Simple Summer Salad

If nothing else, I love how traveling changes you. How inevitabley you are changed. How you cannot approach life in the same way. Even if in small measures. I went to Austin.  Again.  The second time in the span of a year.  I would never have thought I would return so quickly.  But now that I have, I feel as though it must become a yearly pilgrimage.  There is so much still to explore.  To see.  To taste.  Especially to taste.  Traveling with family who enjoy food as much as I do means days spent finding the best coffee shops and restaurants. Our latest sojourn in Texas was full of emotion.  Constant overwhelming excitement.  One discovery after another of the most delightful places. I could barely stand it.  How can you not almost die over breakfasts of sticky rice with ginger sausage and poached eggs with herb salad, sriracha, and hoisin.  It was one of the best breakfasts. So perfect. So delicious. Truly a delight. Upon returning home, I couldn’t get over the herb salad. A light combination of herbs. Tarragon, cilantro, mint, basil…I am sure there were others.

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My mother, later that week after I had returned home, made salads as part of dinner. This recipe is totally based upon the delight she threw together. Not at all my own, but forever the way I will eat and make salads.  Use what is in the garden, at the market.  What you have on hand.  Mix according to taste.  Be adventurous and try something new.

Simple Summer Salad:
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Serves 4


  • 6 cups salad greens, a mix including spicy arugula, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 cup herbs, equal mix of dill, cilantro, oregano, and mint (but throw in basil and or tarragon should you like), rinsed, stems removed
  • small bunch of radishes, washed and thinly sliced
  • freshly shaved parmesan cheese, roughly 1/2 cup or according to taste
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 6 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Nothing simpler than throwing a bunch of lettuce and herbs in a bowl and tossing to combine.  Add radishes, cheese, pine nuts.  Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Use according to taste.

*Salad bowl available at 1307 in downtown Chattanooga

Polenta with Mushroom Ragout

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These first few months of the year have been ones of rest.  A time to live simply and slowly.  The hint of looming deadlines can be seen in the horizon.  But thankfully they are still looming.  Pretty much I have two weeks until everything turns crazy.  I know in a month life will be full once again to the brim.  It amazes me though, how even in those times of busyness, I find time to do things that could be easily omitted for something of a more pressing nature and in times of rest and relaxation, I don’t find the time to do the things I love most.  Maybe it is that I make time to try to balance out everything else that seems to be whirling around me.  In the midst of stress and busyness is when I find the kitchen calling to me the strongest.  I look back at these past few months and realize I have not really cooked.  I have stepped back.  There have been no pressures, disappointments, or deadlines that cause me to hide from the world and do the one thing that is easy and makes sense and that I can control.  Cooking.

The Wynn Resort in Las Vegas recently teamed up chef Tal Ronnen in an effort to include vegan and vegetarian options for all of their restaurants.  Looking over the menus, I could not help but be drawn to their Polenta Mushroom Cake with a Lentil Ragout and Sweet Pea sauce.  My take on their dish (based on what was literally in the fridge at the time), Polenta with Mushroom Ragout and Sautéed Dandelion Greens.

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Polenta with Mushroom Ragout and Sautéed Dandelion Greens

Serves 2-4 (I think 3 is rather perfect)



  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 Tbs rosemary, chopped
  • salt


  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 lb mushrooms, your choice or a combination (shiitake, chanterelle, oyster), trimmed, cleaned and thickly sliced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • salt and pepper


  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens, lower stems removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil with a bay leaf.  Whisk in the polenta and stir for one minute.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and let cook.  Every ten minutes, stir.  Cook for roughly 40-45 minutes or until done.  Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaf.  Stir in the butter and chopped rosemary.  Serve immediately when finished cooking.  In the meantime, prepare the mushrooms and the greens.

Begin by bringing another pot of water to boil and blanch the greens.  Drain and rinse them in cold water so they stop cooking, gently squeezing out excess water.  Put aside for now and begin the mushrooms.

Melt the butter over med high and cook the shallots for a couple of minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Then add the mushrooms and cook until golden and beginning to soften, roughly 6 minutes.  Add the wine and thyme and simmer over med low for another 5 minutes or until the wine is cooked.  You don’t want it to over cook and be dry but most all of the liquid should be cooked out.  Season with salt and pepper.

And last heat the oil in another pan.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Then add the dandelion greens and cook until just wilted.  About 4 minutes.

Serve the polenta, add the greens, and top with mushrooms.  Enjoy!


Dairy Free Cinnamon Rolls

I have a weakness for cinnamon rolls. They are kind of up there with lattes and cake. Not quite there, but awfully darn close. Pretty much if a cinnamon roll comes through the door of our house, you better guard it, or it might disappear.

