Lisa on November 23rd, 2015
Easy Winter Salad with Pickled Onions, Pomegranate Seeds & Cottage Cheese Dressing

Easy Winter Salad with Pickled Onions, Pomegranate Seeds & Cottage Cheese Dressing

Salad dressings are ridiculously simple to make: they pretty much consist of an unrefined oil of your choice + vinegar or citrus juice of your choice. Sometimes you might want to throw in a dollop of Dijon mustard, a clove of sautéed garlic, and/or an herb or two. (Try combining rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and a dash of ginger for an easy Asian-style dressing.) When I recently decided to toss together a quick seasonal salad, though, I spotted the cottage cheese in my fridge and thought that might make a great dressing base in lieu of my usual extra-virgin olive oil. Letting your fridge decide what you’re having for dinner is a great way to save $$ and not have to overthink your options! It’s a little trick I call refrigerator “triage.”

I also threw in some pickled sweet onions, which are just as easy to make as salad dressing and are extremely handy to have around to toss into salads, add to sandwiches, and even throw into stir-frys. They’d be fantastic served with lox during a holiday party! Unlike traditional pickled recipes, all I do with these onions is slice them and stash them away in a jar filled with top-notch red wine vinegar and peppercorns. They don’t last as long as traditionally pickled veggies — a few weeks rather than months  — but they’re so easy to make and so useful to have around that I don’t mind making a fresh batch every few weeks.

Easy Winter Salad with Pickled Onions, Pomegranates & Cottage Cheese Dressing
Makes 4 servings.

For the pickled onions:
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
About 3/4 cup of good-quality red wine vinegar (such as Vinagre Añejo Gar de Rioja from Vinagrerías de Haro)
About 1 T. whole peppercorns

For the salad:
Generous handful of sliced almonds
Peppery baby greens (mizuna, mustard, kale, etc.; this is usually available as mixed greens)
Double handful pomegranate seeds
1/4 to 1/2 cup whole-milk cottage cheese (Kalona is a great brand to try)
Pinch of sea salt
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Place the onions in a 16-ounce glass jar, smashing them in tightly. Pour in enough vinegar to fill the jar halfway, then finish filling the jar with water. Add peppercorns, close tightly, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. (Write the date on the jar!) The onions will keep their crisp, refreshing texture and will be infused with a slight vinegary tang.

To make the salad, toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until almonds are fragrant and turning golden brown. Do NOT walk away from the almonds! Once they start getting hot, nuts toast in a hurry — you don’t want smoking slag in your skillet. Transfer them to a cool plate.

In a large bowl, toss together the greens, seeds, cottage cheese, salt, and as many forkfuls of onions as you’d like. (Just drain them first.) If you’d still like to have the flavor of extra-virgin olive oil in your salad, use 1/4 cup of the cottage cheese plus a generous drizzle of oil. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and the toasted almonds. Toss again to see if you’d like to add any more salt. Serve immediately.


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Lisa on November 19th, 2015
Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Cinnamon & Lemon

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Cinnamon & Orange Zest

Flapjacks, silver dollars, short stacks … call them whatever you like, everybody likes pancakes. Yes, they take a little bit longer to make since you’re on active stove duty (rather than popping them in the oven the way you would with muffins), but nothing says “It’s the weekend!” like taking a few extra minutes to make breakfast. And you can slide leftover pancakes into a toaster oven to reheat them during the week — they’ll be just as crisp as they were fresh out of the skillet.

The lovely thing about these particular pancakes is that they’re extra-fluffy thanks to the whipped egg whites. Pair those foamy whites with baking powder, and you’ve got two kinds of leavening power in these puppies! Yes, whipping the whites and then folding them into the batter is an extra step, but it’s well worth it. Even the rich, textured cottage cheese doesn’t weigh these pancakes down. (But it does give them a lush flavor.) You’ll be surprised at how airy pancakes can be, especially if you set your bowls on trivets or towels to minimize clonking. Less clonking/bumping = more ethereal breakfasts!

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Cinnamon & Orange Zest
Makes about 12 pancakes.

1/2 cup buckwheat flour (use raw buckwheat flour for a milder flavor)
1 tsp. baking powder
Dash of sea salt
2 eggs, separated and at room temperature, preferably from pastured hens
1/2 cup small-curd whole-milk cottage cheese, preferably from grass-fed cows (Kalona whole-milk cottage cheese is unbelievably luscious!)
1/2 cup whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
Zest of 1/2 orange
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of cream of tartar

Have a large skillet waiting on the stove with a pat of butter in it — time will be of the essence.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in one large mixing bowl and the yolks in another large mixing bowl. Beat the yolks for a full minute, then beat in the cottage cheese, milk, orange zest, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture and set aside.

With a fresh attachment (preferably a wire whip/whisk), whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they’re stiff and glossy. Set the burner under the skillet to medium heat to get the butter melting, then gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture.

Place the batter on a pad or towel next to the stove. Using a 1/4 cup, measure out the batter into the skillet. You’ll probably only be able to fit in 3 or 4 pancakes at a time. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until you see bubbles starting to form in the pancakes and the bottoms are turning golden brown. Carefully flip over and cook another 2 minutes or until both sides are golden brown. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm, or if you know you won’t eat them all immediately, let destined-to-be-leftover pancakes cool on a wire rack.

Add a little more butter to the skillet with each fresh batch of pancakes and repeat until they’re all cooked. Serve with maple syrup, butter, and/or a lovely unrefined nut oil. (Walnut is my favorite drizzle for pancakes.) Leftover pancakes can be refrigerated for a week.


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Lisa on November 16th, 2015
Butter Lettuce with Persimmon & Avocado

Butter Lettuce with Persimmon & Avocado

It’s persimmon time! Every winter, I get excited that the bright orange tomato lookalikes are back in markets. (And hey, along with pomegranates, persimmons are pretty much the only fruit aside from citrus that’s in season through the winter months.) Tragically, though, persimmons aren’t nearly as popular in the U.S. as they are in southeastern Asia or parts of Europe. That’s probably partly because there are two main types of persimmons sold here, and one of them — Hachiyas — has to be nearly rotting to be ripe and therefore edible. When underripe, the pointy Hachiya is so tannic that you want to spit it out. Fortunately, Fuyu persimmons have little to no tannins and can be enjoyed firm or soft. Those are the persimmons that look like tomatoes: they’re squat and round, not pointy and elongated. Just be sure to choose an unblemished Fuyu, and you’ll be perfectly happy with your persimmon.

To contrast the sweet persimmon in this salad, I included creamy avocado, mild yellow squash and cucumber, and tangy red wine vinegar. Feel free to add whatever other veggies you might have on hand. Same goes for the lettuce — Romaine will work just as well as butter, albeit with more crunch. (I’m a sucker for the soft, almost velvety texture of butter lettuce.)

Romaine is more hearty than butter lettuce in terms of how long it lasts in the fridge, but you can greatly extend the life of your butter lettuce by purchasing hydroponically grown lettuce that still has its roots attached to it. This type is typically displayed floating in water, so when you get it home, replicate that setting by setting your lettuce into a bowl of cold water before tenting it and putting it in the fridge. Stored that way, butter lettuce will be lush and vibrant for at least four days. Just be careful not to jostle it too much when you pick it up!

Butter Lettuce with Persimmon & Avocado
Makes 4 servings.

1 small bell pepper, flesh only, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into matchsticks (organic carrots really do taste better, plus you don’t have to peel them)
1/2 of a yellow squash, cut into thin rounds
1/2 of an English cucumber
1 Fuyu persimmon (look for one that gives slightly to the touch but is unblemished and doesn’t have any soft spots)
1 head butter lettuce, leaves rinsed and patted dry
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, flesh only, chopped
1 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Place the pepper, carrots, and squash in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the carrots are softening. Stir in the cucumbers and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

While the veggies cook, prep the persimmon: cut it into quarters, then use a paring knife to trim away the tough stem. With the same knife, trim away the hard outer skin. Discard the stem and skin and coarsely chop the remaining flesh.

Tear the lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the persimmon, tomatoes, avocado, and cooked veggies and toss well. Drizzle on the vinegar and oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Toss again, then taste to see if you’d like to add more salt. Butter lettuce wilts quickly when tossed with oil, so this dish is best enjoyed immediately.


