Thanksgiving Anytime: Turkey Hash with Cranberry Crema

Thanksgiving is just around the corner–which is crazy, because I feel like it was still summer about 5 minutes ago. Thanksgiving is the BEST. HOLIDAY. It's just food, food, food as far as the eye can see. But sometimes, I get so excited for Thanksgiving flavors, I just can't wait. This is where my Turkey Hash with Cranberry Crema comes in. If the Ninja-Turtles-Meets-Lisa-Frank color scheme wasn't enough to get you to try it, the flavor profile will be: my husband described it as "Thanksgiving in a bowl," and that's 100% accurate.

The good news: it's WAY easier than laboring over a giant bird while your extended family prowls around, asking what time dinner is. I've been working with Whole Foods to create recipes that are seasonal and easy (EASE-onal?!), and of course, healthy. This has protein from the turkey, lots of great veggies, and packs an additional nutritional wallop with the Japanese yams (which I am now officially addicted to). And the cranberry crema tastes unhealthy, but it's actually about 80% pure cranberry goodness with just a hint of sweetness and creaminess.

This is great for a simple one-pan dinner, and it's extra great as a hearty brunch, with a few eggs fried on top (the hash might lose a little color overnight, but no worries–it still tastes awesome). You can make this RIGHT NOW with an easy ingredient list, or you could make this with Thanksgiving leftovers...but who wants to wait that long?! Hope your family loves this! In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I just want to say how thankful I am for my readers and fans–you keep me motivated to keep creating in the kitchen! Let me know in the comments if you try this, and how it turned out.

Happy cooking, y'all! And happy almost-Thanksgiving :)



2 fresh turkey drumsticks and 1 fresh turkey thigh (or, alternately, 1.5 lbs. leftover cooked turkey meat)
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 cups water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large Japanese yam (or regular sweet potato), peeled and diced into 3/4" cubes
1 T. coconut oil
2 cups baby Brussels sprouts, halved
olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
sprinkle of dried sage
sprinkle of dried thyme
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 bag frozen cranberries
1 cup reserved chicken/turkey stock
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. honey
1/3 cup red wine (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream
Cilantro leaves to garnish (optional)


1. If you are using fresh, not leftover turkey, bring your chicken or turkey stock and water to a simmer. Add your turkey and simmer for about 30 minutes, until meat is cooked through (it's ok if it's not 100% cooked, you will cook it again later). Once done, set the meat aside to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 425. Toss yam cubes in coconut oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and roast for about 15 minutes, until not quite done (you will be cooking them again later).

3. Once turkey is cool enough to handle, pull meat from bones, discarding any tough bits or skin. Cut or tear into bite-size pieces and set aside.

4. Reduce oven heat to 375. In a cast iron skillet, heat a glug of olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onions, seasoning with salt and pepper, 3-4 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts and saute for 3-4 minutes, until they're starting to get a little color. Add pecans, dried cranberries, yam cubes, turkey pieces, sage, thyme, and rosemary. Stir around until well mixed. Remove from stovetop and place in oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until Brussels sprouts are tender, stirring with a wooden spoon once during cooking.

5. While it's roasting, make the cranberry crema: Heat a shallow pot over high heat. Add cranberries, 1 cup reserved chicken/turkey stock, brown sugar, honey, and red wine, plus a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes, smashing cranberries with a potato masher or wooden spoon as they cook. Reduce until mixture has thickened and most liquid has evaporated. Transfer mixture to food processor and add sour cream. Process until very smooth, tasting and adding salt if it seems to lack a savory flavor. It should be tart, very slightly sweet, and rich and creamy. If desired, transfer to a squeeze bottle.

6. To serve, squeeze the cranberry crema over the hash and spoon into bowls, adding more crema if desired.

*Disclosure: Whole Foods provided the food for this post, but opinions and recipes are my own.

A Fall-ternative to Slow-Cooked Stews: Fresh & Healthy

I LOVE Fall. I feel like I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating, especially since, judging by my knee-high suede boots making a reappearance, Autumn is officially here.

One of the things I love about this time of year is that I can bring out the Crock-Pot and the Dutch oven and start slow cooking like a fiend. But sometimes, all those braises and stews can get a bit heavy, and you need a light, fresh meal. I've started working with my local Whole Foods in Brooklyn to create some recipes based on what's freshest and in season. The great thing about tuna is that you can get great fish year-round (because under the sea, there is no Fall!), and I love doing a simple sear and pairing it with a bright sauce and delicious veggies.

The Buy Big Save Big seafood at Whole Foods is really well-priced, and makes it easy to always have great fish on hand. Cauliflower is so fresh and so good right now, and roasting it in the salty-spicy North African condiment Harissa makes it taste like an indulgent treat (seriously, I can't stop stuffing my face when I make cauliflower this way). A sprinkling of tart, juicy pomegranate seeds is the perfect balance to the savory heat.

This meal is so easy, and comes together in about 20 minutes with just a few key ingredients. Let me know in the comments if you tried it out! Happy Fall, and happy cooking!



1 tuna steak per person, thawed from frozen or fresh
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
handful fresh cilantro leaves
handful fresh parsley leaves
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic
1 head cauliflower, trimmed into florets
1 heaping Tablespoon Harissa paste
a few spoonfuls pomegranate seeds


1. Preheat your oven to 425. In a large bowl, add the harissa paste and about a Tablespoon of olive oil and whisk together. Toss the cauliflower with this mixture, then spread out onto a baking sheet (NOTE: some harissa pastes are already quite salty, so taste yours and make sure you don't add additional salt to the cauliflower if so; if your harissa paste is not well-seasoned, add salt to taste to the cauliflower once it's on the baking sheet). Bake for about 20 minutes, until parts of your cauliflower florets are beginning to get brown/black in places and veggies are very tender.

2. Pat the tuna dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add a small amount of olive oil. Once the pan and oil are hot, sear the tuna on one side until a nice, golden brown crust forms, then flip over and do the same to the other side. I like my tuna very rare in the middle (as in the photo), but if you like yours more cooked, let it cook until it reaches your desired doneness. Once it's done, remove to a cutting board and slice into 1/2" slices, or serve as a whole uncut steak.

3. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, and parsley. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Turn on the processor, and while it's running, drizzle in enough olive oil (about 3 Tablespoons) to bring together into an emulsified sauce (it will be pretty smooth but not blender-smooth but feel free to make it as smooth as you want).

4. To plate, shingle out your tuna slices and drizzle with the herb sauce. Mound the cauliflower on the side and top with the pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!

Layered Chilaquiles: Your New Obsession

You guys, how have I not been making homemade corn tortillas my ENTIRE LIFE?! For years, I settled for those dry, crumbly, flavorless, excuses for corn tortillas they sell in the store, but NOT ANYMORE. I got sick of wrapping my lovingly prepared taco fillings with pre-made, sub-par tortillas, so I bought a tortilla press on Amazon–best $11 I ever spent (I got this one). I also got some good-quality masa harina so I'd be ready to make real-deal corn tortillas.

Turns out, making corn tortillas from scratch is so easy. It takes about 15 minutes to make a batch of 14-16, and the flavor is definitely worth the extra time. They keep for a couple days in the fridge, too–just wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds or so to warm them up.

Tacos are a great way to make your corn tortillas the star, but if you really want a WOW-worthy dish, try my easy Tex-Mex twist on chilaquiles. Traditionally, chilaquiles is a dish made with day-old fried tortillas (or chips), sauteéd in green or red salsa and topped with shredded chicken, cotija cheese, or a fried egg (they're a classic Mexican hangover brunch food).

I've turned the idea of chilaquiles into more of a casserole-style dish, and I've omitted frying the tortillas (you won't miss the excess oil, I promise). This dish takes a little time (about 2 and a half hours start to finish), but you could easily break it up into two days, or two meals (in fact, the day before I made this, I was eating pulled chicken tacos, so this is a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken and tortillas).

Top your layered chilaquiles with a fried egg and avocado slices, and you have a perfect brunch dish. You could even build individual layered chilaquiles in mini-cast-iron-skillets and serve this as part of a Mexican fiesta for a laid-back dinner party. This recipe is so versatile, and sure to be a crowd-pleaser. If you make it, make sure to leave me a comment! Thanks for reading and happy cooking!



For the corn tortillas:
2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
1 and 1/2 cups warm tap water
pinch of sea salt

For the stewed chicken & sauce:
1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs, patted dry and cut into big chunks (alternately, use a mix of chicken legs, thighs, and breast on the bone–this is NOT the time to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts); reserve the spine and other chicken parts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, seeded and ribs removed, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, seeded and ribs removed, cut into chunks
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and ribs removed, sliced
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon oregano
a few pinches sea salt
black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
water as needed

For the layered chilaquiles:
12-15 day old (or fresh) corn tortillas, torn into quarters
4 cups reserved sauce from chicken cooking liquid
about 3 cups shredded stewed chicken (or shredded from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
1 can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
16 oz. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (don't buy pre-shredded; shred your own)
1/2 cup crumbled queso blanco or cotija cheese
fresh cilantro sprigs
sliced avocado
1 fried egg per person (optional)
lime slices
sour cream


1. Start by stewing the chicken. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, let it get hot, then add the onion, tomato, peppers, and spices. Saute for 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften and break down.

