Browsing Tag


happy morning cakes

Trust me, mornings will be happier with these little cakes in your life. These Happy Morning Cakes are packed with a powerhouse of morning goodness. Really they are muffins. But it’s just more fun to call them cakes. You could add your favorite nuts, seeds or other dried fruit to the mix.  I love making a batch of these on Sunday and then have them for the week, perfect to grab & go.

2 cups all purpose or whole wheat flour
1 c. oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (or other nut)
¼ c. chia seeds
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas
2 c. peeled and grated carrots
1 large apple cored, grated
2 cups of kale leaves, washed then finely chopped
3 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ c. maple syrup
½ c. brown sugar
1 orange, juiced


  1. Preheat oven to 350 f.
  2. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients: flour, oats pecans, chia seeds, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In another large bowl combine bananas, carrots, apple, kale, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, brown sugar, maple syrup and orange juice.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined and pour batter almost to the top of each paper muffin liner (they don’t rise much).
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until knife is clean when inserted and removed from muffin.
  7. let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Component in Action
-add other nuts, seeds, dried fruit
-crumble over plain greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey

Masa Corn Cakes

Masa Corn Cakes are perfect for breakfast, but also a great addition to any meal time. They’re lighter and crunchier compared to a regular pancake which makes them taste even better paired with maple syrup, jam or dunking into a warm bowl of soup. Yes, that’s right! They are just as good paired with savory foods like stewed meats, beans, avocado. They are naturally gluten free by being their awesome selves so this is a perfect excuse to call all your gluten free folks and invite them over for a breakfast party. 

I would recommend pouring yourself a cup of coffee and serving these Masa Corn Cakes as soon as they come off the griddle. This is the one time in my house where it feels like a line forms in the kitchen, and for good reason.

Yield: 4 servings
2 c. whole milk
4 T. unsalted butter (plus more for cooking)
pinch of granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 c. white or yellow cornmeal (finely ground)

maple syrup (for serving)


  1. Preheat griddle or heavy bottomed pan (like cast iron) over medium heat.
  2. Bring butter, milk, sugar and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan. Turn off heat.
  3. Put cornmeal in a large bowl.
  4. Slowly pour hot milk mixture into the cornmeal, stirring with a wooden spoon continuously until batter is combined.
  5. Flick a drop of water on the surface of your pre-heated griddle. You’ll know it’s ready when the water skips along the surface.
  6. Melt a bit of butter in the pan and pour a bit of batter at a time for each pancake. Let sit for around five minutes until golden brown on the bottom, then flip until both sides are golden (you can make these whatever size you want)
  7. Repeat with butter in pan and batter until all cakes are cooked.

Component In Action
-enjoy for breakfast
-serve on the side with spicy soups and stews

Everyday Granola

In our house it is always nice to have a jar of granola on the shelf ready to go, for breakfast, for snacking, for topping something like yogurt to make it that much better. My favorite kind of granola is super crunchy and in clusters. I’ve totally been guilty of standing over a bulk bin of granola at the grocery for way too long, trying to get all the big clusters in my bag and none of the “granola dust” with the big awkward scoop. This recipe for Everyday Granola is even better because not only is it super crunchy but it also bakes into one big sheet, so YOU get to decide just how big your granola pieces are. The little crumbles that fall during the breaking process are amazing too, to top on just about a million things.

Everyone has their favorite granola combos. Here are three of my favorites; almonds, coconut and pecans. You can swap out any of these for a cup of your favorite nuts, seeds, dried fruits, even cocoa nibs. Follow your morning cravings. Eat this on its own, over yogurt, or with your favorite milk.

½ c. extra virgin olive oil
½ c. maple syrup
⅓ c. honey
1 T. vanilla extract
1 t. ground cinnamon
generous pinch of salt
5 c. rolled oats
1 c. almonds, sliced
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1 c. pecans, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 325 f.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the oil, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.
  4. Fold in the oats, almonds, coconut and pecans.
  5. Pour the oat mixture onto the baking sheet and press mixture firmly with a flat bottomed cup.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes then rotate pan.
  7. Bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature for one hour.
  9. Lift the granola off the parchment paper with your hands (it will be one big piece) and break into pieces.
  10. Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.

