cranberry-vanilla bean curd

It’s officially December and the start of holiday baking/cooking!  I’m totally excited because my son and I have a few cookie exchanges and kids’ holiday events to attend so I have even more motivation to start baking this year.  My list of have-to-make cookies is growing by the day so let’s just cross our fingers that my stamina can keep up with my vision.

This is a recipe I made a few times almost a year ago but never got around to posting it. Thankfully, I’m  getting around to posting it this year because I really feel it’s that good!  I love, love, love making curd with Meyer lemons but since they’re not quite in season yet, I’m using  cranberries.  I didn’t make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and to be honest, I totally forgot about it.  I mean, when you make two turkeys, a kale salad, mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese and a couple appetizers, something is bound to fall by the wayside.  Hopefully this makes up for it!

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honey chai-spiced roasted nuts

Since we’re in the middle of autumn and all things spiced, I have another snack for you. But instead of pumpkin spice, chai spice is the star!  I love having roasted nuts around as a quick snack, so these fall flavors are perfect.  With honey as a natural sweetener, you can feel pretty good about indulging in a (more than a) a few handfuls of these nuts at a time!

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honey chai-spiced roasted nuts

For a quick and easy treat, toss walnuts with warming chai spices, roast ’em up and get snacking! Walnuts are my favorite but almonds, pecans or cashews would work just as well. I also added in a mixture of sesame, flax and chia seeds that I had on hand and those could certainly be omitted if you don’t have them available.

  • 3½-4 cups raw walnuts
  • ¼ cup mixed chia, flax and sesame seeds, optional**
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 2-3 tbs chai spice (see below)
  • regular, coarse sea salt or vanilla salt if you’re feeling extra fancy (which is what I used)

Preheat oven to 325° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy.  Pour in the honey and whisk again until both are combined, then add in the chai spices and mix again.  Add walnuts and mixed chia, flax and sesame seeds (if using) to honey and egg white mixture.  Fold nuts into mixture with a spatula until completely covered.

Pour nut mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread evenly, making sure they’re in one layer.  Sprinkle liberally with vanilla salt.  Put mixture into oven and roast for approximately 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.  Keep in a

Sprinkle on the vanilla salt.

Return the nuts to oven for another 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately place into glass jars for storage as they’ll harden while they cool.  Will keep in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.

DIY chai spice

  • 4tsp cinnamon
  • 4tsp ginger
  • 2tsp cardamom
  • 2tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp all spice

Mix all spices together in a small bowl and store in a glass jar.

(adapted from Edible Perspective)

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shawarma roasted chickpeas 

When I have the time and motivation, roasted chickpeas are a snack staple in our house. If you didn’t think you could eat two whole cans of chickpeas by yourself, this snack may prove you wrong.  Lucky for me, I have a toddler who loves them just as much as I do so they’re the perfect thing to share.

The flavor combo is adapted from NYT’s chicken shawarma recipe (which, by the way, is SO good) and I wanted to try it out on these little guys.  And guess what?  It works!

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Loaded Ceviche

When the temperature breaks 100° for at least five days in a row, the kitchen is one of the last places even I want to be.

Ok, that may not be a completely true statement since I can’t stay away from cooking for more than a day.  But what better way to combat this crazy heat than with a super refreshing ceviche??  This dish satiates my need to be in the kitchen without turning on the stove or the oven. Win-win.

Ceviche is a dish ordered often around these parts and my husband and I typically eat it as an appetizer or snack whenever possible.  That being said, it is extremely easy to make yourself and completely customizable to suit your tastebuds, so why not give it a go?

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If you’re not familiar with the ceviche, it’s a dish comprised of raw seafood that are essentially “cooked,” or cured, by marinating it in a bath of citrus juice for at least two to four hours.  In this recipe, we opted to marinate three types of seafood: wild-caught Alaskan salmon, snapper and shrimp, finding the flavor was better the longer they marinated.  Since you’re working with raw fish, the dish will only be as good as your ingredients so I recommend purchasing the best quality available.  It is a waiting game with this dish, so plan accordingly!

Once the fish/seafood are done “cooking,” it’s time to get creative with your add-ins.  I loaded mine up with fresh tomatoes and a cucumber for some freshness, onion for a crunchy bite and a roasted poblano for a hit of smokiness.  Finally, a generous bunch of chopped cilantro to garnish, which is absolutely necessary.  Dare I say perfect?

At least for this home cook it was!

loaded ceviche

(makes about 4-5 cups)

This is a no-cook dish and perfect for summer.  Serve as an app with a bowl full of tortilla chips or top some butter lettuce and eat as a side or even an entrée.  Feel free to switch up the fish, use only one type or all three.  Either way, this ceviche is the perfect accompinament to a warm summer evening and and ice cold beer.

  • ½ lb wild Alaskan salmon, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ lb snapper filet, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ¼ lb medium to small-sized shrimp, cut into thirds or quarters depending on how big they are
  • 1 generous cup lime juice (approximately 4-5 limes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 scant tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 serrano chiles, diced (feel free to sub 1 jalapeño for a little more heat)
  • 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes (approximately 1½ tomatoes)
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • ¾ cup diced white or red onion
  • 1 roasted poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 avocado, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • more sea salt, to taste

The idea is to chop all ingredients roughly the same size.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the salmon, snapper and shrimp.  Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine the lime juice, garlic cloves, sea salt and serrano chiles and blend until smooth.  Pour the mixture over the fish and toss a few times to make sure everything is completely incorporated.  To marinate the fish, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Typically the fish will be ready to eat in about two hours, however, the fish will be completely “cooked” in about four (which is how long I waited for mine).

Once the fish is “cooked” to your desired doneness, toss in the remaining add-ins: tomatoes, cucumber, onion, poblano pepper, avocado and cilantro.  Mix everything together.  Taste and add more salt as desired.

(adapted from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday)