Boosting your way into the New Year

I admit this post is long overdue. I meant to write for Christmas and share my family recipe of “Bûche de Noël”, which I know is a favorite for some of my readers. But this will have to wait until next Christmas unfortunately… You probably won’t contradict me when I’ll say that there is always a lot going on around this time of the year. Buying last minute gifts (even though I always swear to my myself this will be the last time), wrapping a mountain of presents (this takes me a lot of time because I am a perfectionist), visiting family members, cooking delicious Christmas treats…

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However, you’ll probably like to hear that my new year resolution is to be much more active on Stefinitely Yummy! Even if this is probably going to get a bit tricky at some point… (more explanation about that soon :-)). I have so many nice recipes I’d like to share!

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Does the above snow man really looks freaky to you (so says my boyfriend Kjeld)? Vote for your favorite snow man!

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Probably unlike many of you, but I don’t blame you, I have been pretty reasonable during the end-of-year celebrations. Still, I really feel an urge for food that’s good for my body and will give me the energy I need to go through this snowy Luxembourgish winter. All I feel like is fibers and vitamins. Nice fresh and colorful vegetables. I can’t get enough of them! As I thought you might probably feel the same way after the “fois gras”, turkey and Texas Taters(*) overkill, I decided to share my ultimate energy boost and feel good recipes!

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My smoothie does not contain any salad, kale or any of the other usual ingredients in healthy green smoothies but it definitely reaches its objective in terms of freshness! I have prepared my second recipe, a carrot and sweet potato soup, countless numbers of times since I discovered it two years ago. It’s got so much flavor! Finally, the salad contains some of my favorite ingredients and the way it combines sweetness, softness and crunchiness is incredible!

I wish you all a Happy, Healthy and Yummy New Year!!!

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(*) Special reference to my dear American host-family. The Texas Taters is a recipe that Ann, the classy grand-mother, is required to prepare every Christmas. It is absolutely delicious but I don’t dare figuring out the calorie count. It contains potatoes and a LOT of sour-cream and butter! But it’s so GOOD…

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Cucumber, lemon, mint and apple smoothie
(serves 2/3)

You can add more or less apple juice depending on the consistency you like.

1 cucumber (about 400 g), peeled and sliced
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
20 cl / 7 fl oz organic or traditional apple juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Remove and serve immediately.

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Carrot, sweet potato, coriander and coconut milk soup
(serves 4)

If you don’t have the Thai red curry paste or the nuoc-mâm don’t worry, the recipe also works very well without these ingredients. The coconut milk can also be replaced with any other kind of milk. On the other hand, the lime and the fresh coriander are essential! They give all its freshness to this smooth and comforting soup.

800 g / 28 oz carrots, peeled and sliced (about 9 large carrots)
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1 onion, sliced finely
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
50 cl / 2 cups chicken broth (1 chicken stock cube)
40 cl / 2 cups coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp nuoc-mâm (Vietnamese fish sauce)
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Place the carrots and the sweet potato in a medium pan. Cover with boiling water and let simmer for about 10 minutes. If you use a chicken stock cube, drain the vegetables on top of a large bowl so that you keep the water which is full of flavor and vitamins. Poor 50 cl / 2 cups in a measuring cup while still hot, immediately drop the stock cube in, let it soften for a few minutes, then stir until the cube is fully dissolved.

Sauté the sliced onion in a large pan on medium heat with the olive oil. When softened, add the red curry paste and stir for a minute or two. Add the drained carrots and sweet potato in the large pan, as well as the coconut milk, the nuoc-mâm and the lime juice. Stir and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, lower to medium heat, cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove from stove, add 1 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander and blend until smooth. Sprinkle with the remaining coriander before serving.

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Energy boost salad
(serves 4)

4 handfuls fresh baby spinach
200 g / 1 cup quinoa
1 cauliflower
4 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 green apple
1 avocado
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp chive, chopped
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch of cinnamon
salt / pepper

For the sauce
2 tbsp low fat Greek yogurt or fromage blanc
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
juice of 1 lemon
1 pinch of turmeric powder
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
salt / pepper

Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water (two times its volume) with a pinch of salt until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). When ready let it cool down for 10 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Prepare the cauliflower by removing the outer leaves and separating the florets. Place in bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, cinnamon, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Transfer on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Turn the cauliflower pieces over with a fork and bake for 10 more minutes, until tender but still crispy. Remove from oven.

Prepare the sauce by beating all the ingredients together until smooth.

Place the spinach, the grated carrots and about half the sauce in a large bowl and mix well. Add the quinoa, the cauliflower, the parsley, the chive and mix well. Toast the pumpkin seeds a few minutes in a frying pan on medium heat. Peel and thinly slice the apple and the avocado.

Split the content of the large bowl between four plates. Carefully add the apple and avocado slices. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve immediately with the remaining sauce.

