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An invigorating start to July

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July is the month where you truly believe it is summertime, isn’t it? An abundance of fruit and vegetables screaming to be harvested! It’s as if the stores, the farmer markets and gardeners can’t give away enough of their produce fast enough. Fine by me!

But it can become boring, eating the same thing over and over, doesn’t it?  What if you decided to stir things up, and see how else you can consume it? That’s what I did with portabella mushrooms. I love it grilled, roasted, cut up, mixed into pasta, and side dishes. The other night, I was in the mood for pasta, but not for red sauce or white. What’s left? Olive oil and fresh herbs? Been there, done that. I also spied a beautiful portabella cap sitting in the fridge, waiting to be used. Then it hit me: if I could make a sauce with cashews, why not mushrooms? It turned out to be a delightful surprise, that had my Mom raving!

The best part? I used what I already had lying around the kitchen. Now I realize, the ingredients I used probably aren’t what you can find in every kitchen. I just love using what I already have, instead of letting it go to waste.

Portabella Mushroom Sauce with Thyme

Portabella Mushroom Sauce with fresh thyme

1 portabella, chopped

3 shallots,  chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

olive oil

1/2 cup golden sherry

1 1/2 cup vegetable broth, separated

1/8 cup quinoa flour

5-10 sprigs of fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1.) Sautee onion and garlic in a saucepan with olive oil. When golden, add mushrooms until cooked. Approximately 5 minutes.

2.) Put the mushroom mixture in a blender, add sherry and 1 cup of broth. Puree. After you’re done, return to the pan.

3.) In a separate bowl, mix flour into 1/2 cup of the remaining broth.

4.) Add the creamy broth to the saucepan, and blend. Cook until it’s about to boil. Add fresh thyme (the leaves only). Season to taste.

5.) Serve over pasta, or anything you would normally eat mushrooms with: rice, meat, or even vegetables. Maybe even replace the ketchup in your hamburger?

Want a twist? Dice up another mushroom, and cook it as well, add it to the sauce after it’s been made. Chunks are preferred by some!

Quinoa Salad

Cucumber and fresh dill salad

Fresh strawberries, kiwi, honeydew and blueberries

In the last few days, I was fortunate enough to have access to the internet and it’s chock full of recipes to try! Quinoa salad with roasted root vegetables, cucumber and dill salad, and even lemon basil sorbet! The latter blew my mind away.

Let the summer inspire you with its’ surplus!

A nutty surprise!

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I was looking for inspiration the other night, and I wasn’t getting any ideas. Also I wanted to use what I already had in my kitchen. So I looked around the pantry and refrigerator. I noticed I had a bag of roasted and salted cashews from Trader Joe’s. I also had jalapeno in the vegetable drawer. I still wasn’t get struck by anything, so I decided to look around online. I found a recipe that called for cashews but I didn’t quite like the recipe itself. So I wrote down a few ingredients and added the rest.

The result? An amazing sauce that complimented the fresh sugar snap peas and broccoli over a bed of brown rice, highlighted by a side of cut up avocado. A definite keeper, both my boyfriend and I agreed. It’s well worth the effort, I tell you! It might seem like much, but the truth? It was quick and easy to make. A little buck for a huge bang? Oh yes. That’s my kind of cooking!

Cashew Sauce

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 TBSP olive oil

1 heaping cup of roasted, salted cashews (I used Trader Joe’s, they use rice bran oil which gives it a unique sweetness!)

1 jalapeno, chopped (PLEASE use fresh, since otherwise you will miss out on the flavor)

32 oz vegetable broth (I used Pacific Natural Foods Organic Vegetable Broth, Low Sodium)

1/4 cup coconut flour

1.) Sautee onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in the oil in a sauce pan (you’ll need a good-sized one since the sauce will end up in this), until the onions are golden.

2.) Puree the mixture in a blender with cashews, jalapeno, and 2 cups of vegetable broth.

3.) Return to saucepan, and the rest of broth, stir in coconut flour with a whisk to ensure that it is evenly distributed. You want it to be creamy, without any clumps of flour in your mouth!

4.) Pour sauce over whatever you feel that this will be a great addition to. My recommendations? Fresh green vegetables such as broccoli and sugar snap peas over brown rice! It’s great over burritos as well. Be creative! Garnish with whole cashews for an elegant presentation.

Cashew sauce served over brown rice and fresh green vegetables

This was a great surprise, having it taste as delicious as it did. I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect, but I do know one thing; I definitely will make it again!

Know what else is great about this? It’s a vegan sauce that is also gluten-free, corn-free and soy-free! And it’s great as leftovers, so you can keep on adding it to whatever dish you want to enhance, until you run out.

Let me know how you like it!

A sauce that makes me swoon

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Yet another promising day at the farmer’s market! This time I went to a different town’s, that was located on their commons. It was beautiful, seeing all of those tents with smiling people standing underneath each ones. Watching them share advice, recipes and most of all, their excitement about their food. The strawberries and rhubarb were in abundance! I couldn’t resist the urge to pick up a quart of fresh local strawberries and a pound of rhubarb.

In the kitchen, after washing the red jewels, I took a bite out of one. I let out a prolonged mmmmmm, indicating my pleasure with the fruit. Looking down at the fruit, I was delighted to see how red it was on the inside. Normally when we buy strawberries at the grocery stores, typically imported from California, they have white flesh on the inside. What a difference does it make!

Growing up, my father always cut up strawberries and rhubarb, and threw it in a large sauce pan, pouring in a bit of sugar and water. Then he would leave it on the stove top, cooking as he chopped away, preparing our dinner. The result was a enticing sauce that was absolutely heavenly. A bite of the sauce always forced me to close my eyes, and slowly sway to the music it made. I wanted to create the same moment on my own in the kitchen.

Fresh strawberries and rhubarb cut up, in the pan

Stirring after adding a few ingredients

The sauce of summer that makes me dance

It was very simple to make. I didn’t use any exact measurements, but if I had to venture a guess, the recipe would read as below:

1 pound fresh rhubarb, chopped

1 quart fresh strawberries, cut up

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix all in a large saucepan, and cook on medium heat until throughly mixed. You want the rhubarb soft. This should take approximately 15 minutes. Take care not to burn it! This often happens when my Dad was distracted cooking something that required his attention. My way of knowing that it was ready? When I can’t stop sneaking tastes while making it.

It’s great on its own, over ice cream or enjoy it the way I did: with breakfast, over my pancakes. No maple syrup needed! For the pancakes, I used Elana’s Pantry’s pancake recipes. It’s highly recommended!!!

Pancakes with strawberry rhubarb sauce

Swooning yet? If not, I at least hope you’re running down to the farmer’s market to see what treasures you can uncover!