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Maple Pecan Granola {Hemp Heart & Chia Seeds}

yuuuuuum

A few years ago discovered quinoa crispy cereal.   Woah I know…exciting right?! It’s like rice crispy, only made from quiona.  1 ingredient: organic quinoa!  I love using it in homemade power bars and granola. Mix in chia seeds and hemp hearts for extra nutrients, vitamins, minerals and protein.

I added a little extra salt to bring out the maple
Salty + Sweet = Party in my mouth!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups old fashion rolled oats
1/2 cup quinoa crisps
1 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup nut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 t fresh ground salt (you can use less.  I just like the salty/sweet combo!)

Hemp heart and chia seeds to taste…

preheat 300
Line a sheet tray with parchment paper
combine, oats, pecans and salt
whisk oil and maple
pour over dry ingredients and mix well
spread oats evenly on baking tray
Bake 1 – 1.5 hours, stirring every 15 minutes

Mix in the seeds during the last 10 minutes.

Granola should be light brown and getting crispy
it will get crispier and hard as it cools…

I can’t have granola in my house…it’s like crack to me :) so I make it and give it to friends in cute little jars.  Makes a good little gift with local yogurt and maple.

Serve with yogurt and sprinkled granola!.
Or I also like to simmer almond milk and pour over granola
 

Happy Day 5… To A New You!

Remember how I said I ended up going out to dinner at 9:30pm with the Italians i met at MeetUp…? Well, I didn’t mention that EACH one of them ordered their OWN pizza!
Anyway, it struck me that every single person sitting at the table was fit and definitely not over weight.
How is this possible?
And that’s today’s healthy living tip…
How to eat like an Italian and not get fat!
It’s simple really and here’s how:


I thought “portion control” was the most important key to staying healthy.  But there is something more important than the number of calories you are putting into your body and that is the type of calories you are putting into your body…

Have you ever known anyone to get fat from cooking their own meals made from grains, lean meats, fish, fruits, veggies, nuts, whole dairy and extra virgin olive oil!? NO!
But people do get fat from eating poptarts, soda, canned soups, frozen dinners, venti caramel frappaccinos and delivery pizza!

My Italian friend, Vince, I met at meetup explained to me the true secret:

Italians eat WHOLE!
This is a foreign concept to most Americans but the way of life for most everyone else in the world.
You wont find a pantry in Italy full of sugary cereals, white wonder bread and diet coke.
Basically:
1) Try to avoid packaged foods with more that 5 ingredients on the label
2) If there is an ingredient on the label that you wouldn’t cook with or have in your pantry (maltodextrin, dextrose, hydrogenated oils, MSG, lactic acid: just a few of the many ingredients in Cheetos) don’t eat it.
3) Avoid fat free and low fat options..eat whole fat dairy and cheeses.

And as Gabliele points out, “Italians like their food simple.  For example, we eat a lot of pasta, but rarely with those dense creamy sauces so common here (Fettucini Alfredo? And who the hell is Alfredo by the way?”

Michael Pollan just published a book called, Food Rules.  It is basically all the shit Italians already know, and live by… don’t eat processed, chemical filled, packaged foods.  SIMPLE!

You have to understand Portion Control too (here)  I can’t stress this enough! Yes, Italians eat a ton- but it is clean healthy food… not processed s*** like Big Macs and DiGiorno

More Italian lifestyle and eating tips:

They believe this:
Definitely NOT this:
Move your Body
good for your heart and the earth

Enjoy more of this:
Sit and Enjoy…
And less of this:
Grab and Go…

Today’s menu is Italian inspiried as well.
Breakfast is always small and light.  Which I too believe in.
Lunch is the heaviest meal of the day: carbs and protein
Dinner is often late, therefore lighter.

Breakfast:
Banana Bread Bars
I made these up! There’s only 5 ingredients
Lunch:
Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and Spinach
I made this in ONE POT! So Simple.
Dinner:
White Bean, Barley and Kale Soup

Recipes:

Banana Bread Bars
Perfect example of breakfast you can make on Sunday and enjoy all week!
3 bananas, 6 cups oats, 1 cup honey, 1 cup chopped walnuts, 2 eggs
Combine and add spices like cinnamon
Line a sheet tray with parchment paper
Spread out
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Cool completely before cutting
Makes a ton!

Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and Spinach

This was so simple to make…You just keep adding the ingredients to the same pot of cooking pasta.
So my gluten free pasta took 5 minutes to cook
Boiling shrimp takes 2 minutes
Wilting Spinach take 30 seconds.
Now DO THE MATH…

Add the pasta to boiling salted water
After 3 minutes add the shrimp
When you have about 30 seconds of cooking time left, add the spinach
Drain
Meanwhile, in the pot add the oil and pesto (I used the kale pesto) heat and add the pasta and shrimp back to the pot.
Serve with toasted pin nuts and fresh grated parmesan cheese

 

Happy Day 4… To A New You!

Today was a whorl wind and it’s only getting windier… I just got home from my client’s house at 9pm having to write this post (scratch that) wanting to write this post and my camera is acting up… Anyway, today was a perfect example of the inspiration for todays topic…

How to have healthy food in your fridge all the time, that you only have to prep on Sunday, or whatever day works for you.  Making it super easy for you to just grab and reheat a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner.
So, I had 3 hours between coming home from teaching classes at the gym and going to Marin to cook for clients in their home, to create, cook and photograph the 3 meals.

Not to mention I’m on 4 hours of sleep!  That Italian meetup happy hour I went to last night was a blast!  After 3 hours and 3 glasses of wine my Italian was flowin like a native and I ended up at an Italian restaurant in North Beach with 8 bello Italian men :) So far I’m  LOVIN meetup!

Breakfsat:
Crustless Quiche

Here’s an example of something you can make on Sunday and they will keep 4 days in the fridge.
The Combination possibilities are endless.  My mom taught me how to make these crustless quiches, and she would make them in muffin tins.
Broccoli and eggs go really well together.  I did spinach and tomatoes because that’s what’s on hand.
So, chop up your veggies and place them in the dishes.  Beat eggs and pour it over veggies.  Bake and you now have crustless quiches all week long.
It takes 5 minutes to assemble and 15 minutes to bake at 350.

Lunch:
Roast Acorn Squash Stuffed with Qunioa and Beans and Sprinkled with Toasted Walnuts

I love stuffing vegetables.  Acorn squash, eggplant and portobellos are my favorite.
They freeze really well and reheat really wonderfully.
I chose the acorn squash because they are amazing just by themselves.
Rice and chickpeas make a great combo, along with the pesto kale (that you’ve already made) and chopped nuts on top.
It is just as easy to make 1 acorn squash as it is to make 4 halves.  So why not just make 4. Why not make 12 crustless quiches.  It’s just as easy and it saves you time during the week.
They pack great and reheat really well at work.  Super filling and satisfying too.

Dinner:
Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Spinach Patties

These are A-mazing, I’m going to tute my own horn for a second here.  I made up the recipe and they are freakin fabulous.  So moist inside ad they have that crunch on the outside because I put them in gluten free bread crumbs before pan frying them and baking them.
So, really easy… black bean, steamed spinach and sweet potatoes and you already have your whole grain in the fridge. Cumin, grama masala and a little cayanne for a kick and some fresh squeezed lime.  Add 2 eggs, mix it all together and voila!
And now you have 8 patties.
Place on the slaw that you already have ready to go in the fridge.  Mix with a little lime juice too.
Cabbage does not get enough good credit.  It actually provides tons of Vitamin K and C, B6, folate and magnesium….just to name a few.  You can read up here.
Top with Tahini Sauce.  Typically Tahini sauce is made with lemon and water, but we’re using limes because we squeezed in the limes in the patties and slaw.  Plus sesame seeds.
So again, we are pairing the sweet potato in the burger with the sesame tahini because that’s the vitamin A and zinc combination that is really powerful for your body.

So there you have it.  Todays 3 meals that can be made on Sunday.  I know we’re al busy and we don’t want to be cooking for 3 hours every day, so just cook for 3 hours on Sunday.  And you know what, hey, you might have the same lunch all week, but that’s fine :) that’s how you stay healthy.  And then you switch it up the next week.
 

