All posts in Recipes

Baja or Bust

Destinations, fish 1 Comment

In the Northern region of Baja, near Ensenada,
there is a lovely wine region called the Guadalupe Valley
Who knew? Not me!

I met my friend in Ensenada, where we stayed for a few days,
and took day trips to the valley

I was so lucky to arrive during harvest season and the
Vino Vendimia Festival
(what’s being said: LA Times)

Paella Festival:
great wine, gorgeous scenery, delicious paella and beautiful people

Mac sniffing out the tannins

Mac, my brother since middle school, is living in Southern Baja and has recently started a wine distributing business and has just opened a wine shop

The Man of Guadalupe Valley

Known as “Mexico’s premier artisanal wine-growing region”

“save water, drink wine”

Visiting vineyards and wineries


Tornado rolls through the valley

Mission of San Bruno
Built in 1683, it was the first mission of Baja

Fresh fish tacos and ceviche for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Driving south on highway 1
Next stop? Taco shack on the side of the road please!

oh man, they just keep getting better

Dinner at Mac’s house in Todos Santos


Enjoying the sun shine

Adios Amigos



This is so delicious over plain Greek yogurt
and topped with fresh berries

Ok, this is as healthy and low fat as Granola can get

I used apple sauce as the sweetener, along with vanilla extract and a tad bit of honey.
I added cinnamon, flax seeds and raw nuts too for flavor and nutritional and medicinal purposes.
Studies show that cinnamon helps to stabilize blood sugar and especially good to have first thing in the morning, while flax seeds provide omegas (healthy fats) and are high in protein and fiber.

Applesauce, vanilla, honey (local), cinnamon, flax and oats

Mixing Ingredients

I really encourage to you make your own granola. Not only is it more econmical than store bought, but it’s so much healthier. Even the healthiest store bought granola will have preservatives, extra ingredients (names on a label you can’t even pronounce) and more sugar and fat than you’d add if making it yourself.

The key is to bake for a really long time (45min to an hour) at low heat, and stir every 10 minutes or so.
Yields about 3 cups. Can store in an air tight container for 2 weeks (I’m actually still working on mine and it’s week 3)

Preheat oven to 250

1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
vanilla, cinnamon, honey to taste
1 T Ground flax seeds
1/2 Nuts, your choice, slivered or chopped
2 cups oats (I used quick cooking, gluten free)

line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Combine the first 4 ingredients, mix well
mix in the remaining dry ingredients
evenly, spread the mixture onto the baking sheet
bake for 45-60 minutes, stiring every 10 minutes

Nutritional Information: 1/3 cup per serving
Cals: 170, Fat: 10, Carbs: 15, Fiber: 4, Protein: 6

If you want to really cut back on fat, use less nuts, or non at all.


Baked Dates filled with Chevre and Wrapped in Bacon

Ok, I don’t eat bacon, buuuuuut, these I had to try.

These bad boys are a crowd pleaser for sure. They are so rich so you wont need to make more than about 2 per person.

I really, really encourage you to use organic meat and especially support producers who use humane methods of farming. I made these for a private dinner party I catered, (who wanted to keep the menu local and seasonal- yes- I love it!) so I bought the bacon from Prather Ranch. They’re really a great ranch and raise their animals in a healthy and happy environment. Yea Prather!

There is nothing esthetically appealing about baked dates wrapped in bacon. Uh, so brown and boring. I definietly knew I’d have to dress these up a bit with color and fesh herbs.
I bought leaves from the florist at Whole Foods to put on the plate and pinched a bit of fresh thyme onto each date

Medjool Dates, 2 times the number of pieces of bacon you use
Chevre (Goat Cheese)
Bacon, organic. trimmed and cut crosswise in half

Pit the dates
Fill each date with about 1/2 t of chevre
Wrap each date in a piece of bacon, stem side down and cheesy side up
Place on a baking sheet lined with foil
Place under the broiler for about 2 minutes on each side to get them nice and crispy.
Let stand for a couple of minutes before serving.
Stick ’em with a toothpick and sprinkle with fresh herbs

easy peasy!

