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Kids in the kitchen! Five holiday recipes just for them

December 18, 2017

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been on hold for almost twenty minutes with a certain shipping company who will remain nameless. At the exact moment the agent came on the line, my two year old stood up and started the show that only occurs when I talk on the phone. He started shaking the maraca, jumping up and down singing Jingle Bells at the top of his lungs. I didn’t even know he had heard the song, let alone memorized it.

A couple days later, he informed me it was Christmas day. It was still November, and it occurred to me that if he was already anticipating the holidays at two years old, then he was certainly old enough to get in on a bit of holiday cooking action. So in the hustle and bustle, pull the kids into the kitchen. Give them an apron, a hand wash, and one more reason to love the holidays. Depending on the age of the kids in your life, some might need more help than others, so I’ll leave that up to you.

Continue Reading…

Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk

September 20, 2017

This morning I woke up chilly and searching for a sweater and warm leggings. What!? Is it really fall in Santa Fe?? Just yesterday I was hooping and hollering about a black widow in the bathtub and sweating. I could not be happier to feel the fall breeze, to boil water for tea and for cozy cuddles with the boys. So it seemed fitting that I make something to fully embrace this first chilly day in Santa Fe. Move over Starbucks anything, because this is a creamy, decadent, SO easy recipe for pumpkin spice almond milk.

First off, you can leave out the spice and it is a perfect rendition of vanilla almond milk. Leave out the vanilla and dates and it is the ideal plain almond milk. Add a different spice combination or sweetening element to make it your own. For instance, today I was tempted to make this pumpkin spice version with a tablespoon of real maple syrup instead of dates..maybe next time. The point is, get ready to pour this over your favorite granola, splash it in your coffee or drink it straight.

1 cup of raw whole almonds (soaked in 3 cups of filtered water overnight in the fridge)
3 dates (pitted)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. pumpkin spice blend (cinnamon, clove, lemon peel, cardamom)
5 c. filtered water

1.) Drain and rinse soaked almonds.
2.) Add almonds, dates, vanilla, pumpkin spice and water to a blender.
3.) Blend on high.
4.) Drain milk through a fine mesh strainer, cheese cloth or I would highly recommend a nut milk bag.
5.) Refrigerate.

Component in Action
-use as creamer in coffee
-use a dairy free milk substitute
-leave out the vanilla and dates for savory uses
-add other spices like turmeric, ginger or lavender
-freeze in popsicle molds with berries for a fun frozen treat

Sweet Corn Polenta

September 7, 2017

It all started with a much needed cleaning out of the pantry. I found a partial bag of yellow cornmeal which I usually use more in the fall and winter. But I also had some sweet corn in the fridge and we had some hot Italians to grill and before you knew it I had formed a plan and then couldn’t get over the fact that I have been mistakenly dismissing polenta during the summer months. Never Again!

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t stop pairing this creamy version with all kinds of summer delectable’s: brats, anything bbq’d and smothered in sauce, chicken, salmon, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, I could go on.

The point is, this quick (and I mean quick) sweet corn polenta can be used as a side, a smear, a dip, even a sauce. Enjoy!

You can also easily make this a vegan dish by using water instead of milk, using olive oil instead of butter and leaving out the parm.

2 T. butter
1 c. sweet corn kernals (fresh in summer, frozen in the off season)
1 c. whole milk
1.5 c. water
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. fresh chopped herbs like chives, parsley, basil, thyme (optional)

1.) Melt 1 T. butter over medium heat.
2.) Add corn (and left over cob if using fresh). Cook for a minute.
3.) Add milk and water and bring to a boil.
4.) Remove left over cob (if using) and discard. (this just added a bunch of extra flavor!)
5.) Whisk in corn meal and stir until thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).
6.) Season with salt and pepper until it tastes amazing.
7.) Remove polenta from the heat add stir in remaining 1 T. butter, Parmesan cheese and optional fresh herbs.
8.) Serve

Component in Action
-serve with toasted bread
-serve alongside roasted or grilled chicken, salmon, steak, veggies
-a perfect pair for anything bbq’d
-use less liquid to make thicker polenta and more liquid to make thinner.

