The Healthy Candy Bar

22 Jul

Amazing. Delicious. Candy Bar. Chocolate. Healthy. Gluten Free. What?

Yes, all of these words refer to this genius recipe I found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, “It’s All Good”. Yes, I know what you’re saying. Gwyneth Paltrow? Can I take her recipes seriously? Yes you can. I LOVE this cookbook. Some of my favorite recipes these days have been from this book.

Back to the candy bars, as you can see from the ingredients, there is no flour, butter, eggs, etc. I urge you to try this one. It’s really simple to make. The food processor does most of the work for you.

Doesn’t matter if you eat Gluten-Free, healthy, or just don’t care about what’s in it…you will love it.

BUT, if you see this and get a hankering to try it, you must know it has to sit in the fridge for 6 hours or so to harden. Then once you pour the dark chocolate on top you have to refrigerate for another hour before you can cut it up. Just don’t want you to get excited and think you can eat them soon after making them. I got about 26-30 bars out of the recipe. Just put them in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Totally worth the wait y’all…


Candy Bars
Recipe from It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow


1½ cups raw cashews
1½ cups dates, pitted and roughly chopped
½ cup almond butter
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup coconut flour
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon almond extract
1½ cups dark chocolate chips (60% or higher cocoa content)
1½ tablespoons coconut oil


Grind the cashews to a very fine meal in a food processor. Add the dates, almond butter, maple syrup, coconut flour, shredded coconut, and almond extract and pulse until you have a sticky ball of dough.

Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper and press the cashew mixture out onto the paper, making a rectangle 1 inch deep. It helps if you put a drop of oil or water on your hands before doing this. Refrigerate the mixture for 6 to 8 hours, until it’s firm.

Meanwhile, combine the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a stainless steel or glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl). Stir the mixture until it’s just melted, remove the bowl from the heat, and pour the chocolate mixture over the cold cashew mixture.

Return the bar to the fridge and let it cool until the chocolate coating is set, at least 1 hour. Using the parchment, lift the bar out of the sheet pan and cut it into rectangles (or you can use cookie cutters to make fun shapes for kids!).

Serve at once, or store in an airtight container.

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Beets, Beets, and more Beets

7 Jul

beet, molten cake, almond butter

I assume before you saw the pics you assumed you would see more red and the dishes would be savory. Nope! I have been on a serious quest to make something different with all of the beets I have been getting from my CSA (Goat Lady Dairy). I love a good salad with beets, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette but that can get old.  I made a beet and lentil risotto that was pretty good. But of course the two things that I loved the most were desserts. I never thought about using beets in a dessert but it makes sense. Beets are sweet and they have a lot of water in them that would add moisture to cakes.

First I made Nigel Slater’s Chocolate Beet Cake. Just a simple and moist chocolate cake with a little creme fraiche on the side. This cake was so delicious. I don’t think I appreciated how good it was until I had a bit of a chocolate cupcake a week later and realized that it lacked the depth of flavor that this cake had. I highly recommend it. Whipping the egg whites and folding them in adds a nice lightness to the cake. I honestly felt like I kept messing things up as I was making it and was worried about the end result. But I think it came out perfectly. It seems complicated but it turned out to be a pretty forgiving recipe.

Then last weekend I picked up my Cannelle et Vanille cookbook and opened straight up to a page title “Molten cake with beets and almond butter”. The best thing was that it didn’t have any butter or oil in it and only 1/4 cup of sugar. Oh and it’s gluten free. A healthy molten cake? Found one! Oh my gosh, this was so delicious. I put a little dollop of vanilla gelato on top. It really helped balance the richness of the cake. They were a little more gooey on the inside than I like. You HAVE to try this one. So good, pretty healthy (in the world of cakes), and delicious!

Chocolate Beet Cake
Recipe by Nigel Slater

8 ounces fresh beets
7 ounces fine dark chocolate (70%)
4 tablespoons hot espresso
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 eggs
Scant 1 cup superfine sugar
Crème frâiche, to serve


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Grease an 8-in springform pan with a little butter and line the bottom of the pan with a disc of parchment paper. Cook the beets, whole and unpeeled, in boiling unsalted water. Depending on their size, they will be tender within 30 to 40 minutes. Small ones may take slightly less. Drain them, let them cool under running water, then peel them, slice off their stem and root, and process in a blender or food processor until a coarse purée.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a small pot of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water), then pour in the hot coffee. Stir in the butter in small pieces and leave to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together in a bowl and set aside.

Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks in a bowl until frothy. Stir the eggs into the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the beetroot.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Fold in the sugar. (the recipe calls for superfine sugar which I did not have – so I just put regular cane sugar in blender and made it finer.)

Fold the sugar and egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour and cocoa mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan. Dust the top with cocoa powder. Then serve with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate, Beet, & Almond Butter Molton Cakes
Slightly adapted from Aran Goyoaga’s ‘Small Plates & Sweet Treats’

1 red beet, medium sized, leaves/stems removed
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 c. almond butter, smooth
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. brown rice flour
1/4 tsp fleur de sel

Fill small pot with water and boil your beet for 30-40 mins, until tender and a knife can easily go through it. Drain water and let the beet cool. Once cool, peel and cut beet into chunks. Puree in a food processor until it forms a smooth puree. Set aside 1/4 cup and save the rest for something else. You can freeze it until you need it.

Preheat over to 425 F. Melt the chocolate and almond butter together in a glass bowl placed over a simmering pot of water. Stir occasionally. Once completely melted, set the bowl aside to cool.

In another bowl, whip eggs, egg yolks, and dark brown sugar with a mixer (or in a stand mixer). Whip on high for 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Add in the chocolate mixture, beet puree, rice flour, and fleur de sel. Whip on medium speed until it becomes a smooth batter. Be sure to scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl.

Divide into four greased ramekins  4-oz ramekins (I sprayed them with canola oil spray). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes (8 if you like it really gooey and 10 a little less gooey in the middle). The edges should be set while the center is still soft. Serve warm. Top with vanilla gelato if you like. We did. It helps counter the richness of the cake.

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Red Kuri Squash Three Ways and a Chocolate Cream Pie

17 Sep

red kuri squash

Can we say over do it? I got a little overexcited this weekend about my red kuri squash find and made three different dishes with it. This guy went a long way! At the grocery store there was definitely the sticker shock of it costing $10. But it was well worth it considering it contributed to three different meals – 2 dinners and 1 breakfast. Risotto with red kuri squash and wild mushrooms, baked eggs with taleggio cheese and squash, and spaghetti with roasted beets and squash. All amazingly delicious. Red kuri squash has a beautifully nutty flavor and the color of the squash tints whatever you are cooking, giving it a glorious orange color.

There is a blog I have followed for quite a while (Cannelle et Vanille) and she is always using red kuri squash in her dishes (both savory and sweet). I have never seen it here until last week. I couldn’t wait to see what the buzz was about. And, of course, when looking up recipes, I went straight to that same blog for ideas.

Listen, I wish I could say I came up with these recipes, but with an almost 3 week old baby and an almost 3 year old daughter, I can’t even believe I managed to cook these at all. I think going from 4 hours of sleep a night to 5/6 hours all of a sudden felt luxurious and energizing. I crashed hard last night from the exhaustion of that much cooking but at least I ate some delicious food to make it all worthwhile.

Oh, and to top it all off, I decided yesterday that I really wanted to make a chocolate cream pie. I have never made one before and I’m not sure of why this was my dessert of choice…perhaps some distant memory of loading up my tray at the K & W Cafeteria came to life? I ALMOST made my own crust but thank goodness thought better of that and got a frozen crust from Whole Foods. I mean, seriously, I’m not THAT insane and honestly this pie crust was really yummy. Funny enough the recipe came from King Arthur’s Flour’s website and I didn’t even use their crust recipe. But the filling was soooo good and I happened to have to Scharffen Berger chocolate that lended to a beautifully chocolatey filling. As I always seem to do, I whipped the cream topping about 1 minute too long so it didn’t go on as smoothly as I would have liked.

Now for the recipes! One note about Red Kuri Squash, roasting is the absolute best way to prep this squash. It brings out a nutty flavor that doesn’t come across when you just sauté it.  I know this because the risotto was the first dish we made and the squash was sautéed. While still good, if I make this risotto again I will “half roast” the squash to develop that flavor and then finish it off in the risotto. The squash tasted too starchy to me when just sautéed.

