Fast Foodie Cooks: Weekly Recipe: Farmer's Market Frittata

I haven't been posting nearly enough recipes on my blog. I am currently in the best shape of my life, culinarily speaking. I am geeking out on seasonal produce, creating amazing meals for my clients and coming in to my own as a personal chef. I think everyone can be their own chef, so I might as well help this along by providing you recipes that help fuel me up with the healthful energy I need! My goal is to post a weekly (ok regular) recipe post with some delicious goodness that is being thrown down in Casa De Ninja!

Farmer's Market Frittata
Serves 2-4 (2 as a main, 4 with something else)

8 large organic eggs
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup spring onion, baby spring onion or regular onion, chopped
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup zucchini with blossoms, zucchini sliced and blossoms separated, sliced- set aside.
2 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
optional: 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Saute the onion, zucchini, mushroom and butter/olive oil in a 10-inch oven proof skillet (such as a cast iron) or pan over medium heat until starting to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the squash blossoms, salt, and pepper and cheese (if using) and combine. Pour the mixture over the cooking vegetables and place the skillet in the center of the oven. Bake for about 50 minutes, until it puffs and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve hot directly from the pan with a side salad of fresh mixed greens.

Tis the season for my favorite seasonal foods

I can't say that I have always been a lover of pumpkin. When I was a kid, I didn't like pumpkin pie at all, except for it being a vehicle for whipped cream, which I did like. I also can't say that I am a new comer, just hopping on the pumpkin bandwagon now. 

Instead, like brussels sprouts and persimmons, I have been carrying on a love affair with pumpkin for a while, even before pumpkin was cool. When I first moved to San Francisco and knew little about trail running, I would get up super early on Saturday mornings to join a friend on a (still to this day favorite) loop on Mt. Tam starting out of Ross. Part of the draw for me and motivation for getting out of bed was knowing that afterwards we would be going to Woodland Market and there I would find (if we were lucky and early) a glorious pumpkin muffin (with none of that cream cheese stuffing crap I don't like). This was before I knew I was gluten intolerant, mind you, but I loved those muffins. And not just because they were muffins (as we know I am obsessed with muffins), because they were pumpkin muffins. I was all or nothing, if they were out of the muffins, I wouldn't get a muffin at all. It was then that I started loving pumpkin and incorporating it into more things.

Recently I have started putting pumpkin in my oats, making homemade pumpkin butter and dreaming of ways I can maximize my pumpkin consumption. Despite being a muffin freak, the idea of pumpkin muffins just wasn't speaking to me. Instead, I was dreaming of making pumpkin scones. Only problem is that my last few attempts at scones have ended up very average and often times with burnt bottoms. I did some research, consulted a few recipes and finally went to work baking. The results? Amazing. Moist and crumbly at the same time a way a good scone should be. Light and tender and without any "gluten free" taste (like the not so nice metallic taste). Delicious. I topped mine with more pumpkin butter. 

Gluten-free pumpkin scones: 
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
dash ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup honey
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
6 tablespoons of butter, very cold
1/3 cup of almond milk, plus more for brushing
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon sugar

Place a cookie sheet with parchment paper/silpat on top and place that cookie sheet on top of another cookie sheet. This is the secret to not burning the bottom of your scones! Took me a very long time to figure this one out.  Preheat the oven to 400F.

Pour the apple cider vinegar into the almond and set aside for about 10 minutes.

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and cut into the dry ingredient mixture with a knife or pastry cutter. Work until the butter is in small pea size pieces. Place bowl into freezer to keep cold.

In another bowl, mix your honey, almond milk/vinegar mixture, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract and blend well.

Remove dry ingredients from freezer. Mix the dry with the wet ingredients and, as the dough starts to form, use your hands to knead the dough a few times, until it is all combined. Do not overmix or overwork. You want the dough to stay cold and the butter in pieces.

Form a ball with the dough and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Flatten the dough into a circle, about an inch and a half tall. Place back into the freezer for 10 minutes. Wash the dishes, check your email, do something else. Keeping the dough cool is very important.

Remove dough from freezer. Cut the circle into 6-8 triangles, depending how large you want them. Slide them apart slightly. Brush the scones lightly with almond milk to smooth and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Top with homemade pumpkin butter for a real treat.
(Recipe adapted from Wellsphere)

The Athlete's Plate: A book review

Recently VeloPress contacted me about checking out and doing a review of one of their new publications: The Athlete's Plate by Adam Kelinson

When they told me it was a "real food" cookbook for athletes by a chef/athlete, I was excited to check it out. Frankly, I was also jealous. The idea is very similar to what I want to do with my own cookbook. I feel like most "cookbooks" for athletes end up being way too nutrition heavy with a few recipes scattered in and ultimately very basic recipes. I was excited and hopeful that Kelinson's book would be different. I was hopeful that the librarian side of me would struggle with whether to put this book with our huge and beautiful collection of cookbooks or if it would go on the bottom backcorner shelf with the plethora of other athlete nutrition books. I value those books as refer and a one time read, but I do not consult them for recipe ideas (even the ones that have a good amount of recipes) or keep on hand. Cookbooks are a great prompt for ideas because, for the most part, they include delectable and interesting food photography that gets the ideas rolling. Even complicated cookbooks with recipes so insanely complicated you might attempt them once in a lifetime can give you great ideas about flavor and technique. But I digress.

After receiving the book in the mail, I paged through it and sighed. First glance, judging a book by its cover, this book would be delegated to that dark bottom backcorner with the other nutrition books. It was information heavy and monochromatic. The pictures that were included were much less impressive than I routinely see on even an average food blog of a nonprofessional. Not to mention the pictures were in very weird places, like halfway through the sports nutrition section. This is, as it says, full of "no-nonsense nutritional guidelines". I think it does a really great job of bringing in the real, whole food ideas like a Michael Pollan type book and combines it with some basic primers on sports nutrition. I really appreciate that this book does not get too specific or too over the top with the scientific minutia that a lot of sports nutrition books do. Most sports nutrition programs just make me more confused than when I started out and make me feel that nutrition and real food are not even related. That is not a nice feeling, nor is it helpful to athletes, most of whom are too busy to figure it out. Kelinson argues that the reason athletes can make poor food choices is because they are too busy with training, work and life, so it makes little sense to have a book that will complicate things further.

The Athlete's Plate does do that well. It does not over complicate things. He is very informative and concise without being too overly complicated in his nutrition information. As a nutritional guideline book for athlete's I liked it. I do not think it is ground breaking. It includes information for many of the lesser known whole food nutritional powerhouse foods and techniques (like seaweed and juicing, sprouting, etc). That said, these are things that are contained in books such as Thrive and are even more focused on therein. I do think Kelinson's approach is a good one. I do think the information was easy to read. I do think the information was useful and would be useful to many athletes.

The recipes, well, the recipes really left something to be desired to me. The level of cooking experience necessary was less than that needed to cook out of a publication such as Food Everyday or make something from 30 minutes with Rachel Ray. I understand that a great deal of people and athlete's possess this level of skill. However, I feel that all "athlete cookbooks" aim at this level. Athletes by nature seem to be people who like to challenge themselves. So it would be nice to include at least a few recipes that are more complicated.

I also feel like I know a lot more foodie athletes than I know foodie active people or foodie nonathletes. Kelinson argues that athletes know an endless amount about their gear but little about food and nutrition, but I think athletes, out of necessity due to their training load, are aware and consider nutrition and food much more than he gives credit for. Actually, I take that back. New athletes tend to flounder in this area, experienced athletes less so. I guess I was just hoping that this book would aim a bit more towards the middle. Better photography, a more interesting "cookbook" like layout (like the book Grub) and a handful of more challenging recipes and this cookbook would have more appeal to this Fast Foodie. I would recommend this book as a starting point for a new athlete looking for information about performance nutrition and food, as well as someone who is learning to cook. I actually have a client whom I am teaching to cook who also happens to be a triathlete. We have started at the most basic level, learning things like how to make beans and rice and guacamole, all of which are "recipes" in Kelinson's book. I am going to pass along Kelinson's book to my client so he can practice his skills until he graduates to more complicated techniques (which he is already doing, you should have seen the frittata he made!).

