Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Monster Mash! - Potato or Cauliflower Mash

Yes, I know I'm cheesy. Give me a break. It's October, I'm a recovering goth, and Halloween is just over a week away. I'm allowed to have Bobby Pickett stuck in my head when I mention "mash", OK? OK.

Now that that's settled, how about a couple of recipes? OK? OK! So the days are getting shorter, there's less vitamin D around, and your body is searching for mini serotonin highs via carby comfort foods. And that's OK. It happens. As with anything, just don't overdo it! There are ways of making your favorite comfort foods a little better for you, for those times when you want to indulge just a little. So I present, for your reading and eating pleasure: mashed 'taters, and its lower-calorie, lower-carb, nutrient-rich cousin cauliflower mash. Enjoy!

MASHED POTATO INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs Yukon Gold, Russet, or Idaho potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and cubed [leave the peels on if you like them that way, but only if they're organic]
4-6 cloves of garlic [I usually use about 1 clove per potato, but I love garlic]
1 cup (or less) plain unsweetend rice milk, vegetable broth, or a combination
2 TBSP Earth Balance margarine, melted, or Extra Virgin Olive Oil [optional]
Chopped Chives [optional]
Sea Salt
Water

MASHED POTATO DIRECTIONS:

- Place potatoes and garlic cloves in a large saucepan and add water until it is about 1" over the potatoes. Add a couple of dashes of sea salt. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat and simmer until a knife easily pierces the potatoes, approx. 10 minutes.

- Drain the potatoes and garlic and return to the saucepan. Shake over the burner [which has been turned off, but is still a little warm] for about 30 seconds to get rid of a little more moisture.

- Mash by hand with a masher and some good old-fashioned elbow grease until smooth. (or use a ricer or a stick blender. You cheater.)

- Pour ricemilk or veggie broth or a combination of the two over the potatoes in a steady stream and mix to incorporate. Use as much as you need to achieve your desired consistency, up to 1 cup. Here you can also add some margarine or olive oil to make it a little richer.

- Season to taste, adding chopped chives or other herbs if you wish.

CAULIFLOWER MASH INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS:

Guess what?? Making Cauliflower mash is pretty much just like making mashed potatoes! Yes it's true!! The only difference, aside from obviously using a chopped head of cauliflower instead of potatoes, is that you're likely to use a little less liquid in the end after you've mashed it. That's it! Otherwise it's all the same. How easy is that? Yum!

For A Chilly Night - Veggie Shepherd's Pie

Disclaimer: I have never eaten a proper Shepherd's Pie. I became a vegetarian long before I discovered the pleasures of this simple, hearty dish. Therefore I have no idea if my version bears any resemblance whatsoever to The Real Deal [sans meat]. All I know is it's tasty and it's a dish I return to quite a few times during the colder months. I also know that, just like the original dish, which has apparently been around for the last 225 years or so, it's a great way to use up lentil, veggie, and potato leftovers. The recipe below outlines how to make one from scratch, but you can see where leftovers could easily come into play. I also offer two ideas for the crust - the traditional mashed 'taters, or the nutrient-rich, lower-calorie, lower-carb substitute that I have to admit has finally weaseled its way into my heart and tummy - mashed cauliflower! (Don't knock it 'till you've tried it, folks. I'm not a cauliflower-lover and yet this I love.) This dish yields great leftovers and can be frozen in individual portions after cooking.

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1 portobello cap or 4-6 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup lentils, soaked
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 TSP vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP tomato paste
1/2 cup frozen peas
sea salt & pepper to taste


Shepherdess Pie, naked!


FILLING DIRECTIONS:

- Soak your lentils in water while you prep your veggies or for up to 8 hours before you prepare your meal.

- Cook the onion in a drizzle of olive oil until they become translucent, approx. 5 minutes. Add your carrots, celery, mushrooms, and garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until the mushrooms just begin to let go of their juices, approx. another 3 minutes. Sometimes here I add a dash of red wine and stir until the mushrooms soak it all up because the flavors really compliment each other.

- Mix in the drained lentils and add about 2 1/4 cups of the vegetable broth. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes so the lentils cook through.

