Roasted Carrot and Butternut Squash Tahini Soup with Tahini Yogurt

Roasted Carrot and Butternut Squash Tahini Soup with Tahini Yogurt //  Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I’ve been having crazy dreams lately. Actually, I don’t even think the word “crazy” is appropriate. I need new words, like mind-blowingly-weird, redonculous, craztaculuar. Case in point…

Last night I dreamt that I was a midget lesbian that was throwing a dinner party and the guest of honor was Vladimir Putin.  In the dream, I was telling my other guests “hey guys, I know he has kind of been shady lately but, seriously, he’s a great FOODIE!”.  Which as we all know, erases all errors in life. Shyah. The other thing was that this dinner party was going to feature a bit of a Top Chef blind taste-testing challenge. In my dream, I remember thinking how awesome it was going to be that Vladimir got to taste my food blindly because then he wouldn’t judge me on the fact that I was a midget lesbian, he would only judge my awesome food.

Now the secret is out. I’m officially crazy.

So take your best stab at what that means. Do Russian dictators appear in the dream books? I’ll let you marinate on that dream while I move on to more important things…real FOOD. Not just dream food.

Roasted Carrot and Butternut Squash Tahini Soup with Tahini Yogurt //  Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Roasted Carrot and Butternut Squash Tahini Soup with Tahini Yogurt //  Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

The inspiration of this soup is from one of my favorite snacks, carrots + hummus. The carrots, butternut squash, and a few whole cloves of garlic are slow roasted which brings out the roasty-carmelized tastiness that these veggies hold. Then they were pureed with some vegetable broth. That’s it.

Oh. Wait. I almost forgot!!! The winning touch! TAHINI YOGURT! I HIGHLY recommend swirling a dollop of tahini yogurt into each bowl. I really think this would have won my dream blind taste testing challenge with dream Vladimir.  Super nutritious. Super dreamy. Just sayin.

Roasted Carrot and Butternut Squash Tahini Soup with Tahini Yogurt //  Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Roasted Carrot and Butternut Squash Tahini Soup with Tahini Yogurt

Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Anja’s Food 4 Thought

Soup Ingredients

  • 1 lb of carrots, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 to 3 cups of cubed butternut squash
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • pinch of smoked paprika

Tahini Yogurt Ingredients

  • ½ cup greek yogurt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a roasting pan (or line with parchment paper) and set aside. Toss carrot pieces, butternut squash cubes, and garlic cloves with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place onto rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile near the end of the cooking time of the veggies, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until it is translucent. Stir in the cumin and coriander.  Add broth and reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. When the veggies are done, add the roasted veggies to the stock pot. Blend the soup with either an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, until the soup is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Meanwhile in a separate small bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and just a pinch of salt.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a dollop of tahini yogurt, and sprinkled with a smidge of smoked paprika. Mmmmmm.
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Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

Weeks like these deserve stress relieving treats. They deserve a treat that evokes memories of great times, great summers, great friends, and great loves.  A treat worth sharing! Cherish and celebrate those that are with us now.  Treat the ones you love. Treat yourself with….

Homemade ice cream.  Ding Ding Ding!!!!

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I am typically pretty boring when it comes to ice cream flavors. A good homestyle vanilla is always my choice over a triple chocolate chunk or candy bar crammed scoop. I love the simplicity of a deeply intense vanilla ice cream. But step out of my way if fresh strawberry ice cream is available. I will knock down an old woman for it…just kidding…well, unless she had the last scoop. Am I right?

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My favorite strawberry ice cream recipe is from the queen of simplicity, Alice Waters.  Her recipe calls for both heavy cream AAAAND half and half. Double yum. However, this time I used 2% milk instead of the half and half, and felt it was sufficiently creamy. If you can get your hands on a pint of fresh picked strawberries, this ice cream will scream SUMMER with no apologies. And you will be dancing like Beyonce with every bite that enters your mouth. Oh oh Oh oh Oh oh!

But don’t fret…I have a fix for those of us that either don’t have access to fresh strawberries or just can’t wait and gotta have it NOW.

*whisper* Use frozen strawberries.