Happy Day 3… To A New You!

Detox, fish, oats 5 Comments
Yeah!Today’s will be fast…I have that Italian Meetup! happy hour at Bubble Lounge in an hour!

Again, today’s tip was inspired by the turn of events in my day.
Like many of you, I pack my day with meetings, appointments, lunches with friends, gym classes, laundry (mine’s in the mat down the street now!) work emails, etc. and often don’t have time to pack a healthy lunch or plan a healthy meal for when I get home.
Tip #1
Healthy Eating is Easy and Cheap!

Today’s menu is super simple and fast!
Breakfast was thrown in a jar in 1 minute and taken out the door.
Lunch was picked up at Walgreens, if you can believe it or not.
Dinner was salmon, grain and veggies all baked in the same dish.
Breakfast:
Granola in a Jar
Time: 60 seconds  Cost:  > $1
I recommend making homemade granola because store bought can be packed with fat and sugar :(
This batch I made with cinnamon and raisins and flax seed so it tastes like oatmeal raisin cookies.
The combination possibilities are endless!
(here’s a recipe)
I love this link to great oatmeal combinations! (here)
Lunch:
Walgreens!
Time: 5 minutes   Cost: > $5
4 hours after breakfast I’m leaving my appointment, famished, in the middle of the financial district.
I hopped into a Walgreens and picked up:
Chobani 2% Plain Yogurt: Calcium and Protein Packed
Banana: Healthy Sugars and Carbs for instant energy
I was 2 blocks from my mom’s office…I surprised her with a visit and chomped away on my delicious lunch while we caught up for a bit.
Afternoon with mom:
Time: 30 minutes  Cost: Priceless!
Snack:
Lara Bar
3 ingredients- I LOVE it
 $2
On my hike back up to Russian Hill I stopped at my favorite corner grocery store,  Le Beau for ingredients for dinner.
Dinner:
Salmon and Veggies over Grains and cooked in White Wine
The Kale Pesto on the salmon and the grains I made on Sunday, making this all the more simple to throw together in minutes.
Time: Assembly 5 minutes, Bake 20.  Cost: $6
This is my favorite way to cook dinner when I don’t feel like spending much hands on time.
You can also get creative with the ingredients.  If you have asparagus, use that.  Halibut, why not?  Fresh herbs and lemons zest, bring it!
You can also adjust the portions very easily!
Oil the pan.  Add you already made grain.
Place salmon fillets and veggies over your grain
Spread kale Pesto on salmon
Drizzle veggies and the grain around the salmon with white wine
cover tightly with foil
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes!
Ok off to meet some Italianiiii! Wish me Luck!
 

Happy Day 2… To A New You!

Detox, seafood 0 Comments

Welcome to day 2!
How do you feel?  I already know of some friends who have cut out refined sugar or alcohol or tried yoga for the first time today… Great Job you guys!
Well, my “no refined sugar” for a week goal didn’t go as planned…
I reached for a bowl of complimentary chocolates at a store this afternoon with out even realizing it!
Ooooops! But it’s ok, shit happens like we learned yesterday.  Tomorrow I will try harder.
Have you come up with a goal yet?  Don’t forget to write it down!

Todays menu is so pure and cleansing…you will love it!
And today’s healthy living tip is even better!





Tip #1
Live in the Present and be Happy with Today!
I feel like this advice could not come at a more perfect moment.  During the New Year I always become a bit, well, day dreamy.  And I’m sure you do too.  The New Year is a time for reflection.  It’s a time when we often find ourselves thinking about our past and wishing for the perfect future.  I know we’re all guilty of it.
Well, how about we LIVE TODAY!
Be happy knowing that someone loves you, Today!  Love your body, Today!  Be grateful that you have a job, Today!  Know that 50% of the world’s population did not have access to a computer, Today {I just made that up…but it sounds good :) }!  And know that you were given an opportunity to be great, Today!
I loose sight of living in the moment too! Every so often I dream about my past when I lived in Milan, Italy.  And, to no surprise, it’s usually around a time like the New Year when I begin to day dream.  I so badly wish to go back and live my Italian life again.  Soaking up the Italian culture, speaking a beautiful language, riding my bike down the cobble stone streets, meeting my amazing Milanese friends for lunch on a weekday where pasta and wine are enjoyed for hours, grocery shopping at the (CHEAP) street markets daily and serving cocktails at a bar which is smack in the middle of Corso Como (the fashion street… where models and professional soccer players were my bar’s cliental).
Clearly I am not living in Milan anymore (at least, for Today I am not).
On a stroll through Crissy Fields Sunday I explained my dilemma to Sarah and she simple said to me, “why don’t you bring your Italian life to SF”
Brilliant! Why hadn’t I thought of that!?
So that’s what I did today.  I know what it is about Italy makes me happy and I brought that here today.