- By this time the lentils should be cooked and the broth should be mostly gone. I generally turn the stove off but leave the pot on the burner at this point. Now it's time to season - add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and mix them in well. Add the rest of the vegetable broth, or as much as you need to get a consistency you like and create a tiny bit of "gravy" in the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. You can stir in some frozen peas at this point. Don't worry, they'll thaw and cook in the oven in a bit!

- Spread the lentil filling into a baking dish. Top with potato or cauliflower mash (recipes here and you only need about 1/3 of the recipe to top this dish).

- Bake in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes. Broil the top of the mash for a couple of minutes until it is just browned. Be careful not to burn it! Broilers love to wreak havoc the second you've turned your back on anything in there. I'm on to you, broilers!

- Enjoy!


Shepherdess Pie

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As Autumn Approaches - Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa Pilaf

As the days grow cooler and shorter, my tastes change. I want fewer salads and more soups. Summer's the time for iced rooibos sun tea, watermelon slices, and pops. But there's nothing like a spiced hot apple cider after a brisk fall walk. When I get home from work and it's already dark, I find comfort in tending to a vat of warming stew. Here is one of my favorite transitional recipes that is perfect for those changeling September nights when the air isn't sure if it's clinging to Summer or letting go to Autumn at last.

Quinoa Pilaf ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup Quinoa
1 1/2 cups Water or Vegetable Broth or a combination

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 - 1/2 of a small Onion
1 big clove of Garlic
2 cups sliced Mushrooms [I prefer portobello or baby bella, but you can use any type]
1 med. Zucchini
1 cup Chickpeas
Pine nuts, toasted or untoasted [optional]
Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Salt, Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

- Soak your protein-rich quinoa in water while you wash, slice, and otherwise prep your veggies. This will remove the saponin, which is a naturally occurring bitter coating on the seeds. Drain off the water using a fine mesh strainer, rinsing one more time if you wish.

- Cook the quinoa and water [or broth or a combination thereof] over medium heat for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off but keep the pot on the burner and leave the pot's cover on to let it steam for a bit while you finish up the veggies.

- While the quinoa is cooking, heat a bit of Olive Oil in a deep pan and cook down the onions until they are translucent. You can skip this step if you're an onion-hater. [Don't be a hater!]

- Add the sliced mushrooms, chopped garlic, and a pinch of sea salt and stir. Cook until the mushrooms begin to let go of their juices.

- Throw in the sliced zucchini, another pinch of salt, a couple of grinds of pepper, and cook to almost desired doneness. [Is "doneness" really a word?] In stews, I prefer my zucchini more tender than if I were serving it on its own, but your mileage may vary.

- Mix in your chickpeas. Whether you soaked dried ones [preferred] or drained canned ones, these are ready to go and only need to be incorporated into the mix and warmed through, which happens quickly enough.

- Next you will throw the veggies into the quinoa pot or the quinoa into the veggies pan, depending on which has more real estate, and mix them together adding your desired seasonings to taste. Basil and parsley taste lovely in this dish, but my favorite is fresh thyme if you have access to it.

- Serve warm topped with toasted pine nuts, if desired, and a nice sided salad. Enjoy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

There's a garden in my drink

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I remember way back in the day when I fell in love with gin and the Gin & Tonic.  I wasn't a big vodka fan (that came later) and G&Ts were perfect for a hot day and I was living in Texas so there were plenty of those.  Made well a Gin & Tonic is light and crisp not too sweet and not too heavy like even sometimes the most everyday pilsner can be (for me anyway).  It seems like for a long time there was quality gin and rotgut both more or less mass produced and that was pretty much about it.  At least here in the US.  Anyone doing anything close to micro batches or anything with a bolder botanical profile was likely making it in their bathtub or perhaps a distillery like they had on the tv show M.A.S.H.!

Enter gins like Hendrick's from Scotland and a little closer to home Death's Door from Wisconsin.  There's a great list here of different brands of gin, their flavor profile and where they are crafted if you really want to see the variety.

