Cara Cara Margaritas (Recipe)

I wanted to make Blood Orange Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo but didn’t get to the grocery store in time. Since there were Cara Cara oranges in the fruit bowl, so I decided to go with them. After consulting several recipes online, I created my own recipe and if I do say so myself, these Margaritas are perfect for a party or for any night you feel like a little celebrating is in order.

Cara Cara Margaritas

(Serves 3-6, depending on glass size)

1 cup Cara Cara orange juice

1/4 cup lime juice

3/4 cup Tequila

1/3 cup Cointreau or other triple sec

1/4 cup simple syrup

about 20 ice cubes

Stir ingredients in a pitcher and serve.

An Afternoon (Or Anytime) Smoothie Recipe

Do you have go-to lunchtime fare? I should, I know, but I don’t. Some days it’s a salad, others soup, and then there are the times when I make smoothies because they are so darn easy! This is one I blended up the other day when I didn’t want to hang out in the kitchen for very long.

Cacao-Tahini Smoothie

1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 handful baby spinach

1 Medjool date

1 Tablespoon tahini

1 Tablespoon cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon Ashwagandha powder

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Links I Love

This is where I will share my sources of inspiration from the past week: it could be from books, podcasts, blogs, films, artwork, food/recipes, etc. I hope you find some encouragement here as well!

How was your week? April merged into May, the Forsythia and the Daffodils continued to bloom, and the weather warmed up (slightly).

Podcasts:

Rachel Hollis had an episode that I listened to twice: How I Got My Apparel Line With QVC. I have no interest in an apparel line on QVC, but she has a section where she explains how to reverse engineer your goals . It is so practical with step by step instructions. She also shares a bit of her early years, the challenges and struggles, and how she never gave up!

Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast had a couple of episodes that inspired me. Her interview with Tony Robbins was the first time I’d ever heard him speak and his energy and positivity boosted my spirits. Episode 251 was 5 Things You Didn’t Know About My Early Entrepreneur Days reminded me that even the most successful people started small.

Poetry:

I happened to discover Jane Kenyon’s book of poems, Otherwise, just last week. It’s the first time I’ve read anything of hers and I am enchanted.

Food/Recipes

We made this Mahi-Mahi recipe from Delish this week. Garlicky-Lemon Mahi-Mahi with Asparagus (we subbed the butter for olive oil) was an easy weeknight meal that we will be making again.

Have a great weekend, friends! I’d love to hear what is inspiring you this week.

Healthy Fudge: A Childhood Recipe, Revamped

Today I’ll be sharing a recipe from my early childhood. When I was small, my mom kept us well with home-cooked meals that included plenty of unprocessed, whole foods, and very little sugar. One of the treats she would make for us included “Healthy Fudge”. The original recipe contained peanut butter, wheat germ, and powdered milk, none of which I can tolerate today. So I revamped it and enjoy it as much, if not more, than the original.

Healthy Fudge

makes about 16 balls

1/2 cup cashew butter (or almond butter or tahini)

1/2 cup molasses, honey or (1/4 cup of each)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, plus extra for rolling

1 cup ground flax seed

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or raisins (optional)

Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a mixing bowl and stir together with a spoon. Add in chocolate chips if using. Put some coconut into a small bowl.

Form into 1-inch balls, roll in coconut, and place in an air-tight container. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

The One Italian Cookie You Need to Bake (Recipe)

I wish I could remember exactly when I began baking biscotti, but it was definitely when my kids were very small. Even though I grew up in an Italian-American family, I knew no one who actually baked their own. My Grandma Corriero bought hers at the supermarket and those were the only ones I’d ever tried. (They definitely tasted store-bought.) But one of my Moosewood Cookbooks had a recipe for them, so I made them on a whim once and have loved biscotti ever since.

My two favorite aspects of biscotti are: you pretty much can’t ruin them and they are so easy!!! I am an impatient, lazy cook and baker, so I go with easy recipes whenever I get the chance.

Here is my biscotti recipe, adapted from Moosewood.

Biscotti

1/4 cup vegan butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoon freshly grated orange (or lemon) peel

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans

2 1/4 cups gluten free flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the vegan butter and the sugar, add the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and grated orange peel. Fold in the nuts.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to wet and and mix until blended and dough holds together when pressed with floured hands. This dough is meant to be on the stiff side.

Scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet and shape into a log, about 12 x 3 inches. Press down and flatten until it’s about 14 x 4 inches.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until dough is firm and just starting to brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then transfer log to cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slice crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces. Lay each piece cut side up on the baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

The biscotti will last in an airtight container for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a few months.

You can add fruit or chocolate chips instead of nuts. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Turmeric, Two Ways (Recipes)

Some of my readers may remember my post from last year, when I wrote about living with Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome (RCES) and how juicing is one of the main ways I keep that beast under control.

The importance of juicing is primarily about lowering inflammation in my body, but I don’t rely on juicing alone to do this job. Enough sleep, exercise, proper overall nutrition, and managing stress levels are also factors. In the past six months, I’ve been regularly drinking green tea and taking Turmeric to assist with inflammation reduction. I actually buy Turmeric by the pound both to use in cooking and to fill veggie capsules myself–it’s much more economical this way.

I love simple ways to incorporate Turmeric into my diet, so today I am sharing two quick and easy recipes: one is a Thai Yam-Carrot Soup recipe and one is Turmeric Hot Cocoa recipe. I’m guessing by now, you’ve heard about Turmeric’s amazing benefits, but in case you haven’t, here’s a link to get you started.

Thai Yam-Carrot Soup

Serves 8, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions or combination of onions, shallots, leeks (basically whatever you have on hand)

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 2 teaspoons

1 Tablespoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

4 cups broth or water ( I used Not Chick’n bouillon cubes)

1 large or 2 medium-sized yams, peeled and cut into half inch pieces

2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can coconut milk

Juice of 1/2-1 lime, depending on taste

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

Heat oil in pan, add onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking/burning.

Add ginger, salt, and curry powder and stir to coat onions. Add water or broth, yams and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until yams and carrots are soft. Turn off heat. Add can of coconut milk.

Blend with an immersion blender or regular blender. (Make sure you take the center out of the blender lid and cover with a towel if you blend while the soup is hot!!! Otherwise the top will burst off and hot soup will fly everywhere. I learned this the hard way).

Recipe adapted from www.comfybelly.com

Turmeric Hot Cocoa

Serves 1, dairy free, gluten free, vegan 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • A pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend well. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, whisking often, remove from heat, taste, and adjust sweetness if desired.adapted from https://www.natalieshealth.com/cacao-turmeric-maca-hot-chocolate/

If you make either of these recipes, I’d love to know how it turned out! Or if you have favorite anti-inflammatory foods you recommend, feel free to share in comments.

Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

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I grew up in an Italian-American family where it was considered a sacrilege if one ate canned pasta sauce. Ever. In fact, I never ate canned sauce unless I happened to be at a friend’s house. My mom, who is not Italian, diligently learned how to make amazing “gravy” as we all called it, from Italian women in my dad’s family and friend group. This gravy always included meatballs and often, sausage. She didn’t make marinara sauce very often, which is a quick meat-free sauce, and when she did, it often seemed over-acidic to me.

 

When I decided to follow a vegetarian diet nearly five years ago, I knew I needed to find a good marinara sauce recipe; one that was rich, garlicky and had just the right balance of acidity and mellow mouthfeel. I bought Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook, Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, and liked her marinara sauce recipe. I’ve tweaked it a bit and here is what I make once a week to use on pasta and homemade pizza.

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As I almost always do with recipes, I give you an amount range for a few ingredients. For example, if the tomatoes you are using are sweet and not too acidic, you might not need all the sugar or milk. You also might prefer a less garlicky sauce, so use less garlic. Cooking has a lot to do with personal taste, so adjust it to your liking.

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Easy Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup of water, approximately
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, chopped (optional)

In a thick-bottomed pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil, add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until it turns golden, stirring and watching it carefully to prevent burning.

Add water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any garlic that might be sticking.

Add tomatoes and the salt through milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring gently to combine. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.

Adjust seasonings. Add fresh herbs if desired.

Notes and Options:

This lasts for about a week to ten days in the fridge.

It can also be frozen and thawed for a later time.

Feel free to add dried fennel, basil, thyme, or other dried herbs you prefer.

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