Mexican Cauliflower Soup

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It’s just about time to move my Dutch Oven to the back and make room for my spring and summer utensils…but this soup deservedly gets my time and attention.  It’s a delightful spring recipe made with cauliflower and potatoes and lots of garlic.  The Mexican flavors take it over the top. Click to continue reading »

Chocolate Chia Seed Mousse

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As if that isn’t a mouthful enough…here is a super easy, rich and healthy dessert.  It truly takes 5 minutes to make and just a little longer to ‘set’ but this cocoa coco chia pudding/mousse is sublime!

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Blueberry Corn Muffins

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As I’ve said in many of my baking posts, most of these recipes are for anyone who just loves good food.  It doesn’t matter that the ingredients happen to be gluten free or made with whole grains or alternative sweeteners – as long as it works for YOU.  It’s all about flavor…

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Preserved Lemons with Rosemary

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Are your neighbors’ trees weighted down by the bounty of citrus this winter?  Make a deal and grab some!  Lemons are used more often than salt or pepper in this house, both for taste and health properties. Click to continue reading »

Beet Hummus

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Gearing up for the big game this weekend?  Yes, the Warriors are playing the Suns!  If you live near San Francisco, you might be hard pressed to stay inside at all, we’ve had such gorgeous weather.  But if you do rally for a party atmosphere on Sunday, here is a great recipe for snacking that will still allow extra room for beverages…

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EASY Homemade Coconut Moisturizer

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Now you might not think that skin moisturizer falls into the food category…but this one does!  And it is the most hydrating, nourishing oil you could ever find – let alone make.  Using pure coconut oil and a powerful kitchen mixer, this is your best shield against the harsh elements      of the seasons.

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Crustless Pumpkin Pie

I’ve never really understood the expression ‘easy as pie,’ because quite frankly, pie has never been easy for me.  And it’s all because of the crust.  But, alas!  This is music to your ears (and hands…) since this pie is crust-LESS.

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Sweet Potato Congee

Do you ever make the recipes suggested on packages?  Often times I look at them after I’ve already decided to make something else, but save them for future use.  Recently I wanted to try a different grain in my morning cereal, so  I grabbed my bag of Bob’s Red Mill millet and found this sweet and savory recipe…

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Fig Clafouti

I make clafouti’s all year round, depending on what fruit is in season.  I’ve used apricots, berries, plums, cherries, apples and now figs.  It’s the same simple recipe with maybe a sprinkle or two of different spices. With apples I use cinnamon; with cherries and pears, a little almond extract.

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Curried Potato and Green Bean Salad with Toasted Cumin

Just in time for the holiday weekend, here’s a summer dish perfect for every barbecue.  Potatoes and green beans are in season now, and with a little extra personality, this recipe is a crowd pleaser!

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Zucchini Lasagne

As the saying goes, ‘when life gives you lemons’…or in this case, zucchini….make lasagne!  Have you ever used it in place of pasta?  You can work with it like spaghetti, or slice it thin and substitute it for noodles.  It makes for a seasonal dish that is lower in calories and allows for all kinds of fillings in between.

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Apricot Blueberry Crisp

The Napa farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh fruit…and these two gems will disappear in just two weeks!  Apricots have been scare the last two years so I am stocking up on my supply for desserts, sauces and jam.  The very best come from our good friend, Michele Bera, who indulges us at market with her stone fruits from Vacaville.  And if you think blueberries are mild with flavor…then you have not tried Stokes!  In a word: explosive.

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Grapeseed Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you follow this blog, you know what a goof I am for coconut oil.  And recently there have been several posts from other like minded writers who list over 200 ways to use it!  In addition to all its health benefits, coconut oil has a high smoke point and is great for baking.  But there’s another healthy oil to cook with, and this one just so happens to come from my neighborhood – the Napa Valley.  It’s grapeseed oil and it’s made by Salute Santé.

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Turnip Soup with Greens

Every now and then you taste something that knocks you out – in a good way.  Recently at a cooking class with Napa food writer and master gardener, Janet Fletcher, a fresh turnip soup was presented that took my breath away.  Its color was vibrant, its texture silky.  And as we transition from winter to spring, this is just the right dish to satisfy the soul.

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Coconut Cream Pie ala Cafe Gratitude

I had to wait a few days to let the chocolate dissipate from my veins, but now I’m ready to launch into my next favorite indulgence: coconut cream pie!  I hope this is one of your resolutions this year…because no one should deprive themselves of such a decadent health food.  That’s right: it’s good for you.

