All posts in Recipes

Butternut Squash with Brown Butter, Crispy Sage, Pecan & Quinoa Pilaf…

…It’s a mouth full- Literally!

’tis the season to eat SQUASH

breakfast, lunch, side dish or dinner…
bake, roast, steam, stuff or mash…
The possibilities are endless

Since August I have eaten squash at least 3 times a week… I know, 5 months later I am just now deciding to write about it.
My favorites are Acorn, Butternut and Spaghetti Squash.

Mindee’s beautiful blue and white China, classy.

This Sunday my cousin and I took a stroll to our lovely neighborhood Farmer’s Market at Fort Mason– and it was here that I came across these adorable little baby size butternut squash.

To help understand the petit-ness of the squash, I served them on 6 inch plates.

Because butternut squash does not have a very large opening in the middle with seeds (see photo below) you will have to scoop out extra to make a larger space, big enough to fill with your yummy pilaf. Leaving about 1 inch of the “meat” around all sides.


Butternut Squash (or acorn squash)
1/4 cup quinoa
1 T butter
A few fresh sage leaves chopped
A handful of pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375
Cut the Squash lengthwise
Scoop out the seeds and using a knife, make an even larger opening.
Place cut side down on a baking sheet and prick many times with a fork (this allows steam to escape when baking)
Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa.
Rinse the quinoa well before adding to a sauce pan. Add double the amount of water as quinoa, and a pinch of salt to the sauce pan of quinoa, cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, partially covered, cook for 15 minutes- viola!

For the good stuff:
Add the butter to a small skillet, melt and let burn a little, add a pinch of salt sage and pecans.
Cook for a minute until sage and nuts become fragrant.
Add the Quinoa to the pan, coat and mix well with the butter.

Stuff the baked squash with the warm quinoa pilaf and top with a pecan half for a little extra touch.

If I were making these for a crowd (or men) I’d probably serve skirt steak and sauteed dark leafy greens too. But for my cousin and me, this was plenty for dinner.

These last a few days in the fridge. Today after the gym I reheated my last half in the oven for about 30 minutes at 300 while I was in the shower- and viola- lunch is served :o)
Not to mention, this is a good source of full protein after a workout.


The Best White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookie…


Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with salty-sweet treats!? ;o)
The salty flavor of the nuts go so well with the sweet white chocolate flavor, purely sublime!

As you may know, I eat gluten free. And in an attempt to not outgrow my clothes I choose to cook all the yummy treats I give my friends “non-gluten free” so I wont be tempted to over eat.
Well, that theory failed. I ended up eating half the dough before having a chance to bake all the cookies- and I have a feeling you’ll do the same :o)

This is a must try cookie recipe, and not to mention, super easy to make!

melted chocolate chips = heaven on earth

The Best White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
(Recipe was definitely adapted from this lovely blog)

Makes 3 dozen (1 dozen if you eat dough like me!)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
10 oz white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped in chunks

Preheat 375
In a large bowl beat the butter, sugars, vanilla and salt.
Add the eggs and beat well
Stir together the flour and soda, gradually add to the butter mixture
Stir in white chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop teaspoon size balls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes
Cool slightly on cookie sheet before allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: take the time to cook in small batches and rotating the cookie sheets halfway through baking. This will ensure evenly baked cookies.

Ball of Fire!

Like Power Bars, they’re Power Balls!

I’ve recently been experimenting with making healthy, whole, full protein, gluten free workout snacks…and these I think are a winner. Just one will sustain your energy for at least 2 hour workout.

I had a bowl of cooked grains (quinoa, millet, amaranth) in my fridge that I had made the day before and decided to use this as my base.
I have also been obsessed with almond butter- I finished 2 jars in 3 weeks! oooops :o)
So I decided to go with a nut butter to hold the grains together and provides a good source of protein and healthy fats.
I also prefer almond butter over peanut butter because it has more vitamins and minerals.
Now that we have chosen the carb and protein (grains and almond butter) I decided to roll the balls in coconut as a source of natural sugar. The coconut also helps hold the balls together and keeps from getting your fingers sticky with almond butter… not necessarily a bad thing.
You can use any grain here, even rice. I recommend using quinoa though because it is a full protein (containing all 9 essential amino acids).