Component in Action
-make your own by adding your favorite nuts or seeds
-gently fold in your favorite dried fruits after you cook, cool and break apart the granola into pieces.
-leave in bigger pieces for “granola bars”
-serve over plain greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey for a breakfast treat.
-serve over ice cream.
-put granola in a quart mason jar with a bow and give as a gift to a friend.

Elderberry Syrup

It’s the time of the year to pull out all the stops when it comes to finding ways to boost our immunity. I just recently learned the hard way about the joys, oh wait I mean germs that come along with the 12 little preschoolers my son is hanging out with in the mornings. Little. Germ. Spitting. Sponges. Good thing they’re so dang cute.

Then thankfully my friend Lisa Jane introduced me to a recipe for Elderberry Syrup. Elderberries are known for their immune boosting properties. The syrup can be slurped from a spoon, drizzled on yogurt, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, made into gummy bears (still on my to-do list), or added to popsicles or smoothies.

There has been lots of studies on the health benefits of elderberries. Aside from being full of minerals, vitamin C and antioxidants, it has also been found to inhibit certain strains of influenza. I have heard 1-2 teaspoons a day is a good amount for prevention. The general consensus is to 3 teaspoons, 4x a day is a good amount if you are sick.

The syrup will stay good for months in the fridge. May you and yours enjoy this in good health.

3 c. filtered water
1 c. dried elderberries
1-2 inch piece of ginger, chopped
3/4 c. raw honey (local if possible)

1.) In a small saucepan bring water, elderberries and ginger to a boil.
2.) Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by about half.
3.) Strain elderberry mixture through a fine mesh strainer or through a strainer lined with cheesecloth.
4.) Let cool to room temperature.
5.) Stir in raw honey.
6.) Store in the refrigerator.

Conponent in action
-spoon over yogurt or ice cream
-drizzle over waffles and pancakes
-add to smoothies and homemade popsicles

Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk

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

Summer Fritatta

My cooking has changed since becoming a mom. It’s become less about me expressing myself as a chef and more about the needs of my family. I have grown to love this and I love and am surprised that this small shift has made me a better cook.  I actually spend less time cooking, I think more about nourishment and health and I have been forced to get creative in new ways to meet the needs of my opinionated crew of eaters.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, cooking for a toddler can be more challenging than a packed restaurant on a Saturday night. Sure every child is different, I just happen to have one who, for example, upon catching the slightest whiff of a beef stew I have spent the afternoon making, proceeded to tear up and then projectile vomit across the kitchen table just because “it smelled like meat”. Real fun as a mom who wants nothing more than to cook food for my family and have them love it.

So I guess I’m sharing this because I’m as much on this journey as any mom out there despite having cooked in kitchens across the country. And my goal, despite the obstacles of a picky toddler with a killer gag reflex, is to cook my family food that will nourish and bring them joy.

My four year old still doesn’t eat eggs. One day after reading a book about all the different ways kids like to eat eggs, he was excited to try them out and I was more than happy to oblige. We made eggs scrambled, sunny side up and hard boiled.  He couldn’t bring himself to try the scrambled or sunny side up even though he was glad I made them because they looked “pretty” (so I have that going for me), but he did try the hard boiled egg white and then the yolk with a tiny bit of salt sprinkled on top before the gag reflex kicked in.

I still have hope that someday he’ll eat this fritatta with us. In the meantime I love the fact that I can make this on a Sunday night and my husband and I can throw a couple of pieces in the oven throughout the week for a super fast breakfast that doesn’t taste fast at all. You can even eat this for lunch or dinner and pairs beautifully with a simple salad of greens with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

You can sub out ingredients if you want. This just happens to be my favorite fritatta combo at the moment. You can also double this recipe if you have a big pan or even a baking dish.

The most important thing to keep in mind when making your own fritatta is to cook most ingredients in advance, especially those that you want to caramelize (like bacon or onions) or that have a high water content like tomatoes and bell peppers.