You can do the same.  If you know that sweating and working out makes you happy… lace up your sneakers.  If you know that eating crap makes you feel like crap… give your Christmas cookies to the hungry man on the corner.  If you know that your current job is not where you’d like to see yourself in 2013, apply for many other jobs.  

The Power of choice and happiness is in your hands, everyday!

How I brought Italian life to me today:
I got dressed super fashionable (yes, just to go to a kid’s park and hang with a 2 year old).  You do not see Italian women wearing workout clothes… lulu lemon is for the gym, that’s it!
I Enjoyed a long lunch, outdoors, with sparkling water.
Afternoon bike ride on my adorable beach cruise (with a basket) that just looking at bring me back to Europe!
Enjoyed an afternoon glass of wine at Lashfully where I got beautified (because Italian women definitely put time into their appearance)
I joined an Italian group on Meetup! and am meeting for Happy Hour tomorrow!
And lastly, I am feeling so happy today, in this very moment , even though I’m not in Italy :)
What can you do to appreciate today!?

Here are a few of my favorite inspirational TED talks: 

Do What You Love (no excuses!) (here): Why Are We Happy (here): 7 Rules For making More Happiness (here)

Now For the Menu:

Breakfast:



Quinoa and Black Rice (you’ve already have it made in the fridge) avocado. 

I cooked the egg with a little sesame oil and sprinkled black sesame seeds on top (SO great for digestion!)

Lunch: 

I met Kate and Milo at the Park and packed a picnic in this adorable carrier I picked up in Chang Mai, Thailand

Miso Cabbage salad
Mix cabbage and carrots with rice wine vinegar, miso paste and coconut sugar (1 T of each)

Ginger Lime Shrimp
Always keep frozen Shrimp on hand (defrost in running cool water)
Toss with Olive oil, lime zest and grated ginger
Broil for 2 minutes on each side

Soy-Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Slice Sweet potatoes and roast at 400 for 10 minutes on each side
Mix equal pasts soy sauce and honey, drizzle over


Slice Grapefruit and Kiwi



Sprinkle with raw coconut

Dinner:

Sweet Potato and Kale with Tahini Honey Sauce 




bake sweet potato.  Steam kale and mix with a bit of your grain.

Mix 1 T tahini with 1 t honey and 1 t water


I have been trying to refrain from boring you with the nutritional benefits of each meal… but this you should know:

Sweet Potatoes are packed with vitamin A.  But your body needs zinc in order to distribute the A through out your body.  Sesame seeds (tahini) are packed with zinc.  Therefore, this makes a perfect A + zinc combo :)


At the park with Kate and Milo

Milo and Me

Proof that happiness can be as simple as an empty box


 

Savory Pie Bites

appetizers 0 Comments
Blue Cheese, Skillet Red Potatoes, Pancetta, Caramelized Onion and Rosemary
Herbed Goat Cheese, Zucchini, Parmesan and Thyme

Every Christmas my parents host an Annual Lighted Boat Parade Party.  Friends and Family are invited over to enjoy appetizers, drinks, parade viewing and lots of laughs!
Our house is perfectly situated on the hill overlooking the canal where the boats pass by… providing perfect viewing from our deck :)

I wanted to help my mom with the menu and bring a few dishes she could bake and serve easily.

They look more advanced than they really are.   Just a little time consuming with all the assembling…but definitely not difficult.