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Rain and treats

Luxembourg is a charming city but Sundays tend to be very quiet. They are great for meeting with friends around a copious brunch, going for long walks in the woods or laying down in the park. But what if it is a mid-July Sunday when most of your friends are away and for some reason it is constantly raining? I find myself stranded at home with plenty of time on my hands. This is the perfect opportunity to try out new recipes! For lunch, I want to bring Summer back with a fresh quinoa salad. I love the bitter-sweet of grapefruit in salads. An avocado, smoked salmon and grapefruit quinoa salad with a light “fromage blanc” sauce it will be! I had some salmon left, so I accompanied my quinoa salad with smoked salmon potted eggs.

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When the sun starts setting, I feel like a warm and comforting dish. My coral lentil, chicken and coconut milk soup did the trick. Finally to please my Dutch boyfriend with a reference to his national color, I decided to go for a full blown orange dinner with a carrot cake, an all time favorite. I sometimes cook a gluten-free version of it for my gluten sensitive friends. Without giving in to the recent gluten-free or all-organic crazes, I like the challenge of baking with unusual ingredients and discovering new flavors and textures. My cupboards are now well-stocked with different types of flour: coconut, chestnut, corn, rice, buckwheat. I am not done experimenting!

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Avocado, smoked salmon and grapefruit quinoa salad

(serves 4)

200 g / 1 cup quinoa
2 avocado
150 g / 5 oz smoked salmon
1 grapefruit

For the “fromage blanc” sauce
200 g / 1 cup fromage blanc (can be replaced by fromage frais or quark)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tbsp dill (fresh and chopped or dried)
salt / pepper

Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water (two times its volume) with a pinch of salt until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). When ready let it cool down for 10 minutes or so.

Dice the avocados and slice the salmon. Cut the grapefruit in half crosswise and remove the pulp with the help of a thin kitchen knife while keeping the grapefruit on top of a bowl in order to collect the juice. Keep the juice aside and mix all the other ingredients in a large bowl.

To prepare the sauce: Mix the fromage blanc, the Dijon mustard, the grapefruit juice, the chopped chives and the dill. Season with salt and pepper.

When cooled down, pour the quinoa and the sauce in the large bowl together with the other ingredients and gently stir.

Smoked salmon potted eggs (Oeufs cocotte)

(serves 4)

4 eggs
50 g / 1.5 oz smoked salmon
20 cl / 7 fl oz light cream
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tsp dill (fresh and chopped or dried)
salt / pepper

Chop the chives. In a bowl mix with the cream and the dill. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the cream and herb mix between four small pots. Thinly slice the salmon and divide between the four pots. Add an egg on top of each pot. Season with salt and pepper. Heat in a bain-marie either in a pan or in the oven for 10 minutes or until the egg white turns solid.

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Coral lentil, chicken and coconut milk soup

(serves 4)

220 g coral lentil
1 carrot, diced
3 chicken breasts, sliced
20 cl / 7 fl oz coconut milk
1 onion, sliced finely
1 garlic clove, sliced finely
1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
75 cl / 25 fl oz chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Sauté the chicken slices in a medium pan with a tbsp of olive oil. Once golden, set aside. Sauté the sliced onion in the same pan on medium heat with some extra olive oil. When softened, add the garlic and the spices and stir for a minute or two. Add the lentil, the diced carrot and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat. Leave it to cook for 10 minutes. Add the chicken slices and leave it to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and give it a good stir. No need to blend. Sprinkle with fresh coriander before serving.

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Carrot Cake (gluten-free option)

(serves 8)

3/4 carrots, finely grated
95 g / 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
60 g / 2 oz walnut halves, finely chopped
45 ml / 3 tbsp olive oil
45 ml / 3 tbsp colza oil
175 g / 1+1/4 cup plain flour (for gluten-free version mix 75 g / 1/2 cup chestnut flour and 100 g / 3/4 cup rice flour)
1 package 16 g / 2 tsp baking powder (make sure to chose it with maize starch for gluten-fee version)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt

Cream-cheese frosting (optional)
50 g / 1.5 oz butter at room temperature (salted or not)
100 g / 3 oz cream-cheese (Philadelphia)
50 g / 3/4 cup icing sugar
1 package 7.5 g / 2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F.

In a mixing bowl, whip the eggs and sugar energetically until creamy and fluffy, then add the oil and mix well. In another bowl sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture and blend well. Add carrots and chopped walnuts and blend well.

Butter and dust the cake mold with flour. Pour in the dough and bake in a preheated oven 150°C/ 300°F for 1 hour. You can also use muffin molds, in this case only bake for 45 minutes.

Let the cake cool on a wire rack. When cold, you can ice the cake if you wish. In this case mix the butter and the cream cheese until smooth. Then add the sifted icing sugar. Mix well and cream your cakes with the icing. Hold 15 minutes in fridge before serving.