winter glow skincare routine {beauty}

The winter time can be taxing on your skin, especially when it's dry and with the weather changing dramatically from day to day.  I already have dry skin to begin with, and sometimes I feel like I just can't get it hydrated.  This year I've been on a mission to find a beauty routine that works for me, and after a lot of time and effort, I finally got that winter glow down to a science.  At the same time, I'm going through the long and expensive process of transitioning to a completely clean routine--meaning no animal tested products, no chemicals, or icky stuff in any of my beauty or household items.  Harmful ingredients can affect your hormones or worse; not to mention they're bad for the environment.  Aside from ethical and health related reasons, stepping off my soap box and  speaking from pure vanity here, my skin has never looked or felt better since making this change. 

sweet potato brownies

Something has been missing 'round here and I finally figured out what it is: a touch of sweetness!  I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I do fancy baking things for others.  There's nothing like brownies made from scratch to make a place feel like home, if only to experience the sweet aroma of dark chocolate and hazelnuts permeating your space.  But who can resist a dessert made with such wonderful ingredients? Certainly no one. Not even I could keep my hands off this delicious, wholesome treat.   You don't even have to feel guilty about eating them--just dark chocolate, cocoa powder, roasted hazelnuts, almond flour, dates, a sweet potato and almond butter (mmmmmm, nut butters are my fav).  Dare I call them protein brownies??? Sure, why not...

buckwheat soba noodles with crispy tofu & veggies

I usually turn to pasta for a simple mid-week dinner, but things changed a couple weeks ago when my friend Amber came over with a soba noodle recipe from A Modern Way to Eat.  She also taught me how to knit that same evening, but I'll save that story for another time.  Anyhow, since then, I've been exploring different recipes and enjoying the fresh flavors and crisp texture unique to soba noodle dishes. Another plus is that soba noodles can be served warm or cold--meaning you can make this recipe, or any of your choosing, ahead of time.  Olympic dinner party anyone???

chichory salad with blood orange, apple & fennel

This bright, crisp salad is the perfect antidote for the gray winter months.  When the weather is as dry as it's been, I tend to crave more hydrating foods, and roasted winter vegetables just don't cut it.  I need something juicy and refreshing, albeit seasonal.  At this time of the year, there are some wonderful citrus fruits available: meyer lemons, blood oranges (and oranges all sorts), grapefruits, and other colorful fruits such as pomegranate and several apple varieties. 

wild mushroom toast

I discovered this recipe one morning with The New York Times in one hand and a bad attitude in the other...coupled by a strong desire to be glued to the couch.   The ingredients were already in my possession and I realized that I could cook dinner without ever having to leave the house. Alas mushroom toast, you became my best new friend!

Sometimes you have those days where you just. can't. do. anything.    It's too cold outside to leave the house, you slept poorly the night before, or you're simply tired from a day's work.  For whatever reason, everything not only seems hard, but is really hard. When you're feeling down or unmotivated, mushroom toast can be your best friend too.  [I hear they're also good for you...]

 

kale caesar salad with roasted chickpeas {vegan, gf}

Living away from California for the time being, I've come to appreciate the availability and quality of fresh produce (not to mention the weather!) all year long, every day of the week.  The farmers' markets around Los Angeles are always stocked with a plethora of fruits, vegetables and delicious fare. While there are countless restaurants with accolades and organic markets here New York, there is an element of freshness in California cuisine that seems to effortlessly meet the needs of one's (my) vegetable intake requirements. It is so cold here it's hard not to crave hearty, warm meals that fill the belly and warm the heart. But after a few weeks it's taken a toll and I've felt the need to actively incorporate more seasonal fresh greens and produce into my diet.  Enter: kale caesar salad with roasted chickpeas.

herbed white bean, kale & vegetable soup

Happy New Year!  I'm back after a three month hiatus! We've been globe-trotting, visiting family and attending weddings and such, and there just hasn't been much time for me to sit still.  Now, we are here in NYC for a while and the current snow storm has forced me to stay inside and be productive : ). In light of the cold weather, we've been craving soup (pho three times in four days!!).  Luckily, I anticipated cooking winter soups and stews, so I packed an immersion blender (a gift that keeps on giving, thank you Aunt Jane!). This soup is seriously hearty, and will leave you feeling full for hours. The best part is that It can be whipped together in under 30 minutes (me likey!!!). 

