brown butter pumpkin muffins

I have a love/hate relationship with pumpkin. My love is rooted in the moisture and pretty orange tint pumpkin provides to my baked goods. When pureed, the winter squash is smooth and slightly viscid, wonderfully mimicking the richness and binding properties typically found only through a hefty combination of butter and eggs. But this copycat act, often comes at a cost, that cost being taste.  This brings me to why I hate pumpkin so much. It’s bitter and it’s bland. 

On its own, pumpkin tastes horrible. It’s seriously lacking in the flavor department, yet this is also what makes me love it so much. Pumpkin is a blank canvas just begging to be cast with the warmth and aroma of spices, sweet and savory. 

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cup of vegan broccoli cheese soup

About two years ago, I stumbled upon a lovely photo of cauliflower soup over at Food52. While pretty to look at, I was skeptical about  the liquid amalgamation’s taste.  But all of the praise in the comments section convinced me I needed to make this soup, so I followed the recipe instructions exactly, resisting the urge to add additional herbs or seasonings. I’m so glad I did. This simple blend of cauliflower, onion, olive oil and water is now a staple in my kitchen.  

While I may refrain from altering the recipe when I  want cauliflower soup, I’ve gotten quite inventive in using this creamy concoction as a vegan substitute for dairy-based sauces. Here I add some roasted broccoli, nutritional yeast, mushrooms and a little garlic. What results is a much healthier version of the classic broccoli and cheese soup. creamy vegan broccoli cheese-soup

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sweet potato oat-cookies_

Believe it or not, the tone deaf woman writing this blog used to be a budding violinist. From 3rd to 8th grade, I played the violin for my school’s orchestra and I was actually pretty good at it. The highlights of my brief orchestral career include learning to play “Minuet 1,” “William Tell Overture,” and “Spring” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. However, my crowning achievement was mastering “The First Noel.” Years later, while in college, I picked up my friend’s violin and was shocked I could still play the first few lines. It sounded absolutely horrible. Every note was flat. But after almost 10 years of not playing, I was nothing short of amazed. It really is hard to undo some things. Continue reading→

whole wheat applesauce spice cake on a plate

Somewhere along the way, we lost our way…and our manners. Saying thank you is now optional. Just think about it. It’s now the norm for people to post a  picture on social media and tag it with the caption “You’re Welcome.” Sure, it’s a pithy way of relating to our friends, family, and followers, but I’m going to take a stretch here and say it’s a byproduct of the pervasive sense of entitlement slowly taking over our society. I mean, why say thank you, when you’re OWED something. 

In the words of Stephanie Tanner, “How rude!” This not saying thank you business, is not the business. In A Treatise on Good Manners and Good Breeding, Jonathan Swift states  “good sense is the principal foundation of good manners.” He goes on to argue that very few people are born with this good sense, which is why societies establish proper rules for decorum and decency. Seems fair enough to me. We’ve all lacked common sense at some point in our lives, but we found our ways back thank in part to loving correction and guidance. No one is going to learn to say thank you, if we keep making it the rare exception, instead of the established rule.  Continue reading→

parsnip and fennel soup-3

When it comes to winter, overindulgence seems to be the name of the game. The cold and dreary weather implores us to stay inside and stay warm by the fireplace…with eggnog and pie. We venture out for the family gatherings, the festive parties, and the football games. There we snack on chips, cookies, cake and more pie. And our cold-weather fashion makes us forget about all that overeating. Big puffy coats and oversized sweaters work miracles, at least on the outside.

Feeling like you want to hit the reset button? The comfort and richness we desire in winter foods doesn’t have to leave us hiding under three layers of clothes. Take this filling and full-flavored parsnip and fennel soup. Earthy and sweet, parsnips create a wholesome and creamy base for aromatic fennel and coriander. This soup is perfect as a first course, but when paired with a whole wheat crusty bread, substantial enough for a main entree. It’s great any day of the week, especially the day after eating too much pie.

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