baked squash blossoms stuffed w/ beet hummus


so remember last week when i was all, gardening on my fire escape is awesome; it's so rewarding and amazing. well this past week we woke up to find that 2 of the largest of our squash somewhat viciously pulled from their stems and, regretfully, chewed up and spit out!  i kept that half-eaten on the counter in the kitchen for a couple days because i didn't have it in me to throw such a little beauty away...(insert a very sad emoji face).  then, a few days later, i found little green aphids on a blossom.  luckily i found them early enough to where they didn't cause any damage.  i was the last person to think that a second floor fire escape would attract squirrels (!) and then bugs!  so i guess in the end, nature is awesome but you can't expect it to be easy when you take it into your own hands.  lesson learned.

before frank and i left a few weeks ago to visit his family, i harvested a good amount of squash blossoms from my garden that i didn't want to go to waste, along with a couple of beets.  i was planning on making hummus to take on the trip with me and thought that i might as well stuff the blossoms since i had them.  i used my baked squash blossom recipe from last year because i wanted to keep it a bit more clean than the fried route.  i share this recipe today, because not only is hummus seriously amazing inside a flower, BUT, baked hummus is a thing and i love it!  it takes on a bit of smokiness in the oven and it lent such an awesome, and unexpected flavor. look out for everything with baked hummus come fall 2014!

just a couple of notes:



baked squash blossoms stuffed w/ beet hummus (v +gf)

ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 small beets, roasted and skins removed
  • water, to thin
  • one dozen squash blossoms, stamens removed
  • olive oil, for baking
  • large grain sea salt, for sprinkling


instructions

  • preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • place chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, tahini, garlic, and beets into a food processor and pulse until blended.  add water, a teaspoon at a time, to thin consistency (you don't want to add too much water because you want hummus to be on the thicker side so when it bakes it doesn't run).  transfer hummus to a small mixing bowl
  • on a clean work surface, carefully stuff each squash blossom with a few teaspoons of beet hummus and gently twist the end to close; repeat with remaining blossoms.  place them on the prepared baking sheet; using a pastry brush, evenly brush each blossom with a light coat of olive oil.  sprinkle with the salt and transfer to the oven.  bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until crisp and golden
  • let the squash blossoms cool for a minute or two, then serve immediately 

enjoy!


faces + places | an LA round-up


just over 8 years ago i made my first acquaintance with LA.  it was summer of 2006 when me and my (then boyfriend) rented a car and drove cross-country.  my main goal was to get to venice beach where my brother and his girlfriend (now wife) lived.  it was a land of sun, sand, beachy laid-back vibes, and i was totally in my element.  it had been a few years since i was there last, and i was super eager to bring my husband to some of my favorite places to eat and visit.  but i found that after just a few years my diet had changed, almost completely, and the food i was so fond of was no longer an option for me.

i'm trying to refrain from calling this a "healthy, mindful eats" list, but it kind of is i guess. so, i've rounded up some of my new favorite restaurants/cafes/coffee shops/markets in LA to eat, check out, and that are just generally fun!  hope you enjoy! 



venice

good eats 

superba snack bar - offers a bunch of various dinner toasts, snacks, and mains.  not the best in terms of food substitutions, but definitely a fun place to check out. offers brunch, lunch and dinner.

cafe gratitude - first of all, i wish i could eat here everyday of the week - it's that good! their menu items include: elixirs, gluten-free options, vegan options, nut milks, awesome coffee. open for breakfast, lunch + dinner!

moon juice - fresh-pressed juices, small bites - all around clean, earthy vibe for your everyday balance!

axe - organic, seasonal, and all that good stuff.  plus, vegan + gluten-free options - open for lunch and dinner and weekend brunch.

gjelina - didn't actually make it to eat here.  BUT, they have a ton of veggie options, really good coffee with homemade almond-macadamia milk which was quite awesome! plus it's a really cute spot.

intelligensia - a super-future coffee shop, with many cool kid customers (er, hipsters).

sights

venice canals

abbott kinney

venice boardwalk (for laughs), and the venice skate park to watch some serious shredding!

beach activities, etc.,



silver lake area

food + lab - yes. yes. yes. all day everyday!  i wish we had a spot like in nyc.  awesome for breakfast and lunch with delicious sandwiches and salads.  they also have fresh pressed juices, snacks and side salads.

cookbook - a great little grocer/farm market with fresh produce, and made-fresh-daily food.  not to be missed, even if it's just for a visit.

sqirl - so much hype about this place.  we went early on a monday morning to avoid the crowds.  i thought it totally lived up to my expectations.  great breakfast options - gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan items - awesome cold brew iced coffee.

