What to Cook This May

ribboned asparagus and quinoa salad

Good morning! I’m publishing this monthly roundup one day early, since Sunday seems to be menu-planning day. I can’t believe May is almost here—that’s cookbook release month! Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered already. You’re the reason why my book has the “#1 New Release in Vegetarian Cooking” banner on Amazon that makes me so happy.

Since I spend so much of my time on the Internet, I often find links that I want to share. I thought I’d offer a few today, and if you like them, we can make it a regular feature in these monthly roundups. On the other hand, if you’re eager for even more cooking inspiration, check out my full May seasonal post here.

Asparagus

Ribboned Asparagus and Quinoa Salad

Gluten free and easily vegan (skip the cheese)

“Made it tonight! Very successful. I flipped the asparagus after a couple of initial peals so I ended up in the middle rather than at the end with a thicker end slice. Also, next time I will cut the asparagus into bite sized bits.” – Steven

More asparagus recipes »

Continue to the recipe…

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The Best Guacamole.

Truly the best guacamole recipe, with lots of guacamole-making tips! cookieandkate.com

I don’t kid around when it comes to guacamole. I already have some fun variations on guacamole on the blog (see my festive pomegranate guacamole and kale guacamole). However, when I brought some basic guacamole over to my friend’s house for a Mexican-themed dinner, my friends kept gushing about it. When I heard, “I wish I could make guacamole this good,” I knew I had to share it.

ingredients

So here is my fool-proof, authentic guacamole recipe that beats my favorite Mexican restaurant’s. I’m sharing it with you today because Cinco de Mayo is around the corner, and also because we’re throwing an online baby shower for two of my blogger pals, Sonja and Alex of A Couple Cooks. After much trial and tribulation, they have adopted adorable Larson. My heart melts every time he appears in my Instagram or Facebook feeds. They live in Indianapolis, so we’re celebrating virtually from around the country, but I’m dying to meet the little guy!

The theme of the shower is healthy snacks, and I know Sonja and Alex will approve of guacamole. There’s no funny business in this guac—no mayo or sour cream or mashed peas. Just avocado, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime, salt, and one special ingredient that you’ll read about below. That’s all you need for awesome guacamole. Read on for the recipe, extensive guacamole tips (like I said, I take guac seriously), and links to other healthy snacks.

Continue to the recipe…

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A Clever Trick for Roasting Nuts

Smoky Paprika Roast Almonds-2

Have you ever roasted nuts with spices and been disappointed that the flavourings stay at the bottom of the bowl (instead of on the nuts)?

Then this week’s recipe is just for you!

Recently I was inspired to try out a new method I’d read about from the very clever Emma Knowles in Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine.

Basically the secret is to use egg white to bind the flavourings onto the nuts. It also helps the nuts stick together into crunchy clusters.

And even better, it gives a fine crunchy coating, instead of the oily vibe you normally get from oil roasted nuts. So delish!

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Smoked Paprika & Rosemary Almonds

I just love love love the flavour of smoked paprika and rosemary together but can’t take credit for the idea. This was inspired by the roast nuts in the fab cookbook from little Sydney cafe, Cornersmith.

makes: 500g (1lb)
takes: 20 minutes
1 egg white
1-2 sprigs rosemary chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
500g (1lb) raw almonds
1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). In a medium bowl whisk egg white until frothy using a hand whisk or stick blender – no need to get your stand mixer out for this job.

2. Add rosemary, salt, almonds and smoked paprika. Toss until well combined. The fat from the nuts will deflate most of the bubbles from the egg white so don’t expect it to look meringuey.

3. Spread almond mixture on a baking tray (I line mine with baking paper for easier clean up).

4. Bake for 10 minutes. Check and stir. If almonds taste toasted, remove from the heat. If you like a darker roast leave in for another 5 minutes or so.

5. Cool. Store in an airtight container in the pantry.

Variations

no smoked paprika – use regular paprika.

different nuts – almonds, macadamias or brazil nuts would be the best substitutes or use a mixture.

egg-free – the egg is the magic which keeps the flavourings stuck to the nuts but if you need to be egg-free replace the egg white with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Shelf Life / Storage

Keeps for 3-4 weeks in an airtight container in the pantry or indefinitely in the freezer. If the nuts start to lose their crunch, you can freshen them up by popping back in the oven on a tray for 5 minutes or so.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. Want to win a copy of my print book ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes?