2. Add the chicken pieces (plus reserved bones and weird bits) to the pot, then add the chicken broth and enough water to almost cover the chicken. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until all chicken is cooked through and tender. Some pieces may have the meat pulling from the bones, which is good.

3. While the chicken is simmering, make the tortillas: mix the masa harina, salt, and water in a bowl. Using your hands, stir together and knead until it becomes a semi-dry dough. If it sticks to your hands, add a little more masa harina a tablespoon at a time. Line a tortilla press with nonstick plastic wrap. Place golf ball-sized balls of dough in the center of the tortilla press and press to flatten (or use a rolling pin to roll out). If tortillas stick to the plastic and start to tear, add a little more masa harina to the dough. Heat a cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Don't add any butter or oil. Cook each tortilla about 1-2 minutes per side, placing them in a clean kitchen towel to stay warm as they're done. You can get into a rhythm where you're pressing tortillas as some cook in the pan–it goes pretty fast.

4. Use tongs to remove the chicken from its sauce to a separate bowl (also remove and discard the spine and weird bone bits). Leave the sauce in the pot and turn the heat off. Let the chicken cool until it's cool enough to handle. When it's cool enough to touch, remove the skin and discard. Pull the chicken from the bones, shredding into small pieces. Discard the bones and tough gristle.

5. Ladle some of the sauce into a food processor or blender and process till semi-smooth. Keep doing that in batches till you have 4-5 cups. Taste the sauce and add a little salt if it's bland or too spicy. (It gets better overnight, so doing this the day before is great.)

6. Once your chicken and sauce are ready, get ready to assemble your layered chilaquiles. Preheat the oven to 375. In an overproof casserole dish, ladle a little sauce in the bottom, and place a layer of tortilla pieces on top. Spread a layer of chicken on the tortillas, top with a couple ladelfuls of the sauce, top that with a handful of beans, then top that with some shredded Jack cheese. Repeat these layers–tortilla, chicken, sauce, beans, cheese–until you run out or reach the top of the dish. Make your final top layer tortillas, covered by sauce, then top that with the queso blanco. Once you've made the dish up to this point, you can cover and freeze for up to a month (cover tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil.)

7. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until queso blanco is lightly browned in places. Once out of the oven, let sit 15-20 minutes to tighten up a bit. Slice into squares and plate. Top with a fried egg, more cheese, avocado, guac, cilantro, or anything your heart desires. Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Pasta Is The Best Thing On Earth (Here Are Two Recipes That Prove It)

It's no secret that I love pasta. It's my favorite food. On a desert island, I'd want only sunscreen and spaghetti. While I try not to eat pasta daily, I am not a believer that pasta is evil, or inherently unhealthy. I think pasta has gotten a bad rap mostly because American portion sizes are much, much too generous. When visiting Italy, I learned that pasta was a part of every meal, but it wasn't the entirety of every meal. Seasonal vegetables and small portions of meat completed meals that included lots of different varieties of dishes, all in small portions (what we might call "tapas"-sized).

I believe pasta can be incorporated into any healthy diet–moderation is key! It can be a lovely palette for seasonal veggies, and a fried egg adds richness and protein. My recipe for Summer Tomato and Proscuitto Bucatini is a great way to use those end-of-season heirloom tomatoes while you still can.

Speaking of moderation, something I indulge in rarely (but always enjoy to the fullest) is macaroni and cheese. In the south, where I grew up, mac 'n' cheese is considered a vegetable side (ubiquitous as any respectable meat 'n' three joint). It is–bar none–my absolute favorite food in the world. My last meal on death row would be a full cast iron skillet of mac 'n' cheese–as long as I could be the one who cooked it! I've made it many times, many ways, and I've found that keeping it simple yields the best results. This is my own tried-and-true recipe, and I hope you love it.

I hope you fellow pasta lovers out there get as much joy from these recipes as I did! Happy cooking :)



glug of olive oil
1/8 lb. thinly sliced good-quality prosciutto
1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large, ripe heirloom tomatoes, diced
red pepper flakes to taste
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. bucatini (or spaghetti)
fresh basil leaves, torn
1 egg per person (plus a little butter for the pan
freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano


1. Boil a large pot of generously salted water. Cook bucatini until it's about 1-2 minutes shy of al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta cooking water.

2. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and let it get hot. Sauté the proscuitto for a few minutes, until it's starting to get crispy. Add your onions and cook for a few more minutes, then add the garlic and cook for one minute, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Go easier on the salt than usual because the prosciutto will add a little saltiness.

3. Deglaze with the white wine and reduce the wine by half. Add the tomatoes and raise the heat. Cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as they get soft.

4. Meanwhile, heat another small nonstick pan and melt a little butter. Fry the eggs over medium heat until the whites are set and the yolks are runny (or until your desired doneness).

5. When the pasta is not-quite-al-dente, use tongs to lift it directly from the water into the tomato sauce pan. Add the reserved pasta cooking water, and stir over high heat to allow the pasta to finish cooking to a perfect al dente (it will soak up the sauce).

6. To plate, make nests of the pasta with tongs and ladle some more sauce on top. Top each plate or bowl with a fried egg and some grated Parmigiano. Sprinkle basil over the top. Enjoy!




1 lb. ridged shell pasta (to grip the cheese sauce!
6 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons flour
3 and 3/4 cups whole milk
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups grated full-fat good-quality white cheddar


2 T. butter
1 cup plain Panko bread crumbs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. chopped fresh sage


1. Boil a large pot of generously salted water. Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain.

2. In another large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. Cook the roux for 2-3 minutes to take the raw flour taste off. Whisk in the milk, one cup at a time, stirring constantly to whisk out the lumps. Turn the heat to high, bring the bechamel sauce (that's the white sauce you've just made) to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low, whisking every few minutes, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Stir the grated cheese into the bechamel one cup at a time, stirring so it melts completely. The sauce should be nice and thick and cheesy at this point. Add the pasta shells directly into the sauce. You may think the ratio of sauce to pasta is off, but TRUST ME: the saucier the better, because the shells will plump up in the oven and absorb quite a bit.

4. At this point, if you're going to serve it in bowls, go ahead and serve it. I strongly suggest baking it! Transfer it to a cast iron skillet (or oven-safe casserole dish) and top with either more grated cheddar (for a cheesy crust) or with the Panko topping. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes (check to make sure the Panko doesn't burn -- if it's getting too dark, just put a little aluminum foil over it).


Melt the butter in a nonstick pan and stir in the Panko, stirring to coat in the butter. Add a little salt and pepper and stir in the herbs. Top your mac 'n' cheese with the mixture and proceed to baking. Enjoy!

Breakfast in Cali & Dinner in Pittsburgh: Egg Tacos & Steak Salad

Tacos are, inarguably, one of humankind's greatest triumphs. I don't know who first thought to wrap simple, flavorful ingredients in a warm tortilla and top them with a fresh, tangy, fiery sauce, but he or she was a culinary genius. Breakfast tacos are a great way to make sure that you can eat tacos not once, not twice, but three times a day. You can WAKE UP to tacos. It's a beautiful world, people.

Should you tire of eating tacos morning, noon and night (not possible, but whatever), you can refresh your palate with a salad that will actually fill you up. That's because this salad is topped with steak and potatoes. In Pittsburgh, a salad isn't a salad unless it's topped with French fries and a sliced steak. The real deal is typically made with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and bleu cheese, so my recipe sticks mostly to the original but adds a few special surprises into the mix to add more flavor and more good-for-you stuff. I swapped the French fries for roasted sweet potatoes, and used kale as my lettuce base. The result was classic steak salad goodness, amped up nutritionally.

Whether you're in a tacos-for-breakfast mood, or you just want a salad that won't leave you starving two hours later, these recipes deliver. They're both super easy, nutritious, and tasty as all get-out. Enjoy and happy cooking!

BREAKFAST TACOS (makes 3 large breakfast tacos)


4 scrambled eggs
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
3 flour tortillas (taco size)
1/2 can black beans
1 green bell pepper, small dice
1/2 small onion, small dice
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 avocado, sliced
salsa for topping
optional: sour cream, hot sauce, cilantro, etc.


1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and green peppers and saute about 5 minutes, until the veggies are getting soft. Add the black beans and the cumin and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to low, keep warm, and set aside.

2. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the butter, then add the whisked eggs. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, till the eggs are about 80% set. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the eggs and flip an other empty pan over the egg pan to make a lid, so the heat is trapped and the cheese melts (this should only take about 1-2 minutes). Remove eggs from heat and set aside.

3. While the eggs are cooking, warm the tortillas in the microwave (or just broil them in the oven for a minute or two). Place a tortilla on a plate. Top with the beans/veggies, then the eggs/cheese, then top with avocado, salsa, and any other toppings you want. Enjoy!




1/4 to 1/2 lb. ribeye steak per person (depending on how hungry people are)
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced into sticks
1 T. coconut oil
1 cup fresh kale leaves per person
1 boiled egg per person, halved
1 cup frozen fire-roasted corn
1/2 onion, sliced very thinly
handful fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1 small ripe tomato per person
6-7 slices cucumber per person
salad dressing of your choice
crumbled bleu cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place your sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined in parchment paper, and toss with the coconut oil and some salt and pepper. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, until tender. Set aside. 

