering how something this gorgeous can possibly adhere to my CEBH Guidelines – and I understand your skepticism! But this is exactly what gets me so pumped up about cashew cream! Before I switched up the way we eat I would never have imagined that some ground up nuts and a few other simple ingredients could result in a dessert this luscious and decadent! The best part though – you could totally serve this to guests and they’d never in a million years guess it was a “healthy” dessert!
Dont get me wrong – there are still calories here! And it’s not something you should eat everyday. But for the occasional special treat – this would be perfect! And for those of you who require dairy-free, sugar-free, and/or gluten-free desserts, or for those of you who only eat raw – then this is the perfect recipe! The crust is made of walnuts, pecans, and almonds – all of which lend to its crunchy texture, while the dates lend a chewy sweetness which is enhanced with a dash of almond extract. The filling is made of cahsews, maple syrup, organic cacao, a little instant espresso powder, another splash of almond extract, and just for fun – a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans!
To make the crust, process the nuts, dates, almond extract, and espresso powder until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Then press the crust mixture into a springform pan lightly greased with coconut oil.
Flatten and smooth it down into the pan so it’s level and well compacted.
Then pop it into the freezer to set up while you make the filling. I used the food processor since it was already dirty from making the crust (remember…I’m lazy), but you’ll get a smoother filling using a high power blender like a Vitamix! Add the soaked and drained cashews, maple syrup, almond extract, cacao, and espresso powder and blend until smooth and creamy. Stir in espresso beans by hand, then pour filling into the prepared crust.
Cover loosely with plastic and return to the freezer to set up for several hours, or preferably, overnight. Remove from freezer about 20 minutes before serving. Remove springform ring, cut into 12 slices and serve as desired.
Raw Chocolate Espresso Torte
Chocolate with just a hint of coffee in a velvety cashew cream filling, and nuts and dates that combine to make a delectable crust are the perfect union in this raw vegan torte!
A few weeks ago I made some Butternut & Quinoa Fritters and I talked about how I was much more a butternut girl than a pumpkin spice girl, and as much as I really liked those fritters…this soup is everything! I’ve been making a version of this recipe for many years now and I’m not even sure where the original recipe came from, but over the years it has morphed into the soup it is today! Most butternut squash soups are a little bland if you ask me, and part of that is because they’re usually a blended soup. While this soup is blended as well, many of the ingredients are added after the butternut base is blended so it’s got a little ‘chew’ to it!
Truthfully I went through a phase a few years ago when I made this soup at least twice a month, and ate it for lunch almost every single day for weeks on end It is such a hearty and satisfying, yet healthful soup that I felt really good about eating so much of it! And then it was like someone threw a switch and I was done…couldn’t eat it anymore. It was one of those times when too much of a good thing really was too much of a good thing! Thankfully enough time has passed that I’m craving it again – and as soon as I took that first taste…wow…it’s like my tastebuds did a happy dance! 😉 I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I made it again!
The flavors in this soup make me so happy! It’s sweet and savory and spicy thanks to the chipotles in adobo. If you’ve never cooked with chipotles before, this is the perfect recipe to start with. Personally – I’ve got tastebuds of steel so I use an entire can of chipotles in this pot of soup, but obviously you should adjust the number you use in your recipe to suit your own tastes. The butternut, onions, and garlic are roasted, which enhances the natural sweetness of the vegetables, and mellows the garlic so even though I use an entire bulb, it doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors. I’ve used a vegetable stock in this recipe, but you could certainly use chicken stock if you prefer. The ‘chew’ to this soup comes from the fire roasted corn and tomatoes, black beans, and the fresh kale. The original recipe called for spinach, but I feel like the kale holds up better…the spinach had a tendency to get a little slimy…ewwwww! By removing the cream cheese that gave this soup it’s velvety finish and substituting cashew cream instead, it’s even more luscious than the original! And the best part is, by using the vegetable stock and cashew cream, the finished product is 100% vegan!
