Garbanzos, Sundried Tomatoes, and Spinach with Coconut Milk

I had a hard time naming this post because I can’t think of a good title for this recipe.  In the original post on theKitchn website, it was called “Braised coconut spinach and chickpeas with lemon.”  That wasn’t quite right.  I wanted to go with, “A surprising mix of flavors in one dish that was far yummier than expected and doesn’t photograph so well” but thought it was a little much.


You’ll just have to try it and help me think of a better title!


In the interim since the last post on this blog (I know, I know, it’s been a month, but birthdays, the start of the school year and the holidays got in the way) I have discovered instagram, so now my terrible phone food photography has slightly improved.  The original recipe (above) has better pictures than I do, but don’t be deterred by how it is a little funny looking.


You’ll need a big pan or a dutch oven (I used Matt’s trusty Le Creuset)

2 tsp oil (or enough to cook the onions, etc. in)

1 yellow onion, diced

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 T fresh grated ginger (I’m not a huge ginger person…so I use less)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (these are my fave, so I always use a little more)

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

Dash of red pepper flakes (optional, but some nice heat)

2 15-oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (the original recipe recommends 1, but I think it needs more substance)

1 pound baby spinach (I always use the amount that comes in one of those easy grab bags from the grocery store…it’s plenty for me)

1 15-oz can of coconut milk


1.5 cups quinoa (The original recipe recommends putting the finished ingredients over a roasted sweet potato, but that consistency didn’t jive with me, so I went to my staple of quinoa.  It also recommended using cilantro and toasted unsweetened coconut as garnish, but I haven’t tried that).


Cook the quinoa.  I like to add lemon juice to it when it is done.

Heat the oil in your pan/dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until it is beginning to brown (5 minutes or a little longer).  Add the garlic, fresh ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and red pepper.  Cook for 3-6 minutes to let all the flavors meld.  (I’ve found I need to add a little more oil at this point)

Add the garbanzos.  Stir frequently and cook until they are the consistency you like (I like mine starting to be golden which takes about 10-15 minutes, but the original recipe recommends about 3 minutes)

Add the spinach, one handful at a time, and stir it around until it wilts down before adding the next handful.

When all the spinach has been added and cooked down pour in the coconut milk, salt, and lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer and continue to cook and stir for about 10 minutes.  Taste and add more salt and lemon juice as necessary  (surprise…I always like more lemon juice.

To serve, put a helping of quinoa in your bowl, and top with the garbanzo/sundried tomato/lemony/coconut mix.  Enjoy!! (I promise, this is really good.  The coconut milk might seem out of place, but it is a fantastic dish).


Apricot Mostarda


Have you ever heard of a Mostarda before?  Neither had Matt and I until we went to Anchovies & Olives in Seattle.  Wikipedia describes a Mostarda as: “an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard flavoured syrup.”  Yeah.  Doesn’t sound that good.  But oh man, it is AWESOME.  The Mostarda we had for dinner (and then recreated at home) could better be described as a  delicious chunky mustardy apricot chutney.

Our mostarda is a subtle adaptation of this one.

1 T Olive Oil

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced (the original recipe called for a whole onion – we thought it was too oniony and took away from the yummy apricot flavor)


1 cup dried apricots chopped (we just used the whole bag)

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup dry white wine (the original recipe recommended an Erath Pinot Gris)

1 T (or a little more) whole mustard seeds

1 T (or a little more) dijon mustard (…make sure it’s a seedy mustard)

1 T white wine vinegar (the original recipe recommended apple cider vinegar, but we didn’t have any, and this was just fine)

Warm a small sauce pan with the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and salt, stirring often, for about 15 minutes until the onion is starting to caramelize.

Then add the apricots, brown sugar, white wine, mustard seed, mustard and vinegar and bring it all to a simmer.

After bringing the mostarda to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the onions and apricots are tender and the entire sauce is thick.  The original recipe said this would take about ten minutes, we found it took a little longer.

While the mostarda is delicious on a spoon, we ate it on (GF) baguettes that had been spread with burrata (kind of like a creamy mozzarella), with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar (this is what is pictured below and in the first picture).

We also got fancy and made a charcuterie platter to go along with our mostarda and burrata:

Yumm…I’m already craving it again! Enjoy!

Smoothie in a bowl

Leslie W

This recipe was inspired by the Acai Bowl at Healeo on Capitol Hill. I love the Acai Bowl and wanted to recreate a version to enjoy at home for a much lower cost. This is great for breakfast and lunch, or even dinner when the husband, boyfriend, roommate, etc. is away and you want to fix something quick (like I did tonight). This recipe can be adapted to fix any dietary needs and is extremely simple to throw together.


Serves 1-2

1 unfrozen banana

1 C frozen strawberries

1/2 C frozen blueberries

1/4 – 1/3 C almond milk

1/2 – 1 C granola, Kashi Go Lean Crunch, or Whole Foods version of the Kashi Go Lean cereals (pictured above)

1/2 C mixed berries (blackberries and strawberries pictured ab0ve)

Optional: big scoop of almond butter on top (makes it extra delicious!)


Mix banana, frozen berries, and almond milk in a blender until smooth; add almond milk until desired thickness. Top with granola or Kashi, berries, and almond butter and enjoy! Simple as that! And you could make any smoothie recipe you prefer. I like this one because it resembles the Acai Bowl the most, but I think any smoothie would be delicious underneath. You can mix it up as well as use a frozen banana and fresh berries if that is what you have on hand. And this can be adapted by using gluten-free cereal or other desired topping. Chai or Hemp seeds would be pretty tasty on top as well. Also, I only use about 1.5 C of the smoothie.

Have a good night!



Leslie H

This time of year there is nothing better than fresh tomatoes. If they are not from your garden, go to your farmers market and get a variety of heirloom tomatoes–they are spectacular right now. The funnier looking the juicier! I have changed this recipe so much from a Cook’s recipe I feel I can call it my own.


3 lbs. (about 6 medium) ripe tomatoes, cored

1 English cucumber, peeled a bit, halved and seeded

1 medium green pepper, cored and roughly chopped ( I don’t care for green peppers but the flavor is necessary in this recipe)

1 small red onion, peeled and quartered

4 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered

1 small Serrano chile, stemmed and halved lengthwise (leaving the seeds in will make it hotter!)

kosher salt

1 slice high quality sandwich bread, crust removed torn into 1-inch piece (I used a ciabatta loaf and a GF bread would work fine)

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving

2 T. red wine vinager

2 T. finely minced parsley, chives or basil


1. roughly chop tomatoes, 3/4 of the cucumber, peppers, onion, and garlic and place in a large colander over a bowl. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and toss until well combined. Set aside for 1 hour.

2. finely chop remaining cucumber and set aside. This will be mixed into the soup when it is finished.

3. Transfer drained vegetables to a medium bowl and set aside. Add bread pieces to exuded liquid (there should be about 1/4 cup) and soak for 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid to vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.

4. Transfer vegetable-bread mixture to blender or cuisinart and process 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in oil and continue to blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. This may need to be done in batches depending on you blender or cuisinart size.  Strain soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, using back of ladle or rubber spatula to press soup through strainer. Add vinegar and adjust seasonings.

5. Add reserved chopped cucumbers and garnish with chives, basil or parsley and drizzle with a dash more oil.

This serves approximately 4-6 and could be served in cute little shooter glasses as an appetizer.

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Vegan Sauce for Anything and Everything

Leslie W.

This recipe is adapted from Mama Pea’s Mmmm Sauce.

I’ve use the Mmmm Sauce and this modified version for a number of different recipes. Typically I use it over sauteed veggies, crispy baked or fried tofu pieces, and brown rice which is delicious. Tonight, I used it over sauteed chicken, zucchini, green onion, cabbage, and quinoa. This sauce is so addicting. I love it and hope you do too! Sorry for the blurry photo! I only snapped one unfortunately and thought it came out.


Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/4 c. almonds
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t.  garlic
  • 1/4 t. salt (optional)
  • 3/4 t. curry powder (I actually add about 1 tbsp probably, but just taste until you find your perfect amount)
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano (again, I do about 1/2 tbsp to 1 tbsp)

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve over any dish and enjoy! I like the milder flavor of the cannellini beans compared to the original garbanzo beans. I highly recommend using them.

Tahini Quinoa Salad

Hello! It’s Melissa.

Tonight, I’m posting one of my most favorite quinoa salads (I feel like I saw that a lot…).  It’s Matt’s favorite (and a frequent request) and I’ve brought it to a few events and always get recipe requests.  It is adapted from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.  (It’s a fantastic cookbook – gluten-free, dairy-free and filled with over 200 recipes.  I’ve made a number of recipes from it and always end up loving them.)

But back to the quinoa salad.


2 mini cucumbers (cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and then chopped up)

30 baby carrots (cut into discs…obviously the number doesn’t matter, but I thought I’d give an idea of how many I use)

1 pack of cherry tomatoes (chopped in half, salted)

2 cans of garbanzo beans (cooked in a pan with salt and garlic powder until a little crispy)

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 red onion (finely diced – if you don’t know how to chop an onion properly (like me until recently, I suggest you check out this video from gluten-free girl)

1.5 cups of quinoa (1.5 cups dry…then cook)


1/2 cup of sesame tahini

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (This is about 2 lemons, I always like a little more…)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 Tbls water

2 cloves of garlic (crushed…diced…grated – in small bits)

zest of 2 lemons

Salt to taste


Chop all the veggies and put them in a bowl:

*This is the first time I used cucumbers in the salad – I didn’t de-seed them and it got kind of watery..I’m hoping de-seeding them would help with this problem…

Make the quinoa, cook the garbanzo beans and toast the pinenuts

Mix the dressing ingredients together – I use an electronic hand mixer, although you can use a whisk it – but that can be tough because the tahini is very thick, so it’s kind of challenging to mix with just a whisk.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa, pinenuts, garbanzos, and veggies and ENJOY!

On a healthier note…

Leslie W here again. I wanted to share this great appetizer. It is a version of a Caprese salad. I’ve made it a few times at parties and so far it is usually a hit. The ingredients are pretty simple and all you do is gather the ingredients and assemble! Though, I noticed the quality of ingredients really does matter with these. Organic tomatoes and fresh, good quality mozzarella make a difference.


1-2 package of Organic cherry tomatoes (or sugar plum)


1-2 packages boconccini (Trader Joes or Whole Foods)

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil



Rinse tomatoes  and basil, and drain boconiccini. Put the tomatoes and boconiccnici onto toothpicks with a small piece of basil inbetween. Arrange on platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over platter. These can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge. Take out 30 minutes before serving and wait until the last minute to drizzle with olive oil.

My Three Favorite Desserts!

Hi everyone! Leslie W here. Sorry I have been absent lately. However, I have three delicious desserts to share! Unfortunately I have not modified these recipes so I can’t claim them by any means but still wanted to share. I am deviating from the norm with this post…but thought it was worth it.  I won’t post the recipes but just refer you to the links, especially since the recipes are published in cookbooks. Though, I have two photos to share. I highly recommend all of these! Melissa can vouch for the doughnuts 🙂 Refer to her for a gluten-free version of the vegan doughnuts.

French Yogurt Cake with Lemon by Molly Wizenberg of the Orangette blog (my favorite of the three)

 “Winning Hearts and Minds” Chocolate Cake also by Molly Wizenberg

Vegan Smoked Sea Salt Maple Doughnuts from the Peas and Thank You blog

Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto


Leslie H

Literally, while talking on the phone and describing this pesto I was preparing to Melissa, hung up, finished making it and thought to myself, why didn’t I take pictures before I started! I grabbed the ends of the scapes out of the sink added the other ingredients next to it and viola-we have a recipe. Scapes are the flower stalks of the garlic bulbs that send up curly shoots about two thirds of the way through the growing season.  The scapes must be broken off to encourage growth of the bulb. They have a slightly less garlicky flavor than a clove of garlic, but very tasty. This recipe is one of those I made up and quantities are kind of a guesstimate.


Equal amounts of scapes and basil-about 1 1/2 cups each. Trim the scapes below the flowering bud section

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

zest of 1 lemon

3 T. Parsley

1 T. honey (it needed taming down a bit)

Olive oil to thin to your consistency

1/4 -1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese-I didn’t add, but you know it would be delicious!


Place scapes and basil in the food processor and pulse several times until all is uniformly chopped. Add pine nuts and continue to pulse a few more times. Add parsley, lemon zest, salt and a squeeze of honey; process until smooth. With machine running, slowly add in olive oil until desired consistency. Stop machine, taste and adjust seasonings. I am grilling pizza dough on the BBQ tonight smearing with a little more olive oil and topping with this pesto—yummm.  I think it will also go really well with the grilled halibut.

Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes


Hello! These sweet potatoes are another fabulous pinterest find.  For the most part, I made them pretty similar to the original recipe, except I used more toppings per potato and cooked them for longer so they were crispy.

These are delish – they didn’t even make it to the table! (Somehow, Matt and I ate all of them while we finished cooking dinner…)



1 Sweet Potato

2 T Brown Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Chili Powder

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/4 tsp Onion Powder

1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

Melted Earth Balance Butter and olive oil (or regular butter…) (about 3 T total)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the sweet potatoes into 1 inch discs and put in boiling, salted water for about 15 minutes or so until they are soft (soft is hard to describe…soft enough that they can easily be smushed…if in doubt, cook a little longer).  Let them cool on a drying rack.


While the sweet potatoes are cooking, put all of the spices into a bowl and whisk together.

Image(This is how the spices looked before I whisked them together…and then stopped taking pictures of the rest of the process…)

Line the sweet potatoes up on a silpat-lined baking sheet.  Smash the sweet potato discs slightly, so that you create nice ridges in the surface for the flavors to sink into.  This can be a tough process.  I used a slotted  spoon to smush and a flat spatula to assist when the discs would try to stick to the spoon.

Use a brush (or a spoon) to coat both sides of the sweet potato discs in the melted butter/olive oil mix.  Then, pat a little of the seasoning mix onto both sides of the sweet potato.

Bake for 25 minutes, flip,and bake for 20 more minutes.  Give yourself plenty of time when you make these – you want them delicious and crispy, and it feels like it always takes longer than expected to get them to that perfect level of crunch.

We paired these (or…intended to pair these) with chicken coated in Tom Douglas’ Rub with Love and grilled Asparagus with a squirt of lemon.