quinoa with mushrooms + arugula

10 Nov

This post is for my friend Tom who recently asked me for a really good quinoa recipe. This dish is for sure up there in my top 3 favorite quinoa recipes! The meatiness of the mushrooms and the thyme & garlic paired with the peppery arugula make this quinoa taste super gourmet. It is the perfect side dish to any meal!

Hope you like it, Tom 🙂

Quinoa with Mushrooms + Arugula

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1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more for seasoning
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups arugula, roughly chopped


In a large nonstick skillet over high heat, heat oil. Add garlic and thyme; cook until they begin to get fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and salt; cook, stirring, until mushrooms are soft, brown and begin to make a squeaking sound. Transfer mushroom mixture to a bowl. Add quinoa and arugula; stir. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe adapted from Self Magazine

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Buon Appétito!

allie + race for the rescues

7 Nov


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Several months after losing our beloved Golden Retriever Annie, my family rescued another 4-year old Golden named Allie. She had been kept on the side of a house in a cage for 4 years, and we’re pretty sure she was just used for breeding. When she first got to the rescue, the founder told us her ears had been in the worst condition she had ever seen. They immediately started giving her medication to treat her infected ears and any other problems that had been neglected.

The first time I met her, she belly crawled over to me and I instantly started crying. I felt so sorry for her because of how terribly she was treated, but I knew that she was going to have the best rest of her life with us.

When we first brought her home, she was absolutely terrified of everything and her coat was so thin you could see her skin through it. She didn’t even know how to play, use the stairs or doggy door, and while she has gotten to be a pro at the stairs & doggy door, she still needs a little work on the playing part. After a month or so, her coat also came in and it is now super healthy & thick!

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Allie is so appreciative of everything… the belly rubs she had never gotten before, the freshly cooked chicken chopped up for dinner, the constant love and attention..she soaks it all up and deserves every bit of it! I can honestly say that she is the sweetest dog I have ever met. In return, I am also so appreciative of Allie and what she has done for my life. Every day I cannot wait to get home to her! No matter what mood I’m in or what kind of day I’ve had, she always makes it better. I truly cannot imagine my life without her.

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So in honor of my precious Allie, on Sunday, November 10th I am running in the Race for the Rescues 10k at the Great Park in Irvine. All of the donations will be used to help save the lives of dogs, cats and horses and to help them find their forever homes. Donations are also used to prevent cruelty to farm animals and providing important programs to the community, such as veterinary care for pets of low-income families and free spay & neuter clinics (source).  I could not think of a better reason to get up early on a Sunday and run 6.2 miles!

For those of you who love to run, please come join me and sign up here.

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veev spirits

1 Nov

VeeV Spirits

I talked briefly about my experience with VeeV Spirits a little while back and now the time has finally come to share my recipe with you! This week my recipe and the delicious Fig & Honey cocktail are on VeeV’s Facebook Page. I am so excited about this and seriously had the best time working with Sharie! I also had a blast taste-testing and trying to come up with the perfect fall recipe to complement this drink. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!


Whipped Goat Cheese Crostini



Makes approximately 20 individual crostini


1 large French or sourdough baguette
6 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 medium red or sweet onions, sliced thick
1 tbsp. sage, finely chopped
2 tbsp. rosemary, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
1 small butternut squash, peeled & diced into small cubes
1/2 cup roasted & salted Marcona almonds, finely chopped
Store-bought Balsamic glaze
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Whip together goat & cream cheeses. Lightly season with salt & pepper. Set aside.

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Peel & cut butternut squash into small cubes. In an even layer, spread butternut squash on a half sheet pan. Use approximately 3 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Toss the butternut squash to make sure it is evenly coated with the EVOO, salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

While the butternut squash is cooking, heat 2 tbsp. of EVOO in a medium nonstick skillet over low heat. Sauté onions with rosemary and sage for 30 minutes or until dark golden brown. If using, add garlic in last five minutes.


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Cut baguette into 1-inch thick slices. Put in an even layer on a half sheet pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Place in oven and bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

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Spread a thin layer of cheese mixture on toasted crostini. Top with caramelized onions, butternut squash, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, and chopped Marcona almonds.

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Fig & Honey Cocktail


2 oz VeeV Spirits
1 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Honey or Agave
Ginger Beer
1 Fig


Muddle fig in a cocktail shaker, add VeeV, lemon juice and agave/honey and shake with Ice.

Strain contents over ice into a your glass and top with Ginger Beer.

Slice half a small fig to place on top as a garnish.


Buon Appétito!

pumpkin seed + pistachio pesto

1 Nov

Happy Halloween! 


Last night I tried a new recipe from the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan that looked insanely good when Karena posted it last week. I am always looking for new healthy recipes to add a little variety and this one is definitely going to work itself into the rotation. Not gonna lie, the kelp noodles got a little old after a while so I next time I will eat them in small quantities, but it was really the pesto that stole the show. I am a sucker for anything with pesto so this was right up my alley! I did tweak their recipe (which is why I am posting it) to make it more my own. The original doesn’t call for pistachios or Parmesan, but I thought they made a great addition! I served it up with a side of sea scallops, broccoli and salad. It was the perfect weeknight meal!