So first thing is soak the raw cashews at least 2 hours – or up to overnight. Then peel the butternut squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and discard them. Then cut the squash into chunks for roasting. Cut off both ends of your onions and peel off the outer layer, then quarter them. Place the squash and onions in a gallon size bag, drizzle with olive oil, and shake until the vegetables are well coated. Turn them out onto a baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. To prepare the garlic for roasting, cut the top portion (about 1/4″ to 3/8″) off the bulb of garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil, wrap in a double layer of aluminum foil, and place on the baking sheet with the squash and onions. Pop it all into a 425 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven when the squash and onion are tender and lightly browned.
Transfer the roasted vegetables to a large stock pot, add the vegetable stock, and garlic once it’s cool enough to handle. Simmer 10-20 minutes over medium heat.
Tip: Once the garlic has cooled enough to handle, the individual cloves can be removed by gently squeezing the bulb from the base, or by using a knife to pluck the cloves out of the bulb.
Before blending the butternut, onion, garlic, and stock mixture, reserve a couple ladles of liquid to use for blending the cashews into cream. If you have an immersion blender I definitely recommend using it to blend the soup. That’s the main reason I use such a large pot for this recipe – there’s less chance of spattering yourself – and your stove – when blending in a deep stockpot. Remove the pot from the heat while using an immersion blender. For the cashew cream, blend the soaked and drained cashews in a blender with the 2 ladles of stock until the cream is perfectly smooth. Always use extreme caution whenever blending hot liquids!
After blending the squash, onions, garlic, and stock until smooth add the chipotles and blend once again until smooth, then add the cashew cream and blend until well combined.
Return the pot to heat and stir in the corn, tomatoes, and beans. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until the soup is heated through. Finally, stir in the fresh kale and cook another 8-10 minutes until the kale is wilted. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve as desired. For me, a bowl of this soup is a complete meal – my husband likes a piece of rustic bread with his. Of course, he also ruins it by adding crackers…sigh…some habits are hard to break I guess!
Roasted Butternut Chipotle Soup
This is the perfect Butternut Squash Soup recipe you've been looking for!
1 7 ounce can chipotles in adobo - amount used depends on your preferred level of heat
2 cups frozen fire roasted corn
1 14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch fresh curly kale, torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2-3 hours, then drained
1 bulb garlic
2 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare squash and onions for roasting by tossing them with the 2 tbsp olive oil, turning them onto a baking pan, and sprinkling with about 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.
Prepare garlic for roasting by trimming 1/4" to 3/8" from the top of the bulb with a sharp knife. Drizzle with 1/2 tsp olive oil, wrap in 2 layers of aluminum foil and place on baking sheet with the squash and onions.
Roast vegetables for 40-45 minutes until tender and slightly browned.
Combine roasted squash and onions in a large stockpot with the vegetable stock. Simmer over medium heat for about 10-20 minutes, adding roasted garlic once it's cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, place drained cashews in blender, add 2 ladles of warm vegetable stock from the pot, and carefully blend until perfectly smooth.
Temporarily remove stockpot from heat and blend contents with an immersion blender until smooth.
Add desired number of chipotles with some of the adobo sauce and blend once more until smooth. This is a good time to taste test the soup base for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper, or chipotles and adobo if desired.
Add the cashew cream, blending one last time until well combined, then return the pot to the heat.
Stir in frozen corn, black beans, and tomatoes. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes until heated through.
Toss in kale and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 more minutes until the kale is wilted and cooked.
Fall + Soup = Happy Me! There’s so many reasons to love soup! It’s warming and delicious, it’s healthful, it’s practical, it’s inexpensive, and it’s simple to make. And once the soup is together, all you need is a salad or some bread and you’ve got a perfect meal! The possibilities for different soups are limited only by your imagination…and thankfully I’ve got a very active one!