2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion slices for about 5 minutes, until they're beginning to get translucent. Add the corn and cilantro and season with a little salt and pepper. Toss together and cook for about 3-4 more minutes. Set aside.

3. Bring your steaks to room temperature. Preheat a nonstick pan over high heat–you want to give the steaks a really nice sear. Season the steaks well with salt and pepper. When the pan is screaming hot, place your steaks in the pan. Do not move or touch the steaks for about 3-4 minutes. Flip your steaks over and let them cook on the other side. For a one-inch thick steak, this should yield a medium-rare cook, but cook it more if you want to. Set the steak aside to rest for 10 minutes, then slice it 1/2" thick.

4. Tear or chop your kale into small pieces, then massage it with your hands lightly until it loses its cloudy color and becomes a deep green (don't over-massage it or it will wilt). Place the kale in the salad bowls.

5. Top the salad with a scoop of corn, sliced cucumber, sliced tomatoes, the boiled egg, the roasted sweet potato, the sliced steak, and finally the bleu cheese. Drizzle dressing over the top. Enjoy!

Miso Hungry: Get More Umami Into Your Life, STAT

Why did it take me 32 (ok, almost 33) years to start buying and cooking with miso?! I love Asian food. I love fermented food. I love umami food. I love things made from soy. HELLO! Miso was basically my dream ingredient, hiding in plain sight!

I should back up: I am a soup person. And yes, I know it's July, and I'm only supposed to crave soup from November through February, but I love all kinds of soup, all the time. Soup fills me up, but doesn't make me feel heavy, so for me, it's the perfect summertime meal. Plus, it's a great way to throw a ton of veggies together in a way you actually get excited about.

A spoonful of miso is like a flavor-bomb for soup. It takes the flavor of the broth to 11, and gives you that satisfying, super savory taste you want. Add a few dashes of fish sauce, use a good quality broth as the base, and throw in a little ginger and garlic–you're on the road to Soup Nirvana.

Once you've got your broth base going, it's just a matter of picking out your veggies and adding protein.

Here are some soup add-in ideas:

- hard-boiled or poached egg
- noodles (glass noodles, rice noodles, chow mein noodles, soba noodles, whole wheat spaghetti, etc. etc.)
- leafy greens (bok choy, spinach, kale, chard, etc.)
- basic veggies like onion and carrot, and mushrooms (enoki, cremini, shiitake, button, etc.)
- cruciferous veggies (broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, etc.)
- legumes (edamame, chickpeas, white beans, black beans, etc.)
- tofu, seitan, or lean meat (chicken, salmon, sea bass, etc.)
- other toppings and goodies (cilantro, avocado, sesame seeds, cashews, etc.)

There aren't a lot of savory ingredients that wouldn't taste good in a soup like this. And it's SOUP-er easy to make! (Sorry, I literally cannot help myself.) My exact recipe for the soup picture here is below, but think of this broth base as a crazy-umami canvas that's just waiting to swaddle your favorite veggies and proteins in a delicious, loving embrace. Happy cooking!


Broth Base:
- 1 Tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 box unsalted chicken broth (or sub veggie broth or beef broth)
- 1 one-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 jalapeno, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 8-10 dashes fish sauce (more or less to your taste)
- 2 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (or juice of one lime)

Soup Toppings:
- 3 heads baby bok choy, rinsed and chopped
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- about 2 ounces soba noodles
- 1/2 an avocado, sliced
- 10-12 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- sesame seeds for garnish
- cilantro for garnish


NOTE: I cooked each of my ingredients separately so that I could take this photo with everything in little piles, but you can saute all your veggies together if you want–it's up to you.

1. Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the miso and the rest of the broth ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, then strain the broth so the chunks of stuff get strained out. Return the broth to the pot and bring to a boil again.

2. Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute, letting them caramelize and brown. Add the bok choy and cook for a couple minutes, just till wilted. Set veggies aside.

3. While you're cooking the veggies, add your noodles to the broth and cook until al dente (you don't want mushy noodles). Add your veggies to the broth and noodles, and top with avocado, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Healthier at Home: Enchiladas Verdes & Homemade Salsa

Enchiladas Verdes is one of my favorite dishes of ALL TIME! Tender shredded chicken wrapped in warm corn tortillas, smothered in tangy, spicy salsa verde and melted cheese...what's not to love?! Enchiladas with green sauce are delicious, and I believe in all things in moderation, which is why I never feel guilty when I'm occasionally out for a night of margaritas and Mexican food. But when I'm cooking at home, I like to turn restaurant calorie bombs into sensible weeknight meals.

One of the things that makes restaurant enchiladas so good (and packs on the calories) is that each corn tortilla is briefly dipped in hot oil before it's filled and rolled. It makes them super tasty, but truthfully, it's not necessary for a satisfying tray of enchiladas. To lighten up one of my faves, I skipped the oil-dipping step, and I also used WAY less cheese than restaurant versions. I did make a creamy sauce using a little sour cream, but tempered it with ripe avocado–just as creamy, but with less of the bad kind of fat and more of the good kind!

I also made my own salsa verde, and it's way easier than you'd think! Really, it's just two steps: roast the veggies, then give them a spin in the food processor. That's it! It tastes so much fresher and brighter than the jarred version, plus you can control the salt you add, which helps keep the sodium in check (another thing restaurant food is guilty of–tons of salt!).

You could of course add more cheese, or top these with sour cream, or drizzle your tortillas with a little olive oil before topping with sauce–it's all up to you, and that's the great thing about cooking at home. 

This recipe is easy, healthy, and so filling! Plus it makes enough for about 4 people, or enough for leftovers if you're just feeding two people, like I am. Enjoy and happy cooking!


For the enchiladas:
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 container unsalted chicken broth
12-15 corn tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 shallots, diced
2 large bunches spinach, chopped (or 2 containers baby spinach)
1/2 large sweet potato, small dice
1 can vegetarian refried beans
queso blanco or cotija cheese for topping
cilantro leaves for topping
fresh jalapeno slices for topping
lime wedges for serving

For the salsa verde:
2 lbs. tomatillos, husks removed -- larger ones quartered, smaller ones halved
1 jalapeno, halved
1 small onion, quartered
glug of olive oil
sea salt
1 bunch cilantro, washed and stem ends removed
juice of two limes

For the avocado crema:
1 and 1/2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup sour cream
juice of one lime
pinch of salt


1. Poach the chicken: bring the chicken broth and the chicken breasts to a simmer. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside and allow to cool. Remove skin, and pull meat from bones. Shred it with your hands or two forks. Set meat aside and save broth for another use.

2. Make salsa verde: set oven to broil. In a heatproof pan, place onion, jalapeno, and tomatillos. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Broil for 10-15 minutes, until veggies are very tender and dark (almost black) in some places. Charring is good. Remove from oven and place in a food processor along with lime juice and cilantro. Process until smooth. Taste for seasoning, add salt if needed, and process again. Set aside.

3. Cook the spinach: heat oil in a large pan. Saute shallots, seasoning with sea salt, for about 5 minutes. Add spinach and saute until spinach is wilted. Drain any excess liquid from the spinach and set aside.

4. Cook the sweet potato: Wipe out the spinach pan and place the sweet potato cubes in the pan. Cover with 1 cup water. Turn heat to high and boil till tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and mix with the spinach.

5. Assemble the enchiladas: Preheat oven to 375. Use a spoon to spread a little refried beans on each tortilla. Top with the sweet potato/spinach mixture, then add a little shredded chicken. Roll up, then place each tortilla seam-side down in a baking dish. Repeat until your baking dish is full (or until you run out of ingredients). Pour the salsa verde over the enchiladas–be generous! Crumble some queso blanco over the top, then back for 15-20 minutes.

6. Make the avocado crema: wipe out the bowl of your food processor, then add the sour cream, avocado, and lime juice, plus a pinch of salt. Process until very smooth. Set aside.

7. When enchiladas come out of the oven, top with the avocado crema, more crumbled cheese, cilantro, and sliced jalapenos. Enjoy!


Smoothie Bowls: My Colorful New Obsession

When I first saw the smoothie bowl trend start to explode on Instagram, I was like, Smoothies? In a BOWL?! Aren't smoothies something you're supposed to drink through a straw? But quickly, my penchant for all things aesthetically pleasing quieted the skeptical voice inside, and I became a Smoothie Bowl convert.

Smoothie Bowls are everything you love about a smoothie (healthy, refreshing, a fruit-and-veggie bomb), combined with everything you love about oatmeal or cereal or, for that matter, cupcakes: TOPPINGS!!! Arranging the toppings is half the fun, and I've found that it really inspires me to get creative and expand my repertoire of fruits, seeds, and nuts.

Here, I'll give you my basic Smoothie Bowl formula, along with a few actual recipes. If you have a blender or food processor, you'll be in liquid heaven in no time.