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I really want to hear from you! What have you enjoyed about Stonesoup? Do you have any ideas how I could make it better? Did you like the sound of this recipe? Let me know in the comments below. The winner for May will be judged on Monday.

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Gluten-Free Banana Oat Waffles

Incredible gluten-free banana oat waffles! These gluten-free waffles require only one kind of flour—oat flour—which is easy to make yourself with old-fashioned oats! cookieandkate.com

If the state of my kitchen is any indication of my mental state (it is), I’m a mess. Cookbook launch anticipation is getting to me! I don’t even have a ton on promotional work on my plate yet, but I’m simultaneously nervous, excited and anxious for you to see it in a few short weeks.

About ninety percent of the recipes in the cookbook are brand new recipes that I’ve been keeping from you for the past two years. Man, I hate keeping secrets, but they were all worth keeping!

ingredients

I wanted the book to be a collection of amazing, everyday recipes that would inspire you to cook every time you flip through it. Or “feel-good favorites,” as it says on the cover. Like fluffy, maple-sweetened blueberry muffins, the best homemade salsa, potluck/lunch-friendly chickpea salad, fresh veggie-packed pastas, mini peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, etc. (For more details about the chapters and special diet info, check here.)

One of the very few recipes from the blog that made it into the book are my gluten-free oat waffles, since they are, hands-down, my all-time favorite waffles, and many of you feel the same. I’ve gotten a number of requests for a banana version. I thought I could replace the pumpkin with banana in my pumpkin oat waffles, but it wasn’t that easy.

Six tries later, I’ve finally nailed it. These waffles are fluffy, light, crisp and infused with banana flavor. They’re also conveniently gluten free, whether you need them to be or not, and above all—delicious. If you don’t have a waffle maker, I have a banana oat pancake recipe here!

Continue to the recipe…

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Creamy Vegan Queso

This vegan queso recipe is ultra creamy and totally irresistible. Even die-hard cheese fans will love it! cookieandkate.com

Queso! I adore it, but I always overdo it, and waddle out of Mexican restaurants with a belly full of cheese. My queso-digesting powers seem to be diminishing rather than improving with age, which is quite unfortunate. So, I decided to come up with a dairy-free version to rival my favorite restaurant’s.

Let’s talk about the ingredients inside this queso. It starts with sautéed onion for ample flavor. Then, Russet potato comes into play, which has a magical tendency to become silky smooth, creamy and a little stretchy once blended. I grated the potato, which is faster than chopping it, and it cooks very quickly that way.

ingredients

Fresh garlic and dried spices offer some complexity and familiar queso flavor. I included onion powder and garlic powder, which might seem redundant, but the combo makes this sauce taste irresistible—that’s a little trick I learned from Serious Eats, along with the potato factor.

Then, add raw cashews for more body and creaminess, and some water, which finishes cooking the potatoes and softens the cashews so they blend more easily. Once cooked, transfer everything to a blender (my Vitamix handles this queso like a champ).

Nutritional yeast offers some umami and “cheesy” flavor/color, and sun-dried tomatoes provide another little umami boost. Vinegar, hot sauce and salt round it out. Once blended to creamy oblivion, stir in some fire-roasted tomatoes (which are infinitely better than Ro-Tel).

Voila! You have the best vegan queso, which is so good that my cheese-eating girls’ night crew couldn’t stop going back for more. My best friend from childhood is coming to town soon and I’m going to make her some, too. We’ve eaten a lot of queso in our years together, but she has realized that dairy doesn’t agree with her skin, so this queso will be the perfect alternative.

Continue to the recipe…

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Hummus Quesadillas!

This hummus quesadilla recipe is simple, quick and healthy, too! Dairy-free and vegan (also gluten-free if you use gluten-free tortillas). Get the recipe at cookieandkate.com

Yesterday was not my day. I made a very dumb, very expensive mistake yesterday, and I need you to tell me you have made some very dumb and expensive mistakes before, too. I hit the side of my car against… a pole. A stationary pole.

To be fair, the turn requires a sharp right past the pole, and there is no curb to protect cars from hitting the pole. Yet, I have driven by this pole 100 times without hitting it before. It happened in broad daylight outside my favorite local health food store, as I was on my way to buy these tortillas.

ingredients

This is what insurance is for, right? I called my mom, drove home and put these very expensive tortillas to good use. I made quesadillas, with hummus instead of cheese! Did you know that’s a possibility? I stumbled upon this idea after I tested out a vegan version of the quesadillas in my cookbook using vegan sour cream (also in my cookbook).

