Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies

Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies

When life hands you lemons – make lemon thyme cookies! When we first planted our lemon tree I had this romantic idea that I’d be able to pick fresh lemons all year round. Obviously, I’m not good with plants or I would have known that the famous saying is literally true. You get lemons once a year and you get a lot of them. Needless to say, life has been lemony lately in many ways, but today it’s all about lovely lemony cookies.

Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies

I must say, I made a ton of these. I tried a number of variations that were vegan, gluten free, different oils, all sorts of things. I was kind of stressing out. Some were dry, some were burned, and some flattened out like pancakes (although not good pancakes). I’m just lucky that Jack, being the kind food tester he is, made sure not a crumb went to waste.

So what did I end up with? A straightforward, delightful, lemon butter cookie. Sometimes complicated times demand simple solutions.

Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies

This flavor combination was inspired by our new partnership with method. I’m excited to be working with them because I’ve been buying their products for years. Also, as a graphic designer, I’ve always adored their package design. They have a new line of kitchen hand wash that is scented with a variety of essential oils and it’s as functional as it is beautiful. It’s made from plant-derived ingredients and is great for some sticky kitchen situations like getting that pasty flour/water mess off of your hands. This one –  thyme – gave me the idea to try adding fresh thyme leaves to my lemon cookies.

Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies

The recipe is pretty simple and straight forward. Mix the dough, chill the dough, and roll it out. Cut out hearts, bake them, and share with someone you love!

Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Beets

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Beets

We celebrated Valentine’s day early this year. Actually, we celebrate most holidays early around here… at least food-wise. Christmas cookies in October, Thanksgiving food in late August and so on.

I’m not sure what we’re doing for “real” Valentine’s yet – but once I got this recipe just right and the pictures were done, Jack and I sat down to a romantic (albeit reheated) meal for two. The only caveat – Jack doesn’t like beets. He’s not a picky eater but beets are on his short list of foods he usually won’t touch. I originally tried this recipe with other roasted vegetables but the juicy sweetness of the beets went SO well with the creamy earthy flavor of the polenta. The little heart-like-shaped red beets combined with the pink and white striped Chioggia beets just needed to be here. Also, since I love beets and you love beets (right?), he was outnumbered this time.

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Our dinner conversation went like this: 

Me: “So I know you don’t prefer beets, but don’t you think they work really well in this case – just a few of them – with the other vegetables and creamy polenta and this lemony dijon dressing kind of covers them up right? I mean, I know how much you love mustard.

Him: “They’re still beets.”

Me: “Remember that one time when I made beets and told you they were turnips and you ate them and you liked them?”

Him: “Yes, but this time I know they are beets and I can’t un-think that”

Me: “But if you didn’t watch me make this and you closed your eyes and ate this, you would probably be ok with this whole combination right? You would probably not even notice the beets.

Him: (as he’s licking his plate clean, btw.) “Ok… of all the way that I’ve had beets, this makes them taste the least beet-y. Plus this polenta is [flipping] awesome.”

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Beets

So I’ll leave it up to you whether you love or hate beets but let’s talk about the polenta. It’s creamy, made with my go-to unsweetened Almond Breeze instead of plain water or cream. It has olive oil instead of butter so aside from the tiny bit of optional feta sprinkled on top, this meal is dairy free and vegan (but you wouldn’t know it).

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Beets

This recipe is not difficult to make but I will say that it’s a tad on the fussy side, since each component needs to be prepared separately. If you’re good at multitasking, you’ve got this. If not, you can roast the beets ahead of time, make the dressing ahead of time, and (new discovery!) you can even make the polenta ahead of time.

That new discovery was a happy accident but it worked. I made the polenta and when it was almost done (not quite thickened), I let it cool, and put it in the fridge. I took it out the next day, heated it on the stove while whisking in a bit of water, and voila! The polenta was creamier in texture and had more mellow flavor than a “fresh” version I tested earlier.

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Beets

The rest of the dish is comprised of roasted red onions and chickpeas, sautéed spinach, and thinly sliced, lightly marinated Chioggia beets… I love the contrasting flavor, texture (and color) of the raw and roasted beets together.

This recipe serves 2, but can be easily doubled to serve 4.