Shhhhh. I’m serious.

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Thaw out a package of unsweetened frozen strawberries (organic if possible) in the microwave or in the fridge. Throw them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 400 F for about 20 minutes and voila…jammy strawberries that pack a super duper punch of strawberry love. Scoop the strawberries and jammy juice into a bowl and add a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey. Mash up the whole jammy strawberry goodness and allow it to cool in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

After it has cooled, it can be added to the base recipe for vanilla ice cream provided below. Process according to the directions of your ice cream maker.

Although this recipe does take some planning, it is well worth it. So kick your heels up this weekend, make a fresh batch of ice cream, share it, and then take a nap in the hammock.  We all deserve it.

P.S. – Use these steps to make ice cream without a machine.

P.P.S. – For a dairy free version of this recipe, check out Sprouted Kitchen’s coconut milk version.

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Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream (adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar (or maple syrup, or honey)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. If using frozen strawberries, defrost in microwave. If using fresh, quarter the strawberries. Place strawberries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Place roasted strawberries and juice into a bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Allow to cool completely. This can be done in a day in advance.
  2. To make the vanilla custard ice cream base recipe, place egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl and lightly beat, just breaking the yolks. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and sugar to a light simmer. Add a few tablespoons of the hot sugar-milk mixture at time to the eggs to temper them until they are warmed.  Once the egg mixture is warmed, slowly add back into sugar-milk mixture. Cook the egg-milk-sugar mixture over a medium heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add cream, vanilla, and salt. Cool and then chill for several hours (or overnight) until cold. This is the vanilla ice cream base recipe.  You can proceed from here for just vanilla ice cream OR you can mix in fresh or roasted strawberries or whatever your sweet ice cream-loving heart desires.
  3. Place a large bowl in the freezer and have it ready for the ice cream. For strawberry ice cream, mix the mashed strawberry mixture with the vanilla ice cream base mixture.  Add this mixture to the bowl of the ice cream machine and follow the directions of your ice cream maker. My ice cream maker takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Immediately transfer the strawberry ice cream to the bowl that was placed in the freezer. Freeze for an hour or two to harden. Pull the ice cream out of the freezer and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Spring Pea Pesto with Spaghetti Squash

Are you ready to have your mind blown….with peas?

Go get peas right now. Wait…come back. Go get them after I finish telling you about the magic of pea pesto.  Not a fan of peas? I’m begging you to try them again. This is not the mushy pea goosh of your childhood. This is a dish that captures the fresh flavors of spring…peas, mint, lemon…and puts them together in a creamy pesto. I served my magic pesto on a bed of healthy spaghetti squash “noodles.”

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I heart all things pesto…basil pesto, kale pesto, broccoli pesto, pesto pesto. What’s not to love about throwing a bunch of items in a blender, whirling it around, and getting something that will jazz up just about anything. But my heart has been stolen by pea pesto.  Plus it’s uber green and cute.

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I whipped this dish up rather quickly this past week. It would be perfect for a busy weeknight meal. You can use both fresh or frozen peas for the pesto. Reserve about 1/2 cup of peas for serving with the squash “noodles”.  Make the pesto while the spaghetti squash is cooking in the microwave. I think this dish would be amazing with seared scallops or shrimp.

OK, so I now relinquish you to go get peas. Eat up! Spring is here.

Spring Pea Pesto with Spaghetti Squash

Serves 4

*Note – I used cashews to make the pesto a bit creamier. However, walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts would also work in this pesto.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh or thawed frozen shelled peas
  • 1/3 cup cashews*
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. SQUASH NOODLES – Place whole spaghetti squash in microwave for 2 minutes.  Remove from microwave and cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds. In a large microwave-safe glass container, place the two halves cut side down. Pour 1-4/ to 1/2 cup of water into the base of the container (about 1/4 inch deep). Microwave on high for a total of 10 to 12 minutes (depending on the size of your squash). Check on the squash halfway through the cook time. When the squash is soft to the touch, it is done. It will be extremely hot, so allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. Make your pesto during this time. Once it is cooled down, scrape out the insides with a fork to get your squash “noodles.” Set your “noodles” aside.
  2. PESTO – Set aside 1/2 cup of peas for later use. For the pea pesto, place 1 cup of peas, cashews, mint, lemon juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process for 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With machine running, drizzle in the olive oil.  The pesto can be made ahead of time and frozen or kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  3. ASSEMBLY – To construct the “pasta” dish, add the pesto to the cooked spaghetti squash noodles. Stir in the reserved 1/2 cup of peas.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with slivers of mint.  This would also be great with shrimp or seared scallops!