So basically, it comes down to this it is a worthwhile read for a beginning athlete who has some confusion about incorporating whole foods and proper nutrition into their diet.

Ice cream for breakfast and other delights

I can't say I am clever enough to come up with a way of eating ice cream for breakfast without actually eating ice cream for breakfast. But thankfully, I read a blog of someone who is. Of the few food bloggers I read, Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter, consistently comes up with (really) healthy versions of less than healthy treats. In fact, I would argue she completely turns them on their head and reduces things from treat to staple. One of the things I had been hankering to try was her protein ice cream. As a fan of smoothies for breakfast, I liked the idea of making a smoothie a bit thicker, like ice cream and still being able to enjoy it for breakfast. Her version includes stevia (I used agave or whatever was on hand) and I also traded in the ice cubes for frozen banana because we don't usually have ice in the house and when we do, its usually for ice baths, not smoothies. I topped the wholesome deliciousness with fresh plums, strawberries as well as a scoop of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and Justin's Peanut Butter. Makes for a solid breakfast meal with a lovely nod to dessert. I find that I often would like something that is apropos of a sweet dessert or treat without actually having any diminishment of health value. This breakfast fits that bill perfectly.

Sometimes, however, you just really want to have a nice indulgence for breakfast. Last week after dropping out of WS after 55 miles, my body had cravings all over the map. It wanted food and lots of it. I resolved that I needed to rest and relax and eat up, even if it meant that I felt like I was just sitting around getting fat. Sometimes that is just what your body needs to feel like. I have a hard time grasping that sometimes, but then I make gluten free cinnamon rolls topped with julia child's confectioners cream and I completely forget about my hesitations.

The reality is, in our household, where 70 miles of running in a week is considered a light week, cinnamon rolls are never really undeserved. These particular cinnamon rolls come from The Gluten Free Girl's blog. I have been wanting to make them and we happened to have a jar of confectioner's cream that the baker made which I deduced would be perfect over the cinnamon rolls since a cream cheese frosting was not an option for me. These cinnamon rolls were outstanding. I wanted to eat them all, in one sitting. But I refrained. It was much more fun to savor them over the course of a few days with warm cups of coffee and delicious fresh fruit on the side.

I actually am usually too geeked out about amazing seasonal produce to even want to bother with making things that I could have any old time. The sweetness of a muffin will never compare to a perfectly ripe peach to me. So, even though the cinnamon rolls or protein ice cream made me swoon, I do get equally, if not more so, excited over seasonal produce and the things I can do with it.

One of my favorite things about summer other than the mind blowing fruits and vegetables is my birthday. And it's not because I am big into birthdays, but instead because, when I was growing up, it meant I got to pick a very special meal that my mom would make at my request. 9/10 it was either twice baked potatoes or a huge vat of my mom's marinara sauce. So in honor that tradition, I made a huge batch of her marinara sauce this week and oohhhh wheeee it is so good. Best part about it is, this recipe makes enough for about 6 months (kept frozen)! I served it up with some Southern Italian Ratatouille from the Tra Vigne Cookbook.

And I haven't just been craving comforting, heavy, sweet things. In fact, I have been craving really light fresh things too. And this Kale Carrot Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing that I invented a while back has been my lunch for a few days straight. It is so flavorful and healthy and complex. In other words, perfection. 

The most wonderful time of the year

I posted recently on my running blog about realizing I need to eat more meat. That post was about a month ago and the truth of the matter is, I probably haven't been that much better about eating meat more. Maybe 1x per week more. That still means I am eating meat/fish only 3 days a week. Not so good. Even in France I was limited to little meat because often times the main offerings had gluten in them. I probably managed to eat meat 4 times while I was there, which by all accounts is comparatively pretty fantastic.