Cut to about a month ago when M sent me a link for a Gin Martini made with cucumber, mint, and tarragon.  We were doing a lot with cucumber and tarragon - those popsicle recipes - and I believe her comment was, "this looks great!  we should try it out!"
mixer_ing
Cut to last Wednesday when I was cruising  at the farmers' market and they had all kinds of great herbs.  Everything except my tried and true cilantro, but there was mint, tarragon, dill, four varieties of basil and lastly the lovely shiso.  Completely intrigued by shiso (up until this point I had only seen shiso in the few Japanese grocery stores I frequent and it's always highly guarded under a thick layer of plastic wrap and styrofoam - I think it is where Fresh Direct got their idea about produce delivery - such a waste, but anyway...) I gave it a sniff and for 2 bucks I was in.  It's part of the mint family and it did have that, but there was also some pepper going on and it was grassy and delicate.  The wheels start turning.  I look in my bag and see that I've already purchased a gazillion kirby cucumbers, tarragon - check, mint - check (and just in case), the shiso and M's birthday is coming up on the weekend.  I start to have visions of cute antique jars, gifting this ├╝ber botanical mixer and serving my friend a fancy cucumber tarragon martini to toast her!

The link to the recipe is above and here.  I replaced the mint with shiso leaves.  Depending on the size of the leaves use 2 - 4.  The cocktail is strong and herbaceous.  The St. Germaine gives it just enough sweet to round everything out.

Happy Birthday M!  

mixer_gift

The leaves sticking out of the top of the jar was supposed to look like a sophisticated and subtle hint about the ingredients - a card of sorts.  I can't help, but think of a mullet when I look at this picture - business up front and a party in the back.  Next time I'll remind myself "less is more".

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back in the saddle again. Soon.

Hello dear readers.
It's true, there has been radio silence up here at Club Complicatarian. We were positively stoked to have placed in the YumUniverse contest and we've got some really fun recipes and party ideas in store, but then work got a little nutty for all of us, then there was that pesky little earthquake-thing followed by that hurricane-dealie you may have heard talk of... and suddenly everything just seemed to come to a grinding halt.

Or rather, it had already gone there.

Wait, we haven't posted in how long? Oh, oops. And forget about posting, how are we doing on our respective journeys towards treating ourselves right and eating clean? Ehhhhhhh... not so good, Al.

On a more personal note, I, for one, have fallen off the wagon for sure and I've been letting that get me down. There has been no time to plan and make my own healthy meals, no time for the gym, lots of angst, and lots of sleepless nights. So last night when my husband and I went to the diner because our power was still out and we'd grilled the last of what we could salvage from the now-warm fridge the night before, I just caved and ordered a veggie burger patty melt. (That'd be a veggie burger sandwiched inside a grilled cheese, y'all.) Not that there's anything wrong with that once in a while, but I've been making those kinds of poor choices for a couple of weeks now. Sometimes more than once a day. And I've felt noticeably worse for it. Did I mention I ate half of my husband's french fries as well? Yeah, I did. Somehow, and this makes no sense, that makes it easier for me to keep moving along this downward spiral. My logic, if you can call it that, goes "well, I've messed up. It's all over. I've failed. Oh, look, a brownie ice cream sundae..." which tastes divine and makes me happy for all of 20 minutes until I start to digest it, and then my body does all the bad stuff it loves to do to me when I've had too much dairy, wheat, and processed junk. What I forget is how great I feel when I do eat right, go to the gym 5+ times a week, drink tons of water, and sleep well. I forget that despite constant proximity with ill co-workers I haven't been sick in more than 3 months, which, as sad as it may sound, is actually a record for me these days. I forget that the good stuff can be, well, good!

But there is a solution. Quite simply, I need to approach all this in a different way. It's not all or nothing, at least not yet. Maybe one day it might be. It's a process and I'm still relatively new to it. If I make a bad choice here or there I need to remember that I have the opportunity to make a good choice the next time. It'll take some time, but I've got time. All is not lost. Baby steps. Etc etc. As many pep talks as I give myself, I could always use one more, so this paragraph is for me to read and re-read as often as I need it. Maybe it'll help you, too. I think I'll have a salad for lunch. Go get 'em, tiger.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Woot woot!

Thanks so much for your votes everyone! We placed second for our Basil, coconut and lime pops and we couldn't have done it without your help! We hope you enjoyed our pop recipes. Cheers!


