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!

30 November 2010

Whole Grain Pasta with Pumpkin, Kale, & Sundried Tomatoes

I think this just might be my new favorite pasta recipe. It's just perfect for this time of year, when the weather is chilly, and every day seems more busy and hectic than the one before. It's the perfect meal to tuck in to after one of 'those' days. Open a bottle of red wine, sit down next to the fire with a warm bowl of this baked pasta, and muster up the fortitude for another day.


Whole Grain Pasta with Pumpkin, Kale, & Sundried Tomatoes:
Yields 8 servings

1# gluten free penne ( I used Jovial brand)
1, 15 oz can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling, use 100% pure packed pumpkin)
1 bunch black Kale, sliced into 1" ribbons
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
2 TB buttermilk (or cream, sour cream, plain yogurt, creme fraiche...)
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup Pecorino cheese, grated
2 oz Chevre
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red chile flakes

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

2) While the pasta is cooking, chop the kale. To soften the kale ever so slightly, I tossed it in a large bowl with about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. The heat from the water will wilt the kale while adding some starch to your sauce. In the same bowl as the kale, stir in the pumpkin, sundried tomatoes, stock, buttermilk, 2 TB grated Pecorino, salt, pepper, & red chile flakes. Mix around to combine all of the ingredients. Add the drained pasta and stir to completely coat the pasta. Lastly, stir in the chevre.

3) Pour the entire mixture into a 9" x 13" baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Pecorino cheese and the sliced almonds. Bake, uncovered, for about 40 minutes until the pasta is heated through and the top is golden brown and crunchy.

28 November 2010

2010 Cookbook Roundup

It's getting to be that gift giving time again. The holidays are really sneaking up on me this year. It seems like just yesterday I was enjoying tomatoes from my summer garden and lingering over long dinners eaten al fresco. Now, suddenly it seems, I'm bundled up in scarves and hats and shopping to the din of carols surrounded by holiday decor.

It probably comes as no surprise that I'm a bit of a cookbook collector. I have hundreds of them and go through phases of cooking through a few intensely at one time and then revisiting favorites. I'm always looking for new ideas and inspirations and below are some my favorites from 2010. I'm separating them into cooking and baking lists. If you're looking for gift ideas for the cooks on your list, especially those bakers, some of these might make a welcome surprise under the tree:


Around my French Table, Dorie Greenspan: - I can't seem to get enough of the wonderful & easy recipes in this beautiful book. This is definitely at the very top of my favorites list this year.

Super Natural Cooking, Heidi Swanson: This is actually from 2007, but new to me this year. I'm a big fan of Ms. Swanson and her cooking approach is very similar to mine.

Nigella Kitchen, Nigella Lawson: She's lovely and full of simple ideas. This is a great, completely approachable book for the home cook.

River Cottage Preserves, Pam Corbin: For those of you interested in canning, both savory and sweet items, this is a wonderful handbook with both recipes and basics.


Ready For Dessert: My Best Recipes, David Lebovitz:

Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce: This is a wonderful book on baking with whole grains. Creative and approachable recipes that are really delicious.

Laduree Sucre, English version, Phillipe Andrieu:ée-Sucré-Recipes-Phillipe-Andrieu/dp/1902686713/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1290974984&sr=1-1- Such a beautiful book filled with classic Laduree recipes. Definitely one for the skilled amateur or professional. The English version is only available through UK booksellers but it ships to the US. I just received mine and I can't wait to start working my way through it.

Farmers Market Desserts, Hennie Schacht: Very seasonal approach to simple, produce based desserts.

Tartine Bread, Chad Robertson: For all of you interested in bread baking, this is a great one from the oh so fabulous, Tartine Bakery, here in San Francisco.

Sarabeth's Bakery, From My Hands to Yours, Sarabeth Levine:

24 November 2010

Apple Pie & Chestnut Pear Stuffing

We have been enjoying all of our favorite Thanksgiving foods all week now. I think I've almost had my fill. Perhaps after just a couple more pieces of apple pie. It's my favorite. I made about a zillion pies this week for the bakery but this one (photo above) is all for us. I can't wait!

