Nepenthe’s garbanzo and kidney bean salad

garbanzo and kidney bean salad

garbanzo and kidney bean saladHere’s a simple but tasty bean salad to pair with your favorite burger, sandwich or simply to throw on a bed of greens. We first tasted this salad on our recent visit to Nepenthe in Big Sur. They pair this bean salad alongside their burgers, and I have to say that it’s the perfect side, as it’s a nice break from the traditional mixed greens, fries or coleslaw that most restaurants serve up with their burgers. Below is a photo of the amazing tofu burger that I had paired with this salad. Isn’t it adorable how they put it all in this cute little basket? I’ve already posted the recipe for their famous ambrosia sauce, which is the perfect sauce to slather on your favorite burger or a nice dipping sauce for your fries and onion rings. If you haven’t been to Nepenthe in Big Sur, then you must make the trek sometime. They have the most amazing views from the restaurant, and it’s truly a spiritual experience just sitting there surrounded by nature and those views.


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quinoa cakes

quinoa cakes (1 of 1)

quinoa cakes (1 of 1)Ok, so remember when I was obsessed with kale and everything kale?  Well, I’m still pretty obsessed with kale, but now I’m obsessed with quinoa as well.  I have figured out my favorite way to eat quinoa, and that is warm, liked warmed up in patties or a cereal rather than cold like in a salad.  I’ve made more quinoa dishes in the last few months than I have in the past year that I’ve been blogging.  First, there were these quinoa patties.  Super yummy, easy to make and healthy.

quinoa patties

Then I tried quinoa for breakfast with steel-cut oats and goji berries. Say what, quinoa for breakfast?  Oh yes, try it!  It’s my new favorite way to start the day.  It’s a power house of a breakfast.

hot quinoa and oat cereal with goji berries

Now, I ventured into a crispier and cheesier quinoa cake.  Hey, I was thinking of my kids here, because they were not the biggest fans of the other quinoa patties. Kid verdict?  Zoe liked them better than the other ones, (that’s a step in the right direction, still working on her) and Eli LOVED them, so I would say that this recipe was a success. Dry toasting the quinoa before simmering it in the broth adds such a depth of flavor, and the quinoa gets all browned in color and forms into these tiny little balls. The mozzarella cheese gets all melty and crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. These cakes remind me in a weird but healthier way, of mozzarella cheese sticks. I know that’s a strange way to describe them, but they are crispy, cheesy and chewy cakes. I mean who said that healthy foods have to taste healthy, right?  Just give them a try and if you like quinoa and cheese, then you will love these.


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twice baked potatoes

twice baked potatoes

twice baked potatoesOk, so these potatoes are not one of the healthiest recipes I have on the blog, but they sure are tasty.  I believe that life, as well as food, is all about moderation and balance.  If you have balance, then you are living in the natural harmony of life.  To eat too healthy is actually not healthy.  Too much of one thing is not good for anyone.  Look at nature, when there is too much sun the plants don’t thrive because they need the rain as well. The key to life is balance.

These potatoes bring back happy memories every time I make and eat them.  My dad use to whip up a similar version of these potatoes every Easter and Christmas.  I use to help him out by scooping out the insides of the potatoes after they were baked, and then putting everything back in the skins after all the goodies were added to the potatoes.  It was pure comfort family cooking, but a happy memory in my heart, and one I still cherish.

What’s great about these potatoes or really any potato recipe, is that you can play with the recipe and add what you like to it.  You can add more or less cheese, more or less milk, some other greens, basically you are the creator here, so feel free to create. Another reason I love these potatoes is that they can be made and assembled ahead of time and then baked up later. They’re the perfect potato to bring to a dinner party or potluck.


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mashed potatoes with kale

mashed potatoes with kale

mashed potatoes with kaleI’m sorry that I’m not doing my regular weekly dinner menu post, but this considered a vacation week, so I’m kind of taking a vacation from cooking (until Thanksgiving that is). I’m also in the process of moving my site over to Wordpress, so I’m going to be busy working on getting that up and running with the help of my HTML goddess Wendy, thanks Wendy!  I can’t wait to move over, as I’m feeling limited on blogger and have finally decided that it’s time to make the move!  I promise to have my weekly dinner menu up and running next Sunday.

