loaded red pepper soup

This roasted red pepper soup is both creamy and bright and loaded with cumin crusted chickpeas and cabbage to make it an entire meal. It's November and red peppers still have a strong showing the Portland farmers markets, I for one am impressed. Over the last couple of months I've become a little obsessed with roasting vegetables, it sounds so simple but in my opinion it enhances the flavor a huge amount in comparison to sauteing or pan frying. This soup is proof, taking the extra 15 mins to roast these puppies in the oven is what makes this dish awesome.   

loaded red pepper soup

mindful eating tips

This might be a good time to refer you to the basics behind mindful eating. If you haven't checked them out,  here are the six principles you can practice before eating in order to bring more awareness and attention into mealtime:

1. Breathe
2. Put Away Distractions
3. Assess Hunger
4. Observe
5. Chew
6. Slow Down

 You can learn more about each step, and links to more resources here on my site. 

loaded red pepper soup

ingredients
4 large red bell peppers
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots
4 tablespoon cumin
3 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (*don't include for the vegan option)
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper
1 can chickpeas
2 cups red cabbage 

instructions
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Cut your red peppers in half and take out the seeds (cut so that two halves are identical)  
Place the red bell peppers on a baking sheet with the cut sides facing down, and drizzle with olive oil.
Roast the peppers for 20-30 minutes until blackened on the top.
While the peppers are roasting start chopping the rest of the vegetables
Remove the peppers from the oven and immediately cover them in tinfoil, this steams the peppers. 
Turn the oven down to 350F, and toss the chopped cabbage and chickpeas in 2 tablespoons cumin and black pepper, put them on a baking pan and roast for 5 mins
Soup
Put onions, garlic and olive oil in a large pot and simmer over medium heat. After 5 mins add the soup stock chopped carrots, cumin, thyme and the red peppers. NOTE: the peppers should have now 'steamed' for about 5-10mins total and *remove charred red pepper skin* before adding the the soup.

Let simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are softened through. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup mixture smooth. (or a regular blender) 
Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Add the roasted chickpeas and cabbage, enjoy! This soup keeps well in the fridge or freezer for leftovers.

pumpkin funfetti cake + treat yourself challenge

Please forgive me if every dessert on my blog from here on incorporates funfetti. The reason I like sprinkles is the same reason I like champagne, their mere presence calls for a celebration. That is what this cake is all about. Rich, spicy pumpkin cake with cool cream cheese frosting and crunchy candy sprinkles to top it off.  

pumpkin funfetti cake mindful eating
pumpkin funfetti cake mindful eating
funfetti pumpkin cake

you should eat cake 

This might come as a shock but mindful eating does not mean you can only eat local kale. In fact the philosophy is that nothing is off limits, instead, the focus is to joyfully take pleasure in a huge range of foods. Eat cake, please! Just pay attention while you are doing it, allow yourself to take pleasure in every bite. Focus on what makes your body feel good. Intuitively our bodies can tell us when they've had enough. One small piece of cake might give you a tiny sugar buzz, on the other hand, eating a whole tub of frosting may cause your stomach to freak out . When you are full, stop and take a moment to be grateful that someone made you a god dang gorgeous cake. My advice is to put away your distractions, eat slowly, and give the cake all the attention it deserves. 

mindful treat-yo-self challenge 

Try this as a fun treat-yo-self moment: take 10 mins just to eat a piece of cake and do nothing else. Set the timer on your phone, and really extend the experience. Try to do this when you are actually hungry, I don't know about you but in my experience being hungry usually makes things taste awesome. Pretend that you are a professional taste tester and have to submit a detailed taste review of this piece of cake (or an equivalently decadent treat) to a magazine. Compared to standing in the kitchen, texting, and scarfing it down in 2 minutes, my guess is the treat-yo-self way will be more satisfying. But don't take my word try it yourself!   

pumpkin funfetti cake

This has been adapted from Cooking Classy. I also have to give a general shout out to Molly from my name is yeh for just generally making funfetti cool again. Check out her gorgeous version of this here

ingredients
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 cups sugar ( I like to use sugar in the raw)
3/4 cup dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, soft/room temp
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

frosting
12 oz. cream cheese, soft/room temp
3/4 cup butter, soft/room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar
rainbow sprinkles to taste (maybe 1/2 cup or more if you want to get crazy)

instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. This fills three, 9-inch cake pans. Or you can make a smaller cake and cupcakes (that is what I did). Just make sure to not over fill your cake pans as the dough will rise! Butter your cake pans. 