*Cooking times in the original recipe for risotto were a bit off, so I adjusted it below to show how it worked out for me.

risotto, red kuri squash, wild mushrooms

Red Kuri Squash and Wild Mushroom Risotto
from Cannelle et Vanille
Serves 4 to 6

5 to 6 cups chicken stock
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 leek, washed and sliced
1/2 medium red kuri squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup thinly sliced wild mushrooms (I buy the pre-packaged mixed wild mushrooms)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup txakoli or any dry white wine you like (i used AtoZ Chardonnay)
1/2 cup finely grated Idiazabal or Parmesan cheese (I used parm)
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley

Begin by heating the chicken stock over medium heat. Keep it warm until ready to use.

In a stock pot (I use my Le Creuset), heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and leek. Cook until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the diced red kuri squash. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. (or you can roast in the oven on 400 for about 10-15 minutes and add after you have added the mushrooms). Add the mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Add the rice and stir it well so all the oil and flavors coat the rice. Add the wine and cook for 30 seconds until alcohol evaporates. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and cook stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. Then proceed by adding another 1/2 cup of stock. Continue to cook the risotto stirring constantly and adding more stock as needed until rice is cooked al dente, about 20-30 minutes.

Off the heat, add the grated parmesan and parsley. Stir to combine and serve immediately.

baked eggs, taleggio, red kuri squash, pumpkin seeds, apple cider vinaigrette


Baked eggs with Taleggio
original recipe from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef and then adapted by Cannelle et Vanille

makes 4 servings

This is by far one the best egg dishes I have ever had. I love the additions Aran gave this dish in her adaptation. The apple cider vinaigrette is almost necessary to give it that acidic contrast to the richness of the eggs, cream, and cheese. The sweetness of the squash and crunch of the pumpkin seeds rounds it out.

4 teaspoons unsalted butter
8 tablespoons heavy cream
4 oz taleggio cheese sliced into 4 equal pieces
8 large eggs
4 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
Salt and pepper
Roasted butternut squash (instructions below)
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Toasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat the oven to 375 and grease 4 1-cup ramekins with 1/2 teaspoon of butter. Bring a small pot of water to boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Put one tablespoon of cream at the bottom of each ramekin. Cut each slice of Taleggio in half and put the 2 pieces on top of the cream in each ramekin. Put two eggs on top of the cheese in each ramekin. Top with the thyme and a little salt and pepper. Top each ramekin with another tablespoon of cream and 1/2 tsp of butter.

Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour the simmering hot water into the dish – enough to fill the dish halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the eggs in the oven until eggs are cooked and jiggle a bit, 7-10 minutes.

Once done, top with a couple of pieces of squash, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is comprised of a little apple cider vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

roasted red kuri squash
*to roast squash, cut into 1-2 inch thick half moons (skins on, deseeded). place in baking pan and put a little olive oil, salt, and pepper on it. roast for 20-25 minutes. the skins are perfectly edible when roasted.
Whole wheat spaghetti with roasted red kuri squash and golden beets
Yet another idea I got from Cannelle et Vanille. There is no real recipe here. She had a picture of a pasta that looked appealing so I just added what sounded right to make it taste good. We roasted some golden beets in the oven. Cut up three slices of bacon and cook in a pan until done but not crispy. Remove bacon and wipe out most of the bacon grease. Then we sautéed a clove of smashed garlic in some olive oil so it infused. Take out the garlic, add some cut up leftover roasted squash, some red pepper flakes, fresh thyme, a little vegetable/chicken broth, salt and pepper. Add in the cooked spaghetti, roasted beets, and some pasta water. Once mixed and all warmed through, grate some fresh parm into the pasta before taking it off the heat. Add some fresh thyme and grated parm on top of each serving.
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A Healthy Start to Spring

2 Apr

As we enter into warmer weather (and I become more pregnant), the need for lighter and healthier foods becomes apparent. I recently had a really delicious lunch at a local restaurant (Printworks Bistro) that inspired me to make this for lunch. It’s very hearty, high in protein, yet light and healthy. The version at Printworks is heavy on the butter so this is a much lighter version.


