Blender soups are great because, often, you just need a few ingredients. Start with one all-star, seasonal ingredient like winter squash, broccoli, tomato, or asparagus. Beyond that, perhaps an onion, some broth or water, some herbs or spices, boom - you've got what you need to make a beautiful, silky blended soup. A soup like this can come together in under fifteen minutes - you cook the aromatics, add the main vegetable with some broth or favored liquid, and let simmer until the vegetable(s) are cooked through. Then you go to town with more spices and toppings. I throw the term blender around loosely here. A hand blender is fine, and works great, particularly if you're one of those people who avoids dealing with a blender because of the clean-up. ;) A high-speed blender can give an extra smooth, beautiful texture, but I used an immersion hand blender for years, making soups like these, before taking the high-speed plunge. Still delicious.
1. A Simple Carrot Soup - (101 Cookbooks)
This simplest carrot soup! Carrots and onion form the base, it's spiked with dollop of red curry paste, and then pureed into silky oblivion. Get the recipe here.
2. Turmeric Carrot Ginger Soup with Coconut Almond Streusel - (Cheeky Kitchen)
If you're up for a more complex carrot soup, here's where it's at. Lemongrass, coconut, ginger, garlic, and tahini come together in this beauty. it's a blended carrot soup with a coco-almond streusel topping. Right? Get the recipe here.
3. Alkalizing Green Soup - (101 Cookbooks)
Ten ingredients in a blender, this soup is a potent jolt of alkalizing vegetables and herbs, made with a protein-rich split green pea base. This is great when you need an anti-dote to and overly indulgent week. Get the recipe here.
4. Stinging Nettle and Spring Garlic Soup - (Hungry Ghost)
With their abundant vitamins and minerals, I'm always looking for ways to work more nettles into my diet. Andrea always inspires, and this is the perfect soup for springtime or if you come across nettles at the market (or out on a hike!). Use a veg broth if you'd like to keep it vegetarian / vegan. Get the recipe here.
5. Roasted Tomato Soup - (Sprouted Kitchen)
When you've had your fill of the seasons best fresh tomatoes, and when you're ready to transition into fall, this is the soup to make. You still want to use great tomatoes, and you can easily make this vegan by using coconut milk or a thick nut milk in place of the heavy cream called for. Get the recipe here.
6. Julie Morris's Cumin Beet Soup - (Julie Morris / Jenni Kayne)
From Julie's Superfood Soups book, this vibrant blended stunner includes power ingredients like cumin, turmeric, and maca. It has a coconut milk base, nut milks will work as well. Get the recipe here.
7. Cauliflower Soup with Lemon Zest - (The Thinking CAP)
Sometimes simple is best, and that what you see here. A recipe by nutritionist Dana James strong on the cauliflower front, with a hint of lemon. Five ingredients (aside from water, salt). Get the recipe here.
8. Warm Almond, Garlic, and Parsnip Soup - (Green Kitchen Stories)
A (remote) riff on Spanish gazpacho. I love the use of underutilized parsnips here, and the red grape and thyme finish. Get the recipe here.
10. Pumpkin and Rice Soups - (Local Milk)
Brilliant use of smoked salt here adding depth to a winter squash and apple blended soup base. Also, an herby kiss of fresh time counters the natural sweetness here. To make this vegan, swap in your favorite non-dairy milk for the cream - a thick homemade cashew nut milk works great - (1 cup soaked nuts blended w/ two nuts, strained). Get the recipe here.
11. Coconut Broccoli Soup - (101 Cookbooks)
A simple broccoli and spinach affair, made with coconut milk broth, double greens (broccoli & spinach), and topped with good stuff like pan-fried tofu cubes, lots of toasted almonds, and shredded scallions. Get the recipe here.
12. A Simple Asparagus Soup - (101 Cookbooks)
Spiked with a dollop of green curry paste, this is a springtime favorite. Just a handful of ingredients, and you can use cashew nut or almond milk in place of the coconut milk if you like. Get the recipe here.
13. Pumpkin and Rice Soups - (101 Cookbooks)
Ginger-spiked pumpkin (or winter squash) soup. It calls for fresh ginger juice, pressed from grated ginger, and a kiss of serrano chile. Just a short list of ingredients come together beautifully here. Get the recipe here.
Continue reading Thirteen Great Blender Soups you can Make Tonight...
By Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) for JQ magazine. Stacy is a New York City–based provider of top quality Japanese interpreting, translating and writing/editing services. Starting from her initial encounter with Japan in her teens, she has built up a consummate understanding of the country‘s language and culture, enabling her to seamlessly traverse between Japan and the U.S. and serve as a bridge between the two. For more information, visit www.stacysmith.webs.com. As a writer, Stacy also shares tidbits and trends with her own observations in the periodic series WIT Life.
Having spent three years on JET in Kumamoto, home of nationwide sensation Kumamon who didn’t yet exist when I was there, I must honestly say that I approach bear characters with slight trepidation. However, I was delightfully surprised to love every minute of my encounter with Kuma-Kuma Chan, the bear who stars in the eponymous children’s book series written and illustrated by Kazue Takahashi. Her warm watercolors and relatable stories are guaranteed to entertain readers of all ages, and the latest English-language addition to this series, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels, is every bit as enjoyable as its two predecessors.
The previous two books, Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear (previously reviewed in JQ here) and Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Home, looked at a day in the life of Kuma-Kuma Chan on his own and when a friend comes to visit. Kuma–Kuma Chan’s Travels is a bit more expansive, introducing readers to his world when he takes trips. I love the details at the beginning sharing what he brings with him on his journeys, along with accompanying illustrations such as a Thermos containing hot coffee. We later see him on top of a mountain drinking said coffee while watching the sunrise. These trips take place inside his head, but the descriptive text and beautiful pictures make you feel like you are with him everywhere he goes.
The series as a whole features a strong element of kawaii, or cuteness, which contributes to its Japaneseness. Also, there is an intangible sensibility to the stories that make them feel a bit different than traditional Western children’s books. In the inaugural Kuma–Kuma Chan, the Little Bear, we learn about his daily routine, which includes aspects such as eating a big salad for breakfast with lettuce from his garden and personal grooming like trimming his nails and hair. I particularly liked the scene which shows him during the winter, rolling around to catch the sunlight as the day progresses with the kerosene heater nearby. For many JET alumni, I’m sure this scene will be reminiscent of days spent in school offices where this was the sole source of heat.
For readers seeking a creature of a different nature, the Tyrannosaurus children’s books written and illustrated by Tatsuya Miyanishi is another series worth checking out. It currently features 13 titles, four of which have been published in the U.S. For those who would like to learn about these books and meet the acclaimed author, he will be at the New York and New Jersey locations of Books Kinokuniya at 2 p.m. on October 21 and 22, respectively. On both days, Miyanishi will be reading from and discussing his works, as well as signing books for those with purchased copies. For more dates in Texas, Washington and California, click here.
Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels is available October 1. For more information, click here.
For more JQ magazine book reviews, click here.
This is a quick write-up of the color fantastic tacos we had for lunch recently. So simple, so good! Homemade tortillas (worth the effort) get slathered with a layer of roasted, smashed sweet potatoes which are topped with a sprinkling of black beans. From there it's all about the extra toppings like sliced avocado, quick pickled red onions and/or serrano chiles, and a bit of cheese - I used Bulgarian feta, but cotija would be good, or skip it altogether if you're vegan. A squeeze of lime, and some sliced scallions are the finishing touch!
Continue reading Smashed Sweet Potato Tacos...
This post is all about putting your waffle iron to use. We have a really great waffle maker, and I use it regularly, but pretty much only for my favorite waffles. It's the most egregious example of a single use appliance. So! I was chatting with a friend the other morning about the clever menu at The Riddler. It's a chic, little Champagne bar on a sunny corner in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. They don't have a traditional kitchen, but they do work wonders with a waffle iron and hot plate (w/ a glass of bubbles in hand). They make a now-famous Tater Tot Waffle, which got me thinking about all the other ways to use a waffle maker. Apparently I'm quite late to this party, because there are already tons of brilliant ideas out there. I've included a few that caught my attention here. Lastly, it seems like the trend is a lot of junk food meets waffle maker, so I tried to focus on more healthful (and savory) ideas! Let me know (in the comments) if you make anything clever in yours :) -h
1. Waffle Frittata with Tzatziki - (supergoldenbakes)
Making frittatas in your waffle maker is a thing. And, there are a lot of examples out there. That said, this is the one that caught my attention. Lots of herbs, cooked potatoes, chopped spinach - look at the color! Get the recipe here.
2. Pizza Waffles - (Jeff Garroway / Bijoux & Bits)
I came across this incredible photo (below) by Jeff Garroway. It's a decadent tower of crispy crusted, herb-flecked, cheesy pizza waffles. In the comments Jeff notes that he used the recipe from Bijou & Bites. I appreciate the idea that, like regular pizza, you can incorporate all sorts of seasonal sauces and ingredients, and keep the technique consistent. Get the recipe here.
3. Leftover Stuffing Waffles - (Just a Taste)
So, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and everyone ends up with extra stuffing. Here's what happens when you put stuffing in your waffle maker. Use veg-broth / stuffing to keep them vegetarian. I'm thinking you also might be able to get away with a vegan version using flax eggs & vegan stuffing? Worth a try! Get the recipe here.
4. Crispy Sesame Waffled Kale - (KCRW Good Food)
Featured on the KCRW Good Food site, kale chips. But the twist here is, guess what? They're made in your waffle iron. Faster than doing an entire batch in the oven. Get the recipe here.
5. Waffled Polenta - (Julie's Jazz)
We've talked before about what to do with those tubes of polenta nearly everyone has in their pantry. I came up with this Lentil Polenta Casserole, but these Waffled Polentas blow that idea out of the water! Imagine all the different toppings you can deploy. Get the recipe here.
6. Leftover Mashed Potato Waffles - (Just a Taste)
Love this idea! I'd likely scale way back on the cheese, and use leftover mashed sweet potatoes for the added nutrition boost. Of course there are a thousand ways you could play around with the seasonings, and stir-ins as well! Get the recipe here.
7. Kimchi Fried Rice Waffles - (Miss Hangry Pants)
I often have left-over cooked rice & grains on hand. Check out this kimchi fried rice waffle. Such a smart idea, and would make a great component in a quick lunch. Get the recipe here.
8. Sarah Fit Healthy Waffle Iron Recipes (video)
Sarah talks through all the different ways she uses her $10 lil waffle iron. Some super fun ideas here - apple chips!?!
Pasta videos are one of my favorite things on the internet. To be specific, the making and shaping of pasta using traditional ingredients and methods. There are all sorts of videos out there, and pasta enthusiasts on all the different platforms, but I love watching Italian grandmas (nonnas) the most. I'm going to highlight a handful of favorite pasta videos here, and let these Italian grandmas show us how it's done.
I also want to mention a channel on You Tube, Pasta Grannies, because it's an absolute treasure trove of pasta videos by Vicki Bennison. I've embedded a few favorites episodes down below, definitely poke around the archives as well. There's also some great inspiration at #pastamaking, and Miyuki Adachi is one of my all-time favorite Instagram accounts. Let me know in the comments if you have any favorites in this vein as well, I'm always adding to my list!
Pici(!!!) Pici is my first pasta love, and my favorite pasta to shape by hand. You roll out long spaghetti-shaped noodles across a countertop, and because you're doing it by hand the shape is beautifully irregular and rustic. I thought my pici game was respectable until I came across this Tuscan grandma. Around the :50 second mark of this video, she shows us who's boss.
Trofie is the most recent shape I've tried to master. To make these tiny coils, some people wrap the pasta dough around a thin needle or umbrella spoke. I don't have the patience for that (I'm so slow), and always resort to something more like this. Look at her outside-the-palm technique!
3. Fusilli Ricci
Proof that making fresh pasta keeps you strong! A beautiful portrait of nonna Maria at 86 years old making fusilli ricci.
Nonna Elena makes beautiful tagliatelle here, and make you think you can ditch your pasta machine for a pasta board and mattarello rolling pin. If you watch carefully, you get a sneak peek into her refrigerator too :).
I visited Puglia years ago, and could watch the ladies make traditional orecchiette (little ears) for hours. In this video we see an orecchiette master at work, but don't look away, because at the 2:00 minute mark, she goes big.
The shaping of the cavatelli kicks in around the 2:00 minute mark here. I remember meeting some of these ladies when I travelled to Puglia years ago.
7. Sicilian Maccheroni
One more from the Pasta Grannies series. Filmed in Menfi, Sicily, I love this video for a hundred reasons. Watch Damiana and Gaetano make an incredible fava bean pasta lunch. Her knife skills are the best, the fresh from the garden favas(!), the sunny patio(!), Damiana's fruit and berry tablecloth!
8. Miyuki Adachi
Not a nonna, but I suspect you'll love Miyuki nonetheless. I found her on Instagram, and love watching her video shorts and pasta shaping demonstrations from Toronto. This is a video of some of what you'll find her working on. As you can see, her trofie game is quite strong as well! (Follow Miyuki)
Continue reading These Incredible Italian Grandmas Teach you to Make Pasta from Scratch...
Around here we call this fire butter, but that's probably being overly dramatic. It's an invigorating mix of ground ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper blended with walnuts and vanilla extract into a homemade walnut butter. If I have maca powder or mesquite flour on hand, I add those too. This became a fast and feisty house favorite, and a way to boost an everyday favorite nutritionally with a host of spices. When you blend your own nut butters, it's hard to resist adding things! This version is perfect spread on toast, dabbed on banana coins or apple wedges, or thinned out into a spring roll dipping sauce.
I like to use walnuts here, but feel free to use almonds, or a blend of walnuts with another favorite nut. The texture is nice, and I haven't had a problem with separation.
One last note, I don't salt this, although it definitely needs a bit of salt. I wait until I spread it across something, and then sprinkle a bit of salt at that point, and it seems to be plenty.
