butternut squash squares w/ chocolate drizzle + sea salt, a virtual friendsgiving + a giveaway!

it's one last hurrah, before we hang up the thanksgiving hat and move on.  but before we do, there's a few things we need to take care of.  first! this week we're celebrating a virtual friendsgiving, hosted by renee, from will frolic for food and j.q. dickinson salt company!  some of my favorite blogger friends will be sharing really rad thanksgiving dishes, menus, tips, the list goes on (you can follow on instagram by using the hashtag: #jqdfriendsgiving or follow along here)!  plus, i'm giving away a bottle of j.q. dickinson company's beautiful salt.  rarely do i call salt beautiful, but after watching this video on how they develop their salt, and watching the care and attention that goes into it, i've found an such an appreciation for their process.  i've been enjoying this salt on just about everything, from roasted veggies, to topping weekend eggie breakfasts, to sprinkling it on my sweets!  i can't find enough ways to use it!

if you've hung around this space enough, you're probably aware that i love sprinkling flecks of salt on anything made in combination with chocolate.  which brings me to these butternut squash bars!  there are so many recipes out there that i've been meaning to make, then months (and sometime years) go by, and then i'm reminded of them and kicking myself for how much time has gone by.  case in point,  laura's banana bread granola bars with chocolate drizzles! well, the baking stars aligned last week and i finally made them with a few seasonal changes.  i thought friendsgiving called for more of a pumpkin bread granola bar situation, and from there i loaded these babes up with some warm spices and added a few festive pumpkin seeds.  these butternut bars came together so delightfully, they're sweet enough to count for dessert, but hearty enough to enjoy in the morning as a sturdy breakfast.  they are totally a new favorite non-treat, treat!

***for the giveaway! one lucky winner will receive a jar of j.q. dickinson salt company salt, wrapped in its personal little burlap bag!  just leave a comment below, and i will pick a winner at random.  contest ends friday, november 28th at 6pm!

happy almost thanksgiving friends! xo

butternut squash squares w/ chocolate drizzle + sea salt (v + gf)

barely adapted from The First Mess

| makes 32 bars |


  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (preferably grade b)
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined extra virgin coconut oil, more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup puffed quinoa (or puffed brown rice, puffed millet, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  •  1/4 cup cacao nibs (or dairy-free chocolate chips)
  • large grain sea salt for sprinkling

chocolate drizzle

  • 1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil


  • preheat oven to 350° and line a 8x11-inch pan with parchment paper (make sure it's a big enough piece to allow overhang).  set aside.
  • in a large bowl, combine the first 9 ingredients, until mixed and creamy.  in another large bowl, combine the oats, puffed quinoa, nuts, seeds, and cacao nibs.  add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix for a couple minutes, until everything coated and mixed thoroughly.  transfer mixture to the prepared baking pan, and bake in the center of your oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown.
  • remove from oven and place on a cooling rack; allow bars to cool completely before cutting.  with a sharp knife cut the bars into even squares
  • in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water, add the chocolate and coconut oil; stir with a spatula until melted.  using a fork, drizzle the chocolate over the bars; transfer to refrigerator for 10 minutes (you want the chocolate half set).  remove from fridge and sprinkle with as much or as little sea salt as desired.  place back in the fridge until chocolate has completely set  
  • bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temp for roughly 4-5 days 


ginger-apple crumble pie (gluten + dairy free/vegan)

today i'm sharing a recipe for this gluten + dairy free/vegan (depending on if you use an egg wash for the crust) ginger-apple crumble pie.  it's my first foray into crumble pie topping, and i can say that it's going to be a staple around here for years to come.  as for the ginger-y apple filling, that's a fave too!  as i've said before, i'm not the biggest on overly sweet anything, so the ginger really balances it all out, all with a hint of spice.   and the recipe is over on food 52 today in celebration of pie week!  also, food 52 and squarespace are teaming up for a few giveaways, so head on over there to check it all out!

a few thanksgiving-y links:

renee's beautiful pie, using my pie crust recipe that was posted on food 52 earlier this week.  THYME marshmallows! this sweet video, family traditions (especially when they involve food) give me the happiest goosebumps!  for the day you needed powdered sugar, only to find your pantry empty of it: homemade! powdered sugar. heidi's  vegetarian thanksgiving dishes. and pumpkin brownie swirly-ness at it's finest!  