The basic formula is this:

[Smoothie Base]
1. Tasty, filling fruit such as banana or avocado (yes, avocados are fruit!). This will yield a Smoothie Bowl that's viscous enough to top with 
2. Awesome extra fruits (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, kiwi, etc. etc.)
3. Handful of baby kale or baby spinach leaves (you won't even taste them!)
4. Liquid of your choice (I like to use kefir, a fermented yogurt drink, but you could use milk, soy milk, almond milk, juice, or even just a little water)
5. Nut or seed butter of your choice (cashew butter, peanut butter, tahini, almond butter, etc.)
6. This is peculiar to me, but I prefer NO ICE! That said, if you like ice, throw it in. You do you.

[Smoothie Toppings]
1. Sliced fruit of your choice (the prettier the better)
2. Nuts or seeds of your choice (I like my chia seed/flaxseed/hemp see blend, but you can just go buck wild here–get creative! I haven't tried a single topping yet that hasn't tasted great on a Smoothie Bowl)
3. Anything else you want! Edible flowers–why not? More banana or a dollop of yogurt or nut butter? Go for it! Decorating is where it really gets fun. The prettier it looks, the more you'll want to dig in.

SMOOTHIE BOWL #1: Banana-Avo Berry Bomb

1. Place your smoothie base ingredients in the bowl of food processor or blender: 1 ripe banana, half a ripe avocado, 1/3 cup kefir (or non-Greek yogurt). Blend till smooth. Pour into a bowl.

2. Top with blueberries, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, raspberries and almond butter.

SMOOTHIE BOWL #2: Raspberry-Almond Power Seed Bowl

1. Place your smoothie base ingredients in the bowl of food processor or blender: 1 ripe banana, a cup of raspberries, a big dollop of almond butter, and 1/3 cup kefir. Blend till smooth. Pour into a bowl.

2. Top with blueberries and raspberries, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.

SMOOTHIE BOWL #3: Avo-Berry Fig Delight

1. Place your smoothie base ingredients in the bowl of food processor or blender: 1/2 ripe avocado, 1 ripe banana, 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/2 cup blueberries, handful baby spinach leaves, 1/3 cup kefir, and dollop of almond butter. Blend till smooth. Pour into a bowl.

2. Top with sliced strawberries, sliced figs, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.

The 50 Healthiest Things On Earth, and My Quest to Eat Them All

Welp. This always happens. I chug along, blogging when I can, and then–BOOM! Life gets crazy. The blog falls to the wayside.

I'll spare you the I've-been-busy spiel (haven't we all?). Let me just get right into what's inspiring me right now: Time Magazine's 50 Healthiest Foods of All Time.

For the last decade, I've been on a quest to figure out how we should be eating (I'm using the royal "we" here–I simply want to know how should be eating; if you agree, come along on my journey; if not, you do you). I've read all of Michael Pollan's books. I've researched eating organically, sustainably, and vegan. I've looked into Paleo diets, the Whole 30 diet, gluten-free diets, juice cleanses, low-carb diets–you name it, I know what it means and what the rules are.

In my quest to unearth The One True Way To Eat, I've found an enormous amount of conflicting information. The "Forks Over Knives" Fan Club eschew animal protein in favor of a fully plant-based diet; the Paleo Pack takes grains and dairy out of the equation; the Anti-Carb Collective is busy chowing down on bacon and eggs... How is anyone supposed to know what's truly healthy? And where does that leave me, a lifelong member of the Everything In Moderation Society?

Well, it leaves me where I am today, which (as I've mentioned before) is a label-less, conscientious omnivore. When I stumbled upon the 50 Healthiest Foods list, I was really excited to see almost every variety of food represented–grains, veggies, fruits, dairy, meat. The list looked a lot like the inside of my fridge on a good day (let's not discuss those leftover-cold-pizza and Pinot Grigio days).

Lately, inspired by the 50 Healthiest Things Ever, I've been making what I call "Nourish Bowls." They're exactly what they sound like: big bowls of nourishing, good-for-you ingredients that you'll actually want to eat. Below, I'll give you a specific recipe, but here's the basic formula, so you can create your own:

1. Cook a whole grain of your choice: wheat berries, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, barley, etc. until chewy. Drain any excess water and place in a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, saute onions/shallots/leeks/allium of your choice in olive oil/coconut oil/butter/fat of your choice for a few minutes.

3. Peel and dice a sweet potato (1/2" dice) and add to the onions, then add 1 cup water, turn the heat up, and boil the potatoes until tender (adding more water as needed if the pan gets dry before the potatoes are tender).

4. Chop 1-2 green veggies of your choice: broccoli, kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, etc., and add them to the sweet potatoes and onions.

5. Pick a nut of your choice (walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.) and a dried fruit of your choice (prunes, cranberries, apricots, cherries, etc.) and add them to your drained grains along with a fresh chopped herb of your choice (cilantro, parsley, dill, etc.).

6. When your veggies/potato mixture is cooked till everything is tender, drain any excess liquid from the pan, then toss all those ingredients into your grain/nut/fruit bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

7. Top your Nourish Bowl with a protein of your choice (tofu, chicken, boiled egg, steak, seitan, etc.). Top with a homemade or store-bought sauce, and enjoy!

Here's the specific recipe you see in the photos today:



1 cup wheat berries
2 T. coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small sweet potato,diced
1/2 head of broccoli plus some stem; cut into small florets and stem diced
2 handfuls kale, sliced
7-8 dried prunes, sliced
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
2 T. smooth natural peanut butter
squeeze of Sriracha sauce
about 3 T. soy sauce
about 2 T. rice wine vinegar
juice of one lime
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Cook wheat berries according to package directions (my package said it would take an hour; mine took more like and hour and 20 minutes; my wheat berries didn't soak up all their liquid, so when they were tender, I just drained them through a sieve). Drain if needed and return to cooking bowl.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil, then add onions and sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes. Add 1 cup water, turn the heat up, and boil so the potatoes get tender (you may need to add more water as you go if the pan gets dry before potatoes are done).

3. In a separate pan, heat a little more oil over medium high heat. Drain and pat a half a block of extra firm organic tofu dry, then cut into 1-inch blocks. Sear the tofu on all sides until it's golden brown. Set aside.

4. When potatoes are nearly tender and most of the water has evaporated from the sweet potatoes pan, add the broccoli and kale. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, turn the heat down a bit, and cook until all veggies are tender.

5. Add the prunes, walnuts, and cilantro to the wheat berries bowl. When the veggie mix is done, drain any excess water from the pan, then toss the veggies with the grains.

 7. To make sauce, combine peanut butter, Sriracha, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and lime juice in a bowl and whisk till smooth.

6. Plate your Nourish Bowl and top with the tofu. Pour the sauce over the bowl and enjoy!

Thanks, Michele: Nutella-Almond Drizzle + Banana Pancakes

Michele Ferrero, the legendary Italian billionaire who created Nutella (and many other delicious treats), passed away on Valentine's Day. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that his creations personally touched my life. I love Nutella (who doesn't?), and every year on Christmas, my grandfather gives me Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates, because he knows I adore them.

As a simple and delicious tribute to his empire, I made banana pancakes with a nutty Nutella drizzle. This is a simple recipe, but it's indulgent and gorgeous, so whether you're hosting brunch, or just staying in and hiding from the Arctic temperatures, it's the perfect thing to wake up to. It's snuggles on a plate.

I used this banana pancake recipe, and the only thing I changed was to double the amount of bananas (I pretty much double the amount of bananas in any banana baking recipe). For the sauce, I simply combined Nutella with a little almond butter, added a dash of cinnamon, and thinned it out to drizzling consistency with milk. Top it all with sliced bananas, and you have a stunning morning treat.

It's been frigidly cold here in New York, and a stack of warm, freshly griddled pancakes oozing with Nutella might be the only thing that gets me through the rest of winter in one piece. Hope you enjoy this, and happy cooking! :)

Makes 8-10 pancakes, depending on the size (I make huge pancakes)


1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
2 eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons melted butter
more butter for frying
more bananas for slicing/serving

1/4 cup Nutella spread
1/4 cup almond butter (or substitute unsweetened, natural peanut butter)
1/4 cup milk
dash of cinnamon


1. In a bowl, mash your bananas really well. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and milk.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder, and whisk with a fork to combine.

3. Add the flour mix to the banana/egg mix, stirring until just combined (do not overmix). Stir in the melted butter.

4. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat (I usually have it set on a 6 out of 10 on my stove). Melt a little butter (or use vegetable oil if you prefer), and scoop some pancake batter into the pan. When each pancake gets little bubbles that appear on the uncooked side, it's usually time to flip it. Repeat until your batter is gone.

5. In a small saucepan, combine the Nutella, almond butter, and cinnamon over medium heat. Stir to combine, and whisk in milk once the mixture is hot, adding the milk a little at a time until the sauce reaches the consistency where you can drizzle it on without it being too thick.

6. To serve: stack some pancakes on a plate, and drizzle the Nutella sauce over them. Top with sliced bananas and a dash of cinnamon if you want. Enjoy!

A Whole New Take on Valentine's Day: Dinner + Dessert Recipes

I've had a few requests for a Valentine's Day dinner idea, so I came up with something that's not only elegant and delicious, it's actually EASY! Who wants to spend the most romantic night of the year chained to the oven (there has to be a 50 Shades of Grey joke in here somewhere...)? The point is to spend time with your Valentine, not your cutting board! These recipes shouldn't take you more than an hour or so combined; make sure to make dessert first, so it's ready for you after dinner.