Italian Salsa Verde

June 29, 2017

Italian salsa verde is one of the simplest classic sauces in Italy, not to be confused with the equally delicious but entirely different south of the border version made with tomatillo and jalapeno. This sauce is all about olive oil and parsley. The ingredients are so basic you can kind of whip this up fast and on the fly if you need a last minute dip, sauce or spread.

You can chop it by hand or pulse it a few times briefly in a food processor. Here’s the thing and it just might be my favorite thing, there is no right or wrong way here. What matters is that it makes a weekend night dinner not only delicious but fast. You are not cutting corners or compromising because something in a jar is easier. I guarantee you can make this faster than it takes to heat up a jar of pasta sauce.

I like basil so I use half parsley and half basil. It’s up to you. You could use all parsley or even add mint. Classically this is made with capers. But if I have a tub of olives or cornichons in the fridge I’m gonna use them instead. The last time I made this I didn’t have capers but I did have some gorgeous little red pickled peppers, so I used them and the end results was a zesty and herby treat for our grilled flank steaks a couple weeks ago.

1 c. flat leaf parsley (clean, leaves and thin stems)
1 c. basil leaves
1 lemon (zest only)
1 garlic clove (peeled)
1 T. dijon mustard
1 anchovy rinsed and drained (optional)
¼ c. capers, olives, cornichons or pickled peppers (make sure to pit the olives)
½ c. olive oil
Salt + pepper to taste


  1. If you make using a food processor, add everything to the processor and pulse a few times. Check seasoning to see if you need to add any additional salt and pepper and BOOM you’re done!!
  2. If you want to chop by hand, chop garlic and lemon zest until finely chopped. Put in bowl.
  3. Roughly chop parsley and basil and add to bowl.
  4. Chop anchovy and add to bowl.
  5. Chop capers and add to bowl.
  6. Stir in dijon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Check seasoning.

Component in Action
-a dip for crudite (aka raw veggies)
-a sauce for grilled fish and meats
-add lemon juice and make into a zesty salad vinaigrette
-a drizzle for roasted or grilled veggies
-a spread for croustinis (aka toasted bread slices)
-a delicious pasta sauce

Everyday Tomato Sauce

June 20, 2017

This is one of those staple recipes that literally takes five minutes to get all the ingredients in a pot. The smell of tomatoes gently cooking with hints of garlic, basil and sweet onion evokes the best kind of food memories, bringing me right back to childhood holiday’s spent with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins scattered about the Bronx, Queens and Long Island. Where there was a pot of simmering tomato sauce, there was always other good things to follow like baked ziti, spaghetti, meatballs or Italian sausages.

You can use canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes. Using canned tomatoes are quick but when the sweet spot of summer hits and ripe tomatoes are available at the farmers market, it’s well worth it to make fresh.

I also like making a bigger batch because if you have leftover sauce you can always find a use for it over the next few days…like a dip for crusty garlic bread, or baking some eggs in the sauce for a tasty breakfast, or adding some wine or cream for a reclaimed pasta sauce. This is such a summer essential I hope you make it often and enjoy<3.

2 (28 oz.) cans, whole San Marzano tomatoes
OR 2# of your favorite ripe tomato variety
1 large carrot, shredded
1 yellow sweet onion, quartered
3-5 garlic cloves, crushed
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
3 T. Butter
a handful of fresh basil, stems left on
a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

1.) If you’re using canned tomatoes skip to step #9
2.) If you’re using fresh tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
3.) Prepare your ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and enough cold water to just barely cover the ice.
4.) Wash the tomatoes, remove the stem and with a knife and cut a small “X” in the bottom of each one.
5.) When the water comes to a boil you are ready to blanch the tomatoes. Working in batches, gently place tomatoes in the water (you don’t want to overfill the pot with tomatoes to the point where the water stops boiling) and cook the tomatoes for about a minute, or until you see the skin start to wrinkle and separate from the tomato.
6.) Using a slotted spoon transfer the cooked tomatoes to the ice bath and let hang out there for a few minutes until they are completely cool then transfer these tomatoes to an empty bowl.
7.) Once all the tomatoes are blanched and cooled, you can peel the tomatoes easily with your fingers.
8.) Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor a few pulses for chunky sauce or a bit more for smooth sauce.

