Freekeh with Basil-Cilantro Pesto and Grilled Pineapple Skewers

Grilled pineapple and bell pepper with herbed whole grains! This simple meal is packed with flavor. cookieandkate.com

This post is brought to you by Bob’s Red Mill.

Do you still have bad dreams about forgetting your locker combination on the first day of school? Or your class schedule? I do. Sometimes, in my dreams, the campus turns into a giant maze and I can’t get from one place to another without encountering obstacles everywhere along the way.

I have similarly bad dreams about waiting tables. I can’t make it to the computer to input my orders and wake up shouting, “SALAD!”

freekeh and pineapple

Such was the case with this recipe. After two semi-successful recipe tests, I made one more trip to the store to stock up for the finale. I ambitiously filled my basket with produce for future photo shoots and headed home to take Cookie on a walk.

Shortly thereafter, my back started aching. An hour later, chills. I dragged myself to bed with an extra blanket and woke up the next morning in a feverish, mummified state. Recipe testing was put on hold for a day while I slept on the couch with my four-legged nurse.

Continue to the recipe…

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Summertime Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh tomato sauce spaghetti recipe - cookieandkate.com

“What do you do for a living?” they ask. I never know how my response will go over or which questions will follow. Most often, the questions are, “How did you get into that?” and, “where do you get your recipes?” On a recent flight, I got a bold, “How do you make money doing that?!” from my seat mate. All fine questions, mind you.

fresh tomato sauce ingredients

I never have a good answer to the recipe source question. Typically, the recipes are a composite of ideas from restaurant meals, magazines, other blogs, cookbooks and suggestions from friends and readers. Sometimes I wake up with ideas; sometimes they pop into my head when I open my refrigerator; sometimes they come to me when I’m deep in conversation during happy hour. I always try my best to give credit where credit is due.

Continue to the recipe…

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The Secret to Learning to Love Peas(or any vegetable)

Irresistable Mashy Peas

I hate peas.

Actually, I should rephrase that. I used to hate peas. Ever since my mother forced me to eat them, I’ve had a few pea ‘issues’.

I’ve always known my pea phobia was totally irrational. And I often wished I loved peas like my Irishman does.

I’d gotten to the stage where I did’t ‘freak out’ whenever they were served. And I thought this was as good as things were going to get.

But recently I came across a recipe for Mashy Peas which rocked my world.

And turned me into a pea fan.

Never. Say. Never…

3 Steps to Learning to Love Any Veg

1. Find the right way to prepare them.
I’m convinved that 90% of our food dislikes come from never having the particular ingredient prepared in a way that best suits it (and us). So if you don’t like boiled peas, maybe my Irresistible Mushy Peas (below) will do the trick like it did for me.

This isn’t fool proof. I keep ordering tripe in fancy restaurants where you’d think they’d make it taste amazing. Still yet to find tripe I enjoy… but I’m working on it (at a very slow pace).

2. Keep trying.
I’ve read it can take 8-10 exposures to new flavours before we ‘acquire’ the taste. So if something doesn’t work for you, just try again in a few weeks or months. And be prepared to try again. And again.

3. Be kind.
There are no prizes for loving all vegetables (as far as I know). So there’s no need to beat yourself (or any stubborn toddlers in your care) up if you can’t bring yourself (or them) to love [insert vegetable nemesis here].

As I’m only too aware, forcing yourself (or others) to eat vegetables you don’t enjoy tends to cause more harm than good.

____

Irresistible Mushy Peas


The first time I made these peas it was more something that I thought my Irishman would enjoy. But he wasn’t alone! I couldn’t get enough of this verdant green mash. So good.

Inspired by Sydney based chef, Colin Fassnidge from his brilliant book Four Kitchens.

enough for 2 as a side
takes: 20 minutes
1 small onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 bag baby spinach
250g (9oz) frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 teaspoon stock powder (optional)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1. Pop onion and butter in a medium saucepan and cook, covered on a medium heat until the onion is soft but not browned. It will take about 10 minutes and best to stir a few times.

2. When the onion is soft, add the baby spinach and peas and cook, stirring for the few minutes it takes for the spinach to just wilt and the peas to warm through.

3. Remove from the heat and puree to a rough mash using a stick blender (or transfer to your food processor).

4. Add stock powder (if using) and vinegar. Stir well. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper.

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Variations

dairy-free / vegan – replace butter with olive oil.

less ingredients – skip the spinach and add extra peas.

no vinegar – use a splash of lemon juice instead.

less butter – by all means use less but I find butter makes most veg so much more tasty. Which means you’ll be more likely to eat more veg… surely more healthy than skimping on the butter!

fresh peas – by all means use freshly podded peas but they’re much more work and unless you’re growing your own, unlikely to taste better than frozen.