A great Valentine's Day dinner is a delicate dance: you don't want anything too heavy, but you don't want to be starving, either. You don't want anything that's overly garlicky or spicy, but you certainly don't want something bland. You want something that feels special, but you don't want something cliche (surf 'n' turf, I'm looking at you). I've designed this menu to achieve all of those things.

I think serving a whole fish feels really special. You don't eat whole fish every day, and they're not even that common on restaurant menus. But it's actually super easy to find really well-prepped whole fish these days (the trout you see here are available via FreshDirect; they're the whole butterflied rainbow trout, and they're consistently fresh and delicious). Eating fish prepared this way makes me feel close to nature, and it feels really indulgent without actually being too heavy or filling. It's the perfect amount of food.

I think a root vegetable puree (one of my go-to's, honestly) really elevates a dish and looks gorgeous on the plate. Celeriac (the root of the celery stalks we're all familiar with) is one of the best root vegetables to prepare this way; it's surprisingly delicious and creamy. Haricot vert round out the plate and add some color and crunch.

As for dessert, you could, of course, go with a classic chocolate mousse or flourless chocolate cake, but haven't you had that a ZILLION times before? I propose this: Lavender and Cocoa Nib Scones with Nutella. Yes, SCONES! Yes, NUTELLA! It's light, delicious, and unexpected. (And you can have the leftovers for breakfast in bed the next morning.)

Lavender and cocoa nibs are the new "It Couple" of flavor pairings. The floral, earthy lavender perfectly complements the pleasant bitterness and fruity bite of the cocoa nibs. And Nutella, does for the scones what a bottle of champagne does for a romantic evening. It just brings it all together.

Whether you're planning a romantic Valentine's Day dinner with your love, or planning a night out with your crew, I hope your February 14th is filled with love :) Happy cooking!




2 whole butterflied trout
olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Meyer lemons
4 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup whole wheat Panko crumbs
2 Tablespoons dried currants
3 shallots, halved and sliced, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
2 large celeriac bulbs, trimmed and peeled with a vegetable peeler
4 cups whole milk
1/3 lb. haricot vert
1/2 cup heavy cream


For the Celeriac Puree:

1. Add the milk to a large pot and bring to a boil. Cut the celeriac in quarters, then chop down the quarters into smaller pieces. Salt the boiling milk (turn down the heat a little so it doesn't boil over), and add the celeriac. Cook until the celeriac is very tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Get a food processor or blender ready. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the celeriac pieces to the food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter (cut into smaller pieces), and spoon in about a half cup of the celeriac cooking liquid. Process until it's very smooth, stopping to add more cooking liquid if it's too thick. Taste and add salt if needed.

For the Trout:

1. Preheat oven to 375. Get a baking dish ready, and spread a little olive oil in the bottom of the dish so the fish doesn't stick (you could also use a nonstick spray). Dry the outside of the fish off with paper towels. Open the fish up so the inside flesh is exposed and season with salt and pepper. Zest one of your Meyer lemons directly over the fish flesh, getting some zest evenly distributed on the inside of the fish.

2. Meanwhile, heat a saute pan over medium-high. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and a little olive oil. Saute half your shallots, seasoning with salt and pepper, until beginning to be translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and currants and cook one more minute. Add the bread crumbs and stir around so they're evenly coated in the butter and oil. Cook for 1-2 more minutes. Set aside.

3. Get 6 slices of Meyer lemon ready (slice into rings, not into wedges). Spoon some of the breadcrumb/currant mixture on to one side of the flesh of each fish. Top the bread crumbs with three slices of lemon per fish. Top the lemons with some freshly chopped tarragon. Fold the other side over the fish. Season the skin side of the fish with salt. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the flesh of the fish is cooked through. If your fish are quite large, you may need to cook them longer; just take them out of the oven and peek inside the flesh to see if it's opaque white. If it's not, cook it longer.

For the Haricot Vert + Tarragon Cream:

1. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Add a little olive oil. Saute the remaining shallots until beginning to be translucent. Add the remaining garlic and cook one more minute. Add the haricot vert, and squeeze the juice of half a Meyer lemon over it, then add 1/4 cup water to the pan. Cook until all the water has steamed off and your pan is dry again. Season the haricot vert with salt and pepper and toss around the pan a bit.

2. Scrape the haricot vert and most of the shallots/garlic in the pan aside, but do NOT wipe out the pan. Turn the heat to high and add your cream, boiling to reduce and thicken. Add some fresh tarragon to the cream, season with salt and pepper, and add some Meyer lemon zest. If it gets too thick, add a little water a Tablespoon at time.

To plate:

Spread some celeriac puree on a plate, top with the fish, arrange the haricot vert nicely on the plate, and top the fish with the cream sauce. Enjoy! 


1 and 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
6 Tablespoons butter, cold, and cut into small pieces
4-5 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg
1 Tablespoon lavender buds
2 Tablespoons cocoa nibs
Nutella (the amount is up to you)


1. Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, and rub the butter into the flour until the pieces of butter are smaller and well-incorporated.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and 4 tablespoons of the cream. Add to the dough and stir until it just comes together. If the dough is too dry, add the other tablespoon of cream. Add the lavender and cocoa nibs. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times, just until you can form the dough into a circle, patting it down to be about an inch thick.

3. Cut the round into 6 triangles. Place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray. Brush with a little extra heavy cream and sprinkle a little sugar on each scone. Bake for about 10 minutes, until scones are puffed up and golden brown.

4. For serving, split a scone in half and spoon some Nutella on the inside. Enjoy!

Little Changes Add Up: Whole Wheat Muffins + Cauliflower Bolognese

I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person. I'm either fully committed to eating well and exercising, or so far off the wagon that I wouldn't see it if it rolled over my face. I'm told that creative people tend to operate this way, so I'm not alone. Right now, thankfully, I'm still firmly on the wagon, and I'm getting pretty crafty about modifying recipes so that they're better for my heart.

These two recipes have little modifications that, I believe, over time can really add up to better health. "Being healthy" isn't something to be achieved overnight–Rome wasn't built in a day, and my cholesterol isn't going to drastically change after one salad. Being healthy is something we all have to work at daily, amidst life's little roadblocks (like Bagel Fridays at my office–it's so hard to turn down FREE bagels!). Rather than swear off everything you love all at once, the key to creating nutritious eating habits you'll want to stick to is making small changes while respecting the flavor and integrity of the food.

Today I have two recipes–one for muffins, one for pasta bolognese–that have little modifications that make them healthier. They're simple switches, and I promise, you won't miss any of the flavor.


MODIFICATION #1: Swapping whole wheat flour for white flour
This is a pretty easy switch. Whole wheat flour is a better nutritional choice, and in a rustic breakfast muffing, the added texture it brings is a welcome addition.

MODIFICATION #2: Using olive oil instead of vegetable oil or butter
I love using olive oil in sweet baking applications. It brings a bit of earthiness along with its heart-healthy benefits–plus, I always have it on hand!

MODIFICATION #3: Adding flax seeds
Flaxseeds, long a staple of the hippie pantry, are a relatively new addition to mine. They're tiny and have no real flavor, so adding them only slightly changes the texture of the muffins. Health-wise, they're real power players.


MODIFICATION #1: Using whole wheat pasta
You guys know I love my whole wheat pasta. It's so filling, it's extra chewy, and honestly, it just makes me feel better about the amount of pasta I eat (which is a lot!).

MODIFICATION #2: Swapping half the meat in the bolognese with cauliflower
Meat, even lean meat, is quite calorie-dense. Cauliflower is packed with nutrients and filling fiber but has very few calories–WIN-WIN!

I hope you find these recipes as delicious as I did–maybe even so delicious you forget they're healthy ;-) Happy cooking!

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Banana-Oat Muffins

and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled (not instant) oats
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T. flax seeds
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium bananas)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin liners or spray with cooking spray.

2. In a bowl, combine flour, oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla, flaxseeds and banana.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.

4. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way up with batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until muffins are fluffy and a knife inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, or eat them warm like I do :)

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Pasta with Cauliflower Bolognese

16 oz. whole wheat pasta, such as penne or rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
1 large celery rib, small dice
pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh oregano leaves, chopped
fresh thyme leaves
1 package 93% lean ground turkey
1/2 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets, then florets cut into small pieces
One 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1-2 cups water, as needed 
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
grated Parmesan for serving


1. Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then add the onion, celery, and red pepper flakes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and fresh herbs, and cook until it's browned in spots and some of the moisture has evaporated.

2. Add the tomatoes and all their juices and the cauliflower, again seasoning with salt and pepper. Add enough water to just cover all the ingredients in the pot. Keep uncovered and cook until cauliflower is tender. Let some of the steam evaporate so the liquid reduces.

3. When cauliflower is tender, stir in the heavy cream, taste, adjust seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Cook, letting the sauce thicken, for about 5-8 more minutes. Meanwhile, cook your pasta in boiling salted water. Drain, then return to cooking pot. Ladle some of the sauce over the pasta and toss it all together. Top with Parmesan. Enjoy!

No-Cheese January Continues Its Reign of Terror + Almost-Cheeseless Butternut Squash Lasagna Recipe!