9.) In a large heavy bottomed pot, put canned or fresh tomatoes
10.) Add carrot, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, basil, butter and red pepper flakes if you want to add some heat.
11.) Bring tomato sauce to a simmer and continue cooking for about 45 minutes.
12.) Check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Trust your taste buds! You might need a bit more sugar, salt or pepper depending upon your preference.
12.) With a slotted spoon remove the onion, garlic and basil stems and you are ready to use or serve!

Component in Action
-Serve with your favorite pasta
-Serve with your favorite grilled meats
-Add a bit of white wine and saffron and serve with grilled fish
-Use as a dip for toasted garlic bread or roasted veggies like cauliflower or eggplant


June 16, 2017

If summer was a team in the basketball finals, I’d name hummus MVP. You can dip, drizzle, spread and smear on burgers, raw veggies, in dressings, on pretty much anything grilled.

There are two ways to make hummus. You can used dried chickpeas which take a bit more time to soak and cook, but result in a richer, more flavorful puree. Or you can used canned chickpeas and will be done from start to finish in less than ten minutes. I make both versions, depending on what I have the time for. Don’t waste a second feeling bad if you use canned chickpeas, just know there are two options to choose from depending on what’s working for you at any given time.  This week I’m going right to the source, sharing a recipe adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks that came out on Ten Speed Press by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi entitled Jerusalem (2013).

You can make it thicker to dip and thinner to drizzle (less water/more water).  You can add other ingredients like jalapenos, cooked beets, extra garlic or fresh herbs like basil or chives to spice things up.

After a few times making it, you’ll probably have the recipe memorized which is pretty sweet when you need to whip up something fast. It not only plays well with others, but when you take hummus off the bench it’s consistently a slam dunk. It doesn’t get much better than this when your putting together your summer line up of essential recipes. Cheers all around for summer and hummus<3.

1 c. dried chickpeas or 1 can (15 oz.) cooked chickpeas
1 t. baking soda (only if you are using dried chickpeas)
1 c. tahini (sesame paste)
4 T. fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
6 T. cold water
salt, to taste
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top (optional)

1.) The night before: If you are using canned chickpeas, put your feet up with a glass of wine and see you tomorrow. If you are using dried chickpeas, put them in a large bowl and cover them with enough water to double in volume. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Ok, now put your feet up with a glass of wine:) Easy peasy.
2.) If you soaked dried chickpeas over night, drain them and put them in a big pot with the baking soda. Stir and cook them for about three minutes.
3.) Add about six cups of cold water and bring to a boil, skimming off foam and skins as they come to the surface. The chickpeas will take anywhere from 40 minutes to a couple hours to fully cook depending on how fresh they are and how long they soaked. You want them to be break easily when pressed between your fingers. Drain. If you used canned chickpeas, drain and rinse.*
4.) Put them in a food processor or high powered blender (I use my nutri-bullet for hummus and it works beautifully. Blend for a few seconds until they break apart.
5.) Add tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
6.) Process, blend or pulse until smooth, adding water a Tablespoon at a time until the hummus is silky smooth. Check seasoning and add more salt as needed.
7.) Cover and refrigerate for a half hour or so before serving. Drizzle with high quality olive oil before serving.

*Its important to mention that at this point you could peel the chickpeas. It will make your hummus extra smooth and velvety. It will also take you about ten minutes to gently squeeze the chickpeas between your fingers and the skins will pop right off. Totally optional.

Component in Action
-use as a dip for raw or cooked veggies, toasted pita or even apples
-drizzle over salads, grilled steak or chicken, even fish
-add a spoonful to lemon vinaigrette for creamy salad dressing
-spread on crackers, cucumber slices, toasted bread or even sandwiches

Hollandaise Sauce

May 25, 2017

For week #2 in our summer session I couldn’t resist. I mean, come on! Asparagus is popping up everywhere and is just begging to be the main attraction on the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

The pesky bugger of the brunch world is pesky no more. That’s right. Send out those brunch invitations because you are about to master hollandaise sauce in five minutes!

There is a beauty to the classical way of making this French sauce from Normandy. Thanks to my cooking school days, I still love to make things by hand like whipped cream. I use my biggest whisk and am always sweating by the time the cream has reached stiff peaks. I know I could use a mixer and have it done in a minute, but I like watching the cream slowly absorb the air and changing texture right before my eyes.