The problem is not that I don't like meat. I do. Just like the problem is not that I don't like cookies (gluten free of course). If you put them in front of me, I will eat it and probably a fair amount. Thus, meat or even cookies for that matter (speaking of which I have managed to eat 4 small teff peanut butter cookies today already, someone stop me!) don't tend to stay around very long. On top of that, my grocery of choice Rainbow grocery, does not sell meat. Thus, I usually don't want to make a second trip to another store to get meat. I shop at Rainbow because I am primarily a fruit and vegetable eater and Rainbow provides the most local organic produce you can find outside of a farmer's market. I love fruits and vegetables more than cookies and meat combine. But I also know I need to eat more meat. Thank goodness for St. Patty's Day.

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, I was making Gluten Free Irish Soda bread (and cookies magically got made as well) to compliment a slow-cooked corned beef brisket. I love corned beef brisket. My favorite time of year is around St. Patty's day because corned beef brisket is readily available, it is one of my more favorite cuts of meat. Plus, it is an excellent excuse to make my mom's horseradish sauce (1 part fresh prepared horseradish, 1 part dijon mustard, 2 parts sour cream).

The soda bread was a hit with my diners, sucked down as both appetizer and dessert (with a little left for breakfast). The brisket was outstanding though. Starting at 4pm, I turned the oven on to 300 degrees to preheat. Meanwhile, I put my large Dutch oven on the burner and put the brisket in with it's brine and spices. I added 2 fresh bay leaves. Then I covered it with enough water to have about 2 inches of water above it. I brought it to a boil, skimmed the gunk off the top and put the lid on, then straight into the oven. I let it cook for 3 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, I did other things, got stuff done, wasted two hours, then went back into the kitchen to put together the mustard-roasted potatoes. I used the mix of ingredients from this recipe, but problem was, I was already using the oven and it was at 300 degrees not 400. Thus, I decided I would slow roast the potatoes on the very bottom rack and when I took out the corned beef, kick up the temperature to 425 to get some crisp on them.

The potatoes roasted for an hour and when the corned beef was tender, I pulled the Dutch oven out, put it back on the burner, removed the meat and covered it tightly with foil. Then I cranked up the heat on the stove and threw into the cooking liquid a half head of green cabbage cut into wedges. Cooked that for another 15-20 minutes while the potatoes, now at 425 and on the middle rack of the oven, crisped. Wham bam, done delicious.

It was all really good. To serve I put the cabbage on a serving plate with the meat sliced on top. I had people spoon cooking liquid from the meat over the top of their food for additional kick. While I tend to think that the horseradish sauce is what brings me to the table, everything was incredibly flavored, dang near perfectly cooked and awesome.

(P.S. sorry the pictures aren't as awesome as I would like, no natural lighting by dinnertime, even with daylight savings time!)

Bread and stuff to put on bread

Bread attempts

I am not really the type of person to wish to change circumstances that cannot be or wish things away that simply cannot be wished away. It is futile and a great waste of energy. I change or work for change in things I have control over and celebrate the parts of life that simply are what they are good or bad. No resistance, no stress.

There is one thing though I would change. Ok, actually it's two things. I wish I could eat gluten and I wish I could eat eggs. There is no oh poor me involved in this. I eat these things, I don't feel good. It is a fact of life, one which would be nice to be able to change. People with food intolerance, allergies and diseases like Chrons/Celiac are not doing happy dances when they get their diagnoses I assure you. As much as you can become happy and ok with it, it is not something you'd wish on anyone.

There are a few brilliant individuals such as Karina and Shauna and bakeries such as BabyCakes (NYC/LA) and Flying Apron (Seattle) who are making great strides in creating gluten-free friendly recipes of the things people commonly have to cut out of their diets when they have gluten intolerance and Celiac. It is awesome what they are doing. Goodness knows, I appreciate it when I need a baked goods fix. I have also started to develop gluten free, egg-free recipes of my own that I would some day love to share in a cookbook or bakery.