on the road survival guide

This summer was so much fun, living in Santa Fe and having friends and family visit.  To finish up the current project Joshua is working on, we're staying in Scottsbluff, Nebraska for a few weeks.  Instead of our charming Santa Fe casita, we're in a hotel. Sans kitchen.  In a small town. In the middle of nowhere.  No weekend farmer's market or Whole Foods in sight.  Just Safeway and Walmart folks. As I write this, I can literally hear cows moo-ing outside my window.  Many of you also travel for work, or for one reason or another, so I thought I'd share some tips, a survival guide of sorts, for keeping your routine and creating a more warm and comforting environment while away from home.  Bon Voyage!

cacao & coconut energy bites

Since we left Santa Fe last week, we've been road trippin' all over the place.  We did a nine hour drive from New Mexico, up through Colorado Springs and Denver, to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where we'll be staying in a hotel for the next couple weeks.  This past weekend we saw the evolving Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota ('cause why not?!).  We drove through the historic town of Deadwood and stayed in an off-grid house in a little town called Spearfish.  Why you ask?  Because they marketed a pizza oven on their listing and therefore we could make our traditional Sunday pizza (turned out more interesting than traditional).  Since there's not much [of anything] here in Nebraska, and I have no kitchen to cook the day away, we've committed to exploring on the weekends and staying in Airbnb's where we can prepare food for the week. The hardest part about traveling is staying on a consistent diet to avoid tummy troubles.  Because I have such a sensitive stomach, I always make sure to bring along healthy food that I can eat in a pinch.  These energy bites have fueled us through our recent travels, and I'm a little depressed that we've just finished the last of 'em.

avocado toast with walnut pesto

The last of our Santa Fe visitors have long departed and it's just me and our dogs, Billy and Lola, having dinner together in our casita while Joshua is working late tonight.  It's always a thing, being alone and wondering what to cook for dinner.  You never really want to make anything fancy, as no one's there to enjoy your carefully crafted meal.  So what's easy and equally satisfying in these situations?  O.M.G., avocado toast of course! 

almond-cashew golden milk with chai

I love collecting little cups and bowls from different places, and I recently discovered one to add to the collection at the Georgia O'Keeffe museum in downtown Santa Fe. It's handmade out of stoneware clay and has a thumb indent (hence the name "thumb-cup") so it fits perfectly in your hand. 

Along with the debut of my new favorite cup, here is a delicious, wholesome recipe for almond-cashew golden milk with chai--it's a mouthful of goodness!  It may seem a bit wintry, but it's just as tasty served cold, and oh so good you. 

My best friend Heather came to visit me this past week and we got to talking about homemade nut milk.  I reiterated how simple it is to make and promised to walk her through it.  Lately I've been into making almond-macadamia milk, but alas, I was out of macadamia nuts and Heather mentioned that they're too expensive to buy anyhow, good point.  So, improvise we did!  We ended up making a creamy almond-cashew milk, softly sweetened with a few dates.  Of course you could substitute any milk or milk alternative of your choice. 

grilled naan bread {gf+v}

My very best friend, Heather, visited me here at our little casita in Santa Fe for a few days last week.  Both of us love ethnic cuisine and splurged on Persian, local New Mexican and Indian food.  Heather's family first introduced me to Indian cuisine at Anarbagh in Los Angeles when I was about 11 years old.  On her last night in Santa Fe we went to Raaga, a modern Indian restaurant, located in the Railyard District. I always miss naan bread when dining out at Indian restaurants ever since I started eating gluten-free a few years ago.  But, I was reminded of a great recipe that I had on hand to share with all you fellow naan lovers, both gluten-free and gluten-ful.

grilled summer veggies with fresh herbs

I apologize for the bombardment of emails that were sent out [accidentally] this weekend and for any past or future typos to come : )))).  I am still learning how to maneuver the digital world and only have myself as an editor.  With that said, I present you with another simple summer recipe that I hope you will enjoy. We're still here in Santa Fe and feel so lucky to spend a summer in such a special place.  There's something in the air, or maybe it's just the altitude, that generates a relaxed vibe throughout the city.  Santa Fe has a rich history and is filled with great restaurants, creative people and many local artists.

One of our favorite restaurants is a place called Milad Bistro.  It's a Persion restaurant and the chef/owner features many of his grandmother's recipes on the menu.  The food is fresh and light, and they have a great wine list.  One of my favorite dishes, aside from the spicy carrot falafels and dolmas stuffed with turmeric rice, is the vegetable skewers.  They are simple and served with fluffy basmati rice, a grilled tomato and lots of fresh herbs.  I love this dish so much that I decided to recreate it!

grilled corn summer salad

It's very, very dry here in Santa Fe.  I can't remember a time when I've craved summer foods so intensely.  All we've been eating is watermelon, cantaloupe and other juicy fruits and vegetables.  With freshly grilled corn, cilantro, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and lots of lime, this salad is oh so refreshing, simple and can be prepared in advance.  Enjoy it as a taco filling, alongside a grilled entrée, or scooped on top of grains such as millet or quinoa.  Finish it all off with some sliced avocado and perhaps some cilantro chutney, yum!

budapest city guide

Last year, Joshua and I (and Lola!) were in Budapest for six months for Joshua's work.  When we found out we were going there, we actually had to look on a map to see what country Budapest was in (Hungary by the way!).  I've had a couple friends visit Budapest since then, and ask for suggestions.  After some lengthy emails, I decided my time would be better spent publishing my recommendations.  So here we go!

savory herb-scented cornbread

This is the third time I've made this cornbread this month and I've had multiple requests for the recipe, so here you go!  I usually make it with dried herbs, but we are currently in Santa Fe, and I don't have my usual cooking inventory.  However, I did have some fresh herbs on hand so I used those in lieu of dried--boy oh boy was that a happy accident!

popped quinoa granola

I came across this recipe in The New York Times that called for popped quinoa in granola and I was sold!  Popped quinoa just sounds fun to say.  I've been making the same granola for about seven months now, so it's high time for a change.  I wanted something a bit lighter for the summer, with less nuts and more grains.  With a few adjustments from the original, this recipe is a hit! 

Depending on what nuts and seeds tickle your fancy, you can swap in or out what you like, as long as you keep the ratios the same.  I used sunflower seeds, but you could certainly use pepita or pumpkin seeds as well.  Since Joshua is usually the one who eats most of the granola (too many oats gives me a belly ache), I asked him what kind of nuts he'd prefer--almonds and walnuts it is! But I think it would also be great with cashews, or perhaps pecans as the original recipe suggests?  

 

Depending on what nuts and seeds tickle your fancy, you can swap in or out whatever you like, as long as you keep the ratios the same.  I used sunflower seeds, but you could certainly use pepita or pumpkin seeds as well.  Since Joshua is usually the one who eats most of the granola (I can't eat too many oats), I asked him what kind of nuts he wanted--he chose almonds and walnuts. But I think it would also be great with cashews, or as the original recipe suggests, pecans.

 

heirloom tomato galette

The heirloom tomatoes this season are more beautiful and delicious than I can remember in a long time. I've been buying them every week at the farmer's market and putting them in salads with avocado, summer pasta, or just popping the small ones in my mouth like popcorn!  Naturally, I decided to throw them into a galette, surprise, surprise! 

As most of my friends and family know, I am always making galettes for dinner parties.  You can do the bulk of the work ahead of time and everyone loves them; they warm the soul and fill the belly.  How can anyone ever tire of a comforting, savory pie? I won't go on too much about my love affair with galettes, but I will say that this recipe is muy deliciosa!  Objectively speaking, Maggie (my sister and fellow galette aficionado) along with her Italian boyfriend, Andrea (in Italy galettes are called crostatas), say this one is their absolute favorite (my potato galette ranked no. 1 for several months).

 

spiced japanese sweet potato fries

Recently I've been getting into Ayurvedic cooking, à la my new favorite cookbook, What to Eat for How you Feel by Divya Alter.  Her recipes have done wonders to calm my stomach and make me feel good in general. The philosophy of Ayurvedic cooking stresses the importance of seasonal ingredients and specific food pairings.  Both of these affect your digestive system and as a result, your mood. Some ingredients used in traditional Ayurvedic cooking can be hard to find, but Divya gives resources on where to buy specific products online.  However, in a pinch, I always use the absence of ingredients as an opportunity to improvise--hello spiced Japanese sweet potato fries!

cilantro chutney

All you cilantrophobes, kindly avert your eyes please!  This chutney is solely for palates that welcome this pungent and robust herb.  Now now, don't feel bad if you're among the cilantro (a.k.a coriander) haters; Julia Child also expressed extreme dislike for the herb.  She once said of cilantro in her food, "I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor."  But, for those of us whose olfactory nerves enjoy it (moi included), this chutney is bursting with a mélange of bright flavors. Use this recipe to accompany Indian foods, grains, roasted veggies, sweet potato fries or any vehicle that assists in getting this chutney into your mouth.