Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Energy Bites

When your fitness goals and pumpkin cravings are neck in neck, here’s a quick, easy fix: Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Energy Bites. Food is fuel for my active family, as well as something we all love! We have our favorite sports: My husband loves tennis, my daughter hits the surf, and I’m an avid runner. When we need a little healthy boost, these tasty bites, at about 100 calories each, deliver. They are packed with nutty protein, vitamin A-rich pumpkin, Omega-3 and fiber-filled chia seeds, and just a touch of tart and sweet to make the perfect on-the-go snack. They are also gluten and dairy free!

Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Energy Bites

Makes about 18 bites

Ingredients:

I cup all natural pumpkin puree, with no other listed ingredients, just pumpkin (organic is great!)

1 cup nut butter: peanut, almond, cashew, etc

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup of cranberries, very finely chopped

1/2 cup of pecans, very chopped

3 Tablespoons chia seeds

3 Tablespoons maple syrup (Grade A preferred)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract, each

Instructions:

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until fully incorporated and smooth. Alternately, put into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. The mixture should ball together and should not be very sticky to touch. Mix in more almond flour, a tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is too wet.

Using a small cookie scoop, form the nut mixture into balls and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, and then, using your hands, roll the balls into a uniform round shape. You could also press on more nuts, chopped fruit, cocoa nibs or coconut flakes on the outside of the bites.

These energy bites can be made with lots of substitutions! You could use any type of nut butter, flax seed instead of chia, ground oats instead of almond flour, honey instead of maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon and nutmeg. Feel free to make them your own!

Butternut Squash with Roasted Garlic and Spinach

This one-sheet-pan side dish comes together in a snap. You can use pre-cut butternut squash and bagged, clean baby spinach to make it even easier! I do like freshly-cut butternut squash, so here are my tips: choose a squash with a long, wide neck and narrow, small bottom. Use a heavy and very sharp knife to cut the neck and base in two pieces, and then use the knife to cut off the skin. You can then cut the neck into a one-inch dice, and then cut the base into half, cut away the skin and scoop out the seeds to continue to cut it into one-inch cubes. I like to use a spring-loaded scoop to scrape out the seeds, it gets down deep and the seed release quickly. After the muscle work, all you have to do is put it on a sheet pan!

Butternut Squash with Roasted Garlic and Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 whole butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into a one-inch dice, or a pound of fresh packaged diced butternut squash

5 cloves of garlic, skins removed

1 bunch of fresh spinach, washed and chopped, or one 12-ounce bag of washed baby lettuce

Good quality olive oil, kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the cut butternut squash on the sheet pan and drizzle with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper. Toss together and distribute evenly around the sheet pan.

Place the garlic cloves on a small sheet of aluminum foil, about 3-inches by 3 inches. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic up in the aluminum foil like an envelope, bringing the sides in and the top over. Place the aluminum packet on the sheet pan with the butternut squash. Place the sheet pan in the oven and roast for about 35-40 minutes, turning the butternut squash halfway through with a spatula and checking the garlic packet. If the garlic packet turns golden brown before the butternut squash does, remove it from the oven (this could depend on the size of your garlic cloves.)

When the butternut squash is evenly browned and the garlic is soft and golden, remove the sheet pan. Take the garlic out of the packet and place on a cutting board. Quickly chop the garlic and put it on the sheet pan with the butternut squash. Put the spinach on the hot sheet pan, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and turn it with the butternut squash using a spatula until the spinach has wilted. The heat of the sheet pan should be sufficient to wilt the spinach, but if not, place it in the oven again for a minute. Serve warm.  

Italian Wedding Soup with Italian Chicken Sausage Meatballs

My family loves a hearty, soulful supper- soup on chilly fall and winter evenings, and this is one of our favorites. It’s named for it’s perfect marriage of flavors, packed with herbs, greens, and satisfying meatballs. I made it first inspired by Ina Garten’s recipe, which is amazing! But I started to have fun making it with more vegetables and herbs, leaving out the dairy and gluten, and making my own sweet Italian chicken sausage instead of adding in one from the deli case. You could add in small pasta (gluten free if that’s how you roll) that you’ve cooked in advance to the pot in the last minute of cooking and top with with a generous heap of cheese (if that’s your thing!) You could switch out the greens, throw in some basil, use ground turkey. This soup has plenty of ways to make it your own marriage of deliciousness. For the brightest, freshest flavor, stir in the dill at the very last minute.