I found that just baking them did not get the bacon crispy enough.
Because I made these for an event, I broiled them for a few minutes hours before and just reheated them in the oven right before serving.

cheesy side up, bacon stem side down

Moroccan Tangine

This is a “winner recipe” for sure
served over quinoa and topped with Cowgirl Creamery Creme Fraiche
I’ve served this for many occasions: private dinner parties over quinoa for the vegetarian, clients I’m a personal chef for and my Kid’s Summer Cooking Camp.

Today we went to North Africa… enjoying pita too.
There are a lot of ingredients, and it is a little time consuming but well worth all the work.
This also lasts for a few days in the fridge and heats up really well.
As I know, kids love making this. Give them the jobs of cutting and chopping all the vegetables.

You can serve this over rice, couscous or quinoa. I serve it over quinoa to make it a complete protein meal.

Adapted from one of my Favorite cookbooks, Vegetarian Food For Friends
Serves 6

2 T olive oil
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ white onion, thinly sliced
1 t tumeric
2 t cumin seeds
2 t coriander seeds
1 t cinnamon
1 red Serrano chili
28 oz canned chopped tomatoes
1 T tomato paste
2 oz dried apricots
¼ cup raisins
½ cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 large baking potato (or, I’ve used fingerling for esthetic purposes)
3 large carrots, thickly sliced at an angle
2 ½ cups chickpeas (about 3 cans)
small cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
Heat half the oil in a large sauce pan
Add the onions, tumeric, coriander and cinnamon and chili and cook until softened, about 10 minutes
Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for 10 min
Add the apricots, raisins and olives and potatoes and carrots
Cook for 45 minutes, until carrots are tender
(Meanwhile make the couscous)
heat the remaining oil in a pan, add the cabbage and stir fry until just softened
add cabbage and chickpeas to the sauc

e pan, bring to a boil

stir in parsley and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper


Potato Leek Soup with Hearty Croutons and Creme Fraiche

As my cousin said, “very flavorful and not too rich”

A soup before a meal really does not, and should not, have to be heavy and rich. You want to finish your soup feeling satisfied and ready for your main entree.
I made this soup for a private dinner party that I catered. My ABSOLUTE favorite part of catering is working with clients to come up with a wonderful, creative, seasonal menu.
This party’s menu was particularly lovely.
Buckwheat blini with smoked trout and creme fraiche (recipe)
Baked dates filled with cevre and wrapped in bacon (recipe)
Crostini with Grilled Radicchio in a balsamic dressing topped with shaved Parmigiano
First Course:
Potato leek soup
New York Steaks (from Prather Ranch)
Point Reyes Blue Cheese Butter
French Fries
Steamed Artichoke with lemon and thyme
Flourless Chocolate Cake
(I’ll work on posting the wonderful recipes)

I chose this soup because it does not call for cream, unlike a lot of potato leek soups. I think cream can make recipes too rich and fillling, not what i was looking to do here.
Adapted from Simple Recipes
This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled…
Serves 4-6
3 Large Leeks, cut lengthwise, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 T butter
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth (I used vegetarian, hey, why not!?)
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 t fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
Cook leeks in the butter with salt and pepper
(funny side note, I forgot I added pepper and thought that it was dirt from the leeks not being washed well enough! duh!)
Cook until nice and tender- About 10 minutes- DO NOT brown the leeks. Browning will give the leeks a burnt flavor.
In a stockpot add the water and broth. I then added the potatoes as I was peeling and chopping- keeping them from turning brown.
Scrape all the leeks and their juices into the stockpot of broth and potatoes
Bring to a low simmer and cok for 20 minutes.
I used a hand blender to puree the soup. You can control the chunkyness… I pureed it completely because I didn’t want any chunks… up to you though.
Add the parsley and thyme and some fresh pepper (not dirt) and salt to taste.
Preheat 425
Find the hearty-est bread you can
Cut into even cubes
toss with olive oil, garlic oil and salt and pepper
Bake on a cookie sheet, tossing frequently, 15 minutes

