Squash and Carrot Soup with Spicy Cilantro Corn and Pumpkin Seeds

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Todays post will be a short one as I have had a super busy week and am quite exhausted! Lots of teaching, tutoring, cooking and catering and I have barely any steam left. But, I don’t want to leave you with no post this week so this one mostly be recipe.

One of the best parts about the cooler weather is cozy sweaters and comforting food (although we are getting one hell of an indian summer here in Montreal). I love making hot soups that both fill and heat you up. I love most soups, but squash and carrot soups are two of my favourite. I had both options in my pantry so I figured why not combine the two? I have started ordering produce from any amazing farm here in Montreal called Lufa Farms.  The produce is beautiful and always in season. It has actually helped inspire me to use ingredients I don’t normally buy and combine ingredients I hadn’t thought of before.

For this soup, I spiced it up with fresh ginger, turmeric, cumin chilli flakes, garlic and creamy coconut milk. I love different textures in my food so I topped my soup with fresh corn sautéed with cumin and fresh cilantro and some toasted pumpkin seeds. This soup is a meal in itself as it gives you loads of vitamins, good carbs, protein and healthy fats. Have a great weekend! Bon appetit!
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Soup Ingredients:

• 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
• 2 leeks (chopped)
• 1 sweet onion (chopped)
• 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
• 1 tbsp turmeric
• 1 inch knob of fresh ginger
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 tbsp cumin
• 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tbsp paprika
• 1 acorn or butternut squash (chopped)
• 1 lb carrots
• 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock (preferably homemade or low sodium organic)
• 1 can coconut cream

Topping Ingredients:

• 3-5 ears of corn (kernels cut off the knob)
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1.5 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
• 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
• a few drops stevia (optional)
• 1/2 tsp chopped fresh garlic or garlic powder
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add leeks and onions, sautée until tender and translucent. Add your garlic, ginger and spices. Cook for 1 minute.
2. Add your squash and carrots. Allow to cook in the spices for 5 minutes. Add your stock and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat and cook with the cover on for about 25-30 minutes. You want the squash and carrots to be super tender and easily pierced with a fork.
3. Add your coconut cream and taste. Adjust any seasonings and then carefully transfer the soup into your blender with a ladle. (Make sure to hold the top of the blender with a dishtowel to save yourself from being burned!) Puree until reached desired consistency.
4. For the topping: Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan on high heat. Add your corn, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, stevia and chilli flakes. Allow to sit on one side for about 5 minutes to add colour to the corn. Sautee until golden brown. Turn off the heat and add freshly chopped cilantro.
5. To serve the soup: ladle one scoop of soup into a bowl. Sprinkle about one tbsp of the corn and 1 tbsp of toasted pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!
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Caramelized Banana ‘Ice Cream’ Pie

Photo 2014-09-09, 4 58 38 AMI often find myself having the urge to cook or bake and I love when I get to share my creations with friends and family. My man and I were invited to a friends for dinner, and instead of bringing the expected bottle of wine, I wanted to bring something homemade. I find it really nice to bring something you have taken the time to make when invited to a friends or family for a meal. Whether you bring your infamous, jam, granola or even salad dressing, I think it shows you have made the extra effort. Even making a cake from a box counts as homemade in my books! Bringing a homemade gift is personal and can be shared by all your guests!

With that said, I normally contribute to a dinner with a sweet ending. It was cold and rainy outside the day of the dinner and I had zero interest in going to the grocery store. So as always, I looked at what I had in the pantry and got to work. I had tons of super ripe bananas (as per usual) and I wanted to make something other than my Cinnamon Bun Banana Bread. I thought it would be a good idea to make a delicious banana cream pie. So, I began mixing my coconut cream, ripe bananas, vanilla etc.. and I put the finished product into the freezer to get it to solidify quicker. After bringing it to guests, everyone said they preferred it frozen then in its creamy state, so… the banana ‘ice cream’ pie was born!

