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Breakfast boredom leads to healthy bagel replacement + LA hotspot gourmet version

June 19th, 2014 2 Comments



I’m always trying to think of ways to reinvent breakfast, in my opinion, the most boring meal of the day.  If I were eating waffles and bacon, breakfast would be my favorite.  However, such is not the case.  My options are oatmeal/quinoa with seeds and nuts, yogurt with seeds and fruit, or hard-boiled eggs.  If I’m being honest, on the days I teach at SoulCycle, I eat whatever looks appetizing in my fridge: usually half of a banana slathered with almond butter or just almond butter and jam in a bowl….I’m eating it with coffee so it doesn’t need to be healthy, just small and slow-burning.


Recently I’ve been craving bagels.  Recently I’ve also been trying to cut out gluten.  Not a good pair, but an admirable challenge!


Being single, there are only so many things in my house, so the recipe for this hearty treat almost put itself together.





Brown Rice Cake + Raw Almond Butter + Non-Fat Greek Yogurt + Home-made Jam

Carbs + Fat + Protein + Deliciousness



Now, there isn’t enough protein (about 20g per meal for me), but the combo is quick, easy, light, and satisfying for 2 hours.  That’s really all I need in the morning.
At first glance, I know, it makes you cringe, but think about it….the recipe makes sense.  Sub rice cake for bagel, yogurt for cream cheese….It’s really a solid combo that coincidentally I’m not the only loving.
Bon Appetit clipping


A couple weeks ago, I’ve just made my little substitute bagel breakfast and I break open Bon Appetit. (Literally. As you see at the top of this post.) I flip through a few pages and I see a feature on Squirl, the latest LA hotspot. The hipsters apparently line up around the block for their fresh toast and homemade jam.  The owner and chef is Jessica Koslow, who reigns from Bacchanalia (one of my favorite restaurant in Atlanta).  Guess what her signature dish is: a version of my little biscuit!  Granted, Koslow is much more resourceful, but she has the same concept.  Her version is quite decadent: rye toast, ricotta cheese, and raspberry jam.  YUM!
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The secret ingrendients of spring

May 2nd, 2013 No Comments

Fresh fish at Market Table NYC

One of my favorite parts (at this point in time, one of the ONLY parts) I like about living in NYC is the fresh and inventive food.  It’s no San Fran just-cut-from-the-garden-to-table fare, but the chefs here keep me satisfied.  Last night, we ate at Market Table, a West Village staple from one of my all-time favorite chefs Joey Companaro (of famed Little Owl) and Mike Price.  As always, the food was amazing.  Adventurous, not so much, but seasonal, sensational, and solid.  (Side Note: Campanara and Price have just opened a new joint a few doors down called Fatty ‘Cue which they say is their “effort to bring a little Southeast Asian fermented funkiness and a whole helluva a lot of smoke.”)

As you may or may not be able to tell from the picture above, we ordered “the usual” for a group of girls: fish and chicken.  (Not pictured: Quinoa Hushpuppies with chipotle mayo that blew my mind.) What I loved about these dishes was the use of the seasonal veg I don’t normally use at home: ramps, fava beans, and snap peas.  All are the rage with NYC chefs right now.  Apparently there’s even a ramp festival….wild I’m sure. Asparagus is also in season.

The question then remains, how shall we use these yummy ingredients at home?  I have some ideas of what I would do if I had a functioning, clean kitchen to whip up something tasty.



I had never even heard of a ramp until it was all over the menu at ABC Kitchen the other night.  As you can see they look like leeks and have a powerful onion and garlic flavor.  So, maybe they are more familiar than we think.  Food blog theKitchn says:

“They pair beautifully with eggs, potatoes, and anything creamy (like a cream-based soup). Treat them gently, use both the green and the white part (everything but the nubby root end) and cook them lightly. Butter or olive oil are both fine fats for ramp-cooking, a tablespoon or so for every cup of chopped ramps.”

The season goes by fast so try out a few recipes while you can still grab a bundle.  To get you started:


My food photography just doesn’t hold up to the pro bloggers, but I can tell you the dishes I post taste good.  That’s all that counts, right?!

I know it seems like we see asparagus all year long, but it’s really not appetizing raw until it’s in seasonClick here for Bon Appetit’s breakdown of the many ways you can prepare it.  This raw salad is “Ribboned Asparagus” from SmittenKitchen.  So simple and always a hit at dinner parties.