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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mango Lime Ginger Tarragon Popsicles

Yeah we're a little consumed with popsicles. It's the heat. It's the fact that there's so much great fresh food at the market. It makes throwing a few ingredients into a blender and freezing for about an hour and half the easiest and best summer treat. So here we go!

mango_pop

INGREDIENTS:

2 large ripe mangoes peeled (approximately 3 - 4 cups)
2 tbsp Turbinado sugar (can use other sweeteners - what ever you have/like - would probably avoid something like mollasses though)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp lime zest
juice of one medium lime (approximately 2 tbsp of juice)
1 tbsp fresh ginger chopped
1 tsp fresh tarragon chopped
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

- Peel, chop, zest, juice everything into one bowl or put it directly into a blender or food processor.
- Add sugar, salt and cayenne.
- Blend everything until incorporated. On this step you can experiment a bit. If you don't want everything super smooth, but maybe some bits of mango and ginger you can blend in short bursts. Also all ingreditents can be adjusted to taste so feel free to experiment with that too.
- Fill molds and place sticks in.
- Put in freezer for minimum 1.5 hours

makes 6 pops

We haven't posted our experiment with the sweet plums we bought at the farmers' market, but that pop also came out good! We did a mostly sweet plum and lime pop with a cumumber and lime "rind". We pitted about a quarts worth of plums (with the skins on) threw them in a blender with the same amount of sugar and lime zest and juice as above. We let that freeze for about 45 minutes (just so that it was frozen through enough so that when we poured the cucumber mix they would stay distinct and not so frozen that the stick wouldn't go in). The cucumber mix is the same one we used for the watermelon prosecco pops here.

Food Science Geekery Alert! Every wonder why store bought pops and homemade pops don't taste as much alike as you'd expect? And we're not just talking about flavors etc. It has to do with the quickness of commercial freezing process. Home freezers don't work as quickly as commercial freezers and therefore there is time for the liquid and the sugar to separate a bit. We think this might not be as much of an issue with fruits like mango and bananna that have a lower water to fruit ratio. You can read more about this here.

frosty army
the first of the frosty army!

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's a party over here!

Birthday_Photo_BADGE_finalist

As a new blog, we are especially thrilled and honored to have our Basil, Coconut, and Lime Pop recipe as a finalist in the YumUniverse party-theme recipe contest! If you haven't checked out the YumUniverse website yet, you must! It's one of the most informative and tasty-recipe-laden whole foods blogs out there. And as an aside, if you're thinking of trying out a healthier plant-based diet, we can't recommend Heather's YU Test Drive Guide enough.

We can't wait to try out the other recipes. Everything looks so amazing! Can you believe that Heather and her friends spent a weekend testing out ALL the contest entries? That's a lot of cooking!! You can check out the behind the scenes here. Looks like a lot of fun! We can't wait to have another test kitchen weekend ourselves, try some of these recipes out, and come up with more tasty recipes of our own.

In the meantime, if you want to vote, all you have to do is "like" your favorite recipe (such as, say, some delightful basil/coconut/lime pops? ;) ) on the YU Facebook page. Easy peasy. Voting closes in one week so you have plenty of time to try these all out.

Here are links to the finalists' recipes:

Our coconut/basil/lime pops (yaaaaaay!!)

Lisa Pitman’s Party Perfect Petit Fours

Rawxy’s YUM Cake

Sweet Potato Soul’s Pineapple Almond Balls

Making Love In The Kitchen with Meghan’s Spicy Sweet Potato & Refried Bean Burrito
We are going to try them all! How about you?

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Black Bean Fritters with Three Sauces (oh and a pickled radish or two)

Parties are a lot of work...but a lot of fun too. Food for a party should be easy for everyone - the host and the guests. It's also nice when after a party you feel satisfied by all the lovely little morsels without feeling over full or that the food was too heavy. This is especially true now that it's summertime. These black bean fritters are quite versatile, substantial and can be made ahead of time.

