Category Archives: Healthy Recipes

Roasted Beets, Radishes, Squash and Green Beans with an Orange-Dill Vinaigrette [Recipe]

I consider recipes to be inspiration, not gospel. This next recipe, a roasted veggie salad, is intended to be a template, not a prescription. I had beets, radishes, summer squash, green beans, dill and oranges on hand. But PLEASE substitute anything you might have.

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Since learning about Specialty Produce at this event, we have since ordered their Farmers’ Market Box twice. I’m definitely a fan. You can see a sample below. If you use the group code BABYBIRD when signing up, you will automatically have $2 taken off each box. For $20 – or $18 for you – it is a generous amount and variety of produce. I don’t receive any kickbacks, per se, on your purchase, but it is possible I will get invited to more of their events, so letting them know I sent you is very much appreciated! Enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post to receive a box for FREE.

If you have been a long time reader of this blog, you may remember my focus on the produce of our yard… see this early post on a Three Sisters Succotash, for example. But with the current drought, we have really let most of our garden go. Sadly, for the first time in seven years, there is no summer harvest. Having fresh, local finds from Specialty Produce’s CSA-type box is proving to be the next best thing.

Example of a Specialty Produce Farmer's Market Box

For this particular box, I ended up hitting the road right after getting it to take the Little Birds up to my sister’s house. I didn’t want the produce to go to waste, so I threw it in the car with us. As luck would have it, she had plans for us to go to her friend’s BBQ and asked me to make a “veggie side.” I found some delicious blood orange olive oil in her cupboard, which I used for both roasting the veggies and the vinaigrette.

baby beets from #specialtyproduce

Aren’t those little beets pretty?

Roasted Beets, Radishes, Squash and Green Beans with an Orange-Dill Vinaigrette
 
Author:
Recipe type: Easy
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Seasonal cooking: take what you find in your Farmer's Market Box, from the CSA, or your backyard, cook simply to highlight the freshness and toss with a light vinaigrette. I list the ingredients I used, but please improvise.
Ingredients
Roasted Veggies
  • 1 bunch of baby beets
  • 1 bunch of Easter egg radishes
  • 1 pound of summer squash
  • ½ pound of green beans
  • ⅓ cup of blood orange olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
Vinaigrette
  • ⅓ cup of blood orange olive oil
  • juice of ½ an orange
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ½ cup fresh dill, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400* F. Peel and chop all of the veggies. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 30 minutes or until fork tender. (I added the green beans half way through.)
  2. Mix the oil, vinegar, orange juice, salt and pepper. Toss on the veggies when slightly cooled. Top with the chopped dill.
  3. Enjoy!

What are your favorite ways to enjoy summer bounty?

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Shrimp Stuffed Peppers (What We Are Eating Now)

Mild Anaheim or Poblano peppers are roasted, peeled and stuffed with a quick filling of shrimp and gooey cheese. Served with a fresh red pepper and tomato sauce, or a green tomatillo salsa verde, they make the perfect dinner alongside rice and beans.

shrimp stuffed peppers

I am experimenting with a new post format: just a quick look at what we have been eating. I have such a backlog of photos and recipes, and never enough time to write up the posts. I wanted to play around with a quick post, without writing up a full recipe. Maybe the photos and descriptions will inspire your next dinner? Please let me know what you think. I’ll be happy to share the recipes if requested. For tips on roasting the peppers, see this post on Spanish Tuna Stuffed Peppers.

shrimp stuffed peppers

Red Velvet Cake with No Food Coloring

Happy Valentine’s Day! I shared the other day on my mental health blog about loving one’s self. Here I’d like to share one way to love someone special. Bake a cake! And if you are concerned about not feeding your family artificial dyes and ingredients, here’s one way to have your cake and eat it, too. I have made red velvet cupcakes before using beets to color them. This Valentine’s I tried out a red velvet cake with no food coloring.

red velvet cake with no food coloring

Last week I was helping Little Bird with a science kit, and we were learning about acids, bases, and ph. We experimented with adding acidity (in the form of citric acid and vinegar) and baking soda (with is alkaline) to water colored with red cabbage powder. The acid made it more vibrantly red and the base made it more purple. No wonder red velvet has something acidic like lemon juice and/or vinegar in it! It also made me wonder if too much baking powder was the reason the red velvet potato bundt cake I tried to make came out purple/brown. (I love learning more of the science behind baking.)

red velvet cake with no dye

I consider this more a recipe review than a super polished recipe. But I wanted to share none the less. I have only made it one time, and would tweak it some more to make it a little lighter. I used the suggested cream cheese, but found it way too dense, for my preference. I would replace that with buttermilk, and use more eggs. I reduced the sugar by half, in both the cake and the frosting. Next time I might play around with non-refined sweeteners.

Red Velvet Cake with NO Food Coloring

5.0 from 1 reviews
Red Velvet Cake with No Food Coloring
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
 
This recipe makes a dense red velvet cake, colored by beets and without any food coloring or dye.
Ingredients
  • 2 large beets (enough for 1 cup puree)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese or 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons natural raw cocoa powder
  • 2 recipes cream cheese frosting
Instructions
  1. This recipe is adapted slightly from a post from sophistimom. I did not change her method, so follow the link for the instructions. Here are my notes, however:
  2. Starting with raw beets seems more labor intensive, but my past results using packaged, pre-cooked and peeled beets did not work as well.
  3. My Vitamix did not process the beets well, as it wasn't full enough or liquid enough. My old Kitchen Aid food processor worked great, and I wish I would have started with it from the beginning.
  4. I found it too dense and heavy with the cream cheese. I suggest buttermilk, which I will use next time.
  5. I used 4 eggs as called for in the original recipe. Next time I will increase it to 6. My mom suggested separating the eggs, beating them separately to give it more leavening from the egg whites, and then folding them in.
  6. For the frosting, I made a double batch of my Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, omitting the cinnamon and pumpkin.

Chestnut Tart with Fresh Winter Fruit (GF, Vegan, Low Sugar)

I accepted another cooking challenge from Melissa’s Produce! This box arrived with beautiful winter fruit including Korean pears, mandarin oranges, and red grapes. It also included a package of steamed and peeled chestnuts. I learned making a chestnut bundt cake that prepping chestnuts can be a pain in the butt. But I also learned how delicious chestnut puree can be. I used the same gluten-free cashew/almond crust I made up for a lemon meringue tart (using my meyer lemon curd.) It can be made with butter, but this time I used coconut oil, which inspired me to make the whole tart vegan. Normally I would’ve considered mixing the chestnut puree with some whipped cream, but coconut oil and coconut milk made for a delicious vegan chestnut cream. By sweetening with only a little maple syrup, the whole delicious dessert qualifies as practically health food!

Chestnut Tart with Winter Fruit  (GF/Vegan/Naturally Sweetened)

This post was sponsored by Melissa’s Produce, who supplied the featured ingredients free of charge. Recipe and opinions are my own! The box also included steamed beets, potatoes and a copy of “DYP’s The Perfect Everyday Potato Cookbook.” Among the inspiring recipes was a chocolate potato cake. I experimented with a red velvet potato cake. Unfortunately, it fell far short of being blog worthy. Sometimes I can spin a failure, such as my zucchini bread pudding, but there are also many, many recipes that just don’t make the cut. Being a recipe developer means taking risks. I only share the best of the best recipes — ones I want to make again and hope you might want to try, too.

pressing crust into chestnut tart

Fortunately, this chestnut tart was a keeper! If you, like me, look for opportunities to bring your children into the kitchen, this is also a perfect dessert recipe. This tart crust is simply pressed into the pans. No finicky pastry dough or rolling out. My three-year old enjoyed pressing the dough. She loved decorating the tarts with the fruit, and sampling the fruit as she went along.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chestnut Tart with Fresh Winter Fruit (GF, Vegan, Low Sugar)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: vegan, gluten-free, naturally sweetened
Serves: 5 4" mini tarts or one 11" tart
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A gluten free almond and cashew crust holds an irresistible chestnut cream. Topped with fresh seasonal fruit. Using only a little maple syrup to sweeten yields a winter decadence you don't have to feel guilty about.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup cashew meal
  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 6.5 oz peeled, steamed chestnuts
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon organic lemon zest

  • 3 cups fresh fruit, such as mandarins, korean pears, grapes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, cashew meal, almond meal and salt. Using your hands, press the mixture into one 11 in tart pan or 5 4 in individual tart pans. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely.
  2. In a food processor, mix chestnuts, coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup and lemon zest until very smooth. Add additional milk if necessary.
  3. Spoon the chestnut cream into the cooled tart shells and smooth the top. Decorate with fresh fruit. Can be enjoyed immediately or refridgerated up to 3-4 days.
Notes
I like using a food processor better than a blender. Even though I have a fabulous Vitamix, my old kitchen aid processor does a better job with thick and sticky chestnuts.

See what my fellow San Diego Food Bloggers came up with. Continue reading

Butternut Squash, Chick Peas and Black Rice with a Clementine Shallot Vinaigrette

We finally have fall weather here in San Diego and I’m enjoying autumn vegetables. This side dish features butternut squash, chick peas and black rice, and is warm and cozy. The clementine vinaigrette gives it a sweet bite and pine nuts make it extra rich. I love the bright and warm combination of citrus and fennel. To me it tastes sunny and cozy and wintery all at once.

Butternut Squash, Chick Pea and Black Rice

A fellow food blogger invited me to participate in a recipe challenge from Melissa’s. Melissa’s sent us a box of fresh and seasonal produce and we were challenged to come up with a recipe featuring at least 2 or 3 of the items, sort of like “Chopped.” Fresh Produce from Melissa's (FCC Disclaimer: I received the box for free, but have not otherwise been compensated. Opinions and recipe development are entirely mine.) I immediately gravitated to a beautiful butternut squash, pine nuts and cranberries. Unfortunately, Little Bird also gravitated to the cranberries… and ate the entire bag in a few minutes.

Butternut Squash, Chick Pea and Black Rice1I decided to add the garbanzo beans for extra protein. I usually cook with dried beans, and start from scratch, but the convenience of the vacuum sealed beans was nice and the taste was a step up from a can. Apart from throwing the rice in the rice cooker, the only “cooking” was chopping and roasting the squash.  Little Bird enjoying shaking up the vinaigrette in a jar.

Butternut Squash, Chick Pea and Black Rice

Keep reading for a printable recipe plus more fall dishes.
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