I think my biggest problem is that I am not really a baked good person in general. You would think that would make being gluten intolerant easier and it does, but the problem is when I do crave a baked good there are some that just cannot be mimicked in a gluten free style. Cookies, cupcakes, even most morning pastries but not bread. The thing I often crave the most is a big hunk of crusty bread straight out of the oven. In my adult life, I have never been much of a consumer of bread on a daily basis, or even consistently of grains. I just prefer veggies and fruit to grains. But there are some days when I can think of nothing more than a hunk of bread with butter melting over it.

Last week was one of those weeks. I wanted bread. I wanted a sandwich. I wanted crusty, flaky warm bread straight out of the oven. And I didn't want to suffer for it. And so, I decided to try my hand at baking on. I consulted many sources but each had something I could not use or work with. One has eggs, another uses a breadmaker and provides no alternate instructions. Each had something I would tweak or change. And so I decided to do that.

I developed a gluten free, egg free crusty bread in my brand new 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset, consulted with the Baker about a few techniques and on Friday baked off my first batch. Fresh out of the oven (after cooling), it had a great outside crunch, the inside was what I would expect of a gluten free loaf- slightly dense, but yes! it had some lift and stretchy bubbles. However, it also had a slightly metallic taste which I had just suggested be worked out of another gluten free recipe that the Baker had me try. The metallic taste comes from the egg replacer which would easily be remedied if I had the luxury of being able to eat eggs. Eggs are a good "cheat" in gluten free baking. The loaf was not bad, in fact, it was probably a revelation in terms of gluten free bread baking. But it was not what I wanted. I will continue to develop the recipe and see if I can create something crave worthy. It is a start and I am intrigued.

Condiment Party

Part of the hope in baking the bread on Friday was that I would have a nice loaf of bread that I could put my hot dogs on for our Super Bowl Sunday party. We decided to throw a Super not Superbowl Party, which eventually became just a Super Superbowl Party. The requirements for coming were to bring a beverage and a homemade condiment. The Baker made buns and we cooked up some great tasting dogs. The day before the big game, we spent a few hours in the kitchen making Maple Baked Beans, Chipotle Ketchup, Roasted Peppers, Caramelized Onions and Spicy Mustard.

Best hog dog buns anyone had ever tasted.

Hot dogs braised in white wine, onions and cloves.

Maple Glazed Beans. Cooked for 6 hours. YUM!

The party was awesome and the party-goers absolutely surprised and delighted me in the level in which they got into making condiments. They showed some great creativity. We had a few types of ketchup, honey mustard, sprouted mung bean relish, spicy thai relish, wasabi mayo, guacamole, tomatillo salsa, sauerkraut, cream cheese. You name it, we had it. It was really fascinating to watch the combination and methods that people chose in getting a maximum number of condiments on their dogs or plates. People had a great time and I was really blessed to have such a great group of people bless my home with their presence and my kitchen with their great dishes!

Taming the Green Monster

I know I am a strange person. That is not news to anyone who knows me.

Yesterday I was reminded again that the things I eat and the foods I crave are also not normal. I was doing an interview for DailyMile and we were discussing food and I mentioned craving salads and vegetables which produced a quizzical look. Later on that day, when I was talking to Scott my massage therapist at Psoas, he said "I never crave fruits and vegetables, just fatty food or sugar, etc". Never? Really?!

I thought about it for a while since honest to goodness I don't have sugar cravings, in fact I wouldn't really say I have cravings at all. Usually on my long runs I start thinking about the food I will refuel with and get particularly fixated on something but it's not a true craving and even if it were, well, I usually have earned it. On my 34.5 mile run this Sunday I got fixated on the idea of having roast chicken and salad for dinner and ultimately that is what we had. Rotisserie chicken from Limon and a big leaf salad. Really hit the spot.

After all the talk of food cravings or not, last night all I could think about was a big green salad. Not your restaurant style green salad which is usually just beautiful greens plus a delicious dressing. I am talking greens, green vegetables and even a herb-y dressing. Yes, I was craving it. I needed to tame that green monster.

And wow was it good. I actually ate WAY slower than I usually do so I could savor each and every bite. The only things that weren't green in this salad were the baked tofu and the sauerkraut. I felt like a superhero after eating this salad. I felt invigorated and satisfied. It is definitely one that I will be making again and again. Salad may not be rocket science, but that doesn't mean it can't be profound on occasion.