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Pumpkin Chili

I’m sure this time of year you have an abundance of pumpkin on hand, and whether its fresh or from a can, this recipe is a crowd pleaser.  It is what I call a ‘one-dish wonder’ and can be made in advance, or right alongside the other dishes you’re cooking up this week. Click to continue reading »

The Best Carrot Cake Ever

We all have our own favorite carrot cake recipe, but now you’ll have a new one:)  I made this for a crowd at the St. Helena Farmers’ market and it was a huge hit.  Super moist and rich, yet light.  The recipe comes from Fran Costigan’s “More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts, Naturally which has an abundance of healthful sweets that are not only delicious, but also vegan.

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Smoky Watermelon Salad

I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this, but we are having an incredible summer.  Unlike 90% of our country, California weather has been mild and mellow.  And while the wine grapes are a few weeks behind with harvest, melons are at their sweet peak right now.

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Sweet Potato Tacos

My latest fave-est are these sweet potato tacos.  I first made them for a class I did for Share Our Strength called “Cooking Matters,” a program for low-income folks who just want to learn how to cook and eat healthy on a budget (which applies to anyone, really.)  The whole class got so excited about this recipe, and since I always have sweet potatoes on hand, it has become a regular entree in our home, too.

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Leek and Fennel Risotto

One of the many advantages to living in Northern California, is having access to a wide variety of produce based on the seasons. I mean, that’s what we’re here for, right?  Farm fresh, flavorful, colorful, and uber nutritious. This past week at the farmers’ market I was hard pressed not to buy everything in sight but I settled on fennel and leeks which made for a lovely risotto.

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Sauteed Radishes

I just harvested the last of my radishes to make room for my next crop of beets.  This winter proved pretty challenging for growing baby vegetables, but remember, I’m a newbie gardener so that could be said for just about anything;-)  Click to continue reading »

Curried Onion Bisque with Ghee

It’s still very much soup season…of course, depending on what’s in it, I guess you could say that all year long.  Onions have made it into just about every dish here lately, with the exception of muffins;-)  I bought a few pounds of yellow onions at the farmers’ market and thought I’d create a pot of soup with other warming spices. Click to continue reading »

Green Celebration!

Today the color green reaches beyond the hills into our clothes and onto our plates.  I thought I’d dig into the archives to support the celebration whether on St. Patrick’s Day or into spring which is just around the corner…

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Lemon Curd

I hit the trifecta this week!  Two friends indulged me with fresh eggs from their chickens; my shipment of ghee arrived; and I received a large shopping bag full of Meyer lemons.  The citrus crops seem to be a bit late in ripening this year (from the cool growing season)…but after hanging on the tree for an extended period of time, these lemons were screaming to perform in a homemade batch of lemon curd…

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Shepherd's Sweet Potato Pie

Don’t touch that dial!  Those colors are for real – no enhancement necessary.  Not only is the dish gorgeous (in a child-like finger painting way), I do believe it has overtaken my beloved beet risotto as numero uno. Shepherd’s pie made with sweet potatoes will be a new staple in this house. Click to continue reading »

Quinoa Pancakes

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I’m on a quinoa kick right now, which means I also have leftovers.  Quinoa is such a fabulous grain to work with – so versatile, nutritious and easy to cook.  I usually make extra to toss in a salad or cook up as porridge, but this time it went into my new favorite recipe for pancakes!

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Whole Grain & Gluten Free Bread

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For those who can consume wheat products and other forms of gluten, don’t be scared of this post.  For those who can’t, rejoice!  Either way – you all have come upon a recipe for one hearty and easy-to-make fresh baked bread…

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Daikon Radish Confetti Salad

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There are many types of radishes and all have significant health benefits.  The Daikon radish is high on that scale.  It is also one of those vegetables that on its own doesn’t scream at you with flavor, which means it will take on the seasonings you pair with it.

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Healthy Hollandaise

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Less is more.  That’s my mantra for 2011.  No resolutions, just trying to simplify.  And I think you know, that isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

One week into the new year and I find I am looking for more ways to reduce clutter – from my closet to the kitchen.  So I’m playing my favorite culinary game: “Use It Up,” and creating some mighty delectable dishes in the process.

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Egg Nog Panna Cotta

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There are times when you just NAIL it in the kitchen.  This is one of those times!  I dare say this dessert is by far one of my favorites to date, and if you like egg nog, you will LOVE this creamy creation.  Plus, it’s super simple to make!  So be sure to plan just one more trip to the market and get the goods for Egg Nog Panna Cotta.

