Smoothie Style Chilled Strawberry Soup

I am not a fan of chilled soups so when I found out that this month’s Kosher Connection  Link-Up theme was chilled soup I was slighlty intimidated.  After enlisting my creative juices I came to the decision that if I like smoothies I should like a soup that somewhat resembles a smoothie – and I was right!  This strawberry soup is quite refreshing, mildly sweet, creamy and delicious. I was inspired by this recipe that I found on the blog deliciousshot.blogspot.com. It’s also super simple to make.

Strawberry Soup Ingredients: 

  •  2 tbsp coconut sugar – you can read about the benefits of coconut sugar here
  •  1 lb strawberries – rinsed and sliced
  • 1.5 cup low fat coconut milk (the canned version)
  • Juice from half lime
  •  Zest half lime – for garnishing
  • Creme fraiche – for garnish
  • Black pepper – to taste
  • Fresh Mint

Strawberry Soup Instructions:

Step 1: Place strawberries in a small bowl and add lime juice, a few sprigs of fresh mint and coconut sugar.  Cover with saran-wrap and let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill and so the flavors can marinate.

Step 2: Once marinated, remove mint leaves and toss the strawberries with the juice and coconut milk in a blender.  Process until smooth.

Step 3: Pour into small serving glasses and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, a sprinkle of lime zest and black pepper.

Step 4: Eat in a sunny spot.

Creme fraiche is such a nice and decadent addition to this soup.  It  can resemble sour cream in texture but with a slighly nutty flavor and a little bit of tang.  It also goes well with the tartness and bite of the limes.  Plus the white color just looks so pretty against the pink.

Health Points: Mint not only adds a cooling freshness to this dish but it also comes with many health benefits.  One of it’s benefits is that it promotes digestion by activating the saliva glands in our mouth and the glands which secrete digestive enzymes.  So soup up! We enjoyed the soup on our rooftop after a day of running, softball, and biking.

xxxx TeamZ

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “Chilled Soup” recipes.

Garlic Crouton Kale (Yeah) Salad

For this month’s link up the theme was croutons.  I happen to love the crunch of croutons in salads, soups, or even as a plain snack.  While there are several ways to make croutons,  I prefer mine pan-fried because this creates a crouton thats is crispy on the outside but moist on the inside.  However, if you prefer a crouton that is crunchy throughout, then use an oven to make and bake your croutons.  I like to use pumpernickel bread for my croutons because I love the texture and flavor of this hearty and bold bread.

These garlic-infused croutons are packed with flavor and super delicious.  They paired perfectly with my kale salad. I like the dressing I created for this salad, but if you are a Caesar dressing fan – which I am not – I think that would actually be a great dressing for this salad.  Matt and I first started eating Kale several years ago when we joined a CSA.  We got an exorbitant amount of kale on a bi-weekly basis, which truly tested our creativity: kale chips, kale salad, kale soups … kale ice cream. Just kidding..  This is when Matt developed his saying “Kale Yeah”.  He still thinks it’s funny years later.

Garlic Crouton Ingredients

  • 2-3 slices of day old pumpernickel bread
  • 2 tablespoons high oleic safflower oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced

Garlic Crouton Instructions

Step 1: Stack the bread slices on cutting board and remove crusts from each side. Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Step 2: Heat safflower oil in skillet over medium heat with garlic slices. Tip: Safflower oil has a high smoke point (not easily damaged by heat) and is an ideal oil to use when cooking over medium to medium high heat.

Step 3: Add in bread.  It will need approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.

Step 4: Remove bread and garlic slices and transfer to a  paper towel lined plate to drain. Season with salt and sprinkle with parsley while still hot.

Kale Crouton Salad Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale- washed and dried and tough stems removed. 
  • Shaved parmesean cheese (said in an Italian accent)
  • Homemade garlic croutons and fried garlic slices from above
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Kale Crouton Salad Instructions:

Step 1:  Place olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice, dijon mustard, apple cider, and honey in a jar.  Whisk together and set aside.

Step 2:  Here is the #1 tip when making a kale salad.  Are you ready?

The kale needs some TLC – place kale in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.  Then massage the kale mixture for 3-4 minutes.  You will notice that the kale begins to soften and will reduce by approximately half.  The kale should look a little shiny and the green a little brighter.

See pic for before and after:

Step 3: Toss in parmesan cheese to your liking and drizzle salad with dressing.  The nutty tone of the parmeasean and the mildly bitter tone of the kale= great combo.

Step 4: Top with croutons, fried garlic slices, and dig in.

Health points: Kale is high in vitamin A and C. Safflower oil is high in monounsaturated fat which helps keep HDL cholesterol (the good one) high.

xoxx Team Kale Yeah

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “Crouton” recipes.