Almond-Chive Crusted Salmon

Vary the herbs according to your preference; try dill, thyme or basil

I have a TON of almonds left over from an event and I’m enjoying experiment with them in many different dishes. Almonds, and nuts in general are so versitile. They can be use in any course, during meal and with almost all ingredients! Breakfast, lunch, dessert, savory, sweet…
Not to mention, nuts are super good for you
Serves 4
1/4 cup sliced almond
2 T fresh chives, chopped
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
1 t lemon zest
2 slices of bread
Salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Black pepper
Lemon wedges
Preheat the oven to 400
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a fod processor, along with some salt.
Process until finely chopped
Sprinkle Salmon with salt and pepper
Top the salmon evenly with the breadcrumb mixture and gently press to adhere
Place the salmon on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray (or on parchment paper)
Bake for 10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Serve with lemon wedges

Spaghetti Squash Primavera

Ok, I promise, just 2 more squash recipes and then I’ll stop with the squash overload!

This is so simple and not to mention, super filling for hardly any calories 🙂
Slice and scoop seeds
Cut side down and prick with a fork

Scrape out the inside with a fork

Spaghetti Squash
Any Vegetables you want:
Broccoli, Carrots, Mushrooms, Bell Peppers, chopped
Can of Diced Tomatoes
Spinach, roughly chopped
Fresh basil, roughly chopped
Parmesan Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350
Cut the Squash and scoop put the seeds
place cut side down and prick with a fork
Bake for 35-40 minutes
Meanwhile, make the simple Primavera sauce
In a large non stick skillet, heat the EVOO
Cook the onion until translucent
Add the vegetables and cook until tender
Stir in Canned tomatoes and mix well, simmer for 5 minutes
Stir in the spinach, cook for 2 minutes
Stir in Basil
Using a fork, scrape the fresh from the inside of the Squash
Put into a serving bowl and top with the primavera sauce and parmesan cheese
Note: You can add ground meat to make this a little heavier. Add the meat after the onion.


Acorn Squash Risotto

I just read that It is possible to make risotto in a dutch oven! Wow, talk about much simpler and less hands on time.

Until I experiment with that… here’s a risotto recipe cooked the traditional way… 30 minutes of standing over the pot adding broth a little bit at a time while stirring continuously…
Time consuming, but delicious and worth every minute.

I am O-bsessed with acorn squash, but you can use butternut squash instead. Butternut squash can be found in stores pre-cut.
Serves 6
6 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cups acorn squash, peeled and chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano
Simmer the broth in a large stock pot
In a heavy, large saucepan, heat the oil
Cook the onion until translucent
Add the squash and mix well for a few minutes
Add the rice and toss to coat
Add half of the wine and stir until absorbed
Add the stock 1 ladle at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is absorbed
Continue until you have used all the stock
Add the remaining wine and stir until the rice is al dante, a total of about 20 minutes
Stir in butter and Parmigiano cheese

Butternut Squash, Corn and Leek Gratin

I can’t believe how long it takes me to post recipes.

Squash is already out of season, but it is my favorite vegetable (in all verities) so I figure why not share a few more as well share a few more wonderful squash recipes…
Gratins are great to make when cooking for a crowd! Delicious, hot, cheese, savory and can be made ahead, everyone wins!

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite vegetable cookbooks!
Fast, Fresh and Green, By Susie Middleton
1 T unsalted butter
1 cup bread crumbs
1 medium leek, diced, white and light green parts
1 clove garlic minced
2 ears corn kernels
fresh black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1/2 lemon zest
1 t thyme fresh, chopped
2 1/2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat 400
Grease a shallow dish, about 5-6 cups, with 1/2 t of butter
In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, olive oil and a pinch of salt, set aside
In a bowl, combine the heavy cream and broth
Add the lemon zest, thyme and salt and ground pepper, set aside
In a medium skillet melt the remaining butter over medium low heat.
Add a pinch of salt and the leeks, cook, stiring until softened, about 5 minutes
Add the garlic
Add the corn and fresh pepper and salt, stir well, cook 2-3 minutes
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes
Add the squash to the corn/leek mixture and mix well
Transfer to the gratin dish and spread evenly
Sprinkle with Cheese
Pour the liquid mixture evenly over the vegetables
Sprinkle with bread crumbs
bake for 40-45 minutes, until it is a deep golden and the squash is tender.
The juices will be bubbling below the surface of the vegetables, leaving brown bits of heaven in a line around the edges of the pan.
Yuuuum enjoy! I know you will!

Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmi-Yumma

I feel it’s time I start posting more savory, salty, hot dinner dishes.

By the looks of my blog you may think I only eat sweets and vegetables. While that is mostly true, sadly, I do still enjoy cooking hearty meals for friends and family.

This eggplant parmigiana is always a hit and can be made ahead of time before the guests arrive.

I adapted the recipe from Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights. I love her recipes, philosophy and life story.
If I have a cookbook one day… wait… let me start again… when I have a cookbook of my own one day, it will be a lot like Dahl’s!

3 medium sized eggplants
sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 (14 oz) cans of chopped tomatoes
1 T brown sugar
s & p
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
2 cup fresh basil, copped
2 large buffalo mozzarella, sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400
Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, lengthwise
lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet
Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 20 minutes. This allows the water to exit the eggplant. Soon you will begin to see little droplets of water on the eggplant- it will look like it has just rained in your kitchen on your eggplant. Pat with paper towels to absorb the water.
Lightly brush the eggplant with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until they turn golden.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat olive oil and gently sweat the onion, adding the garlic a minute or two later (onion takes longer to cook than garlic)
Add tomatoes and brown sugar and season with s & p
simmer for 20 minutes, covered
Now is when you add thick balsamic vinegar, optional
Grease a baking dish
Now the fun layering begins!
Sprinkle with basil
Mozzarella slices
Tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese
Keep repeating in this order
Top with Parmesan and basil
Bake for 20 minutes
I know it’s tempting, but allow to cool for about 10 minutes before digging in
Can keep in the fridge over night unbaked, throw in the oven 30 minutes before quests arrive.

Baked Eggs

Ah I love this breakfast!

Not only is it adorable, it is also delicious and super easy to make

Get creative with the ingredients and toppings
Some ideas and combinations:
basil, tomato and mozzarella
ham and cheddar
panchetta and parmesan cheese
mushrooms and feta cheese
a handful of spinach per serving
1 egg per serving
herbs de provance
parmesan cheese
Bread for dipping
Preheat oven to 350
Slice the bread (I used gluten free) into strips for easy dipping
place the sliced bread and ramekins on a baking sheet
Pour a couple tablespoons of butter in 1 ramekin
Use a brush to coat all the ramekins and the sliced bread with the olive oil
Sprinkle the bread with a little salt
Saute the spinach
Divide the spinach evenly between the ramekins
Crack an egg into each ramekin
Sprinkle with a little salt, fresh ground pepper and herbs de Provance
Bake for 8 minutes (runny) 10 minutes (a little firmer)
Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven for about 1 minute


Ganache Bars

Bars are great to make for parties and events, especially when you are tight on time.

I made these just with the few ingredients I already had in the house for a 1 year old birthday party!
Unfortunately, Milo is too young to enjoy such indulgences, but one day…
Milo playing in the box

I made these Gluten Free, using almond and coconut flour, if you would like to use white flour follow this recipe for the crust.
2 sticks Earth Balance butter (for vegans, otherwise regular)
1 cup sugar
1 cup almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup chopped almonds
Chocolate Ganache Filling:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the to 350
Grease a tart pan, I used 9 inch square. Anything about that size will work.
In a mixer, combine the butter and sugar until smooth.
Mix in the flour and then the coconut and chopped nuts.
Press 2/3 of the batter into the pan
Bake for 20 minutes
In the meantime, make the chocolate ganache
Warm the milk and melt the chocolate chips together in a double broiler.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust
Crumble the remaining batter over the chocolate
Return to the oven for 15 minutes
Cool on a wire rack
Birthday Boy!