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I have had cinnamon rolls on my mind for weeks now. So, when I met a friend for coffee earlier this week and she brought a couple for me, I gave in. When it comes to baking, I usually wait until a craving hits and I stave it off for as long as possible before giving in.  But, I couldn’t resist any longer and had to try my hand experimenting.  Let me start by saying, I love butter and milk.  LOVE.  But of late, I have had so many friends with food intolerances that I have been trying to create recipes that avoid cow’s milk.

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These cinnamon rolls are hearty and gooey.  They fill you up but don’t sink you (unless you have more than one).  They are sweet, but not over the top.  (Which if you want them even less sweet, omit or reduce the amount of icing you use.)  One note of complete honesty though, I didn’t have enough powdered sugar on hand.   Had I had more, I definitely would have made the icing more of a cream and less of a glaze.  But, to each his own.  Whatever you prefer.  Add more powdered sugar until you have the consistency you want.  And honestly, if you want it stiffer, you can whip it with a beater rather than by hand and even add some melted coconut oil too.   Experiment. Come up with what you think tastes best; what you think makes the perfect cinnamon roll.

And the nice thing about cinnamon rolls, you can start them at night and have them ready to eat in the morning.


Coconut Milk Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12


  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 packet dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 6 cups spelt flour (you won’t quite use all 6 cups in the dough, reserve the remainder for the work surface)
  • 1/2 cup Teff flour (I love the slightly malty flour that Teff flour gives.  However, you can easily omit this if you don’t have it on hand.  It is not worth going out to just buy this.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbs honey


  • 3/4 cup sucanat
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt


  • 1 can coconut milk*
  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Begin by combining the yeast and honey in the warm water to proof.  Set aside for roughly 10 minutes until foamy.  Meanwhile, combine the flour (reserve one cup of the spelt flour) and salt in a large mixing bowl, whisking to combine.  Set aside

In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil over low heat.  Add the coconut milk and warm gently.  Add the honey and continue to heat gentle until warmed.  Remove from heat and add the yeast to the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.  Stir into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon.  Work the dough together, kneading in the reserved flour as needed until you have a manageable, soft dough that is no longer sticking.  You should still have about a 1/4 cup remaining.   Cover with a moist towel and let rise in a warm place for two hours.

Once the dough has had time to rise, sprinkle the remaining flour on your clean work surface and form into a rectangle, about a 1/2″ thick.

In a bowl, combine the sucanat, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt.  Spread the coconut butter evenly across the dough.  Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a slight border around the edges (1/2″ to 1″).  Now, here comes the really only slightly difficult part.  Gently, yet tightly, roll the dough into a log (rolling in from one of the long sides).  The dough will be soft so try to make sure to get as tight a roll as possible.  Now, seal the dough and place the seam side down.  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1″-1 1/2″ pieces.

Carefully place the rolls into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.  Some of the sucanat is sure to escape.  Don’t worry.  As you transfer the pieces to the baking dish, scoop up any lost sucanat and scatter along the bottom of the baking dish before placing the cinnamon roll.  This only helps the end result. You know the best part of a cinnamon roll?  The cinnamon that gets trapped on the bottom and caramelizes?  Yep…this just makes the bottoms even more gooey and caramelized.  Try to fit the cinnamon rolls as tightly together as possible so to help them maintain their shape while cooking.  You might have some space at the end of the baking dish, but don’t worry.  It will be fine.  If anything, you can cut the rolls at 1″ to try to get 15 instead of 12 and fill up the dish.

Now, cover with the towel and allow to rise for another hour.  At this point, I say put them in the fridge and go to bed and patiently wait until the morning.  Or if you are ready to bake them, go ahead.  If you put them in the fridge, make sure you allow them to come to room temperature before baking.

Heat oven while the rolls are rising or returning to room temperature to 350 degrees.  Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (checking after 20 minutes).  Bake until they are beginning to brown and color.  To test, tap them and make sure they feel set and cooked through.  But be mindful, they will still have some give and be soft.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

While the cinnamon rolls are cooling, make your icing.  Open the can of coconut milk and pour out the liquid, scraping the solids into a bowl.  So, some of you might be familiar with a little trick to aid in separating the solid from the liquid.  If you put your can of coconut milk in the fridge over night, it helps separate them.  If you don’t, it should not be an issue.  However, if your can is not separated, you are going to have to use cheesecloth and strain the liquid.  Here comes the decision part.  You can whip with a beater until light and fluffy and then slowly adding the sugar or you can simply whisk together the ingredients by hand for a glaze.

Frost the cinnamon rolls and enjoy!

