RESET: Pinto Bean & Kale Soup

If you need a reset after the countless cookies, pies, cakes, and who knows what else you ate over the holidays, this Pinto Bean & Kale Soup is for you!

The soup takes less than 30 minutes to make and is full of flavor, vitamins, color, and still fits the comfort food label. I used defrosted pinto beans from Camellia beans I cooked in my pressure cooker and defrosted chicken broth. If you want to make this soup vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth. For a vegan version, leave out sharp cheddar.

RESET: Pinto Bean & Kale Soup
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, diced (no need to peel)
3 celery ribs, peeled, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
salt & red pepper flakes to taste
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups cooked pinto beans
4-6 cups chicken broth (depends on how thick you want the soup to be)
chopped parsley
sharp cheddar, shaved

1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt and red pepper flakes and saute for 10 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add kale. Saute for a few minutes until kale has wilted.
3. Add beans and chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Serve topped with parsley and cheese and a side of toast.

This soup keeps well for days in the refrigerator and is great as leftovers.


Raw Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, And Carrot Slaw

Raw Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, And Carrot Slaw is the perfect way to use winter produce literally in minutes! This slaw is colorful, crunchy, keeps well in the refrigerator, and is basically negative calories dish: you'll burn more calories chewing ;)

I had a bunch of produce from my latest Washington's Green Grocer order and instead of roasting the Brussels sprouts and making a cabbage soup, decided to thinly slice all the vegetables and mix in the beautiful pomegranate arils. 

For the dressing, I used tangerine juice, olive oil, and whole grain mustard. You can use as little or as much of each of these ingredients depending on how spicy or sweet you want the dressing to be. In fact, feel free to add a bit of honey or lemon juice.

Also, I used a food processor to shred my vegetables. You can use a knife or a mandoline if that's what you have.

Raw Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, And Carrot Slaw

Brussels sprouts, shredded
carrots, thinly shredded
red cabbage (or purple) thinly shredded
pomegranate arils (leave some for garnish)
salt and pepper
olive oil
fresh tangerine juice
whole grain mustard

1. Combine the vegetables in a very large bowl. 
2. Sprinkle most of the arils on top, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, tangerine juice and top with a few tablespoons of whole grain mustard. 
3. Gently mix to combine: you don't want to crush the pomegranate arils.
4. Serve in individual bowls topped with extra arils.


Bulgur Winter Salad With Preserved Butternut Squash, Cotija, And Smoked Almonds

If you think salads are only for hot-weather months, think again. Bulgur Winter Salad With Preserved Butternut Squash, Cotija, And Smoked Almonds is bursting with color and a combination of sweet, salty, and crunchy flavors that will make the winter blues go away if only for a short while.

A few months ago I took Domenica Marchetti's workshop to learn about preserving. One of the recipes surprised me: did you ever consider preserving butternut squash!? Neither have I, but Domenica was correct: preserved squash is such a fun and unexpected idea. The squash retains its gorgeous orange color and crispy texture and is paired with mint and dried chili peppers. 

You can find the recipe for the squash here, or in Domenica's Preserving Italy book. 

In Preserving Italy Domenica shares a recipe for Farro Salad With Preserved Winter Squash And Dried Cherries, which I adapted and simplified to fit my tastes and the contents of my refrigerator and pantry. I used bulgur instead of farro, smoked almonds instead of hazelnuts, cotija instead of ricotta salata, and left out honey and vinegar.

Bulgur Winter Salad With Preserved Butternut Squash, Cotija, And Smoked Almonds

cooked bulgur
dried cherries
thinly sliced shallot
preserved butternut squash
cotija, crumbled
olive oil
salt to taste
smoked almonds, chopped

Layer ingredients on a plate or mix in a bowl.


Easy AF Dessert: Fudge With Walnuts & Flaked Sea Salt

Easy AF Dessert: Fudge With Walnuts & Flaked Sea Salt

This fudge is totally ridiculously easy to make but will have everyone so impressed! Plus, it's a great no-bake dessert that can be made days ahead, is easy to transport, and can be easily customized with different add ins: nuts, peanut butter cups, m&ms, etc!

1. In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat melt together 3 cups of semi sweet chocolate and 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk by stirring constantly. 
2. Turn the heat off and add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts. Mix to combine. 
3. Immediately spread the mixture into a parchment lined 8×8 baking dish and smooth with an offset spatula. 
4. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt and carefully press into the surface. 
5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
6. Cut into small pieces and share. 


No Soggy Bottom Apple Crostata Recipe

No Soggy Bottom Apple Crostata is a great recipe to make to bring to a friend's house or to have for a casual but impressive dessert. I bet it'd be even great for breakfast with coffee, but I didn't end up with any leftovers to test out this hypothesis.

Last week I saw a gorgeous photo of a pear crostata and decided to make one with apples using leftover pie dough from mini chicken pot pies

My biggest concern was WILL THERE BE A SOGGY BOTTOM? You see, I was planning on bringing this dessert to a friend's party and would not know about its success or failure until the actual party.

Luckily, the dessert was a complete success, and there was no soggy bottom!

No Soggy Bottom Apple Crostata Recipe
1 pie crust dough (I bought mine)
1 large Fuji apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 egg, whisked
sugar in a raw
2-4 tablespoons apricot jam
powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Roll out your pie crust dough.
3. Arrange apple slices on the dough in a pretty design overlapping slightly and leaving about 1/2" edge. 
4. Fold over the edge and brush with the egg wash.
5. Sprinkle the entire crostata with sugar in a raw.
6. Bake crostata for 30 minutes.
7. Remove crostata from the oven and brush the apples gently with the jam. Bake for 10 more minutes.
8. Allow the crostata to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).

The crostata tasted great at room temperature. The bottom was cooked through and held up well! 


Individual Chicken Pot Pies Adapted From SkinnyTaste One And Done

I've been wanting to make a chicken pot pie for months and finally decided to just do it last weekend. Did you know I used to work at KFC when I was in high school!?

I used a recipe from Gina, aka skinnytaste, as my inspiration, but changed a few things as always ;) Gina's new cookbook Skinnytaste One and Done has a recipe for her Mom's Skillet Chicken Pot Pie, but I thought for easier portion control I would make individual ones. 

I used fresh carrots and only rotisserie chicken breasts instead of the entire chicken and added parsley at the very end. I wish I also would have added potatoes, because I love potatoes!

Be careful about how much salt you use because I slightly oversalted mine not taking into an account the salt level in the chicken and chicken broth. Overall, this was a super easy recipe to make, good to freeze, and to have on a cold day like today.

Individual Chicken Pot Pies Adapted From SkinnyTaste
Makes 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 large rotisserie chicken breasts, diced
1/3 cup chopped parsley
3 3/4 cups chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add onions, carrots and celery, and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes.
3. Add frozen peas and corn, chicken, parsley and 2 cups of chicken broth. Cover and bring to a rapid boil.
4. Whisk together the remaining broth with the cornstarch and add to the chicken mixture. Simmer for 6 minutes stirring occasionally as the filling thickens.
5. Divide the filling into 6 ramekins (mine were about 1 1/4 cups capacity) and cover with cut out circles of pie dough. Crimp the edges. DO NOT MAKE SUPER FANCY POLKA DOT DESIGNS BECAUSE THE FILLING WILL BUBBLE OVER! JUST MAKE A FEW SLITS IN EACH TOP INSTEAD. SOMETIMES BEING FANCY DOESN'T PAY OFF.
6. Whisk an egg and brush each crust.
7. Bake the pot pies on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes and allow to set for at least 10 minutes before digging in.


Meatless Monday: Green Beans With Pomegranate & Smoked Almonds

If you are looking for what to do with green beans, look no further! Green Beans With Pomegranate & Smoked Almonds is a gorgeous side to serve with your meal and is a great contender for your Christmas meal if you celebrate that holiday because of the vibrant green and red colors.

If you don't celebrate Christmas and just love pomegranate seeds and smoked almonds, make this immediately!!

Green Beans With Pomegranate & Smoked Almonds

green beans
olive oil
red pepper flakes
pomegranate molasses
pomegranate seeds
smoked almonds, chopped
parsley, chopped

1. Cook the beans in boiling salted water for a few minutes. Drain and dry on a paper towel.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the beans and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute until the beans are browned.
3. Serve the beans drizzled with pomegranate molasses and topped with pomegranate seeds, smoked almonds and parsley.

What are YOU cooking?


What To Do With Leftover Fresh Cranberries: Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins

What To Do With Leftover Fresh Cranberries: Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins

Happy almost Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful to my friend Erica for inviting me to join her family for Thanksgiving tomorrow. She asked me to bring flowers, but I also wanted to bake something for her and her husband and daughters to have for the day after Thanksgiving.

I found this recipe from Dessert for Two and two things stood out: fresh cranberries and sour cream!

I followed the recipe exactly, but doubled it. I made the mistake of not reading the directions clearly and ended up putting all the topping on top of the muffins instead of layering it...it still turned out great! The combination of tart cranberries and sweet streusel is stellar. I'm keeping a few for myself and bringing the rest to Erica. These would be so good with coffee! Or champagne ;)

Hope you have a very delicious day!


