Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Month: January 2016

Soothing Smoothie

Soothe your soul and calm your nerves with this smoothie.  Medjool dates, banana, almond milk, vanilla, and a handful of chocolate chips give it a luxurious taste and lots of important vitamins and minerals.  Normally I would crave a warm drink in the middle of winter, but for some reason, this smoothie hits the spot right now.  Maybe my body is craving the minerals that dates and bananas contain.  And almond milk is so smooth and creamy.  In any case, it tastes decadent and comforting, though it is really quite healthy.

soothing smoothie 5Maybe it’s partly because of the New Year, and maybe it’s partly because my husband will have knee surgery soon, but I have been searching for new ways to eat well.  (We already eat really well, but there’s always room for improvement!)  He and I want to find  foods full of nutrition to help his body heal faster after his surgery.  He recently got a new book called “Thrive Energy Cookbook” by Brendan Brazier.  This book looks really interesting, and has all plant-based recipes.  I am not wanting to go completely vegan or gluten-free at all.  However, I am always interested in expanding my knowledge of food and how what we eat affects how we feel, and I would love to incorporate more plant-based foods into my diet.

soothing smoothie 7Using dates in a smoothie is something new for me, and I really, really like it.  This smoothie recipe is very loosely adapted from a recipe I found in the “Thrive” cookbook.  I say very loosely, because I changed it quite a bit, except for the idea of using dates in a smoothie, for which I am very grateful.  It tastes sweet and flavorful without using much sugar (just from the little bit of chocolate chips, and the almond milk is unsweetened), because the dates are naturally sweet.  If you are wanting to cut back on dairy, or just like the taste of almond milk, this is a great option.  Or to make this a vegan smoothie, just substitute vegan chocolate chips for traditional chocolate chips.

Smoothies are so easy to throw together, and this one tastes delicious–kind of like an ice cream shake, yet it is full of lots of nutrition to make us feel good, and the creamy, smooth texture is calming.  It feels like a tonic for my sometimes-frazzled nerves.  This recipe is for just one serving.  If you are making smoothies for more than one person, just double or triple the recipe accordingly.  I hope you all have a great weekend! Fiesta Friday is happening right now, and I am taking this recipe there! As always, coordinated by Angie, and co-hosted this week by Sonal @ Simply Vegetarian 777 and Petra @ Food Eat Love.soothing smoothie with spoons 2soothing smoothie with banana

Soothing Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Print


  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips
  • 4-5 ice cubes


Place all the ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Some flecks of date and chocolate will remain, but that’s ok.  Pour into a glass. Enjoy!

Cozy Wheatberry Breakfast Bowl

With wheatberries, chopped apple, walnuts, and yogurt, this breakfast bowl is full of important nutrients to help you start your day.  Maple syrup and vanilla give it a naturally sweet flavor.

Though I love a warm bowl of oatmeal on a winter morning, sometimes it is important to change things up a bit.  Wheatberries are the whole kernel from a wheat plant, therefore they have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than the processed wheat we often eat.  They are a good source of fiber, protein, iron, and B vitamins, just to name a few.  (Wheatberries do contain gluten, so they are not good for those who cannot tolerate gluten).

wheatberry breakfast bowl with mug 7For this recipe, I am using a type of wheatberries that I bought already parboiled, so they only take about 20 minutes to cook, which is pretty important to me, since my mornings are often rushed.  They are fairly easy to find, in natural food stores, or in the grain or health food aisle of many grocery stores.  If you have wheatberries that have not been previously parboiled, they can take up to an hour to cook, which is fine if you have the time.  One nice thing about wheatberries is that the leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days, and they are very versatile, so you can make a big batch and serve a breakfast bowl a couple of times a week, or use the leftovers in savory dishes as well.  Just warm up the leftovers on the stove with a little added water, or even in the microwave.

wheatberry breakfast bowl with mug 18I love the hearty, nutty taste of wheatberries, and they are satisfyingly filling too.  I can eat a bowl of them and feel sustained for at least a couple of hours or so, without feeling overly full.  The ingredients in this breakfast bowl are simple and accessible.  I am continually striving for a balance between convenience, nutrition, and good taste.  It doesn’t take much time or extra planning to chop an apple, swirl some maple syrup and vanilla extract into some plain yogurt, and sprinkle on a handful of walnuts.  wheatberry breakfast bowl with mug and appleYet it tastes flavorful, comforting, and sustaining, like it will give me energy to get my day started in a positive way.  Sometimes a recipe can be so simple, yet it’s what we need to give us an extra nudge to try something.  I can imagine that bananas, dried fruits, almonds, and milk would also taste really good with this.