pot - roy choi's new spot in koreatown.  we waited for our table at the bar which had a really good selection of cocktails, japanese whiskey, beers, and bodega snacks.  food was awesome, fun vibe too.  it can get crowded so try to get there on the early side.

guisados - for the BEST tacos i have ever eaten.  go!

broome street general store - a cute place to check out, with various housewares, clothing, food, knickknacks, etc.  very "cool kid" vibe though, beware. 

hollywood farmers' market - not really in the silver lake area, but if you have access to a car i would suggest visiting on a sunday morning.  one of the biggest markets i've been to, with tons of awesome street food, spice vendors and tons of awesome produce. 

farmshop and the brentwood country mart - definitely need a car to get here, but it's totally worth checking it out.  farmshop is a market and restaurant, with a bakery/coffee counter open in the morning and afternoon. the surrounding, brentwood country mart, has a small bookstore, clothing boutiques, a gift/card shop, and a chocolate shop.  



manhattan/hermosa beach area

the source - located in hermosa beach. so many awesome breakfast and lunch items, i literally wanted to order everything!  plus, they have fresh-daily gluten-free, vegan baked goods, fresh juices, and again, really good coffee.  love this place to pieces!

manhattan beach post - awesome brunch and dinner spot with some really good options as well as some awesome cocktails! 

sights

pelican cove (pictured below) for hiking trails and general sightseeing.  totally beautiful!

manhattan beach pier - for sunsets


summer squash + banana-oat loaf w/ almond streusel (+ a giveaway!!!)


this spring i made a vow to my fire escape that not only would i plant a garden on it, but that i would also tend to its needs and give it the kind of tlc i had deprived it of in years past.  first, i got to researching what kinds of veggie plants do well with only a few hours of direct sunlight; what i found was that most herbs, beets, kale, bok choy and many others leafy greens do really well with the kind of light i knew my fire escape would get.  so, this past may was the jump-off.  i sowed my seeds indoors to ensure that they wouldn't get zapped by a frost, placed them on a windowsill that got direct sunlight in the mornings, watched their little sprouts grow, and when the end of may rolled around, transplanted them into outside containers.  so far, we've had the pleasure of opening up our window to cut fresh basil, cilantro, parsley, and chives.  we've just pulled the first of our beets and cut the first round of squash blossoms; and in a few days/weeks we'll (hopefully) have 2 varieties of squash, as well as jalepeno and cayenne peppers :)))  

while i'm still waiting for the first squash to grow big enough to harvest, i've been buying them up at the market and using them for all sorts of things: eggie scrambles w/ black beans and tomatoes, spicy squash tacos, ratatouille, and this squash and banana-oat loaf.  a few weeks back i received a copy of smitten with squash, by amanda paa of hearbeet kitchen, and was so relieved to find so much helpful information about how to tend to squash plants (both summer + winter!).  not only was i educated, but also super inspired to use squash in so many different ways: spicy refrigerator pickles, chimichurri chicken & vegetable kabobs,  garam masala–dusted pattypans and chickpeas with tahini sauce.   it's been a while since i baked something, and was getting an itch to do so.  when flipping threw amanda's book, my eye was immediately caught by her banana oat streusel summer squash muffins. but as i was preparing to take a trip, i wanted something that would travel better and decided to adapt her recipe into a loaf.  the loaf turned out to be so incredibly delicious, with its flecks of squash, pockets of chopped nuts, a hint of spice, and a sweet + light streusel to top it all off.   totally snack and travel-worthy!

and now for the giveaway! amanda's publishers were awesome enough to give me a second copy for a lucky reader!  so, to enter, please leave a comment saying what your favorite kind of squash is, and how you like to prepare it.   the contest ends monday, july 28th at 6pm and will only be open to US and Canadian residents.  good luck everyone! xo



a summer squash + banana-oat loaf w/ almond streusel (gluten +dairy free)

adapted from Smitten with Squash 

if you don't have to be gluten free you can substitute the flours below for you flour/s of choice save for the 1/2 cup of rolled oats.  

| makes 1 loaf |

  • 3/4 brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup (GF) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 4 tablespoons almond oil (or another light oil)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated squash, grated using the course holes on a box grater
  • 1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (about 2-3 bananas depending on size) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (i used a combo of almonds + pecans)

streusel

  • 3 tablespoons (GF) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice flour (or flour of choice)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt


instructions

  • preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.  cut a piece of parchment to line the pan with an overhang on each side
  • prepare streusel first.  in a small bowl, combine streusel ingredients and set aside
  • in a large bow, whisk flours, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  set aside. in another large bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar until incorporated.  whisk in oil and vanilla; then stir in squash and banana.  gradually add dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined and no lumps remain
  • evenly distribute batter throughout the loaf pan and sprinkle streusel on top
  • bake in the center of your oven for 45-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  using the parchment overhangs, remove loaf from pan and transfer to a wire cooling rack.  let the loaf cool completely before slicing (the loaf can be stored at room temp. covered with a piece of parchment for 3-4 days) 

enjoy!


