Category Archives: sweets

A Tahini Chocolate Pie for Mikey

It seems that sometimes food bloggers can get a bad rap. Some people are quick to draw a line between real writer and blogger. And many people joke at the enormous number of folks who now own a web address and talk about the delicious nature of food. Which is pretty on point. Because really, who doesn’t own a food blog these days?

But over the past two years of being a part of this community, I have witnessed something extraordinary.

Whenever a disaster strikes, no matter where or to whom, this group of strangers, all connected by their love of making and sharing recipes, gathers together. They rally. They support. They fundraise. They bake sale. They give back, no questions asked and no thank yous necessary. And whether or not these people are real writers or even cooks, they are truly all generous.

Perhaps it is the nature of the subject.

Food is about gathering one’s community. And when you share food with others, you are telling them you care. And when you eat what you have been given, you are sending that love right back.

Food is about connecting. Food is comfort.

The first time I ever lost a loved one was when I had just turned thirteen and my grandmother passed suddenly of a heart attack. There are three parts of those first days of mourning that I remember most. I was at my friend’s bat mitzvah when my parents came to tell me the news. I saw my father cry for the first time. And a friend brought over fried chicken.

The chicken came in a picnic basket with a note. This was a special recipe, one that only appeared when someone was experiencing loss.

Without having to say anything, this fried chicken expressed all the condolences, hopeful thoughts, and juicy words of wisdom that anyone could impart. And that first night, we sat silently as a family, chewing through that basket. Left alone to simmer in our thoughts, yet constantly hugged by the warmth and care of others with every bite.

That’s how I get to this pie.

A few days ago a loved member of this food blog community suddenly lost her beloved. Out of no where. No explanation.

One day they were walking hand-in-hand. And the next, she was letting his go.

Tweets, facebook posts, comments, and other 14o words of support have been flooding the internet. Some people are close (both in proximity and in friendship) to Jennifer.  And others, like myself, have had mere exchanges online. But everyone has once again come to the rescue, pouring out affection and a desire to help in anyway they can. Heartbreaking and uplifting all in one breath.

In a moment of inspiring strength and clarity, Jennifer left the community a note on her blog.

For weeks, she says, she was planning to make her husband his favorite peanut butter pie. And every day she would promise herself that this day, she would finally sit down and make it…

And today, her one request is for everyone to make that peanut butter pie. To hug those you love. And to share it with those you hold dear.

So this is my pie. For you all, for Jennifer, and for Mikey.

This is my pie that helped me slow down and enjoy the traffic. To revel in the fact that I had a to-do list and that even if I didn’t cross off all the items, I enjoyed the ones I accomplished. A pie that I made with my mother. And a pie that I ate with friends I don’t see often enough, many of whom have also experienced untimely loss.

This is my pie that reminded me to live in the moment. To always tell people that you love them. To never go to bed mad. To not sweat the small stuff. And to replace stress with chocolate and whipped cream.

This is my pie that celebrates life. The flakey crust, the bittersweet chocolate, and the rich filling.

And this is just one pie out of the hundreds, maybe even thousands, that celebrates Jennifer and Mike.

So today, I implore everyone to be a food blogger, a real writer, a cook, and rescuer. To join this community at our big, ever welcoming virtual table. To cheers to Mikey and to appreciate eachother, one bite of pie at a time.

Chow on.

adapted from Jeniffer Perillo’s Peanut Butter Pie

….if you do make a pie, and you’re on Twitter, the hashtag is #apieformikey. If you tag your post with that, Jennie will able to find them all someday

Salt-Free, Nutty Chocolate Pie for Jennie and Mikey


  • 1 1/4 cup ground matzo crackers or matzo meal (about 5 large crackers)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 5 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 4 ounces chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz plan Greek (FAGE) yogurt
  • 1 cup tahini butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Place the matzo crackers, brown sugar, and chilled butter cubes in a food processor and pulse until it forms fine crumbs. Add the cold water (1 tablespoon at a time) until the crumbs come together to make a dough. Then press the mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a microwave. And then pour it into the bottom of your matzo cracker crust, spreading to the edge with a spatula. Place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a small bowl and store in the fridge. Place the yogurt and tahini buter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until it gets light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
4. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the tahini filling mixture and then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the springform pan (over that melted and now hardened chocolate). Drizzle more chocolate on top or use a microplane to grate chocolate dust over the pie.
5. Keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving or place in the freezer 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat to make sure the filling is firm. Eat with loved ones and enjoy.
and for more amazing pies and people, check Food Network’s FN DISH blog for the ever growing list


Filed under recipe box, sweets

Crispy Rice and Green Tea Pops

A few things happened this past month. I rediscovered root beer (hello, Hansens) which led me to rediscover ice cream (thank you, So Delicious). Which ultimately brought me to today’s post. And these crispy rice and green tea pops.