I hope you are all having a good week so far, and stay warm!wheatberry breakfast bowl ingredients

Cozy Wheatberry Breakfast Bowl

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Print


  • 1 cup of wheatberries
  • 2 and 1/2 cups water
  • 1-2 apples, chopped
  • 1/2 half cup of walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt (I like Greek yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (more or less, to your desired sweetness)


Place the cup of wheatberries with 2 and a half cups of water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to medium-low.  Simmer, covered or partially covered, for about 15-20 minutes, if the wheatberries are parboiled.  If they have not been previously parboiled, simmer for about an hour.  Check the wheatberries often to test their tenderness.  They are done when they have burst their shells and are tender and chewy.  Cooking time may vary–it does for me.

While the wheatberries are cooking, chop the apple(s) and walnuts.  Place the yogurt in a small bowl and swirl the maple syrup and vanilla extract with the yogurt.  When the wheatberries are done, spoon them into bowls and stir in the yogurt mixture, apples, and walnuts.  Refrigerate the leftover wheatberries (if there are any), and warm them up when you use them again. Enjoy!

Tempeh, Vegetables and Noodles

Tempeh is marinated and baked in a tangy sauce made of soy sauce, honey, garlic, and ginger, then combined with stir-fried vegetables and noodles.  This makes a delicious, comforting, and healthy meal.

In keeping with my desire to eat nutritious meals as part of the New Year and a fresh start, I am sharing a recipe for a delicious vegetarian meal using tempeh.  Until recently, I have struggled with using tempeh, because without the right flavorings, it can taste really bland to me.  Yet I know it is such a good source of protein, and from a great source–soy.  Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, and the whole beans are retained and softened during the fermenting process, making tempeh easier for us to digest than other forms of soybeans.

tempeh and vegetable overheadTherefore, I was SO happy when I found this delicious marinade, which I adapted from one I found on allrecipes.com.  I changed some things, like using honey instead of maple syrup, powdered ginger instead of fresh, and I used less tempeh but kept the same amount of sauce, because I wanted to be able to drizzle the sauce over the whole dish, making it warm and comforting with every bite. This sauce is so good, I will use it with other meals as well!

raw vegetablestempeh and vegetables with red and whiteThe past week, we got some snow.  The birds at our birdfeeder have been eating their seed like crazy, leaving their tiny footprints all over the yard and front porch steps.  In winter, when the outdoor landscape is bleak, certain things stand out to us more, like little birds or little bird footprints.  The comfort of a warm bowl of tempeh, vegetables, and noodles in a tangy sauce tastes that much more comforting on a cold winter day.  The contrasts are starker and more noticeable in winter, and we experience things more strongly.  It makes me think of a quote by one of my favorite writers, Virginia Woolf:  “Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.”  That reminds me to turn off the lights and eat by candlelight tonight.  DSC_0153I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay warm!  I am going to make it to Fiesta Friday today, co-hosted this week by the wonderful Julie @ Hostess at Heart and Elaine @ Foodbod.

Tempeh with Vegetables and Noodles

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Print


For the marinade:

  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce (I use reduced-sodium)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried, ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup of water

For the rest of the meal:

  • 8 ounces of tempeh, sliced into thin slabs
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus another 2 tablespoons for the vegetables
  • 12 ounces of your choice of noodles
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of broccoli flowerets, chopped


In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade sauce and stir vigorously until all combined.  In a 9 inch by 9 inch baking dish (or something similar), pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Place the slices of tempeh on top of the oil in the baking dish, then pour the marinade over the tempeh.  Cover with foil, refrigerate, and marinate for about 2 hours.

When the tempeh is done marinating, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake the tempeh, covered with foil, in your oven for 20-30 minutes.  Then raise the temperature to 375 degrees.  Take the foil off of the tempeh and let it bake for another 10-15 minutes, till it becomes golden brown.

When you take the foil off of the tempeh, bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook your noodles according to package directions. Drain the noodles. While the tempeh is finishing baking and the noodles are cooking, heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.  Pour in two tablespoons of olive oil, and stir-fry the vegetables until just tender, about 5-10 minutes.  Pull the tempeh out of the oven.  Arrange the noodles and vegetables in bowls.  Top with pieces of tempeh, and spoon the desired amount of sauce from the tempeh baking dish over the meal. Enjoy!


Cherry Almond Crumble

It’s cold and dark outside, and maybe you are craving something warm and bright.  Or maybe you want to serve a dessert that is homemade, but one that doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare.  Brighten up a dark winter evening with this cherry almond crumble.  The warm, baked cherries are a burst of flavor and color, just when you need it.  Quicker and easier than a pie, the crumble still allows you to enjoy the warm sweetness of baked fruit, but with a lightly sweet and crunchy topping, and only about fifteen minutes of prep time.

frozen cherries in pan 1Tart cherries freeze beautifully, so frozen tart cherries are available and delicious all year round.  This recipe (which I adapted from some of my other fruit crumble recipes, which I adapted over time, from countless sources) allows you to put the frozen cherries right in the baking dish, so you don’t even need to pre-cook them.  I especially like the tart Montmorency cherries from northern Michigan, because they taste amazing.  They are tart and sweet at the same time, and even after they are baked, they somehow still taste fresh to me.

cherry almond crumble on table 10My feelings for Michigan cherries run deep, and cherries are connected to many cherished memories for me, some of which I have already written about in previous posts.  But even without the memories, these cherries are so full of health benefits!  They have serious anti-inflammatory properties that are said to help soothe arthritis and sore muscles, among many other things.  Also, the topping, with its oats and almonds, has some good nutrition in it too.  The crumble is a more humble dessert than the pie, and it perhaps doesn’t look as glamorous (and it can be somewhat difficult to photograph too).  But it tastes just a good, and sometimes comfort, ease, and economy of time win over glamour.  I love it, and so does my family!