What To Cook When You Are Sick: Matzo Ball Soup With Broccoli Rabe, Carrots & Chicken

Good thing about being single and childless when you are sick is that you don't have to take care of anyone other than yourself. Ok, I do have to take care of my plants...

Not so good thing about being single and sick: you are the only one who will take care of you.

I've been with a cold (oy) for about a week and was SO happy that I had a mix of maztzo ball soup in my pantry (aka a kitchen cabinet).  I supplemented the mix with a few extra ingredients and had soup for days!

1) Add a healthy amount of turmeric to the broth and a sliced jalapeno
2) In the last 10 minutes of the cooking process add sliced carrots and broccoli rabe and defrosted (or fresh) rotisserie chicken
3) Garnish with parsley

This was so good, I even had leftovers for breakfast.

Here's to feeling healthy soon!


Easy Entertainment: Chili & Cornbread

Cooking for a crowd? Chili and Cornbread is your answer for easy entertainment. I had a few friends come over last Sunday for an arts & crafts lesson and wanted to serve something filling, delicious, but without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

Chili and cornbread is a great idea because you can make chili a day in advance and use a cornbread mix!

Easy Entertainment: Chili & Cornbread

for the chili

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 celery ribs, peeled and diced
2 green peppers, diced
2 pounds ground beef
to taste: chili powder, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, smoked bourbon paprika, salt & pepper
4 cups pinto beans {I cooked mine in a pressure cooker, but you can use 2 cans of beans}
4 cups black beans {I cooked mine in a pressure cooker, but you can use 2 cans of beans}
2 cups chickpeas {I cooked mine in a pressure cooker, but you can use 1 can of beans}
1 can corn
2 cans diced tomatoes

for the cornbread
1 tablespoon butter
1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup corn (defrosted or fresh or canned)
1 jalapeno, sliced

1) Heat a large heavy bottomed Le Creuset or an equivalent on medium heat. Add oil and allow to heat.
2) Add onion, celery, and peppers and saute for about 10 minutes.
3) Add the spices and saute for another few minutes.
4) Add ground beef and saute until the meat is no longer pink.
5) Add all the beans, corn, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for a few hours.
6) Make the cornbread as you normally would, but add corn into the mixture and top with jalapenos before baking. I made mine in a cast iron skillet that I preheated in the oven and then let the butter melt inside before adding the batter.

Now let's talk about toppings: I provided cheese, scallions, and sour cream. My friend Sarah brought avocados and salsa. Colleen and Allison brought wine and dessert, and Ming brought canvases and paints for us to use for the art project.

What's your idea of easy entertainment? 


Radicchio & Roasted Squash Salad from Now & Again Cookbook from Julia Turshen

Thanksgiving is a few weeks away and maybe you've already started planning your menu, or maybe just like me you have a few butternut squashes sitting around and are looking for a fun recipe to make with them.

Either way, the Radicchio & Roasted Squash Salad from Julia Turshen's Now & Again Cookbook is a great way to use your butternut squash. My friends at OXO sent me a copy of Julia's book and a few kitchen tools. 

The book is divided into seasons and presents menus and recipes based on special occasions for each. If you, like me, love leftovers, Julia provides plenty of ideas for those too. 

If you've read my blog, you know I love oxo tools. One of my favorites is the angled measuring cup. I had the 2 cup capacity cup and am happy to add the mini one to my collection (see the photo below). I used the cup to measure 4 tablespoons of vinegar for the dressing in the recipe, which equals 1/4 cup.

I have many peelers, but this new one from oxo has a great grip, is light weight, has a swivel blade, and had no trouble peeling the tough skin of the butternut squash. I gave my old peeler to a friend!

Finally, I added fresh parsley to the salad and used oxo's Greensaver Herb Keeper to store the leftover parsley in my fridge. I love that the container is tall and doesn't take up too much space and allows the air to circulate around the herbs which makes them live longer: less money in the garbage!

And now the recipe!

Reprinted  from  Now  &  Again  by  Julia  Turshen  with  permission  by  Chronicle  Books,  2018 
Radicchio  +  Roasted  Squash  Salad 


This  salad  is  especially  great  for  the  holiday  not  only  for  its  wonderful  fall  flavors  but  also  because  it’s  hearty  and  can  sit  on  a  buffet  table  for  hours  without  losing  any  integrity  or  flavor.  In  fact,  you  can  mix  the  whole  thing  up  to  a  day  before,  refrigerate  it,  and  then  bring  it  to  room  temperature  before  serving. 

If  you  can  find  delicata  squash,  try  it  (just  seed  it,  no  need  to  peel it).  Note  that  if  you  can’t  find  squash  (or  if  you  dislike  it),  sweet  potatoes  make  an  excellent  substitute. 

3  lb  [1.3  kg]  butternut  squash,  halved  lengthwise,  tough  skin  peeled  and  ends  trimmed  and  discarded,  seeded,  and  cut  into  1-in  [2.5-cm]  pieces 
¾  cup  [180  ml]  olive  oil 
Kosher  salt 
Freshly  ground  black  pepper 
2  Tbsp  Dijon  mustard 
1  Tbsp  honey  or  maple  syrup 
¼  cup  [60  ml]  apple  cider  vinegar 
1  garlic  clove,  minced 
3  heads  radicchio,  each  about  ½  lb  [230  g],  cored  and  thinly  sliced 

Position  one  rack  in  the  center  of  your  oven  and  a  second  rack  in  the  top  third  and  preheat  to  400°F  [200°C].  Line  two  sheet  pans  with  parchment  paper. 

Divide  the  squash  evenly  between  the  prepared  pans,  then  drizzle  each  pan  with  2  Tbsp  of  the  olive  oil  and  season  generously  with  salt  and  pepper.  Use  your  hands  to  toss  everything. 

Roast  the  squash,  stirring  once  or  twice  along  the  way  and  switching  the  pans  between  the  racks  and  rotating  them  back  to  front  halfway  through  the  roasting,  until  softened  and  browned,  about  30  minutes. 

Set  the  squash  aside  to  cool  down  a  bit. 

In  a  large  bowl,  whisk  together  the  mustard,  honey,  vinegar,  and  garlic.  While  whisking  constantly,  slowly  drizzle  in  the  remaining  ½  cup  [120  ml]  olive  oil  to  make  a  dressing.  

Season  to  taste  with  salt  and  pepper.  Add  the  reserved  squash  and  the  radicchio  to  the  bowl  and  use  your  hands  to  combine  everything  gently  (messy,  but  fun). 

Transfer  the  salad  to  a  serving  platter  and  serve  immediately  (or  within  a  few  hours;  it  holds  well  at  room  temperature). 

It’s  Me  Again 

Make  delicious  vegetarian  sandwiches  by  spreading  mayonnaise  on  both  sides  of  two  slices  of  bread,  top  with  your  favorite  melting  cheese  (such  as  Cheddar  or  Muenster),  and  add  a  large  handful  of  leftover  radicchio  and  squash  salad.  

Close  the  sandwich  and  cook  in  a  skillet until  browned  on  both  sides  and  the  cheese  is  melted,  about  1½  minutes  per  side  (the  mayonnaise  will  help  the  exterior  brown). 

Serve  with  mustard  and  pickles.  See  the  cover  of  the  book  if  you  need  any  convincing!  

This was such an easy recipe to make. I poured the dressing into the oxo squeeze bottle and drizzled it over the salad. That way you can easily store extra dressing in the refrigerator.

I had this salad for breakfast a few days and as part of dinner another night. I added fresh cucumbers and dried cherries to my leftovers!

Thanks oxo for sending me the book and the tools! As always, opinions are my own. I was not paid for this post. 


Rotisserie Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Rotisserie Chicken Enchilada Casserole is a great dish to make and freeze to have for meals after you come back from a vacation. That's exactly what I did before I flew out to Charleston to meet my twin and our two friends.

Of course you can make regular enchiladas by rolling the tortillas, but layering them in a casserole saves time. I used a rotisserie chicken breast, but you can use ground beef or even crumbled tofu. This dish turned out pretty well, but lacked in texture. I think adding corn and/or sauteed onions and peppers would have improved it.

Rotisserie Chicken Enchilada Casserole
This is not an exact recipe ;)

19 ounce can enchilada sauce
8-10 corn tortillas
14.5 ounce can of refried beans
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breasts
2-3 cups shredded cheese
fresh parsley, chopped
pickled banana peppers

1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) In a small baking dish pour a bit of the sauce. Then layer tortillas/refried beans/chicken/cheese/sauce.
3) Repeat to make 3 layers ending with the cheese and enchilada sauce.
4) Bake the casserole for 30 to 40 minutes and serve topped with parsley and banana peppers.

Not pictured: sour cream is a great topping as is salsa, guacamole and a bit of lime juice.

To freeze, allow the casserole to cool down completely, cut into pieces and freeze.

Thanks Kate and Anna for suggesting this :)


Pureed Cauliflower Soup With Za'atar And Parsley

Pureed Cauliflower Soup With Za'atar And Parsley takes minutes to make and can be vegan if that's your preference.

A few days ago I turned steamed cauliflower and chicken broth into a super quick soup right in my blender. What made this soup extra special were the toppings!

Pureed Cauliflower Soup With Za'atar And Parsley

steamed cauliflower
chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
chili oil
chopped parsley

1. Puree cauliflower and chicken broth in a blender. Season with salt and pepper. You want to start with two parts cauliflower and 1 part chicken broth and then add more liquid as needed.
2. Heat the soup in a small saucepan and pour into bowls.
3. Drizzle the soup with chili oil and top with za'atar and parsley.


Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti: Hostess Gift

Are you looking for a perfect hostess gift? Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti are not only easy to make, but make a perfect hostess gift that can be snacked on immediately or saved for a day after the party. Plus, you can make them a day or two ahead.

A few weeks ago I signed up to take Domenica Marchetti's workshop about food preservation on the beautiful Star Bright Farm. This Saturday, I drove to the farm with Domenica the day before the workshop and stayed in the guest house Helen and Mark, the owners of the farm, graciously made available for us. I wanted to bring something as a token of appreciation and decided to make one of Domenica's recipes from Ciao Biscotti (and also bring a bottle of wine). My parents taught me to never ever show up empty-handed.

I adapted Domenica's Orange and Pistachio recipe, but used dried apricots instead of pistachios, tangerine zest instead of orange, and almond extract instead of orange extract. 

This recipe used a new-to-me technique of whipping the egg whites separately, then adding sugar, and only then adding the egg yolks. 

Instead of packing the biscotti in a tin or a bag, I put them in one of my favorite oxo products: POP container!

These were a hit ;)

Apricot & Tangerine Zest Biscotti
Adapted from Ciao Biscotti and reprinted with the permission from the author

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egggs, separated
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
zest of 3 tangerines
3/4 cups vanilla sugar
1 cup diced dried apricots

Directions (I rewrote them in my own words. Domenica's directions are more thorough!)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Oil a large baking sheet.
3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl using a whisk.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with honey, olive oil, almond extract and tangerine zest.
5. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, whisk egg whites until foamy. Slowly whisk in the sugar, until the mixture becomes thick, glossy, and sticky.
6. Incorporate the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture, and then add the flour mixture and the dried apricots. Using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula, mix till all the ingredients are combined.
7. Separate the dough into two parts and form two logs on the baking sheet approximately 2 1/2 inches wide by 12 inches long.
8. Bake the logs for 20 minutes, then gently slide onto a cooling rack using a an offset spatula (I actually used two large fish spatulas) and cool for 20 minutes.
9. Lower oven temperature to 300F.
10. Slice the logs into 1/2 inch pieces and bake for about 8 minutes on each side.
11. Cool biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container.

You can use whichever extract you like and mix in other types of dried fruit or nuts or use a combination of all of the above!

PS No pumpkins were harmed in the makings of the biscotti ;)


Vegan Split Pea Soup In A Pressure Cooker Adapted From SkinnyTaste

It finally feels like Fall, which means it's soup weather (although for me, almost any weather is soup weather). If you are like me and love split pea soup, you'll want to make my vegan version of SkinnyTaste's Split Pea Soup in a pressure cooker! I added potatoes, because that's what my mom always does, took out the meat, and added a few extra spices.

Remember when slightly over two years ago I received a PowerPressureXL to play with in my kitchen? I've loved that pressure cooker and used it often, but a few months ago noticed that the non stick coating started to come off. Luckily, the company has rebranded itself into PowerQuickPot, updated its pressure cooker model and now has a stainless steel insert! I received the new model and tested it out by making the split pea soup.

Vegan Split Pea Soup In A Pressure Cooker Adapted From SkinnyTaste

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery ribs, peeled, diced
1 large Russet potato, peeled, cubed into 3/4" pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons bourbon smoked paprika
1 pound dry green split peas, washed well
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
chopped parsley for garnish

1. Set the PowerQuickPot to a saute setting. Add olive oil, allow to heat slightly, then add carrots, onion, celery and potatoes. Saute for 5 minutes.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, other than parsley, and mix to combine.
3. Set the PowerQuickPot to the bean setting. {Note, the bean setting was for 20 minutes. I used a quick release after 15 minutes.}

Adjust the seasoning and serve topped with parsley. Keep in mind the soup will thicken as it sits in the fridge.

This will be lunch today and tomorrow and the day after!

Thanks PowerQuickPot for my new pressure cooker! I'm giving the older version to a friend and sending her a link to a stainless steel insert.

Note: I received the PowerQuickPot as a gift. I'm not being paid for this post. All opinions are my own.


Quick & Easy: Fried Egg, Sweet Plantains & Avocado

Some meals are planned. Others are thrown together in minutes. At least that's how I cook.

Yesterday, I had a day off, lunch was put together in minutes from a bunch of random ingredients I had on hand.

Quick & Easy: Fried Egg, Sweet Plantains & Avocado

1. Defrosted cooked white beans became a white bean dip with a bit of salt, bean cooking liquid, chili powder, and fresh basil.

2. Fried egg.

3. Frozen and baked plantains from the night before were reheated in the same skillet with the fried egg.

4. Cut up tomato and avocado were sprinkled with a bit of salt.

5. Everything got a bit of a freshness kick from the lime juice.

Quick and easy!


Travel Tuesday: Burlington, Vermont

Earlier in September I flew to Burlington, Vermont for a mini solo vacation. I needed a break from DC, and was looking forward to a getaway full of cooler weather, new experiences, great food, and relaxation. I got it all, but the cooler weather.

This is a quick recap with some photos and a list of things I did, saw, and ate. Most of these recommendations came from my friends and social media followers, and I am here to return the favor and share them with you.

Vermont has been on my list of places to visit for a while, and I finally checked it off! The flight from DC was slightly over an hour and not too expensive. I stayed at an AirBnb close enough to the center of the city and walked to most places. Uber was my other mode of transportation and couldn't have been easier.

1) Honey Road (pictured above): This was probably my favorite meal by far. I was able to get a table outside around 5 pm and had a hard time deciding which dishes to order, because I wanted all of them! I ended up ordering hummus, whipped feta, lamb meatballs, and a charred octopus. Plus a cocktail. And dessert. I did not regret a single bite.

2) Willow's Bagels: perfect late breakfast spot. This place was recommended by a receptionist at the yoga place where I dropped in for a class (which was something I've never done on a vacation: highly recommend). I really liked that the bagels were thin and extra toasted. The smoked salmon and the yellow sliced tomatoes were dreamy!

3) Hen of the Wood: start with an oyster happy hour ($1/each), then move over to the chef's table for dinner, as I did. I loved seeing how the food was being prepared. My favorite dish was the toast with hen of the wood mushrooms, bacon and an egg. Again, I had no trouble getting a seat because I was there on an early side and solo.

4) Misery Loves Company: no photos because it was getting dark when I had dinner at this must restaurant with Carey. It was a great way to end my trip: sharing dishes, wine, and dessert and chatting about food, relationships, travel, etc.

Things to do
Shelburne Farms: I Ubered there from the city and it was beyond worth it. I took the tour of the farm and learned about sustainability, sampled cheese, saw beautiful cows, and had lunch. The tour also included the beautiful inn and garden. So picturesque!

Shelburne Vineyard: a quick Uber ride from the farm, this vineyard is not to miss. Sample the wines, walk around, and enjoy the nature.

Sangha Studio: drop in for a class or two and pay what you can. The studio provides mats and blocks.

Spirit of Ethan Allen: take a cruise around the lake!

Green Mountain Railroad Dinner Train: this was the first time I've ever taken a dinner train. I was nervous about sharing a table with strangers. I then was nervous about NOT sharing a table with strangers and having an entire table to myself, but the beauty outside of the windows, the food (I was surprised at how good it was!), and the grand service, made me happy I took this adventure.

Other mentions: take a tour of Citizen Cider, catch a movie at the Merrill's Roxy Cinema, walk through the farmers market.
Happy travels everyone!


Weekend Breakfast: Challah French Toast And Bacon

Who is ready for the weekend!? I know I am.

I wanted to share with you an awesome, super non Kosher, breakfast I made a few weekends ago from the freezer!

Weekend Breakfast: Challah French Toast And Bacon

You see, earlier this month I made an apple and date studded round challah for Rosh Hashannah and had my friend Sarah over with her son to help me celebrate. I sent Sarah home with a chunk of challah for her husband Nick, and froze the rest after slicing it.

In my freezer, I also had individually wrapped slices of bacon. I defrosted both the challah and the bacon overnight, and made breakfast in the morning.

For the bacon, I highly recommend you bake it in the oven on a wire rack set into a baking dish. I sprinkled mine with Cajun spice mix and baked at 430F for about 10 minutes on each side.

The challah French toast is super easy: eggs whisked with a bit of half and half. Challah slices dunked and cooked for about 3-5 minutes on each side.

Have a great weekend!

PS I used Molly Yeh's recipe for the scallion challah, minus the scallions and other extra flavors. I simply added about 3/4 of an apple, diced, and 12 dates also diced.


Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe

In need of a quick and easy vegan comfort food recipe!? I have you covered with Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe.

Did you miss me? I had a really fun vacation in Burlington, VT and then came back and got a cold and stayed home for an entire week. Oy.

After my vacation, I wanted something healthy but still comforting (you know how hard it is to go back to normal life after so much fun and good food and sleeping in and seeing new things). I decided to use red lentils from my pantry, dinosaur kale from my refrigerator and a few extra ingredients.

I basically did very little prep and dumped everything in my pressure cooker.

Vegan Miso And Coconut Milk Red Lentils With Dinosaur Kale Recipe
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups red lentils
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 bunch dinosaur kale, ribs removed and discarded, torn into pieces
2 cups miso broth
3 garlic cloves, chopped
13.5 ounce can coconut milk
chili powder, to taste

chopped tomatoes
olive oil
yogurt, optional

1. Add all ingredients other than toppings into a pressure cooker.
2. Stir to combine.
3. Set the pressure cooker to 8 minutes on beans/lentils setting.

Serve topped with chopped tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil or a spoon of yogurt or sour cream. A squeeze of lemon juice brightens up this dish really well. Fresh herbs will be good too.


Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad

If you are looking for a healthy meal that is made in less than 20 minutes and is not only colorful, but also has a ton of flavor, make my Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad.

I used defrosted cod, but feel free to use fresh fish. Also, I made my own Cajun spice, but you can buy a jar in your grocery store. If your Cajun spice doesn't have salt, add it to the mix.

This recipe will transfer you to a warmer climate (oh wait...it's a thousand degrees in DC!) and make you feel like you are on vacation. Don't hesitate to have a tropical boozy drink with this dish.

Cajun Spiced Cod With Charred Corn Salad

olive oil
Cajun spice

corn, charred, kernels cut off (I charred mine directly on the flame of the gas stove, but you can use a grill or a broiler, or simply cut off the kernels and saute them in a skillet)
tomatoes, diced
avocado, diced
red onion, chopped
cilantro, chopped
jalapeno, chopped
lime juice to taste
olive oil
salt & pepper

melon slices

1) Heat olive oil in a non stick skillet. Coat cod on both sides with the Cajun spice and saute for 2-4 minutes on each side depending on the size of the fish.
2) Combine corn, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, cilantro and jalapeno in a bowl and dress with lime juice, olive oil and salt & pepper.
3) Serve the fish with a side of the charred corn salad and a few slices of melon.


Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad

Raise your hand if you need to reset your eating after a weekend of tater tots, cake, Mexican food, ice cream, hot dogs, and zero exercise.

Oh, is it just me!? 

I present you with Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad aka big ass salad. This salad uses leftover baked red skinned potatoes and all the summer produce you have on hand. If you happen to be a hater of mayonnaise, use olive oil, which will make this salad vegan!

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Meatless Monday Salad

baked red skinned potatoes, cubed
fresh corn kernels
tomatoes, cubed
Persian cucumbers, cubed
cilantro, chopped
pickled red onions
salt and pepper to taste

The pickled red onions really make this salad! As far as how much of each ingredient to use, I say do as you wish. I had about the same amount of potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. If you want this to be more of a potato salad, add more potatoes!


Plum Almond Cake From Domenica Marchetti

Yesterday as soon as I saw Domenica Marchetti share a link to her Plum Almond Cake recipe on Leite's Culinaria, I decided that I would make it. Yes, another cake.

Miraculously, I had all the ingredients needed for the cake at home! {I did have to make my own almond flour from the slivered almonds, but that was really easy.}

Speaking of miraculous, and this has nothing really to do with the cake or the blog, but DEAR MEN: PLEASE STOP GHOSTING!!!! I suppose this also applies to women who do that. It's cowardly, unkind, and rude, and karma, hopefully will get you. I'm still waiting for that miracle of finding ♥.

Ok, back to the cake. I followed the recipe a hundred percent, and the results were stellar. My condo smelled sweet from the ripe plums, sugar, and almond extract. The cake had a tender inside and crusty outside, and took only minutes to put together. 

Above is the before photo: you add the simple batter to the spring form pan, the plop the halved plums, and top with the mixture of almonds, butter and sugar!

The photo below is the after. Please follow the instructions and allow full 20 minutes for the cake to cool. I did not, and mine broke in a few places, but still tasted awesome warm topped with sour cream!!! 

I had leftovers for breakfast with iced coffee.

Let there be cake!


Quick & Easy Pickled Red Onions With Sumac

One of the ingredients I always have on hand are onions. I add onions to soups, salads, thinly sliced into sandwiches, main dishes, and side dishes.

Pickled onions aren't only easy to make, but can elevate any dish and enhance its flavor.

Last weekend I made a quick batch of pickled onions without using any measurements and with an addition of sumac. It was so good and easy, I decided to make a second batch and to share the recipe with you.

Quick & Easy Pickled Red Onions With Sumac

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1 tangerine
white vinegar
a few dashes of sumac

Place sliced onions into a small jar. Add juice of tangerine and enough white vinegar to cover. Add sumac. Add the lid. Shake. Refrigerate for at least a few hours.

I've added these onions to a pulled pork sandwich, tuna salad, and a big potato salad that I'll blog about later this week.


Peach Upside-Down Cake from Secrets of the Southern Table by Virginia Willis

At the beginning of this year, I decided to make more recipes that will challenge my culinary skills. This past weekend, I did just that when I baked Peach Upside-Down Cake from Secrets of the Southern Table by Virginia Willis

I've been following Virginia Willis on social media for a while, and bought a ticket to a dinner she hosted in DC as soon as I saw it announced. The dinner was part of her book tour for the newly released Secrets of the Southern Table. I received a preview copy of the book from Virginia's publishers, and as soon as I tried the Peach Upside-Down Cake at dinner, I knew I'd have to make it. 

During the dinner I also tried and loved Virginia's shrimp and grits, but the highlight of the night was hearing about the new cookbook and the stories of Southern cuisine. Virginia researched the book for a year and shares stories of farmers, makers and growers, and immigrants who have impacted the food. You'll learn that Southern cuisine is not just okra, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken. The book includes recipes for dishes such as shredded beef arepas, Mexican chocolate pudding, tomato-ginger green beans, and chicken and butterbean paella.

But let's talk about cake for now!

This was my first time making an upside-down cake, and I was nervous. Would it come out as light and flavorful as Virginia's? Will it stick to the cast iron skillet? Will my friend who came over for her belated birthday celebration like it? Well, I had nothing to worry about.

PEACH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE from SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE by VIRGINIA WILLIS. Copyright © 2018 by VIRGINIA WILLIS. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Peach Upside-Down Cake
Serves 10

Southern peaches are something special. The trouble is, you pretty much have to live in the South to understand what the fuss is about, because peaches bought elsewhere are most often picked green and hard before shipping. 

When ag-entrepreneur Stephen Rose moved to Nashville in the summer of 2010, he made a disheartening discovery: No one was selling fresh, flavorful peaches like the kind he’d grown up with in Peach County, Georgia. He had an idea. He and his wife bought a 1964 Jeep truck and started selling big, beautiful, juicy Georgia peaches out of their cab in Nashville. Within five weeks, the city had consumed over ten tons of their brown-bagged peaches. Now the Peach Truck Tour travels through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania!

Pineapple upside-down cake is a Southern classic and is most often made with canned pineapple.

This version uses fresh peaches and is a vast improvement, in my opinion. You can use all-purpose flour instead of the cake flour, but the results will be a bit heavier and slightly dense.

4 medium peaches (about1½ pounds), unpeeled and cut into⅓-inch-thick wedges
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup cake flour, not self-rising
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream

Bourbon Cream (recipe follows)

1.Heat oven to 350ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. (This step helps with cleanup.)

2.Toss the peaches with the lemon juice in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

3.Cook ¼ cup of the granulated sugar over medium heat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes, or until the sugar melts and turns a deep amber color. Remove from the heat. Immediately add 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir vigorously. Arrange the peach wedges in concentric circles over the sugar mixture, overlapping them as needed.

4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining ¾ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup butter, and vanilla bean seeds on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add the sour cream and beat until blended. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until blended and stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Spoon the batter over the peaches in the skillet and spread to cover. Place the skillet on the prepared baking sheet.

5.Bake until golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the skillet on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen.

6.Carefully pour out any excess liquid from the skillet into a measuring cup and set aside. (It’s okay if you don’t have any excess liquid—it all depends on how juicy your fruit is.) Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate and drizzle with any reserved liquid. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges using a serrated knife. Top with bourbon cream and serve immediately.

Bourbon Cream

Makes about 1 cup

½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon

1.Combine the cream and bourbon in a large bowl. Refrigerate, along with a whisk, for at least 15 minutes. Once chilled, beat the cream with the chilled whisk until it holds soft peaks, 3 to 5 minutes.

The recipe was incredibly easy to follow and filled my condo with such a sweet aroma. I used only 3 peaches and vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean. The cake had no trouble coming out of the cast iron skillet and had crispy edges, while remaining tender on the inside.

I did not have bourbon and used orange flavored vodka for the topping ;)

The only downsize of this baking project was the mess I left in my kitchen!