Stuffed Apricots w/ raspberries and mascarpone

StuffedApricots-2 copyDaniel and I are home from Spain! We really didn’t want to leave though.There is nothing quite like family bonding time over great tapas and beer. Daniel has promised to write a few posts about our trip (including restaurant recommendations!), so you can expect that shortly. Until then, you can snack on these stuffed apricots with me and dream about the Mediterranean. Happy weekend!StuffedApricots-1

Stuffed Apricots w/ raspberries and mascarpone

Ingredients:

3 apricots

2 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese

6 raspberries

6 mint leaves

2 Tbsp. chopped macadamia nuts

2 tsp honey

3 apricots

Directions:
1. Wash apricots. Slice in half and take out pit. Place on a plate.
2. Stuff the center of each apricot with 1 tsp of mascarpone.
3. Wash and dry raspberries. Put on top of apricots.
4. Wash and dry mint leaves. Put on top of apricots.
5. Sprinkle apricots with macadamia nuts and drizzle with honey.

Shredded Kale Salad w/ manchego, almonds and nectarine

ShreddedKaleSalad-1Blog - 358A co-worker saw me eating kale the other day and thought he would tell me a funny story about a client and kale. He said this client ordered a kale salad for lunch one day. This client took one bite of their salad, put the fork down disappointed and exclaimed rather frustratingly that their kale was not massaged. My co-worker started laughing hysterically once he finished the story and I…. well I was thinking, damn I really hate when my kale isn’t massaged too. Blog - 359I mean, come on. It’s not like I would send my kale salad back to the kitchen. But my general frustration with restaurants is not doing vegetables well and this falls under the umbrella of having so much potential and falling short. Personally, I enjoy kale so much more when it is massaged. Yes, it sounds hilarious, but it is so much less bitter. Hence, a massaged kale salad for you today.ShreddedKaleSalad-2Laugh at me all you want until you massage your kale and realize you will be THAT person at a restaurant asking if the kale salad is massaged because you’re hooked.

Shredded Kale Salad w/ manchego, almonds and nectarine: serves 2

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 oz tempeh
1 bunch lacinato kale
2 green onions
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 cups spinach
1 nectarine
1/3 cup shaved manchego cheese
2 Tbsp. toasted slivered almonds

Directions:

1. In a medium skillet heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat for 30 seconds.
2. Crumble tempeh into skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside.
3. Wash kale and remove stems. Stack kale and cut into thin strips.
4. Wash green onions and thinly slice.
5. In a small bowl mix apple cider vinegar, honey and salt and pepper.
6. Slowly whisk in 3 Tbsp. olive oil into the vinegar until well combined.
7. In a large bowl mix kale, green onions and half of dressing. Massage kale with hands for 1 minute.
8. Add spinach to kale and toss.
9. Wash nectarine and slice. Add nectarine, tempeh, manchego, almonds and remaining dressing to the salad and mix well.
10. Salt and pepper to taste.


Ricotta & Plum Toast

IMG_9281Growing up I didn’t really celebrate Father’s Day because I was raised by my mom and hardly spoke to my father. So when Father’s Day would roll around, I would acknowledge my friends’ dads who I admired and go on with my day. But that changed a few years ago when I found myself with two father figures in my life who grew to mean so much to me. Last year was both a beautiful and difficult year for me. I celebrated my mom’s wedding and gained a stepfather who treated me like a daughter long before he was obligated to. In that same year I experienced a devastating loss of a truly great man who welcomed me into his family and also treated me like a daughter. IMG_9300Father’s Day will never be the same for me for many reasons. I will cherish the memories, the love and support that I have received and continue to receive from the wonderful fathers in my life. Celebrating you always.

 

Ricotta & Plum Toast: serves 2

Ingredients:
4 slices multigrain loaf
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk ricotta
4 tsp apricot jam
2 plums, washed and sliced
2 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts
2 tsp. agave

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat for 30 seconds. Toast bread in butter 2 minutes, flipping after 1 minute. Set on plate.
2. Spread 1 Tbsp. ricotta on each piece. Add 1 tsp apricot jam and top with plum slices.
3. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and drizzle with agave.