Greener than Green Salad


1 cup broccoli, lightly steamed (to make it less gas producing)

2 stalks of kale, cut into ribbons

4-6 cups of greens including arugula, spinach

2 tbsp fresh cilantro

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 cup sauerkraut

1 package baked tofu

1/2 avocado

1 cup rice vinegar

4 cloves garlic minced

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger

2-3 tbsp mixed fresh herbs

1/2 cup+ peanut oil


Mix vinegar, garlic, herbs, sesame oil, ginger in a blender. With the motor running, add in peanut oil until dressing emulsifies.

In a large bowl, put the cut kale into the bowl and add 2 tbsps dressing. With clean bare hands, massage the kale for 30 seconds until the leaves slightly soften. Add in greens, spinach, arugula, cilantro, and green onions. Toss to coat with dressing adding more to taste. Top with steamed broccoli, avocado, tofu and sauerkraut. Enjoy. This salad is definitely a meal, split it into two and have it as a side.

Speaking of weird cravings, last week I was seriously jonesing for chickpeas. I mean really, I couldn't get it out of my head. I decided for Wednesday dinner that I would call on my inner Greek and make some recipes from Vefa's Kitchen which I had gotten over the weekend. I made Vegetable and Garbanzo Bean Casserole as well as Chicken Souvlaki. Both were delicious and I am super keen to try more recipes from the cookbook. It is a good one, a classic and a compendium of Greek Food (it's been called the bible of traditional Greek Food). I won't share the recipes, but I will share a few photos of the delicious final product!

A little bit aloha

I know I promised. Promised to be a good bloggie and post lots of fantastic recipes to have you zooming around the roads and trails and in life. And smacking your lips and rubbing your belly saying, yummmm that was good. But well, I was busy. Busy sitting on that beach in sunny, warm, beautiful Hawaii. I was there for HURT pacing duties for nearly two weeks and it was fantastic. We enjoyed some seriously good eats. Before the race, we cooked a bunch and discovered an absolutely awesome new staple. I can take, well, 0.0% credit for the dish as the Baker made it and I merely prepared it a few times. Coconut Rice. After eating it once with a beautiful piece of fresh fish (one of the many varieties I have never heard or seen before), I couldn't think of anything I wanted more in the world.

Coconut Rice ingredients:

1 cup white rice

2 Hawaiian medium sweet potatoes or 1 large (regular sweet potatoes will do, I guess...if we must)

2 carrots

2-3 jalepenos

1 medium onion

1 can organic thai coconut milk + 1 can water

Coconut Rice directions:

Cut veggies up to bite size pieces. Your choice, not too small though. In a large pot with a lid, bring the coconut milk+ water and vegetables to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked and veggies are tender. If you want to get really wild and crazy, do it in a cast iron skillet and after it boils, bake it in the oven until the rice is cooked. You will get good crispy bits on the bottom this way. And we all know the crispy bits are the best.

We enjoyed this meal a lot. It was that good. Hawaiian food is notoriously un-Devon friendly (i.e. gluten, eggs, etc) and not really know for it's healthiness. Before the race, we made the above meal because it was good for ultrarunners stomachs and for its awesome nutritional profile. But after the race...... well that is a different story!

There were fantastic burgers at Kua Aina on the North Shore. I was with 3 post-HURT runners and I don't think there was even a crumb left on the table. They had amazing looking burgers and even though I didn't get a burger, my grilled chicken salad really rocked. I just loved that they put an entire half of avocado on the burgers.

There was also a second trip to Matsumoto Shave Ice on the North Shore. We went on my first full day on the island and got Hawaiian Style shave ice with adzuki beans. So delicious. And we got shrimp and rice from a truck.