ABC (Avocado+Banana+Coconut) Vegan Ice Cream

OK I have to admit I belong in Ice Cream Addicts Anonymous. I can seriously eat ice cream every day – snow or sunshine.  In an effort to limit all of the preservatives I consume with store bought ice cream, I decided to make my own unprocessed version.  Sorry Edy’s slow churned – I know you will be losing a lot of business.

What was the inspiration behind the ingredients? Simply, things I had around the apartment.  Here is a tip: buy a bunch of bananas, peel, and freeze.  I almost always have bananas at hand to throw into smoothies or other banana-related items.  As for the avocado, I watch a lot of Iron Chef America (best show ever) and they always seem to be putting things you wouldn’t expect in the ice cream maker. So why not avocado? let’s start adding some healthy fats to our ice cream!

Kitchen Gadgets: Here at the TeamZ Ponderosa, we seem to be collecting kitchen gadgets by the minute.  We may need to leave NYC because we will soon outgrow our kitchen.  I guess that is why we have space under the bed right?! So I made this recipe 2x once with an ice cream maker and once without.  It came out awesome even without the ice cream maker- I promise. I had it taste tested by cousin Andrew and BFF Atara (and of course the hubby- but he likes everything I make..or at least that’s what he’s contractually obligated to say).  Without the ice cream maker it has more of an ices texture, while the ice cream maker creates a more lasting creamy feel and appearance.

Ok enough talk. Here is the recipe.  As you can tell I am super passionate when it comes to my ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado- pit removed
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 13.5 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Place all ingredients in blender (except for chocolate chips)
  • Once blended transfer to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions
  • Mix in chocolate chips
  • Transfer to air tight container and place in freezer

If you do not have an ice cream maker – after blending transfer to air tight container and place in freezer.  Remove from freezer about every 30-45 minutes and stir with spatula or whisk.  Keep checking and stirring periodically until frozen. The pictures were taken of the non-icecream maker version.

xoxo Ice Cream Addicts

Brie and Raspberry Grown-up Grilled Cheese

When I was thinking of “the best thing I ever ate” for this month’s link-up theme, foods that fall in the “comfort” category came to mind. To me, grilled cheese is a classic comfort food which brings back memories of childhood lunches – especially when nothing else would satisfy my discerning taste buds. As an adult however, my palette has expanded long past plain macaroni with ketchup and Ritz crackers with cream cheese. That being said, my grilled cheese needs a grown up boost!

Giada De Laurentiis has a recipe for a mozzarella, jam, and brown sugar panini that I once tried and have never been able to get out of my mind. Today though, I have chosen to augment some of the ingredients and go with a brie, raspberry, honey, and rosemary panini on ciabatta bread: my adultified and (somewhat) healthified version of grilled cheese.

Brie cheese is mild and sweet, which I feel goes great with fresh berries and honey. And because I am a fresh herb junkie, rosemary is a must in this sandwich. You can just smell the delicious, fresh aroma released as you chop it up. The ciabatta bread, which we bought at a 100 year old staple of the Upper East Side, Orwasher’s Bakery, is light, airy and fresh. The exterior of the bread is dusted with flour and makes for an outstanding panini bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • honey for drizzling
  • 3 oz brie cheese
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary- chopped
  • whole wheat ciabatta loaf or rolls
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat panini press.

Step 2: Mash fresh raspberries in a bowl with 1 tsp of honey.

Step 3: Layer raspberry mash and brie cheese on one side of the ciabatta bread. Sprinkle rosemary over the raspberry and cheese.

Step 4: Sandwich the bread slices together and use a pastry brush to spread a little olive oil on both sides of the bread. Drizzle the top with honey.

Step 5: Gradually press down for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden and crispy.

If you don’t have a panini press you can use a grill pan.

Health points: Rosemary contains vitamin A, manganese, calcium, and iron. Raspberries are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

So eat up!

p.s. prior to this sandwich matt told me he does not like brie cheese- I showed him!

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “best thing I ever ate” recipes.

Spinach and Strawberry Spring Salad

strawberry 8x10

IMG_6992

When the weather gets warmer it means we move our workouts to the outdoors and add some fruit to our salads. My sister Jeni’s spinach and fruit salad is the perfect way to start off a springtime lunch! Strawberries are key in this salad since it is now peak strawberry season and they add a delicious burst of flavor. If you are a sweet and salty person, crumbles of feta cheese is the perfect addition.

Ingredients:

12 strawberries: stem removed and sliced

1/2 red onion- thinly sliced

1 avocado- sliced

1lb spring mix or spinach

handful of toasted and chopped walnuts – this adds a nice crunch to the salad

6 oz feta cheese – adds a nice salty flavor.

1 garlic clove, minced

1tbsp honey (Jeni uses sugar)

4 tbsp mayonaise low fat: although I am not a fan of using mayo I think it is fine in moderation, plus this addition really enhances the salad.