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Lisa on November 9th, 2015
Peanut Butter "Frosting" Dip

Peanut Butter “Frosting” Dip

Fresh berries may be gone, but apples and pears are in full swing! Their crisp, light texture is the perfect pair for crisp, bright days. Although I adore berries, sliced apples and pears are more fun to serve because of their sliceability — they become the chip of the fruit world because they’re sturdy enough to dip. Briefly soaking the slices in cool water with a squeeze of lemon juice added to it will help your ersatz “chips” to stay fresh and firm. Or if you spot an Asian pear at the market (which is also called an apple pear), go with that option — they don’t brown, and they’re also delightful for dipping.

This PB dip is so silky and rich that it doubles as a frosting, hence the name. I originally made it to frost some chocolate cupcakes, but when I started eating the frosting straight off the spoon, I realized it would make a great dip. (I think I wound up liking the frosting even more than the cupcakes!) The combination of creamed butter and créme fraîche creates a velvety-lush texture, and maple syrup adds a hint of sweetness along with a familiar fall flavor.

This is much, much easier to make than the classic buttercream frosting of yore that required stove top time and a double boiler — all you need to make this PB version is a hand mixer. Feel free to do what I did and serve it as a dip or use it as a frosting.

Peanut Butter “Frosting” Dip
Makes about 1 3/4 cups of dip/frosting.

1 stick butter at room temp, preferably made with cream from grass-fed cows
3/4 cup peanut butter (either chunky or smooth), made with only peanuts or peanuts and salt
1/4 cup crème fraîche, preferably from grass-fed cows (Vermont Creamery makes a lovely crème fraîche)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter in a medium-sized mixing bowl for 2 minutes or until it’s light and fluffy. (You’ll notice that if you’re using Kerrygold or any other butter made with cream from grass-fed cows, it will be much softer and easier to cream.) Beat in the PB and crème fraîche, then beat in the maple syrup and vanilla.

Serve immediately as dip or frosting — it’ll be the perfect consistency for spreading — or refrigerate for up to a week. Note that the dip/frosting will stiffen when chilled (because butter stiffens when chilled), so it’s best to let it come to room temperature before serving it or using it as frosting.


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Lisa on November 5th, 2015
Roasted Celery, Olives & Wild Salmon with Pasta

Wild Salmon, Olives & Roasted Celery with Pasta

Having recently read Jennifer McLagan’s Bitter, a cookbook focusing on ingredients with varying shades of bitterness (coffee, dark chocolate, bitter greens), I’ve been inspired to do more with my celery than let it languish in the fridge until my next mirepoix. Those beautifully green stalks of organic celery deserve better! So I decided to treat celery just like any other vegetable and roast it. It acquired a slightly sweeter flavor from roasting, but I tossed some marcona almonds and cherry tomatoes into this dish, too, to add a bit more sweetness, along with olives for their bracing brininess and wild salmon for its creamy salmonness. (You could use standard almonds, too, but the salted marconas roasted with extra-virgin olive oil that I get at Zingerman’s take the concept of “almond” to a whole new level.) I must say that I’m now a fan of regarding celery as a go-to ingredient rather than the occasional required ingredient for soup or stuffing.

When shopping for celery, look for stalks that still have some leaves on top — as you can see from this photo, they make a great garnish! And they have a faint celery flavor, too, so they’re more than just pretty leaves. I like to leave a few whole and chop the remaining leaves so that I can add a sprinkling of bright green color to the entire dish. Just trim away any blackened edges on the leaves and think of celery leaves as a new kind of parsley.

Wild Salmon, Olives & Roasted Celery with Pasta
Makes 4 servings.

Extra-virgin olive oil for roasting and tossing
8 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 2″ batons (retain the leaves to use as garnishes)
4 servings whole-grain pasta of your choice (be sure to use gluten-free pasta if you’re making a gluten-free dish!)
About 24 pitted olives, chopped (I used green Niçoise)
Handful of marcona almonds, chopped (or standard almonds)
Double handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
12 oz. canned wild salmon*

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the celery batons with a drizzle of oil and a pinch of sea salt. Arrange on baking sheet so that they don’t overlap and bake for 25 minutes or until they’re starting to turn golden brown.

While the celery roasts, prepare the pasta according to package directions. You can use that simmering time to prep the olives, almonds, and tomatoes. Reserve a few whole celery leaves and chop the rest. Drain pasta well.

Toss roasted celery with cooked pasta and the remaining ingredients except for the celery leaves. Add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and toss again. Serve immediately, topping with the chopped and whole celery leaves.