More recipes:


 Herbed Pea Sauce

I can’t get enough of fresh peas.  I could just eat a whole bag of fresh boiled peas.  No seasoning needed.  But, should you want to spice them up, consider this recipe for Herbed Pea Sauce from Bon Appetit that seems to compliment a lot of our “usual” dishes.

The Big Kahuna

Pea Asparagus Fava Bean Salad

Pea, Asparagus, and Fava Bean Salad

From Bon Appetit, April 2012


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups fresh fava beans (from about 2 pounds pods) or frozen fava beans, thawed
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, stalks peeled if thick
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


  • Whisk olive oil, Pecorino, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a medium bowl to blend. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Set dressing aside.
  • If using fresh fava beans, cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander set in a bowl of ice water (do not cook frozen beans). Drain and peel; place in a large bowl.
  • Return water in saucepan to a boil; add asparagus and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to colander in ice water.
  • If using fresh peas, return water in saucepan to a boil; add peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes (do not cook frozen peas). Drain; transfer to colander in ice water. Drain vegetables. Add to bowl with fava beans.
  • Combine vegetable oil and shallot in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot is golden brown and crisp, 10-12 minutes. Transfer shallot to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Add dressing to bowl with vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Transfer salad to a serving platter and top with shallot and bacon.
  • DO AHEAD: Dressing and vegetables can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.




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3 Easy and Impressive Desserts

November 29th, 2012 No Comments

With all of the holiday cooking, dessert can either be your favorite thing to prepare, something you have to throw together, or an afterthought.  These three recipes are super easy and fast so you don’t have to stress to impress.  They’re also easy to serve in small, individual portions.

Should you make the cobbler or chocolate in a large dish, try serving in a martini glass.  It’s unique, unexpected, and makes your efforts look grand!

Drop-Biscuit Fruit Cobbler

Adpated from Bon Appetit August 2012



  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons and 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 6 cups of any berries you want
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

** Serves 6.  You can cut in half or thirds.


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter; using your fingertips, incorporate until only pea-size lumps remain. Gently mix in yogurt. Knead in bowl until a biscuit-like dough forms, 5–7 turns (over-mixing will make dough tough).

Combine remaining 1 cup sugar, remaining 3 tablespoons flour, berries, juice, and zest in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Pour into an 8x8x2″ glass baking dish or divide among six 6-ounce ramekins. Tear biscuit topping into quarter-size crumbles; scatter over berries.

Bake cobbler until juices are thick and bubbling and topping is cooked through and deep golden brown, 20–25 minutes for ramekins or 45–50 minutes for baking dish. Let cool for at least 1 hour.

Pot Du Chocolate

From my friend Alexandra



  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups scalded light cream (Alex: I use heavy cream)
  • 2 egg yolks (Alex: I don’t use them)
  • 3 tblsps. cognac, rum or bourbon (Alex: I use less but up to the cook!)

** Serves 6.


1.  Scald creme by heating until just below boiling.

2.  Put all ingredients in the blender and liquefy.  Small servings are best since it is quite rich.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

** This can be made several days in advance.

Optional – My Homemade Whipped Cream

I brought it with my dessert and we added it to hers.  I like how it cut the richness of the chocolate.

  • Heavy cream – 1/2 or whole small carton
  • Vanilla
  • Agave (keeps cream smooth unlike sugar)

1.  Put beaters and metal or glass bowl in freezer for at least 20 minutes.

2.  Beat cream until it starts to stiffen.

3.  Add a little vanilla, like 1/2 teaspoon.  Add a squirt of agave.  Beat and taste before peaks form.  Add more agave and vanilla to taste and beat until peaks form.  Do not over beat.  Lasts only two days.


Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

My friend Jenn via Cooking Light Magazine



  • 1 cup unsalted almond butter (chunky or creamy)
  • 3/4 sucanat or 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 oz dark chocolate (bar of 70% cocoa or greater)
  • Parchment paper (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients.
  3. Chop up chocolate and stir it in.
  4. Make little dough balls and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet (or coat the sheet heavily with spray).
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until browned.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.

MR Additions to make bigger cookies: 1 tspn maple syrup, 1/2 over-ripe banana, mashed.  Stir in until smooth in batter.  These will spread so place only 6 on a sheet and decrease baking time to 9-10 min.

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Who says “No!” to homemade banana bread?

November 8th, 2012 No Comments

No one I know!

Now that it’s cold outside, banana bread is especially delicious to cuddle up with.