Not only is this pie insanely delicious, it is also gluten, dairy and refined sugar free… oh and vegan! It is the perfect dessert to close our summer before we start all craving hot apple pies and rice puddings.The caramelized banana pieces in the centre are too die for! And even those who weren’t crazy about coconut couldn’t get enough of the coconut crust. What is best about this pie is that it is super easy to put together and only involves around 15 minutes of baking time. All you need is a good blender or food processor and the work is done for you! I served mine with some delicious coconut milk ice cream and raspberries but in truth, it really doesn’t need it. Bon appetit!
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Crust Ingredients:

• 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
• 1/4 cup egg whites
• juice of half a lemon
• 1/2 cup coconut sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 pinch salt

Filling Ingredients:

• 4-5 very ripe bananas
• about 1/2 cup coconut cream (preferably organic)
• 1 cup coconut yogurt (you can find this in most grocery stores in the health section)
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 tsp coconut sugar
• 2 tsp cinnamon (divided)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix all crust ingredients in a medium sized bowl and pour into a well greased pie dish. I greased mine with coconut oil. Press down evenly and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.

3. While the crust is baking start preparing your filling. In a blender or food processor, put all but one banana, coconut cream, maple syrup, coconut yogurt, 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Pulse or blend until well combined and creamy. Put mixture in the fridge.

4. In a pa on medium high heat, allow coconut oil to melt. Slice one banana and carefully place into the oil. Sprinkle the bananas with coconut sugar and cinnamon while in the pan. Allow to cook on each side for at least 5 minutes or until golden and caramelized. You can use an offset spatula to flip each one. Set aside.

5. Pour half of the filling into pie crust. Spread caramelized bananas all around. Pour the remaining batter over the bananas. It is ok if you find the caramelized bananas have floated to the top. Simply push them down. Place pie in freezer and allow to set for at least 2-3 hours. It is best to make this the day before you need it or in the morning to ensure it freezes in time.

6. To serve, allow to sit at room temperature for five minutes. Dip a sharp knife in hot water to cut through. Enjoy!

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Kitchen Pantry Organization

Photo 2014-08-18, 3 40 57 AMOrganizational skills have not always come easy to me. A so-called ‘organized mess’ pretty much ruled all areas of my life until I reached my 20′s. As I started working with children, I realized the importance in keeping all areas of your life organized to ensure maximum potential and success is reached. So now, as I teach children to colour code, label, staple, highlight etc… I make sure to do the same for myself. And let me tell you, this same model holds true in the kitchen! An organized pantry will make cooking and baking SO much less stressful and will elevate your potential for increased success!

Not only will organization make you a better cook, you will be surprised how much money you will save. The amount of food we throw out in North America is absurd. As individuals, one way we can diminish this waste is by starting in our very own homes. Often, we throw out lots of food because we can barely see whats in our fridge, pantry etc… So we all opt to what is in the front row, because who wants to reach to the back? Another reason why there is so much waste in our homes is because we often buy multiples of things.  How many of you have bought the same pantry items over and over again because you believed there was none at home? I have bought quinoa, rice, flours, chia seeds and so on, in abundance simply because I didn’t have a clear view of what was in my pantry. The truth is, I have wanted to organize my pantry for years, but like many of you, I put it off. Because who really wants to spend their day off doing that?

Im here to tell you that taking those three or four hours on a rainy Sunday will be one of the best decisions you make. Especially if you are working with limited storage space or a smaller fridge/freezer, this will change your life! It might seem that putting ingredients into jars and storing items in baskets will only cause confusion and frustration in the future. But as time goes on you will notice how quickly ingredients come together and put away for all your meals.

Organization in any form should be tailored to your needs. So my tips for how I organized my kitchen might not be the way you choose to do yours. For example, if you never use chia seeds, there is no point in putting them on your eye-level shelf. If you never bake, you may want to store your baking items in a storage cupboard. It really is your place and should be all about you! That being said, it still might be difficult to know where to start. So here are my tips for how I got started!

