Stuffed Baked Pears | With Oats, Figs and Honey

I have the most insatiable sweet tooth known to man. I’ve made this lofty claim previously but in the wake of Easter – which essentially amounted to an all out candy-eating gorge fest in my household – it bears repeating. Yes, it’s around the holidays that my tendency to overindulge in sugar really rears its insulin-spiking head. You might recall that huge Christmas cake of ill repute, the one I managed to polish off all by my lonesome, over the course of a few weeks, piece after piece stealthily snatched from the freezer. Well Easter witnessed similar petty crimes, except in this case my victims were a sickening number of chocolate bunnies and eggs.
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Really I have no problem munching on sweet treats over the holidays – it’s fun to be festive and depriving myself of food I enjoy puts me in a dark mood. The issue is that these holiday overindulgences tend to set me off on a rather unhealthy pattern of sugar consumption. Suddenly eating candy after dinner EVERY NIGHT doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea. An apple fritter with that Tim Horton’s coffee? Sure, why not? Pancakes for breakfast on a Wednesday? Oh hell ya! Before I know I’m back on the sugar wheel, consuming way too many sugary confections and always wanting more. Madness!
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So once again, I find myself having to do a self-intervention before I snack my way too far into diabetes territory. That being said, I’m not inclined to completely renounce my dessert habit – gotta keep a little junk in the trunk, right ladies? As such I’ve been searching for recipes that would provide a happy medium – that is, appease my sweet tooth without making feel like I’m ‘on a diet’ and eating like an ascetic monk. A tall order? Perhaps, but I knew that someone out there in the WordPress blogosphere or beyond must possess the answer to this culinary ruse!
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Sure enough, the universe answered my call. A couple of weeks ago I came across this recipe for baked apples on Nicole’s Cauldrons and Cupcakes blog. This is precisely the type of recipe I was after. It contains some seriously healthy ingredients – fruit, walnuts and dates – yet with some sort of sleight of hand tricks you into thinking you’re eating something quite sinful when really the opposite is true. Inspired by Nicole, and eyeing some nice ripe pears on my counter, I set about creating my own baked fruit dessert (or in my case, lunch; it was around noon when I made this). This is what I came up with, which essentially amounts to an inside out pear crumble. Old fashioned oats, dried figs, a dab of honey , pie spices and a little butter are combined, stuffed into a hollowed out pear and baked until fall-apart soft. Simply delicious. I think these baked pears have set me on the path toward better glycemic health – just do me a favour and call security if you see me approaching the ‘danger zone’ (AKA the bulk candy aisle) at the grocery store 🙂
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Recipe: Stuffed Baked Pears | With Oats, Figs and Honey
Makes 4 baked pears
Ingredients:
  • 4 ripe (but not mushy) pears – I used Bartletts
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (use gluten free oats if you have a gluten sensitivity)
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried figs
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or agave or maple syrup) + a little more to serve
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or less if using table salt)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Remove top 1/5th of each pear and set aside – these will be the ‘lids’ for your baked pears.

3. Using a small spoon or apple corer, scoop core from each pear, making sure not to cut through bottom of pear.

4. Place pears in an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and set aside.

5. In a small bowl stir together oats, figs, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

6. Add butter (or vegan butter) and honey (or agave or maple syrup) and mix well until everything is combined.

7. Press oat mixture firmly into pears and top with pear tops.

8. Fill bottom of pan with 1/2 cup of water.

9. Place pan in oven for 30-40 minutes, or until oat mixture is warm and soft.

10. Remove from oven and serve, topping each pear with a drizzle of honey (or agave or maple syrup). Optional: Pair with a scoop or two of ice cream or vegan ice cream.

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Roasted Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Milk Soup

I’m really starting to get into this whole ‘living in a house’ thing – being able to walk two paces without tripping over or bumping into something or someone is a refreshing change. Previous to living in the RV I’d been a condo and apartment dweller for the better part of two decades, since I moved away from the parental nest at age 18. This span of time gave me plenty of experience in the art of making do with limited closet space (which always proved to be the ultimate first world problem for this clothes hoarder), living in close proximity to others (including cats and their littery, feathery, toy-mousey paraphernalia), and of course, cooking in very small kitchens – which I waxed on about ad naseum during those 7 sanity-testing months at the trailer park!
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So yeah – I grew more than accustomed to confined interior living spaces. Those years of living in high rises also inured me to life without access to immediate outdoor space. Yes, there were public parks around where I lived at various points, and a couple places had a small patio (one of which accompanied a 26th-floor suite and was so high off the ground it caused vertigo if you dared look over the edge). But living above ground level as I did meant that having access to an actual yard just wasn’t on the menu. I didn’t mind too much at that point – convenient access to a million coffee shops, restaurants and places to shop was more of a priority. In my mind, yards were the mein of suburbanites – and goodness knows I wasn’t one of those!
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It was only when we moved into the house – in the suburbs, the horror! – that I realized how out of touch I was with the notion of having a yard – an actual plot of grass that only we (and assorted neighbourhood wildlife and possibly the odd eccentric searching for cans) have access to. The first couple of weeks we were here I only went into the backyard for practical reasons – i.e. to pick up dog poop. Partially it was the rain, but the real issue was that I didn’t know what to do with all that space! I’m not making this up – it had been such a long time since I’d been privy to a backyard that at first all I could do was shuffle around uncertainly back there, ineffectually contemplating the dilapidated shed.
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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve impressed myself. Determined to overcome my silly yard trepidation, I suited up in a pair of garden gloves and rubber boots, and armed with a spade and rake undertook the process of weeding the garden beds. Fifteen minute backyard sessions have gradually lengthened into one and two hour weed-pulling fests. Despite various squirrels giving me the stink eye, at moments I’ve even felt quite peaceful and meditative back there, ankle deep in dirt!
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Earlier in the week as I gazed into the produce drawer in the fridge, I got to thinking, ‘I should grow some of these vegetable things myself’. For a time I was really into playing Farmville – it can’t be that much different, right? Who knows, maybe this time next year this blog will have done a 180 and feature dishes that use produce grown in my own backyard – more improbable things have happened (did I mention I have a baby and live in the suburbs?)! In the meantime, why not try this easy, vegan and super flavourful soup on for size? Yes, it’s STILL  soup weather here on the West Coast, where Spring showers continue unabated. This recipe features caramelized roasted carrots, spices, fresh ginger and smooth coconut milk was the ideal reward after all my labours out back, tilling the soil 🙂
Recipe: Roasted Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Milk Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
Ingredients:
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 green onions, chopped (optional for garnish)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place carrots in an oven-proof dish and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 20-30 minutes – turning carrots over half way through – or until carrots are tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. In a large saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallots and saute until soft and translucent.

3. Add garlic and ginger and saute just until golden brown.

4. Add red pepper flakes, cinnamon, paprika and coriander and stir until spices coat other ingredients.

5. Add vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer.

6. Once carrots are cool enough to handle, chop into smallish pieces, discarding of ends. Add to saucepan.

7. Let soup simmer partially covered for 15-20 minutes.

8. Using an immersion blender, puree until soup is smooth. Alternately you can transfer soup to a conventional blender to puree, then return soup to saucepan.

9. Add coconut milk and stir to warm through. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

10. Serve, topping each portion with chopped green onions. Eat!

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Springtime French Green Lentil and Pearl Barley Soup

In my last post I detailed a few of the nefarious finds we’ve made at our new house: the elaborate spider’s nest in the wall, the sketchy crow bar marks on the front door, the kitschy linoleum underlying the lurid teal carpet in the bedroom, both of which are now on their way to the municipal waste station. The weirdness of this flooring situation didn’t hit me until last night. Why was there linoleum in the bedroom to begin with – was that a thing in the late 1960s? And was covering it with teal carpet really the best solution? Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste. That being said, the creative mind responsible for said carpet would likely be equally offended by my design sense .

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It’s not my intention to sound like a big old squeaky wheel about the house – believe me, I am more than relieved to be out of the RV even if it means dodging the odd Black Widow and seeing various shades of teal wherever I look. But there’s one last undesirable feature of the house I’d like to mention. The toilet. Yes, I bring up toilets way too often on this blog. But it’s worth mention that, in a cruel twist of fate – after 7 1/2 months of persevering with the clog-prone septic system in the RV – the toilet in the house is… well, I’ll be nice and say it has personality. Indeed, it makes disturbing gurgling sounds, its water surges threatening toward the rim, it flushes ‘normally’ only if you hold the lever down just so. I’m starting to think I must have been an incompetent plumber in a previous life, and am paying my due now via a series of faulty toilets.

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The house has also coughed up some pretty cool booty (as in stuff, not the other kind). My SO has actually owned this house for several years, but was renting it to his sister until we moved in last month. Evidently he’d used the cupboards in the laundry room as a dumping ground for miscellaneous junk before he moved out years ago, because when I went to clean out said cupboards I unearthed – amongst several pieces of ancient Tupperware – an ice cream maker straight from the 1980s (remember when these were all the rage?), an unused wok (score) and bafflingly, a single leather glove – which made me wonder if I had a piece of forensic evidence on my hands.

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Over the weekend we had a very welcome spate of warm, dry weather here in the Lower Mainland ,which prompted everyone to simultaneously shed their fleece and Gore-Tex and flee into the out-of-doors. This week, however, the Spring showers returned, putting me back in the mood for warm food. The seasonal ingredients that are beginning to make an appearance in grocery stores inspired me to whip up this easy springtime soup featuring French green lentils, pearl barley, sweet carrots, shallots, leeks, white mushrooms, spring onions, lemon and fresh basil! Apart from asparagus (which I’ve yet to come across unfortunately), nothing heralds the arrival of Spring like lemon and fresh herbs 🙂

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Recipe: Springtime French Green Lentil and Pearl Barley Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup french green lentils, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley, uncooked (omit or substitute lentils if you’re GF)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, finely chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 small carrots, diced into 1/4″ thick medallions
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 5 cups vegetable stock (I used low sodium)
  • 2 green onions, chopped (dark and light green parts only), plus a bit more for garnish
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Place dried lentils and barley in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cover saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 20-30 minutes or until lentils and barley are tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside until needed.

2. In a large saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallots, leeks and carrots and saute until tender.

3. Add in garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika and stir just until garlic is golden brown.

3. Add in cooked lentils, barley and zucchini and stir until everything is combined.

4. Add vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boil.

5. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until zucchini is tender (or preferably longer to let flavours develop). Taste and season with salt and pepper.

6. Just before serving, stir in lemon juice, green onions, and basil.

7. Serve, topping each portions with chopped green onions and lemon zest. Eat!

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Roasted Red Pepper and Olive Tapenade | With Hazelnuts and Figs

When one moves into a house that could most-flatteringly be described as a ‘fixer upper’ one is bound to make some interesting discoveries. Such has been the case since we moved out of the RV and initiated the renovation process at our new place. Some of these discoveries have appealed to the retro enthusiast in me – like the page from the Toronto Star newspaper from 1971 that Mike found stuffed behind the drywall in one of the bedrooms. We were also surprised to find some well-preserved and very of-its-time gold and beige linoleum underneath the teal coloured carpet. Teal! Whoever lived in this house previously obviously had an obsession with this colour, as it features in practically every room of the house, much to our combined amazement!
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Other discoveries have been more dubious in nature, like the crow bar marks on the front door frame – creepy reminders of the house being broken into a few years ago. I’ll admit that knowledge of this break-in has launched me into full-on ‘neighbourhood watch’ mode. I find myself regularly on the lookout for ‘suspicious behaviour,’ often peeping through the blinds like a paranoid recluse to see what’s going on outside the house. We have an old rocking chair that we’ve been using until we move the rest of our furniture out of storage, and I’ve even caught myself seated in it on occasion, sinisterly panning the road outside. All I need is a set of curlers in my hair and a rolling pin on my lap and I’ll have officially achieved the status of neighbourhood crazy lady.
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Mike happened upon a massive spider nest while he was tearing down the valence in the bedroom over the weekend. He immediately assessed the nest – rather dramatically – as that belonging to a Black Widow – but I’d like to think he’s wrong seeing as he doesn’t have any formal training on arachnids or their dwellings that I’m aware of. I KNEW something was in that wall ever since I heard an aggressive scurrying sound as I was falling to sleep the other night. Mike seems to think he scared the spider into the attic – which is fine by me, as long as it stays there and doesn’t decide to pay us a visit at some point.
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Given all the activity around the house I haven’t been keeping up with my rigorous (ya right) once- or twice-weekly blogging schedule (if you can even call it that), but here you have it – my latest creation, a yummy tapenade! I’ve had hazelnuts hovering in the back of my mind for some time now, ever since I spotted this recipe for dukkah – an Egyptian spice blend made up of hazelnuts, seeds, fresh herbs and spices – on the amazing Cook Eat Live Vegetarian blog. I was already planning a roasted red pepper and olive tapenade but felt the urge to a little something-something to this classic Mediterranean pairing. Enter hazelnuts! They give the tapenade a fantastic nutty crunch, while the sweetness of dried figs offsets the pungency the black and green olives. I also threw in an entire bulb of garlic – which, when roasted, turns smoky and sweet and gives the tapenade a nice depth of flavour.
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This recipe is prepared in a blender or food processor so it’s easy to control the consistency of the tapenade. I left mine a bit chunky so the different ingredients could be differentiated – but if a smoother spread is more to your liking, simply blend for longer.
Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper and Olive Tapenade | With Hazelnuts and Figs
Makes about 1 cup
Ingredients:
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 medium bulb of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped Manzanilla olives
  • 4 dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place whole red peppers in an oven-proof dish and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 40 minutes – turning peppers over half-way through – or until peppers are soft and skin is blackened. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. While peppers are roasting, peel outmost layers of skin from garlic bulb and place bulb on a piece of aluminum foil (foil should be big enough to bundle around garlic). Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto bulb and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bundle foil firmly around garlic and place in a small oven-proof dish. Place dish in oven alongside peppers and roast for 30 minutes, or until garlic cloves are tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

3. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, remove stem and seeds and peel off blackened skin. Once garlic is cool enough to handle, separate garlic from skin. Transfer peppers and garlic to blender or food processor.

4. Blend peppers and garlic together until a smooth puree forms.

5. Add chopped hazelnuts and pulse until broken down into smaller pieces.

6. Add figs, both types of olives, oregano, pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and pulse until ingredients are incorporated, scraping down sides of blender as necessary. I left my tapenade a little chunky. If you prefer a smoother texture simply blend for longer.

7. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary (I found the olives alone made the tapenade adequately salty).

8. Transfer tapenade to serving dish. Serve with crackers, warm bread or crostini. This tapenade would also work well as a spread in a grilled vegetable sandwich or panini. Eat!

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Avocado and Mango Salad Sandwich | With Sauteed Baby Arugula

Now that I’m caught up on posting the last of the recipes I made before we moved out of the RV, I finally got down to business and whipped up a dish for the blog in my new kitchen! When I say ‘new’ I mean new to me – the kitchen itself, as I mentioned in a previous post, is far from new – in fact, I’d describe it as an abomination straight from 1989. Aesthetics aside, however, it works just fine and it’s a real luxury having more space to move around when I’m cooking. I no longer feel like a giant jammed into a toy-sized kitchen!

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Another auspicious aspect of being out of the RV is that I have a far less awkward photo-taking set up. In the RV, in order to get decent natural light when taking pictures, I’d have to fling open the front door of the RV and set the dish to be photographed on the FLOOR just inside the front step. There was nothing glamourous or professional about it – far from it! It worked well enough when the weather was good but in the Fall and Winter things got a little treacherous. If you look closely enough at some of my photos you can actually see snowflakes, droplets of rain, even hail that had blown in the door and onto the food. And if there were an auditory component to the photos you’d be able to hear Mike yelling at me to hurry up and shut the door, that I was letting all the heat out of the trailer.

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My new set up here at the house is still far from professional (and won’t be until I invest in something better than the point-and-shoot camera I currently use), but at least it’s a little more streamlined. We have a big sliding door that lets in plenty of light, so all I need to do is place my dish on the dining room table and I’m good to go. No more letting in of the elements! And no more nudging of curious toddler out of the way with my leg.

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Where I live, finding affordable mangos is a rare occurrence so I was pleased to come across some on my last trip to the grocery store (they were 76 cents a piece versus the usual $2.50 – $3.oo). I try to buy locally-grown produce as much as possible but when it comes to some things – citrus and ‘exotic’ fruit in particular – I make an exception. Sometimes a girl just has to get her mango on! I also snagged a few avocados and thought these two ingredients ought to be paired together in some way. I was in the mood for a sandwich – when am I not in the mood for a sandwich – so I decided to make an avocado-y version of an egg salad – with lots of zesty fresh lime, jalapeno, a dollop of vegan mayonnaise and a bit of scallion and celery for some crunch. A little diced mango adds nice colour and the perfect amount of tart sweetness. And I loved the sauteed baby arugula on top! It’s peppery flavour and delicate texture worked really nicely with the avocado salad. As a matter of fact, I nominate arugula as the NEW leafy green. Kale, you’ve been overthrown!

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Recipe: Avocado and Mango Salad Sandwich | With Sauteed Baby Arugula

Makes 2 open-faced sandwiches

Ingredients:

For Avocado and Mango Salad

  • 4 pieces of bread or 2 bagels
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 a small lime
  • 1 stalk of celery, minced
  • 1/2 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 thin scallions, minced (light and dark green parts only)
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh mango
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For Sauteed Baby Arugula

  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Prepare Avocado and Mango Salad:

  1. In a medium bowl, mash together 1 avocado and vegan mayonaise.
  2. Add salt, paprika (if using) and lime juice and stir until everything is combined.
  3. Fold in celery, scallions, jalapeno and mango.
  4. Dice second avocado and fold gently to combine with other ingredients.
  5. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate until needed.

Prepare Sauteed Baby Arugula:

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add baby arugula and season lightly with salt and pepper
  3. Sautee just until wilted (this should only take a minute or so).
  4. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl (this will prevent arugula from overcooking)

Assemble sandwich:

  1. Lightly toast your bread or bagel of choice.
  2. Spread Avocado and Mango Salad onto each piece of toast.
  3. Top with Sauteed Baby Arugula.
  4. Eat!

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Shiitake Mushroom Gravy

I broke the hot news in my previous post that we’re finally out of the RV and living in a real house – as in, one that sits on a foundation and has a front and back yard. We’re just getting started with the renovations – ripping up the carpets in the bedrooms, updating the bizarro apricot and teal bathroom, and sanding the walls to remove the faux ‘suede’ finish fancied by the previous owners. Does anyone remember this type of paint from the late 80s (or possibly early 90s)? If not, consider yourself lucky. And by the way, if you’ve never attempted it, sanding paint is the dustiest endeavour known to man!

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Despite the dishevelled state of the house I’m having no trouble adjusting to life outside of the RV. I finally have a washer and drier at my disposal, so I no longer have to drag my laundry to a public facility like I did at the trailer park – often through the rain or snow, the horror – squirming child in tow. Plus I’ve quit hoarding change like an old lady for the machines. I’m also enjoying being able to shower without fear of the hot water running out before I’ve rinsed the shampoo out of my hair (the hot water tank in the RV only allowed for a 6-7 minute shower), and having a toilet that flushes into the ground and not a stinky tank that needs to me emptied with a pull of a lever. And best of all, little Hunter now has more space to move around and bigger cupboards to hide from me in.

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I’ve been so preoccupied with scrubbing the house that I’ve fallen a bit behind on posting recipes here. This gravy has the vast honour of being the very last thing I made for the blog before we moved out of the RV last week. Admittedly, the shiitake mushrooms that went into the gravy were meant for this soup recipe, but somehow they made their way to the back of the fridge, where they remained unnoticed and hence unused. I noticed them back there the next day and after feeling momentarily flabbergasted that I’d left them out of the soup, set about devising a plan to put the evasive fungi to use!

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At first I considered simply throwing the shiitakes in a stir-fry, but in the end decided to indulge my obsession with cashew cream yet again and use them to concoct a gravy. Yes, I’ve been talking a lot about cashews lately, possibly too much. My obsession started off savoury here with a roasted red pepper cashew cream sauce, then took a sweet turn here with a vanilla cashew cream. Now that I’ve made this gravy, I’m thinking I should become a professional matchmaker – shiitakes are a wonderfully flavourful mushroom and meld perfectly with cashew cream to form a marvellously rich-tasting gravy. As you can see, I used the gravy to jazz up a simple bowl of steamed vegetables, but you could put it on top of just about anything – mashed potatoes, soba noodles, grilled tofu, you name it. It would also make a fantastic dipping sauce for roasted potato or yam wedges!

Recipe: Shiitake Mushroom Gravy

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain cashews (+ water for soaking)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (I used low sodium broth)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Place cashews in a medium bowl and cover with water. Let soak for 2 hours. Drain, rinse and set aside until needed.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute just until golden brown. Add sliced mushrooms and season lightly with salt and pepper. Saute until mushrooms are cooked all the way through. Remove from heat.

3. Place cashews and vegetable broth in blender and pulse until completely smooth.

4. Transfer mushrooms from skillet to blender and pulse until ingredients are blender together. (If you prefer a chunkier gravy, blend for less time.) Taste and adjust with salt if necessary.

5. Transfer gravy to back to skillet and warm through over low-medium heat, stirring often.

Serving ideas: Ladle gravy over steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, brown rice – or whatever you like!

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Inspiring Blog Award

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Yippee! Amanda, the woman behind the blog In Real Life, has nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award! It’s very flattering to receive this acknowledgement from a fellow blogger – thank you, Amanda! Her blog is beautiful to look at and pertains to some of my favourite topics – fashion, home decor, parenting and of course – food! You should definitely have a look at what she’s been up to. Once again, her blog can be found here.

Awards are cool because they provide an opportunity to reveal a bit more about yourself to your readers (well, in point form at least), and in turn – by passing on the award – draw your readers’ attention to some of your favourite blogs. Here are the guidelines for accepting the award (taken directly from Amanda’s blog):

1. Display the award image on your blog page.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. State seven facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

5. Notify your bloggers of their nomination and link to their posts.

Here are 7 facts about myself (I really had to wrack my brain this time):

  1. I’m an extremely light sleeper.
  2. I air dry ALL of my clothes, socks included.
  3. I’m a mute in the morning until I’ve had a large cup of coffee and read at least a few pages of a book.
  4. I can’t stand Febreeze, plug-in ‘air fresheners’ or scented laundry detergent.
  5. My favourite part of grocery shopping is paying a visit to the bulk aisle for candy.
  6. I’m continually amazed by babies’ talent for mess and destruction.
  7. I can easily spend hours combing through the racks and shelves at thrift stores – it’s relaxing and I always find amazing stuff.

And now on to the fun part. Here are my nominees for the Inspiring Blog Award (I’ve tried to pick blogs I’ve yet to nominate for an award – for variety’s sake!):

I hope everyone takes a few moments to check out my nominees! And thanks again to Amanda for nominating me for the award 🙂