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Roasted Green Beans with Smoked Olive Oil

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As most of you know I tend to be a ‘theme’ cook, meaning I like to center a meal around a series of spices or international flavors. And during the holidays, you can throw in color…especially red and green.  This seasonal green bean recipe comes from a favorite restaurant in Sonoma County called Rosso Pizzeria which features an ingredient that is an exciting discovery: smoked olive oil.

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Pumpkin Mousse

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It’s officially pumpkin season. It seems everything I am cooking lately incorporates it somehow.  And since I roast up a fair amount at one time, I am always looking for different ways to use it.  The recipes can range from sweet to savory, and in this case I am offering one which is a little lighter than your average pumpkin pie, but with that same creamy goodness we tend to crave this time of year.

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Potato and Chickpea Curry

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This time of year beckons me to have a pot of something hearty simmering on the stove.  The beauty of it is threefold: whatever you make gets better with ‘age'; you have lunch and/or dinner ready in no time; and its economical since you can stretch it into several meals.  My friend Shirley at Gluten Free Easily recently posted this recipe and ironically, I had almost everything it called for already on hand.  (That’s the beauty of having a well stocked pantry;-) Click to continue reading »

Quinoa Tabbouleh

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Summer is finally arriving here on the west coast (apologies to Easterners!) and the tomatoes are now showing color.  I’ve been busy with cooking demos at farmers’ markets and one of my most popular dishes is tabbouleh made with quinoa.  It’s a crowd pleaser and great to make in advance for backyard parties…

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Sauteed Squash Blossoms

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On the heels of my last post, I wanted to share a lovely recipe that uses another part of the zucchini plant – its blossom.  I’ve had so much fun (with food again;-) working the flower into a number of dishes, from soup to quesadillas, and while many know preparations as deep fried, this one is gently sauteed…

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Zucchini "Pasta" with Pesto

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I have fun with food.  Love bringing home fresh veggies from the farmers’ market and whipping up new dishes based on what’s in season.  I love gadgets, too – not the fancy ones, but those that make our lives easier in the kitchen.  Of course, there’s the food processor, and the blender, the Microplane, and the mandoline.  Now if you haven’t played with one yet…making noodles is a great way to start…

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Fresh Goji Berry Muffins

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Do you have any idea what is in this bowl?  I’ll pay the first person who gets it right.  (You will be paid in anti-oxidants:)  One person guessed a type of pepper; others a fruit, and someone thought they resembled “Hot Tamales” from the movie theater.  Still no clue?  Well, I was stumped, too…

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Raspberry "Cream" Pie with Cashew Crust

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I had fully intended to post this earlier but a few ‘details’ last week diverted my attention.  My husband, Jay, had a partially torn retina and needed surgery; our dog broke his foot; my sister had a medical procedure, and we learned Jay’s mom has lung cancer. You could say we dedicated our time (and resources) to wellness, albeit not yet related to food.

But, alas, a holiday weekend is upon us and what better way to celebrate than with dessert!  Seasonal and healthful, of course…fresh from the farmers’ market.  Sure to make everyone feel better.

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Apricot Blueberry Clafouti

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If you blinked, you might have missed apricots at the farmers market this season.  They got hit hard by late rains this spring which all but decimated the crop.  Luckily I scooped up a few pounds and poured them into one of my favorites dessert recipes: clafouti.

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Strawberry Scones

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With our weather being a little on the cool side these past few weeks months, the one fruit that keeps shining through is the strawberry.  In almost every meal, you can incorporate strawberries (dessert is a meal, right?) and its a great way to start the day. Instead of my usual smoothie, I decided to weave the berries into a batch of fresh made scones…

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Local Food Revolution

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In case you haven’t heard…there’s a revolution going on!  It starts in the ground, is grown to feed the earth and to nourish its inhabitants. Food.  A precious yet vital source and the key to sustainable health.  For some, access to food is more difficult than others.  Here in the Napa Valley, we live in a climate that is temperate and suitable for planting a variety of crops.  Sure, we’re known for our grapes, but there are so many possibilities for additional food production that we are just beginning to uncover…

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Orange Fennel Salad

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Wahoo!  Farmers’ markets are open again in the Napa Valley and I can’t get enough of them.  Even with the frequent occasional rain that graces us into May, growers are bringing their bounty to the locals for the best in what late spring has to offer.  And it isn’t limited to produce…’tis the season for some of my favorite fish, too.