As a dairy eater, trust me when I say that that vegan sour cream recipe is absolutely delicious. I often prefer it to the usual dairy options because it’s lighter and plant-based. Anyway, it worked so well that I wondered afterward, “Could I make quesadillas with hummus, too?” Yep!

Continue to the recipe…

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Crispy Broccolini & Chickpeas with Cashew ‘Ricotta’

Crispy Broccolini & Chickpeas with Cashew 'Ricotta'-2

A few weeks ago I was chatting to my fabulous assistant, Caroline about a sale I was planning for Soupstones, my done-for-you meal planning service. Caroline knows each meal plan inside out because part of her job is to create the downloadable PDFs that are sent out each week from the meal plans I write on the website.

She mentioned that this year she’s been using the meal plans on a regular basis. I was curious to know how she was finding them so asked if she’d mind me interviewing her about her experience.

Over to Caroline and her husband Phil…

When you use Soupstones Meal Plans how are things different for you?

Caroline: I love that I don’t have to prepare a shopping list and decide what we’re eating the weeks I use Soupstones. I use them when I’m in a rush and don’t have time to prepare a meal plan and shopping list before doing my groceries.

Phil: It makes it easy to know what I’m preparing for dinner on the nights I cook. I know how long it’s going to take which makes organizing my evening with the kids much easier.

What specific features of Soupstones Meal Plans do you like best?

Caroline: I like the variation. When I prepare my own meal plan I tend to cook things I know the kids will eat. When we use Soupstones plans it can be hit or miss with the kids but Phil and I enjoy trying something different.

And of course the shopping list. I simply like the fact I don’t have to decide what is for dinner.

Phil: I like that it lists the time it will take to cook. (Note from Caroline: Phil only ever sees the print friendly version as I usually print that out and put it on the fridge.)

I also like that we get a bit more variation when we do the meal plans.

Would you recommend Soupstones Meal Plans?

Caroline: I have recommended Soupstones and have had a few friends try them when you offer a discount. I find that they aren’t great for families with small kids if the kids are fussy and will not eat many of the meals. I don’t use the meal plans as they arrive week to week but choose particular plans that will work with the kids.

(Saying that I do have a friend in Canada that many years ago won a lifetime membership for Soupstones. She has 3 small kids and still uses the meal plan every week.)

Phil: I do recommend it but usually only to singles or couples (not to families for the same reason as Caroline). In conversation when someone tells me it’s to hard to prepare meals for one or two people, I tell them about Soupstones where the meals are almost always for two.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Caroline: When I do use the plan I sometimes wish it was for 6 dinners and not 5 so that I didn’t have to work out the extra meal or two. I think the layout is great and I love that I can find the plan on my phone if I need to get something and don’t have the list with me.

We don’t often make the sweet treat.

Phil: Sometimes the portions aren’t enough. I’m a meat lover so we always add the carnivore option to the vegetarian meals.

Sound like something you’d like to try?

Then you’re in luck…

I’m having a quick 50% OFF Easter Sale.

The sale ends in less than 48-hours.

To make sure you don’t miss out, go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

“I’ve been using your meal plans and recipes and in just two months I feel like a new person. I’ve gained confidence in the kitchen I could’ve never imagined, saved tons of money, and as a surprise bonus, lost almost 15 pounds! I couldn’t possibly thank you enough for what you are doing.”
Shannon, Soupstones Member.

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Crispy Broccolini & Chickpeas with Cashew 'Ricotta'-3

Crispy Broccolini & Chickpeas with Cashew ‘Ricotta’

This was inspired by farmer and fellow veggie lover Andrea from the Dishing Up the Dirt. I really love one tray dinners like this. Just pop everything in the oven, set your timer, make the sauce and you’re good to go.

enough for 2
takes 30 minutes
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
2 bunches broccolini
200g (7oz) cashews
4 tablespoons lemon juice + extra to serve
handful pine nuts (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F). Place chickpeas and broccolini on a baking tray. Drizzle generously with oil and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

2. While the chickpeas and broccolini are cooking, cover cashews with boiling water and stand for a few minutes.

3. Drain cashews and place in your food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup water, lots of salt and 4 tablespoons lemon juice. Whizz until you have a smooth creamy sauce, scraping the sides down a few times. Give it at least 5 minutes. Gradually drizzle in the olive oil with the motor running. Taste and season with more salt and lemon, if needed.