If you love kale and mashed potatoes, then you will love these.  Zoe and I were looking through Sprouted Kitchen’s new cookbook one afternoon where she saw the photo of these potatoes. She bookmarked the page, and told me that I had to make them.  I think her love of potatoes comes from John, as he loves any kind of potato dish. I honestly love what a foodie my daughter has become.  She would have never asked for potatoes with kale a year ago, (come to think of it, I don’t think I would have either) but our tastes change and grow, and now she and I both love kale.  


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quinoa patties


Happy day after Halloween!  Are you all candied out?  Are you putting yourself on a diet of kale salads and quinoa dishes till Thanksgiving? I’m not going to go that far, but I do need some sort of cleanse from all the sugar I’ve been eating lately. It’s not candy that I need a break from, but baked goods. I have been baking way to many pumpkin muffins, cupcakes and bundt cakes lately, and I need to stop!  Maybe with all of this new candy in the house, I won’t be asked to bake anything. I think the trick-or-treat candy will give me about a week off before the kids start getting sick of it and start asking me what I’m going to bake up. 


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crispy & easy garlic bread

crispy and easy garlic bread
crispy and easy garlic bread

I honestly love where I live.  I just dropped off some of our favorite chocolate chip cookies to Zoe’s locker at school, as she has a reunion party with one of her favorite 6th grade teachers today.  As I was driving home, I just felt a sense of gratefulness, pride and love for where I live. There’s such a sense of community here, and everywhere I go, I always run into a familiar or friendly face.  It’s small town living, and I love it!

Anyway, I just thought I would share that with you all!  So, I’m in the process of planning out my weekly menu for next week, (which I posted for you on Sunday) and I put garlic bread on the menu.  I realized that I haven’t shared with you our favorite garlic bread recipe, lame, I know. This garlic bread is easy, crispy and tastes so darn good.  Garlic bread is the perfect accompaniment to any pasta, especially a saucy one. If you want to stretch a pasta meal into two nights, garlic bread helps you do that.  You can double the recipe to feed a crowd or add more garlic or less depending on how garlicky you like your bread.

In my old garlic bread making days I used butter and garlic salt.  One time I put too much garlic salt on the bread and it was so bitter that I swore it off from then on.  I’m happy I made the switch to the real stuff, as you can taste fresh garlic in every bite, but in a good way.  So move over garlic salt and say hello to the fresh stuff.

crispy garlic bread:

recipe from Everyday Food
serves 8
printer friendly recipe

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened – at room temp 
  • coarse salt
  • 1 loaf of italian bread (or your favorite crusty bread), halved lengthwise  

Note:  When I’m feeding my family, I only use 1/2 a loaf of bread.  I save the other half for the next night as well as half the garlic butter.  I just refrigerate the butter till the next day and take it out about an hour before I bake the bread to make it easier to spread.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel the garlic cloves.  Fill a small pan with water and bring it to a boil.  Add the garlic cloves to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves with a slotted spoon, and finely chop.In a small bowl, mix the chopped garlic with the butter and season to taste with coarse salt. Spread the butter mixture on cut sides of bread.Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sandwich both halves together and bake until the bread is crusty and the butter has melted, about 10 minutes.Slice it up and serve it up alongside your favorite pasta.  Throw on some fresh parsley for some color if you wish.Tip: I place a cutting board on the bottom of my sink and slice the bread there so I don’t get crumbs everywhere.  I know I’m a bit anal, but it’s nice not to be stepping on crumbs for the next week.    

roasted asparagus

Sadly asparagus season is almost over, so I wanted to make sure to post my family’s favorite way to enjoy it, and that is roasting it.  Roasted asparagus is so tasty and it’s a perfect healthy side to any spring meal.  We have been eating so much asparagus these past few months that if  you look closely at the photos below you will see that its everywhere in our household.  I kinda think my kids are glad that the season is coming to a close.

Have you ever roasted asparagus before?  If you haven’t, you have to try it.  It has converted me and many of my friends from asparagus haters to asparagus lovers!  It’s so easy to prepare.  All you do is rinse it, throw on some olive oil and salt, and bake for 7 minutes.  I mean, how easy is that?