Pasta-based dishes are best eaten fresh rather than as leftovers, but leftover pasta can be refrigerated for 4 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving as leftovers.


* If you choose a brand like Wild Planet that cooks its salmon directly in the cans and doesn’t add any oil or water, don’t drain the salmon! Instead, toss the pasta with the cooked juices.

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Custard-Style Pumpkin Ice Cream

Custard-Style Pumpkin Ice Cream

Ever wondered what the difference is between French vanilla ice cream and vanilla ice cream? Simple: yolks. French vanilla is made with a custard base replete with egg yolks, whereas standard vanilla ice cream features just milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. (Or at least, it should. Most vanilla ice creams have a lot more than four or five ingredients. Always read ingredient labels, folks!)

Since we are in the peak of pumpkin season, I thought it would be fun to make a pumpkin spice version of French vanilla, and one that’s sweetened with maple syrup rather than sugar. Not only does maple syrup offer more nutrients than refined sugar — maple, at least, has trace amounts of calcium and iron — the flavor of maple is so very apropos at this time of year. And it pairs beautifully with cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves. In short, this ice cream tastes like the inside of a pumpkin pie.

Gently cooking the egg yolks gives the ice cream a velvety, rich texture, as does whisking pumpkin into the mix. You could think of this as frozen pumpkin eggnog! Just be sure to let the ice cream cool completely before pouring it into an ice cream maker. I pour the cooked cream into a fresh bowl and let it sit on a wire rack to hasten the cooling process. Stirring helps, too. Or you could suspend the hot cream in an ice water bath and stir it continuously to bring the temperature down quickly. But I prefer to plan ahead and allow for some cool-on-the-counter time.

Custard-Style Pumpkin Ice Cream
Makes about 3 1/2 cups ice cream.

1 1/2 cups cooked pureed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
5 egg yolks, preferably from pastured hens
1/2 cup whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
3/4 cup heavy cream, preferably from grass-fed cows
1/2 cup + 2 T. maple syrup (Grade B has a fuller, more maple-y flavor)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. vanilla

Place all ingredients in a medium pot. Heat the mixture over medium-low for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally. When tiny bubbles form, continue to cook gently for another 5 minutes, whisking more often and keeping a close eye on it. You don’t want it to come to a full simmer since that could overcook the egg yolks and make your ice cream chunky.

Remove from heat and scoop into a cool bowl. Let sit on a wire rack to cool, stirring the cooked cream occasionally to hasten the cooling. If you want to cool the cream quickly, fill a larger bowl with ice water and place the bowl with the ice cream inside the larger bowl, being careful not to get any water into the cream. Whisk for several minutes to rapidly chill the cream, testing occasionally to see if it’s chilled yet.

When the mixture is completely cool, place it in an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions. Freeze churned ice cream in as small a container as you have — headroom will make the ice cream crystallize all the more quickly, and you don’t want that. If I know I’m not going to serve all of the ice cream at once, I like to freeze it in several small containers to minimize air space at the top. Try to eat your homemade ice cream within a week. That shouldn’t be hard!


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Lisa on October 29th, 2015
Southwestern Quinoa, Squash & Pecan Toss

Southwestern Quinoa, Squash & Pecan Toss

I was tempted to call this “Two Sisters Salad” because the ingredient list includes squash and beans, two of the three classic “sisters” of south-of-the-border agriculture (corn is the third), but I decided to emphasize pecans instead. Although we tend to think of them as a quintessential southern ingredient — pecan pie, anyone? — pecans are native to Mexico as well as to the U.S., and they play a larger role in Mexican (and southwestern) cuisine than most people realize. Plus, the buttery-but-still-nutty flavor of pecans pairs well with the earthy/bitter quinoa and slightly sweet squash and avocado.

I used pre-cubed fresh butternut squash I bought at the store for the sake of convenience, but feel free to use any kind of freshly cubed winter squash in this toss: pumpkin, buttercup, acorn, butternut, etc. Winter squash has a uniformly mild/sweet flavor and silky texture, so you can interchange them at will. Likewise, although I opted for black beans, you could use small red beans or even white beans if you’d prefer. It’s fun to swap out flavors!

Southwestern Quinoa, Squash & Pecan Toss
Makes 4 servings.