My problem in baking the bread has always been the middle; I could never get it cooked through without drying out the edges.  Finally, last week, I got it right with this recipe. I did use the chocolate chips, although next time I’ll leave them out or sub them for raisins.  I used sprouted whole wheat flour from whole foods (it’s course, you’ll see it) and doubled the bananas.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Bon Appetit February 2000


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped, toasted (just throw them in the oven as it preheats)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (I doubled this)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine chocolate chips and walnuts in small bowl; add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat.
Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Run knife through batter in zigzag pattern.
Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool.

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REAL pumpkin pie for your holiday celebrations

November 1st, 2012 No Comments

By now you probably know I don’t like to eat or use canned/processed foods (and that my food photography sucks).  This has always been what’s held me back from making pumpkin pie.  That, and Aunt Judy makes her “famous” one at Thanksgiving.  But I never asked for her recipe because she uses canned pumpkin puree.

This year, with a request to make the classic, I decided to do it right, from real pumpkin to pie, from flour to crust, from cream to whipped creme.

Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar-Walnut Topping

Bon Appetit November 2009 via Epicurious

Servings:  I made one small pie and 4 ramekins.  It’s supposed to be one deep dish pie, but I like to spread the sweets amongst friends :)


Walnut Topping

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar (many reviewers said to use 1/2 cup, I used 3/4 cup to make up for lack of sweetness in fresh pumpkin)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin OR fresh roasted pumpkin (you need about 4 small ones)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (I used 1/2 creme, 1/2 2% milk)
Martha Stewart’s Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour (I use stone ground wheat) spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
My Whipped Creme
  • heavy whipping creme
  • agave syrup
  • vanilla


For crust
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles course meal.  Add water and pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed.  If needed you can add up to 2 more tablespoons of water, but no more than that.  On a work surface, knead dough and until it comes together.  Flatten dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least one hour.  (MR NOTE: I divide dough into two discs and leave one in the freezer to use at a later date.  OR I freeze one and then just use the rest to press directly into the pie pan, without freezing.)
Position oven rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F.  To prebake the crust, place it on a piece of wax/parchment paper and expand it with your knuckles.  Martha then suggests to lift the paper to wrap the dough around a rolling pin to flatten.  I take pieces and press it into the pan with my fingers.  Mostly because I don’t have a rolling pin.  It actually works and creates a crumbly crust.

Line pan with crust and then line with  nonstick foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Gently remove foil and beans.  Cool crust completely on a rack. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling

Preheat oven to 450.

Cut open four small pumpkins, remove seeds, roast cut side down at 450 until the flesh is soft.  About an hour and a half.  Let pumpkin cool and then scoop out flesh from skin.  Put into a food processor, turn on high, and then add water or milk slowly.  I added a teaspoon of butter as well.

Whisk brown sugar, eggs, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in medium bowl. Add pumpkin and cream and whisk until well blended and smooth.

Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is firm, covering crust with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle topping evenly over top of pie. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F; continue to bake pie until filling is set and slightly puffed in center, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Tent with foil and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

For walnut topping

Combine all ingredients. Using on/ off turns, blend to fine crumbs.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

For whipped creme:

Put beaters and glass or metal bowl in freezer for 20 minutes.
Pour at least 1 cup heavy whipping creme into the chilled bowl.  Beat electric mixer on high until creme starts to stiffen.  Add about a teaspoon of agave and blend.  Add about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and blend.  Taste and add agave or vanilla if needed.  Blend until creme peaks but is not stiff.  DO NOT OVER-BEAT.
Lasts only 2 days.
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The meal that keeps on giving

October 25th, 2012 No Comments


Fror one recipe for garlic shrimp and white beans I found in bon appetit, I produced 4 meals for 2 people!

Instead of cutting the ingredients in in half for dinner for two, I decided to make the whole thing and have the meal for lunch. That was just the start of what I could do with the leftovers!

The BA recipe ended up also yielding beans for hummus and a flavorful broth for soup. My boyfriend is obsessed with Giada so I used her white bean dip recipe (pasted below). The hummus served as dip and spread for turkey wraps. As for the broth, it was used for a veggie and meatball soup as well as seasoning for steamed veggies throughout the week.

There are a several changes I made to the recipe: I made the cannelli beans instead of using those from the can. While cooking them, I added fresh chopped herbs (rosemary and thyme) which made them so much for flavorful in the shrimp dish and hummus. Unfortunately I forget the chiles at the store, but the dish really didn’t need them. Instead of olive oil, I used grape seed oil to reduce fat. Finally, at the end, I stirred in fresh greens for nutritional value. I always find a way to sneak them in :)

Taking the time to make this one dish properly saved me SO MUCH time throughout the week.