1 cup cooked quinoa (mixed or black)
1 cup cooked forbidden/black rice
3 cups kale, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 cup chickpeas, canned
4-5 carrots, peeled into ribbons
1 cup cauliflower, cut into florets
Chicken/Vegetable stock (optional)
2 T lemon juice
4 T olive oil
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cauliflower on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (turning once halfway through). Once slightly cooled, roughly chop into bite-sized pieces.

For the kale, boil some water and add some salt and the kale. Blanch for a few minutes, using a slotted spoon remove kale and place in a bowl of ice water. Once cooled, drain and set aside. (get water boiling while waiting for oven to preheat)

For the carrots, slightly steam the carrots until there is no crunch but it still holds its shape. You don’t want mushy carrots here. Once steamed, sautee in 1 tsp butter.

In a large pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add the quinoa, rice, and kale. Sautee until warm and then add the chickpeas and cauliflower. Cook until warmed. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Make the vinaigrette by mixing the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lightly dress the quinoa/rice mixture until the taste is to your liking.

Plate the dish by spooning mixture onto a plate and then top with the carrot ribbons. There are many components here but the end results is so good.

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Almost gluten-free brioche and its many uses

1 Mar

I was reading an old blog that was posted on Cannelle et Vanille. The images of this gluten free brioche she made and used with breakfast and a Nutella treat inspired me to try it. I don’t eat gluten-free, nor do I need to – but I took on the challenge anyway. We have made brioche before, and it’s difficult to get the consistency right. Throw gluten-free into the mix and it really changes it up!

Now, when I say “almost” gluten-free, it turned out that way by accident. I had, what I thought, was everything that I needed. I neglected to see that the recipe called for 3 3/4 cups of cornstarch. I would never in a million years assume that something would have that much cornstarch in it. I’ve never used more than a tablespoon of it before in my cooking. So….I used 3 cups of cornstarch and had to do 3/4 cups of all purpose flour. I have no idea how the bread would have turned out if I didn’t have the all purpose flour in there. I may never know….unless I try to make this again sometime and ensure that I have all the correct ingredients beforehand.

Now, this bread has to sit for two hours before baking it. Since we wanted it for breakfast the next day, I made it the night before and refrigerated it after the 2 hours of resting it had done. It can sit in the fridge for up to 5 days.

The next morning I woke up and thought, I bet there’s more to this bread than I realized. At 7 am I drearily looked at the recipe on my iPhone and saw that it has to sit out for 90 minutes and then bake for 45 minutes. Ugh, so breakfast would have to wait a couple of hours…

The bread smelled so good as it was baking and when I pulled it out of the oven it looked perfect, but after a few minutes it deflates and becomes a little misshapen. The end result was still really good. The bread has a fruity sweetness from the honey and the little amount of sugar sprinkled on top. The first thing you think of is to eat it with something sweet. But, Aran gave me the idea to do something different.

I have to admit that I pretty much copied what Aran did in her blog. For “late” breakfast, we toasted the bread. An when I say toasted, I mean warmed it. This bread does not get toasty. We topped it with a fried egg for mark and scrambled eggs for me and Sophie. Being that I am pregnant, I am supposed to have well-done eggs. (Boo). On top of that was watercress, green apple, and a lovely hazelnut vinaigrette. Mark’s looked much better than mine and tasted better – I snuck a bite of  his. I had to – ok? A cook must know what her food tastes like! The sweetness of the bread worked so well with the creamy eggs, tang of the vinaigrette, and peppery bite of the watercress.

For lunch we had some delicious cauliflower, turnip, and leek soup. We had all of this cauliflower from the farmer’s market and I wanted to find something good to do with it. I will have to remake the soup again and give you the recipe. It was so good!

That night after dinner, we used the brioche to make little Nutella sandwiches on the panini. I attempted to make a hazelnut praline by toasting chopped hazelnuts in a pan with sugar. To me it tasted a little burnt (I’m sure I made it wrong). I will definitely go the regular hazelnut route next time. What was so wonderfully refreshing was to eat some fresh strawberries along with it to “lighten” it up.

