Creamy Thai Basil Tomato Soup

I am a sucker for soup in any season but this meal choice is much more appropriate this time of year.  Especially when it’s raining and cold (though here in NorCal, cold is a relative term).  That being said, we will be eating soup for the next few months and I couldn’t be more excited!  Actually I will be eating soup for the next few months.  My husband doesn’t usually join me for dinner when soup is involved, probably because he doesn’t find it to be a substantial meal.  The next question is usually, “Soo…is there anything else for dinner?” followed by a sheepish smile.  If you’re familiar with Seinfeld and his ongoing battle with Banya about whether soup at a restaurant is a meal, then know I’m fully on Team Jerry.  It IS a meal and soup for the win!

Thai Basil Tomato Soup

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{Vegan} Banana Bread with a Salted Date Caramel Swirl

So, we are talking banana bread today.  This quick bread is probably one of the easiest and most familiar baked goods in many kitchens with a plethora of recipes out there to prove it.  Earlier, I posted a maple-olive oil banana bread recipe that has been in my rotation a few years now from the Shutterbean blog that I absolutely adore.  The bread AND the blog. Actually, it’s been the only recipe I’ve used since I first started making banana bread.

However, this time I decided to change it up a bit and mash up two recipes that I’ve been eyeing on for some time that I found on a couple of my favorite blogs.  So we have a vegan banana bread with a vegan, naturally sweetened salted date caramel swirl.  YUM!  Do not let the vegan-ness scare you away; there are no weird ingredient substitutions or fancy ingredients.

This bread turned out barely sweet, dense, and moist due to the number of bananas used.  Then to bite into the date-caramel swirl within the bread is just a flavor bonus.  I feel the bread is best served warm, straight out of the oven.  However, simply toasting a couple slices in the morning works just as well and makes for a filling and delicious breakfast.

Vegan Banana Bread 5

Vegan Banana Bread 6

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Soused Tomatoes

Soused Tomatoes 2

Here is another gem from Seven Spoons, Tara O’Brady’s yummy, vibrant cookbook.  We know that roasted tomatoes are pretty amazing, but this is a very unique and in her words, “beautiful” way to treat them. Their delicate flavor is intensified from the slow-roasting and she recommends using them as an antipasti, in a salad with peppery arugula and lots of Parm or squished onto bread or flatbread- all of which sound amazing.  However, I have used them to top my pasta dishes and grain bowls in lieu of sauce, which is also highly recommended.

Beware, these soused tomatoes take about 3-4 hours in the oven, so plan accordingly!

The leftover oil once the tomatoes are gone is definitely something to keep and use as a finishing oil or vinaigrette, mayonnaise or marinade base.

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Oat-y Apricot Maple Cookies

The beginning of the school year, whether you are in school or not, typically signifies a rapidly waning summer and the beginning of all that we love about autumn: brightly colored, crispy leaves, slowly cooling temperatures, apple orchards abundant with produce and football Sundays.  At least that’s what Illinois had to offer every year growing up.  However, the separation of seasons here in Northern California seems to exist in name only.  Just last week we experienced record-setting temperatures in the 100s and we’re due to hit the mid-90s again by this weekend!  How is this possible?  When Starbucks is advertising their Pumpkin Spice Latte, I’m still craving my iced coffee.

So, in an effort to kick off the fall season, I’ve adapted my vegan chocolate chip cookie to reflect its flavors.  I was inspired by a recipe in my “flourless.” cookbook which called for oats, walnuts, dried apricots and ginger.  After two failed attempts making them gluten-free, this third attempt gets it right, but uses whole wheat flour.  No big deal.  I’m extremely happy with this final batch as these cookies turned out hearty yet chewy, warmed with spices and punctuated with the subtle spice of crystallized ginger.  Oat Maple Cookies

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Apple Cinnamon-Raisin Trail Cookies

The base for these cookies comes from Oh Ladycakes and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve made some variation of them.  They have been a breakfast staple not only in our home but from road trips to the hospital stay when our son was born.  And now they have a special place in my heart.

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So, when I saw that Ashlae made a version with banana and banana chips, a lightbulb went off in my head, which leads us to this version below.  I would loosely use the term cookie for this adaptation because they are moist and dense, almost cake-like.  Made with oats (& oat flour), almonds (& almond butter), these will keep you full and energized all morning long!

We almost always have a large bag of apple chips in our pantry because they are unusually sweet, though contain no added sugar, taste delicious and a great treat for our little morkie.  So instead of bananas, we use apple chips and applesauce.  And cinnamon.  And raisins.  And even though it seems like it’s perpetually summer here in NorCal, these cookies feel like a big bite of fall in your mouth.

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