BLACK BEAN FRITTERS


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INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup black beans (Don't rinse the beans if you are using canned. If fresh beans don't drain off the liquid)
1/4-1/2 Cup of a red onion chopped fine, depending on how much you like
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP fresh cilantro chopped
1/2 TBSP cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 TBSP chickpea flour
1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP olive oil for frying (You could probably use coconut oil or even spread mixture onto a baking sheet, bake, cool, and then slice up into cakes)

DIRECTIONS:


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- In a pan sautee the onions in olive oil until softened. Should take about 5 minutes if stove is set to medium flame/setting.
- Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Keep an eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn't burn.
- In a bowl mix the beans, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and cooked onions and garlic. Mash, food process, or puree 1/2 the mixture and mix it back in with the rest
- Add chickpea flour & mix
- Add remaining oil to pan. Drop in 'batter' by 1 or 2 tbsp depending on
what size you want your fritters. Fry for 4 minutes on each side. Don't flip
until you see the edges brown. The crust that will form will hold the cakes together.
- Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Allow them to cool as they will firm up even more.

Serve with any of the three sauces below or simply a pickled radish (we used a very basic recipe from a canning and pickling book titled, "Put 'Em Up!") and a bit more cilantro (or not).



Makes 8-10 appetizer cakes



####

TZITZIKI SAUCE

Fresh and light with a kick of garlic. Pretty traditional, but pretty awesome!


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INGREDIENTS:
1 package of silken tofu
1 cucumber
juice of 1/2 lemon (approx. 2 TBSP)
4 small garlic cloves
1 tsp dill
1 tsp sea salt

DIRECTIONS:
- Place tofu into high speed blender or food processor.
- Peel and seed cucumber. Rough chop 1/2 the cucumber and put into blender. Set aside other 1/2.
- Juice lemon into blender (don't forget to strain the pits with a sieve or your hand)
- Add garlic and salt to blender
- Blend until smooth consistency
- Chop dill. (Can use more dill if you like, but avoid putting dill in the blender as it can turn your entire sauce a pale shade of green).
- Cube remaining 1/2 of cucumber
- Stir both dill and cucumber into blended mixture.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if it is needed.

Makes about 1 pint

####

CURRIED CASHEW DIP

Mellow and creamy, but with just a bit of heat and curry flavor thanks to the Garam Masala! The black bean fritters with chickpea flour stand up nicely to this thicker sauce.


IMG_6663edit
Curried Cashew Dip on the left and Tzitziki Sauce on the right.


INGREDIENTS:
3/4 Cup cashews, soaked 1-3 hours
1/2 Cup filtered water
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt (add more to taste)
1 tsp garam masala curry (add more to taste)

- Drain the cashews.
- Blend all ingredients except Garam Masala curry in food processor or high speed blender. Check the consistency. You can add more water a little at a time for a thinner consistency.
- Add garam masala curry spices.
- Taste and add seasoning depending on what you like.

Did you know you can make your own Garam Masala? In India Garam Masala is a very personal thing - families tend to have a recipe that gets handed down from generation to generation. Experiment with what you like and check out this link to learn more about variations. The blend above was based on these basic ingredients: ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric.

Makes about 1 pint

####

MANGO TARRAGON SALSA


mango_ing

1 medium/large ripe mango cubed (approx. 2 Cups)
2 small tomatoes seeded and chopped (approx. 1 Cup)
1 shallot chopped finely (approx. 1/4 Cup)
1 clove of garlic minced (a nice fat one should yeild about 1 TBSP)
1/2 jalapeno seeded and minced (approx. 1 TBSP)
1 1/2 medium/large limes juiced (approx. 3 TBSP)
1/2 tsp of sea salt
few cranks of pepper mill
1 tsp of olive oil
1/4 tsp of fresh tarragon roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Throw everything in a bowl as you work through the ingredient list. Stir and let sit for about 5 or 10 minutes. Give a taste and adjust to your taste.

Makes about 1 pint


mango_fini


Sunday, July 31, 2011

To cheat or not the cheat? - Polenta Bruschetta


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Do you find that you go nuts on certain vegetables and fruits when they're in season? I do. In the Spring it's all about the asparagus. In the Fall I'm making apple-everything. And the Summer? The bountiful Summer is a very happy time for me, but I find I can only truly fall in love with a tomato during the height of summer tomato season, so they hold a special place in my heart during this time. This is especially true when my basil plants are gigantic and just begging to be used in every dish possible. Even desserts!