I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay warm! cherry almond crumble in pancherry almond crumble on table 3cherry almond crumble on white 6I am sharing this recipe with the great group of bloggers at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Mr. Fitz @ Cooking With Mr. Fitz

Cherry Almond Crumble

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print


For the fruit filling:

  • 1 pound of frozen tart cherries (preferrably tart Montmorency cherries)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • a pinch of salt

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 3/4 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of raw almonds, chopped or slivered
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and almonds for the topping.

In a 9 inch x 9 inch baking pan, spread out the frozen cherries.  Gently toss them with the 2 tablespoons each of sugar and flour, plus the pinch of salt, until well combined.

In the bowl with the topping ingredients, cut in the butter with a fork or a pastry cutter.  Continue to work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cherries.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the cherries are bubbling.

If you want the crumble to set, allow to cool for about 30 minutes.  Serve alone or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!


Jewel-Toned Winter Salad

Deep, rich greens are balanced by bright and lively oranges, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds, topped with a subtly sweet-and-sour homemade vinaigrette.  This salad is simple, yet so very flavorful.

Perhaps you are like me right now, craving clean and healthy foods after over-indulging during the holidays.  I don’t regret any of the holiday over-indulgences, because they were part of spending time with family and friends, but January is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings.  A refreshing salad is a great way to recharge and energize.

winter salad 1I keep reading about winter greens at this time of year.  Hardy greens can survive the winter in milder regions, or in more extreme regions like mine, can grow during the winter in a greenhouse or another similar gardening apparatus.  Apparently, cold weather brings out the flavor of these hardy greens, such as kale, collards, chards, spinach, and others, and locally-grown varieties are available at markets or even in some grocery stores all winter long.  I’m really glad about this, because I have been craving greens for the last couple of weeks.  Recently, my daughter and I have been enjoying a gently fried egg on top of a bed of sautéed greens, and I have been making lots of salads.

winter salad with dressing 2This salad is a lunch favorite for me.  Not only does it use the deeply nutritious winter greens, but also vitamin-C-packed oranges.  We often get oranges as Christmas presents, and they are also wonderful this time of year.  The sweetness of the oranges balances the earthy, slight bitterness of the greens, making a really flavorful combination.  The vinaigrette goes great with this salad too, and since we have a lot of oranges right now, I used fresh-squeezed orange juice in the dressing.  Delicious!  And I love the jewel tones in this salad–the emerald, topaz, ruby and pearl colors.

winter salad with dressingThe days are now getting a little bit lighter and brighter, and I can sense a subtle shift in the light outside.  Everything looks a little brighter, and I am inspired to exercise more and de-clutter the house. (A really big, never-ending job!)  After a relatively mild December, we are now having some very cold days and nights–just in time to put the kids’ new flannel sheets on their beds.  We went up north after Christmas, and were able to go sledding and skiing, and the kids made s’mores with their cousins around an outdoor fire.  Ever since my sister-in-law introduced me to the word “hygge”, a Danish word and concept embodying a special type of coziness and togetherness in the cold and darkness, we have been trying to embrace winter and cultivate an appreciation for the aspects that make wintertime unique.  Food is often at the center of this coziness, so I am looking forward to getting back to my blogging space and also checking out what fellow bloggers have been doing.

I hope you all have a very happy new year! winter greens salad 7

Jewel-Toned Winter Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Print


For the salad:

  • a mixed bunch of hardy greens, such as spinach, kale, or chard
  • 2 small oranges, one for juicing and one for slicing
  • a handful of slivered almonds
  • a handful of dried cranberries (or dried cherries)
  • optional:  Feta cheese, crumbled

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best, but prepared is fine too)
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon of honey
  • 1/3 cup of good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Select a handful of greens–enough for 2 people.  Wash the greens and tear them into bite-sized pieces.  Peel the oranges.  Set one aside for the salad dressing. Separate the other orange into sections, and cut each section into bite-sized pieces. Place on top of the greens.  Sprinkle on the desired amount of slivered almonds and dried cranberries.

For the dressing, juice the remaining orange.  In a glass jar with a screw top, add the orange juice, white wine vinegar, mustard, honey, and olive oil.  Shake well.  Add salt and pepper to taste and shake again.  Pour the desired amount over the salad, and refrigerate the rest. Sprinkle with Feta cheese, if desired.  Serve as a side dish or with bread or crackers for a light, refreshing lunch.  Enjoy!