Not eating cheese is just The Absolute Worst. I basically spend all my time counting the days until January is over (although, to be fair, I always count the days until January is over, because January is low on the list of Months I Enjoy), imagining the feel of a ripe Brie on my tongue, or envisioning the beautifully arranged cheese plate I'll treat myself to on February 1st. I've read that cheese is actually physically addictive, and now I know that to be true, because I am experiencing withdrawal.

However, like any imposed limitation, scarcity gets my creative juices flowing (anyone remember the MasterChef canned foods Mystery Box challenge?). When it becomes a real challenge is when I want to make a dish that's traditionally chock-full of cheese. If anyone can figure out a way to make cheese-free macaroni and cheese, I'm all ears (and no, making it with vegan soy cheese doesn't count). Americanized lasagnas are usually made with lots of ricotta (because this is America and WE LOVE CHEESE); traditionally, lasagna is made with bechamel, a milk-based (but generally cheeseless) sauce. I like it both ways; I make it both ways. But in No-Cheese January, I make it the no cheese way. DISCLAIMER: I still used freshly grated Parmagiano Reggiano for this recipe, because I know most of you are not on a cheese embargo. See?! Do you see the sacrifices I make for you guys?!

Honestly, when I took the first bite of this lasagna, I didn't miss the ricotta. I didn't miss the gooey mozzarella on top (okay, maybe I missed that a little). The creaminess of the pureed butternut squash and the richness of the bechamel come together to create a very simple, very satisfying lasagna that really honors the butternut squash and doesn't overpower it with dairy. The sage flavor is really allowed to sing here, too. The sausage makes for a nice textural variation and rounds out the dish, but you could leave it out and the lasagna would be just as good. Since this lasagna is really quite simple, take the extra time and make the pasta yourself–it really adds something here.

If any of you have gone on a January Cleanse of any kind, may the force be with you all. And, for the love of cheese, may February hasten its inevitable return. Happy cooking!



For the pasta dough:

- 2 cups all purpose or 00 semolina flour
- 3 eggs, preferably organic and free-range
- drizzle of olive oil
- pinch of kosher salt

For the sage bechamel:

- 1/2 stick of butter
- about 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- about 3 cups milk
- 7-8 sage leaves, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the butternut squash mix and sausage:

- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and sliced into semi-circles
- drizzle of oilve oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup bechamel sauce
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 4 good quality sweet Italian pork sausages, casings removed


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast till very tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Get a food processor ready to go.

2. While the squash is roasting, make the bechamel: melt the butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Whisk in about 1/2 cup of the milk, whisking quickly to remove any lumps. Add salt and pepper. Whisk in the rest of the milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook till thickened, about 20 minutes.

3. Transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the egg, the bechamel, parmagiano, and butter. Process until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

4. Heat a pan over medium high heat. Cook the sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through. Drain any excess fat away and set aside.

5. Make the pasta dough: place your flour in a bowl and mix in the salt. Make a well in the center of the dough and add your eggs and oil. Use a fork to whisk the eggs, pulling in flour from the outside as you go. Mix until the dough starts to come together, then turn out onto a work surface and knead the dough, pressing it together if it's really shaggy. It will take 3-4 minutes to really come together into a ball. Keep kneading for 5-6 more minutes, until you have a smooth, uniform, dough that's not too sticky. Flour the board lightly as you go to prevent sticking. When the dough is done, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Don't skip the resting!

6. When you're ready to roll your pasta out, have a little flour nearby in case your pasta gets sticky. Cut the ball of pasta into 6 smaller pieces. Roll the first piece out with a rolling pin till it's about 1/4" thick. Set your pasta machine on the widest setting (the first setting) and run your dough through, repeating each setting twice, then turning to the following (thinner) setting. Repeat until you've used all your dough. Set aside on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with some semolina.

7. Begin to build your lasagna: spread some bechamel across the bottom of a baking dish. Add a layer of pasta dough (you do not need to par-boil your pasta if you are making the lasagna right away). Spread some squash mixture on top, then add some sausage and more bechamel. Grate some Parmesan over that, then add the next layer of pasta and repeat till you've used all your ingredients, reserving about a cup of the bechamel. Spread the remaining bechamel over the top of the final pasta layer, grate some Parmesan over it, and make it pretty with some whole sage leaves.

8. Bake at 375 for about 40-45 minutes, until the edges are bubbly. If the bechamel is getting too dark, cover it with foil until it's done baking.

9. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then cut into squares to serve. Enjoy!

Villainizing Carbs is SOOOO 2014: Plus Two Simple, Healthy Recipes

I have a confession. Over the holiday break, I had my cholesterol checked for the first time since high school. I was living by the "ignorance is bliss" mantra; frankly, I didn't want to know. When I finally faced the music, the news wasn't great: my cholesterol is "moderately elevated," which is a fancy way of saying, fix it now before medication has to fix it for you.

I think that, on the whole, I eat healthfully; my love of cooking ensures that I eat plenty of whole, unprocessed foods, and my love of fruits and veggies makes it easy to get my 5 a day. My love of cheese, however...well, it makes it easy for my LDL cholesterol (the "bad" one) to climb higher than it should. To be honest, my cheese-eating had gotten a bit out of control. I began treating cheese as the base of the food pyramid, instead of the triangle at the top. I wasn't respecting the cheese. So, for January at least, I gave it up. Isn't easy. Isn't fun. But I'm sticking to it–at least till February 1st.

Many of the foods that lower cholesterol are the same foods that are eschewed by adherents to popular diets, most notably, whole grains. I think that with the recent onslaught of "fat is good, grains are bad" think pieces, it's easy to convince oneself that stuffing your face with a half-block of aged cheddar is somehow "healthy." Sadly, it isn't. Just as eating a diet based mostly on grains isn't, either. It always comes down to balance, doesn't it?

I think one of the most maligned, and most misrepresented foods, health-wise, is pasta. So many of us have this "pasta is evil" attitude programmed into us from years of living in a post-Atkins-Diet America. But like the French Paradox, there's also an Italian Paradox; Italians, by and large, are thinner and healthier than Americans, and they eat pasta–frequently. They don't think it's a special treat, and they don't think it's unhealthy. It's simply one of the many things they eat (balance!).

But the way they eat it is different. For one thing, the thought of an "Endless Pasta Bowl" would horrify them. They eat pasta as its own (small) course, then move on to a meat course (also small). They eat slowly, savoring each bite, drawing meals out over hours. Their pastas are overflowing with seasonal vegetables–the pasta isn't simply a vehicle for cheese or a heavy sauce. Most truly Italian pasta sauces are quite light, and olive-oil based instead of butter-laden. When I make pasta at home, I try to keep the Italian spirit in mind. I embrace the well-documented health benefits of olive oil and garlic, I let tomatoes play a starring a role, and, when I look at my final bowl, I aim to have my bowl be about 40% pasta, 40% vegetables, and 20% protein. I also cook with good-quality whole wheat pasta more often than not, which I find to have a pleasing chew and to be sumptuously filling.

My point: making any one category of foods completely off-limits can be, well, limiting. Remember that whole grains are an important source of fiber, and a crucial part of anyone's diet who may be trying to eat meat less frequently or more conscientiously. When grains share a plate with lots and lots of veggies and fruits and some lean protein, they're not the devil–they're just part of the balance.

Without further ado, the two recipes I'm sharing today are whole-grain based, with lots of other heart-healthy things thrown in. And because I will never sacrifice flavor, they taste awesome! Here's to a heart-healthy 2015! Enjoy and happy cooking :)


Serving size: about 3


about 8 oz. whole wheat pasta–a short pasta such as rigatoni or penne
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, the florets halved or quartered
2 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
juice of one lemon
2 T. capers
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 jar good-quality Italian tuna packed in spring water, drained and broken up with your fingers
chopped fresh parsley


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then salt the water generously. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is about 2 minutes shy of being al dente (so, firmer than you'd want it at the end).

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan that's deep enough to hold your broccoli and eventually your pasta. Saute your red pepper flakes, onion, and garlic for about 3 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.

3. Add the broccoli, lemon juice, and capers, and cover, cooking until the broccoli is bright green and just tender.

4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta directly from its cooking water to the pan, then scoop out about a 1/2 cup pasta water and add it to the broccoli/pasta pan. Turn the heat to high, stirring and cooking it until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tuna and top with the parsley. Enjoy!



1 cup rolled (not instant) oats
2 cups water
pinch of salt
squeeze of honey (or maple syrup or agave)
generous dash of cinnamon
1 whole apple, cored and diced
splash of milk
1 T. flaxseeds
2 T. chopped almonds (or as much as you like)

1. Bring the water to a boil with a pinch of salt and add the oats. Turn the heat down to medium.

2. Add the honey, apple, cinnamon, and flaxseeds. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add the milk. Cook the oats to your desired consistency (I like mine to have some texture, so I do about 10-12 minutes). Stir in the almonds and top with more almonds if you like. Enjoy!

How Travel & Adventure Fuel Culinary Inspiration: #JacksonJourneys Recap

A few months back, I got a Facebook message from my friend Tiffany, who runs Offbeat + Inspired, one of my favorite blogs. She and I had struck up a friendship over the summer when we co-hosted a dinner in Lexington, KY, where she lives. She had an urgent question: "Can you go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming with me and my blogger friend Jana?"