2. Mix together all your dry ingredients except the sugars.
3. In another large bowl, mix together the butters and sugars, then add the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Then add the pumpkin and milk to the wet mix. (Note - it is freaking amazing if you use actual roasted pumpkin here, but for use mere mortals, the canned stuff will do fine :) 
4. Slowly, add the flour mix to the butter/sugar pumpkin bowl. 
5. Pour into the cake pans and bake for 30-35min until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool. Frost. Add Sprinkles.

decorating pro tips
1. The most important thing is to make sure your cake cools down. Cover in plastic wrap right away out of the oven and pop it in the fridge or freezer for 15 mins, this helps retain moisture if you do it right away. 
2. To learn how to get the cake frosted very evenly, there are A LOT of youtube videos out there for you. But the short summary is: you cut off the 'cake dome' a very thin layer off the top to make a flat surface. Next you frost a very thin 'crumb' layer around the outside, after that you put the cake back in the fridge for 15 mins and only then do you frost the outside of the cake. If you have a turntable and a frosting spatula, you can make this sucker real strait!  

two potato rosemary tart + multisensory eating

This tart is a perfect hearty fall meal. It combines sweet potatoes and purple potatoes and lots of fresh rosemary. Despite how freaking fancy it looks, it is surprisingly easy and quick to make. If you aren't comfortable making your own crust, you really should give it a try, a couple of attempts and you'll be a pro in no time at all. 

...drumroll I give you.... my two potato tart. A little reminder of the simple joy of cooking and creating something beautiful. 

the whole experience of eating   

What is going on around you when you eat plays a huge role in how you experience the taste and satisfaction of a meal. I've always been a little obsessive about setting the table for dinner, dimming the lights, putting on some music, lighting a candle. Wow, now that I write that down it's strangely similar to the steps one might take in say seduction ... interesting.... But seriously, paying a little attention to your surroundings and presentation honors the food, the work of many who've made your meal possible, and it shows respect for yourself to slow down and appreciate the beauty of mealtime. I'm going to give you a quote from an article I read this week that I'm about to recommend: 

"Alongside sex, eating is one of the most multisensory of our activities .....In most cases at least half of our experience of food and drink is determined by the forgotten flavor senses of vision, sound, and touch"

If you are trying to eat more mindfully I recommend taking a few steps to bring a little extra pizazz to your table.  Do this especially if you are eating alone, bring in a flower or greenery from outside, light a candle, these simple notions can remind you to savor the beauty around you.

what is she reading 

I have to recommend you read this article: Accounting For Taste from the New Yorker's Food Issue this last week.  The article profiles Charles Spence a researcher investigating what he calls multisensory integration in eating, which is basically the interplay between taste and your other senses, touch, sound, smell and sight. A couple of findings from his research: 

"a strawberry-flavored mousse tastes ten per cent sweeter when served from a white container rather than a black one...adding two and a half ounces to the weight of a plastic yogurt container makes the yogurt seem about twenty-five per cent more filling"

To my disappointment, so far this research has mostly been used by packaged goods companies to sell more processed foods. However, the applications are potentially broad and the research itself is a valuable appreciation for the multisensory experience of eating. Enjoy! Here is the link: Accounting For Taste

two potato tart sweet potato purple
rosemary
two potato tart
potatoes

two potato rosemary tart

This has been adapted from: smitten kitchen Thanks Deb, your rule.

ingredients
servings: 4
time:  1.5-2 hours (mostly waiting for the tart to bake)

2 medium sweet potatoes  
2 medium purple potatoes (red potatoes will do here if you can't find purple)
1/2 cup plain yogurt or heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
1/4 pound gruyere shredded (or cheddar or mozzarella will do)
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

Tart Crust
6 tablespoons cold butter, diced into small pieces
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

directions

savory tart crust
Combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender in very tiny pieces. If you don't have this tool you can use two knives to cut the butter. Next, add the egg to your flour and mix everything with a fork until a dough forms. If you are having trouble mixing, a little kneading on your counter should do the trick.  

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan and press to remove any air bubbles. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Now you can add your filling

Preheat oven to 350°F. 

First you need to pre-cook the potatoes slightly before baking them in the tart. You can do this in one of two ways, the tastier way is to bring a pot of water to boil and simmer them whole for about 10 mins, and then pat dry. Or if you're in a pinch for time, you could microwave the potatoes for about 3-5mins per potato until just tender (but not mushy!)  After the potatoes are soft, slice them into thin (about 1/4-inch) rounds, I like to use my mandolin for this to get them nice and thin.

Arrange the potatoes in the tart shell into a fantastic design of your choosing, here you can see I alternated the purple/sweet potatoes into two big circles. Mix the yogurt or heavy cream with the egg and pour into tart shell. Sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes. Add the herbs about 30 mins into baking.  In total bake 45-50 minutes, until bubbly and brown.