After the race we also tried out Morio's Sushi in Wakiki. This sushi place is a natural food grocery by day and a flying under the radar out of this world sushi restaurant by night. It may not be much to look (ok, it is downright ragged looking building) at but the man, Morio himself, was throwing down some amazing food for us. We went 2 times and both times the stuff that was coming over the counter from Morio was amazing and even adventurous (including whole sardines and a natto hand roll). The fish was pretty much straight out of the ocean and every bite was incredible. He was giving hitting us with supreme sushi, brilliant tofu, crab legs! Seriously. It was an experience. Thanks to Gary for the recommendation! Morio's is BYOB and we brought beer, but we could tell we had made it on to his good side when he was giving us shots (ok the bottle) of Shochu. On our second trip, we made sure we brought a case of Morio's beer of choice, which we quickly discovered that all the regulars did. We spent 3-4 hours there each time, chatting, drinking, eating amazing food, digesting, then diving in to more great food. And the price, you just can't beat it.

A final worth mentioning meal was at Helena's Hawaiian Food. I feel that I am always in for a authentic experience when a local waiting for a table next to you ask, "how did you guys find out about this place, we don't get many tourists here?" And it was true, the building was no where near anything touristy and not much to look at. But the food was out of this world. We had Kalua Pig, Laulau, Poi (which I didn't much like), Opihi (on the recommendation of the aforementioned local), Short ribs Pipikaula Style and my personal favorite, Haupia- a delicious coconut milk dessert.

Hmmmmmm, well there you go. A brief recap. Tons of fun in the sun, delicious eats and well, now I have worked up quite the appetite so I am going to throw down some grub!

Helena's Hawaiian Food on Urbanspoon

California Winter Wonderland

I am so happy. I love where I live. California rocks. Seriously.

View of the Pacific Ocean from Point Lobos

Over the weekend, I headed down the coast for a super secret mission that involved a trip to the Monterey Aquarium, wine tasting, and all sorts of adventures from San Francisco down to Monterey. There was Whale Spotting from Point Lobos Wildlife Reserve, Porchetta Sandwiches from Roli Roti and a Saturday night picnic of fresh greens, pickled vegetables (Happy Girl Kitchen), and roast chicken & potatoes (also Roli Roti) from the San Francisco Saturday Ferry Building Farmer's Market. Lunch in Santa Cruz at Walnut Ave Cafe of tofu scrambles and potatoes. There was a perfect run up the Skyline-to-Sea trail and watching the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean. I am sure I am missing a fresh from the market persimmon and loads of Jer's Chocolate Peanut Butter in there too. It was fantastic. It was the kind of weekend where at the end you sigh and say, "wow, we live in an amazing place". I ate good food, ran in amazing places, slept in the biggest bed ever, and pulled off the birthday surprise of the century. Ok, well maybe not the century, but I kept a secret for like a month and that is a big deal. While the weekend sounds packed, it was actually the most fun relaxed weekend I have had in a long long time. After the stress of the holidays, we all need a little vacation right?

Looking up and forward to the new year.

After the weekends activities, actually for about a week before and even now, I have been seriously hankering for hearty, pickled vegetable laden salads. Probably post-holiday balancing after eating a few things my body doesn't like (gluten). I ate really healthy and light for most of the holiday season, but ate my mom's Stollen that she makes every year and a super secret sugar cookie or two as well. As we were driving back, salad was on our minds and I suggested a salad I had been playing with over the course of the week. Fresh greens, arugula, sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, roast onion and a very bright herb dressing. After a bit of brainstorming, we decided that the additions of a nice soft cheese and avocado would take it to the next level. It was awesome.

This salad balances the light crisp flavors of the greens, dressing, sauerkraut and arugula with the hearthy, warm winter vegetables of sweet potato and roast onion. Profoundly good for being profoundly simple. This salad is a keeper.

Sauerkraut, Sweet Potato and Roast Onion Salad

5 cups salad greens
3 cups arugula
2 sweet potato
2 small red onion, sliced
2 cups sauerkraut
2 small avocado, chopped
½ cup soft cheese, crumbled
red wine vinegar
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Baked Sweet Potatoes until tender. With about 10 minutes left before the sweet potatoes are done, roast red onions on a baking sheet with parchment paper until tender.

Compose salad in large bowls. Toss greens and arugula with red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients to taste.