Winter Coolers and Warmers

It is so cold.
So cold that my fingers are freezing as I type this.
So cold that my left little toe was numb all day yesterday.
So cold that Chris and I sleep with three blankets on us at night and it takes me 90 snoozes before I can get brave enough to step out of bed.

Once out of bed I immediately wrap myself in as many layers as possible. Cooper and I run (literally) to turn up the thermostat to hear that comforting sound of the heat turning on. After a short while the house has (slightly) removed some of its chill and I am able to somewhat function. Oddly enough, this morning I was craving one of my winter smoothies. I can’t explain my cravings, but even though my body was feeling frozen I wanted the creamy, cool, pumpkin pie drink.

There I sat, in my sweatpants and sweatshirt, wrapped in a blanket, sipping on one of the most delicious smoothies. I then proceeded to sit, in my sweatpants and sweatshirt, wrapped in a blanket……on top of the heating vent. The smoothie was definitely worth it though 🙂

Another favorite of mine this season is this little gem.

Luna Chocolate Peppermint! It is amazing and a great snack if you are craving holiday cookies or peppermint bark. Luna offers a much healthier alternative!

If you want something a little warmer to thaw the icicles from your body, I suggest the Lemongrass Consommé with Pea Shoot and Mushroom Dumplings. Comforting, full of flavor, and perfect for a soothing lunch or dinner.

Lemongrass Consommé with Pea Shoot and Mushroom Dumplings (adapted from the Conscious Cook)

Ingredients:
Makes 6 servings
For the consommé:
— sea salt
— 2 tablespoons canola oil
— 4 stalks lemongrass
— 2 stalks celery, diced
— 1 leek, thinly sliced
— 2 shallots, minced
— 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and diced
— 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
— 1 kaffir lime leaf (I used 1 tsp. lime zest)
— 2 small dried red chilies
— 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
— 2 tablespoons sugar
— 2 quarts vegetable or faux-chicken stock

For the dumplings:
— sea salt
— 2 tablespoons canola oil
— 1 pound oyster mushrooms, minced (I substituted chopped button mushrooms. You can use whichever kind you prefer)
— 1 cup fresh pea shoots, minced
— 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
— 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
— 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
— 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
— 2 teaspoons shoyu soy sauce
— freshly ground black pepper
— 12 large (or 24 small) round wonton skins
— 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion (spring onion)

Directions:
1. Make the consommé: Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect. Add 1 tsp salt and all of the remaining ingredients except for the sugar and stock and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sugar and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Make the dumplings: Place a medium saute pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke. Add the mushrooms and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they release their liquid. Add the pea shoots, ginger, chives, basil, parsley, and shoyu, season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes, until all the ingredients are combined and tender. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

3. Lay the wonton skins out on a clean, dry work surface. Put a small spoonful of the filling in the center of each. Using your finger or a brush, dab a bit of water around the edges with your fingers, gathering them in little pinches. Pour the consommé through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids, and return to the pot; bring to a simmer. Add the dumplings and heat for 10 minutes. Serve garnished with scallion.
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I have always liked wonton soup and it was always my request when ordering from an Asian restaurant. However, after going vegan I figured I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. This recipe changed everything. It was so good and paired perfectly with fresh baked bread and this bok choy recipe.
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It looks like the cold is here to stay to warm up with a bowl of this soup this Winter!

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