 


Sourdough & Rye Strata

Strata3copyI try to switch up the breakfast menu at work whenever I am feeling uninspired by the regular routine of items I have on rotation. This Sourdough & Rye Strata is a beautiful result of needing to do something different. I have made a lot of frittatas lately, but this whole strata thing is new to me and I love it! Strata4 copySpeaking of love, my sister took some photos of Daniel and myself when we were on a family vacation in Capitola. She shared the pictures with us and it almost made me cry. It made me realize that we didn’t have any professional pictures of us.Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 12.28.26 PM(Photo Credit: Sorella Muse Photography)

So thank you Nikki for capturing these special moments, I can’t wait to print them!

Sourdough & Rye Strata: serves 6

Ingredients

4 pieces of sliced sourdough bread

2 pieces of rye bread

10 large eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup half and half

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half vertically

1 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

Directions:

*This dish has inactive time of at least 6 hours to chill in the fridge before baking.

1. Grease a loaf pan with butter. I used a 10×5, so cooking time will vary depending on the size of your dish.

2. Cut bread into big chunks and place in bottom of buttered dish.

3. Whisk eggs, milk and half and half together. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese, salt and pepper and mix well.

4. Pour half of egg mixture over the bread. Press the mixture into the pan firmly and then pour the rest of the egg mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of cheese. Top with cherry tomatoes (cut side up) and butter.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours before baking.

6. When you’re ready to bake it, remove from fridge and let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake strata uncovered until puffed, golden brown and the middle is set (about 45-50 minutes, depending on the size of your pan). I quickly broiled the top for 1 minute to finish setting the middle.

7. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle fresh chives on each slice before serving.


Cinque Terre part 1

Two years ago I returned to one of my favorite places: the Cinque Terre. I visited these beautiful small towns on the coast of Italy when I studied abroad in Rome and wanted to go back ever since. This time, I got to bring Daniel along for the journey. We ate, we drank, we swam, we wandered, we hiked, we learned and we explored the local cuisine through our cooking class+Farmers Market tour.
Cinque Terre _vegetablescinque terre_tomato

Cinque Terre_CheeseCinque Terre _walkingCinque Terre_fagioligroupCinque Terre_Zuchini


Endive Cups w/ Goat Cheese, Strawberries and Champagne Dressing

 

endive 1Two weeks ago I flew home to celebrate one of my best friend’s upcoming wedding. Getting ready for the bridal shower and thinking about all the bridesmaids made me realize that we have all known each other since kindergarten. Which is pretty impressive given the time, distance and challenges we have all faced since then. If you ask my friend, the bride, she would lovingly tell you a tale about my kindergarten “bully” self who apparently made her cry and then one day I was nice to her and she got so excited. We have been friends ever since.

endive 2We have served at several community service events together, traveled to Japan together freshman year in high school (bonded over missing our mothers), had a crush on the same boy (yikes!), went to countless dances together, “stalked” other boys by walking by their house just hoping that they would come outside (the things we do when we have crushes..), laughed, cried, shared, inspired, motivated, complained, supported each other through college and now we are here. At another momentous life event. I can’t wait to celebrate, laugh and cry with you. You are beautiful inside and out. YOU deserve a lifetime of happiness. I truly meant what I said at your bridal shower, hold each other accountable to your dreams and never stop adding to your LOVE STORY.

XOXO… two weeks and counting!

endive3 copy

Endive Cups w/ Goat Cheese, Strawberries and Champagne Dressing

Ingredients:

2 heads of endive, washed and dried (roughly 10 usable leaf per head, so 20 total)

5-6 oz of goat cheese

10 strawberries, washed and thinly sliced vertically (remove stem)

5 kumquats, washed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped pecans, raw, toasted or candied all work well

fresh thyme or other herb of your choice to garnish

Dressing:

2 tsp champagne vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tbs sugar

Directions:

1. Mix champagne vinegar, orange juice and sugar in a medium bowl. Soak the strawberry and kumquat slices in the dressing for about 10 minutes.

2. Cut each endive leaf from the head without breaking in the middle. Make a clean cut near the base of the head. Make sure all leaves are thoroughly dried.

3. Assemble leaves on a large plate. Crumble and distribute goat cheese evenly by placing the goat cheese in the bottom 2/3 of the leaf.