Here’s a great tip for keeping asparagus fresh.  Fill a tall glass container with about 2 inches of cold water. Take each asparagus stalk and cut off at least half an inch from the bottom. Put the stalks into the glass container and set it in your refrigerator.  Make sure to replace the water if you are keeping the spears for more than a few days as it will get cloudy.

roasted asparagus:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea or kosher salt 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse the asparagus and break off and discard the tough ends. 
Lay the asparagus spears out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the spears as well as a pinch of sea or kosher salt.  Toss the asparagus with the salt and olive oil until they are all are evenly distributed.
Place baking sheet in the oven on the middle or second rack from the bottom and cook for approximately 7-10 minutes, depending on how thick your asparagus spears are.  Roast until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork.  
Make sure to toss them a bit halfway through.
I usually pull them out at exactly 7 minutes and they are perfect every time!
Asparagus is a delicious vegetable that pairs with just about anything.
Here are some meals we have been pairing it with below.
salmon with almond-lime yogurt sauceroasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza
Anyway, I hope you have a chance to roast up some asparagus before the season is over.

tomatillo and avocado salsa

tomatillo and avocado salsa
tomatillo and avocado salsa
OK, I tried to make this salsa look attractive and exciting, but hey let’s face it, it’s salsa.  It may not look enticing, but it tastes great.  I’m posting this salsa recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, (which is this Saturday in case you forgot). Are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo?  We’re not exactly celebrating it, but we’re definitely going to consume some Mexican fare and have ourselves a margarita or two.

This is the perfect salsa to bring to a party or to serve up at home with your favorite chips and Mexican fare.  It’s got a bit of a kick to it, but not too much where your kids won’t enjoy it.  Eli kept dipping his chips in it, so I know it wasn’t too spicy for him. 

tomatillo and avocado salsa:

recipe adapted from the food network
    • 1 small red onion or 1/2 of a normal sized one, quartered 
    • 1 jalapeño, quartered, seeds optional – I omitted the seeds
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 4 medium tomatillos, (about 8 ounces) husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
    • 1 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
These are tomatillos in case you were not sure what they looked like.  They don’t look so pretty on the outside, but take away their outer skin and underneath you will find a bright green beauty. 
Remove the husk from the tomatillos and wash off the sticky film.  They are sticky little suckers until you rinse them.
Coarsely chop the tomatillos.
 Put the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor and finely chop.
Add the tomatillos, avocado, and salt and pulse until chopped but still chunky. 
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.
 Blend in the cilantro.
That’s all there is to it.  Pretty easy!
Grab some chips and dig in!
tomatillo and avocado salsa
Happy Cinco de Mayo! 

wheat berries with charred onions and kale

wheat berries with charred onions and kale

wheat berries with charred onions and kaleAm I turning into a health nut or what?  I have eaten more kale in the past 6 months than I have in my whole lifetime, seriously. This blog is working wonders for my health and waistline (as well as my hubby’s).  It was actually John that picked out this recipe, can you believe it?  We received the recent issue of bon appetit on Friday.  John opened it up, pointed at two recipes, looked at me and said, “honey, we’re making this for dinner on Sunday.”  I  then took a look at the two recipes and happily agreed.  Did I mention that John is an amazing cook, even better than me?  I’m such a lucky girl.

Wheat berries?  You’re probably wondering what the heck they are.  Wheat berries are simply individual kernels of wheat.  They’re a true whole grain.  A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron.  Wheat berries have a chewy bite and a subtle nutty and earthy flavor.  You can find them in the natural foods section of your local grocery store. I found these at Whole Foods in the bulk bins.

wheat berries with charred onions and kale: 
recipe from bon appetit
serves 6

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat berries 
  • 2 medium yellow onions – see instructions below
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - The recipe called for 8 tablespoons but we did not feel we needed all the oil, so we just added what we felt was necessary.
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 packed cups) – I used curly kale for this recipe
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Combine wheat berries, 1 onion half, 5 thyme sprigs, and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2 inches.  
The below photo was taken before I put in the water, of course, but I thought it was pretty so I snapped up a picture.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium or medium low (our stove has an intense flame so we went to medium low) and simmer until wheat berries are just tender but still firm to the bite, about 35 minutes. 
Drain in a colander and discard the onion and thyme sprigs. Place wheat berries in a large bowl and let cool.  
Meanwhile, rinse, de-stem, dry and tear up your kale into 2-inch pieces; set aside.  
Cut remaining 3 onion halves crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat; add onions. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are charred in spots, about 5 minutes. 
Transfer onions to the bowl with wheat berries
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to same skillet (we actually added about 1 teaspoon as there was oil leftover). Working in 3 batches, add kale and cook, tossing occasionally, sprinkling with salt and pepper, and adding oil as needed between batches, until charred in spots, about 1 minute per batch.  
This is another tasty and kid approved way to get your kale in.  My kids loved the kale sautéed this way as it reminded them of kale chips but without the crunch. 
Add the kale to the bowl.  Drizzle with the 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and any remaining oil left in the pan; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
We served this up as a side salad for dinner, but I would definitely eat a bowl of this for lunch without the steak!
 Here were my leftovers the next day.  I topped the salad with some leftover steak and the herb salsa.  I then microwaved it for about 1 minute. 
 It was a two-nighter meal and tasted just as good or even better the next night.