Gluten-Free Brioche
from Cannelle et Vanille who adapted it from “Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” by Zoe François and Jeff Hertzberg

Makes enough bread for three 1.5 lb loaves

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
3 3/4 cups cornstarch
2 Tbs granulated yeast
1 Tbs kosher salt
2 Tbs xanthan gum
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup honey
4 eggs
1 cup neutral flavor oil
1 Tbs vanilla extract
Egg wash
Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

Whisk together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, yeast, salt and xanthan gum in a 5 qt bowl.

Combine the liquid ingredients and gradually mix them into the dry using a paddle attachment until there are no dry bits of flour.

Cover and allow the dough to rest for 2 hours. The dough can be used now or refrigerated for up to 5 days.

On baking day, grease a 8.5″x4.5″ pan. Break a 1.5 lb piece of dough and shape it into a round. Wet your hands as the dough will be sticky. Elongate the dough into an oval and put it in the pan. You might need to wet the top a bit to smooth it out. Let it rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you are using non refrigerated dough).  (*Note: the last loaf rested for 2 hours and seemed to turn out a little less dense than the others. So I would recommend letting it rest for 2 hours after it has been refrigerated.)

Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle raw sugar right before baking. Bake at 350F for about 40-45 minutes.

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Tasty Little Quinoa Patties

20 Feb

What an incredibly healthy and easy dish to make. I like to eat it as a main course with some lemony Greek yogurt and a green salad. But it would also be great as an appetizer, side dish, or snack. It can keep at room temperature (the patties, not the yogurt), so pack it for a picnic or long car ride.

This is a recipe I made out of my Super Natural Everyday cookbook by Heidi Swanson. I know I promised to cook my way through the book, but soon after I made that statement I got pregnant! And then the extreme nausea came. I could barely look at anything other than saltines, cheese tortellini in chicken broth, and bagels for a while. I am happy to say that I am out of that phase and back into the cooking realm. Thankfully! How horrible to love food and cooking and be doomed to bland foods! My poor husband suffered with me because I couldn’t fathom the smell of very much at all – especially onions which seem to be at the heart of so many things that I cook. And frankly I still can’t deal with the smell of raw onions, but I just hold my breath as I chop. Oh the sacrifices a cook makes…ha!

For the yogurt dip, I just put some plain Greek yogurt in a bowl with a good squeeze of lemon, salt, and a dash of olive oil. The proportions should be to your liking. The lemony the better for me, as it gives a nice flavor contrast to the quinoa patties.

Quinoa Patties
taken from super natural everyday, by Heidi Swanson


2.5 cups cooked quinoa, at room temp
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup whole grain bread crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil


Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, form the mixture into twelve 1-inch thick patties.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add 6 patties, if they’ll fit with some room between each, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until the patties are browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. You can also put the patties in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm while you prepare the rest.

According to Heidi, the quinoa mixture keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days and you can cook patties to order. I’ve never tried that but just wanted to put it out there.

To cook quinoa: Combine 2 cups of well-rinsed uncooked quinoa with 3 cups and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and you can see the little quinoa curlicues. You will have plenty leftover to use at a later time.

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Hearty winter soup

16 Feb

I discovered a version of this soup on one of my favorite food blogs, Cannelle et Vanille. This soup captures a warmth that comes from the spicy sausage and earthy lentils. The addition of the sweet potato gives it a heartiness and slight sweetness to balance the spice in the sausage.

This is now one of our go-to soups. I choose to use turkey kielbasa in my soup, but you can use spanish chorizo, andouille, or any other pre-cooked spicy sausage in its place.

One of the great things about this soup is that you can mold it around what you have available in your pantry. While certain ingredients like lentils and sausage make the soup what it is, you can easily add things like parsnips, turnips, and butternut squash to it. I wouldn’t suggest using JUST parsnips or turnips, but if you add them in with sweet potato or a butternut squash, it would be really good. I just never remember to buy those items when I’m at the store but I almost always have some sweet potatoes.

If you wanted to make this vegetarian, just use vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth. If you don’t want to use a veggie sausage, then just add some spices to give it the kick it needs (paprika/cayenne/red pepper flakes).