Get creative with the toppings and different combinations.  I didn’t use a recipe… I just used up what was in my fridge.  So if you have asparagus, use that instead on zucchini. Herbs de Provence instead of fresh herbs.  Brie in place of Blue.
You get the idea :)
This recipe is the perfect example of sticking to my cooking philosophy:
“don’t make it so technical”
I even combined the little bit I had left of Humbolt Fog Blue and Point Reyes Blue in the Cuisinart to give me more and make it creamy (spreadable).  Many foodies would call that move sacrilegious… but that’s ok, we’re not making cooking technical… just making it fabulously delicious!
I also combined in the Cuisinart, feta, Herbs de Provence, good olive oil and garlic for the Herb Goat Cheese..

I bought this adorable cookie cutter from Sur la Table and have been dying for an excuse to use it.  You can use any shape though.  Stick to about 1.5 inches in diameter.
The crust is simply store bought pie dough…making this all the more simple for the busy lady (or man!) to throw together.

(Don’t assemble more than 1 hour before baking or the center will get a bit soggy)

Just stick to the order and you can’t go wrong:
Preheat 400
Parchment paper
Cookie cutter dough
Top with a teaspoon of cheese
Followed by veggies
End with Garnish (Shaved cheese, fresh herbs, ground pepper good salt)
Keep in mind that these are only baked for 10-12 minutes.  Therefore, you will need to slice veggies thinly, or even cook first like I did with the potatoes.
(I don’t need to explain that though, right? Potatoes take longer than 12 minutes to cook!)
Potato and Pancetta

Recipe:
Pie Dough
Blue Cheese
Thinly sliced potatoes
Pancette
Red onion thinly sliced
Rosemary for Garnish

Preheat 400
Cookie Cutter Dough and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Top each with 1 t of cheese, spread to the sides
Caramelize the onion over very low heat, in a little oil.  Stirring frequently.  Add a bit of sugar at the end of cooking.
Meanwhile, for the potatoes and pancetta:
In a large non stick skillet cook the pancetta over medium heat, stirring frequently.
With a slotted spoon, drain the bacon on a plate topped with a paper towel.  Leave the bacon grease in the pan.
Fry the thinly sliced red potatoes in the bacon fat.  This will take a while.  just keep stirring until they are well browned.
layer potato, bacon, onion and rosemary.
Bake 10-12 minutes
After baking sprinkle with a bit of goooooood salt to really make it bang!
Try fleur de sel

Zucchini and Herb Goat Cheese
 

When Life Hands You Lemons…

…Make Dessert

A client of mine recently gave me 20 lbs of lemons from their yard and asked me to surprise them with some gluten free treats.

Lemon Pound Cake 
Lemon Curd

I’ve been wanting to make gluten free pound with rice flour for some time now and knew adding lemon zest and juice would be a good option.  And since pound cake doesn’t call for very much lemon, I made lemon curd too, which could be spread on the pond cake too!

Gluten Free Lemon Pound Cake
served with creme fraiche, honey and figs

Directions:
1 cup sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 t baking powder
1 t Xanthan Gum
1 cup butter at room temp
1 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)
4 eggs
2 t vanilla

Preheat 350
In a bowl combine the flours, cornstarch, xanthan gum, baking powder and whisk to incorporate.
Beat Butter until creamy and smooth
Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg
Add the vanilla and blend until completely incorporate
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until fully mixed
Grease a pan and flour with gluten free flour
Cook for 40 minutes
Cook for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely

 Lemon Curd
Fresh Lemon juice gives this traditional English spread a light flavor.  It’s wonderful on scones, cake fillings, fruit tarts and pancakes

This recipe is easy to double, even quadruple.

Makes 2 half pints
Directions:
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup Sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1/4 cup plus 2 T fresh lemon juice
9 T butter at room temperature

Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.
Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a large, heavy nonreactive pan and mix for a minute or 2 with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform.
Add the lemon juice and butter and place over medium-low heat.
Stir consistently until the mixture thickens, about 5-8 minutes
Do not allow it to boil
The curd is ready when it coats the back of a spoon and you can draw a line through it with your finger

Immediately strain the lemon curd into the bowl, then pour into the jars.
Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.
The curd will thicken as it cools
will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge.