Pumpkin seed + Pistachio Pesto

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1 1/2 cups fresh basil

3/4 cup spinach

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup roasted & salted pistachios

Juice of 1 lemon

3 small cloves of garlic

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (depending on the consistency you like)

3-4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Combine all ingredients except the Parmesan cheese & olive oil in a good processor. Slowly add in the extra virgin olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency. Put into a serving bowl and stir in grated Parmesan cheese.

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Buon Appétito!


After work today I went for a great 7-mile run! Now I can eat as much candy as I want 🙂 Well, that’s my logic anyways…


Have a great night!!

it’s all good: turkey meatballs

30 Oct

It’s All Good

At first glance, I was a little skeptical of this recipe considering it was missing a few key ingredients that as an Italian have been engrained in my brain forever: really good Parmesan cheese & breadcrumbs. However, I chose to overlook this minor detail considering everything I have made from Gwyneth Paltrow’s newest cookbook has been fabulous. These turkey meatballs are by far the best I have ever had. I wasn’t exactly sure how much flavor they were going to have considering they were missing two major flavor components, but I was blown away by exactly how much flavor was in these meatballs. The first night I made them, I paired them up with some gluten free pasta, but the past two days I have been eating them plain for lunch and they have been equally delicious both ways! Not only are these meatballs delicious, they are also very healthy and gluten free!

It really is all good!

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Turkey Meatballs

(Elimination Diet Friendly)


1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 handful arugula, roughly chopped

1/4 cup Italian parsley

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

8 fresh sage leaves

8 fresh basil leaves

Leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme

Leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary

1 lb. ground turkey

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1/2 tsp pepper

3 tbsp. olive oil


In a food processor, pulse onion, arugula, parsley, garlic, sage, basil, thyme and rosemary until finely chopped.

In a bowl, combine onion-herb mixture with turkey, salt and pepper; mix with hands.

Roll turkey mixture into 24 golf ball-sized meatballs. In a large pot over low heat, warm tomato sauce. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil.

Cook meatballs in skillet in batches, stirring, until browned, 10 minutes. Transfer meatballs to simmering sauce; partially cover pot. Cook meatballs, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Serve hot with gluten-free pasta or polenta or vegetables.

I baked my meatballs on foiled line sheet pans at 425 for about 20-25 minutes and they came out perfectly! But, of course, you can cook them whichever way you prefer!

Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine

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Buon Appétito!


gluten-free pumpkin bread

27 Oct

I am always looking for really great, healthy desserts and this homemade gluten-free pumpkin bread is definitely one of them. I saw this recipe on Against All Grain that seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, so I decided to give it a try. It did not disappoint! This pumpkin bread is moist, delicious and full of fall flavor!


Pumpkin Bread


3 large eggs
¾ cup sunbutter (you may also use almond butter)
½ cup grade B maple syrup
½ cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
3 tablespoons softened palm shortening, ghee, or unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut flour
1½ tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons grain-free baking powder (or make your own- 1tsp baking soda+2 tsp cream of tartar)
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon sea salt

(I added 1/2 cup or so of Enjoy Life chocolate chips, but of course, you don’t have to include them!)

note: if almond butter is used, decrease baking powder to 1.5 teaspoons and add ½ teaspoon baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a glass or metal 8.5×4.5 loaf pan then place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine the eggs, sunbutter, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, palm shortening, lemon juice, and vanilla. Puree for 30 seconds until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, lemon zest, ginger, and sea salt. Blend again for 30 seconds until well combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely before eating, about 2 hours. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from Against All Grain

Buon Appétito!

cucina enoteca, a few of my favorite things

24 Oct


Tuesday I started off with Tracy Anderson for some muscular structure work then I did 30 minutes of HIIT. I did a little bit extra because I knew I was going to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner, which meant indulging in pasta and/or pizza. Yesterday morning I did a 4.1 mile run and finished another 3 miles after work with a friend since I didn’t have time to squeeze it all in before. Today’s workout was TA in the am followed by a 5.25 mile run after work with my brother. I don’t know why but lately the 4:30 a.m. wake-up calls are getting harder and harder. I used to get up as soon as my alarm went off but lately I have been hitting the snooze button more than once! It may be because I have been dreading going to work lately..I need to get it together!

Cucina Enoteca

Last night, I went to Cucina Enoteca again with my friend Kristen. It pretty much has become our official “girl’s night” spot which makes me very, very happy. I don’t know why, but I NEVER get sick of this place. Every time I go, I am always so impressed with how good their food is. I have recommended it to several people, and everyone who has gone cannot say enough about how fantastic everything is at Cucina! Last night, we weren’t super hungry so we both split the Farmer’s Chopped salad and the Honey Roasted Eggplant pizza with goat cheese, pinoles, balsamic onions and pistachio pesto. I was in the main dining area and they turn the lights down pretty low around 6ish so unfortunately I wasn’t able to capture any good pictures. Since I’m already on the subject figured this would be a great opportunity to go over some of my favorite dishes over the course of the 50+ times I have been there..


Arugula + Heirloom Tomato

This salad has the perfect balance of sweet and savory. The pepperiness of the arugula combined with the sweetness of the aged balsamic & heirloom tomatoes and the saltiness of the shaved parmesan create such an amazing combination of flavors that really make this salad special. Cucina’s heirloom tomatoes are literally the BEST tomatoes I have ever had. I don’t know where they get them from, but I would love to know their secret.


Farmer’s Chopped

This has recently become my new favorite salad at Cucina. I am a sucker for anything with pepperoncinis and this salad is full of them. It is extremely bright and refreshing; the perfect start to a pizza & pasta-laden night.

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Giant Meatball

I am not sure if my family has ever been to Cucina and not ordered their giant meatball. Unlike many others, it is full of flavor and extremely moist & tender. It is served with a generous helping of marinara (perfect for dipping some crusty bread) and melted cheese & basil on top.

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Lasagna Al Forno

Cucina’s lasagna is quite possibly the best I have ever had. (I seriously have no idea how I don’t have a picture of it..) I NEVER order lasagna when I go out because it never seems to even come close to my nana’s homemade lasagna, but this one is out-of-this-world. It has the perfect ratio of meat, sauce and cheese that makes it very indulgent without being too rich. I highly recommend it if you’re a lasagna lover.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Bucatini is one of my favorite pasta noodles because of this dish. There is so much flavor in the sauce even though it is made with such simple ingredients. I have found that it is never too spicy and has just the right amount of heat. However, if you do prefer it a little spicier, they bring you fresh oregano & chili flakes to season to your liking. Your leftover pizza crust is also a great vehicle for this sauce!

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Spicy Shrimp Puttanesca Angel Hair

This is a pasta dish you should order if you are wanting something on the lighter side. My mom and I split this with gluten free pasta and it was perfectly satisfying without leaving us stuffed, as some heavier pastas tend to do. The shrimp are fairly large and cooked to perfection! The capers also add a really nice, briney bite.


Fig + Gorgonzola

This pizza is only around when figs are in season, so you can’t get it all the time, but when it is on the menu I highly recommend you order it while you can because it is incredible. I am fig obsessed so maybe I am a little partial, but everyone I know who has had it absolutely raves about it!

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Honey Roasted Eggplant + Herb Goat Cheese

Between this pizza and the fig + gorgonzola, it’s always a toss-up for me. They are both so good in their own rights, which makes it that much harder to decide which to order. My friend and I were trying to decide which pizza was our favorite, but came to the conclusion that they’re so different they can’t really be compared. So therefore, they’re both my favorite pizzas at Cucina.

Pepperoni + Fennel Sausage

Cucina’s pepperoni pizza is a really great traditional pizza. If you are not into eggplant or figs on your pizza, this is a classic. They do put some peppadew peppers on top, which I think adds the perfect sweet heat, but if you’re more of a traditionalist you can always ask for it without.


Roasted Mary’s Chicken

I never have been one to like eggs on my food, but this dish completely changed my mind. The creamy polenta mixes together with the yolk from the egg to create the perfect “sauce” for the juicy chicken, chard & pesto. All of those combined create the perfect bite!


Fennel Seed Crusted Yellowtail

Unfortunately, I am allergic to yellowtail so I can no longer eat this, but for those of you who aren’t and are looking for something other than pizza or pasta, this is the way to go. It is the lightest main course I have ever eaten there, but I still loved every bite. The cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and grapefruit create a sort of relish that I absolutely loved!


Bread Pudding

Cucina no longer has this on their dessert menu so I don’t remember exactly what was in it, but it was crazy good. They served it while it was still warm on a blanket of caramel sauce with a side of rum raisin gelato that tasted like pie or cookie crumbs underneath. I wish it was still on the menu because I would order it every time!

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What is your favorite restaurant and favorite dish at this restaurant? What type of food do you like to eat out versus making at home?

friday favorites

18 Oct

TGIF! Happy Friday everyone!!

Oh and GO DODGERS!! Tonight’s a huge game, fingers crossed!

Favorite Slurp: Spiced Cider Punch


Favorite Dough Ball: Pumpkin Spice Beignets


Favorite Over-the-Top: Cider Bourbon Apple Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crumble


Favorite Burger: Epic Crispy Quinoa Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries, Beer Caramelized Onions + Gruyere


Favorite Breakfast: Mini Pumpkin Sticky Buns


Favorite Ice Cream: Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream

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Favorite One-Pot: Chicken Cacciatore


Favorite Pasta: Pasta Bolognese

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