happy friday!!! and happy weekend!  wishing you all a cozy one! xo

twice baked sweet potatoes w/ pumpkin seed dukkah

life's been a bit full-force these past few weeks, as i'm sure everyone feels the crazy holiday vibes out there. i'm finding it a bit hard to escape it all, even when i try.  i've been saying yes to a lot of fun projects, running myself a little thin, all with a wacky as heck sleeping schedule as of late.  weekends spent working have been awesome creatively, but i would be lying if i said that i didn't feel like it was taking something away from time with my husband and our pup.  getting consumed and overwhelmed easily is a problem of mine (or at least it can feel that way), so much so that i need someone to shake me out of that.  i love it more than anything when my husband, who is the most even, kind and gentle man, tells me i need to put it all down and relax.  i listen. and then i remember that balance is clutch, and tuning in to the present moment is what can be the difference between a freak out and and cool calm look at the world.  

balance, balance, balance.  to me, something that always need balance is the sweet potato.  as the sweet potato is already quite sweet, i find that the addition of sweet things this time of year is a little over the top for my personal taste.  in an effort to combat that problem, with all the sweetened sweet potato dishes out there, i took a family favorite from years ago and gave it an update.  twice baked potatoes were something my mom and i made each year around the holidays.  we would make tons of them, and subsequently have those stuffed spuds for days and days, after all the holiday craziness was over - a tried and true favorite we're talking.  if you've never had a twice baked potato, it's kind of like eating the creamiest, yummiest mashed potatoes inside a crisp, salty potato skin.  some people like eating just the whipped potato filling (hi, mom), and some love eating the whole shebang (hi, rest of the world!).  i started recreating this dish with sweet potatoes in mind as i've come to really love them - mostly for their nourishing properties, but also because white potatoes don't sit the best.  and since roasting acorn squash the other week with za'atar, and loving how the spice blend cut through the sweetness of the squash, i thought incorporating a super punchy dukkah spice blend would be great here with the sweet potato.  fragrant flavors of coriander, fennel, and cumin, some thyme, and my favorite: tangy sumac. i don't know how i didn't put these ingredients together sooner, definitely a power combo!


twice baked sweet potatoes w/ pumpkin seeds dukkah (v + gf)

dukkah is a nut and seed spice blend hailing from egypt.  most times it's made with hazelnuts, on occasion i've seen it with peanuts, and sometimes pumpkin seeds.  since it is pumpkin season, i only thought it was appropriate that they represent here, but feel free to add what ever nut or seed you like.  below i indicate more sumac for garnish.  

| makes 12 halves |

twice baked sweet potatoes

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup scallions or green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup tofutti (or vegan cream cheese of choice)
  • 2-3 tablespoons hot, unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, extra for greasing and cooking
  • fine salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • parsley, for garnish
  • sumac, for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin seed dukkah (recipe below)

pumpkin seed dukkah

  • 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (1/2 tablespoon is using dry)
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt


  • take cream cheese out to reach room temperature.  preheat oven to 350° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.  grease and salt skins of potatoes; place on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.  remove from oven and cool to handle, about 30 minutes.  
  • while potatoes are cooling, cook the onions and garlic.  heat a skillet over medium heat, add enough oil to coat bottom of pan, and saute the scallions/onions until soft, about 3 minutes.  add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. remove from heat and set aside.
  • once potatoes have cooled a bit, cut in half and carefully scoop cooked potato into a bowl, being careful to reserve skins.  using an electric mixer, mash potatoes, cream cheese, 2 tablespoons milk, scallions, garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.  depending on your preference, add more milk. (2 tablespoons is usually enough to get a creamy consistency.)
  • using a spoon, carefully fill skins with potato mixture.  sprinkle tops with pumpkin seeds dukkah blend and place back in the oven for 20 minutes more.  serve hot with fresh parsley and extra sumac

pumpkin seeds dukkah

  • heat a heavy skillet over high heat - toast pumpkin seeds, until slightly browned and fragrant, 1-2 minutes. repeat with place coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds; remove from pan.  toast sesame seeds, then peppercorns.  allow spices to cool, add the peppercorns to a mortar and pestle, and crush.  add seeds, sumac, salt, and thyme, and grind until mix is crushed.  spice blend can be stored at room temp in an airtight container 

how to make whole grain, gluten free + vegan pie crust!