Continue reading A Spicy, Boosted Nut Butter...
I believe in the power of a tidy, happy refrigerator - even if I don't always succeed. And those of you who follow me on Instagram know I like to take a few minutes to freshen up my refrigerator each weekend. I'm working on a more detailed post about my favorite fridge storage strategies, best containers, produce preservation tips, and the like, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some of the refrigerators I've come across and taken note of. These are refrigerators on their #fridgegoals A-game. Masters of refrigerator organization (or simply deploying a super clever tactic or two).
Before we start, there are a few best practices I've come to embrace. The aforementioned weekly tidy is key. I typically do mine on Saturday after getting home from the farmers' market. Wash and prep as many of your ingredients as possible at this time, and you'll thank yourself later. It might sound strange, but I think of this exercise as merchandising my refrigerator. And when you do it, far less goes to waste, and you'll feel more energized about cooking throughout the rest of the week.
I also want to note, this post is focused on refrigerators. Freezers are another thing altogether. I'm still trying to get a handle on mine, and haven't quite been able to nail down a great system, it always turns into a dumping ground. More to come on that front, in the meantime, hopefully there is something here that will inspire!
1. My Refrigerator
This is where I'm at - a work in progress, but I have a few set-in-stone strategies. First, like I mentioned up above, try to tidy it once a week. Second, store things in clear containers, preferably glass. That way you can see everything you have at a glance. I love our counter depth refrigerator, because it doesn't allow things to hide in the far back corners. Everything is up front and in your face. I want to get a wine bottle insert (mentioned below), and love anything stackable, like the Weck jars, which come in a range of sizes. These containers have been great, these (w/ compartments) are great for lunches on the go, and keeping things separate. I post refrigerators shots here now & then.
2. Kristen's Eat to Live Fridge - (Hello Nutritarian)
Woah. I'm not sure I've seen a stronger fridge game. Look at all the color here! And the prep! And when you get past that, look at the storage strategy. A lot of super smart suggestions on all fronts here. More shots from Kristen.
3. The Home Edit's Updatable Labeling
Labelling is key, especially in the freezer, or for anything that isn't going to get used in a few days. Until now, I've always used washi paper tape to label jars and baggies, but I'm loving Clea and Joanna's chalk marker strategy as well. Super clever, and easily helps your family put things where they're supposed to go. More details here.
4. How to Stock Your Fridge (& Cook) Like an Adult - (Refinery 29)
A nice snapshot of three culinary pros - Karen Mordechai, Lauren Godfrey, and Barrett Prendergrast. You can see some clever strategies in the photos - bowls for produce, wrapping greens, the catch-all nut drawer, etc. See the profiles here.
5. Beyond Meal-prep & CIY meals - (Coveteur)
I thought this portrait of Samantha Wasser's refrigerator was interesting because it shows how things might come together if you're more likely to buy your meals vs. cook them. There are a lot of people who don't cook much, and I thought this seemed like a better option than ordering lots of take-out. Lunch, dinner, breakfasts, and lots of drinks for a few days at least.
More photos of Samantha's kitchen here, and check out Sarah Britton's kitchen / fridge while you're there.
6. Jen's Counter Depth Fridge & Freezer Strategy - (I Heart Organizing)
I love Jen's use of those little mini-bins, and the can holder. Super clever. And her detailed freezer drawer write-up makes me feel like there might be hope for mine. Some great ideas, aprticularly for anyone with a counter depth, French door, and freezer drawer configuration. Mini-bins on order ;) More details here.
7. Lots of Jars & Baskets - (The Intentional Minimalist)
This is one of the few examples I could find with clever use of natural fiber baskets. I like how Kristin has used them here, and look at her smart use of large jars for greens. More tips from Kristin here.
8. Merchandise Your Healthy Drinks - (Brit + Co)
I'm a big fan of this strategy (as you can see in the opening photo). Storing hydrating, healthy beverages in glass containers and carafes is a sleek, beautiful way to showcase drinks. I also like the vote for clear containers here. There are a lot of fridge organization articles that highlight opaque containers, making the contents hard to see, and easy to forget about. Get the recipe here.
9. Wine & Tall Bottle Inserts - (The Container Store) I find myself short on space for tall items like wine bottles and sparkling water. Not sure why it didn't occur to me to add some bottle inserts, but this post got me thinking. More photos here.
10. Wide Open - What European Chef's Keep in their Refrigerators - (Bon Appétit) In case you weren't sure how a chef can differ from a home cook, their refrigerators lend some fascinating insights. Bon Appétit highlights Inside Chefs' Fridges, Europe, a book by Adrian Moore and Carrie Solomon. Read the article & browse the pics.
Continue reading Ten Refrigerators that Inspire Healthy Eating...