Athena's Creamy Cauliflower Soup W/ Dukkah & Watercress Pesto by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

i wasn't always very keen on cooking.  the truth is, that until i met frank, and he and i started dating, i didn't really enjoy the process of cooking that much.  but as our relationship progressed, the notion of cooking for someone else and pleasing their tummy and tastebuds really appealed to me.   so much so, that while frank and i grew a relationship and fell in love with each other, i simultaneously cultivated a little love affair with cooking as well.  

before we moved in together, we would take turns cooking at our respective apartments.  he would generally "cook" sandwiches, which were seriously good.  and i would plan some sort of intricate dinner like a ricotta gnocchi recipe that i had ripped from the pages of the new york times. but saturday and sunday mornings were reserved for getting up a bit early to make a batch of scones or muffins that i had bookmarked and printed out weeks before.  i would scotch tape the recipes to the my kitchen cabinets where they would become one with my little kitchen - splatters, drips, and all! maybe you would have guessed, but as mine and frank's connection grew stronger so did my love for preparing our meals.

cooking and developing recipes for a living has its considerable perks, but the past year that drive has waned a bit with having a baby.  and i have often felt that love and connection to food disipate. i've talked to some other moms about this, and i know it's not just me.  but that continual tug in two completely different directions of wanting to the best, most present mama, while also striving to be the best at your career has taken its toll. which is why every time a new cookbook shows up on my doorstep i am eternally grateful for the wonderful authors who share their stories, hearts, and kitchens with us every time fall and spring roll around.

so, today i'm cooking from a new book, cook beautiful, by athena colderone of the blog, eyeswoon. the recipes are organized by the seasons of the year, so i flipped right to the fall chapter and gathered a load of east coast autumn inspiration.  i chose to make this creamy cauliflower soup to really welcome fall into my kitchen (although, it's literally 90 degrees in LA as i'm writing this), and give you all some chilly-weather meal inspiration as well.  this cauliflower soup is a wonderfully delicious blank canvas - and you could certainly serve and eat this as is.  but athena paired it beautifully with a pistachio dukkah (a middle eastern spice and nut/seed blend), and a zesty watercress-pistachio pesto.  the dukkah added a flavorful crunch, while the pesto added a perfect bit of brightness to make an unassuming soup really shine.   just like the title, states this book is beautiful in every way.  i could see my younger self being too intimidated to cook from it just from its shear beauty, but i think it really beckons you to cook your most beautiful, push your boundaries a bit by introducing you to new ideas, and different ways of preparing a typical meal.   

big cozy hugs! xo

creamy cauliflower soup w/ dukkah & watercress pesto 

recipe from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone

*my notes: athena's recipe calls for heavy cream. if you don't handle dairy well, like me, then you can replace it with 1/4 cup tahini which i added to the blender during step 5.

| serves 4 |

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds/910 g), cored and cut into bite-size florets
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut  in half lengthwise and rinsed clean
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces (225 g) yukon gold potatoes (about 3), peeled and quartered
  • 3 cups (720 ml) chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup (185 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • watercress pistachio pesto, for serving
  • dukkah, for serving

watercress pistachio pesto | makes 2 cups

  • 1/3 cup (45 g) unslated pistachios, toasted, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups (60 g) packed watercress
  • 3/4 cup (45 g) packed fresh parsely
  • 2/3 cup (165 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • kosher salt

dukkah | makes 3/4 cup

  • 3/4 cup (95 g) unsalted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt



  1. preheat oven to 425°F (220°C)
  2. spread the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet.  drizzle the generously with oil, season with salt, and toss to coat.  roast for 15 minutes, tossing the cauliflower halfway through.  continue to roast until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  3. while the cauliflower is roasting, chop the leeks crosswise into roughly 1/4-inch (6-mm) slices.  in a medium saucepan, heat the oil and thyme over medium heat and saute the leeks until they are slightly softened, about 2 minutes.  add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes more. 
  4. add the potatoes, stock, cream, 2 cups (480 ml) water, and the roasted cauliflower to the pot.  bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat and cover, cooking until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  once the potatoes are tender, remove the thyme stems from the mixture (the leaves should have fallen off during cooking).
  5. transfer the mixture to a blender and cover the hole of the blender top with a towel.  blend until the mixture is very smooth.  stir in the lemon juice and season with 2 teaspoons salt and some pepper.  divide the soup among four bowls and top it with lemon zest, a swirl of the watercress pesto, and a sprinkle of dukkah.