Video Version of the Recipe.

What about you?

Got any vegetable ‘pet peeves’? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below…

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Wish you cooked at home more?

Then keep an eye out for the ‘Soupstones Dinner Challenge’! More details next week :)

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15 Cold Summer Treats

15 cold summer treats, from popsicles to cocktails to ice cream! Get the recipes at cookieandkate.com

First things first! Cookie and Kate is hiring a local kitchen assistant. We’re in Kansas City. After five years of doing it all myself, I’m so excited to bring on some help. Details here! Also on that front, if you’ve noticed the site loading slowly lately, it should be fixed now. Growing pains. :)

As the temperatures near 100, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite cold treats. Cocktails, ice cream, frozen yogurt and popsicles galore! Most are fresh, fruity and naturally sweetened, too. What are you craving?

Continue to the recipe…

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Cucumber Mojito

Super refreshing cucumber mojitos! Learn how to make them at cookieandkate.com

Long summer days are the best, aren’t they? Ninety-plus temperatures can be draining, but I never stop riding the summer wavelength. I love it. I love the buzz I feel inside and the echo of the creatures buzzing outside. I love the summer thunderstorms that rattle my little house with thunder. One is rolling through right now, flexing its muscles in distant booms and waves of rain.

cucumber mojito ingredients

When the sun is shining down, I love to sit on a patio and sip on an ice cold and clinking, fizzy drink. This cocktail is perfect for that. I thought minty mojitos couldn’t get more refreshing… until I added cucumber, that is. It lends some marvelously complimentary, fresh flavor without fighting the mint. Break out that muddler, because mojito season is officially here!

Continue to the recipe…

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5 Ways to Eat More Veg (especially when you don’t feel like it)

Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash-3

I‘m not a fan of ‘hiding’ vegetables. Even with a toddler in the house who is becoming more and more a fan of the word ‘No’.

Basically I believe that vegetables taste delicious when prepared properly and ‘sneaking’ them into things sends the wrong message.

But recently I was talking to my best mate in Melbourne and she made me reconsider my stance on stealth veg…

About 4 months pregnant, my friend was really worried because she had completely lost her taste for eating vegetables. She knew she should be eating loads of fresh produce but the thought of broccoli, kale or salad was leaving her cold.

Which got me thinking about my favourite ways to eat veg that don’t feel particularly ‘healthy’. I hope you find this helpful next time you have a fussy pregnant lady (or 2 year old) in the house…

5 Stealthy Ways to Eat More Veg

1. Add an onion
There are few nicer smells than an onion sweating down with a generous dose of butter. Apart from adding beautiful flavour, they’re a great source of inulin, a type of fiber that’s brilliant for feeding the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut.

2. Use tomato puree or canned tomatoes
Tomato based sauces can be really comforting. If the acidity is a bit too much for you it’s easy to balance it out with a generous glug of olive oil or butter before serving.

3. Cauliflower mash.
Cauliflower is a wonderful veg to have up your sleeve because even though it looks all white and tastes fairly mild, it packs just as much of a nutritional punch as broccoli. One of my all time fave ‘comfort food’ ways to eat my cauli is pureed into a creamy mash. To be honest I prefer it to potato mash but I may just be the only one in my household who does!

4. Cauliflower ‘rice’ or ‘couscous’.
My other fave ways to use cauli. Cauliflower ‘rice’ is just raw cauliflower grated in the food processor. So easy and so good! For a healthier alternative to couscous see this recipe.

If the thought of using cauliflower straight up is too much for you, you can always substitute half / half with steamed rice or couscous.

5. Include legumes.
Chickpeas, lentils and dried beans all count as a serve of veg. Another reason I choose them over grains (which don’t count as a serve of veg, even whole grains).

What about you?

Got any stealthy ways to include vegetables in your cooking? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash

This is pure comfort food for me… A creamy rich mash with spicy chickpeas. But the best bit is there are 4 serves of vegetables! And you wouldn’t know it to taste.

If you’re not familiar with Baharat, don’t worry, I’ve got alternative spices listed in the variations below.

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes
1/2 medium cauliflower, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon baharat (see below for alternative spices)
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
4 tablespoons tomato paste

1. Bring 2cm (1in) water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add cauli and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes or until cauli is really tender. (Be careful not to let it dry out and burn – add more water as needed).

2. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a small frying pan. Add onion and cook over a medium heat until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.

3. When the onion is soft add the spice, chickpeas and tomato. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt and pepper.

4. When the cauli is cooked, drain and return to the pan you cooked it in with the remaining butter. Puree with a stick blender or mash well with a fork.

5. Serve spiced chickpeas on a bed of cauli mash.

Variations

different spice / no baharat – Baharat is a lebanese blend of 7 spices and a favourite of mine. The best substitute is to use equal parts ground cumin, ground coriander and smoked paprika. Or try curry powder or garam masala for a more Indian vibe. I also like to use the Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout

carnivore / paleo – Replace chickpeas with ground (minced) beef of lamb. Brown well before adding the spice and tomato.

more veg – add a chopped carrot and celery stick to the onion. Serve with loads of fresh herbs such as mint, coriander (cilantro) or parsley. Add a handful of frozen peas with the chickpeas. Serve everything on a bed of baby spinach.

vegan / dairy-free – replace butter with olive oil or coconut oil.

different legumes – replace chickpeas with white beans, black beans or cooked lentils (you need about 250g / 9oz cooked legumes).

extra protein
– add a handful of cashews to simmer with the cauli.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Is cooking at home something you wished you did more?

Then keep an eye out for the ‘Soupstones Dinner Challenge’ which will be coming in a few weeks.

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Berry Spinach Salad with Spicy Maple Sunflower Seeds

Simple summertime berry spinach salad - cookieandkate.com

I don’t have enough simple salad recipes on this blog. That’s the verdict I came to while flipping through my own salad archives looking for inspiration. Meal-in-a-bowl salad situations are plentiful, but simple side salads are lacking. Sometimes you’re tasked with making the green salad for a summer potluck and you want to make something special, you know?

berry spinach salad ingredients

Here’s my summer side salad solution. Chopped spinach, plenty of fresh berries (I used raspberries and blueberries, but chopped strawberries would be another great option), tangy goat cheese and a zippy balsamic dressing.

Combine all that with some skillet-toasted, candied maple sunflower seeds and you have a fantastic summer side. Just be sure to wait until you’re ready to eat before you toss the dressing with the rest of the salad, since the spinach wilts relatively quickly on contact.

Good! I’m glad we cleared that salad void for this season. I have some exciting projects in the works (stay tuned!) and a to-do list a mile long, but a side salad is no longer one of them. As always, please let me know how you like it and be sure to tag your Instagram photos #cookieandkate so I can hunt them down! I love to see what you’re cooking!

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Homemade Salsa Verde

Homemade salsa verde, so fresh and simple, by @cookieandkate

Sometimes I have to remind myself that simple is best. Scratch that—I’m always reminding myself that simple can be better. It’s hard for us analytical perfectionist types to keep things simple. To let them be. To give up control over the outcome and accept that so many variables are outside of our reach.

Let’s take this salsa, for example. It was originally a component in a healthier seven-layer dip concept, but the salsa blew the dip out of the water. One part, on its own, was so much better than the other six combined. Then, I made it a couple more times, with the same ingredients, but each time, it tasted a little different.

Salsa verde ingredients

That’s just what happens with a simple recipe made with natural ingredients. You can pick up each tomatillo, squeeze it to gauge ripeness and peel back the husk to look for bright green skin, but you don’t know how flavorful it really is until you taste it. Add eleven more tomatillos to the mix, plus jalapeño that may or may not be crazy spicy, plus onion and cilantro of varying freshness, and you’ll never make a batch of salsa that tastes quite like another.

It will, however, be delicious, fresh and so much better than the salty jarred varieties. I can guarantee that much. That’s the beauty of simple recipes made with fresh, natural ingredients—they’re inevitably awesome. Don’t over think it. Trust the recipe. Adjust to suit your taste buds.

Continue to the recipe…

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My Month of ‘Quitting’ Sugar…

Turmeric Tea-2

Each month I like to choose 1-2 habits to focus on for improving my health. For a very long time, ‘quitting sugar’ has been on my list, but for some reason I kept putting it off.

My main rationale was that I normally only have sugar once or twice a week. Surely I didn’t have a problem with it?

But there was something in my hesitance to give up the white stuff which made me curious. So in April I committed to quitting sugar for a month.

Before I share my experience lets have a look at some of the reasons why sugar has been getting such a bad rap lately…

Why is sugar so bad?