Grapefruit + Yogurt Sorbet

Anyone living in Tennessee would agree that even though the calendar is telling us it is the middle of winter, nature is pretending it is spring. As I sit outside writing this, I am being serenaded by the sweet song of birds, with clothes drying on the line under the sun’s gentle gaze. The heat is off and if I didn’t know better I would think it was April. But, it is not. And we had all better take advantage and enjoy it while we can.  So, with that in mind, I made an iced dessert. These winter days can handle it.

I fell in love with grapefruit granita this past summer. However, grapefruit is at its prime in the winter.  But who feels like granita in the winter? Well, with weather like this, I do.  This isn’t a granita. It isn’t a sorbet (even though I have named it thus). Nor is it frozen yogurt truly. But it is the perfect, light after dinner treat.

Chobani has started a campaign encouraging people to share recipes using their yogurt.  I can’t help but appreciate the platform from which they create their yogurt.  They are committed to making yogurt without GMOs.  So committed that they require their suppliers to certify their ingredients are non-GMO.  And then the test them with a third party to make sure there has been no cross contamination.  They make sure to source their milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.  If you want to read more about their beliefs as a company, you can do so here.  And you’ll be impressed!

So, here is one of the million I experimented with over the last month.  It is super easy, quick, and relatively healthy.  No laboring in the kitchen (even though I don’t mind that idea at all) or feeling bad about what you are eating.  Plus, it is using the winter’s bounty.

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Grapefruit + Yogurt Sorbet

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cup fresh grapefruit juice (roughly 4-5 grapefruits)
  • 2 cup Chobani Greek plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbs rosemary, chopped finely

Begin by bringing the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and let the simple syrup cool.

Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until combined.  Transfer to a shallow freezer safe container.  After 30-45 minutes remove from freezer and stir.  Return to the freezer.  Continue to do this for 3-4 hours until set.  As you aren’t trying to achieve the silkiness of ice cream, you don’t need to stress about stirring vigorously to break down the ice crystals that are forming.  However, you do want to try to achieve a fine balance between an ice cream and a granita….hence the sorbet reference.  Once set, transfer the sorbet to a proper storage container until ready to serve.  (Just before frozen, otherwise it will be too difficult to transfer containers.)

Now enjoy!

Visit Chobani for other recipes using their yogurt.

Raw Brussels Sprout Salad

Thanksgiving.  I love the essence of the day.  Spending a day around a table feasting with those you hold most dear.  Celebrating the blessing of life and each other.  My favorite Thanksgivings are when the house is packed with people.  Old and new acquaintances.  Family and friends.  When hearts and bellies are equally full of joy, love, and food.

It is literally only a few days away.  And all I want are brussels sprouts.  We still haven’t finalized our menu, but one thing is for sure.  Brussels sprouts will be on it.  Usually I am the one to defend stuffing, mashed potatoes, and rolls and make sure they are represented Thanksgiving day. This year, although I still want those mashed potatoes, all I really want are brussels sprouts.  With all the other roasted vegetables that will be consumed on Thursday, a raw salad seems a necessity.

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Raw Brussels Sprout Salad:

  • roughly 30 Brussels sprouts (depending on size)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 6 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • sea salt to taste

Begin by toasting the pumpkin seeds in the oven, being careful not to burn them (or forget them).  While the pumpkin seeds are roasting, remove the outer leaves of the brussels sprouts and chop off and discard the stem.  Carefully slice the sprouts as thin as possible.  Add to a large bowl with the raisins and pumpkin seeds.

In a small bowl, add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine.  Season to taste and then pour over the salad ingredients and toss to coat evenly.  And enjoy!

(On a typical day, I love this as a side salad served along with roasted sweet potatoes.)

*And, if you want this to be truly raw, omit the Dijon and use raw pumpkin seeds rather than toasted.  Also, make sure you are using cold pressed olive oil and raw honey.

Holiday Hoopla Menu + Meatball Recipe

The Holiday Hoopla kick off party is the biggest night in all the year for Riverview.  And that means lots and lots of food, which means lots and lots of baking and making and cooking the day away in preparation.  We had so many people ask about the recipes, so I thought it would be easier to just post some of the recipes and links and acknowledgements.  There was no rhyme or reason for our menu.  Just trying to make enough good food to feed an army.  So, here are some of the things we served…

  • Sushi from Totto on the Northshore
  • Meatballs using Bella Cucina’s Savory Tomato Jam – recipe below
  • Spicy Glazed Pecans
  • Baked Brie with Apricot and Rosemary Chutney – Note: the chutney makes enough for two wrapped bries, so either plan on buying two rounds of cheese, or cut the chutney recipe in half.  1lb of Phyllo dough will be enough for two rounds of brie
  • Thumbprint Cookies from Federal Bake Shop
  • And lots more…

