Cauliflower Celery Soup.

I don’t have a picture of this because while I was contemplating taking one, I finished it. Next time, swerr! This is 100% kid-approved. My firstborn, who is classically picky, slurped his portion right up before I even had a chance to convince him to try it. Win! Pro tip: put anything into soup you want, puree it, and your kid will probably eat it. It’s like a warm smoothie. The things I’ve gotten my kids to eat because it was unrecognizable…

You’re going to see “season with salt” at every single point of this recipe. It’s probably going to get annoying, but it’s important to enhance the flavor of all the layers of this soup for a few reasons: 1) potatoes and cauliflower are huge salt suckers, 2) you’re not using vegetable stock, which comes already seasoned, and 3) it’s a big damn pot of soup, and big damn pots of anything are gonna need a little salt. When I say “season lightly with salt,” the amount I mean is probably between 1/4-1/2 tsp at a time. If you taste the soup at any point before it’s totally done, it might taste a little watery, but hold off on final seasoning until you’re about to eat it. You’re less likely to biff the batch with an overload of sodium that way. (I speak from [very bad] experience.)

Last but not least, I didn’t add a lot of herbs to this soup because I wanted the flavors of cauliflower and celery shine. Something I do to release the oils (oils = flavors) of the dried herbs is rub them between my fingertips before sprinkling them in the dish. Adding them before adding the water allows the heat to hit them directly, therefore toasting (toasting = flavor) them and giving you more flavor punch.

1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 large head cauliflower, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
8 stalks celery (center is best), coarsely chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper
Olive oil and parsley to garnish

Put 2 quarts water on to boil. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, saute onions over medium-high heat 4 minutes in 3 tbsp olive oil. Season lightly with salt. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more, seasoning lightly with salt. Move onions and garlic to edges of pot and drop in potatoes, allowing to lightly scorch on the bottom of the pot. Add bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and 1/2 tsp salt and stir frequently for 2 minutes. Dump in cauliflower and celery, season with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables soften a little bit. Pour in hot water and 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and puree soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a traditional blender). Taste; add 3/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper and adjust salt if necessary. Reheat if desired; serve hot in bowls garnished with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of parsley.

Vegan Broccoli Spinach Walnut Pesto.

I have a few addictions: 1) coffee, 2) thrift stores, 3) shoes, 4) peanut butter, 5) … 5328945372) hiding vegetables in my kids’ meals. I don’t always need to hide the veggies as both my kids readily eat most things, but hello, addictions don’t usually make sense. What I’ve found is most pesto recipes out there include Parmesan, and that’s not our style. My sister was all, “Just throw stuff in a food processor, and it’s pesto!” Never one to back down from a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants recipe challenge, I did just that, and it turned out great. Green goddess noodles for the win! I should note a few things: I used frozen broccoli, so it was pretty easy to puree once it was lightly cooked. I also salted the water the broccoli cooked in, so you may need to adjust your salt accordingly.

1 c walnuts
1 lb broccoli, lightly steamed
1 c fresh spinach, packed
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
~ 1/2 c-3/4 c olive oil

In a large skillet, toast walnuts over medium heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and cool. Pulse toasted walnuts in food processor until they resemble a cross between gravel and sand. Add broccoli and pulse until the mixture is uniformly pasty, stopping to scrape the sides occasionally. Add spinach, garlic, salt, and pepper; puree. With the food processor running, start slowly pouring in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. You may have to pause to taste and scrape every once in a while. Serve with noodles or on pizza! Freeze leftovers.

Meatballs.

These are bona-fide carnivorous balls of meat. No lentils in the vicinity! I like them because they require the tiniest list of ingredients and pass my kids’/husband’s taste tests. I’ve used regular pork sausage but have settled on Italian turkey sausage because the one I buy has no nitrates. I think it’s simply a preference thing. So go bold! Go meatballs!