4. When the broccolini stems are tender and the edges nice and crispy, sprinkle over pine nuts (if using) and pop back in the oven for a minute or so.

5. Serve your roast with cashew sauce on the side and a little extra lemon juice squeezed over.

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Variations

family-friendly – chop a sweet potato into chip pieces and roast in the oven for 10 minutes before adding the chickpeas and broccolini. Soak a handful of raisins in boiling water, drain and toss in at the end.

carnivore – serve as a side for grilled or pan fried chicken, fish or pork chops. We had it with chicken kebabs the other night and it was lovely. Or slice some chorizo or other spicy sausage and add with the chickpeas.

more substantial / carb-lovers – add chopped root veg to roast for 10 minutes before adding chickpeas and broccolini. Serve with warm pita or other flat bread.

paleo / no-chickpeas – replace with 1/2 head cauliflower chopped into florettes.

different veg – feel free to use any veg you like, just chop into bite sized pieces before roasting. Broccoli is great and if it’s asparagus season where you live that would be my pick!

nut-free – skip the cashew sauce and pinenuts and serve with hummus, goats cheese, labneh or home made mayo instead.

With love,
Jules x

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ps. Not sure if a meal planning service will work for you?

The only way to find out is to try it! You can cancel your membership at any time with one quick email.

And the Easter Sale ends in less than 48 hours!

To make sure you don’t miss out, go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

Still not sure?

Here’s what Donna said about her experience:

“I’m loving it! It makes week nights less stressful, frees up mental space as I’m not stressing over what to cook – and it’s keeping our meals healthy.”
Donna, Soupstones Member.

For more details use the link below:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

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Avocado Pesto Toast

Simple and delicious breakfast/brunch recipes: avocado pesto toast with a fried egg! cookieandkate.com

This post is brought to you by eureka!® Organic Bread.

I have a couple of friends who don’t love brunch. Blasphemy, right? I love a late, long, lazy brunch, when time allows. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I’ll opt for a savory option.

There’s so much room for creativity when it comes to standard vegetarian breakfast/brunch ingredients: eggs, toast, veggies, tortillas, beans, etc. The possibilities are endless, and I have a few favorite local restaurants that offer creative veggie options.

ingredients

I’ve been thinking about the standard egg and toast brunch option, and came up with my own version that is neither bland nor boring. I whipped up an avocado-based pesto spread in my food processor. It’s infinitely more exciting than a pat of butter (sorry, butter!).

Toast can only be as awesome as the bread used to make it, so I opted for my favorite store-bought organic whole grain sandwich bread, which is made by eureka! Organic Bread. I found it at the nearest grocery store to me. This simple avocado toast is delicious as-is, or you can top it with eggs and a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes. Either way, it’s a great snack, breakfast/brunch, lunch or dinner.

Continue to the recipe…

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Coffee Chocolate Chip Blondies

INCREDIBLE chocolate chips blondies recipe, made healthier with coconut sugar and whole grain flour. cookieandkate.com

I’ve been meaning to tell you about these blondies for a long time now. They’re from my friend Sarah Kieffer’s book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. She has a similarly titled blog called The Vanilla Bean Blog. These blondies are outrageously tasty.

I feel like I’ve committed a crime in keeping them to myself. I could offer you a bunch of excuses. Like, her book got lost on its way to me last fall; I got a cold and couldn’t get my act together enough to share them in time for Valentine’s Day; I tried to save them for when you might be looking for an indulgent treat to share (Easter!); I came home from a long trip with jet lag and a ruptured eardrum. Cute, right?

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I’m just plain guilty. Sarah’s book is full of beautiful baked treats, the kind that you make when the calories are easily justified by the special occasion and you’re looking for that I’m-gonna-die-this-is-so-good response. Sarah is a skilled baker and you just know her recipes are going to be stellar. This one certainly is.

Since you all have come to expect healthier treats on my blog, I couldn’t help but make a couple of tweaks to her recipe by substituting whole wheat flour for the all-purpose, and coconut sugar for the brown sugar. I included her original ingredients in the recipe below as well, in case you’d rather make it as she designed. Either way, these chocolate chip pecan blondies made with a splash of coffee are worth every bite.

Continue to the recipe…

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Quick Strawberry Muffins

Quick Strawberry Muffins

Even when I was working in product development for Arnotts (Australia’s largest cookie manufacturer), I don’t think I did as much baking as I’ve been doing in the last few weeks.