Meatballs in a Sweet Tomato Sauce

Makes about 50 meatballs

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c + 2 Tbs whole milk
  • handful of crackers (not an exact science, just enough to soak up the milk)
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 small onion, minced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 2 eggs, whisked lightly
  • 2 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • olive oil for frying

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
  • 1 jar of Bella Cucina’s Savory Tomato Jam (which we sell)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Begin by crushing crackers into a fine crumb.  Combine crackers and milk in a large bowl. Once the milk is soaked up, add the rest of the ingredients, minus the olive oil, and gently mix with your hands until combined.  Form into small balls (roughly the size of ping pong balls or about 1 1/2 inches) and line on baking dish.  Cover and chill for roughly one hour.  While the meatballs are chilling, begin the sauce.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until onion is softened, roughly 7-8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes, until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, jam, wine, and bay leaves, bringing to a simmer.  Cover and continue to simmer while continuing with the meatballs.
  3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Heat a large pan on medium high heat.  Add a light coating of olive oil to the pan.  Fry the meatballs, browning on all sides, roughly 8-10 minutes.  Do not crowd the pan.  Once browned on all sides, transfer to a clean rimmed baking pan or sheet.  Repeat with remaining meatballs.  It will take a couple of batches at least depending on the size of your burner and pan.  Once all the meatballs have been browned,  bake in oven  until cooked through, roughly 10 minutes.
  4. While the meatballs are in the oven, remove the sauce from the heat and take out the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree.  Once the meatballs are finished cooking, add to sauce and mix to coat.




Pantry Granola

I have been mulling over the thought of granola for days.  A silly thing to be thinking about really.  The notion to make some came into my head and it lingered, gently, until the urge really hit me.  Obviously I should have known it was going to.  I should have been better prepared.  I picked up some oats earlier in the day (just in case I needed them some time soon).  Oats are not something I typically pick up just in case.  Cheese, nuts, seeds, coconut, olives, lentils, chickpeas.  Those are the kinds of things I pick up just in case.

9 pm hit  and an hour drive from any sort of organic/natural grocery store (and I had already been to two earlier in the day).  But I was in the mood to forget the taxes that needed to be paid and my list of things that needed to be done that night and escape by cooking, baking, making…particularly granola. However, I did not have two of my favorite ingredients: hazelnuts and shaved coconut. Nor did I have nuts of any kind or any form of coconut for that matter.  Two essentials for granola in my opinion.  My pantry shelf is pretty much at its bare minimal.  Mostly spices and different forms of sugar.  And oils.  And vinegars.  But there was just enough.  Enough to mix together and make a rather good base.  Toasted coconut and nuts can always be added at a later time.  When actually using the granola to top fruit or yogurt or however I deem to eat it at that moment.

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This is an adaptation of an adaptation.   My go to granola was originally adapted from one of my good friend’s recipes and is an excellent base for whatever you would want to add.  Whatever flavors you prefer in your granola.  Hmm…if I had been thinking I might have tried throwing in some rosemary.  But I wasn’t thinking.  My brain was wanting something brainless.  Something that I did not have to concentrate on.  I didn’t want to think.  I just wanted to get lost in the making.  In the measuring and stirring and the ease of making something by rote memory.  I wasn’t wanting to create.  To experiment.  I wanted guaranteed success.  I wanted familiar.  Something I knew.

Since, I didn’t have my typical ingredients for granola, I used what I had.  What was in the pantry and the fridge.  Hazelnut flour to give the hardy flavor of nuts and add protein.  Coconut palm sugar to give a depth of flavor.  A malty caramel flavor, but not as deep as sucanat.  (Which apparently, coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index, which means it is metabolized slower.  It is an unrefined sugar and a good alternative for baking, using a 1:1 ratio instead of brown sugar.)  I used the last bit of flax seeds and chia seeds I had, so the 1/3 cup was really just because I did not have anything to put in their place. I would reduce their measurements to a couple tablespoons of each, if you add any other ingredients.  Add nuts, coconut, dried fruit, chocolate, seeds.  The possibilities are endless.  (I usually add a cup each depending on what it is and how many additional ingredients. But adjust accordingly.)

Pantry Granola

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1 cup hazelnut flour
  • 1/3 cup flax seed
  • 1/3 cup chia seed
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (+ a little extra for the baking sheet)
  • 2 Tbs whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly oil rimmed baking sheet.  Combine oats, flour, flax seed, chia seed, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in bowl.   Set aside.  In a small saucepan over low heat, stir honey, oil, milk, and vanilla until mixture fizzes and just begins to simmer.  Pour over oat mixture and coat well.   Spread out on baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned, stirring often.  Let cool on baking sheet on wire rack for 1 ½ hours undisturbed.  Break up and store.  (I like to keep it in the freezer.)  Makes a little over 4 cups.