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Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Greens

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Happy Earth Day!  And what better way to celebrate than to recycle your food?!  OK, that doesn’t necessarily scream ‘appetizing’ but here’s my thought.  I adore leftovers.  With the exception of fish (save salmon for my salad) most foods cooked the day before have had more time to permeate their flavors, especially when it comes to dishes like soup or stews.  And not only does eating leftovers maximize your mileage of that item, it also saves on your pocketbook. Click to continue reading »

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

choc chipsAs discussed last time, baking has its challenges.  Baking gluten free takes that challenge and raises you by ten.  Gluten is the ‘glue that holds flour products together.’  It is elastic by nature and is present in all derivatives of wheat, such as bread and pasta.  To refresh, I am not gluten intolerant; I just feel better when I eat less of it.

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Baking Now and Then

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There are chefs and then there are bakers.  I happen to be both.  I believe the way I came into baking was through my insatiable cravings for dessert, and growing up with the woman who mastered that category: my grandmother.  Edna Christmas Knight (so named for her birthday on Christmas Day) was the queen of crème brulee and the richest, most decadent  chocolate mousse you could ever wrap your tongue around.

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Green Eggs n Toast

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In the food world, nothing says spring more than greens and eggs. My CSA (farm to porch) box has been overflowing with a bounty of dark, leafy greens – the kind I incorporate into my meal plan at every turn.  I eat greens at least twice, sometimes three times per day…and not to lecture anyone, but you should, too…

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Curry Cashews

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Snacking is my middle name (by now you know I have a few;-) and I usually want something savory.  Nuts are the perfect on-the-go food – satisfying and nutritious in one bite.  I have a wide variety in my refrigerator, as just like seeds, the oils in nuts are perishable.  Cashews are the most shelf stable and quite versatile.  I eat them whole, or pre-soak and whip them into a creamy dressing as a dairy substitute.

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Truth in Labeling

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You want to know that when you select a food product labeled as having certain virtues that the company will stand behind what’s promised.
But while some food labels are federally monitored and clearly defined, others aren’t so strictly regulated. Consumer Reports’ Greener Choices website decodes commonly used food labels at its eco-labels center.

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Chocolate Coconut Pudding

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Who doesn’t love pudding?  I see no one raised their hand…which brings me to the ultimate comfort food and life’s simple pleasures.  This recipe came about from my favorite of all food sites: 101Cookbooks.  Heidi Swanson not only creates the most wonderful combinations of seasonal, wholesome flavors;  she is also a master photographer.  Whenever my husband asks me to credit my source, for hers I simply say: “it’s another Heidi.”

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Kale Chips

kalechips sheetI’ve been a bit of a TV junkie of late watching the Olympics in prime time, pushing the limits of my shut eye.  After this week comes the Academy Awards on March 7th, which is another excuse to create a party around a food theme. Certainly with Julie and Julia in the mix we will see Boeuf Bourguignon or this lovely adaptation of pumpkin soup from Shirley at GFE.  For the Oscars, I tend to lean toward a variety of nibbles and small plates – don’t want to miss a glimpse of George Clooney! – and one of my favorite winter snacks are fresh baked kale chips.

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Chicken Marbella

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There is something so satisfying about a dish that combines sweet and savory.  It may be because I can’t make up my mind which is more desirable.  In this case I don’t have to choose – succulent prunes are married with tender chicken to make one of my favorite entrees, Chicken Marbella.

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Pear Almond Torte

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I  received pears in my CSA box yesterday which was a bit of a surprise, as I tend to focus on them more in the fall.  But I’m always game to put produce to new uses, and I love the combination of pears and almonds.  This recipe was adapted from a friend who was in my chef program.  Its flour-less and therefore gluten free.  The result was light and decadent (if that makes sense) – and just in time for Valentine’s Day…

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Lemony Broccoli Soup

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In my CSA box this week was a beautiful bunch of broccoli.  Add that to the beautiful bunch I got at the farmers’ market, and another soup was in the making.  I love blender soups – you steam the veggies, saute some onions, measure the stock, pull out the Vitamix and voila!  Dinner is served…and lunch the next day.

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Polenta and Beans

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I know you’re all planning your menus for the big game on Sunday…OK, not ALL of you.  Nonetheless, this time of year begs for soups, stews and beans!  The beauty of cold, wet weather is that it gives us ‘permission’ to stay inside and create dishes which require low and slow methods.  Beans fall into that category, with their pre-soak and longer cook time, enabling the flavors to permeate from the stove to the table.

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Chia Oat Bran

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Chia seeds are the new flax. Of course we’ve been ahead of that curve for awhile, but it was fun to see the many applications for them at the Fancy Food Show in SF last week.  Not only a fabulous source of Omega 3s and fiber, another big advantage that chia has over flaxseeds is that they’re shelf stable.  So when you’re rushing out the door in the morning and need a quick fix for breakfast, here is an easy recipe to jump start your day.