The recipe for Dairy Free Potato Leek Soup I’m sharing today is a true family favorite. This exact version, however, is an adaptation of the potato soup I used to make. My old recipe contained milk, cream, butter, and usually ham. It was pretty darn good, but it sure wasn’t something that fit into my CEBH Lifestyle! However, never one to back down from a challenge, I decided that since we love the flavor of this soup so much, I had to find a way to make it healthier so we could still enjoy it. The biggest hurdle was achieving the creaminess I wanted without actually using ANY dairy! So once again, I turned to cashew cream, which combined with almond milk, became an even creamier and more delicious soup base than my original recipe!
Every time I make potato soup I can’t help but think of a time when my in-laws were celebrating an anniversary and my husband, his 3 brothers, and all the spouses and grandchildren were at their house. His mom had made big pots of chili and potato soup, and I chose the potato. Now his mom has a real thing about tiny cookies (seriously her cookies are exactly 1.5 bites each), tiny pieces of pie (who cuts a pie into 10 pieces?), and apparently cutting potatoes into teensy tiny itsy bitty pieces. Seriously – she cut them so tiny that by the time she served the soup, the potatoes were completely disintegrated! When those of us who ate the potato soup compared notes later that day we were cracking up because NONE of us got even a single bite of potato!!! All we had was potato flavored milk with a few miniscule onion pieces!
See all those beautiful big pieces of potatoes? You’ll never be left wondering where the potatoes are in my soup! 😉
Anyway – I’m the polar opposite. I like big chunky potatoes in my soup so you know exactly what you’re getting! And, as the recipe name implies I include leeks for their mild oniony flavor (if leeks are unavailable I substitute a sweet onion), celery for its earthy taste and texture, and finally carrots for sweetness and beautiful color. As for seasonings – I prefer to keep it really simple in order to avoid overpowering the potatoes. I use a little fresh garlic, a little more salt than I would typically use in a soup, and ground black pepper. A LOT of ground black pepper! Then I topped it off with some fresh chopped red bell pepper.
The prep for this recipe is simple, but like with many of our recipes I recommend making the cashew cream earlier in the day, or if you’re like me, just always have some prepared and ready to go in the fridge. I use baby potatoes so all I have to do is clean them up and cut them in half. Then peel the carrots and slice them, slice the celery, chop the garlic, and slice the leeks~white and light green parts~into 3/4″ to 1″ pieces.
Tip: To wash the leeks, slice them, then separate the rings of the sliced leeks and submerge them in cool clean water. I put them in a colander, then place it in the sink. Let the leeks soak a few minutes, swishing them a few times with your hand to loosen any sand and dirt caught in the layers. After a few minutes the dirt will settle to the bottom of the sink, and you can lift the washed leeks right out of the water to drain before cooking.
In a large stockpot, sauté the leeks and celery in a drizzle of olive oil. Once they are softened add the minced garlic and cook another minute or two.
Next add the carrots and potatoes. Pour in the almond milk, season with half the salt and black pepper, and bring it all to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer about 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until the carrots and potatoes are fork tender. Once the potatoes are cooked, stir in the cashew cream, heat through, and check for seasoning. My personal preference is to go heavy on the pepper in this dish, but I’ll leave it up to you to determine what you like best! I also find that I use more salt in this soup than I do in any other recipe I make…all those potatoes need a lot of salt!
The cashew cream lends a velvety smoothness to this soup that I was never able to achieve with any other ingredients!
Doesn’t it look fantastic? Don’t you just want to dig right in??? Serve it with some crusty bread like this jalapeño cheddar and enjoy the perfect fall meal!
Dairy Free Potato Leek Soup
Creamy, velvety, and delicious....this is the perfect potato soup!
As I write this the weather is starting to feel a bit more fall-like. And by the time it publishes it will officially be fall. That means most people will be in full pumpkin spice mode…lattes, cookies, muffins, ice cream, cheesecake, candles, room freshener, potpourri…it’s pumpkin spice overkill if you ask me! I’m much more likely to usher in fall with a trip to an apple orchard than a pumpkin patch, or with a new recipe for something healthy and delicious featuring my fall favorite….butternut squash!