It's still hot round these here parts, so I'm not in the mood to slave over a vat of garden vegetable marinara, tempting as the outcome might be. No. I want something easy to prepare and easy to eat. Something refreshing yet savory for a hot summer afternoon. So I think instead I'll completely contradict what I just said and make a vat of polenta, which is even more laborious than red sauce simply because you have to be standing right there at the hot stove for most of it, stirring your little heart out to make the perfect polenta. Good idea.

Lucky for me, and you, there is a cheat for this. This is not to say I don't recommend that you make your own polenta, because I do. But if you happen to be pressed for time, having a lazy day, or have a broken A/C like I do right now, you can always get a tube of pre-made polenta at most grocery stores and skip straight to the grilling, chopping, and, oh yes, chomping. Grilled Polenta Bruschetta, here we come:

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POLENTA BRUSCHETTA


POLENTA (makes enough for about 1 dozen cakes)

INGREDIENTS:
6 cups fresh water
2 cups polenta
1-2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in polenta slowly.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring a little more than occasionally for about 20 minutes or until your polenta is nice and thick. Seriously, a spoon basically should be able to stand up in the polenta.

Spread mixture in a lightly oiled or parchment-lined baking pan and refrigerate until firm.
Cut into squares.
Brush each square with olive oil and grill each side for 3-4 minutes until you see grill marks. Or you can bake them until they're lightly crispy. Then top with tomato mixture below.

If you're using store-bought pre made polenta, simply slice the tube into rounds, brush each with olive oil and grill each side for 3-4 minutes until you see grill marks. Or you can bake them until they're lightly crispy. Then top with tomato mixture below.

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BRUSCHETTA TOPPING [makes enough for about 1 dozen]

INGREDIENTS:
2 organic tomatoes washed, seeded & diced
1/2 small onion, chopped small [red or white works]
8 leaves of backyard basil, chiffonade
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
fresh cracked pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Remove core & seeds from washed tomatoes and dice. Sprinkle salt over tomatoes and let sit 15 minutes to a half hour. Meanwhile you can do all the rest of your slicing and dicing.

Add the chopped onion, garlic, and basil to the salted tomatoes and stir. Drizzle the olive oil over the topping mixture and mix it in.

Spoon the mixture onto your polenta cakes and finish up with a bit of fresh cracked pepper on top of each one. Devour! You probably won't have a problem getting your friends to help you eat all this, trust me, but if you do have extra polenta and topping around, they can be saved in the refrigerator separately. Assemble when you're ready to eat.


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Friday, July 29, 2011

Heatwave, you say? Popsicles, we say!

It's been hot in NYC. I mean really hot. OK, maybe not Texas hot and I'm sure it was hotter in Arizona last week, but, and say this in your best inner Fran Drescher voice, "that's a dry heat!" So you're having guests over, your A/C goes kaput, the beach is just too crowded, and hauling a kiddie pool and 100 gallons of water up to the roof of your buddy's 6-floor walk-up isn't an option, what do you do to cool off? Make popsicles, of course! And we're not talking colored tubes of sugar-water here, though those bring back a lot of fond memories of Summers of Yore. We're talking real, satisfying, flavorful, healthful (gasp!) grown-up pops. We got together last weekend and had a pop making party, complete with very willing taste-testers. We're sharing our three favorites below: Coconut, Basil & Lime, Watermelon Prosecco With a Cucumber & Lime Rind, and Samoa. That's right, Samoa. On a stick. It's like dunking the frozen cookie in a glass of milk without having to wait for Girl Scout cookie season. Oh yeah. But I digress. Let's check out some recipes:

3pops


COCONUT BASIL LIME POPS
[makes 8]

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INGREDIENTS:
- 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk (you can use tetra pack style coconut milks like Silk brand but it's thinner in texture & usually has added sugar)
- 1/4 cup [4 tbsp] sugar or sweetener of choice such as agave or brown rice syrup
- 5 biggish leaves of fresh backyard basil
- juice of 1 lime including pulp (you can add the zest, too, if you want the lime to come to the forefront of the pop more)
- 1/2 cup of coconut water or pure filtered water

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DIRECTIONS:
First we warmed the coconut milk, sugar, and basil in a cute little pot to infuse the milk with the herb's flavor and integrate the sugar. If you don't want to turn the stove on and wash an extra pot, you could probably get away with skipping straight to the next step: Blend your coconut milk, sugar, and basil in a blender until basil is shredded and sugar is incorporated.