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of black pepper

Instructions:

Place spinach, strawberries, avocado, onion, and walnuts in a large bowl.

Whisk together honey, mayo, balsamic and garlic – drizzle on salad.

Finish it off with fresh pepper, toss, and dig in.

Serves 6-8 sweet and salty people

My sister makes this salad wherever she goes and it is always a hit! Here is a pic of the salad being made at my bachelorette party with the addition of mango. So make it for your friends and family and enjoy!

xoxo luvin fruit in salad season

Passover Friendly Pesto Spaghetti

I find that on Passover I eat a ridiculous amount of carbs – from matzah pizza to chocolate lollipops – and I end up feeling really weighed down. This year I will try to make an effort to eat healthier and hopefully not feel the need to detox after the holiday.

I heart spaghetti squash all year round but it is especially perfect for Passover.  It is a great no carb, low calorie, and gluten free food with which you can easily substitute your pasta.

I also like to be creative with my pesto. Basil and pine nuts are not requirements, but  when making a pesto, you can just as easily pick and choose based on what ingredients you have in your house. All you need is a green fresh herb + a nut + garlic + olive oil. Classic pesto has parmesean but it is not necessary.

Ingredients for Cilantro Spinach Pesto:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp toasted almonds (toast on un-greased pan over medium heat, and stir until golden brown)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  •  pinch of salt and black pepper

Instructions:

Combine all pesto ingredients in food processor except for the olive oil. Finely chop and then stream in olive oil.

Tip:  Double the recipe and place in cube tray, then store in the freezer for future use!

pesto-cilantro spinach

Ingredients for Pesto Spaghetti Squash:

  • 1 spaghetti squash

  • spinach cilantro pesto from above
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Pierce squash with a knife in several places. Cook for 50 minutes – until squash is easily pierce-able with a knife.

I prefer to cut my squash after it is cooked – I find it much easier!

3. Let cool for 15 minutes.  Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to scoop out seeds and discard. Then, using your fork, pull strands of squash away from peel and place in bowl.

4. Heat an olive oil coated skillet. Add spaghetti squash strands, pesto, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly to heat and combine.

Serve immediately. Feel free to garnish with toasted almonds, and if you want to go dairy, sprinkle some parmesan cheese!

xoxo getting creative with passover and pesto

Dare to Go Hazel-nuts: Homemade Hazelnut Milk!

For the most part I do not purchase milk.  I use soy, coconut, or almond milk instead of cow’s milk.  In general I have been trying to limit the amount of dairy in my life. I think we were not designed to drink and digest the milk of other animals.  AND I have watched way too many documentaries- Hungry for Change, Reboot with Joe, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated…

Since moving to the upper east side, one of my many health-oriented discoveries was the Green Bean Cafe, conveniently located only a few blocks from my apartment. http://www.beangonegreen.com/index.html  They serve vegan and organic food in this adorable, warm, and friendly cafe.  One of my favorite things that I have picked up from the shop is freshly made almond milk- they make it daily! I was inspired and feeling adventurous and decided to make my own homemade hazelnut milk. If they can do it- why can’t I?!

Although it takes some advanced planning it is super simple and doesn’t require any fancy kitchen supplies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 2 dates
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Agave Nectar
  • Water for soaking
  • 3 cups water for blending
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil- melted (it is solid at room temp)

Kitchen Gadgets:

  • Blender
  • Fine Mesh Strainer/ or cheesecloth

Soak the hazelnuts overnight for 12-24 hours.  Soak the dates overnight in a separate bowl of water

Drain the hazelnuts until the water is clear and discard the soaked water.

Save the date water!

                  Toss the hazelnuts into your blender with 3 cups of water.  Blend on high speed until nuts are completely pulverized.

Strain the milk with a mesh strainer or cheese cloth- this makes it nice and smooth. Place the pulp aside.

tip: Use a spoon to press down on the pulp to help release the milk

Pour strained milk back into the blender. Remove the pit from the dates (I used medjool dates) and add dates to blender. Pour in about 1/4 cup of date water. Add cinnamon and agave nectar.

Slowly Poor in coconut oil at a steady stream while blender is whirling.

Blend until completely smooth. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Serve on ice. You can also keep it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a few days. Makes approx 3 cups.

Go out for a run and then drink up.

Nutritious, creamy, raw, vegan, and delicious! 




Ahh what about all the pulp?

I used it to make hazelnut flax seed crackers in our dehydrator.  It can also be used in cookies and cakes.

This is my first time ever using our dehydrator so I will post dehydrating recipes when I feel more confident in this department.

Here are some pics:

And the final Result:

Wasn’t exactly going for the cardboard look but the taste is good and practice makes perfect.

xoxo nutty for hazelnut