Quantities here, like most things I make, are not important at all, you have complete control here. If you prefer, walnut butter, use that. If you prefer cocoa, roll your balls in that. The possibilities are endless.
I didn’t think it needed to be sweet, but again, it’s up to you. You can add 1 T of a natural sweetener like honey, during the first step

Other Options Inside:
ground flax seed
protein powder…

Other Options for Rolling:
chopped nuts
Cocoa Powder
Chopped Dried Fruit like Cranberries…

Makes about 10 Power Balls:
1 1/2 cups cooked grains
1/2 cup nut butter
Coconut for rolling

Combine the first 2 ingredients in a bowl (at this point add your sweetener or protein powder)
Form into little balls about 2 tablespoons worth
roll in coconut (nuts, cocoa powder, dried fruit, etc.)

Keep in an airtight container i the the fridge for, well I’d say forever- but just to be safe, 3 weeks!

Now Go and Run a Marathon!


Bu bu bu bundt Cake

Apple Spiced Bundt!

This Cake was so delicious I had to make it twice in 2 days.

On Saturday I made it for the guys that run the garage I park my car in. You see, in San Francisco it is very rare to find a garage (conveniently open 24 hrs- steps from your front door) that charges less than $250 a month. Not wanting to pay that much, I offered to pay $200 and bring them baked goods every week! They happily excepted the offer!
And here we are at week 2 with a delicious bundt cake (week 1: white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies).
After licking the bowl and spatula clean- it was not hard to decide what dessert to make for a dinner party I was attending the following night….
So moist it just melts in your mouth

There is a nice, surprising layer of Apples and Walnuts in the middle


…but not for long

Apple Filling:
2 cups chopped apples (peeled)
2 cups chopped walnuts (pecans too are nice)
1 T Sugar
1T cinnamon

Cake Batter:
2 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 buckwheat
1 1/2 t xanthan gum
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t ginger and cloves
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup safflower
1/4 cup apple cider
2 t vanilla
4 eggs

Preheat 350
Grease a 10 inch Bundt pan and aside
Sift dry ingredients
In a large bowl combine sugar, oil cider, vanilla and eggs
Beat at medium speed
Stir in flour mixture

Spoon a layer into the pan
Sprinkle with apple and nut mixture
Top with remaining batter

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes
Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack
Cool completely before adding sugar or glaze
Sprinkle with powdered sugar

Apple Cider Glaze:
1 T Apple Cider
1 t lemon juice
1 T softened butter
1 cup powdered sugar


Hazelnut Ganache Tart with Sea Salt

Um, Yum!
I am such a sucker for Sweet + Salt!

A perfect dessert to serve a crowd-
this is sure to impress your dinner guest

I made this Vegan and Gluten Free for Thanksgiving-
believe me, no one knew!

3/4 cup Dry Roasted Hazelnut
1 1/2 cup Crushed Chocolate wafer cookies (I used Gluten Free)
6 T unsalted butter melted (I used vegan Earth Balance)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used 14oz Silken Tofu- Blended in the cuisinart)
12 oz Semisweet chocolate chip
Sea Salt for Garnish

Heat oven to 350
In a food processor, finely grind 1/2 a cup of Hazelnuts.
Add the crushed cookies and butter and pulse until smooth
Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch removable bottom pan
Bake of 10-12 minutes, let cool on a wire rack
Meanwhile, in a double broiler melt the chocolate
Add the chocolate to the heavy cream (of tofu in the blender
Pour chocolate mixture onto the cooled crust
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Sprinkle with remaining nuts and sea salt
Served on a pretty blue platter I picked up in Todos Santos, Baja California

Sweet Potato and Kale- with a kick

Two of my favorite fall foods coming together at last…

1 bunch of Kale, rinsed and chopped
4 cups Sweet Potatoes/Yams, rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 T olive oil
2 cups Purple Cabbage, thinly sliced
1 Onion chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 T ginger, peeled, minced
1 Serrano Chili, seeded diced
Seperately, in a steamer, cook the yams and kale.
Kale should still be colorful
Yams shouls still be somewhat firm
Meanwhile, heat the oill in a large saute pan and cook the onion, garlic, ginger and pepper
Add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add amall amounts of water if necessary to prevent sticking.
Place in a large serving bowl, add yams and kale and mix well

Mushroom and Barley

This dish goes very well with many fall recipes. If you are gluten sensitive, try using rice or buckwheat in place on barley.