I’d like to take a minute to appreciate this perfect little squash…and to the woman at the grocery store who does not share my affinity for perfect produce…I apologize if I freaked you out with my enthusiasm for this little cutie! 😉
So…back to business. Today I’m sharing a recipe that continues our Cashew Cream Recipe Series, but also one that is perfect for fall because of the flavors and ingredients featured in these Butternut & Quinoa Fritters with Horseradish & Sage Cashew Cream! Butternut squash is one of my favorite foods because of it’s flavor, obviously, but also because of it’s versatility! It’s equally delicious as an ingredient in a savory dish as it is a sweet one. So while many people are celebrating the arrival of fall with a PSL from Starbucks, I’m celebrating by creating these simple and tasty fritters with another fall favorite – butternut squash!
These fritters are so easy to make because you don’t even have to pre-cook the squash! The ingredients for the fritters are cooked quinoa, raw shredded butternut squash, eggs, garlic, shallots, salt & pepper, panko, and fresh sage, with a little coconut oil for frying. The cashew cream sauce includes cashews, prepared horseradish, fresh sage, and salt & pepper. All in all it’s a pretty humble list of ingredients that yields fantastic fritters!
Sage is one of those herbs that I don’t use a lot, but whenever I do, I wonder why I don’t use it more! Sage has a very earthy and peppery flavor and it pairs perfectly with the butternut in these fritters. Plus the health benefits of sage are quite impressive. It helps keep skin healthy, improves digestion, it’s rich in antioxidants, helps in growth and development of bones, boosts cognitive development and the immune system, and helps to reduce inflammation and overall health! As for the horseradish – I think it’s a love it or hate it thing, and I happen to LOVE it! It’s got several health benefits as well including that it can aid in weight loss, help prevent cancer, and boost the immune system – just to name a few. So the combination of sage and horseradish is not only delicious, but incredibly healthful as well! I love learning about the health benefits of different foods and herbs that I use…it makes me feel even better about living the CEBH Lifestyle!
And if you think the sage and horseradish are packed with health benefits…just wait til I tell you about the rest of the ingredients! Butternut squash helps prevent high blood pressure, promotes regularity, improves eyesight, keeps bones strong, boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation, and aids in weight loss! Quinoa is one of the most protein dense foods we can eat, it’s high in fiber, rich in iron, lysine, magnesium, riboflavin, and manganese. Coconut oil can help you burn fat, helps prevent infections, reduces hunger, improves cholesterol levels, acts as a natural sunscreen, and boosts brain function. WOW!!! Everybody to the kitchen…STAT….it’s time to make some Butternut & Quinoa Fritters with Horseradish & Sage Cashew Cream!
Tip: Peeling the squash is easily accomplished with a regular vegetable peeler. If you find it’s difficult to hold onto, rest the bottom of the squash in the sink drain while you’re peeling! After the squash is peeled, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and then shred it. I used my food processor, but you could certainly get the job done with a box grater as well…and you’d get an arm workout at the same time! 😉
Bonus Tip: This recipe calls for 2 cups cooked quinoa which is easily made by combining 1 cup uncooked quinoa with about two cups water, bringing it to a boil, then covering the pan, reducing the heat to low, and simmering approximately 15 minutes – or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. For this recipe I make the quinoa earlier in the day and refrigerate it until I’m ready to make the fritters.
Making these little gems is super simple! Once the butternut is shredded and the quinoa cooked, all the fritter ingredients are mixed together and the fritters are pan-fried in just a smidgen of refined coconut oil until they’re golden and crispy, then set on a paper towel to drain any excess oil! The horseradish & sage cashew cream can be made while the quinoa is cooking, or, preferably it can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the fritters.
