Cocoa Almond Granola with Coconut


Granola is the one thing I consistently let myself splurge on when I go to the grocery store. Maybe it comes from my cereal obsession; I still have dreams that I’ll be featured on that game show where they let you run down the aisles in the grocery store and fill up your cart with as many things as you can. If I was on the show, I’d probably spend about 70% of my time in the cereal aisle.

Or maybe it’s just because granola is so good. Unless you’re gluten-free, what’s not to love? It’s crunchy, slightly sweet, and super adaptable. It’s almost like a cake, cookie or ice cream cone, in that you can adapt it to you specifications or find your favorite flavor combination. Honestly, resistance is futile when I see the words: “Cherry Dark Chocolate Chip Almond Granola.”

But now and again, I like to remind myself that I can make some of my favorite splurges at home. And occasionally, they turn out pretty well. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near Michele’s Granola level. But this recipe comes pretty close.

It combines whole almonds, rolled oats, cocoa powder and shredded coconut, and is only slightly sweet. If you want it sweeter, I would suggest adding more honey or sugar. But I also think that it’s a good base, and you can always drizzle a little honey on later.

The other perk of this granola is how it smells while it’s baking. My whole apartment smelled like a fudge brownie, and I didn’t even have to do the prep work.

Cocoa Almond Granola with Coconut (adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook)


4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raw whole almonds
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened, if you prefer; I used unsweetened)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine sugar, honey, oil and coconut oil. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour the warm sugar mixture over the oat mixture and toss with a wooden spoon. Toss until all of the oats and almond bits are at least moistened by the sugar mixture. Spoon mixture onto prepared baking sheets and place in the oven.

Bake granola for 30 minutes, removing from the oven to toss and stir 2 to 3 times during baking. Granola is done when it is toasted around the edges and fragrant.

Remove from the oven and cool completely. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.

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Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk and Lentils

IMG_2654Someone get me 50 ccs of knife sharpener, stat. There’s nothing worse than when you’re trying to cut into a sweet potato and the knife gets stuck in the middle. If there’s music playing while I’m cooking, I take the high road and slowly ease the knife the rest of the way through.

If there’s nothing to distract me, I throw out some choice expletives and take the lowest road possible, whacking the poor potato into smithereens all while wondering why I decided to make a complicated dinner. You like eggs, I repeat to myself. Why couldn’t you have settled for a nice omelette?

Because if we always settled for a nice omelette, we would never try things like this sweet potato and coconut milk soup. After the sweet potato-cutting fiasco, I told myself that this dish better be worth it.

It did not disappoint. I’m a big fan of turmeric and curry, and this soup combines them in the best possible way. They give the sweet potatoes a little kick but don’t overshadow the main attraction. And the lentils and brown rice add some texture, so you don’t feel like you’re drinking a smooth–albeit very tasty–sweet potato puree.

Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk and Lentils (adapted from Katie at the Kitchen Door)


2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 TBS olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 TBS coconut oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 TBS curry powder
2 TBS freshly grated ginger (from a 1 inch piece of ginger)
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 c. coconut milk
1 1/2 c. cooked black lentils
3 c. cooked brown rice
yogurt, for serving
fresh minced cilantro, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Melt 2 TBS of the coconut oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the turmeric, curry powder, and ginger and saute until fragrant, 2 minutes more. Add the roasted sweet potato and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 2o minutes, then remove from heat and carefully transfer to a blender. Add the coconut milk and blend until very smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set soup aside.

Scoop a 1/2 cup of brown rice into each bowl. Pour soup over the rice, then top with lentils, yogurt, and cilantro.

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Summer Squash Toast with Basil Pesto and Poached Egg


Toast, toast, how I love thee most.

Sometimes all you need is summer squash, fresh pesto and a poached egg to make everything better. The original recipe called for grilling the squash, but my apartment building doesn’t have a grill so I improvised and roasted them in the oven.

While the squash was baking, I made some fresh pesto with Parmesan, basil leaves, Olive Oil, pine nuts and a little lemon juice (the lemon juice is not traditional, but it gives it a little kick).

Then, I poached an egg (a favorite pastime) and layered it on top of mountains of squash tossed in pesto.

I have Atwater’s to thank for the foundation of the sandwich. If you live in the D.C./Baltimore area and you haven’t tried their bread, I would highly recommend it. I bought a loaf of sunflower flax from the farmer’s market this morning and it was the perfect amount of chewy and crusty.

Here’s the original recipe, in case you want to try it out (from Naturally Ella):

Pesto Summer Squash Bruschetta with Poached Eggs

Serves: 2 servings

1 medium summer squash
¼ small red onion, minced
½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 cloves garlic
1½ cups packed basil leaves, plus extra for topping
⅓ cup parmesan cheese (look for cheese that uses vegetarian rennet)
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 pieces of toast
2 large eggs, poached
1 to 2 ounces feta

To make the squash, light the grill to medium-light heat. Slice the squash into ½ slices. Brush the squash and onions with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side until charred. Remove from grill, let cool slightly, cut the squash into cubes, and dice onion.
To make pesto: In a food processor, pulse the garlic. Add the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, and lemon juice. Pulse until well combined, adding more liquid (olive oil/lemon juice) as needed to thin the consistency. Toss the grilled squash mixture with ¼ cup of the pesto.
Divide the squash mixture over the two pieces of toast. Finish with the poached egg, feta, and a sprinkle of basil.

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Oven Risotto with Kale Pesto


Winter is a time of year when all I feel like doing is getting under my covers, drinking bottomless cups of tea, reading and watching Netflix on repeat. Even though this comprises about 75% of my winter routine, sometimes I’ll stray from the norm.

This past weekend I went to go visit my friend Julicia in Philadelphia. I love Philadelphia year-round, but the winters can be a little intense (to say the least). Bearing this in mind, I took the earliest bus up on Saturday in full winter garb, ready to handle whatever came my way.

It ended up snowing but it wasn’t too bad, and Julicia and I trekked out to West Chester, Pennsylvania on Sunday to visit a place called “Book Barn.” It’s a huge old farm house with more than four stories, and it’s covered wall-to-wall with old books, posters and postcards. Even though it was drafty and cold, I loved walking through the rows of books and seeing what caught my eye. It reminded me of being in college, when I used to wander through the library and browse new titles, sitting for hours in one row reading plays or novels. I ended up finding a 1908 edition of an Oscar Wilde play and a hardback book on California road trips.


When I got back to D.C., they were forecasting more snow so I decided to make this Bon Appetit risotto for dinner. Nothing is better than risotto on a cold winter night (except maybe hot chocolate), and I was intrigued by the prospect of “oven risotto” because most recipes require endless amounts of stirring. Even though I was somewhat skeptical of how the dish would turn out without this step, I was not disappointed.

The rice was soft and slightly chewy, the Parmesan added some bite and the butter made the whole dish creamy and rich. I also recommend sprinkling some toasted walnuts and cheese on top before serving–it adds a whole other layer to the dish.

I told my roommate that it is one of the best things I’ve ever made, and I’d stand by that claim. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my winter repertoire, somewhere between the endless cups of tea and Netflix binges.

Oven Risotto with Kale Pesto (from Bon Appetit)

Serves 4


½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup arborio rice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup dry white wine

1 small garlic clove

1 cup (packed) fresh parsley leaves

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 cups torn Tuscan kale leaves, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about 2 cups)


Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, 5–8 minutes. Stir in rice; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until some grains are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups very hot water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and bake in oven until liquid is mostly absorbed but rice is still starchy in the center, 15–18 minutes (it should be undercooked).

Meanwhile, pulse garlic and half of toasted walnuts in a food processor until very finely ground. Add parsley, chives, half of kale, remaining 2 Tbsp. oil, and ¼ cup cold water; process until smooth; season pesto with salt and pepper.

Set saucepan over medium heat. Add ¾ cup very hot water and cook rice, stirring constantly, until it is tender but still has some bite and sauce is creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in pesto, butter, three-quarters of Parmesan, and remaining kale. Adjust consistency with water, if needed; season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with remaining walnuts and cheese.

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New Year, New Chili


It has been a while since my last post. I could blame the holidays, a busy work schedule and bouts of traveling. But instead, I’ll start with a the year with a blank slate and share this delicious chili with you.

I think that everyone should have a good chili recipe in their back pocket. When the weather gets cold, life gets busy or you’re craving comfort food, chili will never fail you; it lasts forever in the fridge, fills you up, and takes you to a happy place. I like vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties, but a recipe I just landed on from Real Simple tops my list. It includes all of my favorite things: sweet potatoes, black beans, cumin–and, as an added bonus, cocoa powder. I did a double-take when I saw that ingredient in the recipe, but don’t be alarmed; the chili doesn’t end up tasting like chocolate, and the cocoa just adds another level of flavor and creates something akin to mole sauce.

I made this recipe in a slow cooker and I ended up having enough servings for a couple lunches and dinners.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, especially on a cold winter night when all you want to do is curl up with something warm and comforting.

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili (from Real Simple)

Serves 4


1 medium red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and black pepper
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
1 medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes for serving


In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato, and 1 cup water.

Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, radishes, and tortilla chips.

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Maryland Apple Picking and Apple Cinnamon Muffins


Last weekend, I went apple picking with my friend Carly, her boyfriend and her friend from college. It ended up being a day trip, because we had to take the train up to Baltimore and then drive an hour out into the country to get to the apple orchard.

But it was well worth the journey. The orchard sold apple cider doughnuts, and we got a bag to split. The doughnuts are made fresh throughout the day, so when we pulled one out of the bag, they were still warm and fluffy. They had a light dusting of cinnamon and sugar on top, and melted in your mouth after the first bite. I had a moment where I wanted to get back into the car alone with the doughnuts, and stay there for the rest of the trip. But I restrained myself.


After we stuffed our faces with doughnuts and lunch, we made our way to the orchard. The head of the orchard told us that apple varieties change throughout the fall, but we had our pick between Jonagold, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious. I’ve never been a fan of red delicious apples (read this article for a compelling argument against them), so I mostly picked Jonagold and Golden Delicious. The head farmer also told us we could sample apples “as long as we didn’t make a meal of it,” so I tried one or two along the way.


Somehow, I ended up with 10 pounds of apples to take home with me. So this week, I decided to make apple cinnamon muffins. The recipe is straightforward: Mix together all the standard baking ingredients with buttermilk and egg, chop up a couple apples and mix them in, and voila–I had a delicious breakfast that lasted throughout the week. And as an added bonus, my apartment smelled like apple cinnamon for a few days after they came out of the oven.


Apple Cinnamon Muffins (from Smitten Kitchen)


1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.Mix in the buttermilk gently. (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Roasted Potatoes and Okra with Pistachio-Feta Cream

IMG_1242It’s finally starting to become fall in D.C. The leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler and the days are getting shorter. Usually, this transition makes me long for the days of short-sleeved dresses, semi-bearable humidity and leisurely summer nights, but this year, I feel different. I am actually excited about fall.

Maybe it’s because last year in Chicago, there wasn’t really a fall. The temperatures dropped dramatically, everything froze over, and I found myself trudging through a foot of snow well before Thanksgiving. Or maybe it’s because I lived through another “real” summer that hearkened back to my youth (days so hot that my grandmother refused to leave the house, and even the swimming pool water felt lukewarm).

But over the weekend, I did some more exploring around town and I saw how things change for the better here when the weather gets cooler. There are less tourists roaming around, the pace slows down somewhat, and the buildings stand out against the sky when the sun sets. As it seems, fall brings out the best in D.C.

IMG_1251I came across Edible DC magazine when I was browsing a kitchen supply store near my apartment this weekend, and my eyes went straight to the recipe for roasted potatoes and okra with pistachio-feta cream. I started cooking more with okra recently, and I was intrigued by the combination of feta and pistachios for the sauce.

This is going to become one of my new go-to dishes. The potatoes and okra were spicy and tender, and the pistachio feta sauce balanced out the sumac dusted on the vegetables. Add a few chopped pistachios for texture and extra crunch and you’ll have the perfect meal for a brisk fall evening.

IMG_1255Roasted Potatoes and Okra with Feta-Pistachio Cream (from Edible DC)


1 pound okra (preferably small), trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 pound small red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp ground sumac
3 oz feta, crumbled
1/4 cup toasted pistachios, plus 2 tbsp for garnish (chopped)
2 tbsp plain Greek-style yogurt
2 tbsp water, plus more as needed


Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with two large rimmed baking sheets inside. When the sheets are hot, quickly toss the okra pieces onto one sheet and the potatoes onto the other, making sure they don’t overlap. Drizzle each with 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tbsp sumac, and roast until browned on the edges and tender, using a spatula to toss the pieces occasionally: about 15 to 20 minutes for okra and 20 to 25 minutes for the potatoes.

While the vegetables are roasting, make the cream: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the feta, pistachios, yogurt, water and remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, and puree until smooth, adding a little more water if the mixture is too thick.

When the vegetables are tender, transfer them to a large serving bowl, let cool slightly and toss to combine. Divide among serving plates and dollop each serving with the feta-pistachio cream and some chopped pistachios.

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