Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

29 October 2010

Farro Salad with Orange Glazed Tempeh & Oven Roasted Grapes

Although I generally avoid soy products, I really love Tempeh. There's something about the fermented flavor and the nutty texture that I have always loved. I generally just sear it with some tamari and olive oil and serve it over rice or in a sandwich. This time though, I took inspiration from one of my favorite blogs, 101 Cookbooks, and cooked it in a reduced orange sauce which makes for a lovely amber glaze and infuses the tempeh with wonderful flavor.

I served the tempeh over a simple farro salad with oven roasted grapes and wilted greens for a yummy one dish meal. If you have never roasted grapes, it's so easy and delicious. It brings an entirely different flavor to the grapes, somewhere between wine and raisins. For the wilted greens, I used a simple braising mix of baby kale, mustard greens, chard, and beet greens. The combination of everything together packs so much flavor into a very healthy meal. This salad makes for excellent leftovers as well and is great served warm or cold the next day.


Farro Salad with Orange Glazed Tempeh & Oven Roasted Grapes
Yields 4 generous servings

1 cup pearl farro (or a wild rice- brown rice blend)
3 cups water
1/2 # seedless red grapes
5 oz braising greens
10 oz tempeh, cut into 2" triangles
juice of 3 oranges (@3/4 cup)
1 TB tamari
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 TB mirin
olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
red chile flakes, to taste
1 oz pecorino cheese, broken into little chunks

1) In a small saucepan, bring the 3 cups of water and farro to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 35 minutes, or until farro is tender.

2) Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment (or foil). Place the grapes on the baking sheet in a single layer and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until they're just starting to burst and some are shriveling slightly.

3) Heat a bit of olive oil in a nonstick saute pan. Add the tempeh and cook to sear the outside, turning frequently, about 2 minutes. Add the orange juice, the ginger, mirin, tamari, and red chile flakes. Cover the pan and simmer, until the sauce is reduced by about 2/3 and has formed a nice glaze over the tempeh, about 10 minutes. Set the tempeh aside.

4) In the same pan in which you cooked the tempeh, add the braising mix over medium high heat. Add a sprinkling of salt & pepper and cook the greens for about 2-3 minutes, until they are wilted and most of the liquid has cooked off.

5) Place the farro in a large serving bowl. Add the roasted grapes and tempeh with the orange sauce. Toss in the wilted greens. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and chile flakes. Brake up little chunks of pecorino and sprinkle over top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

21 October 2010

Roasted Dumpling Squash with Maple & Sage

These lovely little dumpling squash make a perfect fall side dish. I often fill them with brown rice and braised greens and make a simple meal of it. However, I think they'd be equally beautiful on a holiday table. They're naturally so sculptural and the perfect size for a single serving. I've seasoned them here with a bit of maple syrup, fresh sage leaves, a sprinkling of red chile flakes, and the tiniest drizzling of cream to finish. All those flavors get absorbed into the flesh of the squash and make for yumminess in every bite.

Note- Dumpling squash are essentially round Delicata squash which would be a fine substitute if you can't find these. Acorn squash would be great here as well.

Roasted Dumpling Squash with Maple & Sage:
Yields 4 servings

4 small round Dumpling squash, interior cleaned and seeds removed, top reserved for serving
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB pure maple syrup
1 tsp red chile flakes
8 fresh sage leaves
4 tsp heavy cream (or creme fraiche)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment (or foil). Place the cleaned squash and the reserved tops on the baking sheet. Drizzle each cavity with a bit of maple syrup, olive oil, a sprinkling of red chile flakes, salt & pepper. Place 2 sage leaves in each squash. Roast both the tops and the seasoned cavity for about 45 minutes until the flesh is fork tender. Remove the sage leaves.

2) Preheat the broiler to medium high. Remove the tops from the baking sheet. Drizzle in 1 tsp of cream per squash and place them under the broiler for about 2 minutes. This will thicken the cream quickly and will blister the skin so it comes off easily when you eat the squash. Serve with the tops set ajar.

18 October 2010

Apple Crostata with Hazelnut Crust

Hazelnut meal is officially my new favorite ingredient. It's perfect to use right now as hazelnuts go very well with many fall flavors like pears, apples, squash, sage etc.... I used this same hazelnut meal in my butternut squash pizza recipe from a few posts ago. I found the hazelnut meal at my local natural foods store in the bulk section. Bob's Red Mill also makes one that is pre-packaged and available online. It's a bit pricey as it's purely just ground up hazelnuts but only a little bit is needed to impart excellent flavor and texture to your recipe.

This rustic crostata couldn't be easier. The dough makes enough to for two, 9" crostatas so you can freeze one for the next time inspiration strikes. This would be equally delicious with figs or pears. Serve with a little cinnamon flavored whipped cream and you have a simple yet elegant dessert, easy enough for any weeknight.


Apple Crostata with Hazelnut Crust
Yields 1, 9" free form tart

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 TB cold, unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into small cubes
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
3 medium apples
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1 tsp milk or cream

1) In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flours, hazelnut meal, sugar & salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the machine running, drizzle in the water through the feed tube until a loose dough forms. (Listen for a change in the sound of the machine just before the dough comes together. This will tell you that you're very close.)

2) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead very gently, just enough to bring the dough together. Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one for at least 1 hour to use for this tart. Freeze the other for later use.

3) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the chilled dough to a 10" (approximate) circle. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 12 slices per apple. Fan out the apples like the spokes of a wheel around the inner portion of the crust, leaving a 1-1 1/2" border around the outside. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Fold the edges of the dough up around the apples in a rustic way. You don't need to be fussy here. The whole point is that it looks rustic. Brush the outside of the crust with the 1 tsp milk or cream.

4) Bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender and bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature with lightly sweetened cinnamon whipped cream.

17 October 2010

Pumpkin & Pear Soup

Welcome fall! I will say it was rather abrupt, how you arrived this year. One day it's 90 degrees outside and the next it's 60 and raining... literally. I would have liked a few more days of 70 degree weather, with that beautiful amber sunlight so unique to this time of year. However, I do welcome the cool weather as it's a great time to make all of my favorite foods!

I adore squashes, apples, pears, chestnuts, sage, cranberries, kale.... all the wonders of this time of year. Since this is my first fall with my own blog, I'm excited to share some of my favorite recipes with you. There will be plenty of favorites that I look forward to making every year (like this one) and many new ones too. This is a great cozy soup for any busy weeknight. It's silky and satisfying and beautiful too. I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches made with gruyere, sliced apples, and fresh sage leaves. So easy and so yummy.

Be sure not to skip the oven dried pears on top. They really add to the presentation and are super easy to make. This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart from several years back. It's a go-to recipe for me this time of year. Martha is my favorite homemaking goddess, as anyone who knows me can attest.


Pumpkin & Pear Soup:
Yields 6 generous servings

6 medium pears ( I used d'Anjou)
1 small sugar pumpkin (@ 2#), peeled and seeds removed, cut into 2" pieces
1 medium rutabaga, cut into 1" pieces
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into 1" pieces
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 sprig fresh sage
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 TB olive oil

1) Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut 2 pears lengthwise into paper thin slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until pears are dry, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

2) Meanwhile, heat 1 Tb olive oil in a large stockpot. Add the leeks and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Peel the remaining 4 pears. Cut them in half lengthwise and core; dice into 1" pieces. Add them to the stockpot along with the pumpkin, rutabaga, sage, chili flakes, salt & pepper. Saute until vegetables are coated with oil and spices are distributed evenly. Add the vegetable stock, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

3) Discard the sage and strain off about 1 cup of stock, reserve. Puree the soup in batches in a blender, or with an immersion blender until smooth. Whisk in the cream. If the soup is too thick, add back some of the reserved stock to reach the desired consistency. (I added only 1/4 cup of the reserved stock.) Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve garnished with the beautiful dried pears.

13 October 2010

Moroccan Spiced Vegetable Tagine with Crispy Chickpeas

A tagine is a classic Moroccan stew, generally made with meat. I thought this would be a fun variation on that idea, using root vegetables as the primary component. The flavors are spicy and savory. The crispy chickpeas on top are divine... addictive actually.

I served this over brown rice but it would also be great over couscous. Don't be scared off by the number of ingredients listed in the recipe. It's just a simple stew after all, several different veggies and spices all tossed into one big pot and served family style. You most likely have most of the spices in your cupboard already. Use what you like and adjust the heat to suit your own tastes.

I also wanted to acknowledge that this marks my 100th post. That's a lot of recipes for a little over 9 months of blogging! I continue to be so thrilled to share my passion for cooking with you and the many easy recipes that I rely on every week. I hope the recipes continue to inspire you as well!


Moroccan Vegetable Tagine with Crispy Chickpeas:
Yields 6-8 servings

1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp tumeric
3 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced 1/2"
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 TB tomato paste
2 carrots, peeled and diced 1/2"
2 celery stalks, diced 1/2"
2 cups water
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 medium orange flesh sweet potatoes (yams), diced 1"
2 medium rutabagas, diced 1" (or turnips)
1/4 cup brine cured green olives, pitted and chopped
1 whole preserved lemon (optional), finely minced (or juice and zest of 1 fresh lemon)
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
cooked brown rice (or whole wheat couscous)
crispy chickpeas (recipe below)

1) Toast fennel, coriander, and cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice mill and process until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and combine with red pepper flakes, tumeric, and 1/2 tsp salt.

2) Heat olive oil in a 5 qt dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add toasted spice blend and tomato paste, stir. Add veg stock and water, sweet potatoes, turnips, olives, and preserved lemon. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, keeping pot partially covered. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes until vegetables are tender and stew has thickened slightly. Stir in 1/2 of the parsley and mint, reserving some for garnish. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

3) Spoon rice (or couscous) into a large bowl, making a well in the center. Spoon vegetable tagine into the center of the bowl. Top with reserved parsley and mint and scatter crispy chickpeas (recipe below) over top.

Crispy Chickpeas:
Yields 1 1/2 cups

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
pinch cayenne pepper
1, 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed, and dried well
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

*Note- It's important that the chickpeas are dried well in order to insure crunchiness. I find that spreading them out on paper towels and patting dry works well.