2 pieces of bacon (diced) (optional)
1 T. butter
½  onion
1 Red bell pepper
½ c. halved cherry tomatoes
½ c. basil leaves (finely sliced aka chiffonade)
1 T. thyme leaves (finely chopped)
1 c. fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs
¼ c. whole milk yogurt
Salt and pepper
½  c. cheddar cheese (diced)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°f.
  2. Butter a (approx. 8”) cast iron pan or baking dish.
  3. In another pan over medium heat cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp.
  4. Add the butter, onion, red bell pepper and cherry tomatoes. Cook until they soften, about five minutes.
  5. Add basil, thyme, spinach, salt and pepper to taste and cook for another minutes until greens are wilted. Take mixture off heat.
  6. In a bowl whisk eggs, yogurt and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour into buttered pan.
  7. Spoon bacon-veggie mix evenly over eggs.
  8. Sprinkle cheese evenly over eggs
  9. Bake for around 30 minutes or until the eggs are set when you jiggle the pan.
  10. Let cool before slicing and serving.
  11. Enjoy cold or warm.

Component In Action
-enjoy for breakfast, snack, lunch or dinner
-Enjoy cold or warm
-don’t be afraid to switch the ingredients up..
-in spring try pancetta, fresh peas, green onion and lavender
-in summer try mozzarella, basil and tomatoes
-in fall try maplewood smoked bacon, mushrooms and gruyere cheese
-in winter try spinach, goat cheese and caramelized onions

Hollandaise Sauce

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

Level up your day with tea

I had plans to start a series on stocks and sauces this week, but instead I want to talk about tea. Over the holidays we inherited a beautiful La Pavoni Espresso Machine from some dear friends. In all the excitement of pulling espresso shots, and my feeble attempts at making latte art, my daily tea ritual fell a bit into the background.

Then, this week we lost our beloved family cat. She was a Manx, with no tail and a hopping gait. She preferred to be in the middle of everything, and looked like a little black bear so we gave her the Ojibwe name for bear, Mukwa. She was as much a part of our family as any pet could be. If we were sick, she knew it and would station herself on the bed like a guard just watching us with her thoughtful little gaze. But when my son River was sick, she preferred to lay on top of him like a hen guarding her eggs. She cared for us just as much as we cared for her. I mention this because throughout the week I felt myself craving tea even more than usual, and I am reminded of the revitalizing, nurturing, and clarifying essence in a cup of tea.

Once upon a time, I spent a lovely year working in a tea shop, where I occasionally heard people say that they didn’t like tea because “it’s too much like drinking water”. Sure, it is more like drinking water compared to drinking a strong cup of coffee. This is the thing, and it really did take me over 30 years to discover it, but our taste buds and palates adapt. The more you taste wine for instance, the more you can actually taste the flavorful characteristics of wine. The same is true of tea, especially with certain delicate white and green teas. The more tea you try and explore, the more your palate opens and your capacity for tasting and enjoying all the intricacies found these exquisite brews increases.

The Legend
Tea is known to be native to southern China and was first prized for its botanical and medicinal properties. The story goes that in 2737 B.C., the Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea while sitting under a wild tea tree and a breeze blew a few leaves into a pot of water he had simmering over a fire.

The Ritual
Japan and China perhaps have the longest history and are most well known for their mindful and stunning tea ceremonies. But the fact remains; tea is the most consumed beverage in all the world.

A ritual can be found in any task, if you want to find it. Tea just naturally happens to be a lovely way to access this state of mindfulness. From choosing your cup,
to boiling the water,
to touching the leaves,
to watching the steam as the tea brews,
to sharing with a friend,
to feeling the warmth of the cup in your hands,
to breathing in the delicate scent,
to taking the first sip–
these are all access points to enter the present moment. When I think of tea, I think the Persian scientist and philosopher, Omar Khayyám gets it right:

Be happy for this moment, for this moment is your life.

The Basics
All real tea comes from the same tea plant, Camellia Sinensis (camel-lia sinen-sis). What makes each tea unique is where it is grown, when the leaves are picked, and how the leaves are handled. Once the leaves are harvested, they are set out to wither on trays for drying. What happens next determines what kind of tea it will become.

There are five basic types of tea:

White Tea (unfermented)
New tea buds are picked before they open. Then they are withered and dried resulting in the most unprocessed of all teas. Sometimes thought of as an acquired taste because of its gentle and delicate flavor profile, the subtlety and wonder of white tea is a true adventure.

Green Tea (unfermented)
The picked leaves are dried and heat-treated to stop any fermentation. In China, green teas are mostly processed by roasting and in Japan they are usually steamed. Flavor profiles of green teas range from earthy hay and mineral, to bright and grassy depending on where and how the leaves were handled.