Even the young boys of my clients I cook for adore this dish and request it almost weekly.

olive oil
1 T butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup barley
Walnuts, chopped and toasted
Parsley, chopped
In a heavy sauce pan, heat the oil and melt the butter
Add the onions and cook over medium heat, about 3 minutes
Add the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms release their moisture, about 5 minutes
Add the broth, barley and Salt and bring to a boil
Simmer partially covered for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally
Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with nuts and parsley

Perfect Summer Salad

Serve as a bite size salad on skewers at a cocktail party,
or on pretty small plates at a dinner party.

Union Street’s 15th Annual Sidewalk Sale at Dahlia Boutique

The flavors here come together so well, I love it
Just a little bite of summer- makes me smile 🙂
I’m a little late on posting this recipe. almost 2 seasons to be exact.
But this salad is so simple, delicious, and is worth sharing.

Because there are so few ingredients, it is important that you buy good quality feta cheese and balsamic reduction.

Serves 4 side salads
2 cups arugula
1 cup mixed greens
1/2 cup goat’s feta cheese
1/2 cup watermelon
1/4 cup EVOO
Drizzle Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper

Cut the feta and watermelon into equal size pieces, about 1/2 inch cubes.
In a large bowl, gently combine the greens, feta, watermelon and olive oil and salt and pepper.
Place equally on 4 plates
Drizzle the Balsamic Reduction

Can serve with crostini. Also, chopped walnuts would be nice sprinkled on top.
If serving on skewers, skip the mixed greens, just use one piece of arugula.

Fig & Blue Cheese Salad

At a dinner party I catered

Figs: my favorite thing about late summer/fall!
I could eat them every meal, fresh, dried, cooked…emmmm

Fresh Figs (halved)
Point Reyes Blue Cheese
Organic Mixed Greens

1 T Balsamic
1/4 t crushed Garlic
1/2 t Dijon Mustard
Whisk in
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and white pepper


Complete Protein…

…the Vegan way!
OK, it’s simple.
A Full Protein is made up of a combination of essential amino acids, nine to be exact.
Protein is found in many things besides for animal products, for example seeds, beans and grains.
However, all animal products are full proteins on there own (containing all esential amino acids)- the proper combination of things like rice and beans creates a full protein too.
Though, it is not necessary to combine specific protein foods at one sitting. Throughout the day, as you are consuming plant based proteins, your body will combine proteins from all sources to get all the “complete proteins” it needs.
Plant Based Protein is divided into 3 categories:
Legumes combined with Seeds, Nuts or Grains form a complete FULL protein.
Hummus is a full Protein!
Chickpeas: Legumes
Tihini (sesame paste): Seeds
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sando!
Peanuts: Legumes
Bread (I like gluten free brown rice bread): Grains
millet, quinoa, rice & lentils, chia seeds, mixed rices, pumpkin seeds, oats

Examples of Protein Sources:
Wheat Bread

Pumpkin Seeds
Brazil Nuts
Flax Seeds/Chia Seeds
Nut and seeds Butters (Almond Butter, Tahini, etc)
Black Beans
Kidney Beans
Pinto Beans
(all beans!)
Lentils (my favorite!)
Soy and Quinoa are the only plant based full proteins
Example of Complete Protein Meals

Oatmeal with soy milk (nuts & flax seeds)
Toasted oats, ground flax seeds, walnuts and cinnamon, with a little plain organic yogurt
Quinoa cooked with almond milk (Add nuts, flax, cinnamon, honey…)
Chia Seed Pudding (2 T seeds + 2 T oats + 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup soy milk, let sit for 10 minutes and it turns into pudding consistency. Top with the same things you would oatmeal)
Toast and Peanut butter
Lunch and Dinner:
Green salad with brown rice and beans (my staple)
Corn tortilla, black beans, pupmkin seeds, shredded lettuce, salsa, etc
Rice Cakes with hummus and sliced avocado
Veggie Burger (I like making Quinoa Lentil burgers, with a tahini sauce)
Nori roll with Rice, tofu and Veggies
Stir-fry veggies and tofu over brown rice, sprinkle with sesame seeds
Chili and Corn Bread
Brown Rice with Curry Chickpeas

More Power to You

Finally a Truely Powerful, Full Protein, HEALTHY Energy Bar!

not to mention, they’re vegan, gluten free and NO sugar added- well a couple chocolate chips :o)
I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with making healthy power bars and while these are super healthy, they are still packed with calories!
Healthy, complex carb, whole, natural, good-for-you calories that is!
I had one at 4pm before a 5pm workout and didn’t eat again for the rest of the night…!