4. Mix the fruit in the dressing and then spoon the strawberries on top of the goat cheese. Next add 1-2 slices of kumquat. Spoon extra dressing over the leaves and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

5. Garnish with a small piece of thyme or other fresh herb of your choice.


Quick Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrot Blog 1It was a bright and chilly morning when I woke up in Rome. I was sharing a room and an apartment with 11 other girls. I was taking risks (hello shaving the side of my head spontaneously), I was learning, I was growing, I was becoming even more of an adult. And my adult self felt inclined to get out of bed, go to the train station, look up inexpensive tickets, buy a ticket and explore somewhere new on my own. This was by far one of my favorite days I spent abroad. While the train was gliding through the countryside, I sat patiently waiting and reading. This has stayed with me for years and I often return to this passage.

“For the first time in my life i saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth-that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impact: the salvation of man is through love and in love”

– Viktor E. Frankl

Roasted Carrot Blog

Quick Roasted Carrots

Ingredients:

6 large carrots, washed, both ends trimmed

1 1/2 Tbs olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

Pinch of paprika

Pinch of cumin

1/4 cup of hummus to garnish (optional)

Roasted almonds to garnish (optional)

Fresh herbs to garnish (optional

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut carrots into chunk of about 2-3″. Cut the thicker end pieces into half lengthwise.

3. In a medium bowl, toss carrots, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and cumin, making sure all carrots are coated well.

4. Place carrots cut side down on parchment paper and cook for 15 minutes or until they are tender and caramelized.

5. Let cool for 10 minutes and plate with hummus, almonds and fresh herbs if you desire.


Coconut Quinoa + Roasted Vegetables + News!

Coconut Quinoa 1I recently asked my friend Becky Reams if I could help out as her sous chef for her awesome pop up brunch, Bang Bang Brunch. It was so refreshing and fun to work alongside another chef and see their work flow, their vision and execution. I say this mainly because even though I work with people, I am the only chef at my company and sometimes it can get lonely when no one else is nerding out about the organic produce box that came in or my new kitchen tools. You should really check out Becky’s pop up brunch if you are in the L.A./Pasadena area. The location changes each month and is always in a cool space!

In other exciting news, I taught a cooking class this past Sunday to some of Daniel’s awesome co-workers! We made a 4-course brunch + hibiscus and grapefruit mimosas+ sparkling herbal tea and it was so fun. I love sharing my excitement for food and helping people feel more comfortable and confident in the kitchen. This class made me realize how much I miss teaching, in particular, teaching cooking classes. I used to teach high school students when I was working for HealthCorps and I think it’s the best way I know how to connect to people. So my friends, I will be teaching more classes in the near future! If you are in the L.A. area and want to know more, e-mail me or send a message via my contact form.

This quinoa recipe is an example of the way I like to eat: healthy grains+lots of veggies+fresh herbs+interesting sauce. I will make something like this for dinner and then it makes excellent leftovers for lunch either as a cold dish or reheated.

Coconut Quinoa + Roasted Vegetables: makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup red quinoa (or any quinoa you can find/have) + 1 Tbs of coconut oil, 1/2 tsp ground cumin and 2 garlic cloves (peeled) in the water. Cook according to package directions

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into big chunks, discard most of the stem

1 red bell pepper, cut into 4 big pieces

8 oz tofu drained

2 Tbs olive oil

Coconut oil spray or olive oil spray

1 large bunch of curly kale, cut into big pieces about 2″ in size

1 can of butternut squash soup (I used Amy’s organic brand)

1/4 cup of half and half

3 large handfuls spinach, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1Tbs coconut oil

salt and pepper to taste

Fresh herbs to garnish + avocado (I used basil and parsley)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay cauliflower, bell pepper (cut side up) and tofu on the sheet. Drizzle 2 Tbs of olive oil over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the vegetables  halfway through.

2. Cook quinoa according to package directions + the coconut oil, cumin and garlic. Set aside with lid on top to keep hot. Discard the two garlic cloves.

3. Once the vegetables are done cut the tofu into cubes and the bell pepper into strips. Then lower the oven temp to 350 and place kale on the parchment paper. Spray with coconut oil spray and bake for 10-15 minutes until the kale gets a little crispy.

4. In a small saucepan, heat the butternut squash soup, 1/2 tsp cumin, salt and pepper, half and half and spinach on low heat until the spinach wilts a little and the sauce is hot.

5. To assemble in a bowl, put a base layer of quinoa. Layer the cauliflower, bell pepper, tofu and kale on top. Spoon about 1/2 cup of sauce over the vegetables. Garnish with fresh herbs and avocado.