Coconut Cupcakes

with cream cheese frosting and a surprising bite of chocolate inside

I decided to make these mini for a friend’s birthday celebration…bite size anything is just more fun, and maybe even guaranteed to taste better!
Plus, mini-ness helps with portion control, because 7 mini really equals one regular size cupcake, right? ;o)
Morgan’s Surprise Birthday, slash, Going Away Party!
Make a wish!
Enjoying cupcakes!

We go back to Elementary School!
Love you, miss you, kiss you!
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 12 cupcakes (24 mini)
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup sugat
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup milk
Chocolate pieces, about 1/2 cup (optional)
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 t pure coconut extract
2 cups flaked coconut
Sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven 350
line muffin tins with papers
Combine the flour, salt, baking flour, set aside
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 1 stick butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time
Reduce speed to low
Slowly add flour
Add the milk
Spoon into muffin tins, 3/4 full
Top each with a chocolate piece
Bake about 15 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean
cool on wire rack
Meanwhile, with mixer on medium, beat cream cheese and remaining 1/2 stick of butter, confectioners sugar and coconut extract.
Frost cupcakes, sprinkle with coconut
note: If you are piping the frosting, like I did, add the coconut to the frosting and beat until well mixed, about 10 seconds. then pipe onto cupcakes

Make a Wish
Family comes to really make the surprise special!

Breakfast Fit for A Queen

Oatmeal in a Squash Bowl

Have I mentioned I’m in love with squash?
I dread the day they are no longer in season… :o(

I made this jumbo breakfast one morning after a big workout, but go ahead, indulge yourself anytime with this delicious oatmeal in a squash bowl!

Everything you need in a well rounded post-workout breakfast: whole grains, fruit, veggies, omega-3, electrolytes and protein
Serves 2
Acorn Squash
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup quinoa
1 cup coconut water
1 apple peeled and chopped
1 T flaxseeds
2 t cinnamon
(honey, for some optional sweetness)
A handful of chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350
Cut squash in half, seed the squash, place cut-side down on a cookie sheet and bake 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa and add to a sauce pan with the oats, coconut water, apple and flaxseeds.
Bring to a boil, simmer partially covered for about 10 minutes.
Stir in cinnamon (honey)
Divide the oatmeal into the acorn squash halves and top with chopped nuts

Nutritional info:
Cals: 306, Fat: 4, Chol: 0, Sodium: 30 (from coconut water- natural electrolyte, great for post workouts), Carbs: 65, Fiber: 12, Protein: 7, Sugar: 14

Egg Salad Sandwich

Here I’ve made a healthy twist to the otherwise not so healthy American staple sandwich.
Instead of Mayonnaise I use fat free plain yogurt (organic). Yogurt adds protein, where as mayo is purly fat- that’s all- with absolutely no beneficial nutritional value.

I’ve recently been making the conscious effort to eat more protein. I am currently teaching 15 classes a week at a gym and realized that some days the only protein I had was fat free plain yogurt and quinoa.
Being a pescatarian who doesn’t eat soy (tofu) or gluten (seitan) and rarely fish, it is quite tricky to be sure I am getting the proper nutrients. Lately I have been feeling a little weak and constantly hungry, so I decided a good first step would be to have hard boiled eggs always on hand.
I boiled a 6-pack carton of local, organic, free-range eggs (haha so ridiculous) and they sat in my fridge un-touched for a week….until today…

Look you can even see the whole grains of millet in my gluten free bread!

Yields 2 open face sandwiches

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 celery stocks chopped
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 T fresh herbs chopped (dill, parsley and/or chives)
pinch of tumeric
salt and pepper
lettuce (tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, toppings are up to you)
2 slices of bread (I used Gluten Free Millet bread)

Toast 2 slices of bread and top each with a few pieces of lettuce
Meanwhile, Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix well, but gently. I like to keep the eggs in pieces, not mashed.
Top each piece of toast with the egg mixture.
Garnish with herbs, sprouts, avocado, etc.

That’s it – easy peasy
This gets pretty messy. I suggest not eating it in front of a guy you are trying to impress.