grilled potatoes with lemon & parsley vinaigrette

Summer is in full swing here and so is the heat! I've relegated all cooking to the grill as our little kitchen gets a lot of afternoon sun and tends to collect the warm air throughout the house.  We've been making these grilled potatoes with a lemon and parsley vinaigrette, along with a giant salad every week since the heat rolled into town. The high heat of the grill gets the potatoes nice and crispy and the simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice plus the zest, and some salt and pepper is like a bright burst of flavors in your mouth.

summer greek salad with avocado

Saddled with this sluggish motivation this week and a persistent craving for something crisp, zesty, refreshing and vibrant, came this feel-good, healthy salad full of veggie-deliciousness.   Our productivity has suffered some what since our unbelievably comfortable couch arrived this week, but it's suffered in comfort at least. I made this salad two times in the past week, and added in some grilled potatoes (more on that later). I tossed everything (potatoes included) with a lemon-parsley vinaigrette--it's like summer in your mouth! If potatoes aren't your thing (you cray-cray!) you could add a grilled protein of choice, or perhaps some pepita seeds to "beef" it up.

Bon appetit!

sheet-pan lemon & broccoli pasta

I've been meaning to put this recipe up on the blog, as it's always in my weekly rotation in some form, especially during spring and summer.  It's crunchy, tangy, savory and all together one big sheet-pan of yum! Oh, and you'll want to serve this pasta right on the pan so everyone gets equal access to that crunchy top layer. You can prepare this dish in advance and then pop it in the oven just before serving. It can be enjoyed at room temp, making it a great companion for a pot luck or BBQ.

grilled apricot & asparagus salad

After a cold winter in New York and a month of traveling, it's been nice to settle back at home for the last part of spring in Los Angeles. Mostly I've just been enjoying reconnecting with all my kitchen tools (esp. my new Vitamix that I got for Christmas but haven't had a chance to christen!!!)...and family and friends, of course!

This dish is perfect to bring to an alfresco dinner party and can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.  The combination of texture from the raw asparagus, sweet and tart flavors from the grilled apricots and crunch of the roasted hazelnuts creates a perfectly balanced dish. Oh, and it looks pretty too!

Bon appetit

clean make-up routine {beauty}

I've  been in the process of transitioning to clean beauty products for the past few months and taking an active role in reading the ingredients on cosmetic labels.  The more I read about harmful additives used in most cosmetics (and beauty products in general) the more I want to encourage others to make the same change. If you're already feeling overwhelmed, I've put together a list of my favorite clean products in (more or less) the order I use them.  I suggest you make a day of testing the products that work for you...until then, here's a nod in the right direction.

amsterdam city guide

I underestimated how much time it would take to create a city guide, especially for a place as enchanting as Amsterdam.  After a whirlwind trip from NYC to Amsterdam and now in the quiet of New Mexico, as I write this, I finally have time to sit down and reflect on my favorite things.  This list is not close to being comprehensive--I'd need at least a year, but just wanted to share the places I happened to stumble upon and enjoy wholeheartedly.  In Amsterdam you can have no agenda but to wander the cobblestone streets and gaze at the leaning, off-kilter homes on the many canals that riddle the city.  The people of Amsterdam are open-minded and progressive. The food is fresh and locally sourced from one of the many climate-controlled sustainable farms in the Netherlands.  You can get most anywhere by bike or foot, and day excursions are accessible by an efficient rail system.  The city is so visually poetic, you'll be hard-pressed not to find a photo op at every turn--do try to resist and take it all in the moment. 

 

veggie chili with butternut squash

Since forever, I've been searching for a chili recipe that I more than just like. Like REALLY like. Or maybe even love.  I stopped making chili all together for a while; I just got tired of mediocre recipes...thought I might never make it again.  Over the years, after some more ups and downs, I finally found the crown jewel of ALL chili recipes (subjectively speaking of course).  For you skeptics, I don't blame you, I've been there before.  But I promise you this recipe won't disappoint!  I've been testing it on dinner guests for the last two months, watching their reactions with each chew and swallow.  Poor Joshua has probably had enough chili for a lifetime.  You can never really tell if someone likes what you cook, but after multiple requests  for this recipe--from vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and meat eaters alike--I decided it was time to share. The best part is that you can make it ahead of time.  The flavors continue to develop the longer it has to marinate in the spices.  Bon appetit!

hippie bowl with roasted veggies & turmeric sauce

When I'm feeling a lack of creativity, I throw together a "hippie bowl."  This usually consists of tossing some veggies in olive oil and salt and pepper, and popping them in the oven.  Then I choose a bean (lentils, aduzki beans, chickpeas, etc.) and some greens for a salad base (i.e. kale, arugula or spinach).  Next, I top it all of with a homemade sauce to brighten up the flavors and add moisture to the dish.  You can pretty much sub any ingredients you like into this equation: roasted veggies + beans + greens + sauce=hippie bowl.  It's hard to go wrong when you use fresh ingredients and combine different textures and flavors.

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.