Play with this soup! Make your own! There is no science to it…Oh, and one more note, the tomato paste in this soup just MAKES it. I don’t know why, but it just adds a necessary depth to it. Another bonus – the soup is gluten free and so easy to make!

Hearty Winter Soup
adapted from Cannelle et Vanille


3 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
optional – other root vegetables (1 parsnip, 1 turnip, 1/4 butternut/acorn squash)
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 turkey kielbasa, sliced
1 qt chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup French/green/puy lentils
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 springs of thyme


*Make ahead* Rinse the lentils under cold water and place in a bowl with water for 2-4 hours to allow for a shorter cooking time later when you make the soup. I’ve also heard they digest better when they are pre-soaked.

Once you are ready to make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook on medium for about 5 minutes until they have sweat a little. Stir in the tomato paste and then add the sweet potatoes and chorizo. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Next add the lentils, chicken stock, water, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. If you did not presoak the lentils the cooking time will probably be closer to 45 minutes. If that is the case, you may want to wait and add the root vegetables halfway through so they don’t get too mushy. Taste and add more salt/pepper as need.

Place in serving bowls and serve with some good bread or cheese toast*.

To make cheese toast, you have a couple of options. You can pre-toast the bread slightly in the toaster or oven, place grated cheese (whatever you like) on top of each slice, and place in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes or so until the cheese melts. You can also heat up a nonstick pan on medium-high, pre-toast the bread (so it has a bit of a crunch), put grated cheese on top and place cheese side down on the pan for a few minutes until the cheese melts and adheres to the bread. (if you try to take it out to early the cheese will stay in the pan)

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Nutella mousse with bananas, hazelnuts, and whipped cream

9 Feb

Do you love Nutella? Look for any excuse to eat it or use it in a recipe? This is an incredibly easy way for you to do that. We wanted to make a “light” dessert to go with our Turkey Bolognese for dinner this weekend. While this dessert isn’t light in fat, it is light texture. So at least you can pretend like you aren’t eating anything too heavy. The textures of the banana with the mousse, along with the chopped hazelnuts, make it a perfect bite in your mouth.

Note, the first batch I made became a little grainy looking because I tried to whip it longer than it was supposed to be whipped. So, the second time around I listened to the directions of asking for soft peaks, and it worked out much better!

This is a must try dessert and will become one of your go to desserts in the future!

Chocolate Hazelnut Espresso Mousse
slightly adapted from Michael Symon’s recipe 


1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso
1/2 cup Nutella
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
1 cup whipped cream
Sliced bananas


Combine the heavy cream and espresso granules in a small mixing bowl. Stir until dissolved, about 5 minutes. (You also have the option of just putting the cream and espresso directly into the standing mixer to avoid dirtying another bowl)

Add the espresso mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer, along with the Nutella. Mix with the whisk attachment on medium for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and continue beating until very soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Transfer to a glass bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Placed sliced bananas at the bottom of each serving dish. Top with the Nutella mousse, whipped cream and chopped toasted hazelnuts.

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Christmas Decorating, Homemade Bread, and Turnip & Kale Soup

5 Dec

Saturday morning was designated “Christmas Tree Decorating Day”. After a breakfast of fried eggs, sauteed spinach, and whole grain bread, we started the process along with some “soynog” (the lighter, soy version of eggnog). Sophie really got the hang of things by the end and figured out to hang the ornaments with us. Now it’s a fun game for her to keep rearranging them every time she gets near the tree.

It felt like the perfect day for cooking…cold outside, a little cloudy. I had seen a recipe on that she calls her Easy Little Bread recipe. Honestly, it was just that – easy. The addition of the oats to the bread gave it such a rustic  flavor and texture. When you put some softened butter on a warm piece of this bread after it comes out of the oven you are in heaven. There is nothing like eating bread knowing that you made it yourself. The idea of it has always been intimidating to me but this recipe cleared my worries after it was done.

Of course, I managed to feel some anxiety during the process. Was the water warm enough for the yeast? What did she mean by the yeast “blossoming”? I made two batches of the yeast water just to make sure I knew what I was doing. I expected it to rise much more than it did before putting it in the oven, but it didn’t matter. Once it was in there it plumped up beautifully and had a beautiful golden crust.