 

Eggplant Cannelloni

ok, I get it, this is not really cannelloni.  The only true similarity between this and cannelloni is that tube shapes are stuffed and baked- plus lots of tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Anyway, my version is healthier, vegetarian and gluten free! wooohooo!

My girlfriends and I try and get together once mid-week for a girls night.  This week, we decided to stay in at one of our houses and have a potluck.
My girlfriends and I are all healthy foodies, meaning we loooove good/whole food (none of that processed sh*t) lots of seasonal veggies, eating out at new SF restaurants, and we especially enjoy the cuisine of all cultures.  With that said, a lot of my girlfriends choose to eat vegetarian for health, animal rights and environmental reasons.

I actually was not a big fan of this eggplant cannelloni, I don’t like mushy food, I like my meals to have a crunch and some texture.  Everyone loved it though, so I thought I’d share it anyway.
I used Quinoa for the filling instead of ground meat (keeping it a full protein too).

Ingredients:
2 globe eggplants, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup ricotta (full fat)
pesto and sun dried tomatoes (store bought is fine)
Chili flakes
1 Jar of tomato sauce
Fresh basil chopped
Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375
Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil and place the eggplant in a single layer
Brush both sides with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt
Roast for 10 minutes, flip the slices over and switch the pans in the oven
Continue roasting for 6 minutes
Let cool
Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, ricotta, pesto sauce and chili flakes to taste
Pour a little sauce into the bottom of your baking dish
On a clean surface, roll th eggplant around 1/4 cup of the filling
Arrange neatly in the baking dish
Top with tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh basil
Cover with foil
Bake for 1 hour.
Remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes
Let rest for 15 minutes before serving
Top with fresh basil and cheese.  An arugula and radicchio salad would be perfect served along side.

Buon Appetito!
 

Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes

I feel as though the only recipes I post are sweet/dessert recipes…which is not a good representation of the foods I really love and enjoy.
So I am going to start making a conscious effort to post what I really eat, on the day-to-day, the healthy whole veggies and grains!
We’ll start with a couple of eggplant dishes.  I love cooking with eggplant because there are a lot of different options, roast, stuff, puree…

So, the story behind this delicious dinner: My best friend (slash, roommate) from my days when living in Milan came to SF for a two week visit! Cecile is such an amazing person and fills any room that she’s in with love and positive vibes.  Unfortunately, for me, she is still living in Milan (running the marketing for a very high end jewlery/accessory company!) but we still manage to meet every year somewhere in the world!

The day after she touched-down into SF we took a day trip up to Napa Valley for a little wine tasting.  Something all guests love doing when visiting, and something I never get tired of “tour-guiding”
On our way out of Napa we passed a big beautiful produce stand and stopped to load up on goodies for the house (after having already loaded up on the vino!).
Japanese eggplants, asparagus and cherry tomatoes were among the many things we grabbed (great low prices too)

This is a simple dish to make when you don’t want to spend a lot of hands oh time- plus I did it all on the same pan in the oven.
Serve this on a whole grain (I used this) or over pasta or polenta

Serves 2 for Dinner or a 4 for a side
Ingredients:
2 medium Japanese Eggplants
1 cup tomatoes
1 garlic clove thinly sliced
olive oil
Fresh Basil
Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt fresh Pepper
10 spears of Asparagus
Lemon zest

preheat the oven to 375
Chop the eggplant into about 1 inch cubes
Halve the tomatoes
toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, good salt and pepper to taste
Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 8 minutes.
In the meantime trim the asparagus toss with a little olive oil, minced garlic and salt and pepper
Up the temp to 400
Toss the veggies and scoot them to one side of the baking dish
Add the asparagus in a single layer
Roast for 10 minutes, tossing halfway through

I like to toss my veggies in lemon zest because I am obsessed with it.  It is so fresh and clean feeling, I love it, but definitely optional
Serve the Eggplant and omato over your starch of choice and top with fresh basil.

 

Mini Reese’s Cookies

chocolate, dessert 0 Comments

I made these for a friend who loves Peanut Butter Cookies.  I thought, why not spike them up a bit, because who doesn’t love chocolate peanut butter cups!?.
I found Mini Mini Peanut Butter Cups in the Whole Foods bulk aisle.  You can also buy them here.