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"Creamy" Potato Leek Soup

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We are gearing up for a series of storms on the west coast this week…so to me, that begs for soup.  Soup is the best way to get mega-doses of vegetables all in one serving, with so many variables on combinations.  And as part of our monthly Gluten Free Progressive Dinner Party, I thought it was fitting to offer this recipe as the first course.  Let the flood gates open (so to speak…) as we savor soups in the season of the storm…

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Pumpkin Maple Soufflan

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I’m getting crafty with my recipe titles again.  Experimenting in the kitchen can do that to a person, especially when it comes to dessert.  Over New Year’s we picked up the last of a pumpkin crop in Bolinas and I promptly added them to my collection on the front porch.  Even if that decor is SO autumn…these pumpkins are still offering sweet, fleshy flavor when roasted.  So I combined a few recipes to make a combo souffle and flan, introducing pumpkin ‘soufflan.’

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Fish in a Pocket

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Last night my cooking class featured easy, low-calorie foods.  Two of them have appeared before – cauliflower couscous and raw kale slaw.  The addition was halibut ‘en papillote,’ or the fancy (French) way of saying ‘fish in a pocket.’  It is the easiest preparation ~ no fuss, no mess.  And the ‘wow’ factor for those at the dinner table is the ultimate endorsement.

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Baked Apples

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In the thick of the ‘healthy post-holiday season,’ we are inundated with diet and weight loss suggestions.  While I’m all for getting on a healthy track, I  am not a fan of the yo-yo diets or starvation protocols floating around. In essence, they are unsustainable and they put our bodies through undue stress and confusion.  Instead, I opt for continuity by eating whole foods in their most natural state every day.  Easy enough, right?  Let’s explore…

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Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

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I’m sure you’re all planning enticing New Year’s Eve menus…and this dish will definitely fit the bill!  I adapted the recipe from another local nutritionist, Cheryl Forberg, who is the consultant for “The Biggest Loser.”  Cheryl creates dishes which are seasonal and satisfying…and just so happen to be good for you.  Sound familiar?

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Molasses Pepper Cookies

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I wanted to get this in before you are completely sick of baking.  I hope I’m not too late ‘cuz these cookies are SO worth it.  I adapted the recipe from Tori Ritchie, a local cookbook author and TV chef, who writes a wonderful blog called “Tuesday’s Recipe.”  After further review, Tori gives the original credit to the San Francisco Chronicle, which is often what happens when something is THAT good.  It gets passed on umpteen times.

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Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

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I always have a drawer full of sweet potatoes on hand and have been using them in everything from sweet to savory.  This recipe from Delicious Living Magazine (the free one you get at health food stores) intrigued me with its addition of almonds and yogurt, for both added texture and subtle creaminess.  The pairing of lentils and sweet potatoes is lovely, and the garnishes did not disappoint.  This stew is a great way to warm up the palate on a cold winters’ night.

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Last Minute Holiday Goodies

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I am a list maker, and taker, in this case.  I collect them all – from “Top Ten Kitchen Gadgets” to “the Most Romantic Beach Destinations” (which, of course, is a constant research project.)  Since most of the work has already been done, I thought you might enjoy some of these suggestions when crossing your list and checking it twice, or trying to avoid shopping hangovers.

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Raw Goji Berry Truffles

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It’s that time of year when we get to make and eat everything we want, right?  Well, almost.  And if you follow this site, you can pretty much enjoy the most tantalizing goodies without breaking the weight bank, so to speak.  It’s day three of another “Gluten Free Progressive Dinner Party” and this month we are focusing on desserts.  Wahoo!  Today’s theme is chocolate, and I am sharing a simple recipe which can be served as dessert or under the tree.  It comes from that delicious experience at Esalen by Leslie Cerier.

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Sweet Potato Portabellos

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Many nights I forage in my kitchen looking for inspiration to make dinner.  When I can’t find her, I rely on Plan B: “go with what ya got.”  Yesterday I pulled out some portabello mushrooms I had been wanting to use for just this type of dish.  Like baked potatoes. portabellos are great for filling with all types of flavors.  They are quite meaty and absorb whatever liquids you use for marinade.  I paired them with the sweet potatoes I had left over from Thanksgiving, and another main course was born.

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Quick and Easy Rye Bread

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I am on the last of my turkey barley soup (figured you had enough of those recipes)…but what I’ll miss the most is what went alongside: the homemade rye bread.  To date, I have had the worst luck with yeast breads.  Not sure if its my oven, the vessel I put the loaf into, or one too few “Hail Mary’s.”  Yes, I do use whole grain flours, but I also follow recipes, as making bread is pretty much an exact science.  So with one of my favorite bread flavors being rye, I decided to mix it up a little and blend a few of my ‘successful’ ingredients together.

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Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz

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If you can complete the rest of this jingle, you are in my age bracket (or beyond;-)  Of course I’m referring to the Alka Seltzer commercial,  and relief of indigestion.  Just a guess, but there may be some of that going on these next few days, so I thought I’d give you a break from Thanksgiving overload (so to speak) and offer some helpful tips on how to prevent stomach upset or how to help calm it down.

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Pumpkin Pecan "Cheese"cake

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Here we are at the final destination of our “Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner Party,” and as most of you know, it’s my favorite course: dessert!  I am a freak for pumpkin – in the form of pie, cookies, muffins or cheesecake.  I try to extend the ’season’ as long as I can just to savor its creamy goodness.  But being the wholesome baker that I am, I am always finding new ways to adjust the sweetness (and the type,) as well as the crust.  In keeping with our gluten free focus, I have mastered (!) a decadent pecan crust which pairs beautifully with the filling.  Which, by the way, does not contain any cheese, but uses yogurt adding a refreshing tang with every bite…

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Goat Cheese with Cumin and Mint

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I am part of something new and exciting this week.  Seven fellow food writers are joining together for a “Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner Party”  and you are invited to attend!  Each of us will be offering recipes every day this week comprising an entire holiday meal. You will have several options for each category, depending on taste and food combinations.  Yesterday we started with beverages at Whole Life Nutrition and Gluten Free Organics.  Today I will be presenting an appetizer, along with two more from Book of Yum and Gluten Free Organics.

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Holiday Herbs and Spices

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As we prepare our Thanksgiving menus, many fresh herbs come unto play which not only taste good, but are good for you.  From appetizers to dessert, herbs like sage and thyme sprout from the garden into the kitchen.  The wafts of their fragrance bring back fond childhood memories which come to life again and help with everything from digestion to stress.

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Hummus for All Seasons

I am constantly playing with variations of hummus.  This middle-eastern spread is such an easy and versatile dish, not to mention high in fiber and protein (but you know I will;-). In my recent “Healthy Holiday Appetizers” class at Whole Foods, I shared a hummus recipe using roasted red peppers, for color and a twist in flavor. I have used pumpkin and kale as additives, curry and black beans…all depending on what’s in season.  But today I thought we’d start with this foundation adding a little extra lemon for a boost of vitamin C…and zip to every bite.

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Esalen Greens with Orange-Ginger Sauce

Pinch me. I think I was dreaming. This past week I was in the most beautiful place on Earth.  I had the good fortune of assisting with a cooking class at Esalen in Big Sur, CA, for five days.  I had fully intended to write from my perch, but there was no internet service so, alas, I was ‘forced’ to kick back and become a sponge. Click to continue reading »

Fresh Pumpkin Pudding

I figured we all have pumpkin on hand this week…so I thought I’d share some tips on how to bake the flesh inside, and put it to several yummy uses.  Most of the baking recipes call for Sugar Pie pumpkins, but you can also cook with acorn or butternut squash if you prefer.  This pumpkin pudding is so easy and a great make-ahead when entertaining, or great for breakfast, too!

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Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Cumin

It’s pumpkin season everywhere, from the field to the farmers’ markets and beyond.  And while the most common and popular is the orange Jack-o-Lantern type for carving, it doesn’t provide the velvety flesh that some of its relatives do. The sugar-pie pumpkin is similar in color but better for baking, as it is nutty and sweet. And there are many savory types of this winter squash as well, all with their own distinctive flavor. One thing for certain is that fresh baked pumpkin far outweighs canned for taste and texture. But don’t discard the seeds! They are so versatile, healthy, and easy to make from scratch. Click to continue reading »

Vanilla Bean Applesauce

applesauce2

So when last we were together, I mentioned power outages and applesauce.  Thankfully, gas and electric are restored, and my applesauce is resting in its new glass enclosures.

Let me start by saying I am not the most patient person on the planet (I hear the LOL’s), so when it comes to things like traditional canning, I usually run for cover.  But recently my friend Ali at Whole Life Nutrition offered tips on how even the most challenged of us (like moi, with mismatched jars and lids) can bottle up some sweet goodness easefully and not far from the tree.  Plus, she has lovely pictures and precious little hands to help her.

