Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

A few weeks ago, while I was making a list of potential upcoming summer recipes, I asked Jack “hey, what’s a recipe you really want me to make?” In the past, answers to questions like that are usually “pretzels!” or “pizza!” but this time it was “an asian noodle salad.” I asked if he could be more specific but he said “I just really really love noodles – you know, when they’re tossed in an asian-ey kind of dressing.” Not a huge help, but at least it was something.

So on a Monday when I felt I could use a little reset after weekend-eating, his idea (with a ginger-y sauce) sounded pretty good. This recipe is not an authentic version of anything, but when I got around to making said “asian noodle salad,” this was what I happened to have: a bunch of cucumbers, a ripe mango, a few limes, a jalapeño, and a bunch of mint. At first, I wanted to add peppers, cabbage, and everything colorful, but then I realized that I could make something delicious without tossing in the kitchen sink.

Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

The tangy miso-peanut sauce is the real star – it’s also become a go-to recipe lately because its ingredients are so easy to keep on hand. Miso paste lasts about 1 year in the fridge and I store my fresh ginger in the freezer. Peanut butter, garlic, limes, are all regulars around here.

The second time I made this recipe, I served it to my family and added tofu on top to make it a bigger meal – the tofu is not pictured here, but I’ve included a recipe below. This recipe serves 3 on its own or 4 if you add the tofu (or whatever protein you like – chicken, shrimp, salmon, etc).

If you don’t have vermicelli rice noodles, brown rice stir fry noodles (the flat, thicker noodles) work well here. Pasta would also be fine in a pinch.

Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

Farmers Market Asparagus & Potato Pizza

Farmers Market Asparagus & Potato Pizza

If you caught Monday’s post, I wrote all about my strategy for coming up with a dinner recipe while shopping on the fly at the farmers market. And, drumroll please… here’s what I made! It’s a big green, veggie potato pizza loaded with chopped asparagus, asparagus ribbons, cheese, flowering thyme, chives, and those pretty chive blossoms that I got at Chicago’s Logan Square Farmers Market. It’s spring on a plate… or rather, spring on dough.

I know I say this all the time, but I LOVE letting local produce lead my meal planning. These fresh impromptu meals just really make me excited to make and play with food. Which is why we love this partnership with Sub-Zero – their Fresh Food Matters Initiative is all about getting into the kitchen to make meals for your family using fresh fruits and vegetables.

Farmers Market Asparagus & Potato Pizza

So let’s get cooking!

To make these pretty asparagus ribbons, you don’t need a fancy kitchen tool, just a regular vegetable peeler. This peeling technique works best with asparagus that’s on the medium-to-thick side so that you can get nice long peels. After you’re done peeling, chop up the bits that are left and toss those onto the pizza as well.

Layer the pizza with olive oil, garlic, cheese (I suggest gruyere or white cheddar – your favorite vegan cheese would work too), thinly sliced small potatoes and the chopped asparagus bits. Bake it until the potatoes and the dough are both nicely browned.

Farmers Market Asparagus & Potato Pizza

After the pizza comes out of the oven, layer on the pretty toppings – the asparagus ribbons, and chive blossoms if you have them (if you don’t – just use more chopped chives!)

Farmers Market Asparagus & Potato Pizza

Heat this up for a few more minutes so that the asparagus lightly wilts. Serve this fancy pizza with a pale rosé. Cheers!

Farmers Market Asparagus & Potato Pizza

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

We sold our house yesterday. In case you haven’t heard, Jack and I are moving(!?), and lately I’ve been feeling a really mixed bag of emotions about it. We left Austin a few weeks ago and are spending the summer temporarily in Chicago (living with my parents – so glamorous!) until we find a new place to call home. We’re excited for a new adventure, but of course, it’s always sad leaving homes and friends (and kitchens! aahh, what am I doing!) behind. Don’t worry, the blog isn’t going anywhere – I have tons of new recipes and other special projects in the works. I’ve been cooking up a storm here in my mom’s kitchen, which is especially helpful because she washes all the dishes in my wake :). Hi, my name is Jeanine and I’m 38 going on 12.

So… umm… it’s cake time! I’m not sure it’s celebration cake or sadness cake, but either way – it’s cake! I’m not always big on desserts, but sometimes I just need some “it’s-all-going-to-be-ok” chocolate cake.

