Creamy Spring Vegetable Soup with Sorrel and Sunchokes

A creamy (yet vegan) soup that’s perfect for the very beginning of spring.

Creamy Spring Vegetable Soup with Sorrel, Sunchokes and Roasted Asparagus (Dairy-Free!)

Creamy Spring Vegetable Soup with Sorrel, Sunchokes and Roasted Asparagus (Dairy-Free!)

If you’re not hitting farmer’s markets in your area yet, have faith, you will be soon. Really. And this soup is just the thing to celebrate the very beginning of the season – still a little chilly, cloudy, rainy (or even downright snowy in some regions, I know), but with green shoots of hope juuuust starting to emerge. Hunker down with a dish of this cozy vegan comfort, and start planning your garden. …

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Cilantro Veggie Curry with Veggie Sauce

Nothing but goodness in this all-veggie curry with veggie sauce, plus extra veggies.

Cilantro Veggie Curry

Cilantro Veggie Curry with Veggie Sauce, plus extra veggies with veggies on top.

 

This is the perfect warm, mildly spicy dish for January, as it fits into just about ANY health-conscious approach to eating you can think of. It’s vegetarian. It’s vegan. It’s gluten and dairy-free. It fits with paleo, Whole 30, and all other manner of dietary reset plans. Even if your only resolution was to eat more vegetables, period, this fits the bill and then some. Bottom line, it’s absolutely packed with vegetables and vegetables only, save for the spices and broth – the sauce itself is made from pureed veggies that are incorporated into the dish itself.  You cannot go astray with this one.

I fist discovered a version of this in Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat, and have been tinkering with it for years. My latest additions are golden beets and cilantro, plus a touch of turmeric, all of which brighten the dish up. This iteration isn’t terribly spicy – you could certainly add more cayenne if you like, or more heat in another form. Add it to your meal in any of the aforementioned approaches. …

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Cranberry Orange Nut Cookies Cookie Exchange and Cookies for Santa’s Milk Drive

Cranberry Orange Walnut Cookies

All the Christmas flavors in one little cookie.

Let the Christmas cookie season begin!

This cookie packs so many holiday flavors into one little cookie: cranberries, orange and walnuts. They truly are packed with flavor, and so many wonderful textures.

These cookies are dairy free as well, so you can serve them up to even the vegans on your cookie list!

Christmas is the one time of year that I do actual baking, so I need recipes that are easy and no-fail, like these cookies. I promise you will not be disappointed – they are like a burst of sunshine in your mouth!

We are thrilled to be joining the Cookie Exchange put together by Liz Latham at Hoosier Homemade – please visit these food blogs for their fabulous recipes!

Christmas-Cookie-Exchange-2014-Round2

And, cookies are just so much more delicious with milk, as any kid can tell you. Did you know that milk is one of the items which food banks never get enough of during the holidays? Please consider donating to Santa’s Milk Drive this holiday season by visiting santasmilkdrive.com and donating a gallon of milk.

Santa just might put you on the “nice list” if you do!

holiday_featured_thumb_0

Happy Cookie Days, All!

– posted by Donna

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Easy Fourth of July Recipes for Your Patriotic Party Needs

Patriotic Cookie Tarts

Easy enough for a preschooler to make. And – Pretty enough for a fancy picnic.

So if you come to my house anytime in July – and. really, who am I kidding? August, too – you will see red white and blue decor everywhere. Little Uncle Sams and Betsy Rosses abound. Flags in various shapes and sizes. And, I LOVE making red, white and blue food. Isn’t it nice of Mother Nature to produce red and blue fruits for us on the Fourth of July???

So, here, food fans, is two of our favorite from right here at Apron Strings. Easy. Last minute. Festive. Flavorful. (( No saluting required! ))

How about these Red White and Blueberry Cookie Tarts that you can even make with tiny kids! Can’t wait for Little Miss Ruby to get old enough to make these with me! (And, yes, I pointed that out so that I could post a cute pic of my little grand darlin’)

Ruby Fourth of July

Itsy Bitsy Betsy Ross!

And finally, I am re-sharing these American Flag fruit skewers I just posted a week ago. An astute commentor pointed out that I had the stripes going the wrong way. Dang it. So, no worries – here are new photos with the correctly positioned stripes!

Fruit Skewers 1

Check out the original INCORRECTLY placed stripes on our original post of American Flag Fruit Skewers.

And, here’s another pic just to reaffirm that I do know what the American flag looks like!

Fruit Skewers 3

Have Fun on the Fourth All!

– posted by Donna

Real Fruit Flavored No Sugar Lemonades

Flavored Lemonades

Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy, especially if you are sitting on a porch swing with a flavored lemonade to sip. Southern Belle fan optional, but recommended.

I love making lemonade with a simple syrup base. But I have discovered that using stevia makes lemonade that is just as delicious. This is when the fun starts. Fruit and herb flavorings for lemonade turn a classic drink into a Wow! drink. I like this ratio: 8 cups water; juice from 4 lemons (plus a little lemon zest if you like), and 1/2 cup stevia. The sweetness level is between you and your taste buds, but I like mine less sweet.

As for the additional flavorings, the possible combos are endless. I do have some favorites so far, although I must add that I will be experimenting all summer long on this one. == Must sacrifice in the name of research, no? == So here are my top three – so far: Pineapple Thyme Lemonade, Cucumber Dill Lemonade and Peach Ginger Lemonade. All refreshing.

The key to getting intense flavors into your lemonade is using freshly muddled fruit and herbs – the technique is hilariously demo’ed over at Chow.

I am not the only one who loves flavored lemonades. Check out some other food bloggers. These lemony drinks are easy enough for kids to make. Or, they can be fancied up for guests with fruit ice cubes.Smoked and Salted Lemonades? Why not? Must try Basil and Mint Lemonade next. I’m also craving sparkling Rosemary Ginger Lemonade.

So many lemonades! So few lazy summer days!

Flavored Lemonades 2

 

– posted by Donna

Peach Cobbler Upside Down Cake Recipe

Peach Cake Square

Peach Almond Upside Down Cake

Classic peach cobbler flavors can take so many forms – why not cake?

Peaches always bring back such great summer childhood memories for me.

My brother and I would visit our grandparents in Cochise Stronghold in southeast Arizona and we would earn money by picking peaches. Juicy, ripe white-fleshed peaches. Eat right off the trees peaches. Drip down your elbows peaches. In the Arizona heat after several hours peach fuzz  got everywhere – all over our hands and arms, in the sweat that was dripping down our necks,  in our hair and even tickling our nostrils.

But we pressed on – knowing we were getting rich on that paycheck of 50 cents an hour. And a splash in a cool mountain stream – and picking wild watercress – awaited us at the end of the day. We picked bushels and bushels, and ate ourselves sick as we picked. And then there was grandma’s peach cobbler at night. I am pretty sure there is a law somewhere that says if you’re a grandma, you MUST make peach cobbler. Not optional.  This grandma had only two dishes that were predictably exquisite: beans and ham hocks and peach cobbler.

Peach cobbler is one of my very favorite desserts. And, I’m in good company – even the fabulously low-glycemic Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kicthen has a weakness for this peachy deliciousness.  Maybe that is why I love this cake so much –  peach cobbler flavors and textures. This cake is mostly soft, sweet baked peaches with a little cake at the bottom. And I love the upside-down approach!

Peach Almond Upside Down Cake

– posted by Donna

 

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Slow Cooker in the Summer: Mediterranean Eggplant Salad

Slow Cooked Mediterranean Eggplant Salad

 

It’s more or less accepted that Portland is the Food Cart Capital  of the nation, right? Naturally, I get a lot of inspiration from the highly evolved food truck fare around here. My most recent inspiration came from the cart called Gonzo, which specializes in Israeli and Mediterranean street food. Their falafel, made from dried and soaked chickpeas, is by far the best I’ve ever had – and I consider myself at least a casual authority on the matter after eating it from various sources nearly daily during the second trimester of my pregnancy. (I was a tad obsessed.)

So it was the falafel that pulled me in, but another menu item kept me coming back – a cold eggplant salad with a fantastic, mildly smoky slow-roasted flavor. I set out to make it right away, but the thought of keeping a pot on the stove for hours during July temperatures was less appealing, even if the result was a cool salad. Solution: Slow cooker, of course!  I tried this two ways: once sauteeing the onion and peppers first and then transferring them to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients, and then a second time just throwing it all together at once. Honestly, the difference was negligible, so I say go with option 2 if you need to save time.

The overall flavor results were terrific – and a good reminder to me to make more regular use of the slow cooker in the summer. …

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Garden Gazpacho Recipe in a Jar – A Gift of Love from Your Garden

Gazpacho in a Jar – A gift from the Garden

I still remember the first time I got a gift from a garden. It was when I had a newborn baby and was in a new town and didn’t know a soul. I was feeling that overwhelming Oh-My-Gosh-I-am-Responsible-for-This-Tiny-Creature! feeling, and very isolated. One day I opened up my front door to a huge pile of produce – blackberries included! – with a sweet note from the gardener. Naturally, I cried. And that gardener became one of my very best friends – of all time. To this day, we talk regularly and laugh and cry together as only old friends can do together.

This year, we at the Kellys have an over-abundance of produce this year – including cherry tomatoes – those little globes of Mother-Nature made candy. So nice of her to create tomatoes in a travel-friendly form.

So, I decided to depart from my usual Salsa Fairy duties ((I am known throughout the neighborhood for leaving jars of spicy smoky goodness on doorsteps)) and spread Gazpacho Love through my little corner of the world.

BTW, did you know that gazpacho was a soup that originally had no tomatoes? Because there were none in Spain until the conquest of the new world. At least that’s what food geek Alton Brown explains in his 1 minute gazpacho production video – worth a look if you’re an AB addict like me.

I decided to make it pretty and layer the veggies in a jar and let the blending be done just before eating.

So,  just attach a note proclaiming Gazpacho Love – with instructions to blend and add tomato juice and seasonings at will.

Even my neighbor kids ask about my garden gifts in anticipation now, so – Be forewarned: You will have a reputation to uphold for generations to come!

– posted by Donna

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Maple Bacon Coconut Milk Ice Cream: Extreme Dairy-Free Decadence

Maple Bacon Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I remember the first time I heard of bacon ice cream. It was in the second season of Iron Chef America, and this was a completely shocking thing in 2005. Intriguing, yes, but definitely not at all trendy or chic. Even Alton Brown himself seemed wowed by Cat Cora’s creation. I thought it sounded downright bizarre – I had been a vegetarian for so long by this time I was starting to eat a little bit of fish and the occasional chicken dish, but bacon? So far off my radar I actually thought it sounded kind of gross, and surely bacon ICE CREAM was purely made for shock value –  the Howard Stern of dessertstuffs.

In the intervening years, bacon has been having a bit of a renaissance, including other sweet applications. Turns out it pairs really well with sweetness, especially maple (think maple syrup dripping off your pancakes onto the side of bacon beside it). I got to try the ice cream itself at Michael Symon’s restaurant Lola, and was deeply impressed. A few years later, I myself made a cranberry bacon brittle after being inspired by Michael Ruhlman at the 2010 BlogHer Food conference. And now I live in a city that arguably has the biggest bacon fetish of any municipality: Portland, Oregon: The maple bacon donut is one of the most popular items at Voodoo Doughnut, to name only the most famous example.

But I’ve recently been avoiding dairy as much as I can. Ice cream is my dessert of choice, for sure, so you’d think I’d be feeling deprived. But thanks to the advent of coconut milk ice cream, gone are the days where soy and rice milk versions were the only alternatives. If you’ve never tried it, you absolutely must. As delectable as Coconut Bliss and So Delicious brands (among others) are, though, I doubt they’ll be coming out with a bacon version.

As soon as I had the idea, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had to try and synthesize the two: the ultimate in sweet-meets-savory delight of maple and bacon plus the  creamy, dairy-free deliciousness of coconut milk ice cream. …

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