We are part of a CSA from a local organic farm. Turnips were in our box and I was clueless on what to do them. After a little research, I found a great soup idea on Cannelle et Vanille’s site. So as the bread baked I made this soup.

I improvised a little based on what I had. She called for watercress but I had a bunch of kale in my farm box so I decided to substitute that. Once all of the ingredients were pureed together, it was this glorious green color. And best of it all, Sophie loved it. My child is so easy to please with food. I love that she will eat a green soup with kale, turnips, and fennel. It makes it so easy to explore different recipes when I have very willing tasters in my husband and daughter!

So as they weather cools down, warm up with some fresh baked bread and hot comforting soup. I promise you’ll feel better and a little more ready to face the cold winter ahead.

Bread Recipe
Recipe taken from


1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g whole wheat flour
1 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1-2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing


In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes. (i found it took a little longer this for it to swell)

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise. (mind didn’t rise too much)

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Leave the bread under the broiler for a minute or so to give the top a bit darker color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.

Turnip and Kale Soup
adapted from


2 Tbs olive oil
1 baby leek or 1/2 leek, white part only, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium fennel bulb, diced
1 1/2 medium pink/white turnips
5 mini/fingerling potatoes (or 1 medium russett), peeled and diced
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup packed kale (tough stems removed)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp lemon zest
Grated pink turnips, garnish
Yogurt, garnish
Extra virgin olive oil, garnish


In a medium saucepan/dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced leek, garlic, and fennel. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 3 minutes or until soft and translucent. Do not brown them.

Add the turnips, potato, kale, and chicken stock. Bring to a light simmer, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest. Puree the soup in a blender or with an emersion blender.

Garnish with grated pink turnips, yogurt, sprouts and olive oil.


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Heidi Swanson – Super Natural Everyday

2 Dec

I recently discovered Heidi Swanson. She has a blog ( and has released a couple of cookbooks. Her latest cookbook, Super Natural Everyday, just arrived yesterday. While I was waiting for it, I decided to try a couple of recipes from her blog. I got so excited as I scrolled through her recipe list. I mean, this is exactly how I like to cook. Organic whole grains, veggies, fruits, herbs…it didn’t even occur to me until I had already made a few recipes of hers that she is a vegetarian. Her food is so incredibly flavorful and fulfilling that I didn’t even miss any animal protein.

Last night I found myself reading her cookbook in bed. Can you believe that? I had a great novel that I have been reading lately (Freedom by Johnathan Franzen) next to me, but I was so absorbed in Heidi’s cookbook. I wanted to to know everything about her pantry, where she gets her groceries in San Francisco, why she came up with some of her recipes. You read it and feel like you are just sitting there talking to her and she’s describing it to you over a nice glass of wine. I am so jealous of what she has access to being in San Francisco, but alas, I am not living in a cave in the mountains – I do have some great local farms and grocery stores to choose from. And Whole Foods is opening up soon! Oh the exciting things in life.

I cannot find one thing that I DON’T want to cook in her cookbook, so I am going to challenge myself to cook everything in there….little by little. Some things may not be in season or accessible where I live, so there might be some tweaks here and there.

Last night I took a tip from her in regards to leftover quinoa. I had already made these delicious quinoa patties from her blog and had a lot of quinoa leftover. So I looked to her for an idea.

She has what she calls the “Delicious Big Bowl“. Kind of reminds me of the Hot Stone bowls we get at a local Korean/Japanese restaurant that have rice with various toppings. The point is to just use what you have to make it tasty. So I made a version of what she has.

I individually sauteed mushrooms, green onions, fingerling potatoes, kale, and broccoli in olive oil, salt, and pepper. I did blanch the broccoli before sautéing  – just fyi. I warmed up the quinoa, put a scoop in the middle of each bowl and arrange all of the toppings on it. I made a dressing of minced shallots, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan. It was SO good. Do this with anything leftover…rice, pasta, couscous. It’s a great way to use up anything in your fridge. Add nuts, beans, whatever. The key is to have a nice dressing for it. You can always go the Asian route with soy sauce, ginger, oil, and rice vinegar.