  1. in a food processor, pulse the pistachios, watercress, and parsley until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses.  add the oil and lemon juice and process until a smooth, loose paste forms, about three 10-second pulses.  transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the melon zest, and season with salt.  covered in the refrigerator, with a layer of olive oil on top, the pesto will last 3 to 4 days.


  1. in a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the pistachios for minutes, until warm.  add the sesame seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds.  continue to toast for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the seeds are fragrant. transfer the mixture to a mini food processor, along with the peppercorns and salt.  pulse until the pistachios are coarsely chopped  the dukkah can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.

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Vegan Caesar Pasta Salad by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

every time autumn rolls around another pasta dish accompanies this blog.  it's almost as if the two compliment each other in the coziest of ways. however, i was a little concerned if that fall/pasta sentiment would carry through to living in LA.  aside from a few days last week, it seems as though summer really has no end - at least not yet.   i so vividly remember what fall on the east coast feels like, so it's difficult to adjust to such a different climate, and different ways of looking at, and cooking within the seasons.  

i've been missing new york a lot lately.  most of it is just sentimental, but a lot of it has to do with missing the familiar.  i knew where to go to get cute birthday candles, or where to go when i was craving a good tuna salad.  it's silly, but those little things make all the difference.  there was a cafe/"gourmet" food establishment in the town i grew up in.  when i was young we would get many of our meals from there.  when there were birthdays, or bridal showers, or amesy's baby naming, we had them cater it.  they were essentially a big part of our family.  when i was a kid, i would get their caesar pasta salad.  it was always super simple: chopped romaine, some cabbage or radicchio, bowtie pasta, and good amount of shaved reggiano on top.  but the best part was the dressing.  it was a tangy, pungent, creamy buttermilk dressing that was so good you could almost drink it.  (i would sometimes get a cup of it and make pasta, just to dunk them in it.)  

so when i was thinking of a pasta dish that was cozy for those fall-like evenings, and those summer-like days here in los angeles, a pasta salad came to mind.  and i didn't have to think very much about trying to recreate that favorite buttermilk-pasta situation.  the dressing base is thick and luscious, and comes together with a dairy free yogurt, and tahini at its base.  from there, some lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, and dijon mustard is added.  it thins out pretty nicely when its added to the salad, while coating every bite in the best way.  i used a new-to-me brand of pasta, gogo quinoa which i really dig.  it cooks up perfectly al dente - zero mushiness.  and the ingredients are on point - no weird additives.  i'm excited that they'll be launching in costco stores across the US soon (but if you're in the bay area, costco is already carrying them).  hoping this fall pasta dish finds you all well <3

love & cozy hugs! 

this post was sponsored in partnership with gogo quinoa.  all thoughts and opinions, as always, are mine.  thank you for supporting the sponsors that help keep dolly and oatmeal going!

vegan caesar pasta salad | v & gf

| serves 4 |


  • 1 cup cultured coconut yogurt
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • salt & fresh pepper
  • water, to thin, if necessary


  • 8 ounces GoGo Quinoa pasta*
  • roughly 4 cups chopped romaine
  • 1 cup shredded radicchio
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • salt

*about the pasta: ingredients: organic sorghum flour, organic white quinoa flour, organic amaranth flour, organic chia flour.


  1. combine the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, nutrtional yeast, oil, and garlic in a blender or food processor.  blend until everything is combined.  season with salt and pepper.  blend again, and taste for seasonings and more acid, adjust if necessary.  you want the dressing to be somewhat pungent, as it will dilute a bit when you dress the salad.  store in a lidded jar in the refrigerator until ready to use.  
  2. cook the pasta according to the instructions, until al dente.  drain and rinse with cold water.  
  3. in a large bowl, toss together the romaine, radicchio, and half the toasted nuts.  add the pasta and half the dressing.  toss again, then taste, adjusting the seasoning and adding more dressing if you like.
  4. serve, and sprinkle with remaining nuts. 

A Dinosaur Cake For Amesy's 1st Birthday! by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

baby-friendly dinosaur "smash" cake | dolly and oatmeal

we celebrated amesy's 1st with confetti balloons, a little taco and guac spread, our dear family, a couple of birthday portraits, and some dinosaur cake!  i had planned his birthday a bit more elaborately in my head months back. but it turns out all he needed was some balloons, tickles and love from his fam, and some smash-friendly cake.  i know i mentioned that i was going to try and make his cake in the shape of an actual dinosaur.  clearly that didn't happen.  because as it turns out, i'm not a magician, nor am i that talented in the cake decorating/intricate icing department.  i'm reaaaaally good at complicating situations so i took a step back from the endless cake scenarios playing out in my mind and thought about ames, and what he might like.  he's a pretty easy going babe, so a simple, easy-peasy mini cake, some cookie "dirt", and a plastic dinosaur on top was going to be perfect for him.  i'm not sure whether he enjoyed the happy birthday song, the smashing part, or the actual eating of the cake more, but he definitely had fun at his little party :)  