1. It gets stored as fat.
Regular table sugar (sucrose) is made from half fructose and half glucose. Most people in the ‘quitting’ sugar camp are focused on the negative effects of fructose. Basically the concern is that fructose can only be digested by a special pathway in the liver which stores the fructose directly as fat. Without giving us a chance to ‘burn’ it for energy first. Ouch.

2. It gets stored as fat.
Yes, repeating myself here! But you know the glucose that makes up the other half of table sugar? When it gets digested it goes into the blood stream and when the levels get high enough, insulin is released to help bring blood glucose (sugar) levels back to a safe range. Whenever insulin is around the glucose is getting stored as you guessed it… our old nemesis fat.

3. It feeds cancer cells.
I was really interested to learn last year that the only source of fuel that cancer cells use is glucose. Preliminary studies have shown that reducing the amount of glucose in the body reduces the incidence of cancer. For more on this see Potential Tactics for Defeating Cancer. It’s fascinating stuff.

So did I manage to quit sugar?

Actually no I didn’t make it through my month sugar-free.

There was one night when we had friends over. I’d asked them to bring dessert and was planning on sitting it out. But when the time came, it felt wrong to not at least taste the lovely apple pie. Which was delicious for the record.

It did surprise me because normally I’m happy to say no to the sweet treats in social settings.

But apart from that, I made it through the month.

How did it make me feel?

To be honest I didn’t really feel any different at the end of the month. But given my regular sugar intake it pretty minimal, I wasn’t surprised.

The only positive I did notice was that normally my weight does up after a weekend of sugary indulgence and returns to normal around Wednesday.

But during my sugar-free weeks I didn’t have any of these spikes.

What I learned

My experience confirmed my suspicion that sugar is a little like alcohol. Definitely not good for you in large quantities. And definitely good fun.

I also think that just as some (unlucky) people are prone to becoming alcoholics, there are some people who are more likely to suffer from sugar addiction.

And that just as there are people who can enjoy 1-2 glasses of wine a day in a healthy way, there are people who can treat sugar in a similar manner.

I feel like I’m not in the ‘sugar-holic’ class. Although wine is a whole other story for another day 😉

—-

Turmeric Tea

Why turmeric? As I mentioned in my post about anti-cancer foods, turmeric is a super powerful anti-inflammatory and has been shown to decrease tumour growth in lab tests.

A hot cup of something spicy and slightly sweet is just the thing to ward off sugar cravings. Or when you feel like a treat that isn’t going to way you down and may actually do some good!

makes: enough for about 12 cups
takes: 5 minutes

4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons granulated stevia
1 tablespoon ground ginger (optional)
milk, to serve

1. Make the tea ‘mix’ by combining the cinnamon, turmeric, stevia and ginger (if using) in a jar or other airtight container. Keeps in the pantry for months.

2. To make your ‘tea’ place 1-2 teaspoons of the mix in a cup. Top with hot water and a splash of milk. Relax and enjoy!

Variations

dairy-free – use your favourite nut milk instead.

richer – instead of using boiling water use hot milk.

no stevia? – replace the stevia in the mix with sugar OR skip it and serve the tea with 1-2 teaspoons of honey stirred though after adding the milk.

fresh or dried stevia – skip the granulated stevia and add a few leaves to your cup when making the tea.

What about you?

Is sugar something you struggle with? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Big love,
Jules x

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Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

Sun-dried tomato pesto pasta with roasted vegetables, a simple and veggie-packed weeknight meal! cookieandkate.com

This post is brought to you by DeLallo.

I had an all-American weekend full of good friends and food, punctuated by flashes and booms. It was overwhelmingly fun. You know what I mean? Since we’re all in the same boat, I thought I’d share my three-day holiday weekend recovery plan with you today.

Here it is: organic whole grain pasta, tossed with tons of roasted veggies and homemade sun-dried tomato pesto. It’s fresh, filling and leftovers keep well for lunch. Just what the doctor ordered.

sun-dried tomato pesto pasta ingredients

Sun-dried tomato pesto has been on my list for ages now, so when my friends at DeLallo asked me to create a recipe that highlights their fantastic sun-dried tomatoes, I knew just what to make. Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes are perfect for pesto, since you can pour all of that delicious, tomato-infused extra-virgin olive oil right into the food processor.

My pesto is a riff on traditional basil pesto, with sun-dried tomatoes in addition to fresh basil. Sun-dried tomatoes are super rich in umami flavor, so they easily fill the place of Parmesan, although you can certainly add some cheese if you’d like.

Continue to the recipe…

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