I adapted the Cookie Recipe From Joy The Baker

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 baking powder
1/4 salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar (lightly packed)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mini peanut butter cups
Raw sugar to sprinkle

Divide Racks in the top and bottom thirds of oven
Preheat to 350
Whisk together the dry ingredients
Beat the butter on medium for a couple of minutes until nice and smooth
Add the peanut butter, continue beating until nice and smooth
Add the Sugar and continue mixing well
Add the eggs one at a time
With a spatula scrape down the mixture to the center of the bowl
While mixer is on med speed, slowly add the dry ingredients
Don’t over mix
Stir in the mini peanut butter cups

Roll the dough into Tablespoon size balls
Drop on cookie sheet, leaving them 2 inches apart
Sprinkle with raw sugar
Put 2 cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 12 minutes, rotating them halfway through
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack
Be sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.  A trick to cool a baking sheet quickily is by running the backside under cold water.

 

Shrimp Sushi on a Sunny Sunday!

appetizers, seafood 0 Comments
Anyone who has lived in San Francisco knows that September is the most beautiful month of the year.  It’s actually common for the fog to disappear for a few consecutive days!  Everyone’s mood changes and  positive vibes fill the streets, shops and cafes.

Anyway, my plan was to go to the do-over, a day party at the Phoenix Hotel where I’d dance and drink the beautiful afternoon away with girlfriends.  As I was slipping into my summer dress, my friend texts me to say, “the line is crazy, we’re going to the park!”
So I slipped into my bikini, grabbed a towel and water (with fresh lemon) and made way way to the roof of my apartment, where I spent the next few hours basking under the San Francisco!  I’ve got to get tan because in one week from today I will be laying pool side at the Trump Hotel in Vegas with about 15 of my closest girlfriends (since preschool/middle school)!
I must have listened to about 7 TED talks on my iPhone, and Brene Brown’s discussion on The Power of Vulnerability was by far my favorite.  I also painted my toes in my favorite O.P.I. color wrote up some great thoughts for my new business/branding direction (so excited, I’ll share soon!).

By 4 my tummy was rumbling and I made my way down to fix lunch.  I love being in the heat because I feel like it suppresses my appetite, and makes me eat smaller portions, well French portions (proper portions)
These Sushi rolls are perfect for lunch on a hot summer day or for a late light dinner.
I served with wasabi that comes in powder (you mix with water) and pickled ginger that  always have in the fridge to snack on :)

I was planning on using the avocado that has been waiting helplessly in my fridge- but I was too late – she was a goner :(
Because I always have a whole grain in the fridge ready to add to dishes, this was a super fast lunch. You can use what ever veggies you have on hand like I did

Makes 2 Rolls
Ingredients:
2 Sheets of Seaweed
1/2 cup cooked rice
Pea shoot sprouts
1 large carrot shredder
6 shrimp, boiled
1/3 of a cucumber, peeled and sliced

I use a sheet on tin foil when I don’t feel like searching for my bamboo sushi rollers, it works just as well.
Place 1/4 cup of precooked rice (if you learn anything from my, it is to always have a pre cooked whole grain in your fridge, ready to add to dishes!) on the bottom third of a sheet of seaweed
Top with your veggies and shrimp
Roll and enjoy

(I actually started writing this on September 18th…and am just now getting to adding the photos and posting! It has been a BUSY month!)

 

Holy Sweet!

Here’s the Scoop:

The Flavor is Vanilla
Oreos are my Childhood Favorite
Smothered with Skippy is my Guilty Pleasure 

I was introduced to this amazing Oreo Skippy combination by a friend when I was feeling a little blue…

I’ve been wanting to reinvent my Oreo Skippy obsession for some time now and that’s when the Ice Cream Sandwich idea came to mind!  
I made the cookies gluten free.  
Believe me, no one can tell, they are HEAVENLY
Wrap them in parchment paper, tie with baker’s yarn and store in the freezer. Could last at least a month in the fridge, but chances are, you’ll finish them in a week!
Gluten Free Cookie Recipe Adapted Here
I added about 3/4 cup of cocoa powder and a couple tablespoons of milk to moisten them a bit
 

Buckwheat Pancakes with Honey Rum Pecan Sauce

These little guys are somewhere between crepes and pancakes.  The recipe is for crepes though they didn’t spread and thin out like crepes should.  So I kept them tiny like little pancakes.

I’m not sure what inspired the rum with breakfast this morning, but it sure tasted good.  For the sauce I simply mixed 1 part rum to 2 parts honey and heated on the stove for a bit until well combined.

Toast chopped pecans at 350 for about 5 minutes

Recipe inspired here
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1 cup Buckwheat Flour
2 T Butter Melted
Directions;
Put the milk, salt and eggs in a bowl and whisk well for 30 seconds
Add the flour and melted butter
Mix for a minute
Refrigerate for one hour before using
Heat a pan over medium heat
Add about a 1/4 cup of batter at a time
cooking for about 1 minute on each side

 

Honey Almond Cakes

When life hands you eggs, split them!

Last weekend I made LemoCrème brûlée for 8 people and hollandaise sauce for my brother, leaving me with a hell of a ton of egg whites!
There was no way I was going to let a hen’s hard work go to waste, so whether to use the whites or not was not a question.  Thinking of how to use them though got me very excited!
I have been wanting to make the little French tea cakes called financiers for quite some time now, and they call for only egg whites, how perfect.

I looked up a ton of recipes and combined a few to make my own amazingly moist delicious, sugar/gluten free version!
I have to admit, I am very proud of how well these turned out!!!

  Not to mention, they are as cute as can be! 
I baked half the batch with slivered almonds sprinkled on top.
This is a good option too, especially if you want to make these to bring somewhere.

These are so easy to make, you don’t even have to get out your mixer.
I used a ton of almond extract by accident because it came out really quickly! But it ended up making them taste amazing!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Almond flour or Almond meal (I used a combination of both)
1/4 Gluten Free baking flour
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup Honey
6 T Butter, melted
1 T almond extract
1/2 cup egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350
Combine the flours and salt in a bowl
melt the butter and add the honey, mix well to combine
Add the honey mixture to the flour mixture and whisk
Slowly pour in the egg whites, mixing well after each little pour
Add the Almond Extract

Line mini cupcake pans with papers
Add a tablespoon of batter to each paper
Bake for 15 minutes
Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before allowing them to fully cool on wire racks.

Yogurt Honey Topping:
Mix plain Greek yogurt with honey.
wow did I even need to say that?

All week for breakfast I enjoyed baked egg whites and spinach in ramekin,
 topped with cherry tomatoes, avocado and feta- delish.

 

Squeeze In One More Summer Lunch

Photo courtesy of Downtown Romantic

First, I must explain my recent 3 week disappearance… My best friend from Milan touched down in SF for a great 2 week visit.  We were so busy sight seeing and eating, I didn’t get a chance to stay connected.
We managed to eat out at some great San Francisco hot spots, play an American game of Sloshball and even party in LA for the weekend.  I will soon share some of the great recipes and meals enjoyed along the way, but for now, here is one dish that was inspired by Cecile’s Milanese-ness!
Risotto… famous in Italy and it is no wonder why.  It is rich, creamy and incredible satisfying. Risotto is always a crowd pleaser and perfect served anytime of the year made with what ever happens to be in season!
With that said, when I was asked to cater a small birthday lunch, I knew a Summer Risotto must make its way onto the menu.

I’ll post the recipes soon, but for now here is the Risotto recipe courtesy of my cousin who volunteered her afternoon to help me in the kitchen.  Helane was home visiting from New York where she works for in Fashion Media and when feeling inspired writes on her blog

Summer Lunch Menu:
To Drink:
Mint and Strawberry Lemonade (spiked with vodka if you are feeling up for it!)
Light Bites:
Melon, Prosciutto and Manchego
Appetizer:
Summer Squash and Zucchini over Pesto and Feta Puff Pastry
First Course
Crab Cakes topped with Herb Aioli on a Bed of Lamb’s Lettuce (recipe)
Secondly:
Summer Risotto (recipe)
Something Sweet
LemoCrème brûlée