If you have the time, I don’t think a traditional method of making hollandaise is anything to be afraid of. It’s just one of those sauces that takes attention and a bit of elbow grease to make, two noble activities that almost always result in a satisfying and sometimes audible “yes!”

Lately I feel like I’ve been cooking while legos are flying over my head or transformers are sliding across the kitchen island so I’m all for a fool proof hollandaise I can make fast. The idea behind the sauce is simple: a luscious emulsification of egg yolks, butter (sometimes clarified), lemon (or vinegar). The most classical version includes a spiced vinegar reduction, a close sibling of Bearnaise sauce which includes peppercorn and tarragon, and is out of this world with a well cooked steak.

For this version I stick with lemon, straight up melted butter (as opposed to clarified) and a blender. Instead of being one of those recipes that “I’d love to make when I have the time”, this is a recipe you can whip up before your coffee is done brewing. Beautiful on eggs, vegetables or fish…and of course spooned over your favorite brunch Benedict.

2 egg yolks
2 T. (15 ml)  warm water
2 T. (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
pinch of ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 c. (113 g.) butter (melted + hot)
salt to taste

1.) Put egg yolks, water, lemon juice and cayenne in a blender. Blend for around five seconds.
2.) If your blender has top with a vent, turn the blender on a medium speed and slowly drizzle in the melted butter into the egg mixture while the blender is running. You can also do this with an immersion blender.
3.) If your blender is an inverted bullet style blender, add the melted butter all at once and blend for 15-20 seconds until the sauce comes together and emulsifies.
4.) Pour sauce into a heat proof vessel like a pot or bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a lid and keep somewhere warm. My favorite warm spot is a back stove burner that is not on, but picks up residual heat from the oven. OR, pre-heat a wide-mouthed, heat friendly thermos with (very) hot water for five minutes. Pour out the water and pour in the hollandaise. This will keep it perfectly warm until you’re ready to serve if you are using it within a couple of hours.

Component in Action
-pour over poached eggs
-once finished, add fresh herbs like tarragon, basil or chives and serve along side steak, chicken or fish
-drizzle over veggies like steamed asparagus or grilled tomatoes

Lemon Vinaigrette

May 17, 2017

The summer session starts today! I know, i’s not summer yet, but on sunny days in New Mexico, it sure feels like it, so let’s just consider this a big and flavorful gearing up for a fun summer of great food. Once a week, we will dive into a chef level, core cooking recipe. The goals (like the recipes) are simple, to help you become an expert, inspired and confident in incorporating this gem into your cooking life. One recipe at a time. One week at a time.

These essential recipes are the same ones I scribbled in many a notebook throughout my time in culinary school and restaurant kitchens. When you learn how to cook professionally, you don’t start by learning how to make an entire feast. You begin by learning the bits and pieces: the vinaigrette, the stock, the brine, the dough, etc.

As you learn and gain confidence, you start putting the pieces together and soon your instincts start to kick in. This is where real cooking happens. When you are no longer bound by the chains of a recipe. Once the core recipes and techniques become familiar, they start to make sense in a new way, kind of like learning a language. Before long, stringing four core recipes together to form an entire meal is no big deal.

Keep your recipes close for pastry and baking, but keep a tasting spoon close for savory cooking. Your taste buds are king and queen of the kitchen! With that royal proclamation, let’s begin with one of the easiest and most important (yet unappreciated) recipes of all, lemon vinaigrette.

Lemon vinaigrette (aka Lemon Vin.) is versatile and variable.  It can be used in countless ways and can also morph into many different variations. In it’s most basic form, it is fresh lemon juice and olive oil (acid + fat) whisked together to create a bright dressing that brings out the best in many different foods. One of my favorite ways to use lemon vin. is tossed with a simple salad of arugula, apple and Parmesan cheese. It can be spooned over roasted vegetables, drizzled over fish, spiced up and the lemon juice can even be swapped out for different citrus juice or vinegar.

Here is my go-to way to make it:

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 t. of dijon vinegar
1 t. honey
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

1.) Whisk or blend all ingredients together.

