Cinnamon and spice scented zucchini bread

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This past winter, I was on a bit of a weekend muffin-making kick. This fall, I’m really feeling breakfast/snack breads. Up first… zucchini bread scented with fall spices. I wanted to make a simple and wholesome version that was gluten-free, moist, and of course, delicious. This fits the bill. And ohh… the smell.

Let me introduce you to a secret ingredient that makes this bread wonderfully fragrant and adds subtle background spice– Penzey’s Baking Spice. This is that special something, that makes people ask “What is in here?” as they gobble it up. It has notes of anise, allspice, mace and cardamom, along with two kinds of cinnamon. Of course, you can use all cinnamon and the bread will be delicious. But if you can get your hands on this, it is so worth it.

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You’re going to want to cook this now

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Photo courtesy of Food & Wine

At my house, we love chimichurri and make it often to dress up grilled skirt or flatiron steak. In fact, I sometimes joke that my herb garden is a “chimichurri garden,” because I grow all the herbs needed to make a good, standard chimichurri at a moment’s notice.

I recently came across a recipe for roasted tomato chimichurri with skirt steak and potatoes and bookmarked it immediately. I made it last night with just a couple of adaptations. I used red wine vinegar instead of rice vinegar, added in a few sprigs of fresh oregano from the herb garden, and used aleppo pepper, because I love it and was out of plain crushed red pepper. It also took closer to 30 minutes for my tomatoes to get a bit browned.

This sauce is beyond good– really balanced deep flavors. You get the herby freshness from the parsley, spice from the crushed red pepper, tang from the vinegar, and of course the caramelized sweetness and umami-richness of the roasted tomatoes. It was perfect paired with the steak and potatoes.

But as I was tasting a few spoonfuls for seasoning, I realized this chimichurri would be delicious on all kinds of things– drizzled over eggs, slathered on toast, and as a pasta sauce, just to name a few.

Citrus season!

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It’s hard not to swoon over all the citrus that’s at its peak right now. The jewel-like beauties above are moro blood oranges and cara cara oranges piled high on our breakfast plates.

I’ve been bringing home armloads of grapefruit, kumquats, cocktail citrus, oranges, meyer lemons and tangerines and turning them into muffins, scones, and curds, using them in vinaigrettes, soups, salads, and slow-roasted pork shoulder, and spritzing them on fish, Mexican and more.

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I love citrus curds. And I recently discovered how quick and easy they are  to make. You can use almost any of the season’s bounty to delicious effect. Just be sure to choose tart citrus like lemons, meyer lemons, limes, grapefruit, and Seville (sour) oranges. Or mix 50 percent lemon juice with less tart citrus like tangerines and blood oranges.

Pictured above are ingredients for meyer lemon curd, meyer lemon curd with apple oatmeal muffins, and with the little French almond tea cakes known as financiers. The muffins and financiers are both adapted from recipes in the La Tartine Gourmande cookbook.

Some deliciously citrusy recipes:

Afternoon survival kit: Avocado jalapeño hummus

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Afternoons are often my downfall, I’ve realized recently. I may have eaten a healthy lunch and have plans for a good dinner. But when I’m in that no-man’s-land halfway in between the two, things can go south quickly.

So, rather than ignoring my mid-afternoon growling stomach and hoping it goes away (hint: it doesn’t) or opting for the less-than-healthy snacks around the office, I’m going to pack myself a tasty afternoon pick-me-up.

Up first: a zingy avocado hummus with raw veggies. Continue reading

Comfort food that won’t weigh you down

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I don’t know about you, but this month I’m craving lighter food with fresh flavors. It’s definitely still winter, so warming and comforting is also a requirement. To me, warm salads strike just the right balance.

The warm salad formula = lots of roasted and raw fruits and vegetables + a bit of protein + herbs and spices + the perfect tangy vinaigrette

Here are three to try:

Stay warm and be well!

Chocolate chunk cookies with cashew butter and sea salt

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I’m about to share with you something really special. Absolutely delicious chocolate chip cookies with no gluten, no dairy, no refined sugar, and no starches or gums. They’re kind of like the unicorn of baking.

These cookies are soft and chewy in the middle and golden and crisp around the edges. The cashew butter, ghee and honey lend buttery, caramel flavor, and the quinoa flakes give a bit of texture like a cowboy cookie.

People who eat gluten and dairy and refined sugar will ask you for the recipe. They’re that good.

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