Clean Eating Goddess Tips for Organizing Your Pantry

1. Start by taking everything out of your pantry and laying it out on the floor or kitchen table (wherever there is more room). Depending on how much food you have accumulated over the years, you may need to make labeled stations to get things organized. Simply use a cue card, piece of paper, tape (or whatever you have around) and make desired labels. Some sections will include: baking, cereals, sauces, snacks, spices, nuts, grains, oils, pastas, drinks, vinegars etc…

2. Once you have placed all of your pantry items in its appropriate category, quickly sift through best before dates and toss anything that has gone off. If you aren’t sure about something, my rule of thumb is to just throw it out. If you are questioning it to begin with, then its probably best to just buy a new one.

3. The first items I tackled was anything left in unsealed bags. We all have been there trying to get our measuring cup inside the almost empty bag of flour. Not only does it create a mess, but our food isn’t kept at its ultimate freshness. It is so much easier to have those kinds of items stored in airtight jars and/or containers. If it can take you years to go through a bag of flour, then make sure to date the jar with a label or directly on the cap. I moved all flours, nuts, grains, seeds, powders and any other items that were in a half opened bag such as coconut flakes, protein powder and dried lavender. Nuts and seeds can go rancid pretty quickly so it is best to keep them in the freezer if you don’t plan on using them in the near future. If you have loads of half opened bags of chips, crackers etc… I bought regular old clothes pins to seal up what I have. Or for a few extra dollars you can buy special bag clips (links found below). Cereals also tend to go stale pretty quickly if you aren’t eating them within a weeks time. Make sure to close them well with the clips or you can use special cereal storage containers (link below).

4. I got a great tip on how to save money on jars from the amazing organization specialist/interior decorator Ashley Shaanan. So many of us recycle tons of perfectly reusable jars from various items such as pickles, sauces, coconut oil etc… She suggested that I de-label all of the jars by soaking them in hot water overnight and then scrubbing the label off. To make the caps more beautiful and useful, she suggested spray paint chalk which will turn virtually any surface into a chalkboard. This makes labelling your jars a whole lot easier! I chose to label my jars with kraft tags and butchers twine (links below) but I still sprayed the caps of my old jars as a backup (plus they look a lot better!). Of course, you can still always buy beautiful Mason or Kilner jars which I love! (link below)
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5. Now that everything is labeled it is time for you to cater your pantry to your individual or family needs. Storage baskets are a great way to not only save room, but they also make it super simple to find exactly what you’re looking for. I have baskets for all grain products such as rice, pasta quinoa etc… I also have one for all of my baking supplies such as flours, vanilla, sugar, baking powder etc.. As a home cook, I have built up quite the collection of spices and seasonings and it became impossible to find what I was looking for. By putting the various spices in a basket, I am able to sift through what I need. A great idea is to label the tops of the spices so you can pick out exactly what you are looking for without wasting time checking the labels. Other baskets can include packaged snacks, canned goods, sauces, oils+vinegars, and  fresh produce such as garlic, onions, bananas etc.
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6. Store the baskets and other ingredients based on what you and your family uses most. If you eat snacks, cereal, seeds, nuts, and spices everyday then make sure to put those items at eye level. Heavier items should remain on bottom shelves so that no one gets hurt in the process of taking them down!

Below you will find a list of my some of my favourite accessories for organizing my pantry. Check it out!

 

CEG’s Favourite Pantry Organization Accessories
1. Kilner Jars
2. Mason Jars
3. Chalkboard Spray Paint
4. Kraft Tags
5.  Butcher’s Twine
6. Storing Baskets
7. Large Glass Jar for storing items in bulk. Looks beautiful on your counter!
8. Cereal Keeper plus Easy Pour
9. Clothes Pins to keep open bags sealed! Cheap and cute way to keep your food fresh!
10. 1 L Mason Jar. Where I keep my granola at all times. Looks amazing on the counter or window sill.
11. Bag Clips

 

I hope these tips have inspired you to get the kitchen pantry you have been dreaming of! If you have any questions about your own pantry please feel free to contact me by commenting on this post or reaching me through my contact page.

xx-

Jen

Ps. If you live in Montreal and don’t have the time to get this done but so badly want your pantry to be as organized as mine, have no fear! Reach out to me through my contact page and let me do it for you!

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