Category Archives: Comfort Food

Made with Love

In the lead up to Mother’s Day, Bon Appetit posted “Mother Knows Best” a compendium of food and cooking related advice from BA staffers’ moms.

This one, from Senior Food Editor Dawn Perry, really stood out:

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Biddy says, “A peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes really good when someone else makes it for you.” Essentially, it’s the thought that counts. She’s the best.” 

I think about all of the things that we make, or that are made for us, and how the act of someone preparing a meal, even as simple as a PB & J sandwich, can be a real sign of love.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Both of my parents are great cooks, but the perfect PB & J comes courtesy of my dad.  Now, this recipes predates the gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, all-natural almond butter days, but that is also what makes it so good (and simple!).

  1. Two slices of Publix challah (egg bread) – it’s got to be challah and it’s got to be from Publix – toasted just ever so golden brown.
  2. A heaping knife-full of Peter Pan creamy peanut butter on both pieces of bread.
  3. An almost equal and even layer of Polaner All Fruit Seedless Strawberry jelly on both pieces of bread.
  4. Press together and eat, quickly, with a big glass of milk.

Thanks, Dad!  What do you enjoy more when other people make it for you?

Also, here is some additional PB&J inspiration: kid-friendly options and outrageous spins on a classic.

Stovetop Truffle Parmigiana Popcorn

This week I made popcorn.  Not pre-popped from a bag or from a microwave.  Homemade popcorn, made right on the stove…  And it was delicious and easy!

Parmigiano Reggiano Truffle Salt Stovetop Popcorn, recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
1.5 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or any high smoke point oil)
1/2 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
Truffle Salt to Taste
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
A drizzle of truffle oil
Large sauce pan with a lid
Other flavor options include classic salt and butter, salt and pepper, hot sauce, cinnamon, curry, whatever you fancy!


Set the pan over medium-high heat and drizzle the grapeseed oil.  Add to the pan 3 popcorn kernels and cover with the lid.

When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Add a conservative amount of the truffle salt. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds.

This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.

Return the pan to the heat and keep the lid slightly ajar. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping really gets going gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner.

Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.

Kale is the New Snack

I am a kale enthusiast.  I throw it into pasta, and add to rice dishes, but my favorite way to eat it is as a chip. When baked to a crisp this leafy green takes on a rich and nutty flavor – and no, you won’t be able to eat just one.

This is the simplest recipe ever posted on the blog and very possibly one of the most delicious.

1. Buy a big bunch of leafy green tale – I like Scots Kale, but any type would work just fine.

2. Strip the leaf away from the rib.  Kale has a similar structure to romaine lettuce, you just to rip the leaf down the center and discard the ribs at the end.  Yes, you can use the ribs for other recipes, but right now this is all about the leaf.

3. Put the strips of leaves in a colander and rinse thoroughly and then shake to dry thoroughly.  LIGHTLY drizzle olive oil over the colander and use a soft hand and a spatula or wooden spoon to mix the kale in the bowl giving each piece a hint of the olive oil.

4. Set the oven to 350 degrees.  Pour the olive oil kissed leaves onto an unprepared cookie sheet, be careful to not overlap the leaves too much so they get the direct heat and crisp.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper – or rosemary and thyme – or parmigiana – or truffle salt – or cayenne pepper – whatever your taste buds fancy.

5. Bake for 17 – 20 minutes.

6. Snack away.  Munch.  Crunch.  Enjoy!

Why Kale Chips? According to WebMD, kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.  It belongs to the Brassica family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.  Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.  Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds and the fiber rich vegetable also binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when cooked.

Thanksgiving Recipes: The Best of the Web

Thanksgiving is just over two short weeks away and what better time to try new recipes than a holiday that is almost entirely focused on food?

We spend with a casual feast and a huge crowd of family and friends. Everyone signs on to bring a dish or many dishes and just as quickly as they are put out they starts to disappear.

In years past I have always left the cooking to my mom, but this year I am excited to try some new recipes.
Here are some of my favorites:


Source (L-R): Caramel apples, Roasted Squash, Biscotti, Meatballs, Hand Pies, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower

I love the idea of mixing savory with sweet, and the fall produce that is featured during Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity.

I love the saltiness of cheddar paired with a crisp apple, the tartness of cranberries with a perfectly seasoned turkey, fresh aromatic herbs with the depth of autumn squash.

What are your Thanksgiving favorite recipes?