Pomegranate & Herbal Sparkling Tea

Pomegranate teaYesterday afternoon I was so tempted to make cocktails for clients, but it was only 3:30 pm and I knew that they would not start drinking that early, sooooo I wanted to come up with something that still felt as special as a cocktail without the alcohol. This sparkling tea was the perfect compromise. It felt special, refreshing, not too sweet and wonderfully balanced between floral and herbal flavors. pomegranate tea 4I highly recommend making a big pitcher of this for any occasion. If you are having a party, this is a fabulous non-alcoholic drink to add to the mix and so much better than just offering your guest a glass of plain water.pomegranate tea 3

Pomegranate & Herbal Sparkling Tea: makes about 12 cups of tea

Ingredients:

8 Flowering Honeybush tea bags from Tazo or Numi brand. I found mine at Whole Foods. If you can’t find it, use another floral/fruity tea that you like.

4 cups boiling hot water

1/4 cup agave + more to taste

8 cups cold sparkling water

1 bunch fresh mint, washed and dried

6 sprigs fresh rosemary washed and dried + more for decorating if you want.

1 cucumber, washed and sliced thin + save a few slices to decorate the glasses if you want.

2 limes, washed, cut the skin off and set aside and save. Then slice the limes.

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds + more for decorating glasses if you want. I buy the seeds already prepped and cleaned from Trader Joe’s or another grocery store to save on time and mess.

Directions:

1. In a medium heat-proof pitcher, steep the tea bags for at least 10 minutes in the boiling hot water. Then take the tea bags out and throw them away. Add agave to the steeped tea and stir well. Add about 10 ice cubes to cool down. Set aside.

2. In a large pitcher, layer 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, the cucumber slices, lime slices+ lime skins, mint and rosemary. Pour the cold sparkling water over this mixture and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

3. Pour the cooled down tea into the large pitcher of sparkling water and stir well. Add ice and agave as desired. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

4. I decorate each glass with a sprig of rosemary in the glass, a few ice cubes, a few pomegranate seeds and a slice of cucumber on the rim.


Roasted Pepper & Mozzarella Toast

roasted pepper 4Dating Daniel has opened me up to a whole new world of cuisine. His family is Spanish and boy did I learn to enjoy seafood and embrace tapas. I understand, many people have been on board with Spanish food and I am behind the times. But before Daniel, I wasn’t the most adventurous eater.roasted pepper3 While preparing for our first trip together to Spain, he basically put me through Spanish food bootcamp (in a loving way) because he wanted me to be open to trying the amazing and unique cuisine. On the northern coast in Galicia, I encountered a ton of seafood I had never eaten before, which included razor clams. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love everything I tried, but I’m glad the experience helped expand my palette.roasted pepper 2roasted peppers One of our favorite things to do is make tapas together and I think this is a good introduction. These toasts are perfect as a snack or can be made into a dinner with some extra sides like an arugula salad, marcona almonds and pan-fried mushrooms.

Roasted Pepper & Mozzarella Toast: makes about 16 slices, depending on the size of bread.

Ingredients:

1 loaf rustic bread, sliced to desired thickness

12 oz fresh mozzarella, drained and pulled into large pieces

½ cup roasted pepper sauce (recipe below)

1 can sardines in olive oil, drained, deboned and cut into chunks (optional)

a few sprigs of fresh parsley to garnish

Directions:

1. Grill or toast slices of bread and set aside to cool.

2. Once cool, layer each slice of toast with a large piece of mozzarella, a spoonful of roasted pepper sauce, sardines (optional) and fresh parsley.

Roasted Pepper Sauce: yields about 1 1/4 cups of sauce

Ingredients:

20 mini bell peppers, washed and dried

2 tbs + 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

5 garlic cloves, skin on (do not peel)

pinch of sea salt and pepper

2 tbs water

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl mix the bell peppers, garlic cloves, 2 tbs olive oil, salt and pepper. Make sure everything is coated well with the oil and then spread out evenly on the baking sheet.

3. Cook for 10 minutes, pull out of oven, turn over the bell peppers and garlic. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes. Pull out of oven and let cool.

4. Peel the garlic and take off the stems of the bell peppers. Open up each bell pepper and take out the seeds.

5. Place water, olive oil and lemon juice at the bottom of a blender. Then throw in the garlic and bell peppers and a pinch of sea salt. Blend until smooth.

6. Place in an airtight container in the fridge.