So, if you have ZERO self control like me and can’t have treats in your home- share these with your active friends- they’ll love ’em!
I’ve been giving my creations to my brother and his 2 roommates (all active, athletic dudes) to sample and they loved ’em- even for breakfast!
Quickly, let’s go over the ingredients and their health and medicinal benefits:
Quinoa: full protein, fiber, iron, magnesium (improves the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body)
Oats: so many reasons just look here
Almond Butter: protein, magnesium, potassium (important electrolyte), healthy fats and gives you long lasting energy and actually reduces your GI (just read this on almonds!)
Chocolate and Espresso: Fast energy
Brown Rice Syrup: natural sweetener that does not spike your blood sugar levels the way white sugar does. It’s a complex sugar that dissolves easily in the bloodstream plus it’s a complex carb, meaning it will take your body longer to digest- all reason why it’s a better sweetener than white sugar.
Here it is, and super easy:
1/2 cup Brown Rice Syrup
1 stick of Vegan Butter (the only not-so-good ingredient)
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 T vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond butter (peanut butter is fine too)
1 T ground espresso
Preheat oven to 350
cream the butter and brown rice syrup
stir in the vanilla then the cooked quinoa, oats and flax
Bake in a greased 9×13 pan for 20 minutes
Let cool
Meanwhile, in a double broiler melt the chocolate and peanut butter
Stir in the espresso (optional)
Spread over your oats.
Let cool completely before cutting (I even keep mine in the refrigerator)
Enjoy- now go climb a mountian!

Seasonal Fruit Cobbler

Peach and Raspberry (this time)

Peeling the peaches is a little time consuming, but well worth it!

I really recommend blanching the peaches (nectarines, apricots, whatever) in boiling water for about 30 seconds. This will make peeling them SO much easier!

Peel 4-5 lbs of fruit
Fruit Filling:
4-5 lbs of seasonal fruit (rhubarb in Spring, apricots in Summer, berries in Fall, apple and pear in the Winter)
1 orange zest
1/2 cup sugar (brown, coconut, raw, mix and match)
2 T cornstarch
pint of berries (if using stone fruit)
Crumble Topping:
1 1/2 cups flour (I use gluten free)
1 cup sugar (brown works nicely)
1/4 t salt
1 cup oats
1/2 lb cold butter, cubed (I use vegan Earth Balance)
Preheat 350
bring a large pot of water to a boil
Butter casserole dish
Immerse the fruit into the boiling water for 30 seconds (can do this in batches, let cool before peeling)
Meanwhile make the crumble topping by combing all ingredients into a mixer and pulsing until it forms a thick/crumbly/pea consistency. Set aside.
Back to the fruit…
Peel and chop the fruit
Combine with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl
Mix well and let sit for a few minutes
Pour into a greased baking pan
Evenly sprinkle the topping over the fruit
Bake for about 1 hour
allow to cool and set a bit before digging in

ready for the best part- the buttery crumble!
LOOK- even enough left to make a little guy for someone special 🙂

Cornmeal Crust Pizza

I have always loved cornmeal crust pizzas and finally realized it was time I learn to make one. If you have never tried one, it’s time to indulge.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re all aware nothing beats a traditional Italian thin crust pizza, nothing, but, a cornmeal crust does put up a pretty good fight.
Not only are cornmeal crusts hearty and filling, they can also be made gluten free!
Since going gluten free, this has been in the top 5 on my “Gotta Make GF” list!
Not to mention, it has less than 10 ingredients and you don’t have to wait for it to rise like pizza dough, this is a gotta make for sure recipe!
I encourage you to get creative with your toppings. Use whatever vegetable is in season, eggplant, tomatoes, arugula, artichokes butternut squash… have fun with it!
I also decided to throw dried rosemary and thyme into the crust for a little extra flavor.
I made the pesto, I’ll post the recipe one of these days, but store bought can be just as tasty.
I used almond milk and walnut oil in place of milk and vegetable oil. Either works fine.

