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Warm Winter Meals…my go-to’s

11 Dec


Let’s you and me warm up with some cozy winter meals. I am rounding up a few of my go-to warm recipes that I find myself craving again and again.

Chicken Marbella: This chicken never fails to please…makes the house smell so cozy!

African G-Nut Stew: Savory recipes that call for peanut butter make me swoon.

Green n’ Yellow Risotto: Nothing screams warmth like a piping hot bowl of creamy risotto.

Mushroom Etc. and Sausage Ragu over Polenta: Cheesy polenta + Savory Sausage + Quickly Sauteed Veg

Lasagna! Layered pasta filled with veggies, basil, and ricotta. With a touch of fresh nutmeg for good measure.

Minestrone Soup. Warm broth, hearty beans, crusty bread.

Quiche. The savory pie that can be eaten morning, noon, or night.

Get your ovens preheating and your stove-tops flaming because it is time to warm things up for the cold winter ahead of us.


Dinner Party For Rosh Hashanah

3 Oct

An excuse to have friends over for dinner and to cook a hearty Jewish meal… The menu:

  • Round Challah Bread, Roasted Garlic
  • Apples Dipped in Honey (Catskill Provision Honey)
  • Chicken with Figs
  • Israeli Couscous with Pomegranate Seeds, Feta, Chickpeas, Cucumber, Radishes, and more
  • Quick Asparagus and Green Bean Saute
  • Wine
  • Root

A small glimpse of the meal:

Pretty Pretty Blue Hydrangeas

Round Challah Bread; Apple Walnut Cake

Couscous Salad in the Making…(pre-couscous)

Flowers, Apples & Honey, Couscous Salad

Kosher Chicken #1 in the Pyrex, Before Baking

Kosher Chicken #2 in Cast-Iron, After Baking

Quick Green Bean Saute

Dinner is Served, Come & Get It

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For…Honey Ice Cream!

Rugelach, Homemade Jewish Cookies…you can’t just eat one

And there you have it. Just a small taste of the lovely meal that was enjoyed by many.

Sweet and Savory Quinoa Salad

2 Jun

I’ve got another quinoa salad for you. This time I packed it with roasted cauliflower, spinach, garlic, lemon zest, dried apricots, golden raisins, and Marcona almonds. I also threw in some leftover chopped roasted chicken.

I roasted my cauliflower at a high heat (about 450-475 degrees F) and I lightly sprinkled on some Middle Eastern spices. Hawaji is a spice from Yemen, it is made of cumin, black pepper, turmeric, and cardamom. Sumac powder comes from the sumac fruit and is a red in color, and provides a tart element in cooking. Sumac is essential to making za’atar, a mix of ground sumac berries, sesame seeds, and crushed dried thyme. I also used a sprinkle of za’atar on my cauliflower. Typically za’atar is used on flatbreads and in yogurt or with kebabs or veggies.

(P.S. I researched my spices using Jill Norman’s herbs&spices)

In addition to a nice subtle flavor, I really loved the yellow-red color that the spices gave to the cauliflower. This went nicely with the green spinach and orange apricots. The whole theme of this quinoa dish is a play on the salty almonds with the sweet dried fruit, the savory roasted vegetable with the garlicky spinach and tangy lemon zest. I almost threw in some chopped mint, but in the end I decided to leave it out just for simplicity sake.

This dish would be smashing with a nice cinnamon roast chicken or a brisket or a fish or on its own with some flatbreads and yogurt dip. In other words, this dish goes with pretty much anything. Enjoy!

Sweet and Savory Quinoa


Quinoa with Middle-Eastern Spiced Cauliflower, Spinach, Marcona Almonds, Golden Raisins, Dried Apricots, and Lemon Zest

**After rinsing my quinoa I put in in a wide and relatively shallow pot to toast with some garlic (just as you would make rice). The quinoa was still a bit wet from the rinse, but as it kept toasting on the dry pan, eventually it dried and started to do its thing (I’m not positive about the need to rinse quinoa, I’ve definitely made it without rinsing and it turns out fine, too).

1 head cauliflower, chopped
olive oil
spice mixture (Hawaji, Sumac, Za'atar--or any spices you fancy...tumeric, cumin...) **you can also use harissa and spread it over the cauliflower before baking
1 cup dry quiona, rinsed
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped in half
2 cups water (or broth)
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used golden raisins and chopped dried apricot)
1/2 cup marcona almonds
1 teaspoon lemon zest
optional: chopped chicken or garbanzo beans

1. Preheat oven to about 450 degrees F. Place your chopped cauliflower on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle just a touch of olive oil. Add a small sprinkle of salt, and your spices. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes.

2. Have your 1 cup of dry quinoa ready. Heat your pan and add the quinoa with the garlic and toast for about 5 minutes. Add your 2 cups of water (or broth) and bring the mix to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mix starts to boil, add the spinach and reduce the heat to low. Cover and let quinoa sit for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the roasted spiced cauliflower, dried fruit, almonds, lemon zest, and chicken or beans. Serve with cracked black pepper.

Want MORE QUINOA recipes?