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

This recipe comes from the new book Simple Fare: Spring/Summer by Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers, whom I’ve been a fan of for years. Karen describes this cake as “a balance of sweet and savory.” I have to say – this one is for all of you dark chocolate lovers out there. It’s not overly sweet, but it’s deeply chocolate-y. The olive oil gives it a rich flavor but the cake itself is surprisingly light. She tops it with cardamom whipped cream (the recipe is below), but I used some whipped coconut cream that I had on hand instead.

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

The book is a gorgeous oversized cookbook that feels like an art book. The book is apyly titled “Spring/Summer” as the recipes are highly seasonal (a Fall/Winter volume is coming later). At first glance, the recipes seem very simple (hence the name of the book!) but dig in and you’ll see that each recipe includes 2 or 3 clever “market variations” where Karen suggests altering just a few ingredients to change the recipe’s flavor profile. The book isn’t vegetarian, but there are a lot of vegetable-based recipes (not so many vegan ones), and overall tons of inspiration. I love the way Karen describes her collection of recipes: “food as it should be: nuanced, bright and gorgeous.”

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

I can hardly wait to have a coffee table again so I can display this beauty 🙂

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

Years ago, Jack and I went on vacation to the island of Capri where we ate Caprese salads every day. We’d sit at hilltop restaurants overlooking the teal blue Mediterranean Sea. The air was warm, the wine was flowing, and the tomatoes were the sweetest I’d ever tasted. It was a few days after he had proposed and looking back it was the most blissfully happy week of our lives. Or at least that’s the way I remember it. I will spare you the story about strep throat, almost getting seasick on a hydrofoil ride, and trying to find an Italian pharmacy that would sell me an antibiotic. Those memories, while stressful in the moment, seem to fade into the background over time.

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

So while I remember those perfect 3-ingredient Caprese salads from Italy, I’m going to also, uhh, change the details and bring you my “re-remembered” version, with strawberries, avocado, and pecans! This recipe is in our cookbook and is one of my favorites. One of the reasons is that, well, it’s hard to find tomatoes that are quite as sweet as the ones in Capri, so this salad lets you get away with using less-than-perfect tomatoes (although the ones pictured here were pretty good) because the other ingredients pick up the slack, just like those less-than-perfect vacation memories!

It’ll take you all of about 15 minutes to make and it’s yummy with anything you’re grilling.
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Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

There’s a vegan restaurant that we love in Chicago called The Chicago Diner. Jack and I make it a point to stop there nearly every time we’re in town. The food is really good, but the thing to get there are the milkshakes – the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough milkshake to be exact. And yes, it’s as decadent as it sounds. A few weeks ago, we ate lunch there and I tried to not order one. Then Jack’s shake came to the table and I said, “I’ll just have one little sip… ok, well maybe just one more…” and before I had stolen nearly his entire shake, I decided I should re-create them for the blog.

Instead of making regular cookie dough to blend into my milkshake, I made a new version of these No-Bake Almond Oatmeal Cookie balls to use instead. So this recipe has 2 parts:

1. No-bake Peanut Butter Oat Cookie Bites, which are a delicious healthy snack on their own.

2. The milkshakes, which are made by blending a few of the cookie balls with almond milk and ice cream.

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

Although my original cookie dough ball recipe was a delicious one, I’ve improved it here – these new cookie balls not only have a shorter ingredient list but they’re naturally sweetened with dates and they contain no added oil. They’re also much quicker to make.

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

To help me re-create this recipe, I used my new kitchen helper, Google Home. I wanted to keep the same overall ratio of dry-to-liquid ingredients, so it was helpful (when my hands were messy with peanut butter dough) to call out questions like “hey Google, how many tablespoons are in 1/3 cup,” or “hey Google, what’s 1 cup, plus 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, minus 1/4 cup.”

Google Home is also very useful for setting multiple kitchen timers and adding items to your grocery shopping list. Fun tip – you can also call out “play cooking music,” or “play baking beats,” which are some fun playlists to listen to in the kitchen. 🙂

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes IMG_2017_05_25_10214

So here you have it – my “healthy-ish” yet still pretty darn decadent version of the Chicago Diner milkshake. If you want to make these a little less indulgent, you can use a frozen banana in place of the ice cream and make smoothies.

Pop the extra cookie ball bites in the fridge or freezer for later.

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes