Spiced Pumpkin Soup with a twist…

 

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with a twist...This soup recipe will become one of your favorites, it's quick and easy to make. Smooth and comfort food at it's best.I thecookingspoon.org

…and with XXL Cheese Croutons and crunchy pumpkin seed topping!

I’ve been making this soup for at least ten years and it’s very very comforting and has a velvet like texture. When it’s raining outside this is the kind of soup you look forward to.

I was about to make it for lunch when I realized I didn’t have a enough onions. Yikes, that ment I had to go outside again and it was pouring with rain.

Thank goodness the supermarket is just across the street so I put on my raincoat and made a run for it! I came back a little soaked but hey, this soup’s worth it.

The soup only takes about 15 minutes to prepare at the most, plus 30 minutes of simmering.  During the simmering you can make the crunchy seed topping and prepare the croutons. It really is a meal in itself, but you could serve it as a first course too, just serve small portions since it is quite filling.

I’ve added a super delicious crunchy topping of spicey pumpkin seeds and some XXL cheesy croutons. YUM!

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Serves 6

Ingredients Soup:

  • 2 tbsp. Butter (use coconut oil for vegans)
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped fine
  • 2 tsp. Coriander , ground
  • 1 tsp. Cumin, ground
  • 2 lbs. peeled and cubed pumpkin, fresh or frozen
  • 3 C. chicken stock made with 3 Bouillon Cubes (use vegetable stock for vegans/vegetarians)
  • 3/4 C. Apple Juice without added sugar
  • 1 ripe peeled banana, sliced
  • 3 tbsp. Almond Meal
  • 1 tsp. Sambal Oelek

Method;

In a large pan, melt the butter, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes on medium low. Add the garlic, stir around and add the spices. Stir a couple of times. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to  medium simmer and leave to cook for thirty minutes until everything is very tender. Turn off the heat. Blend with a hand blender until completely smooth.

Ingredients Crispy Pumpkin Seeds:

  • 1/2 C. Pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp. honey (use coconut sugar for vegans)

Method;

Heat a small frying pan over medium high heat. Add the oil.  Add the seeds and toast tossing constantly for about three minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook for an other minute. Transfer the seeds to a tray lined with baking parchment and let cool until ready to use.

 

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Ingredients for the XXL Croutons;

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. butter softened  (use coconut oil for vegans/vegetarians)
  • 4 – 6  slices thick cheese (use vegan or omit)

Method;

Preheat the grill of your oven.

Slice the baguette as diagonally as you can to get long slim pieces.

Butter the bottom of the slices and place on a lined baking tray. Cover with the cheese and grill in the middle rack of the oven until golden on top for about 5 minutes.

To serve, ladle some soup into a bowl or mug, sprinkle with the crispy pumpkin seeds a place a xxl crouton on top. Yum.

Enjoy!

Myra XO

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Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Maple glazed Hazelnuts and Bacon

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This side dish is going to blow your mind! Wait… side dish?  What am I saying, it’s more than just a side dish, you don’t really need anything else, it’s that good.

I have to confess that I am a little bit obsessed with side dishes, I think they deserve more attention. It also has to do with the fact that I try not to eat carbs in the evening so I want to have something really spectacular to compensate for the lack of potatoes or rice. When I was eating these Brussels sprouts I almost forgot about the grilled chicken I had on the side and ate the entire dish of sprouts, oops.

Ok, I’ll admit that I was very full, but so satisfied.

Serves 4 (or 2 if you’re like me)

      

Ingredients;

1 lbs. Brussels sprouts, cleaned and shredded

1 small onion, peeled and diced as fine as you can

1 Garlic clove, peeled and grated or crushed

4 oz. smoked Bacon, cut in medium small dice  (* Omit or use vegetarian bacon for vegetarians)

1/3 C. Hazelnuts, skin removed

2 tbsp. Butter

2 tbsp. Maple Syrup

salt and pepper

2 – 3 tbsp. Water

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Method;

Over medium high heat fry the bacon for a few minutes in one tablespoon of butter. Once they start to get a little crispy and golden add the hazelnuts. Fry for about 4 minutes until the nuts become golden.  Now add the Maple syrup and continue to cook for an other  3 minutes until all is nice and sticky and golden.

Place the nuts and bacon in a bowl and set aside.

Put the pan back on the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Once melted add the onions, the garlic and the Brussels sprouts after a minutes or so. Start sautéing, season with salt and black pepper. Add the two  tablespoons of water and put a lid on the pan, leaving a side open, or use a lid with holes in it like I do.

Cook for about seven minutes or until they are tender to your liking. Return the hazelnuts and bacon to the pan and sautee for another minute until heated thru. Serve immediately.

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No Bake Almond Protein Bars

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Makes: 12 bars

Needed: Glass baking dish 8×8″

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These super quick bars are packed with protein and nutrients to keep you going for a ages and are also really great as a pre or post work out snack. Kids love them too.

Just 5 basic ingredients!!!

Ingredients;

1 1/3 C. Gluten Free Oat Flour

1/4 C. Plant Based Protein Powder, Sweet Vanilla Bean

a pinch of Himalayan Salt

1/2 C. Almond Butter

1/4 C. Honey ,  Maple Syrup or Light Agave Nectar

Some Almonds for decorating.

TIP No.1 : add some Pumpkin Pie Spice, Cinnamon or Vanilla Extract to suit your mood.

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Method;

Put oat flour and protein powder with a pinch of salt together in a bowl and stir to mix. Add some spices like suggested above if you want, but it’s not necessary since they taste great without too. Add the almond butter and honey. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Add a drop of milk or water if it seems to dry.

Oil spray your baking dish first and then line with parchment paper, press the mixture very firmly in to the dish. Decorate with the Almonds if desired.

Place in the freezer for about an hour before cutting or overnight in the refrigerator.

Eat within 5 days.

TIP No.2: Dip them in very dark melted Chocolate (70% Cocoa) , if you want to be extra naughty.

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Not quite what you were looking for? How about Black Bean Brownies

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Alt="Gratin Dauphinois"

Gratin Dauphinois with Gruyere.

Alt="Gratin Dauphinois"

Ingredients;

2 lb /1 kg starchy potatoes

1 garlic clove peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

grating of nutmeg

Freshly ground pepper

1 C. cream

1/2 C. chicken stock

1 C.  grated Gruyere cheese

Method;

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

Bring cream, chicken stock, nutmeg and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and let it steep while you make the rest of the gratin.

Rub a baking dish with the cut garlic, then spread with the  butter.

Peel the potatoes and slice them thin.

Place half of the potatoes in the dish, then scatter over cheese.

Repeat for the second layer, finishing with the cheese.

Pour over the cream.

Cover with lid or foil, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 10 until the top is bubbly and golden. Rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with some chives or parsley before serving.

Alt="Gratin Dauphinois"

Alt="Gratin Dauphinois"

Another great fast side dish would be Super quick pan roast Jacket Potatoes.

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Endive Gratin with Baked Apples, Blue cheese and Thyme

Serves 4 as a side dish

Who disliked Endives as a kid?… raise your hands….

Well I don’t know about you, but I really really disliked Endives when I was a child. Always prepared so very over cooked. Boiled and then rolled in some cheap ham and covered in cheese. It was bitter and the consistency was just aweful.

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Thank goodness we have come a long way since then when it comes to being creative with endive. Really there is more than just Waldorf salad and the typical gratin.

I actually love this dish and some times I eat it with just some steamed new potatoes, it’s that satisfying. But I think it goes particularly well with white meats like  chicken or pork.

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Ingredients;

6 Large heads of Endive, about 1.5 lbs.

3 tbsp butter

2 tbsp. pine nuts

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin.

1 tablespoon fresh Thyme leafs

1/4 C. white wine

5 oz. blue cheese, 2 medium apples, peeled, core removed, cut in wedges

2 tbsp. honey

2 – 3 tbsp. pine nuts

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Method;

In a large frying pan, melt one tablespoon of butter and when hot add the apples. Fry for about 5 minutes then add 1 tbsp. of  honey, cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Transfer the apple slices to a plate and reserve.

Cut the endive in half lengthwise and remove bruised outer leafs if necessary. Slice away a small bit from the bottom.

In the same pan, add the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Add the endive cut side down and sprinkle over the thyme, season with salt and pepper.Cook for about  5 minutes before adding the garlic and the remaining honey, and turn them once in a while.  Add the white wine. Depending on how thick they are, cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Pierce with a knife to check if they are tender but still a little bit firm.

Turn on the grill.

Transfer the endive to a baking dish and gently place the baked apple wedges around the sides.

Cut the blue cheese in slices and divide over the endive. Sprinkle over the pine nuts.

Grill the endives for about 5 minutes until nice and melted and golden. Keep an eye on it!

Enjoy

Myra Xo

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Not quite what you were looking for? How about a  Beet Salad

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Macadamia-Cashew Bars

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There is just something so great about indulging and not having to feel guilty about it. Although these do have a lot of calories because of the nuts, but at least they are good for you.

I was very sceptical a few years ago when I stumbled upon the whole “raw”movement. I tried it for a month or two to give it a fair judgement and although it’s not for me, I do admire people who can live that way.

I found it hard to follow and I missed cooking too much. The great thing I discovered were the raw desserts. I mean, they really are the business, again, very calorie rich but also very rich in flavour and nutritious at the same time.

I guess what really works for me is to take the best from various life styles and put them all together.

Makes 16

Ingredients;

Base:
1 cup of pitted dates – soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
2/3 cup of almonds
2/3 cup of walnuts
2 tbsp cacao
1 tbsp coconut oil

Cream top;
1 cup cashews, soaked in  water overnight
1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked in water overnight
1/2-1 cup coconut water
1/2 cup coconut nectar
1/2 cup coconut oil
dash of salt
dash of vanilla

Fruit top:

2 C. mixed berries or other fruits of choice

Method;

The Base:
Into a food processor add your dates, and pulse for 10 seconds.
Add the rest of your ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds,  until combined. Don’t pulse for too long or your mixture will end up in one big lump.
Transfer your base into your 8×8 tray lined with baking parchment  and pat down evenly. Put in the freezer to set!

Cream base:
Into a blender add your  nuts,  1/2 cup coconut water, coconut nectar, oil, salt and vanilla. Blend till smooth. Add more coconut water to get a good consistency.
Put on top of the Base layer, and then freeze.
Let it sit in the freezer for about two hours before cutting in to squares and decorate with a variety of fruits.

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Raw Peppermint Bars

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These are a great little treat and healthy too. If you like After Eight than you are going to love these. You do have to keep them in the fridge because the Chocolate top melts very quickly. You can have these any time of day, with a cup of tea or even serve them as a dessert. No bad Cholesterol or nasty sugar in these little gems, so enjoy a Peppermint slice (or two) completely guilt free.

Ingredients Base;

1 C. Dates – soaked in warm water for 10 minutes if they are very dry

1 C. AlmondsIMG_8025

1/2 C. Oats

2 tbsp cacao

1 Tbsp. Chia seeds

1 – 2  Tbsp. coconut oil

Method;

To make the base, soak the dates if necessary then cut in half and remove the stones. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a crumbly consistency that, when you press between two fingers should stick together. Add a drop of water if necessary.

Line a round 8″ tin with baking paper or a square tin, whatever you have at hand.

Press the base in to the tin, pressing really hard so it forms a good base. Put in the fridge while you make the Peppermint layer.

Ingredients Peppermint layer;

2 C. Cashews soaked overnight, drained and dried

2 tsp. Hemp powder

2 tsp. Green vegetable powder

1/2 C. Spinach leafs

1 1/2 tsp. Peppermint extract

4 tbsp. Xylitol or Agave

2  ( or 3) tbsp. Coconut Oil

Method;

Place the cashew nuts and coconut oil in a blender and blend until smooth. You may have to stop and press the mixture down a few times. But once it gets going it will get smooth. Now add the rest of the ingredients. Taste for sweetness and add more if you like. If the mass is to solid add a little more Coconut oil. Spread this mixture over the base. Put it in the freezer so it get nice and cold for the chocolate layer. The cooler the Peppermint base the quicker the Chocolate will set.