Italian Wedding Soup with Italian Chicken Sausage Meatballs

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for the meatballs:

2 garlic cloves

8 fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, removed from stems

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

A pinch of red chile flakes

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

1 pound ground chicken

1 egg, whisked

Ingredients for the soup:

About a tablespoon of best quality olive oil

1 cup of sliced carrots

1 cup of sliced celery

1 cup of diced fennel root

1 cup of diced white or yellow onions

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 bunch of red, Swiss or rainbow chard, leaves stripped from the stem and roughly chopped, stems chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/ 2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes, broken up into pieces, or diced tomatoes

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

6 cups of best quality chicken stock

1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill

Optional add ins: Small pasta, like orzo or pastina, cooked al dente and freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 Instructions for the meatballs:

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Put the garlic, basil, parsley, fennel seeds and chile flakes in the bowl of a food processor, mini processor or bullet, and pulse until very fine. Put the ground chicken into a large bowl and add the herb and spice mixture, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, then mix thoroughly to combine. Using a 1-ounce scoop, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 20 meatballs. They don’t have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 25- 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

While the meatballs cook, prepare the soup: heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the carrots, celery, fennel, onion, garlic, and chard leaves and stems and sauté until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the mixture with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the wine, tomato paste and canned tomatoes. Reduce the wine and tomatoes, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook the soup until the carrots and celery are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the meatballs (and small, cooked pasta, if adding) to the soup and simmer for 1 minute to heat all of the way through. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if more is needed. Turn off the heat and add in the fresh dill. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

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Baba Ganoush with Fresh Herbs and Scallions

Endlessly scoop-able, silky and smokey, baba ganoush is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant (although there are so many ways to love eggplant!) What makes this one a family go to? First, it’s so easy; just score, season and roast the eggplant (no peeling required!) Second, your food processor makes it a cinch to create a creamy, lemony, nutty puree, perfect for dipping or spreading. I like to give it a hit of fresh flavor by adding whatever herbs I have in the garden or left over from other dishes, and there is no chopping required! Third, you can endlessly customize this as a snack, lunch or light dinner by adding pita bread or chips, fresh veggies, Mediterranean-style meatballs or grilled chicken skewers.

Baba Ganoush with Fresh Herbs and Scallions

Makes about 6 servings (about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized eggplant

Olive oil to drizzle over eggplant, plus 3 tablespoons to add to the eggplant puree

Kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in aluminum foil

1/2 cup tahini

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving

1/4 cup of fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, dill or basil

2 scallions, greens sliced, whites reserved for another use

1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds

Pita and veggies, for serving or serve spread on a platter with Mediterranean meatballs or grilled chicken skewers on top.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Halve the eggplants lengthwise, and then score hash marks with the tip of a knife into the flesh. Drizzle olive oil over the cut side, and generously season with salt and pepper. Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down. Place the garlic foil packet on the baking sheet with the eggplant.

Roast the garlic until lightly brown and soft. Roast the eggplant until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 40 to 50 minutes (this might take longer if you are using larger eggplants). Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes. Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh, discarding any seed pods, with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind. The eggplant should have very little liquid because of the oven’s heat, but should it be watery, place the flesh in a strainer and shake away the liquid.

Place the eggplant flesh (discard the skin), roasted garlic, tahini, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and fresh herbs in a food processor. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt and a few cranks of pepper, and then pulse until smooth. Taste for additional seasoning and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with pita and veggies or grilled or roasted meats.

Roasted Broccoli with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Packing in all of the summer goodness I can with my two favorite veggies that make perfect sense together: broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Throw in a bunch of basil and the tang of a good-quality Balsamic, and you’ve got an easy, and so tasty, summer side dish.

Roasted Broccoli with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 head of broccoli, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut from the stem into florets

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, any variety

Olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

8 large fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Instructions:

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the broccoli on one of the sheet pans, the cherry tomatoes on the other sheet pan, and then drizzle generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Distribute the broccoli and cherry tomatoes evenly on the sheet pans. Cook the cherry tomatoes for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes release their juice, shrink slightly and char on the outside, turning over at about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, place the broccoli in the oven, turning with a spatula occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the broccoli is tender and golden brown in places. When both of the vegetables are cooked and browned, remove them from the oven and mix together with the Balsamic vinegar. Transfer the broccoli and tomatoes to a serving platter and top with the freshly torn basil. Serve right away, or this dish can be served on a buffet at room temperature.  

Serve this up with a pasta dish, grilled chicken breasts or roasted salmon filets. You could make it a vegan main by adding pine nuts, white beans or a good quality vegan cheese.

Did you make this recipe? Follow us and tag @familyfarmbox and hashtag #familyfarmbox.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Summer Corn, Smoked Applewood Bacon and Thyme

This dish is perfect for my meat and potatoes loving family and supports my mission: veggies first! Simply roasted, tender fingerling potatoes, corn straight off the cob, top-quality smoked bacon and thyme create an end-of summer-almost-fall combo. We love this as a side dish to any grilled meat, foil wrapped fish or shrimp thrown on the grill, or roasted chicken thighs.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Summer Corn, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Thyme

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 pound fingerling potatoes, cleaned and cut into halves

Olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 slices of applewood smoked bacon, cut into small pieces

2 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob

1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Instructions:

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Distribute the potatoes on the sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil to coat (about 1 tablespoon), then season with salt and pepper to taste, about 1 teaspoon of salt and 4 cranks of pepper. Using a spatula, turn the potatoes until well coated with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then distribute evenly without crowding. Roast the potatoes for about 10 minutes, then turn with a spatula to brown on both sides. Cook the potatoes until they are golden brown and easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes total. Remove the potatoes from the oven.

While the potatoes are roasting, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon, distributing evenly around the pan, and cook until the bacon’s fat has rendered and the bacon is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Place a sheet of paper towel on a plate and remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon.

When the potatoes and bacon are cooked, mix them together with the corn and thyme on the warm baking sheet. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.  

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Pistachio Herb Pesto

When it’s summertime and you find gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market, what do you dream of making? Here’s an effortless, no-cook recipe that uses all of your fresh-from-the-garden produce, perfect for those heat-wave evenings.

In between not-too-smooth and not-too-chunky, the trick to this gazpacho’s perfect body is the emulsifying combo of oil and vinegar. Serve chilled in icy glasses or bowls and top it off with an herbal, nutty Pistachio Herb Pesto for a vegan meal. Protein lovers could add in poached shrimp to make this summer soup a full meal or serve as an appetizer with grilled bread.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Pistachio Herb Pesto

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of heirloom tomatoes (I used green zebra and brandywine. The color of your gazpacho may change based on what you use), chopped into 2- inch chunks, seeds removed (just brush them out with your fingertip, don’t squeeze out the juice J )
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, or 4 mini sweet bell peppers, stem, seeds and membrane removed, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into 2-inch chunks, 1/4 cup reserved for garnish
  • 1/4 of a red onion, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup of parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup of good quality olive oil…I used organic Spanish olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground pepper and sea salt
  • About 10 baby heirloom tomatoes, cut into quarters

Instructions

Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, red onion and parsley into the bowl of a high-speed blender or a food processor. Securely fasten the lid and blend, starting on low and increasing to high speed, until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 minutes.

Add the olive oil, vinegar and about 10 cranks of pepper from a grinder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue to blend the mixture for about 1 minute, until creamy and emulsified. Taste the gazpacho for seasoning and add more pepper and salt if needed. Put the gazpacho in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to serve the gazpacho, divide into chilled glasses or bowls, then top with the reserved cucumber, baby heirloom tomatoes and Pistachio Herb Pesto.

Pistachio Herb Pesto

Perfect on Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho…but don’t stop there. Toss this vibrant, nutty pesto with pasta, or serve as an accompaniment to grilled chicken or salmon.