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Sometimes we all just need a cookie.

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Sometimes nothing else cures a long day or a rough week like homemade chocolate chip cookies.

But being gluten free, warm chocolate chip cookies became a ghostly memory that haunted me with melty goodness.  Were they that good? Maybe not. Maybe I just beefed it up in my imagination. Like ALF…I mean really…that show could NOT have been as great as I remember it. A hand puppet alien? Really.  Anyone?

And then my girlfriend Tessa made a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies made with almond flour. I was floored. It was like a hug wrapped up in a cookie. It was soft. It was chewy. It tasted like the real thing! Like the kind that my mom would make on cold winter days.

And then it happened…

I snapped. I couldn’t stop thinking about those COOKIES. Those amazing cookies.

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I woke up in the middle of the night. COOKIES.

I smelled them in my dreams. COOKIES.

I kept coming up with bad excuses to make them. HEY, Let’s celebrate me getting gas in my car! COOKIES? Hey honey, you look great in plaid…COOKIES???  I’m so sorry that you worked on a Saturday….COOKIES?????

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They solved all my problems last week.  I had to hide a few in the freezer so that my cookie-monster husband didn’t eat them all.  So for special occasions I will warm a few up….like “hey, I organized my sock drawer and found most of the missing socks”….Time for a cookie and a milk stout!

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Grain Free Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (slightly adapted from Against All Grain)

Makes 2 dozen small cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (such as Honeyville)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (use Enjoy Life chocolate chips for dairy free)
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, and honey. Whip with a fork until combined and creamy.  Add almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until a dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chip pieces and walnut pieces until combined.
  3. Using a tablespoon, scoop out dough and place on parchment paper or silpat mat on prepared baking sheet. Flatten out cookie dough slightly with either the back of the spoon or your fingers. The cookies won’t spread during the cooking process. Therefore create the shape that you want before you bake the cookies.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees F until lightly browned on edges.  Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on wire rack.

Filling an Empty Glass

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Sometimes it takes getting away to rejuvenate the soul. My husband is a teacher and the end of the year finds him pretty worn thin. Recently, my glass has been nearly empty, leaving me in a cloudy funk. A road trip across America helps us slow down and center ourselves.

So far during our 2012 road trip to South Dakota, it has successfully lifted our spirits. The highlights have included:
1. Hitting a huge male wild pheasant, denting the roof of Annabelle (our 1974 VW camper) and having the poor pheasant lodged in between the poptop shell and the roof of the bus. We still have feathers all over the place. Eeew!
2. Driving through most of the major storms in SD, nearly setting sail and doubling up on wool socks and thermals as the temps plummeted to the low 30s. Thankfully Kiley upgraded us from a campsite to a cabin to escape the oncoming SNOW storm.
3. Coming within 30 feet of a wild bison herd on an evening hike. They stopped eating as we came around the corner and just looked right at us, daring us to come closer….hell no. Kiley tried to maintain Indian-silent footsteps, but I just pooped my pants….not literally. 😉
4. Eating the best bison dishes which includes: bison meatloaf, pulled bison, bison burger, bison tips with eggs, bison jerky, bison smoothies (just kidding)…But seriously, I think I have had my meat allotment for the next month! However, my husband is in caveman heaven.
5. Exploring a huuuuuge cave with awesome geologic features called box works.
6. Roasting marshmallows, playing dominos, and drinking irish coffees and downing multiple bottles of wine with my best friend.

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Also, during this Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to not only remember those that are no longer with us, but also let those that are still here know how much they mean to you and how their presence makes your life better. That will be my mission moving forward because I am one lucky lady.

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