Butternut & Quinoa Fritters with Horseradish & Sage Cashew Cream
Freshly shredded butternut squash and quinoa lend a real taste of autumn to these light and tasty fritters served with horseradish and sage cashew cream.
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 2-3 hours, then drained
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves
2 tbsp prepared horseradish (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Filtered water as needed to reach desired sauce consistency
For the fritters
Combine everything except the coconut oil and mix well.
In a non-stick pan, melt 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium heat. When oil is hot and shimmering pack a portion of fritter mixture into an ice cream scoop, gently release into hot oil, and flatten slightly.
Fry fitters in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. I cooked 4 at a time.
After 3-5 minutes, when the bottom side is golden brown, turn carefully and continue cooking the flip side another 3-5 minutes until it's golden brown.
Remove from pan and drain on clean paper towel.
Continue cooking in this manner, adding small amounts of coconut oil to your pan as needed, until all the fritters are completed.
Serve immediately with Horseradish & Sage Cashew Cream Sauce.
For the cashew cream
In a blender or food processor combine drained cashews, sage, salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp horseradish. Blend on medium speed, adding water a tablespoon at a time until the sauce smooths and is almost the desired consistency.
Stop the blender and taste the sauce. Add more horseradish if desired, and water if needed, then continue blending until smooth and creamy. (I really like horseradish so I used about 4 tbsp total)
Store sauce in refrigerator until ready to serve fritters.
I found a regular sized ice cream scoop was exactly the right portion size for these fritters.
You might consider making the horseradish and sage cashew cream a day in advance as it keeps well in the refrigerator, and the flavors develop over the course of 24 hours.
Leftover quinoa would be perfect for this recipe - plan ahead and that's one less ingredient to prepare the day you make the fritters!
Cook Eat Be Healthy http://cookeatbehealthy.com/
Just today my friend and I were fantasizing about winning the lottery and paying off houses, cars, and college tuition bills so we could retire, travel, and live the “good life”. But she was right when she prefaced all that with good health – because without that, we couldn’t enjoy all the riches our lives have to offer! So here’s to Cooking, Eating, and Being Healthy, while enjoying every single morsel of food we put in our mouths, in order to live as rich a life as possible!
Hands up if tomato soup takes you back to your childhood! It sure does for me! I remember coming home from school for lunch (yep – we lived that close) and being thrilled to walk in the back door and find grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup on the table! There is something undeniably comforting about that warm bowl of tomato goodness that I’ve never outgrown. What I have outgrown however, is any sort of desire to eat soup from a can! And as it happens – I really like to make soup. In fact, I’d say it’s one of my favorite things to make – and to eat! While I tend to make more soups in the winter, I still enjoy stirring up a pot of soup other times of the year as well!
Fall recently started, and I thought this would be a good time to whip together a Roasted Tomato Bisque with some of those end of season tomatoes I’ve been spying at the last few farmers markets. Unfortunately our city is suffering some devestating near-record flooding and this weekend’s market was cancelled. I feel horrible for everyone affected by this disaster. Personally our home is unaffected, as is my business location, but the pain is felt by everyone, as we all know someone affected by the flooding. On the flip-side, our community has come together once more and worked to build levies, donate emergency supplies to those evacuated from their homes, and prayed – there’s been a lot of praying going on here! Anyway…no market meant improvising by using store bought tomatoes instead of garden fresh, but by roasting them the flavor is naturally enhanced and the soup turned out fantastic!