Garlic Shrimp and White Beans
Bon Appetit October 2012

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
2 dried chiles de árbol
1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
1 1/4 cups chopped tomato (about 8 ounces)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans white beans (such as cannellini), rinsed, drained
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound medium shrimp
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat broiler. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
2. Add 1 garlic clove, chiles, and bay leaf and cook, stirring constantly, just until fragrant, 1-2 minutes (do not allow garlic to burn).
3. Add tomato; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and smashing tomato with the back of a wooden spoon, until tomato is completely broken down, about 5 minutes.
4. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is deep red and caramelized, 3-4 minutes.
5. Stir in beans and broth. Bring to a brisk simmer and cook until juices are slightly reduced and thickened, 3-4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Combine remaining 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons oil, shrimp, and paprika in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat shrimp. Scatter shrimp over beans in an even layer.
8. Broil until shrimp are golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes.
9. Serve with parmesean cheese if desired. (MR addition :))

The other recipes you’ll need:


Cannellini Beans
(Not using a pressure cooker)
via Simple Daily Recipes


**You can click both recipes to make them bigger.

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Super easy sea bass with citrus. Perfect for summer!

April 5th, 2012 1 Comment


If you haven’t already, trade in your savory veggies for fruit and heavy sauces for lighter oils.  You’ll use both on this sea bass from Bon Appetit.  It’s the perfect dish for warm days when you aren’t grilling.

Overall  it’s, easy, light, and delicious, just how I like my dinners.  I paired it with quinoa (1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water, boil and simmer covered for 15 minutes) mixed with fat free feta, chopped, flat leaf parsley, sea salt, and pepper.

Sea Bass with Citrus and Avocado Oil

From Bon Appetit April 2012


  • 2 oranges
  • 2 pink grapefruits
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 4 6-ounce skinless fillets white or Mexican sea bass or grouper (about 1″ thick)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (don’t sub EVOO)
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, cut into wedges
  • 4 tablespoons avocado oil

The recipe calls for sea bass which you can sub with white fish (although sometimes a halibut or cod just can’t satisfy my sea bass craving).  As for the avocado oil, I don’t think you NEED that one.


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Using a small sharp knife, cut off all peel and white pith from fruit. Working over a medium bowl, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl (see my how to video here). Squeeze in juices from membranes; discard membranes. Drain fruit, reserving 1/2 cup juices. Return segments and juices to bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pat fish dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add grapeseed oil. Add fish; cook without moving, occasionally pressing fish gently with a spatula to keep all of surface in contact with pan, until fish is golden brown and releases easily from pan, 4–5 minutes. (When the fish is brown, it will turn up a little on the sides, which might take longer than 5 minutes.)
  4. Turn fish, transfer to oven, and roast until just opaque in the center, 3–5 minutes.
  5. Place fruit and avocado on plates. Top with fillets. Spoon 2 Tbsp. citrus juices over fruit on each plate. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. avocado oil over fish and fruit.



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The New LA Restaurant Hit List

March 22nd, 2012 No Comments

As much as I love the classics (original Katsuya, Trattoria Amici, Pace, Matsuhisa, Spago, Urth, Beverly Hills Hotel, Mozza etc.  See some of my recs here.), I am always seeking out the newest foodie hotspot when I visit Los Angeles.

A couple months ago I wrote “5 Restaurants That Get Locals Out of Los Angeles,” all of which would align with the “Casual City” section of bon appeitit’s  “So Cal, So Good: Where to eat now in LA” list from last month’s edition.

For descriptions of these joints, read the full article here.  I’ll just provide you with a quick list you can reference on the fly.

Casual City

  • Farmshop – Brentwood
  • ink.sack – Melrose
  • Baco Mercat – Downtown
  • GTA (Gjelina’s take out) – Venice
  • The Larder at Maple Drive – BH
  • Umacmicatessen – Downtown


  • Lomo Arigato – Food Truck
  • Osaka – Hollywood
  • Picca – West LA

Power lunch: Cafe Gratitute (like the one in Nor Cal)

Burger joint: Short Order – West Hollywood Farmer’s Market


  • Library Bar – Roosevelt Hotel Hollywood
  • Sunny Spot – Venice
  • Playa
  • Coppa d’ Oro

Also check out their “10 Ways To Do LA Like A Star” restaurant list.

(Photo of Picca above via)

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