1/2 cup quinoa (of any color; I used black quinoa)
12 oz. (3/4 pound) fresh pumpkin or butternut squash, outer skin trimmed away and flesh cut into 1/2” cubes
15 oz. canned black beans, drained
Double handful pecans, chopped
1/2 of a bell pepper, diced
4 stalks trimmed green onion, green part only, minced
1 avocado, flesh only, cubed
1 T. + 1 tsp. chili powder
Juice of 1 lime
Sea salt
Plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, optional

Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the cubed squash. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Drain well.

In a large bowl, toss the drained quinoa and squash with the beans, pecans, bell pepper, green onion, avocado, chili powder, and lime juice. Salt to taste. Serve with a side of Greek yogurt for topping.

If you think you’ll have leftovers, rather than stirring the avocado into all of the quinoa mixture, add it separately to portions as you serve them — without the avocado, the quinoa toss can be refrigerated for 4 days.


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Chocolate Angel Food Cupcakes

Chocolate Angel Food Cupcakes

Although I’m used to making angel food cakes in tall tube pans, it occurred to me that it might be fun to try making cupcakes instead. After all, you can spoon batter into muffin cups just as easily as you can scoop it into a cake pan. Okay, not quite as easily — it takes a bit longer to spoon out batter than pour it out. But the resulting individualized ease of serving is well worth the extra few minutes spent making the little cakes. One caveat: try not to bump the batter around too much as you’re spooning it into the muffin tin, because every time you bump it, you make some of the whipped air bubbles in the egg whites pop, and you lose some lift. (Seeing as those whipped whites are the sole leavener in these treats. No baking powder needed when you have gloriously whipped whites!)

You can serve these lightweight cupcakes bare, or you can top them with a simple ganache made by gently melting dark chocolate — may I suggest 85%? — with a touch of butter and cream. Or serve them with freshly whipped cream and sliced fruit. No matter what you choose, your cute little ‘cakes will be a hit!

Chocolate Angel Food Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes.

1/4 cup buckwheat flour, preferably raw buckwheat flour*
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably non-Dutched or “natural”
1/2 cup powdered sucanat, divided (run sucanat through a coffee grinder to powder it)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
6 egg whites at room temperature, preferably from pastured hens (high-quality eggs whip faster and higher!)
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with parchment paper cups. (It is crucial that you use parchment paper — regular paper will tear away most of these cute little ‘cakes!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, 1/4 cup of the powdered sucanat, and the salt.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff, glossy peaks form when you lift up the beaters. Add the vanilla and remaining 1/4 cup powdered sucanat and whip again to incorporate the sucanat. Gently scatter the flour mixture on top and use a spatula to gently fold it in. During this process, do not joggle or bump the bowl — you want to preserve that lovely lift!

Spoon the batter gently into the waiting muffin cups, filling each one nearly to the brim. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the tops are dry and turning slightly brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean and warm. Let cool on a wire rack. The cupcakes will shrink significantly as they cool, making them even more cutely compact. Let them cool completely before frosting if that’s what you opt to do.

Cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for 4 days if they’re left bare; if they’re frosted or otherwise topped, keep them in the refrigerator.


* Contrary to what its name might make you think, buckwheat flour is gluten-free. If you’d rather make wheat-based cupcakes, use spelt, kamut, or whole-wheat flour in place of the buckwheat.

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Lisa on October 22nd, 2015
Pumpkin Apple Soup with Almond Pesto

Pumpkin Apple Soup with Almond Pesto

Fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin, cubed pumpkin … now’s the time to get your orange on! This easy soup features fall favorites like pumpkin, apples, and beans, plus a few late-summer tagalongs like corn and cherry tomatoes. I thought about adding sage, but ultimately I went with allspice and ginger as core seasonings, thinking they were more autumnal and unusual in a savory setting. Allspice in particular has a warm, non-overpowering flavor that makes it welcome in both savory and sweet dishes — although it’s a unique spice, it tastes like a toned-down combination of cloves, cinnamon, and  nutmeg. It’s popular in Jamaican cookery (not surprising that that’s where Columbus came across it during his historic travels), but aside from pumpkin spice mix, most American cooks don’t particularly pay attention to allspice. I’m hoping this soup persuades cooks to move allspice to the front of the rack!