Whether you’re ordering in take-out Chinese, have a Whole Foods Thanksgiving, or hostessing like Martha, I hope you have a delicious, simple and stress free Thanksgiving!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

A few weeks ago I scraped together some vegetables from the refrigerator to make a pasta dish.  A few bites in Mark, my most honest taste tester, proclaimed it the best pasta dish I had ever made.  When I find a good thing or a great recipe, I stick with it  – I have made this dinner for the last three weeks!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Ingredients
1 large eggplant
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls of green beans
2 links of chicken sausage (optional)
1 onion
Spaghetti for 2 (1/2 box of Quinoa Heritage spaghetti)
1 tbsp Olive oil for the pan
Olive oil spray
Garlic (I use cubes, three)
Basil (I use cubes, three)
Salt and Pepper
Pepperoncino to taste
Parmigiana Cheese to taste

 The great thing is that with this recipe there are no rules.  Did you want more pasta than vegetables?  Sure.  Love green beans?  Make it three handfuls!

Cut the eggplant width-wise into coins and then cut across into cubes.  Prepare a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with extra virgin olive oil spray.  Spread the eggplant evenly on the sheet, spray eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Bake on the top shelf of the oven at 350 for 35 minutes.

While the eggplant is roasting, get to work on the rest of the ingredients.  In a sauce pan melt the onions in olive oil with garlic and basil.  If you’re including the sausage, add slices to pan. Then, add the cleaned green beans and sautee on low/medium heat.  The green beans can hang out on their own for a little while without much attention, just a stir here and there.  I top the pan with a cover to allow the steam to soften the beans, but not too soft.

After the eggplant has been roasting for 15 – 20 minutes add to the oven the halved cherry tomatoes, also treated with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place the tomatoes on the top shelf to allow them to get blistered.

During this time, set the water to boil for your pasta of choice.  After the vegetables are cooked/roasted and the pasta is perfectly al dente, add the drained pasta to the green beans pan, along with the eggplant and tomatoes.  Give the entire pan a light drizzle of olive oil and gently stir to incorporate all of the ingredients.

Serve with fresh shaved Parmigiano and a sprinkle of pepperoncino – and then you can also weigh in if this is your favorite pasta dish to date.

P.S. Mark, this is dinner tonight!

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Orange Biscotti

If we’re being honest, any time of the year is a good time for cookies, but the start of Fall seems like an especially good time for cookies that are meant to enjoyed with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.

This little cookie is inspired by the season and full of flavor, so really 1 or 2 (or 3 or 4) is enough.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Orange Biscotti
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon GF corn starch
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/8 teaspoon of Kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice
1/8 cup dark chocolate chips
1/8 cup pistachio nuts
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
Sprinkle of sugar
Set oven to 350 degrees
In the bowl of a food processor combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, corn starch, baking soda and salt.  The ingredients will pulse to be even finer and fully integrated.
Then add the orange juice and the agave syrup and pulse again until the ingredients start to form together into a ball. (Helpful hint: scrape with a spoon the batter away from the edges).  Add the pistachio nuts, the chocolate chips and orange zest and pulse one more time.
Pour all of the ingredients onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Use your hands, or the parchment paper to guide the dough into a loaf shape, about an inch tall and 8-10″ long.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool – for about 15 minutes.  Then with a sharp knife cut the loaf in a diagonal and if you’d a little extra sweetness, sprinkle with sugar.  Then separate the slices cookies by a few millimeters and rebake for another 15 minutes at 300 degrees.
Finally, you know what to do… eat and enjoy!

Gluten Free Honey Apple Bread

I have a serious love for apples, and not just any old kind, my personal favorite is Honeycrisp apples.  They are a little tart, a lot of sweet, and only available in the fall.

Well, what do you know… it’s the fall and it’s Rosh Hashanah time and so there is barely a time that’s better for apples and honey than right now.

This easy recipe is great to have a round during a long holiday weekend, or to use up your favorite apples.

Gluten Free Honey Apple Bread
In a small bowl
2 cups Gluten Free Flour (Namaste Brand)
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl
1/2 cup of canola oil
1 apple sauce cup, about 4 oz.
2/3 cup of honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup of chopped apple, or about 1 large apple (Honeycrisp) – I like it really apple-y
Sprinkle of cinnamon and raw sugar

In a small  bowl sift the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix with a whisk the oil, honey and apple sauce.  Here’s a tip first pour the oil, then when you pour the honey out of the same measuring cup it will slide right out.  When mixing you may need to give it a little muscle to break down the stickiness of the honey and to have a smooth liquid base.  Then add the vanilla and eggs.  Mix until fully combined.