Jackson Hole?! I LOVE Jackson Hole. I'd been with my family before, but it was, well...almost 20 years ago. My only memory of it was that I absolutely adored it. The mountains, the horses, the winding roads... It's paradise. The catch? I had to leave in a week. Some things, though, just work out, and I got the time off work to head to Wyoming with a good friend, and a soon-to-be good friend to shoot a video for Jeep.

I've gotten a few really opportunities since MasterChef ended, but this one was by far the most epic. I won't work with brands I don't believe in; I really, really like Jeep. So to get to drive around a brand-spanking-new (red!) Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel through one of the most gorgeous places on earth with two of the coolest chicks I know? Sign me up. Full disclosure (because advertising lawyers are scary–trust me, I know): I got paid to do this; the whole trip is sponsored by Jeep. (But let me be the first to tell you: it didn't feel like work!)

Without further ado: here's the video!

The idea: we'd be "glamping" (glamorous + camping = Glamping). We'd visit local shops to style our gorgeous campsite, create a fabulous outdoor meal with the help of a world-class chef, and snap as many photos as we could along the way. All in all, not a bad gig, right? The weather was gorgeous; the scenery was postcard-perfect; and the company was superb. We started our Jackson Journey as friends; we ended it as sisters.

The real highlight for me (food nerd that I am) was visiting a local farm to dig up–literally–ingredients for our dinner. The closest I get to farming in New York City is visiting the Union Square Greenmarket. But actually digging up beets and carrots myself? That was untrodden territory. The work we did on the farm (note: we did about .001% of what the workers there do on a given day) gave me a real understanding of the sheer amount of human effort it takes to grow the delicious ingredients we cooks often take for granted. Working on a farm is no joke, and I walked away with an even deeper appreciation for the men and women who give life to the things I rely on to live my passion.

The dinner itself was gorgeous. Picture it: golden sunset light filtering through the aspen trees, California rosé sparkling like a pink gemstone in everyone's glasses, and horses galloping by in the near distance as we toasted to new friends and our beautiful surroundings.

The best times we had in Jackson Hole were the moments I could never do justice to in any photo or caption: cruising down the mountain-lined roads with friends, giggling and giddy, music turned up, laughing at newly-minted inside jokes and stopping for bad gas station coffee. Of all the good things that have come my way since MasterChef ended, going on this adventure with Tiffany and Jana tops the list–no contest.

But it wouldn't be an adventure without food, right?! We were incredibly lucky to get to work with Chef Wes Hamilton, a local chef with a really impressive resumé. He's the real deal: he runs the Couloir restaurant, one of the most respected in Wyoming. He's got mad skills, and he's a super humble dude. It was an honor to help him prepare the camp meal.

We also visited Persephone Bakery, an adorable and cozy space filled with the most delicious pastries and freshly baked bread you could imagine. While others sipped tea and nibbled on brioche buns, we bopped around with our phones and cameras, snapping pics (bloggers gonna blog, am I right?). We also learned how to make marshmallows from scratch; I usually hate marshmallows, but when they're freshly made, it's a whole other ball game. They were light, ethereal, and scrumptious. Just goes to show, no matter how much you know about cooking, there is always something new to learn, and I left feeling completely inspired–or maybe that was just the sugar high ;-)

Below, I've included some recipes for a meal inspired by the one we made with Chef Wes (we enjoyed bread from Persephone to start the meal). These are not exactly what we and Chef Wes created, but they're in the same spirit. Enjoy!

Thanks for coming along on our Jackson Journey. I can't wait to share more post-MasterChef journeys with all of you! Happy cooking!



1 hanger steak for every 2 guests you want to serve
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh parsley, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
a few bunches farm-fresh baby carrots (rainbow carrots if you can find them), peeled and halved
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 bunches fresh mustard greens, chopped
1/2 white onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
loaf of fresh bread, sliced, for serving and sharing


1. Heat a Dutch oven or large pan over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pan, then add the carrots, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down and stir in the sugar. Stir to melt. Add a little water, turn the heat down, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender.

2. Heat another Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Melt the 2 T. olive oil with the 2 T. butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the sherry vinegar to deglaze. Add the mustard greens and about a cup of water. Turn the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes, until the greens are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. Fire up a grill (if you're outside). If you're inside, get a grill pan screaming hot. Ideally bring your steak to room temp, and liberally season it with salt and pepper. Place it on the oiled grill and leave it–don't touch. Flip it after 3-4 minutes (maybe less if the steak is very thin; more if it's quite thick). Cook on the other side until the steak is medium-rare or cooked to your liking. Set aside on a cutting board to rest.


The Butteriest All-Butter Pie Crust + Apple Pie Recipe!

Sing it with me: It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And no, I’m not talking about reindeer, jingle bells, or majestic conifers. I’m talking about BUTTER SEASON! November officially kicks off that two-month span when it’s totally acceptable to do nothing but wear your fluffiest socks and stay inside all day, baking up a storm. Yes, it gets dark at 5 PM, but if it means I can be elbows-deep in butter for two months straight, I’ll take it.

What better way to kick off this glorious season of baking than with an apple pie? A gorgeous, homemade, lattice-topped pie fresh out of the oven is like a warm hug from your Grandma. I love that it’s as classic as it gets, but it’s still possible to put your own stamp on it. My version has a cheddar crust (BECAUSE CHEESE!), a warm spice mix to punch up the apples inside, and a maple-bourbon whipped cream (trust me on this one–it’s a showstopper).

Spiced Apple Pie with Organic Valley Butter and whipped cream made from Organic Valley heavy cream.

Spiced Apple Pie with Organic Valley Butter and whipped cream made from Organic Valley heavy cream.

Speaking of showstoppers, this is a really exciting post for me, because I got to work with an amazing stop motion artist to turn my pie recipe into an amazing video! Check out how epic/adorable this is: 

When you’re making an all-butter crust for pie (as I prefer to do), the quality of the butter is really important. Pie crust is really just butter, flour, and water, so the better your butter tastes, the better your crust will taste. I bake with Organic Valley salted butter. Some cooks prefer unsalted butter, but I like my crusts on the savory side, so the salted variety works for me.

Use a really good quality cheddar for this. And don't buy pre-shredded–put some muscle into it!

Use a really good quality cheddar for this. And don't buy pre-shredded–put some muscle into it!

The key to a super flaky crust: visible chunks of Organic Valley butter. And channeling your grandma's energy, of course.

The key to a super flaky crust: visible chunks of Organic Valley butter. And channeling your grandma's energy, of course.

Butter is one of those ingredients where I can tell a HUGE difference in flavor between organic and conventional–there’s just something about organic butter that tastes more, well, buttery! And there are plenty of reasons to use organic dairy besides just that it tastes better: cows that are treated well, farms that respect nature’s delicate balance, and no sketchy additives snuck in along the way, to name a few. 

I know you’ll love this recipe–tell me how yours turned out in the comments! Happy Butter Season, everyone! And happy baking!

Lemon zest adds a nice, bright kick.

Lemon zest adds a nice, bright kick.

QUICK TIP: Transfer your bottom dough from your work surface to your pie plate by rolling it around your rolling pin, then unrolling on top of your pie plate. Tear off a piece of raw dough and use it to pat the dough down into the pie plate edges.

QUICK TIP: Transfer your bottom dough from your work surface to your pie plate by rolling it around your rolling pin, then unrolling on top of your pie plate. Tear off a piece of raw dough and use it to pat the dough down into the pie plate edges.



2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling out
pinch kosher salt
1 cup cold Organic Valley butter, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 cup grated extra sharp, good quality cheddar
5-6 Tablespoons ice-cold water
Sugar for sprinkling 


1.    Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter or use a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the flour, leaving visible butter chunks throughout. Add the cheese and mix around with your hands. Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together.

2.    Turn the fough out onto a lightly floured board and fold it over itself a couple times, pushing the dough together with your hands so it sticks in a ball, but not kneading it or over working it. Fold it over a couple times until you can form it into a circular, flattened shape that's not too sticky. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.


6 firm apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of cardamom
pinch of cloves
zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons Organic Valley butter
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk 


1. Preheat the oven to 425.

2. Toss the apples with the sugars, spices, lemon zest, and flour.

3.  Roll out 1/2 the pie dough in a circle that's about 12" round.

4.  Transfer the dough to a 9" pie plate and press down gently so the dough gets into the pie pan crease. Fill the dough with the apples.

5.    Dot the remaining butter on top of the pie filling

6.    Roll out the remaining dough to another 12" circle. Cut the circle into 1" wide strips. Lay the first strip long ways across the top of the pie; place the next strip horizontally along the bottom of the pie. Continue to layer the strips, lifting up alternate strips as you go to weave the topping into a lattice, until the pie is covered, with spaces in between the pie weave.

7.    Fold the edges of the bottom crust over the edges of the lattice, pressing together to seal the crusts.

8.    Brush the entire top of the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake for 25 minutes at 425, then lower the heat to 350 and bake for 45 more minutes. Cool to room temperature before slicing.


