Chocolate Covered Date Nut Squares

By Libbie Summers

A 3-ingredient delicious dessert that doesn’t involve eggs, flour or sugar? I’m ALL IN! 
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Chocolate Covered Date Nut Squares
(makes 16…depending on how big you cut them)

What you need: 
1/2 cup packed fresh dates, pitted
1 1/2 cups nuts (you can mix any nuts here, use the bits and pieces of whatever you have on hand)
6 ounces dark chocolate, melted (a heaping cup)

What to do: 
Prepare an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so as the ends come over the sides of the pan.

1. Soak Dates If Needed: If your dates are on the drier side (mine were), soak them in warm water for 5 minutes and drain before using.

2. Make Nut Mixture: Add nuts and dates to a food processor and process until mixture is sticky and small pieces of nuts can still be seen.

3. Start Bars: Press date nut mixture into prepared pan. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to press down flat.

4. Finish Bars: Pour melted chocolate over date nut mixture and spread evenly. Place in freezer or refrigerator until chocolate has hardened completely (about 10-20 minutes).

5. Cut Bars: Remove bars from pan onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife and cut into squares.
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No-Knead Bread

By Libbie Summers
Recipe by Jim Lahey from his book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No Knead Method

First of all, Jim Lahey is a damn baking god. I trained in traditional french baking when I was younger with a lot of pomp and circumstance. It wasn’t until I made this no-knead bread that I questioned why I had spent all that time and money having some French guy berate me when bread was really this easy to bake.

Here is Jim’s recipe (with one minor change for me…sorry Jim) for a basic long-fermented rustic bread. It will change your life.
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No-Knead Bread by Jim Lahey
(long-fermented rustic bread)
makes 1 (10-inch) round loaf

What you need: 
3 cups (400 grams) bread flour (I’ve done this with bread flour and all-purpose flour…they both crush!)
1 1/4 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt (I have used 1 1/2 teaspoons AND 1 1/4 teaspoons and they both work)
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) cool water (55 to 65 degrees F) (I used 1 1/2 cups warm/NOT hot)
Wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour, for dusting (I only use flour)
Special equipment:
A 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart heavy pot (I used a cast-iron dutch oven, you could also use any dutch oven or pyrex casserole with lid)

What to do:

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Make sure it’s really sticky to the touch; if it’s not, mix in another tablespoon or two of water. Cover the bowl with a plate, tea towel, or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature (about 72 degrees F), out of direct sunlight, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size. This will take a minimum of 12 hours and (my preference) up to 18 hours. This slow rise—fermentation—is the key to flavor. (I let mine rise for 18 hours)

2. When the first fermentation is complete, generously dust a work surface (a wooden or plastic cutting board is fine) with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the board in one piece. When you begin to pull the dough away from the bowl, it will cling in long, thin strands (this is the developed gluten), and it will be quite loose and sticky—do not add more flour. Use lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula to lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

3. Place a cotton or linen tea towel (not terry cloth, which tends to stick and may leave lint in the dough) or a large cloth napkin on your work surface and generously dust the cloth with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Use your hands or a bowl scraper or wooden spatula to gently lift the dough onto the towel, so it is seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, making an indentation about 1/4 inch deep, it should hold the impression. If it doesn’t, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

4. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third position, and place a covered 4 1/2–5 1/2 quart heavy pot in the center of the rack. (I use a cast iron dutch oven and bake at 450º F)

5. Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel, lightly dust the dough with flour or bran, lift up the dough, either on the towel or in your hand, and quickly but gently invert it into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution—the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. Don’t slice or tear into it until it has cooled, which usually takes at least an hour. (I always bake for a minimum of 30 minutes with the lid removed, sometimes 40 min.)

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Indian-spiced Roasted Carrot Soup with Spiced Kale Chips

By Libbie Summers

Challenge: Carrots and Kale. 
Challenge Accepted: An Indian-inspired Roasted Carrot Soup with Spiced Kale Chips. This creamy soup is packed with smooth flavor and the kale chips…well, they aren’t your average kale chip so they make the perfect garnish!
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Indian-spiced Roasted Carrot Soup with Spiced Kale Chips
serves 4

What you need: 
For Kale Chips:
4 stalks kale, washed and thoroughly dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon nut butter (I used almond)
1 teaspoon oil (I used a garlic olive oil)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt

For Soup:
1 pound carrots, washed and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1/2 onion, quartered and broken into pieces
5 cloves garlic, left in skins and lightly smashed
small sliver of jalapeno
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a garlic olive oil)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (can sub 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger)
3 cups vegetable stock, hot
Flake sea salt

What to do: 
1. Make Kale Chips: Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet tray with foil. Place kale in the middle of the sheet tray. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients until smooth. Spoon mixture over kale and massage into kale with your hands, coating every piece evenly. Separate the coated kale pieces on the sheet tray and bake until crisp (about 10-12 minutes). Set aside.
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2. Start Soup: Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet tray with foil. Add carrots, onions, garlic, jalapeno, olive oil, garam masala and a heavy pinch of salt. Toss to coat. Spread mixture out over the tray, separating all the pieces. Roast just until carrots can be pierced with a fork (about 20-25 minutes). Remove from oven and remove skins from garlic and place garlic back on tray.
3. Finish Soup: Add the roasted vegetable mixture to a blender along with the coconut milk and stock. Place lid on blender and cover with a towel. Process until smooth. Salt to taste.
To Serve: Divide soup between bowls, drizzle with olive oil (optional) and garnish with spiced kale chips.
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Savory Oatmeal

By Libbie Summers
Pink Linen Napkin from Yum Yum Smile Shop by Libbie Summers

I LOVE a savory oatmeal –this breakfast for lunch or dinner is everything! It’s packed with nutrients and a GREAT way to use up all those bits and pieces of vegetables you have on hand that are in danger of spoiling. I start out my recipe by making a garlic infused oil that will be spooned over the savory oatmeal at the end and it took this recipe over the top. I happened to have some greens, mushrooms and scallions getting ready to kick in my fridge, but you could use just about anything of the savory variety to make this dish. More ideas below (after the recipe).
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Savory Oatmeal
(oatmeal, wilted greens, mushrooms, bacon, parmesan + garlic oil finish)
serves 2

What you need:
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
pinch of red pepper flake
2 cups prepared oatmeal (hot)
2 cups greens (I used a mix of chopped collards and spinach)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 slice thick cut bacon, diced
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 scallion, chopped for garnish
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

What to do:
1. Make Infused Oil: In a small sauté pan over low heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, sliced garlic cloves and red pepper flake. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
2. Finish Oatmeal: Add greens, pinch of salt and pepper to hot oatmeal, stir and cover.
3. Cook Bacon: Add diced bacon to a cold sauté pan. Adjust heat to medium and cook bacon until crisp.
4. Cook Mushrooms: In a small sauté pan over medium heat, add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, butter (optional), mushrooms, pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are just browned.
To Serve: Divide oatmeal between two bowls. Top each with grated parmesan, bacon and mushrooms. Sprinkle each with chopped scallion and spoon a little garlic oil over each (save the rest to spoon over your eggs in the morning). Serve immediately.

Other Savory Oatmeal Combination Ideas:
•Spinach, Tomatoes and Poached or Fried Egg
•Sautéed Tomatoes and Pesto
•Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Scallions
•Asparagus, Tomatoes and Parmesan
•Diced Sweet Potato and Avocado

Eggs Shakshuka”ish”

By Libbie Summers

As in a lot of things in life, it’s not what you have, it’s what you can do with what you have. This recipe for Eggs Shakshuka”ish” was born out of what I had on hand, but inspired by one of my favorite egg dishes. And, I think I may like it better! BOOM!

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Eggs Shakshuka”ish”
(latin style)
serves 2

What you need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3-4 eggs
Grated cheddar cheese (can sub cotija, Monterey Jack, goat or feta)
Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
4 corn tortillas, charred over an open flame (can sub toasted bread)

What to do:
1. Start Tomato Sauce:
In a small skillet or braiser over medium heat, add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add in onion, jalapeno and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute before adding cumin, chipotle powder, a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until onions are beginning to get translucent (about 4-5 minutes).
2. Finish Tomato Sauce: Reduce head to medium-low and stir in diced tomatoes and all their liquid. Bring to a low simmer and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cook Eggs: Reduce heat to low. Working with one egg at a time, crack egg into a small bowl. Using the back of a serving spoon, make an indent into the tomato sauce. Slide egg into the indent. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Cover the dish and cook just until the whites of the eggs are set. The yolks should still be runny. Remove from heat, add cheese and cover again as you bring it to the table (this will melt the cheese).
To Serve: I like to serve this straight from the dish on the table. Garnish with chopped cilantro if you like and serve charred tortillas or crusty toast alongside to soak up all the runny yolk and sauce. Hot sauce never hurts either.
Your family…will love it (proof below)
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