Yes my oven has been getting a good workout. As has my camera and my taste buds!

There haven’t been any complaints from my little men.

Finbarello (my 1-year-old) was very happy to gobble up a whole Quick Strawberry Muffin for breakfast on the weekend. Without throwing a single crumb on the floor. Now that’s saying something!

One of the best parts about my exploration into low-carb / sugar-free baking is that I don’t worry about giving my boys things like muffins for breakfast because I know they’re actually getting loads of nutrition without a big sugar hit. Especially when they think it’s such a treat. Win win!

Anyway before we get to this weeks toddler-approved recipe, I have a small favour to ask…

I’m putting the finishing touches on my new baking book and I’d love to get your opinion.

To help out, just share your thoughts in this quick survey:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2CLQWF8

I’m really looking forward to seeing what you think!
___________________

Quick Strawberry Muffins
(low-carb / gluten-free)

Normally I prefer to weigh my ingredients when baking because its quick and so much more reliable. But occasionally its nice to just use a spoon to measure everything.

Its also nice to only make a small batch of treats so you don’t have any ‘oh-so-tempting’ leftovers lying around! This recipe is perfect for that because it makes two dainty serves. They’re really delicious though so I’ve included the quantities for a larger batch in the variations.

If you’re not a stevia fan, see the ‘variations’ for alternative sweetener options.

makes: 2
takes: 30 minutes
6 tablespoons almond meal (40g / 1.5oz)
3 tablespoons yoghurt (60g / 2oz)
2 tablespoons oi1 (30g / 1oz)
1 egg
1 tablespoon granular stevia* (15g /0.5oz)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
4 strawberries, dehulled and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 holes of a 1/2 cup muffin tray with muffin papers or squares of baking paper. Or grease two small mugs, ramekins or tea cups.

2. Combine almond meal, yoghurt, oil, egg, stevia, baking powder and vanilla (if using) in a small bowl.

3. Spoon the mixture into your 2 prepared holes. Top with strawberry chunks.

4. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the muffins are deeply golden brown.

5. Cool in the tin.

Variations

extra strawberry! – double the strawberries and stir some in with the mixture before filling the muffin pans.

*important note about stevia! – there are 4 types of stevia:
1. Pure Stevia Powder – looks like icing (powdered / confectioners) sugar. It’s expensive but a tiny amount goes a long long way. We’re talking 1/2 teaspoon or less to sweeten a whole cake. This is what I normally use, however for the small batch of these muffins I use granular stevia because it’s hard to measure a really small amount of the pure powder.
2. Granular Stevia (like Natvia or Truvia) – looks like regular white sugar. It’s a blend of erythritol and stevia. Usually 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia powder = 10 tablespoons (150g / 5oz) granular stevia.
3. Fresh or Dried Stevia Leaves – from a real stevia plant! I haven’t baked with them but they will behave similar to the pure stevia powder. Just add to taste.
4. Liquid stevia. I haven’t used this. But add to taste.

no stevia – use you favourite sweetener… Honey, maple syrup, xylitol or white sugar! Just add and taste until you’re happy with the sweetness level.

sugar lovers – use 2 tablespoons sugar instead of the stevia. If you like things on the sweeter side add more.

bigger batch – to make 8 muffins you’ll need 160g (5.5oz) almond meal, 240g (8.5oz) yoghurt, 120g (4oz) oil, 4 eggs, 60g (2oz) granular stevia* OR 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia powder (see note above), 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 16 strawberries. Baking time will be the same.

dairy-free – coconut yoghurt or coconut cream instead of the yoghurt (or use your favourite dairy-free milk).

nut-free – replace almond meal with ground sunflower seeds.

different flavourings – chunks of chocolate are a nice addition as are blueberries or raspberries or other ripe fruit.

no yoghurt – If I don’t have yoghurt I use whole milk or cream instead.

Shelf Life / Storage

I like these best on the day they’re made. Can be kept for 1-2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge. Keeps for months in the freezer.

With love and thanks!
Jules x

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ps. Like to win a copy of my print book ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes’?

All you need to do is leave a comment anywhere on Stonesoup and you’ll be in the running for the monthly prize of a free copy of my print book, ‘5-Ingredients, 10-Minutes’.

The and the winner of the ‘commenter of the month’ prize for April is Maggie H!

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