when i was asked to create a gluten and dairy free pie crust recipe for food 52, i was super pumped!  i had been playing around with gluten-free pastry dough for quite some time, but never had the guts to post about it because it can be a somewhat divisive subject; some people stick to age old recipes, others have specific techniques on cutting the butter/oil with a pastry cutter, two knives or using their fingers, etc.  so, not wanting to piss people off, i refrained from posting a recipe (because sometimes food bloggers can bear the brunt of some people's deep dark creepy thoughts in the comment section).

just some things i found helpful:

  1. using a food processor merely butters the coconut oil, making the dough too wet to add all the water that is needed.
  2. refrigerating the coconut oil in flat disk help to make sure that it's cold throughout, then chop into chunks with a sharp knife.
  3.  i found that using a pastry cutter gets the coconut oil into the perfect sized chunks; just small enough that they're not creamed into the dough, but also aren't too big that the dough around it falls apart.
  4. the amount of water used always varies - for whatever reason.  just remember, you can always add more water at another time, but you can never take back the liquid, so be careful here.
  5. use lots of dusting flour! lots. i really like sorghum here because it has a super smooth texture.
  6. and, an angled pie pan works best too; a lip with a 45 degree angle, as opposed to one with a 90 degree angle, is best because less cracks ensue.    

like i said, pie dough is touchy subject, so i merely provide you with the basics of what i've found to be the best pie dough and crust, that i ever thought was possible - flaky and light, crumbly but sturdy, and most importantly, full of flavor!

head on over to food 52 for the complete recipe! xo

hearty herb, corn + oat bread

if you've read the last couple of posts here, then i'm sure you know how thanksgiving food is not exactly my ideal meal.  i've usually been one to avoid it all - eating/making thanksgiving-type food - but this year i felt it was necessary for both me and my husband's sake that i embrace this holiday and give it a chance (because apparently being married doesn't mean you only get to eat the food you like - it's all compromise i suppose!).  last week i highlighted a simple way to make stuffed acorn squash with a zingy tahini sauce as a possible side dish or entree for thanksgiving.  this week, i'm talking cornbread!  

in the past, it was the one item on the t-giving table that i knew and loved; however, in the last few years as gluten intolerances crept in, my go-to was sadly no more.  in an effort to change that situation, i've been playing around with a few different corn-y bread recipes; and i'm super happy to report that i've found a new appreciation (and recipe) for my old friend, cornbread.  this time around it's a more savory bread with a combo of oat flour and cornmeal; a bundle of chopped herbs, and vegan buttermilk to make sure it's nice and moist. while i can say with confidence that it's the perfect companion to anything thanksgiving, it's also makes a super slick accompaniment to breakfast meals: egg + cornbread breakfasts, or perhaps it could sit beside your bowls of weeknight chili and begged to be dipped.  either way, the herbaceous flavors, and licks of salt in each bite are kind of dreamy (and addicting!).   i'm diving into this thanksgiving thing full force, peeps, and next week i'll be sharing pies, pies, and more pies! (ok, maybe just one pie, but still!)

love + light, y'all! xo

hearty herb, corn + oat bread (gluten + dairy free)

i love this cornbread for so many reasons, but mostly because it's super moist, but also light and fluffy!  if you're looking for a more traditional, non-herby, cornbread, just take the herbs out and replace the olive oil with 1/4 cup coconut oil.  

| makes 8x8 inch square loaf |


  • 1 1/4 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (non-gmo) organic cornmeal
  • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs (i used sage, thyme, and rosemary)
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, extra for pan


  • preheat oven to 350° and grease an 8x8 inch square pan with oil, line the bottom and sides of pan with parchment paper and fold the paper over each side to make "wings".  set aside
  • in a mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk with the vinegar and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes
  • in a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, oat flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and chopped herbs
  • to the coconut milk mix, add the egg and whisk; add the oil and whisk once more.  add the wet to the dry and mix thoroughly until combined.  pour the batter evenly into prepared pan, and place in the center of oven.  bake for 30 minutes, edges should be slightly browned and top should crackle a bit.  remove from oven and place on cooling rack; after 15 minutes, use parchment "wings" to gently lift bread out of pan.  place back on cooling rack and allow bread to cool completely before slicing
  • serve warm and enjoy!