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Turkey Meatballs

It has been an incredibly stormy day here…flash flood warnings and blustery winds.  No one told me winter had arrived, but I’m preparing just the right foods in case the power goes out (again): applesauce, chicken stock, and pasta with meatballs.

With the last of summer tomatoes to use (I know, I’m covering almost every season here!)…and my frozen ground turkey about to thaw, I thought it would be a perfect time to start rolling the meat and pull an old classic together.

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Dairy Free Corn Chowda

I have many posts to share  – and quickly – as the summer produce transitions into fall.  As mentioned in previous notes, here in Napa we are finding the last of heirloom tomatoes, corn and pears…along with new crops of pumpkins, apples and figs.  At the St Helena Farmers’ Market, I bought some of the sweetest corn I have had all ‘summer’ from Long Meadow Ranch.  As the weather provides a bit of chill in the air, I thought it was time for soup.  And so this version of corn chowder was born…

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Heirloom Tomato Tart with Cilantro Goat Cheese

There are tons of deals to be had on tomatoes at the farmers’ markets, even heirloom varieties.  I recently purchased a box for $1/lb. because the fruit was either blemished or going a little soft.  That’s a savings of up to $10!  The flavor was intensely sweet and juicy, but with enough acid for balance. And some were just perfect for slicing…which is how we used them last night.

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Figalicious!

‘Tis the season for figs and so many are now available at the farmers market – Black Mission, Kadota, Brown Turkey, Adriatic and Strawberry (in photo) just to name a few.  Figs are easy to eat on the go and provide a wonderful dose of fiber and manganese, which helps fight free-radicals.  Figs are also good for the heart as an excellent source of phytosterols which can block cholesterol, and from potassium which helps control blood pressure.

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BlogHer Food 2009

I am still entering my notes from the BlogHer Food conference at the St. Regis in San Francisco.  Phew!  It was quite informative and revealing on so many levels (translation: I have much work to do:-) There were seminars on “Finding Your Voice in a Crowded Blogosphere,” to “How Food Blogs Can Save the World” (yeah!)  Mix that with heavy networking, food demos, and even a lunchtime treat in the name of hottie Rocco DiSpirito, who was peddling frozen foods, which had the room all in a twitter (now that certainly has a new meaning!) I mean, we ARE food bloggers, afterall…

The cocktail party was electric with fanatic foodies, writers, photographers, sponsors and media.  (To think I barely scratched the surface – isn’t that always the way at conferences?)  And the swag – OY!  I still have a sense of guilty pleasure every time I dig in (let’s just say there was plenty of Scharfenberger chocolate involved.)

The Gluten Free Gang

The Gluten Free Gang

As I continue to download, edit and tweak the backlog of recipes and healthy tidbits I have in store, I wanted to send a shout out to you – my loyal readers – for continuing to support the discovery of my voice while influencing even a tiny change in the world…one walnut at a time.  Recipe tomorrow!


Greeña Colada

It’s Friday…happy hour somewhere…and I am preparing to attend the first BlogHer Food conference in San Francisco tomorrow. I have the usual butterflies – going into a room filled with ‘celebrity’ writers in my field, knowing them only through pumpkin pies and sustainable seafood, and being somewhat overwhelmed by the list of questions I have compiled for at least 20 of the speakers (me and the rest of the participants;-)  So as I study-up re-reading blogs by many of my fellow foodies, I thought it was only fitting that I pull out the Vita-Mix and take the edge off…

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Gluten Free 4 You?

It seems everywhere I turn these days, ‘gluten free’ has become all the rage.  This is in NO way to disparage the need for gluten free products.   As a semi-gluten free baker myself (I’m not gluten intolerant, but am a therapeutic chef) – I am thrilled there is more awareness and that the choices are more widely available AND tasty, too.  But I am often asked if it is necessary or healthier to remove gluten from our diets entirely.  The answer is complex and variable.  Let’s explore…

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End-of-Summer One-Dish-Wonder

I am still craving fresh, sweet corn (and from the looks of it…Indian Summer is in the forecast!) and through my friend Steve at Rancho Gordo, I found a recipe which combines another favorite food – beans.  Tomatoes are finally in their prime, and put them all together for a wonderful side dish (to ribs) or along with a salad as a main course.  For the health benefits, you get lots of fiber (beans and corn), vitamin C (tomatoes) and antioxidants from the garlic.  All in, this dish costs about $1.25 per serving!