1/4 cup good-tasting bourbon
2 T. pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 pint Organic Valley heavy whipping cream 

Use the best ingredients in your whipped cream; this is not the time to cut corners! I use Organic Valley heavy whipping cream, Bulleit bourbon, and pure Vermont maple syrup. Good in, good out.

Use the best ingredients in your whipped cream; this is not the time to cut corners! I use Organic Valley heavy whipping cream, Bulleit bourbon, and pure Vermont maple syrup. Good in, good out.


1.    In a saucepan, boil the bourbon until it's reduced to 2 Tablespoons. Stir in the maple syrup and cook for a few more minutes. Cool to room temperature.

2.    Meanwhile, whip the heavy whipping cream with the cinnamon in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir in the maple-bourbon mix with a spatula. Refrigerate until ready to use.


How To Give Leftovers New Life + Spiced-Up Brunch Recipe!

Growing up, my brothers and I firmly believed that my mom only served leftovers. We somehow forgot about all the meals she made throughout the week that inevitably culminated in one night of cleaning out the fridge. As my mom knew all too well, wasting food is such a bummer, and I try to avoid it as much as I can. Cooking as often as I do for just myself and Ross leads to inevitable excess, however, so I try to be as creative and crafty as possible when it comes to using up ingredients and scraps. I like to think of opening the fridge as my at-home version of lifting up the Mystery Box.

Just like when I'm making a meal from ingredients I just bought, when I remix leftovers into a new creation, I stick roughly to the protein/carb/vegetable/sauce formula. I try to keep my flavors geographically harmonious (i.e., if I have leftover ginger, bok choy, and rice, I stick to Asian flavors; if I have tomatoes, mozzarella, and bread crumbs, I keep it Italian in spirit). I always strive for a flavor and texture balance; can I get savory, spicy, sour, and sweet notes into my dish? Can I make it crunchy, chewy, and smooth, so I'm varying what I bite into as I eat? It's not always possible to do all of those things, but I try to accomplish at least a couple.

This brunch dish was inspired by a few mostly-empty jars and almost-gone fresh ingredients that had accumulated over the week: half an avocado, the last quarter cup or so of heavy cream, a mostly empty jar of capers, two lonely eggs, and some bread that was threatening to go stale if I didn't toast it. With the addition of a little harissa (which lasts forever in the fridge) to bring in a spicy, intriguing element, and some fresh cilantro to brighten everything up, a delicious savory breakfast was born. A little Italian, a little North African, a little New American–it has it all. And I had it all just sitting around!

So don't fear what's in your fridge–use it! Get creative, and remember: when in doubt, EVERYTHING goes with eggs. Happy cooking!



- 2-3 slices soppressata or other leftover cured meat, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 slice good quality bread
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 teaspoon prepared harissa
- about 1/3 cup heavy cream
- fresh cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and then the soppressata. Cook the soppressata for a few minutes, until it's crisping up and some of the fat has started to render out.

2. Add the capers and the eggs. Scramble the eggs, then set aside and wipe the pan out, but leave the heat on.

3. Toast the bread and slice up the avocado.

4. Put the harissa in the still-hot pan. Whisk in the cream and cook for a few minutes, until the sauce is reduced and thick.

5. Put the avocado on top of the toast, and put the scramble on top of the avocado. Top it with the sauce and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

My New Ingredient Obsession + Easy Party Snack Recipe

If I'm feeling like I need an infusion of cooking inspiration, I go ingredient hunting. Finding that one, special new thing I haven't cooked with before can be the catalyst for dozens of new recipe ideas. This ingredient, however, found me: Calabrian peppers, my newest obsession. A friend brought them over for a pizza night at my place, and I was instantly hooked after the first taste.

These tiny, red little bundles of joy pack the perfect amount of heat, balanced by a pleasingly salty, vinegary bite. They hail from Calabria, Italy (the toe of the boot!), a place where they take spice very seriously. Lest you think these peppers are simply a spice-addict's dream, they're so much more than that; they're deeply flavorful and surprisingly complex. They're so tasty, I'm always tempted to eat them straight from the jar, but they're hot enough that they need to be tempered by something else. I've chopped them up and put them on pizza, I've stirred them into sauces, I've baked them into pasta, and now–as a woman on a mission to consume them in every possible form–I've figured out a way to both eat them for breakfast and serve them to party guests!


First, let's talk about the Calabrian pepper cream cheese. This isn't so much a recipe as it is two ingredients coming together to be more than the sum of their parts. Add the Calabrian peppers and some cream cheese to a food processor, mix, and presto! The most interesting cream cheese you've ever tasted. Your bagel routine will never be the same.


Anyone can slap some cream cheese on a bagel, so I wanted to use it in a more creative way. Knowing that holiday party season is just around the corner, I thought that snackable party food was the perfect way to go. I had some leftover pizza dough and sopressata (also from pizza night), so it all came together with the Calabrian pepper cream cheese. Once you have the pizza dough made, this recipe is unbelievably simple. You could whip it up for a party in 30 minutes flat. Full recipe below. Happy cooking!



2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
10-15 Calabrian peppers, top stems removed


Place the peppers and cream cheese in a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides with a spatula as necessary, until evenly mixed.



1 ball pizza dough [I use this recipe]
1/2 cup Calabrian pepper cream cheese, or more as needed
12-15 slices Sopressata, sliced into 1-inch by 1/2-inch strips
grated Parmesan cheese
fresh thyme leaves for garnish (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Get a baking sheet ready and line it with parchment paper.

2. Roll the dough out till it's about 1/4-inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips. The average ball of dough will yield 8-10 strips.

3. Use a spoon to spread the cream cheese along the length of each strip of the dough. Place strips of the sopressata along the cream cheese, pressing down slightly to make them adhere to the cream cheese.

4. Grab the dough strips by each end, and twist them around a few times to make the dough into a loose corkscrew shape. The cream cheese will help the sopressata adhere, but a few strips may fall off; you can just tuck them back in once the dough is on the baking sheet.

5. Lay each twist on the baking sheet and grate Parmesan cheese over each of them.

6. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and fully cooked. Remove from the oven, cool, and serve!

Acorn Squash Two Ways: A Subtly Sweet Cake + Savory Soup

Winter squash is pure sorcery. Every time I cut into a butternut squash, I think about that old fable where the porridge pot overflows until it destroys an entire town in its mushy wake. You buy a squash and think, "Hm. This squash is a reasonable size." And then you take it home and start cutting into it, and you realize, as your kitchen counter becomes completely overtaken with pale orange cubes, that you have purchased the never-ending squash. After a cooking gig I did recently, I had a squash glut on my hands: kabocha, delicata, acorn, butternut. It was taking over my counter space. And my life. Something had to give.

Since a single squash yields so much edible goodness, I knew I couldn't tackle my squash issue with just one recipe. To conquer the squash, I had to puree. I had to bake. I had to get really creative. I was perusing cake recipes and found a pumpkin yogurt cake that sounded delicious. Rather than schlep out to buy a can of pumpkin puree, I replaced the pumpkin with the same amount of roasted, mashed acorn squash (me: 1; squash: 0). And with the remaining acorn squash that remained, I threw it (along with some carrots that were haunting my veggie drawer) into a big pot with some chicken stock, spices, and coconut milk, and I had myself a soup (I'm now facing a soup glut, but that's another story...).

The soup is rich, slightly sweet, warming, and exotic–the perfect bowl of healthy yumminess to curl up with on a crisp day. And the cake came out great. Not too sweet, with an earthy "what is that?" quality that makes it really unique. With a cup of good coffee, it's sublime.

More good news: both these recipes are incredibly easy. So if you find yourself with an abundance of winter squash, don't panic. Keep calm and cook on. Happy cooking!



2 tablespoons coconut oil (other other oil)
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 acorn squash, peel removed and cut into chunks (or other hard winter squash)
5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, diced, with seeds (or removed seeds or omit if you don't like heat)
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 box low-salt chicken broth
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. turmeric
salt and black pepper
cilantro and sliced jalapeno for garnish


1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and jalapeno, seasoning with salt and pepper, for a few minutes, until getting a little soft.

2. Add the carrots and squash, then add the spices and more salt and pepper. Stir around, coating in the oil.

3. Add the coconut milk and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook until the squash and carrots are very tender.

4. With a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the squash/onion/carrots out of the cooking liquid and into a food processor, and process, using a little cooking liquid if needed, until you have a smooth puree. (You might have to do this in two batches).

5. Return the puree to the cooking liquid and stir until mixed. Thin out with a little more chicken broth if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Reheat to steaming and serve, garnishing with cilantro and sliced jalapeno if desired. Enjoy!


ACORN SQUASH YOGURT CAKE (adapted slightly from


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (I used salted)
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup roasted and mashed acorn squash (or pumpkin puree, or other squash puree)
1 cup Greek yogurt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Butter a 12-cup bundt pan (or spray with nonstick spray) and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine, flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder, mixing to combine.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add sugar, vanilla extract, and butter, and mix until fluffy.

5. Beat in eggs one at a time.

6. Add yogurt and squash puree and mix until combined.

7. Add dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just incorporated.

8. Scoop into bundt pan and bake for about an hour, until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

9. Cool for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or cooling rack. Let cool, then slice and enjoy!