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice mill and process until finely ground. Place the chickpeas, olive oil, pinch of cayenne, salt, pepper, and ground spices in a small bowl. Toss gently to coat.

2) Transfer to a parchment (or foil) lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven until golden and crunchy, about 30-35 minutes.

09 October 2010

Fig & Lime Jam

We've had such a cool summer in NorCal that figs are just ripening now.... in October! What a wonderful way to stretch the summer just a little bit longer. I do enjoy fresh ripe figs but I also try to preserve a few for the colder months ahead. This jam is super easy and brightens the sweet flavor of the fruit, with just a spritz of lime.

I go through the extra step of processing the jars so they're safe to keep at room temperature for at least 1 year. However, you can just as easily skip this step and keep the jam refrigerated. It will last for at least a month in an airtight container.

I can think of lots of ways to use this tasty jam. Obviously it would be divine spread on toast with good butter; but it would also be great spooned over ice cream. I think it would be lovely with cheese and fruit or heated and used as a glaze for chicken or pork (that is, if I ate such things). It could also be spread on bread before making grilled cheese so that it melts with the cheese and makes the sandwich sweet and fruity. Be creative with your own use for this lovely little spread. I'd love to hear your ideas!


Fig & Lime Jam:
Yields 5, 1/2 pint jars

2 1/2 # fresh figs (any variety)
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup lime juice

1) Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and mash with a potato masher. Let stand at least 2 hours or overnight.

2) Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 35-40 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken slightly, stirring occasionally.

3) Place hot jam in sterilized jars and process 10-12 minutes. Or, if you're skipping the canning step, allow the jam to come to room temperature then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

07 October 2010

Butternut Squash Pizza with Hazelnut Crust

This pizza has so many delicious fall flavors. The fresh sage and butternut squash not only look lovely but taste so yummy with the sharpness of the pecorino and the nuttiness of the hazelnuts. Of course you can change the toppings up to suit your taste. Pears and camembert would be wonderful as would wild mushrooms with leeks.

This is a great recipe, easy enough for any weeknight, that both kids and adults will love.


Butternut Squash Pizza with Hazelnut Crust:
Yields 2, 9" pizzas

For the Hazelnut Dough:
2 TB extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one, 1/4 oz packet)
2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup roasted hazelnut meal
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
pinch salt

1) Stir together the water and the yeast in a large bowl. Let stand until bloomed, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in oil. Add flours, hazelnut meal, xanthan, and salt. Stir until dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with floured hands until smooth and elastic.

2) Transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic and place in a warm & draft free spot, until doubled in size. This should take about 1 hour. Divide into 2 balls.

For the Pizza:
Yields 2

1 small butternut squash, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
2 TB fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
2 TB toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment (or foil).

2) Roll 1 ball of dough into a 9" round. Transfer to baking sheet and brush with 1 TB olive oil.

3) Arrange 1/2 of the squash on top, followed by 1/2 of the pecorino, and 1/2 of the sage, leaving a border around the edges. Bake for about 9 minutes until crust is golden and the squash is tender. Garnish with toasted hazelnuts and season to taste with salt & pepper.

4) Repeat with remaining dough.

*Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

03 October 2010

Quince & Apple Crumble

Fall has officially arrived and finally the weather feels like it should. Crisp mornings, golden afternoons, brisk evenings. This is the time of year when I really love to cook, even more than the rest of the year! I just adore the flavors of fall and the thought of a comforting meal, a good glass of wine, and a cozy evening indoors. What can I say, I'm a Cancer. It's in my nature to nest.

A wonderful surprise at today's farmers market were quince! Such gorgeous fruits, I love setting a big bowl of them on my table in lieu of flowers. They're sculptural all on their own. However, they usually don't last long just sitting there looking pretty as I just can't wait to cook with them!

This will hopefully be the first of several quince related posts in the coming days/ weeks. 'Tis the season for these beauties, after all. If you're unfamiliar with quince, this simple crisp is a nice introduction. Using them in combination with apples is classic but also really allows their distinct flavor to shine. They're often compared to an apple or a pear in flavor, but they are uniquely and deliciously their own.


Quince & Apple Crumble
Yields 1, 8"x8" pan (about 6 servings)

3 medium Quince, peeled, cored, and chopped in 1/2" pieces
3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped in 1/2" pieces
1 cup millet flour 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 TB cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 TB low-fat buttermilk
1 TB Calvados (or Cognac)
2 cups water
1/4 cup brown sugar

1) In a large saucepan, heat the 2 cups water and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil and add the quince. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.

2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8"x8" baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to incorporate all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter, and combine with the dry ingredients, using a fork (or your fingers), until the butter is about the size of peas. Stir in the Calvados and the buttermilk. Finish mixing, enough to bring the mixture together slightly. It should form a clumpy, shaggy dough.

3) Add the diced apples and the poached quince to the prepared baking dish. Dollop the crumb mixture evenly over the top. Don't worry if it doesn't look perfect, it will spread out in the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is tender and bubbling. Serve warm with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

If you can't find quince, you can substitute pears, in the same quantity here.