Add your lime juice, pulp, and zest (if using) and give it a whir again. Then add the coconut water or water before giving it a final mix.

Pour into molds & freeze. We found that using a spouted Pyrex measuring cup or a funnel helps getting all these pops into their molds neatly.

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WATERMELON / PROSECCO POPS WITH CUCUMBER / LIME "RIND"
[makes 8]

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WATERMELON / PROSECCO POPS

INGREDIENTS:
- 2 cups 1" cubed watermelon (make sure there are no black seeds)
- 1 tbsp sugar / agave / brown rice syrup / honey / sweetener of choice (maple syrup is not recommended here)
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (about half a lime, juiced)
- 1/2 tsp lime zest (a little more than half a lime, zested)
- 1/2 cup prosecco (we used Palmer sparkling white. It's local from the North Fork vineyards and delightful!)

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DIRECTIONS:
Blend all ingredients in a blender. Fill popsicle molds 3/4 of the way and freeze for at least an hour. You want this just frozen enough to hold another layer on top of it, but not so frozen, you can't get a stick through it.

CUCUMBER / LIME "RIND" (makes a great pop on its own, too! Double the recipe for that.)

INGREDIENTS:
- 1 cucumber peeled & seeded
- 1 tbsp sugar / agave / brown rice syrup / honey / sweetener of choice (maple syrup is not recommended here)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp fresh lime juice

DIRECTIONS:
Blend all ingredients in a blender until all the cucumber is pureed. Fill the remaining 1/4 of pop mold over the frozen watermelon portion, stick the pop sticks in, and freeze for a couple more hours until solid.

We found that using a spouted Pyrex measuring cup or a funnel helps
getting all these pops into their molds.

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SAMOA POPS
[makes 4]

INGREDIENTS:
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
- 1/4 cup organic finely shredded unsweetened coconut

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DIRECTIONS:
Melt the chocolate & oil in double boiler or a bowl placed over a small pot of boiling water just until it melts. Turn off the heat & whisk in the coconut milk. Mix in coconut shreds until they are incorporated evenly throughout. Make sure the mixture is cool before pouring it into your colds to freeze. These need a little more freezing time than the other two pops we made.

We found these to be extra thick & rich like fudgecicles, if you want a thinner pop you can dilute it with more coconut milk.

VARIATIONS: use the first 3 ingredients (or swap coconut milk for almond milk) and add:
- curry (yes really!)
- cinnamon & hot pepper for a South American twist
- almond extract & crushed almonds
- dried pitted cherries

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Why, hello!

Welcome, dear readers!

This first post is where we tell you the who, what, when, where, why, and how of complicatarianism &c. Our core contributors are Hope, Jessica, and Micol. We each began our journey under a different label - a vegan, a vegetarian, and a pescatarian - and each began to notice that, despite making what we thought of as healthy choices, what we were doing wasn't cutting it. We were each feeling a bit run-down, catching colds easily, or experiencing other mysterious health issues one after another. After a few unsuccessful experimental attempts at throwing in a bit of gluten-free or dairy-free or fat-free or high raw or other-buzzword weeks into our current diets to no avail, it was high time to stop, focus, and make our health a priority starting from the ground up by reassessing our entire diets... via baby steps.

Evidence that the SAD [Standard American Diet] tends to have a detrimental effect on good health is plentiful, as are resources regarding the benefits of a plant-based diet. There's an especially informative and easy to digest article on YumUniverse that is definitely worth checking out - The Big Crash Course: Why Eat a Plant-Based Diet? Honestly, why not give eating simply and healthfully a try? Using as many whole food ingredients as possible and cutting out "the bad stuff"? Oh, right... taste! If there's something the three of us definitely love it is good food! So there's a label we can share: "foodies". Beyond that, it gets complicated. Different things work for different people, and so when Jes coined the very appropriate term "complicatarian" it stuck! But guess what? The shocker is whole foods taste amazing. Sure they take a little more forethought than pulling up to a drive-thru window but it's worth it. And that's what this blog is all about.

It's the last week of July and we began our journey just in the first week of June, so we are still beginners. Join us as we share our experiences, recipes, informative links from other like-minded bloggers, and fun things happening around town. Why label? Just enjoy.