Then slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet.

When the two sets of ingredients are fully incorporated add the chopped apples and give it a good stir so that the apples get covered in batter.

Pour the batter into an oiled 9 x 5 pan, and bake for 55 – 60 minutes at 325 degrees.

This little bread isn’t too sweet and so it makes for a great breakfast or snack.  Try it warm with some butter, or cheese, or nut spread.


Gluten Free Apple Muffins

Easy holiday, or anytime recipe, no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, no mixer!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is quickly approaching and I am excited for the many baking opportunities.  It is customary to wish people a “Sweet New Year” and even more customary to enjoy the sweetness of the season’s bounty of fruits, particularly apples, with honey.

Frankly, I could eat apples and honey any time of day or year, but I realize that to snack or travel too far with this sweet snack can become a bit of a sticky situation.  So, instead, we have muffins.

Gluten Free Apple Muffins
1 1/2 cups of GF all purpose flour (Namaste brand)
1/2 cup of GF Oats
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
2 4oz. containers of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of agave syrup
1 large (Braeburn) apple grated
1/4 apple chopped and cinnamon for garnish
Set oven to 325 degrees

In a medium size bowl mix the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and cinnamon and salt.

In a separate larger bowl mix the canola oil, agave syrup, and vanilla extract.  Add to that the eggs and whisk by hand.  Then add the apple sauce and continue to mix.

Then using a box grater, grate a large apple into the wet ingredients.  I used a Braeburn apple, which has a sweet but tart flavor, but you could use whatever kind of apple you most prefer.  Fold the grated apple into the wet ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and continue to stir, stopping when the dry ingredients are completely incorporated and before you over mix.

Scoop large spoonfuls into muffin liners and then you can add slivers of chopped apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top.  The apple sliver remind me of shark fins, but taste delicious, and serves as a hint of all the amazing apple goodness inside.

Bake for 25 minutes and then enjoy.  These are delicious alone, or with a pad of butter, smear of almond butter, or maybe even a slice of sharp cheddar.

This will be the first of many sweet things as we move into fall!


Hungry for the Weekend

Well, it has been a pretty crazy week in these parts.  On Tuesday we had an earthquake, yes we live in DC, and this weekend we’re settling in for a hurricane, yes, we still live in DC.

Earthquake Devastation

A funny story about “The Earthquake,” a 5.9 with relatively very little damage: in my office building they were handing out ice cream sandwiches and bars as an end of summer treat.  My colleague and friend, grabbed one as we evacuated the building.  An ice cream sandwich just isn’t her kind of snack, she’s more of a farmer’s market girl (yea for foodie friends!), but she made me laugh when she said, “hey, I just survived an earthquake – you only live once!”

So, with that in mind – indulge this weekend, enjoy the comfort of friends, family, and home cooking, and stay safe.

If you, like me, are hungry for the weekend please, enjoy these links:

Have a delicious and safe weekend!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes – Gluten Free/Dairy Free

Sometimes you just have to do your sweet tooth a favor, and by favor, I obviously mean indulge its cravings and drown it out in chocolate.  That’s pretty much the deal with anything that is triple chocolate, like these triple chocolate cupcakes.  I made them for a family gathering, because I wanted to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions, even if cupcakes typically fall outside of a diet.  And, the beauty of these cupcakes is that, even though they are dairy and gluten free, they are awesome!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Elana’s Pantry, which is an amazing resource for anyone exploring GF baking


¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup vegan chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon kosher sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup agave nectar
Set oven to 375 degrees

Here’s the thing, with gluten free baking you might come across ingredients that seem a little “ehh” or just plain weird.  Frankly that is how I felt about the coconut flour, mainly because the smell and taste of coconut reminds me of a bottle of Banana Boat, but this high in fiber flour has no such smell or taste. So fear not!

Moving on… In a medium size bowl combine the coconut flour and coca powder, salt and baking soda.

In a separate and larger bowl, blend the oil, eggs and agave.  Then slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and add the chocolate chips.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into muffin wrappers and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Check with a toothpick to make sure they are done and fully baked.

While the beautiful and very chocolatey cupcakes are cooling, get to work on the frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting


3/4 cup dairy-free spread (Earth-Balance is also soy-free)
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
6 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium sized bowl mix the coca powder, and powdered sugar over the spread with a spoon.  Add the vanilla and then use a blender to fully incorporate and achieve the soft, whipped consistency of butter cream, you know without the butter.

Pour yourself a big, BIG glass of milk/soy milk/rice milk/almond milk and enjoy!