I cringe a little when I think back to the tomato soup I grew up eating. Sorry Mom! But that gloppy, blobby, yukky, (all technical culinary terms – at least for me 😉) odd colored soup from a can is pretty gross! And of all the junk they add to canned soup, there’s one very important ingredient they forgot…the FLAVOR!!!! Store bought canned soup simply does not compare to the healthfulness and flavor of homemade! Plus making soup is so simple! Pretty much anything goes, so it’s perfect for picky eaters (sneak in those veggies)! It’s perfect for health conscious folks like me because by making my own soup I’m in control of the ingredients, i.e. NO ARTIFICIAL CRAP! Soup is perfect for warming bellies, hands, and hearts on the coldest of days. For all those reasons and more soup is one of my favorite foods…it’s like a hug in a bowl. Or in a mug – yeah – soup is a hug in a mug – that’s my new motto! 😉
So for today’s soup I used Roma tomatoes, an orange and green bell pepper, Vidalia onion, garlic, organic tomato juice, olive oil, salt & pepper, a little basil, and to give it that final creaminess – cashew cream. Its meals like this when I really, really, really, wish I could still eat more than the occasional nibble of cheese, because this soup would be fantastic with a delicious gooey grilled cheese sandwich! I’ll be the first to admit that as delicious as tomato soup is all on its own, something savory and crispy just seems to enhance that wonderful tomato flavor. So since I nixed the sandwich idea, I thought I’d try a savory granola to sprinkle on top. And it is fantabulous! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this a long time ago! I combined oats, sunflower seeds, pepitas, white and black sesame seeds, olive oil, and some seasonings – tossed it all together – and toasted it in the oven for 25 minutes. It’s savory, salty, spicy, crucnchy – just perfect to top off a warm bowl of Roasted Tomato Bisque!
So I started off by making the savory oatmeal crunch with which I garnished the soup. It was super simple – I placed the oats and seeds in a gallon bag, dumped in the seasonings, olive oil, and worcestershire sauce – gave it all a good shake to evenly coat all the ingredients, poured it all in a baking pan and stuck it in the oven for about 25 minutes. I stirred it once halfway through the baking time, removed it when it was done, and set it aside to cool.
While the oatmeal crunch was baking I prepped the tomatoes, onion, peppers, and garlic for roasting. Because this is a blended soup, the vegetables don’t need to be perfectly chopped! I halved the tomatoes, and rough chopped the peppers and onions, then tossed them with some extra virgin olive oil and spread them on a baking sheet. I also sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper.
The roasted garlic is such a delicious component of this recipe. I love – like LOVE – garlic, but sometimes it can overwhelm a dish because of it’s strong pungent flavor. But roasting it…you guys…it’s like garlic candy! Sweet and aromatic, and so much more mellow than unroasted garlic. And it couldn’t be easier to make, especially since we’re already roasting the rest of the veggies. To oven roast garlic, cut the top about 1/4 off an entire bulb. Drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it securely (I use 2 layers) in aluminum foil, and roast it in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Which just happens to be exactly how long the tomatoes, onions, and peppers need to roast to slightly caramelize! 😉
After the vegetables are roasted, pour them into a large stock pot, and set the garlic aside to cool a bit. I use a much larger pot than really necessary simply because I’ll be using an immersion blender and I feel like it’s a bit safer if I’ve got a larger pan – I’m less like to splatter hot liquid all over myself that way! To the pot of roasted vegetables, I add the tomato juice and bring it all to a simmer. While the soup simmers, carefully unwrap the roasted garlic, and when it’s cool enough to handle, gently squeeze from the bottom of the bulb and the roasted cloves will pop right out! Add the garlic to the soup pot, remove the pan from the heat and blend it with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one – and I highly recommend you purchase one if you don’t – the soup can be very carefully transferred in small batches to a regular blender and blended that way. Please just exercise extreme caution if you use this method. Once the soup is blended, return it to low heat, add the basil and cashew cream, and heat thoroughly.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top it with some of the delicious savory oatmeal crunch, serve it along with some bread – or a classic grilled cheese sandwich, and enjoy your amazingly delectable dairy-free, 100% vegan, Roasted Tomato Bisque with Savory Oatmeal Crunch!!! Warm your belly (and the bellies of those you love) ~ and warm your heart at the same time! ❤️
Roasted Tomato Bisque with Savory Oatmeal Crunch
This dairy-free tomato soup will warm your heart as it warms the bellies of your loved ones!