Ingredients Chocolate layer;

1/2 C. Raw Cocoa powder

1/2 C. Coconut Oil, soft

1/2 C. Agave

Method;

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the Peppermint layer and put it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Cut into squares when ready to serve and decorate with flowers or chocolate shavings.

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NOTE: I have  decorated some with green shredded Coconut. I add a teaspoon of green vegetable powder to the shredded coconut in a bowl and add a drop or two of water. Mix thoroughly and let dry before putting in a container. You can do the same for  pink Coconut shreds, using Dragon fruit powder or other fruit powders.

Enjoy!

Myra Xo

Koh Samui Noodles

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This is similar to a Pad Thai. When I was in Thailand I had Pad Thai for Breakfast everyday. It was so good, but I can tell you one thing, the Thais aren’t woosies when it comes to using Chili. Woooohoooo, boy was the food hot!

I have turned it down a notch in this recipe but feel free to add as much Chili as you can handle.

When you want something on the table fast this is a pretty good option. I like it alot because you don’t actually have to boil the noodles, like with Spaghetti. Turn on the heat, throw in a few vegetables you have lying around while the noodles soak and you have dinner in no time. How great is that!!!

You can put any kind of Vegetable in here you may have lying around, like Zucchini, Cucumber, Bean Sprouts, Spinach, Mushrooms.  Use whatever you have.

I made this last night and I think it took me about 10 to 15 minutes. If you are not really in the mood to be chopping and cutting you can get one of those Asian vegetable packages and just whip up the sauce. Then you’ll probably have dinner in 5! It just gets better and better.

Ingredients;

8 oz. Flat (brown) Rice Noodles

2 tbsp. Coconut oil

1/3 C. Peanuts

1 Leek, washed thoroughly and cut into 2″ pieces and then into strips

1/2 C. Carrot Sticks

1 Red Bell Pepper, washed and cut into strips

1 Onion, peeled and cut into half rings

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled grated

a thumb sized piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and grated

1 Chili, stem and seeds removed (or not=hotter) and cut into small rings

A large handful Koriander, roughly chopped

a small handful Basil leafs, torn into pieces

Sauce Ingredients;

2 tbsp. Soy sauce

1 tbsp. Fish sauce (there are vegan options available or use more soy sauce)

1 tbsp. Sesame Oil

1 tbsp. Coconut Sugar

1 tbsp. Honey (substitute for more sugar for vegans)

juice of 1/2 Lemon

2 tbsp. Dry white wine or water

2 tsp. Sambal Oelek

To serve;

More lemon or lime wedges, Fish sauce & Peanuts

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Method;

Soak the Rice Noodle in boiling hot water for 2 minutes. Follow package instructions.

Remove from hot water and rinse under cold water, set aside.

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in  bowl and set aside.

In a dry Wok or large frying pan, toast the peanuts for a minute or two until golden. Remove and set aside.

Add 1 tbsp. of the Coconut oil to the pan and add the onion, garlic, chili and ginger. Fry over medium heat a few minutes until golden, turn up the heat and then add the remaining vegetables. Stir frying over high heat.

After a few minutes, when the vegetables are beginning to color add the rice noodles. Fry for about two minutes, now add the sauce. Keep on frying until almost all the sauce has been absorbed by the noodles. Sprinkle over the Basil, Coriander and Peanuts, and toss a few more times. Reserve some of the herbs and peanuts for decorating.

Serve immediatly in bowls, sprinkle over the remaining Basil, Coriander and Peanuts.

Serve with lime wedges and Fish sauce and more Peanuts.

Note: I served it with my marinated grilled Tempeh, but you can add Shrimp or Chicken to the Noodles if you want a more substantial dish.

Enjoy

Myra Xo

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Potato Focaccia

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Makes 2 large Focaccias or 6 – 8 small ones

Pre heat the oven to 425° F

Spoiler alert!!

There’s mashed potatoes in the dough.

If you think your love for all things “Dough” can’t grow bigger…you’re wrong.