Oolong tea (semi-fermented)
Oolong is mostly produced in China and Taiwan. The leaves must not be picked too soon and are wilted in direct sunlight, shaken to just slightly bruise the leaves and then dried for an hour or two before firing to stop the oxidation process. Oolongs are beautifully mellow teas with flavor profiles ranging from musty, wet leaf notes to floral.

Black Tea (fermented)
This process includes four steps: withering, rolling, fermenting & firing. There is a vast variety of black teas from the delicate darjeeling to the bold Assam. From India to China, black teas range in flavor and color depending on the production process.

Herbal and Fruit Teas (aka Tisanes)
These teas may not contain any actual “tea” but are no less soothing. These teas are made of various parts of dried herbs and flowers (leaves, fruit, root, flower, bark, stems & seeds).

The Benefits
There is a lot of science out there that digs deep into how and why tea is so good for us. As with anything food related, quality matters. If you drink a high quality loose leaf tea, the health benefits will be more abundant. Green tea is believed to have the most health benefits out of all the tea varieties. All tea has less caffeine than coffee, and includes L-Theanine, an amino acid that neutralizes the jittery traits of caffeine, helping you feel relaxed and focused.

Tea is also packed with antioxidants, and is widely believed to reduce inflammation, boost memory, strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of dementia, improve heart health, reduce the risk of stroke, lessen depression, mitigate allergy symptoms, and balance hormone levels.


Choose one: White tea, Green tea, Oolong Tea, Black Tea, Herbal or Fruit Tea
High quality tap or filtered water (black teas will tolerate hard water, but white and green teas brew more as themselves with soft, filtered water)

Brewing Tea is not an exact science. If you like stronger tea, let it brew a little longer. Like a lighter cup? Use less tea and less time. White, Green, and Oolong Teas can be re-brewed many times, each brew bringing a new flavor experience. You might discover that your favorite tea is a green tea, on the fourth brew–a true magical elixir<3. Some teas will include specific brewing instructions, but here are some general guidelines:

  1. Spoon tea into whatever vessel you are brewing in (cup or teapot).
  2. Pour in hot water.
  3. Let tea steep and move freely in the water for correct amount of time depending on type of tea.
  4. Strain tea through a fine mesh strainer into cups or a clean pot and serve immediately.

Brewing Table

Component in Action
-enjoy hot or cold.
-use in a marinade or dressing
-add a bit of honey and freeze into popsicles
-use dried tea in a rub (smoked teas are great for this)
-certain teas can be steeped in milk (like earl grey) to be used in a variety of desserts

Gingerbread Pancakes

This is our second holiday season in San Diego and while the weather is vacation worthy year round, I still miss the beautiful snowfalls of the Midwest. Lately I’ve been trying to make these December evenings as cozy as possible. As soon as the sun sets, or as my two year old likes to say, “look mama the night time is coming!”, I turn on some holiday music (my favorite is The Carpenters Christmas album), light the pinon scented incense and candles, and plug in the twinkle lights. I must say it’s working. By the time Saturday rolls around, we are so happy it’s the weekend. Hans is a loyal fan of Swedish pancakes (as any Swedish boy from Minnesota should be), but I couldn’t resist bringing a bit of gingerbread fluffyness to our weekend.

This recipe is from a little book called Cinnamon Mornings that I picked up one summer at the Printers Row Bookfair in Chicago. The book is a collection of breakfast & brunch recipes from B&B’s and Inns from around the country. This recipe is courtesy of the Hersey House in Ashland, Oregon. It also must be said, that Hans and I met just a mountain drive away from Ashland, Oregon, so for many reasons, this is now a breakfast keeper in our house.


2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
5 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 c. molasses
2 c. milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 T. butter, melted


  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and spices.
  2. Combine molasses, milk and eggs in a bowl.
  3. Stir in melted butter to the egg mixture.
  4. Add molasses mixture to dry ingredients.
  5. Stir only until everything is combined.
  6. Cook on a hot griddle, using 1/4 c. batter for each pancake.

Component in Action

  • whipped cream
  • greek yogurt
  • pecans, walnut, almonds
  • real maple syrup
  • raisins
  • warm maple syrup with orange zest and/or vanilla bean
  • apple butter
  • spiced apples
  • granola