Yields 2 crusts

1 ¾ cups cornmeal
2 cups GF flour
1 T baking powder
2 t sugar
1 t salt
2 t dried thyme
2 t dried rosemary
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup walnut oil

Goat Cheese
1 Summer squash
2 Small zucchini
Fresh Thyme
2 cloves of roasted garlic (optional)

Preheat 325
Whisk the dry ingredients
Add the wet ingredients, stirring well
Divide into 2 equal portions for 2 pizza crusts (even 3 thinner crusts if you want)
Press one portion into a pie pan with a removable bottom
Bake for 15 minutes

Meanwhile, thinly slice your squash and zucchini

Remove your crust from the oven and spread goat cheese over the warm crust, this makes spreading easier.
Add you pesto
Fan the slices of squash and zucchini
Garnish with thyme and garlic
Continue baking for 12 minutes

This recipe was not taking from this book, but it has been out for a couple of days now and must have been what inspired me

Nonna’s Biscotti

Gluten/Sugar Free and Vegan Almond Biscotti

My Italian grandmother would be disappointed to see what I have done to the family biscotti recipe. But, in my defense, it’s 20-10 and with new research coming out showing the negative effects wheat and sugar have on our bodies, I felt the need to make a few adjustments.

I have recently cut gluten and sugar (except from fruit) from my diet, and I feel great. I have more energy and I’m not bloated and gassy anymore (symptoms of having a wheat allergy).

80% of people are sensitive to wheat, to some degree. I recommend you try just a week with no gluten (and sugar if you really want to take the challenge). I guarantee you will be amazed with how great you feel. Don’t be discourage, there are plenty of things you can still eat (check them out).
I saved some for myself and put the rest in a jar for my brother!
What’s a girl to do with a studio full of cookies anyway?
2 sticks of vegan butter
1 t almond extract
1 t vanilla extract
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/2 Amaretto
3 1/2 cups of G.F. Flour
1 t Baking Powder
1 t salt
1 cup slivered almonds
Preheat 325
In a mixer, cream the butter
Add the extract
While the mixer is on, slowly add the applesauce and liquor
It will not blend together completely, no worries
Sift the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients.
You may want to add a little flour if your dough seems too sticky
On a floured surface, roll the dough into logs the size of a broom handle
Bake for 30-33 minutes
Remove from the oven and cut them at a diagonal, about a half inch thick
Turn cut side up and return to the oven to continue baking for about 10 minutes
Cool on a rack
Yields about 30 Biscotti.
I calculated about 55 calories per cookie, and 2 grams of fat! Woohoo!

Packing For a Picnic

Greek CousCous Salad

Summer is here in San Francisco!

I can actually say it has been “hot” in the good ol’ “Fog City”
Which means I can no longer get away with out shaving my legs for 2 weeks or not wearing deodorant, damn :o)
With this beautiful weather comes picnic-ing…
Whether you are living in a big city, or a quaint town, it is so important to make time to enjoy the outdoors. Spending time in nature is good for your health, mind and mood. Can you believe it, hanging out in the sun releases serotonin, the happy endorphin! (more on ways to increase Endorphins)
I have been having so much fun lately packing a picnic and riding my bike around discovering parks. There are SO MANY parks in SF, who knew?!
Lately my favorite park has been Allyne, tucked away in a quiet hilly neighborhood, it reminds me of something I’d stumble across in Paris’ Montmartre District.
Picture I took in Paris’ Montmartre
Allyne Park, San Francisco (map)
Today I was tight on time, but it was too beautiful to have lunch indoors, so I decided to whip up a quick, nutritious salad.
(I will be adding many more picnic recipes this summer, but for now, here’s just a simple couscous salad)
Greek CousCous Salad
Made wonderfully first by my cousin Mindee.
Equal Parts couscous to boiling water
Cucumber, chopped
Tomato, chopped
Chickpeas (I used a can of organic)
Good quality organic feta
Balsamic Vinegar and EVOO to taste
S&P to taste
Add Boiling water to couscous, cover and let stand for 5 minutes
Fluff with a fork.
Now, toss in the remaining ingredients!
It’s all up to you on proportions, you really can’t go wrong here!