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Pasta alla Genovese

3 Nov

This is one of those recipes that doesn’t necessarily make total sense but from what I understand, this is a classic dish in Liguria (which is on the NW coast of Italy). It mixes potatoes with pasta and is definitely not for the “no/low carb” diet. But I am telling you, once you taste it, the dish makes total sense. And trust that the green beans will help you take comfort in the fact that you are eating your veggies. The combination of pesto, potatoes, pasta, and green beans creates a perfect symphony of flavors.

I have made this quite a few times and will continue to make it in the future. This is a recipe I found in Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Kitchen cookbook. Because of my preference for arugula pesto over basil pesto, I swapped out the basil in the original recipe for an arugula/spinach mix. I also tend to prefer whole wheat pastas, so I used that instead of the regular linguine she called for. And please remember to save your pasta water! I am so notorious for forgetting and it really does make a big difference when you use it. I generally add a little olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese on top of each serving bowl.

Pasta all Genovese with potatoes, green beans, and pesto
Adapted from Nigella Kitchen cookbook


1 pound large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch slices, each slice quartered into chunks
1 pound whole wheat linguine
7 oz green/French green beans, trimmed and cut in half

for pesto:
5 cups arugula/spinach mix, lightly packed
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup of olive oil (give or take)


Put the prepared potato chunks into a large pot with enough salted water to take the pasta later, and bring to a boil.

Cook the potatoes until tender (about 20 minutes) and then add the pasta. At about 4 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the green beans. (at this point you have the potatoes, pasta, and green beans cooking in the same pot together)

While this is cooking, place the arugula/spinach mix, Parm, and garlic in a food processor and whiz away. Once processed, slowly add the olive oil until you get to a nice thin consistency. Taste and add salt/pepper as needed.

Before draining the pot of boiling potatoes, pasta, and green beans, reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Put the drained potatoes, beans, and pasta back in the pot. Add the pesto and enough pasta water to give it a runny sauce and combine thoroughly. Take a final taste, and adjust salt/pepper seasonings as necessary.

Place in serving bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parm.



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Kafta Meatball Tagine

25 Oct

I don’t know about you, but it strikes me as odd that the first time I blog about Kafta, I do a Moroccan version and not a Lebanese version. I’ve just been intrigued about how this would taste ever since I saw a version of it prepared on TV. I recently learned that a “tagine” does not just refer to the clay cooking pot with the cone-shaped lid. It also refers to any type of dish that is classically prepared in it as well.

The only similarity between the Moroccan and Lebanese versions is that ground meat, onion, salt, and pepper are involved. Traditional Lebanese Kafta is made with ground meat, parsley, onion, allspice, salt, and pepper. The allspice and parsley give it a completely different flavor profile from the paprika in this version. And that’s just the meatballs, once you add in the egg it takes it to another level.

As always, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef because it lightens things up…and frankly I prefer the flavor. What’s really cool is that when you add the egg in at the end and mix it in, the yolk gives the sauce a rich creaminess that you wouldn’t even get from adding milk/cream. I chose to serve this with couscous but it would also be really good with pita bread or rice instead.

Oh, and last note, I do not own a tagine so I just prepared this in a pan. You can use a dutch oven, skillet, whatever…as long as it is at least 2 inches deep.

Kafta Meatball “Tagine”

1 lb ground dark turkey or beef
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion finely diced
1/2 tsp sweet paprika (I used Hungarian)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Tomato Sauce
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
28oz can pureed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
4 large eggs


For the meatballs: Combine the ground turkey, olive oil, onions, paprika, salt and pepper together. Roll into 1-inch balls and set aside until needed.

For the sauce: Saute the garlic and onions with the extra-virgin olive oil on low heat in a Dutch oven or deep pan/skillet. Cook until slightly translucent, and then add the parsley, paprika, cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or two. Add the canned tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes until almost boiling. Place the meatballs on top of the sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Stir the meatballs into the sauce and cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Break the eggs on top of the meat and sauce. Gently stir to break the eggs up into the meat and sauce. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until eggs are cooked, stirring occasionally. Serve with couscous, rice, or pita bread.

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