chickpeas with spicy, wilted greens

I probably sound like a broken record. It's so easy! Simple meals are the most satisfying! I've fed you excessive amounts of beans, lentils and whole grains for the last few months with all these easy-when-you-come-home-from-the-gym explanations, but I'm embracing it because this is what my dinner table looks like at the moment.

It's generally well known that time consuming dishes can be extremely comforting. Lasagna, for instance, or braised short ribs over creamy polenta. Something that takes hours to cook, perfuming the kitchen, might seem more appealing than say, chickpeas with spicy greens. But I think there is a case to be made.

the saturday post | lemon cream scones with raspberry jam

I don't always have time for a leisurely breakfast. Or, I don't choose to make the time for a leisurely breakfast. That's the truth. So when Memorial Day weekend arrived, there was an extended opportunity to do something more proper than cereal, complete with a side of homemade jam.

Sometimes I wish I could eat this way every day, but it does make a morning like this all the more special. And speaking of breakfast, things just got a lot more interesting around here. After months of research, Andrew recently purchased a new Bezzera espresso machine straight from the factory in Milan. He spent most of the weekend testing the grind in the beans and steaming milk to the perfect froth. These scones alongside a hot latte reminded me of our time in London last year, a great memory to mull over for a few minutes.

chickpea wraps

Do you ever get the feeling, too many recipes, too little time? It's my own fault that I subscribe to four food magazines, read newspaper dining sections weekly, and am always prepared to add the next cookbook that catches my eye to my Amazon cart. Recipes envelop me. And it's with enthusiasm that I accept them, but sometimes it can leave me feeling overwhelmed, even when I tend to try new recipes almost every night of the week.

I recently received two new cookbooks in the mail. One is by the talented Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. I tend to read cookbooks with a pad of fuchsia post-it notes nearby to tag the recipes I'm interested in, but even before I sat on the couch to read her cookbook cover to cover, I didn't bother. I knew I'd want to make most of the recipes. For the next few weeks at least, most of my meals came from her book, and in a way it was liberating to have one direction to go, letting the gray dissipate like heavy rain clouds moving through after a storm. The clouds parted, and I could see clearly.

two birthdays | strawberry rhubarb cornmeal cake

Today is my birthday, and about a week before my big day three years ago, I started a blog. I've described some of my journey here before, how I learned to cook in college after determining that grilled cheese sandwiches and frozen curly fries weren't sufficient, long-term solutions to hunger. How I blackened the ceiling in my first apartment trying to fry mozzarella sticks. (Or maybe I didn't tell you, but there it is, mistakes happen).

salad without a name

I'm not sure what to call this salad exactly. Goes with everything salad? Warm Lentil and Cauliflower Salad? The Pantry Salad? Lemony Lentil Salad? I'm clearly open to suggestions. It came together on a rainy night, a Tuesday, actually. Tuesday is sometimes devoted to meals like this. Because we get organic vegetables delivered on Wednesday, we're working with the very end of our produce and sometimes in my sheer laziness I just don't plan a meal hoping something will inspire me in the moment. Thankfully, sometimes this actually does happen.

pizza with shrimp and arugula

It came as a surprise to me that I still had frozen shrimp in the freezer. I had no plans to use them, but it turns out I discovered the shrimp on pizza night. I'd also just come home with some wild arugula, so there seemed no other solution but to combine the two. And it was about time. Almost every week we uncork a bottle of zinfandel and ease into the weekend with one of our favorite meals and maybe a good movie, but lately I was making the same pizza over and over again. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with pizza margherita, and I love the simple flavors of mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil as much as the next person, I was thinking we needed to shake things up.

charred corn risotto with seared tuna and jalapeno-basil oil

When the seasons transition from fall and winter into spring and summer we talk at length about how we're craving asparagus and radishes and juicy red strawberries. Our bodies begin to change, and everything around us lightens up. The weather, our wardrobe, and even our kitchens. Also, our wine. There are plenty of irresistible wines that I can drink year round, including Sonoma Zinfandel (hello, pizza night), and Santa Ynez Pinot Noir, but in the spring something special happens at the vineyards, namely the release of their lighter varietals like Rose and Viogner that speak to the season we're all gearing up to enter.

coming home to spaghetti bolognese

After traveling for two weeks in April (first for work, then for a little getaway), I was starting to crave the comforts of home in the form of a bowl of pasta. I had some memorable meals while I was away (like decadent rainbow trout with chive butter sauce and an upside down rhubarb cornmeal cake at Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos), but I was itching to return to the kitchen and make something myself.

mixed bean and parsley salad

The humble bean. It seems like they're all I've talked about for the past two months. (You might remember this, and this.) I obsessed over a bean, arugula and prosciutto salad last summer, and it's still one of my all time favorites. But this salad now holds a special place in my heart and my weekly menu because it's just so perfectly simple.

If time is important to you, make this salad. It takes ten minutes, start to finish, or even less if you're a quick herb chopper. Grill some thick, crusty bread, pour a glass of white wine, and dinner is served. This meal has been my saving grace during busy week nights that we go to the gym. Minutes after we walk in the door after a cardio session we're able to eat, and since this salad also gets better with time, it's also ideal to make ahead.

carrot risotto + five years

If you're reading this I can be found poolside at a lovely resort sipping a refreshing beverage and reading Julia Child's letters on my Kindle. Since Andrew and I are away this week celebrating our 5 year anniversary, I leave you with an easy way to use the carrots that I know are sitting in the back of your crisper.