Steph’s Granola

Pumpkin Chickpea Quinoa with Haricot Vert and Almonds

Roasted Beets, Sauteed Chard (and Yuba) Quinoa

Quinoa with Greens, Grapefruit, and a Runny Egg

Chicken Pizza with Broccoli, Kale, and Lemon

25 May

Today I spent an hour cleaning only half of the refrigerator and let me tell you, it was not a pretty site. We’re talking spills of who knows what that must have occurred who knows when. These spills had overtime created a nice crevice to cake onto and into. I was on my hands and knees scrubbing away at the mess, taking shelves out, getting sprayed by my own sink, slipping on the water that dripped onto the floor.

Today I found a hidden mold creature in my backpack. After taking a closer look I realized that it was a dried apricot from 2 months ago that somehow got stuck to the bottom of the backpack and had begun growing a rancid-smelling and deep gray-green mold. I quickly zipped up the bag and threw it in the corner. I am still contemplating whether I should just suck it up and clean my backpack or just throw it away and never look back.

Today I took a walk to the farmer’s market. I am sort of in this in-between phase where I don’t want to buy too many groceries because I am skipping town for good in 4 days but I need just enough to get me by until then. Anyway, I bought some kale and broccoli and then I made a pizza for myself for dinner. I ate my pizza alone in my empty (literally no furniture except my bed and desk) apartment, staring blankly into my computer screen.

Of course while I was making this beautiful pizza I felt so inclined to munch on everything in site. And then after I ate this beautiful pizza I proceeded to eat a bowl of cereal after. Why? For silly reasons of sheer boredom, laziness, and comfort.

I love food. I love sharing food. I love the idea of food. But sometimes, actually a lot, I feel the need to shove my face for emotional reasons. I’m trying to work on that. Let’s just say its an ongoing process that has its ups and downs. I’m sure many of you can relate. Or not. Whatever. I’ll beef it up with myself.

Well as the old saying goes, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Make this pizza, try not to munch while its baking, enjoy it at a table and not on the floor of your deserted apartment, enjoy it with a friend or a family member, and drink a beer with it instead of a bowl of cereal. Ok?

Great. Because this pizza really deserves more credit than I gave it tonight. It is easy to prepare (especially with Trader Joe’s amazing already made pizza dough). I guess that lately I’ve been into the whole approximating of ingredients (aka lazy method) cooking and recipe writing. Again, whatever, that must mean I’m a good enough cook, right? And you should be, too.

Chicken Pizza with Broccoli, Kale, and Lemon

makes 1 pizza

*Note 1: As you can see below, I really just approximated everything

**Note 2: If you really want to impress, check out the Pioneer Woman’s BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ingredient Ideas

1 breast of chicken

barbecue sauce

1 pizza dough (from Trader Joes, homemade, or whatever you prefer)

some sauce

some cheese (I used pepper jack and Parmesan)

Some sliced garlic

Some curly kale

Some broccoli

Some lemon zest

A squeeze of half a lemon

Preparation Ideas

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Salt your chicken breast. Coat the breast with barbecue sauce on both sides. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. When done, chop it into bite size pieces.

2. Turn the oven up to 475. Stretch your pizza dough into a nice shape and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet sprinkled with a mix of flour and cornmeal (I love the crunch of the cornmeal on the bottom of my pizza crust, mmm!).

3. Spread your dough with some sauce, cheese, veggies, more cheese, chicken, lemon zest, and lemon juice squeeze. Bake for about 10-15 minutes.

>Lemon Chicken Breast with Pan-Roasted Veggies

16 Nov

Leftovers for lunch. What a rare occasion these days. I mean, I do love making sandwiches, but sometimes I just crave a little variety…

Over the weekend, I attended a cooking class in Napa Valley at Whole Foods Market where we made this totally amazing
Moroccan rack of lamb with couscous and fall vegetable ragu

(complete with harissa (red) and chemoula (green) sauces mmm):

The cooking class was part of Sprouts Cooking Club, a cooking program for children in the Bay Area. This class, however, was part of an ADULT series. (Check out their website for more info:

After the class, there were a ton of leftover vegetables and so I took a few home to use for my own pan-roasted vegetable recipe: fennel, beautiful green top carrots, broccoli, and turnip.

The pan-roasted veggie recipe is so simple and any vegetables can be used. I love all the colors-orange, green, yellow, white…

Pan-Roasted Veggies

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics

serves 4

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 white turnip, 1-inch dice
2 carrots, 1-inch dice (preferably from carrots with the greens attached)
1 large fennel bulb, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 head of broccoli, chopped
4 fresh sprigs if your favorite herb (rosemary or thyme are great)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
**I also added a splash of balsamic to my veggies at the very end!!

Melt the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan that has a tight-fitting lid. When the butter is melted, add everything and toss with the butter. Cover the pan and cook over low-ish heat for 10 minutes. Take the lid off and stir. Cover again and continue to cook for another 5 or so minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

**If you want to double this recipe, make it in 2 batches or use 2 12-inch saute pans. You want to the vegetables to brown on the bottom as well as steam in their own juices.

To go along with my vegetable array, I made a very simple roasted lemon chicken. Saute garlic in olive oil, add some wine, lemon zest and juice, and oregano, plop the chicken over the sauce and roast. Bam.

Leftovers for lunch. Yum yum yum. Aaaannnnd I can take a decent photo of my lunch-leftovers because during the fall/winter, natural lighting is not really feasible for dinner-time photos.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Breast

From Barefoot Contessa

serves 4

1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (I used rosemary)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (roughly 6 oz each)
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 X 12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.