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Beets

Healthier Game Day Recipes

Healthier Game Day Recipes

Ok, so aside from watching the Cubs win this year, I’m not what you would call a sports fan. I know the Super Bowl is this Sunday but I have no clue who’s playing and if I had to guess (without googling it), I’d embarrass myself by naming teams from the wrong sport. But sportsball aside, here are a bunch of taco-nacho-ey-pizza-ish recipes that you might consider serving this weekend. I’d be game to eat any of these… game or no game.

pictured above: Super Stuffed Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Healthier Game Day Recipes

pictured above: Healthy Loaded Vegan Nachos

Mango Goji Guacamole / Sweet Potato Avocado Tacos

Healthier Game Day Recipes

pictured above: Mini Potato Pizzas with Purple Potatoes & Arugula

Healthier Game Day Recipes

pictured above: Nacho Snacks with Carrot Queso / Molly’s Cauliflower Shawarma Tacos

 Portabello Tacos with Vegan Jalapeño Sauce / Kiwi Avocado Salsa Verde

Shakshuka with Spinach and Harissa

Shakshuka with Spinach and Harissa

My mom is an article clipper. She reads the newspaper every morning – not the kind that is on the internet – and she clips articles for everyone that she’s close to. Techy stuff for Jack, figure skating/olympic articles for my sister, and of course recipe ideas for me. These bits of recipe inspiration are always helpful because, quite honestly, I often get stuck in my head about what to make and I appreciate the outside perspective.

Shakshuka with Spinach and Harissa

She came to visit a few weeks ago and said “I don’t know how to pronounce this one but it looks really good, why don’t you make something like this?” I hesitated for a second because while I’ve always loved Shakshuka, the reason I didn’t already have a recipe on the blog is that dishes like this are especially challenging to make look cute. Eggs in tomato sauce can be quite… inconsistent… looks-wise.

Then I thought “I’ll do mini skillets!” Anything mini is always cute, right? That way there would be only so much room for the eggs to spread and I planned to top the ugly parts with herbs (food styling pro tip, btw). Except I only had 1 mini skillet and 3 of us to feed. Then I had one of those moments where I stopped to think “what is this crazy life that I have that I’ve just spent an hour plotting how to make shakshuka look cute?” and just got on with it.

Shakshuka with Spinach and Harissa

Cuteness aside, I really love this dish – It’s perfect for this time of year because it’s largely a pantry meal. My version has spinach mixed for extra veggie power and harissa mixed in for extra spice. See the recipe below for instructions to make this whole recipe in one skillet. Since I was dividing this into multiple skillets to serve 3, I made the sauce in a separate pan and stored the extra in the fridge for an impromptu-shakshuka lunch the next day.

Shakshuka with Spinach and Harissa

Sustenance Sweet Potato Stew

Sustenence Stew from The Perfect Blend Cookbook by Tess Masters

Crazy weather we’ve been having here lately… one day we’re eating a sunny lunch on a patio and the next five nights we’re curled up at home trying to stay warm during torrential downpours. I SO wish I was one of those people who finds rainstorms to be cozy and calming but I’m quite the opposite. Storms may get me a little edgy and nervous, but what does calm me down is making a stew like this one.

This recipe comes from my friend Tess (a.k.a. The Blender Girl)’s new cookbook The Perfect Blend. This stew is everything you want on a cold January night – as its name suggests, it’s hearty and comforting. It’s also healthy and healing because it’s packed with a kitchen sink full of vegetables – sweet potatoes, broccoli, swiss chard, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and more. At first glance, the ingredient list looks like my go-to veggie stew formula, but what puts this one over the top is the generous scoop of almond butter that goes in toward the end – it’s a genius secret ingredient that make this stew taste extra rich, while also adding a bit of protein.

Sustenence Stew from The Perfect Blend Cookbook by Tess Masters

Tess suggests serving this stew over cauliflower rice. I’ve included the instructions with the recipe below, but I have to tell you that I skipped that step and just served this on its own. It was plenty filling and it yielded tons of leftovers which I’ve been eating for lunch ever since. This recipe comes together in roughly 30 minutes, so it’s a great healthy weeknight option.

Sustenence Stew from The Perfect Blend Cookbook by Tess Masters

If you’re looking to get healthier in the new year, I definitely recommend this book. It’s entirely vegan and gluten free and the recipes are super creative. On my list to try is her Greedy Green Curry, Jazzy Jackfruit Enchiladas and her Lick-your-plate-lasagna.

What’s truly unique is the way she’s organized the book. The recipes are grouped into sections like Energy, Immunity, Detox, Protein, Weight Loss, Anti-Inflamatory, Low Carb, Probiotic Promoting and Feed the Soul. In each section she talks about vegetables and herbs that are helpful for various ailments – it’s filled with fascinating information whether you’re new to plant-based eating or you’re a well seasoned veggie cook.

The Perfect Blend Cookbook by Tess Masters Click here to get the book!

*Photo #2 of the final dish is by: Anson Smart