Adding canned pumpkin (or freshly made mashed pumpkin) to soup lends the broth an instant velvety texture, plus I stirred in whole-milk cottage cheese to give the soup a creamy base. The curds transform into melting-mozzarella-like streaks as you stir in the cottage cheese, giving the soup an interesting texture and appearance. Just be sure to pull the soup off the heat before stirring in the cottage cheese so that you don’t wind up overcooking the curds into tight knots. (Anyone who has ever let the fondue pot get too hot knows what I’m talking about!) Other great candidates for adding creaminess are whole-milk Greek yogurt or a few spoonfuls of crème fraîche.

Pumpkin-Apple Soup with Baby Spinach & Toasted Almonds
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

For the soup:
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large firm apple, core removed, flesh chopped
32 ounces (4 cups) chicken broth
15 ounces canned pumpkin
15 ounce canned small red beans, drained
1 cup frozen organic corn
1 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ginger
Pinch sea salt
5 ounces baby spinach
1 cup whole-milk cottage cheese (Kalona makes amazing cottage cheese using grass-fed milk!)
Cherry tomatoes for garnishing, halved

For the pesto:
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Pinch of sea salt

To make the soup, melt a generous knob of butter (preferably made with cream from grass-fed cows) in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and apples and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onions are fragrant and turning translucent.

Pour in the chicken broth and increase heat to high. Stir in the pumpkin, beans, corn, and spices and let soup come to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

While the soup simmers, make the pesto. In a small skillet, sauté the garlic over medium-low heat with a generous splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often, or until the garlic is fragrant and turning light brown. Remove to a small food processor and add the remaining ingredients plus another drizzle of the olive oil. Process until you have a chunky pesto.

To finish the soup, add the spinach to the soup in handfuls and stir for about a minute or two to fold the leaves into the broth. Remove from heat and stir in the cottage cheese.

Remove from heat and serve, topping each serving with the pesto and cherry tomatoes. Leftover soup can be refrigerated for 4 days.


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Lisa on October 19th, 2015
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Yogurt Buttercream Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Yogurt Buttercream Frosting

It’s pumpkin time! I’m not a fan of pumpkin beer or pumpkin coffee — I’m a strong believer in unadulterated beverages — but when it comes to cakes, pumpkin is always a welcome ingredient. Nothing says fall like pumpkin + cinnamon + maple!

I opted for buttercream frosting made with butter and yogurt from grass-fed cows. That’s why the frosting has a yellow/orange cast to it — when animals graze on grass, the orange beta-carotene hidden beneath the green chlorophyll shows through in the milk. (And when hens roam on the range, they eat the bugs that eat grass and their yolks are deeper orange.)

If you can’t find plain whole-milk Greek yogurt from grass-fed cows, you can strain standard plain whole-milk yogurt to make your own version of Greek yogurt. The latter is thicker because it’s been double-strained and more of the liquid whey has drained out; it’s easy enough to do that at home with a cheesecloth-lined mesh colander. (It’s worth noting that since the lactose is in the whey, Greek-style yogurt is easier to digest for folks with lactose intolerance.) Or you could use whole-milk sour cream in place of the Greek yogurt.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Yogurt Buttercream Frosting
Makes an 8″x 8″ cake.

For the cake:
1 cup buckwheat flour, preferably raw buckwheat*
3/4 cup teff flour*
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup + 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1 tsp. vanilla
15 oz. canned pumpkin
1/4 cup whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows

For the frosting:
3/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, preferably from grass-fed cows
6 T. butter at room temperature, preferably from grass-fed cows (butter from grass-fed cows only needs about 10 minutes at room temp to soften)
3 T. maple syrup
3/4 tsp. vanilla

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350F. Thoroughly grease an 8″x 8″ pan. (I like to save my butter wrappers and use them for greasing pans.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until well-blended.

Scoop into the waiting pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and warm. Let completely cool on a wire rack before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the ingredients together in a medium bowl until you have a fluffy frosting. Use a spatula to spread it onto the cooled cake. So much simpler than a classic buttercream, and so much more nutritiously delicious thanks to the grass-fed butter and probiotic yogurt! Leftover cake can be refrigerated for a week.


* These are gluten-free flours. If you’d rather make a wheat-based cake, substitute 1 3/4 cups total of kamut, spelt, and/or whole-wheat flours. Teff flour has a pleasant nutty aspect that works particularly well with pumpkin, though, and buckwheat has the distinction of being a low-glycemic flour, so you may wish to use these whole-grain gluten-free flours even if you’re not pursuing a gluten-free lifestyle.

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