Sometimes I'm not sure where the time has gone. When I was growing up, adults would tell me the years only go faster the older you get. It's hard to believe them when you're 14 and every day until your high school graduation feels terribly long. But now I understand. It started after graduating from college. Suddenly time seemed to start spiraling a bit more, and now my twenties are almost over.

pasta with sardines, tomatoes and breadcrumbs

My new favorite snack is oil-packed sardines smeared on grilled bread with a pinch of sea salt. If you already feel yourself developing an aversion, stay with me. This little fish is only fishy in the slightest, fresh from the sea way. It's a bit like tuna, just imagine the flavor being more succulent and buttery.

With a newly discovered ingredient, it was only a matter of time before it made a debut in a more substantial meal. As much as I love and adore pasta, it's been a while since I've posted a new recipe. The dark evenings made it difficult to take photographs, so, as often happens in winter, many dishes never make it to the blog. But now that the time has changed, light has finally returned!

peanut butter granola bars

I've learned a lot since I first started cooking, especially that it's possible to make just about everything from scratch. There are a few exceptions, of course, but my days of buying jarred mayonnaise and marinara sauce are far behind me. Granola bars are the final frontier. I've thought about making them for months, and finally got around to it when two of our very good friends moved away several weekends ago.

more beans | chickpeas in spicy tomato sauce

So many of you loved the white beans and kale recipe from the New York Times that I wanted to share another recent favorite. It's also a pantry-friendly meal you can throw together on a weeknight.

But first, a story. Sometimes food blogs can make home cooks seem invincible. Our food is so pretty, the recipe turned out perfectly, and the props tilt at just the right angles. We don't always share the flaws, but the truth is, I'm not a perfect cook and am just as prone to mistakes as anyone. In this case, I was multitasking by cooking two kinds of beans for two different recipes. It all began well. The little beans were boiling away and I took the opportunity to straighten some things around the house. Then I smelled the dreaded burn. I rushed to the stove and realized that both sets of beans had absorbed all their liquid and were proceeding to stick to the bottom of the pan and turn a lovely shade of black. The white beans I was preparing for a dip, thankfully, were mostly salvageable. But the chickpeas in spicy tomato sauce were a complete disaster. Andrew ate it without much complaint and declared them at least edible, but I was so upset I ate a bowl of cereal and called it a night.

spring cravings | salmon salad for two

If you're anything like me, this is exactly the kind of food you're starting to crave. The sun is out longer, the air is warmer, and I'm beginning to transition from braises and stews to the fresh, no-fuss cooking that tends to dominate spring and summer.

This dish reminded me that I should really think about lunch more often. The main focus of my meal planning is for weeknight cooking which more often than not leaves us with leftovers to bring to work the next day. Weekend cooking is a little more free form. I do tend to plan a dish in advance, but I'm always open to changing my mind, or meeting friends for dinner at the last minute. It's those pesky weekend lunches that I almost never devote any time to. But it's time to change that.

oat soda bread

I'm really not a fashionably late kind of person. I like to arrive two minutes early or right on time. I always account for traffic, and if I'm really early, I'll just sit and read a book in the car instead of overwhelming myself with the anxiety of running late. It's just who I am.

This time, though, I arrived incredibly late to the oat soda bread party, but at least I'm making an appearance. As best as I can understand it, it began with Heidi at 101 Cookbooks who gave us a recipe in her cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. Then, Jennie over at In Jennie's Kitchen put her spin on things, and Heidi posted the cookbook recipe on her website. I remember a flurry of tweets about it, wondering what all the fuss was.

{the saturday post} almond poppy seed cake

This cake combines two of my favorite memories: Christmas morning and my wedding day. Poppy seed muffins (the non-lemon variety) were a staple on December 25th growing up, and almond was one of the three flavors of my wedding cake (more on that this spring). For me, this cake has a somewhat nostalgic quality that I instantly loved about it.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I ate several spoonfuls of the batter before spreading it into the pan. You know, for quality control purposes. I even toyed with the option of not baking the cake at all, but reasoned that since I had already come this far, I may as well see it through.

yogurt swirl with toasted quinoa

I wish I loved breakfast as much as some people do. Runny eggs, country bread, hash browns and prosciutto and tomato sandwiches all sound appealing, in theory. But when it comes to eating a hearty meal in the morning, it's just not for me. At least, not at this stage in my life. I'm leaving myself open to embracing breakfast in the future, but with a standard morning schedule that leaves little time for lingering, I'll stick with my cereal for now.

herbed turkey meatballs

These aren't my grandmother's meatballs. If they were, their skin would be fried to a crisp golden brown in a sea of oil. Not that there's anything wrong with that, obviously, but since I wanted to lighten things up, just think of these as your favorite meatballs' healthier younger cousin.

Every Italian family has a secret meatball recipe using different combinations of ground meat, herbs, and cooking methods. Since these days I'm less interested in the tradition of it all but in trying to make my favorite comfort foods a bit healthier, here's to celebrating family favorites, guilt free.


A generous amount of fresh herbs tints these meatballs green, and baking, rather than frying the meatballs, limits the use of oil and keeps them especially tender. Serve on top of whole-wheat spaghetti and fresh tomato sauce.

Makes about 20 meatballs


1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey meat
1 large egg
1/2 cup parsley, lightly packed
5 large basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs, plain or Italian style


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, add the egg the beat to loosen the yolk, then place the turkey on top. In a food processor, add the parsley, basil, garlic, Parmesan, salt and breadcrumbs; pulse until finely ground. Pour into the bowl with the turkey.

With clean hands, gently mix everything together until fully incorporated. The turkey will take on a pale shade of green. Roll into uniform balls and place on a foil lined baking sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until cooked through.