What have you made with kale lately?
Are you becoming kale obsessed like me?
Bon appétit

roasted fingerling potatoes with salt, rosemary and thyme

roasted fingerling potatoes with salt, rosemary and thyme

roasted fingerling potatoes with salt, rosemary and thymeI received a cast-iron skillet for Christmas and couldn’t wait to break it in.  I was cooking up some lemon chicken breasts and roasted cauliflower for dinner and decided that some roasted potatoes would be the perfect accompaniment.  Comfort food at its best, but healthy comfort food.  I took a look in my pantry and noticed I had about 16 fingerling potatoes just sitting there waiting to be used, so I pulled out one cast iron skillet and got to work.

BTW, my kids love these potatoes (they rate them a 10).  They really taste like thick cut french fries, as they get super crispy on the bottom when you roast them in the skillet

roasted fingerling potatoes with salt, rosemary and thyme:

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

serves 4

  • 15-16 or 1 pound fingerling potatoes, well scrubbed
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Note:  There are really no precise estimates for oil, salt, pepper and herbs.  Just use the amounts you want and like when seasoning your veggies as some people like more seasoning and some people like less.  It’s really an individual preference.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large ovenproof gratin dish or skillet in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  I used my 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

DSC_0002Wash and scrub your potatoes and then cut them in half lengthwise.

DSC_0007Combine the salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary in a small bowl.

DSC_0016Toss the potatoes in a medium bowl with the tablespoon of olive oil.

DSC_0020Add in your seasoned-salt mixture and mix well to combine.

DSC_0021-2Arrange the potatoes cut side down in a single layer in the preheated pan.

The potatoes will be tight here, but try and just wedge them in as best you can.  I filled mine with 16 potatoes and it was a tight squeeze.

DSC_0039Roast until they are golden on the outside and tender when pierced with fork, 20-25  minutes.roasted fingerling potatoes with salt, rosemary and thymeEnjoy!

cranberry orange sauce

cranberry orange sauce
cranberry orange sauce
Thanksgiving is almost here and everyone needs a cranberry sauce to compliment their Turkey dinner, right?  This cranberry sauce is so simple to make and tastes 100 times better than the canned stuff.  I remember devouring the canned stuff as a kid each Thanksgiving.  I would peel open the can and dump out that big glop of gelled cranberry sauce onto the serving dish and call it a day.  Easy peasy right?  Well, yes, it was easy, but not so tasty, so move over canned sauce and say hello to the fresh stuff.  

This recipe has been passed down from John’s mom, aka, mama mama.  She got the nickname from Zoe when she was 2 years old, and it has stuck ever since.  We all refer to her now as mama mama and she loves it!  This sauce also makes a great hostess gift. We like to put the cranberry sauce into little glass jars, tie them with a cute bow and give them away throughout the holiday season.
cranberry orange sauce

cranberry orange sauce:

recipe handed down from mama mama

  • 12 ounces (1 bag) fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed cloves - if you can’t find crushed cloves, just crush them with the back of a spoon or in a coffee grinder
  • 1 orange cut into small chunks
  • zest of one orange
Rinse your cranberries, zest and cut up your orange and measure out your ingredients. 
Combine all the ingredients into small sauce pan.  
Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until most of the cranberry skins pop.
I wish it was more complicated, but it’s not.  Serve this up to your guests at Thanksgiving and they will be very thankful.
cranberry orange sauce
Remember, this sauce makes great hostess gifts.  Just put the cranberry sauce into little glass jars, tie them with a cute bow, and give them away throughout the holiday season.