at one point when frank and i were setting up amesy's party, i was kind of struck with this profound parent-y feeling.  i've been at parties, helped set them up, thrown shindigs for friends, etc. but it was different and so, so special making a little party for him that it kind of surprised me a bit by how much it struck me.  i didn't think being a mom would change in any way.  and to a certain degree i'm exactly who i was, but being a mama to ames is the very best feeling i've ever felt and could ever feel.  it's similar to how i would feel every christmas morning when i was a kid, i'm just so excited to spend the day with him and see how he takes in his young world.  

anywho, let's talk cake.  this baby cake is grain free and a made with almond and cassava flour.  it's sweetened with banana puree, some coconut sugar (which is completely refined sugar free), and a few drops of stevia.  the frosting/whip is just straight up coconut fat from a can of refrigerated coconut milk with a few drops of stevia (not that i think he would have noticed if it weren't sweetened).  i chose the ingredients carefully here because i wanted it to be cakey and enjoyable as a sweet treat for ames, but i also didn't want his blood sugar sky-rocketing out of control.  and judging by amesy's reaction, i think i found a really great balance of both with this cake.  yay!  and it's even good for adults too! my dad and brother ate their fair share ;)  

peace & love. xo!

baby-friendly dinosaur "smash" cake | gf/df/grain free/refined sugar free

i know cassava flour is hard to come by in some areas, and quite expensive.  while i haven't tried it, arrowroot powder would probably make a great substitute.  

| makes one 3-tiered, 3-inch layer cake |

  • 1 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup cassava flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup banana puree (roughly 2 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, room temp
  • 1/2 cup liquid coconut oil
  • 2 pasture raised eggs, room temp
  • 4-6 drops liquid stevia
  • 1 cup ground chocolate cookies (i like these or a homemade version), for "dirt"
  • dinosaur figurines 


  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 24 hours
  • 4 drops liquid stevia

adult-friendly chocolate dinosaur cake

  • this recipe, substituting the olive oil for coconut oil


  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated palm shortening
  • 1 cup powdered coconut sugar (i followed ashlae's recipe here, and used 1 cup coconut sugar, and 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder)
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk


  • preheat oven to 350°F, and grease and line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with at least 2-inch sides.
  • in a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cassava flour, coconut sugar, cacao, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  
  • in another large bowl, whisk together  the banana puree, milk, oil, eggs, and stevia.
  • mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined.  pour the batter into the cake pan tilting it to get the batter evenly dispersed.  bake in the center of your oven for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick come out clean.
  • place the cake on a rack to cool.  once the cake is completely cool invert it onto a piece of cling wrap.  refrigerate the cake for at least 5 hours, or overnight.
  • use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut three layers out of the cake.  (there will be quite a bit of cake remnants.  i used small cookie cutters to make bite-size cakes for amesy's cousin and other guests.)  
  • make the coconut whip.  turn the coconut milk can upside down and open it from the bottom.  pour out the coconut water (you can reserve it for smoothies, etc.) and scoop the coconut fat from the can into a bowl.  using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the whip until it's fluffy.  add the stevia and mix again.  cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.
  • use an offset spatula to frost the top of one cake layer, add the other top and add the same amount of coconut whip, add the last layer and frost the top and sides with a thin layer of whip.  refrigerate for roughly 30 minutes, and then frost with another layer (a second layer isn't totally essential, but because the cake is chocolate, the coconut whip will turn slightly brown with one layer if it's sitting long enough.) add cookie crumbs to the bottom of the cake and little on top.  plop a dinosaur on top, and let the smashing begin.
  • large chocolate dinosaur cake

  • follow the method here, but instead of using a bundt pan, grease and line two. 6-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  • bake the layers until the a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, about 35-38 minutes.  let the layers cool completely.  wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
  • make the frosting.  add the shortening to a large bowl.  sift in the powdered coconut sugar and cacao; add the vanilla and milk. mix together using an electric mixer on medium low until the frosting is fluffy and creamy.
  • frost the top of one layer, then place the other layer on top.  frost the tops and sides with a thin layer to coat it.  refrigerate for 30 minutes, then frost the top and sides again in a final, thicker layer.  add the cookie crumbs to the bottom of the cake, and make little mounds on top of the cake. decorate with dinosaurs, and slice and serve the cake.

baby-friendly dinosaur "smash" cake | dolly and oatmeal

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