Component in Action
-use a dip for raw veggies
-instead of just lemon juice, try a mix of lemon, orange and lime
-add a bit of sliced garlic clove
-add finely chopped fresh herbs (like thyme, rosemary or dill)
-add dried spices like ground turmeric or smoked paprika

Quick Pickled Onions

February 6, 2017

My very first cooking job out of culinary school was at a lovely Italian restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Chef was thoughtful and straightforward with his interpretation of Italian classics and lucky for me, gentle with his cooks. I was ready to absorb everything I could, and as all young cooks do, I showed up on my first day with a small blank notebook ready to start collecting as many recipes as I could. Assigned to the cold appetizer station, those were the days I filled my notebook with recipes of flatbread dough, gremolata, vinaigrettes, poaching liquids, aiolis, curing ratios for fish, etc. Many recipes had just a handful of ingredients.

I don’t remember exactly when I first learned about this quick pickle technique, but this is a perfect example of one of those components that once learned will stay with you for a lifetime, adding brightness to a variety of dishes. You can swap out the red wine vinegar for a different vinegar like sherry, champagne, or apple cider, change up the spices and even the sugar. I recently added these pickled onions to a salad of broccoli, raisins, blue cheese, and crunchy butter croutons. The possibilities for variations and use are endless.


1 Red Onion (sliced)
1 c. Red Wine Vinegar
½ c. Water
½ c. Brown sugar
1 t. Salt
1 t. Smoked paprika


1.) Put sliced onions in a glass jar (or other non-reactive container)
2.) In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, water, sugar, salt and paprika to a boil.
3.) Pour over onions.
4.) Use a spoon to submerge the onions in the pickling liquid.
5.) Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight for at least three hours.

Component in Action

  • Add to salads
  • Use as a condiment on burgers and sandwiches
  • Serve with cheese and charcuterie
  • Topping for Veggies and Fish Tacos

Butternut Squash Soup

January 29, 2017

It’s been one of those weeks where on Thursday I was sure it was Tuesday, and small tasks like going through a stack of paperwork on the desk was the big project of the week. Such is life with a six week old baby and we are soaking in every moment of getting to know our sweet Fox. This week we learned that he likes to have his arms raised above his head and he rewards us with the biggest smile each time, which is pretty much the best thing ever. When River was born (who is almost four now), I was always looking ahead, eagerly anticipating the next phase or shift in development. I have thrown that anticipation to the wind with Fox, because now I know how freakishly fast it all goes. So it’s been blissful and exhausting all jumbled together.  All of this is to say, it took me three days to find a window of time to throw this soup together and it took less than an hour!

This week, when planning out our meals, I knew a soup would be easy and would last for a few lunches and dinners. I had a butternut squash and a big yellow onion that needed to be used. I checked the cupboard and saw a box of chicken stock hiding behind a box of ziti. I opened the fridge and saw there were a couple apples with bruises, and Oh! I found a can of coconut milk too… This is how soups can be a great way to save food from going to waste. This is also a perfect playground to let yourself wander away from a rigid recipe, enabling you to practice trusting your instincts and taste buds.

1 butternut Squash (halved and seeds scooped out)
2-3 T. olive oil (or butter)
1 large yellow onion (cut roughly into 1 inch pieces)
1-2 Apples (peeled and cut roughly into 1 inch pieces)
1 t. ground turmeric (or 1 T. fresh peeled and sliced)
1 t. Ground cinnamon
2 T. brown sugar (optional)
1 can, unsweetened coconut milk or cream
Vegetable or chicken stock to cover by one inch


1.) Rub both inside halves of squash with olive oil and season with salt.
2.) Roast in the oven at 400 f. Until tender when pierced with a knife.
3.) While the squash is roasting, heat 1-2 T, of olive oil or butter in a heavy bottomed soup pot.
4.) Saute onions and apples over medium high heat, stirring frequently until they turn a golden brown.
5.) Add brown sugar if you want, turmeric and cinnamon. Stir and cook for another minute.
6.) Pour in the can of coconut milk to deglaze, and with a wooden spoon scrape all the caramelized goodness from the bottom of the pot.
7.) Once the squash is roasted, scoop the squash into the simmering pot.
8.) Cover by one inch with stock.
9.) Bring soup to a simmer and season with salt to taste.
10.) Working in batches, blend the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

Component in Action

-substitute the butternut other kinds of squash or pumpkin
-use a little less stock to make a thicker version and use as a base under grains like quinoa or brown rice
-use as a sauce under fish or scallops
-spread on toasted garlic bread
-use as a warm dip for pita chips and apple slices (great for kids)