Pistachio Herb Pesto

Makes about 1 cup of pesto

Ingredients

1 cup of soft fresh herbs such as basil, mint, dill, parsley, cilantro, stems removed

1/2 cup of roasted pistachios—no salt or low salt

1 garlic clove

Zest and juice of one small lemon

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Put the herbs, pistachios and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor with the lemon zest and juice, and blend them together until they are minced. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to blend until the pesto is smooth. Season with about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and a few cranks of pepper, then taste to adjust with additional seasoning if needed.

Stir Fried Turkey and Veggies with Lettuce Wraps and Soy Ginger Sauce

Perfect for a summer dinner, this recipe is on replay at our family table. The vegetables can be customized to what you have in the fridge, fresh from the farmers market or in your CSA box. We make a nutty soy ginger sauce to go along with it, but a drizzle of peanut sauce, a squeeze of lime or a dash of siracha will ramp up the flavors.

Stir Fried Turkey and Veggies with Lettuce Wraps and Soy Ginger Sauce

Ingredients:

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy or tamari sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice (about a half of a lime, save the other half to serve on the side)
  • 1 pinch red chile flakes, if desired

                For the stir fried turkey and veggies:

  • 1 tablespoon of avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 6 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 3 green onions, chopped, greens separated from the whites
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated or minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, core removed, leaves pulled apart to form cups

Method for the Soy Ginger Sauce:

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl or Mason jar with a tight fitting lid, and whisk or shake to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to serve, mixing again before serving.

Method for the Stir Fried Turkey and Veggies:

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add the avocado and sesame oil. Add the mushrooms and brown, stirring only occasionally, until all of the liquids have released, about 5 minutes. Add the red peppers, celery, and cook for another 2 minutes, until vegetables have softened. Add the turkey, breaking up into smaller pieces with a spatula, and seasoning with salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir the turkey as it cooks and browns, continuing to break up into smaller pieces, for about 5-7 minutes. Add the green onion whites (bottoms), garlic and ginger, continuing to stir and cook for another 2 minutes, until the onions, garlic and ginger are very fragrant and the turkey is cooked all of the way through. Taste the turkey mixture for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper if needed. Top the Stir Fried Turkey and Veggies with cilantro and the chopped green tops of the onions.

To serve, top a lettuce cup “wrap” with about 1/2 cup of the stir fried turkey and veggies, drizzle with a little soy ginger sauce, squeeze additional lime on top if desired, and fold to eat like a taco.

  

Butter Chicken–Dairy Free!

First of all, my family goes nuts for anything with coconut. Since we really try to find ways that skip dairy and butter, most of the meals we plan are dairy-free. But we LOVE butter chicken! Bummer that most recipes call for butter and heavy cream. So I brought in coconut oil and cream to sub for dairy, and the results have been a hit!

We’ve put this dish in the weekly rotation, serving it with sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon.

It’s a very straightforward dish, with just a few ingredients. I use chicken thighs, which melt into tender bites that don’t require cutting, but if you are a fan of chicken breasts, just dice them up and cook for 10 minutes less.

Butter Chicken–Dairy Free!

Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the butter chicken

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, stem, membranes and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 each teaspoon cumin and turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can whole tomatoes with juices (I used San Marzano)
  • 1 can of coconut cream
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steamed Rice & Sauteed Spinach for Serving

Method for the marinated chicken:

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl and add the chicken. Toss to combine the chicken and marinade, then refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Method for the butter chicken:

Heat the coconut oil in a large Dutch oven (that has a lid for later) over medium high heat. When oil is hot, sear the chicken in the pan until golden brown, working in batches to not overcrowd the pan, adding additional coconut oil if needed. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate or sheet pan.

When all of the chicken is browned and removed from the pan, add the onions and jalapenos, stirring frequently to prevent burning. After 2 minutes, add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin and turmeric, and continue to stir for another minute, or until the onions soften and the mixture is fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and can of tomatoes, stirring to lift the brown bits from the bottom of the pot, season with a pinch of salt, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes until the tomatoes reduce slightly. Add the coconut cream, stirring thoroughly to combine, and then stir in the chicken stock. Add the chicken thighs back into the pot, stir everything together, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid, cracking slightly to vent.

Simmer the butter chicken for 35-40 minutes, until the chicken thighs are fall apart tender. Stir in the lemon juice and half of the cilantro. Serve, topping with additional cilantro, with steamed rice and sautéed spinach.  

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