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

I wanted to get this in before the end of summer.  Here in Napa, the weather has been purdy strange.  It was almost 100 degrees yesterday, and this morning we woke up to rain and thunder! But last night we had a hankerin’ for baby back ribs with BBQ sauce.  Trouble is, store bought sauces are usually loaded with corn syrup and can be overly sweet for my taste.  So, I played around with some recipes, changed and reduced the sugar, and came up with this kickass homemade version…

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Panna Cotta with Nectarine Coulis

Hike in Pagosa Springs

Hike in Pagosa Springs, CO

I’m back!  Thanks for sticking around.  We had a glorious trip through Colorado.  Did you know they have 54 mountains with an elevation of 14,000 feet or more?  Quite impressive.  I’d like to say we hiked them, but just tackling 9500 feet was ‘breathtaking.’  We ate very well along the way, even scored a few farmers’ markets.  Let me know if any of you are planning to travel there; I have plenty of suggestions on where to eat – from Boulder and Telluride, to Crested Butte and Aspen.

Speaking of food (that’s why you’re here, right?)…a few weeks ago I mentioned a dish I made for my final presentation at Bauman College. It was a Coconut Chai Panna Cotta with a Nectarine Coulis and Orange Tuile.  As you know, I don’t usually post complicated recipes, but while this one may have one or two more steps, believe me when I tell you it is out.of.this.world.

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This and That

While I scale the Rockies (no violins, please;-) I didn’t want to keep you from receiving vital information on the healthy bandwagon, so…here are some timely tidbits from fellow bloggers:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop offers a wonderful summation of the film, “Food, Inc.”  If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to put it in your queue.

The Modern Forager takes a no-nonsense approach to the constant challenge of balancing food, fitness and fat.

Speaking of fat, we need it! (healthy fat, that is…)  Take a look at Michelle’s findings which further substantiate: eat fat to lose fat.

There has been a lot of bally-hoo lately over the pro’s and cons of agave nectar.  As you know, I use it often in my baking recipes, but have been ‘taking note’ of recent findings. Judy Barnes Baker gives her perspective on agave and other alternative sweeteners.

And, of course no posting of mine would be complete without an excerpt from my sustainable food guru, Michael Pollan.  It’s a sobering look at how our society has moved from the kitchen to the couch as we devour cooking shows on the telly.

Enjoy the potpourri.  Let me know your thoughts…and see you in a week!


Grad Night and Julia

It’s official – I am now a certified Natural Chef.  Last night was our final day at Bauman College as we turned in our reports (27 pages!) and contemplated evaluations (hence my delay with this post.)  It was a comprehensive program which offered an array of skills and recipe applications focusing on the Eating 4 Health model – fresh, whole foods in their most natural state (you know the kind…it’s what you read about here;-)

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Go With What Ya' Got

There’s a great segment on Martha Stewart Radio called “Use It Up.”  It’s part of the Everyday Food hour where host Sandy Gluck asks callers what they have in excess and offers ways to create recipes around it.  During the week I find this particularly helpful when we’re short on time and have to rely on what’s already in stock.  With farmers’ markets in season, I tend to have something on-hand which is fresh, but that doesn’t mean my culinary creativity keeps in step.  So in our house it’s called “go with what ya’ got.”

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Corn and Zuke Frittata

I think almost every grower I buy from at the farmers’ market has an abundance of zucchini right now.  So, hey, being a team player…I give.  But today the real star is corn.  Sweet and in its prime, corn makes a wonderful addition to everything – from chowder and pasta, to salads and frittata.  Of course, just eating it right off the cob is the pure essence of summer, especially with a dab of herb butter. Click to continue reading »

White Beans with Pancetta and Zucchini

Some dishes are appropriate year round.  And in that camp, I would include beans.  Beans are one of the best plant sources of protein on the planet, not to mention low on the calorie index.  They are super high in fiber, which is great for reducing cholesterol and regulating blood sugar.  And…they are loaded with antioxidants, in some cases more than blueberries!

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Cauliflower "Couscous"

This is a WOW dish from chef class.  Cauliflower made as ‘couscous’ with fresh herbs from the garden.  It’s a great substitute for any grain, or simply as a fun accompaniment to fish, chicken or pork.  Cauliflower is a brain food – not only because it looks like one – but because it contains Omega 3s.  It’s also high in B vitamins which combat stress, and the sleep-promoting tryptophan.  With only 29 calories per cup, its ideal for anyone wanting to maintain weight control…and so tasty, too!

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Plum Delicious

Plums are in their sweet, succulent prime at the farmers’ market.  Aside from berries, they are my absolute favorite fruit.  I just love their juicy flesh enveloped by that tart, colorful skin.  And that’s the best part about them – the skin is loaded with pectin which keeps things moving (think prunes;-)

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