I have been making this Martha Stewart recipe for years and I just adore it. It's simple and perfect. I use my own special pie crust recipe which involves hazelnut flour and which I will share here one of these days soon, but this is a great basic one too. My only other change to the original pie is that I always make apple pie with golden delicious apples. Yes, you heard right... golden delicious. They're by no means my favorite eating apple but they are absolutely perfect for pie. Really.

I also made stuffing this week, although perhaps 'dressing' is a more appropriate term since I don't actually 'stuff' it inside of a turkey... since I don't actually eat turkey. Some people find it surprising that I don't eat any turkey at all, even on Thanksgiving. I'm not militant about it, I just find all the yummy sides more interesting, so I generally stick with those. Anyhow, I followed the basic instructions for the previously mentioned Mushroom & Walnut Stuffing but used my favorite g-free sandwich bread and added fresh pears and chestnuts in place of the mushrooms and walnuts. I happen to adore chestnuts so I work them in as much as I can this time of year.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family and lots of yummy food! I, for one, am very thankful for your support of my little blog. I so enjoy sharing my passion for food and cooking with all of you. Thank you for reading!


22 November 2010

Cranberry Conserve & Vanilla Scented Sweet Potatoes

As promised, I'm updating my previous post about Thanksgiving recipes with some of my own experiences and photos.

I made Ina's cranberry conserve today and I now remember why I make this every single year. I just love it. It's the perfect blend of sweet and tart, with emphasis on tart. The cranberries are like ruby red jewels in the sauce and it's lightly flavored with orange. I omit the raisins and walnuts, and lemon zest from Ina's original recipe. I also reduce the sugar as I love the natural tartness of the berries. I'm sharing my adapted recipe below.

I also made the Vanilla Scented Sweet Potatoes from Heidi Swanson's blog today as well. This was my first time with this recipe but let's just say that they are so incredibly divine I just can't even stand it! I mean really really really good. I doubled the original recipe and I could have eaten the whole entire thing, just by myself... but I held back... at least until breakfast tomorrow. You can refer to Heidi's recipe for this one. I didn't change a thing and neither should you. It's perfect!

I do hope both of these recipes will find a place at your table this Thanksgiving. Tomorrow is pie baking day for the bakery so I'll be sure to photograph some of those beauties and share them here with you as well.


Cranberry Fruit Conserve
Yields about 4 cups

1, 12oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 orange, zest grated and juiced

1) In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until the skins just begin to burst. Add the apple, orange zest and juice and continue cooking, about 10-15 minutes more.

2) Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least two hours or until well chilled. Serve chilled.

21 November 2010


Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday of the year since it's really ALL about the food! I love the idea of a big long table surrounded with friends and family, and filled to the brim with abundant platters of food. No gifts, no tree ....just the food.

People seem to be especially sentimental about Thanksgiving foods and are often hesitant to to try new things at this meal in particular. It's rather beside the point IF they actually like the jello mold, the marshmallow topped sweet potatoes or the green bean casserole with crispy canned onions. That's just what they've always eaten on Thanksgiving and it somehow doesn't seem right if they don't have those things.

I also have many favorites that I make year in and year out to celebrate this holiday but I always try to introduce one or two new dishes each year. It's a nice way to mix things up a bit without losing the essence of the traditional feast that we all love.

Below, I'm sharing links to some of my very favorite holiday recipes. Some are my own and many come from various other sources, all of which I've made and adapted over the years. I plan to make several of these dishes over the next couple of days. As I do, I'll update the blog to share any changes that I make to the recipes and photos of my finished dishes.

This should get you started though if you're planning on doing some early week shopping in preparation for the big day. I can personally attest that all these recipes are winners and time tested in my own kitchen. I hope you'll enjoy them as well!

Happy Thanksgiving from my table to yours!!

Main Course:
Butternut Squash Lasagna with Basil Bechamel (use g-free lasagna sheets):

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
Mushroom & Walnut Stuffing (using g-free sandwich bread):
Roasted Dumpling Squash with Maple & Sage:


16 November 2010

Cauliflower Gratin

I get that not everyone loves Cauliflower. In fact, truth be told, it's not my favorite vegetable either. However, this recipe is changing my mind and I hope it will change yours too. It's just plain yummy and so so simple.

