Meals For Me & You

January 8, 2016

After the hubbub of holiday gatherings galore, we’re heading into the year feeling well loved but not entirely well rested. Our favorite way to recharge? Relaxing one-on-one time spent sharing a homemade meal. To help us whip up QT-worthy dishes for the special someones in our lives, we asked food blogger Jeanine Donofrio of Love and Lemons to share her recipes for reconnecting.

Breakfast with Kiddo
Show your little one that sweetness is rewarding all year round, with a mommy-and-me breakfast of muffins and white hot chocolate.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
makes 12
For the muffins
¾ cup almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup spelt or whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup sunflower or canola oil
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large gala apple, diced

For the cinnamon sugar topping
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or spray lightly with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Set aside.

To the medium bowl with the almond milk, add the oil, sugar, eggs, applesauce and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined. Pour the wet mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in two-thirds of the chopped apples. Fill each well of the muffin tin using a 1/3-cup measuring cup. Top with the remaining apples and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar topping. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

White Hot Chocolate
serves two
⅓ cup white chocolate chips
2 cups almond milk
Marshmallows, for garnish
Cinnamon sticks or star anise, for garnish
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, for garnish
Optional: ½ to 1 teaspoon matcha or 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the white chocolate chips with ½ cup of almond milk. Whisk continuously until the chocolate chips have completely melted. Add the remaining almond milk and whisk until smooth. Serve hot with marshmallows, cinnamon sticks and/or a dusting of ground cinnamon. If desired, whisk in matcha or cocoa powder.

Lunch with Mom
The person in your life who could definitely use some R&R? Mom, of course. Treat her to a soulful, healthy lunch at your place.

Easy Vegetarian Pho with Shiitakes & Bok Choy
serves two
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole cloves
5 cups water
½ small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 garlic cloves
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced in half
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved
3 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 baby bok choy, sliced lengthwise into quarters
½ cup edamame (or protein of your choice)
4 ounces rice noodles
Lime slices
Mung bean sprouts
Fresh basil leaves
Sambal or Sriracha chile sauce

In a medium pot over low heat, combine the star anise, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and cloves and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the water, onion, garlic, ginger and the stems of the shiitake mushrooms. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and return the liquid back to the pot.

Slice the shiitake mushroom caps and add them to the pot with the tamari, rice vinegar and scallions. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the edamame and bok choy and simmer until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a pot of salted boiling water, prepare the noodles according to the package directions, cooking until al dente. Drain and rinse. Ladle pho into 2 bowls over the rice noodles. Serve with the lime slices, sprouts, basil and chile sauce.

Dinner with Sweetie
Reconnect with your significant other during a date night complete with a bottle of wine, a few laughs and this tasty dinner.

Cauliflower Steaks with Hazelnut Romesco
serves two
For the cauliflower
2 1-inch thick cauliflower “steaks” from 1 medium cauliflower
1 tablespoon sunflower oil (or other high-heat oil)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 tablespoon golden raisins
½ teaspoon lemon zest

For the romesco sauce
2 roasted red bell peppers, fresh or from a jar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup cooked chickpeas (or 1 slice ciabatta bread, for thickening)
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts
¼ cup blanched almonds
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut two 1-inch thick slices from the cauliflower, keeping the core intact. Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan. Place the cauliflower steaks in the pan and gently press down. Lightly brush the top of the steaks with a little more oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sear for 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown, then transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender but firm.

For the sauce, in a blender, combine the red peppers, tomato paste, water, vinegar, chickpeas, hazelnuts, almonds, garlic, paprika, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Season to taste.

Spread two plates with romesco sauce and top each with a cauliflower steak. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, pine nuts, golden raisins and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store extra romesco sauce in the fridge for up to 4 days to use on sandwiches or as a veggie dip.

Cocktails with BFF
Bond with your bestie over gimlets and a nourishing nosh.

Lemon Ginger Gimlet
serves two

¼ cup gin
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Splash of sparkling water
Splash of ginger juice, optional
Lemon peels, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin, lemon juice, agave nectar and a handful of crushed ice. Shake for 20 seconds, then strain into two glasses. Top with a splash of sparkling water and ginger juice, if using. Garnish with lemon peel.

Beet Hummus Crostini
serves two
1 medium or 2 small red beets
2 cloves garlic
1½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small baguette, sliced and toasted
Radishes, sliced in half (or other raw vegetable crudite, for serving)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle the beet with olive oil and then wrap the beet and garlic together in foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast 30 to 40 minutes, or until beet is fork-tender. When cool enough to handle, peel the beet skins under running water using your hands. Chop the beet and place it in a blender. Add the roasted garlic, chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and water, then blend until smooth. Chill until ready to use. Serve with sliced radishes and toasted baguette slices topped with sesame seeds, parsley and pine nuts.

Set the table for a day’s worth of dining, right this way.