dates are my life

This is Winston, sitting on my bed, ignoring my commands, and sleeping better than I have in weeks. He is punishing me for being out of town and busy. The only time he pays me any attention these days are when I am cooking-in hopes that some stray piece of food will slip out of my hand and onto the floor where he can snatch it up at lightening speed. Unfortunately, I have been using lots and lots of onions lately and last night a big chuck flew off my cutting board and was in his mouth in half a second. I found it later discarded under the dining room table. The next item he managed to steal was a garlic clove and then a slice of shallot...all discarded. Needless to say the soup I made was very flavorful and full of all these ingredients. The soup this Monday was vegan tortilla soup from the Real Food Daily Cookbook. One of the best vegan restaurants in LA in my opinion! I found a blog that had tested the recipe and tweaked it a bit and I tried the suggestions. ( The soup was delicious but definitely a bit spicy! We ate it with organic whole grain tortilla chips from Traders Joe's and homemade guacamole. I tend to just throw a bunch of yummy ingredients in with the avocado when I make guacamole, but this one definitely stood out to me so I will try and remember what I threw in. I started with 3 avocados and added lime juice, one shallot, Spike seasoning, ground cumin and sea salt. The meal was amazing but left my mouth on fire!

And while we are on the subject of soups the previous Monday my roommates and I made a tomato bread soup from my Vegan Italiano cookbook. I am sad to say that it was my first time cooking from Vegan Italiano but happy to say how amazing this recipe was! Although I'm not sure I can really call it soup as the bread dominated the dish, which I'm not complaining about! Very filling though.

Tuscan-Style Baked Bread and Tomato Soup with Basil

1 loaf day-old peasant bread cubed

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes cut into chunks

1 cups fresh basil chopped

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

2 tbsp dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a large ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes stirring after 10. Remove and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, half the garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake for 2-3 more minutes and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large oven proof skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the rest of the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, half the basil, half the broth, the wine, salt, and pepper-simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the bread cubes to the skillet along with the remaining basil and broth, stirring well to combine. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Serve !!!


(before adding the bread)

(after adding the bread)

I even enjoyed it the next day cold and pretty soggy :) Now onto desserts!!! Last week I came into work and there was a huge container of dates up for grabs on the table. People always bring in treats for the dancers, but as these were not cookies or cake no one was touching them. So I took it upon myself to use them to their full potential. Of course after trying a few and falling in love with the heavenly honey flavor, I baked with them. On my lunch break I went home and made oatmeal cookies with a date jam topping. ( The cookies were very fluffy and not too sweet. With the date topping they reminded me of fig newtons cookies (minus the fig part ?).

The second half of the dates I stole went to another batch of energy balls. I tried a new recipe with lemon and coconut! Amazing!

Lemon Coconut Balls

7 large honey dates

2 tablespoons almond meal

handful of raw cashews

lemon juice

unsweetened shaved coconut

Combine all the ingredients in a small food processor until well blended. Add extra cashews if you want a firmer texture. Roll spoonfuls of the date mixture into small balls and roll in the coconut until covered. Refrigerate and enjoy!

I highly recommend all of these recipes! Just don't let your dog eat the scraps!