I think this would make a lovely Thanksgiving side or a side for any other day of the year, for that matter. It sort of reminds me of a dish my mom used to make growing up, except that my mom made hers with broccoli. I didn't love broccoli and her casserole got me to eat it and eventually I liked it. Now I love it. I think my relationship with cauliflower might be headed for the same fate.

I hope you love this simple recipe and make it often!


Cauliflower Gratin:
Yields 4 serving

1 medium head of Cauliflower, core removed and cut into florets
1/4 cup cream
1 TB flour
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 TB g-free breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch red chile flakes
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the washed cauliflower florets along with the cream, flour, 2 TB parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and chile flakes in a small bowl. Toss gently to coat. Empty the contents into a 9"x 9" baking dish.

2) Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife. Sprinkle on the remaining parmesan cheese and the breadcrumbs and return to the oven for about 10 minutes more, until the top is evenly browned.

3) Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

White Bean Stuffed Roasted Portobellos

This is the kind of simple & hearty meal I love to sit down to after a busy day. It's a snap to prepare and is very healthy yet satisfying. I generally roast up several mushrooms and make more beans than needed so I can reinvent them the next day in hearty salad for lunch. Paired with some crunchy romaine and a lemony dressing, you have the perfect midday meal.

One of the great things about mushrooms of all types is their sponge-like quality. Portobellos are no exception. This recipe bastes them before roasting with a lemony dressing and they really soak up all that flavor which comes through nicely in the finished dish.

I hope this will become a weeknight staple in your house as it has in mine.

White Bean Stuffed Roasted Portobellos:
Yields 4 main course servings

4 medium Portobello mushrooms
2, 15 oz cans Cannelini beans ( I like Eden brand)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup g-free breadcrumbs 
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
juice and zest from 1 lemon
3 TB olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 TB fresh thyme
salt, pepper, and red chile flakes to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the stems and place the mushrooms stem side down on a lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, and 2 TB olive oil. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt & pepper and brush them with the lemon juice mixture. Roast for 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender.

2) Meanwhile, add the remaining 1 TB olive oil to a saute pan. Add the whole garlic clove to the oil and heat until barely golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Rinse and drain the beans and add them to the garlic and oil. Add the thyme, water, salt, pepper, and chile flakes to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, until most of the water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove the garlic clove and set aside.

3) When the mushrooms are cooked through, remove them from the oven and turn up the heat to 450 degrees. Flip the mushrooms so the gills are now facing up. Add 1/3 cup bean mixture to each mushroom cap. Sprinkle on 1 TB breadcrumbs and 1 TB feta per mushroom. Return to the oven and cook until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes more.

02 November 2010

Baked Butternut Squash Risotto with Kale

I think I might be a late adopter of this baked risotto thing? It certainly wouldn't be the first time I was late to know about the latest and greatest new 'thing'. But now that I know, I am never going back. I shall not stir and stir and stir a pot of risotto ever again. I shall only whip out my dutch oven with tight fitting lid, bring ingredients to boil, and place in oven for 20 minutes, from here on out. Truly, that's it! And yes, it really does makes a creamy, dreamy pot of risotto. I didn't believe it would actually work until I tried it for myself. But now I have and dare I say, I do believe!


Butternut Squash Baked Risotto with Tuscan Kale:
Yields 4 generous servings

1 TB olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2# butternut squash, diced into 1" pieces
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch tuscan kale, tough mid ribs & stems removed, sliced into 1/2" ribbons
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, and red chile flakes to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 5 quart dutch oven, or other oven-safe pot with tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the thyme, the rice, and a sprinkling of salt & pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is well coated with the oil. Add the white wine and stir until evaporated.

2) Add the butternut squash, the vegetable stock, and the kale. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir to combine ingredients. Place the covered pot in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Reserve 2 TB of the parmesan cheese for serving and stir in the rest. Season to taste with salt, pepper & red chile flakes. Sprinkle with reserved parmesan and serve warm.