Unless you have already had a potato Focaccia before. This is the lightest and fluffiest Focaccia you will ever have. When you press the Focaccia between your fingers you will see there is a bounciness that is unmatched by anything else. The mashed potato does something magical to dough.

I’ve had it in cakes before too and the same thing happens.

But back to the recipe, you will need to plan ahead, because it has to rise for quit some time. You can use left over cold mashed potato or otherwise just boil a few potatoes and mash them. This recipes makes a lot, but you can easily freeze some of the dough for later use.

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The Focaccia above has home roasted Tomato sauce, grilled Onions, grilled Peppers and a few Anchovis on top. You can leave out the Anchovis for Vegans.

Ingredients:

1.5 C. Luke warm water, about 100° F

2 tsp. instant yeast

1 tsp. Honey or Sugar (for vegans)

6 C. Spelt flour

1/4 C. olive oil

1.5 tsp. Himalayan Salt

1 C. Mashed potatoes.

Method:

Put the warm water in the bowl of your mixer, fitted with the hook attachment. Pour in the honey, or sugar. Add the yeast, carefully mix and leave it to activate for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile measure out all your other ingredients.

Mix the olive oil in with the mashed potatoes and add to the bowl. Mix gently. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on medium for about 5 minutes. The dough should not cling to the bowl anymore, add a little flour if it does.

Turn out to a lightly floured surface and give it a knead and shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for 3 hours.

After the rise. Turn out the dough to a floured surface. Divide in half. Shape one half into a Focaccia shape, I always make mine a little oval shape and also a bit irregular to give it a more rustic look.

Place the Focaccia on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Press little dimples in the dough with your finger and drizzle  with some olive oil and sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and Rosemary.  Drizzle the Rosemary with a little bit of oil before to prevent burning.

Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. After 15 minutes turn the heat down to 400° F. It should sound hollow when you tap on it.

Alternatively, make smaller shapes and bake about 5 minutes less.

You can also top your Focaccia with vegetables, or anything else you like. This way becoming a meal in itself.

When I bake smaller plain ones I  use them for sandwiches. Or serve them with soup. The large ones are great party food cut into smaller squares, or serves two as a dinner with plenty of toppings. Basically once you have the dough let your imagination run free.

Enjoy

Myra Xo

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Raspberry and Almond Breakfast Loaf

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Makes about 10-12 slices.

I always need something to snack on because I am a five meals a day type of girl. It has to be healthy, nutritious and guilt free. And most importantly, delicious.

If I don’t have something ready to grab quickly when hunger strikes I will eat things that aren’t as healthy like chips or chocolate, so I try to make sure there are always Granola Bars, Black Beans Brownies or something like this loaf.

The good thing about this loaf is that you can easily have it for breakfast or just as a snack in the afternoon with a cup of tea or coffee.

It is somewhere between a cake and a bread. I wanted a cake without all the sugar, butter and the empty calories but it had to be sweeter than just bread. I’ve used Oat flour for the health benefits and the fact that it’s Gluten free and easily digested. It also keeps you satiated for quit some time.

Ingredients:

Dry ingredients;

1 1/4 C. GF Oats, ground to flourIMG_7936

1 C. whole GF Oats

1/4 C. of Soy or Pea Protein powder

2 tsp. baking powder

1 /2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt

1/2 C. Coconut flakes

1/3 C. chopped Almonds

a handful of dark chocolate chips (optional)

1 C Raspberries and Cherries (pitted) you can use frozen ones*

Wet Ingredients;

2 whole organic eggs**

1 1/4 C. unsweetened Apple sauce

1 very ripe Banana, mashed

2 tbsp. Coconut oil

1/4 C. Xylitol + 1/4 C. Coconut sugar

1/4 C. Plain Soy Yoghurt (or regular)

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Method:

Pre heat the oven to 350° F.

Grease a 10″ loaf tin and line with parchment paper.

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in another. Add the wet to the dry ingredients until just mixed. Do not over beat.

Put into the prepared baking tin and bake for about an hour. Turn half way.

Let cool completely before removing from tin.

Enjoy

Myra Xo

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*I used frozen Raspberries and fresh Cherries.

Looking for more great recipes to try?  Be sure to check out these Summer Cupcakes