Meatballs:
1 lb sausage, casings removed (if necessary)
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c dry red wine
1 can tomato paste
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt to taste
2 lbs pasta

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Set aside. Using your hands, combine sausage, ground beef, salt, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder in a large bowl until just combined. Do not overwork! Shape into 1-1 1/2″ balls. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I use my cast iron enamel dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place 1/3 of the batch of meatballs in oil and sear the outsides of them, turning so each side gets browned. Do not cook through. Remove meatballs from pot and repeat with remaining batches. Set meatballs aside. Toss onions and 1/4 tsp salt into oil and saute until wilted, about 4 minutes; add garlic and saute 1 minute. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pot while wine reduces. Stir in tomato paste and toast it, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt, stirring to combine. Gently place meatballs in sauce and bring to a high simmer; reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 20-25 minutes, gently stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through. Season to taste, if necessary. Serve with pasta.

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Cornmeal Pancakes.

I looked at my archives (something I should probably do more often, it turns out) and found I have another cornmeal pancake recipe that I claimed was the best ever. It probably is pretty great, but I have zero memory of it. So if you’re just joining the fun, choose what you like or just stick with this one. They both work! This recipe achieves the texture I look for in a cornmeal pancake. I like tasting the graininess of the cornmeal, and the savory quality offset just slightly by the honey is perfect. We ate them with chili like you would eat cornbread with it, but change the setting and they make a great addition to breakfast or an appetizer spread!

2 c cornmeal
2 1/2-3 c boiling water
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 c honey
1/4 c vegetable oil

Dump cornmeal into a large bowl. Slowly pour boiling water over cornmeal, allowing the water to hydrate the granules. Using a spoon, gently stir mixture to make a paste, being sure all the cornmeal is moistened. Allow to sit 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto a well-oiled heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat, spreading the batter out to make a flatter cake. Flip pancakes when slightly browned just around the edges and flatten with the spatula. Cook about 1 minute more and remove to a cooling rack placed on a tray in a warm oven. Serve hot! Can be used as an appetizer with a savory salad on top, or to compliment chili.

Green Muffins.

Oh, here she goes again: making a perfectly wonderful breakfast food into a sideshow of hippie proportions. DEAL WITH IT. These green babes are fabulous! Their Irish hue makes me oh-so-happy. I especially enjoy the simple ingredient list. I made these dairy-free and gluten-free using almond milk, oat flour, and a gluten-free flour blend, but I think the ease of this recipe lends itself well to using any all-purpose-type flour you have. Bake these on St. Patrick’s Day forevermore! You’re welcome. Many thanks to this recipe for the inspiration and guidance!

1 c oat flour
1 c gluten-free flour blend or all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c coconut oil
3/4 c milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 6-oz bag fresh greens (I used arugula; the original recipe calls for spinach; use what’s in your fridge)
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 bananas
2 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk together flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a blender, pulse milk, maple syrup, and coconut oil until oil is emulsified, about 5 pulses. Add greens and pulse 10-12 times and then then blend until smooth. Toss in bananas and vanilla; blend 10 more seconds or until mixture is smooth. Add green mixture to flour mixture and gently fold ingredients together until flour is mostly moistened. Pour into lined or greased muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until tops are a tiny bit golden and muffins are set. Enjoy hot! Makes about 1.5 dozen.

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Made these. Ate 4 of them. Pooped 4 times the next day. The fiber content of coconut flour is real, folks. Beware!

1/3 c coconut flour
1/4 coconut oil, melted
Scant 1/4 c maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temp
1/4 c dairy-free chocolate chips

Whisk together everything but the chocolate chips. Batter will be runny for the first 30 seconds but will dry up as the coconut flour absorbs the liquid. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and shape into cookies with hands, making sure to flatten them. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 2 minutes before enjoying.

Belgian Waffles.

I made these waffles and then smothered them in strawberries, bananas, whipped cream, and chocolate hazelnut spread. HIGHLY recommend it.

2 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/2 c oil
2 c milk

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In yet another bowl, mix together egg yolks, milk, and oil. Add yolk mixture to flour mixture and combine completely. Fold in egg whites until homogenized. Cook on a hot, greased Belgian waffle iron until golden. Serve topped with everything you can think of.