a midsummer cherry & amaranth panzanella salad + a giveaway!


we're getting ready to hit the road again.  we're packing the car up along with the pup (!!!) and heading south to frank's fam, and my fam-in-law's, to celebrate my mother-in-laws bday (lots of laws there)!  my head is a little spin-y from back-to-back trips, but i am NOT complaining, these are the times i cherish - days spent with our family, chats, hugs, and an all around good time!  

today i'm teaming up with whole foods to bring you a whole foods giveaway (more on that later!) and cherries!  cherries are totally in their prime right now (and on a serious sale at my local whole foods this week!) and at their sweetest - fruit really isn't the same when it's super fresh and in season.   but, since returning from last week's vacation, i've been in somewhat of a food coma and needed to power through the next couple of days with something light and fresh.  naturally, salad. but in this case a bread-y one.  most panzanella salads i love to eat are often drizzled with good olive oil, really good balsamic,  with a couple of grinds and pinches of salt + pepper - easy breezy, y'all.  since i wanted to add cherries to the mix, i didn't think the addition of balsamic was necessary, and therefore went with a simple cider vinegar vinaigrette to balance it all out.  i also added some greens because while at the market i spotted a big pile of their fancy green leaves shot with purple veins and couldn't leave without them.

now! on to the giveaway!  i've been such a fan of whole foods for years, so when the opportunity to give away a $50 whole foods gift card came a' knockin' i couldn't refuse the chance to reward one of my lovely readers!

so, to enter a chance at winning, please leave a comment below telling me about your favorite summer dinner and drink (or cocktail!), (personally, mine is a summer ratatouille [all the veggies!] with a super chilled glass of rosé, i could equally go for a crisp, cool beer too though).  the contest ends next tuesday, july 22nd at 6pm, and will only be open to US or Canadian residents (sorry overseas dudes). good luck y'all! xo



a midsummer cherry & amaranth panzanella salad

| serves 4 |

if you can't find amaranth, any green will do here. but if you want a similar taste, i would go with arugula or another bitter green.  

ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh cherries (bing, rainier, or another sweet cherry)
  • 2 bunches amaranth leaves (approx. 2 lightly packed cups)
  • 4-5 slices of gluten-free bread (or bread of choice)
  • 3 medium ripe heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, or to taste
  • fine ground sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste 


instructions

  • remove pits and halve cherries; set aside for later.  wash and pat dry amaranth and basil leaves, slice both thin, or roughly chop; set aside.  
  • slice tomatoes away from core and cut into chunks; carefully, place tomato chunks, and a few pinches of salt, into a strainer over a bowl and let tomato juice drain; reserve the juice for later
  • preheat your broiler (if you have access to one, this step can also be done on a grill) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  place pieces of bread flat on baking sheet, rub garlic cloves over the bread and crust, brush with olive oil and season with salt.  toast bread under broiler until crisp and brown - about 1-2 minutes on each side; let bread cool (if grilling bread, follow the same steps).  in a large serving bowl, tear bread into pieces and stir in the reserved tomato juice to soften
  • add cherries, amaranth, basil, tomatoes and onion to the bread and give it a good toss.  in a small bowl, whisk together the cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and olive oil.  drizzle onto salad, taste and adjust if necessary; serve immediately :)

enjoy!


cookbook LA


while in LA last week i had the opportunity to stop by cookbook, a space i had been meaning to check out for quite some time.  if there were ever a place i could see myself plop down each day to be inspired, rejuvenated and just plain old mesmerized, this was it.  it's kind of a farmers' market/farm stand/cafe mashup, highlighting local produce and prepared foods. 

farm tables displayed fresh, local veggies; stone fruits, the perkiest of raspberries, cornichons to munch on, freshly picked flower stems and a freezer with an assortment of berry/herb ice pops. beside a refrigerator case stood a beautiful wooden bookcase filled with specialty oils, chocolate bars, salts and spices.

while my head was spinning from all the beauty, i was equally a little bummed that i couldn't purchase a bunch of loot to bring home and cook up.  i did, however, get to purchase some of the sweetest, most raspberry-colored raspberries and a few juicy apricots.  and i was super happy to bring those little guys back to our place and shoot them, and all their glory, in a kitchen with direct sunlight (GASP!).   if you ever do find yourself in the LA area, this place is a must-go! happy monday, all! xo