You see, when foods – that you thought were permanently off your safe-eating list – make a grand re-entrance, the possibilities suddenly feel endless. And when one salty-barrier is broken down, I generally experience a flooding of new ideas.

Edamame pate. “Shrimp” and grits. Dolmas. There have been so many new projects filling my brain that it was hard to focus. Until the idea of a homemade, low-sodium “mochi”-ish treat hit me.

The traditional dessert’s doughy coating and luscious dairy makes a delicate purse of delicious. And while a lot of store-bought versions can be low in sodium, I just thought this idea would be a great excuse to play with my food and come up with something new. A version of my own. Less doughy covering. More crisp.

And the next thing you know, I’m crumbling a salt-free rice cracker into a bowl, scooping out a spoonful of coconut-based green tea ice cream, rolling it in the rice crumbs, and forming a little pop with my hands.

Yes, you will get your fingers dirty. Yes, it’s ok to lick them clean. And yes, it is totally worth it.

And there you have it friends. A new way to ice cream. Fun and whimsical and a total surprise to the palate.

You can make these right before serving them. And your guests of any age will love the sweet taste and crunchy texture of the rice with the more savory (and still sweet) green tea. It is playful (you did what with your hands?) and impressive (you did what with rice cakes?). And it could be a fun project to take on with some little culinary munchkins.

Or you know, just by yourself at 11 am on a Friday.

Pop on.

1 Comment

Filed under quick fix, recipe box, sweets, Uncategorized

How to Float

It’s finally summer. Really. I swear.

The sun has been shining for at least a few days in a row and I even got burned (burned I tell you!) just by sitting outside for more than an hour. And I didn’t mind one bit. Cause summer is finally here.

Which brings up thoughts of pools and floaties and root beer floats. Which suddenly reminded me of an old friend: Hanson’s Natural Soda.

Now I can’t believe it has taken me this long to write about Hanson’s, which has been making sodium-free pop since long before low-sodium food was hip.

I grew up drinking Hanson’s. Gallons of it.

My grandparents had an extra fridge in their garage which, it seems looking back, was kept plugged in with the sole purpose of chilling a million Hanson’s sodas. There was a rainbow of flavor choices, from cream soda, kiwi strawberry, mandarin lime, and root beer. And because they were “natural,” I thought drinking these was akin to eating my broccoli.

Now if you haven’t turned a can of root beer around lately, let me warn you that it is usually high in sodium. Higher than other big favorites like Coca-Cola and 7-up. So I usually skip the stuff.

But Hanson’s has nada. Which means it is perfect for us low-sodium sippers and even better for a big scoop of sodium-free ice cream.

And with 4th of July around the corner, it seems like the perfect time to get to know your new best friend, Hanson. Pick up some cans  and some carton’s of Coconut Bliss ice cream, and get fizzing. Or jazz it up the traditional combo with some mandarin lime and sodium-free sorbet. With this line of soda, you can make any fountain dream come true.

Float on.


Filed under quick fix, recipe box, sweets

Pomegranate Molasses Granola Bars, Sort Of

I’ve always been pretty good at making up my own rules.

When my grandparents babysat me, I convinced them that we always ate cookies before dinner. It helped prep the stomach for the nutrients to come. When it rained, I never wore shoes. What’s the point? My feet were going to get wet anyways. And in college, I pretty much majored in the art of rule making. They called it Creative Writing.

From early on, I gave myself license to do what I wanted. Which, turns out, is a very important life skill. Because the truth is, most of the time, things don’t often go quite like you’ve planned. That’s not to say that things won’t eventually work out. They always work out. But just when you think you’ve built a straight and narrow path from point A to point B, something’s bound to gently nudge you off the road and force you to re-imagine your route to that final destination.

Which, yesterday, was a pan of granola bars.

I began my Thursday with the intention of creating a chewy, low sodium, salt-free granola bar that I could munch on for breakfast, during a bike ride, or while hiking in the hills.

I had grand plans for this granola bar. I was going to take oats, chopped dates, apricots, and cranberries and mix them with honey, brown sugar, and pomegranate molasses to make a treat that was full of sugary calories, but not too sweet to eat. I mixed, I melted, I baked, and I waited. These granola bars were going to be great.

And then, from the oven they came. A golden brown block of granola. That, much like my achey body on some mornings, refused to budge from its baking bed.

I knew that as soon as I tried to remove the granola, it was going to crumble and fall apart. Dreams of a perfectly rectangular piece of granola were shattered.

And as I stared at my brick of toasted fruit oats, I knew I had two choices: give up and crumble apart myself, or, come up with a new plan. Redefine the path from A to B. Reinvent the rules. And decide that this recipe was never meant to be for granola bars. This was for making granola bites.

If you live with a chronic illness or any kind of health limitations, this is the same choice you are faced with everyday. You wake up each morning with your grand plans and then, something – whether it is a doctor appointment, the need to find a low sodium snack in a salty world, or the fact that your joints just won’t move like you want them to – will cause those plans to get derailed.

But like my granola, you have a choice. You can either view the disruptions as impermeable road blocks. Or you can simply go build a ladder out of wood or marshmallows (remember, you make the rules) and climb right over them.

Sure, there are plenty of times I’m faced with moments where I can’t do things like I want to. But it doesn’t mean I can’t come up with a different solution that gets me to the same end goal.

So go ahead, find control in making up your own rules and in making some granola this weekend. Feel free to not follow my directions. Maybe your version will even successfully come out of the pan.

Happy weekend. Chow on.


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup diced powdered dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice and zest from entire orange

Preheat oven to 350 dg F.

Place your oats in a baking pan and toast in the oven until they turn lightly golden and begin to smell oaty, 10-12 minutes. Take out of the oven and place in a large mixing bowl.

While your oats toast, chop your dried apricots and dates, either with a knife or a quick pulse in the food processor. Add them and the cranberries to the mixing bowl with the oats.

Lower oven to 300 dg F and cover an 8×12 inch baking pan with parchment paper (or grease well with unsalted butter).

Then, in a small pot, melt the butter and allow it to brown and smell nutty, 5 minutes. Add the sugar, honey, molasses, orange juice and zest, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes and then pour immediately into your mixing bowl. Stir the contents until well combined and pour onto your parchment covered baking pan.

Place pan into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The granola will be a darker brown when it is done and it will still be soft when you take it out. Allow to cool and harden at least 1 hour before cutting. Whether it comes out in squares or chunks, it will be delicious.


Filed under breakfast, good living, recipe box, sweets, tips & tricks

Passover Pie

Apologies for the whisper. I’ve lost my voice to a nasty head and chest cold. I’ll do my very best to annunciate and hopefully you can still hear me.

But definitely do not worry about me, because I’m going to be fine in no time. Because tonight is Passover dinner with the family. And Passover dinner means matzo ball soup. Which is Yiddish for magic whisper-voice potion.

And here’s another wonderful thing about Passover – it is filled with a lot of flavorful and useful sodium-free ingredients. Like horesradish, parsley, and of course, matzo.

For a few years now, I’ve been using matzo to replace saltier bread crumb mixes in savory dishes. Like my matzo ball meatballs, sausage pepper poppers, and the famous birthday beefcake muffins.

But sweet dishes. Why, I have never dared.

Until yesterday.

Thinking of both Passover and key lime pie, I naturally began to wonder, could this low sodium, unleavened cracker successfully replace a higher sodium graham cracker crust?

Well, if Moses could part the Red Sea than I could certainly give this a try.

And here’s the best news. It worked. It totally, deliciously, crunchy sweetly crackly worked. It was a Passover miracle.

I chose to fill my crust with a standard lemon chiffon.

But with this graham cracker-like crust, you could go multiple pie directions.

My friend made a key lime pie. A S’more version, with a chocolate filling and marshmallow or meringue topping, would be bonkers. And you could even skip the pie altogether and simply use the batter to make sodium-free graham cracker cookies instead.

The possibilities are now endless.

So as a Passover surprise, here is the recipe for a low sodium Matzo Cracker crust.

Thou shalt eat pie.

Chow on.


  • 1 1/4 cup ground matzo crackers or matzo meal (about 5 large crackers)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 5 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 2 teaspoons orange marmalade

Preheat your oven to 325 dg F.
In a food processor, add the ground matzo crackers (or if they are still in cracker form, this is a good time to pulse them to a fine breadcrumb), the brown sugar, and the butter. Pulse until the butter chunks disappear into the matzo cracker crumbs.
Then, one tablespoon at a time, add the water to the mixture as you continue to mix the dough. It will start to stick together. Add the orange marmalade and continue to mix. The dough will eventually form a ball – this is a good sign that it is ready.
Remove the dough from the food processor and cover in plastic wrap. Place into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Just a like a graham cracker crust, this dough requires no rolling. So when you’re ready to get your pie on, simply put 2/3 of the dough into your pie pan. Then, using your hands and fingertips, begin to spread the dough evenly throughout the pan, pushing from the center outwards. Add the remaining dough as necessary to form a 1/2-inch thick crust throughout the pie pan. Gorgeous.
Place the pie crust into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. The dough will still be slightly soft to the touch when you remove it from the oven, but it will harden as it cools. Wait at least 20 minutes before filling with your chosen pie custard.


Filed under recipe box, sweets

Smooth Moves

I’d like to begin by thanking Gale Gand – acclaimed pastry chef (you may have seen her as a guest judge on Top Chef Desserts) and host of the once-on-air show, Sweet Dreams.

It was the summer before college, I was wrapped up in a blanket at an unreasonably early time of day, flipping through the infomercials and other A.M. television fodder, when I happened upon Gale, her adorable brunette bob, and an incredible milk shake recipe.

Frothy, light, and luscious, the milk-based treat was irresistible. But this is far from the end of the story. Because there wasn’t a scoop of ice cream to be found in that glass. No, not even a drip.

Gale had used frozen green apples as the base of the shake and with a cup of milk and a drizzle of vanilla, she turned the doctor’s nemesis into a fountain shop dream.

Inspired? You bet.

It was the perfect example of culinary trickery and it proved that, when you pair unexpected ingredients with a traditional recipe, it gets elevated to new levels of awesome.

So that brings us to the creamy concoction you see below.

Want to know what’s in it? Here’s a hint: there isn’t a drop of dairy, only one fruit, and a vegetable. Yes, a vegetable. And it still tasted like a vanilla smoothie shake.

As a result of getting obsessed with juicing – I’m not talking about steroids, but my new compact Breville magic machine – I’ve begun blending leftover vegetables when an extractor cannot be found. I find it to be a great way to give my bod the nutrients it needs and to experiment with unexpected food combinations as well.

So when I found myself with half of a yellow squash to enjoy, instead of throwing it in a frittata or a bowl of pasta, I threw it in a blender with a banana, a squeeze of orange juice, 1/4 cup of coconut milk, and a drizzle of vanilla (in honor of Ms. Gand).

That was it. A perfect way to start the morning or cure that afternoon snack attack. It will satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt of eating an entire bag of skittles by yourself before 9am. Not that I did that yesterday. And just imagine serving these sunrise stunners to a table of brunch guests, only revealing the true ingredients once the glasses had been slurped dry.

Impressed? You bet.

Blend on.

Leave a comment

Filed under brunch, quick fix, recipe box, sweets, tips & tricks

Oscar Worthy Apps

So the Academy snubbed you out of an Oscar nod. Again.

And apparently Wolfgang Puck is busy on Sunday evening. Already.

That leaves you, your gaggle of pals, and your own creativity to turn this weekend into an award winning celebration – with or without Hollywood’s help.

If you plan on hosting an Oscar Watching Party, there’s no need to go into a Black Swan panic. The recipes below will surely turn you and your treats into the stars of the evening – watch out Anette Benning. And between the top-shelf snacks and your expert analysis of this year’s fashion (or missed-fashion) trends, James Franco is going to wish he had given you his plus one.

But silver screen hunks aside, what makes this list of recipes so darn studly is that each one is ridiculously simple to put together. So go ahead, judge these books by their covers. We all know that in Hollywood, looks count. A lot. And these dishes have got them.

But beneath their beautiful exterior, the real surprise is that they are also packed with a lot of sodium-free flavor. Like an unexpectedly intelligent movie or actress – like Hot Tub Time Machine or Natalie Portman. I’m joking about Hot Tub Time Machine, it is as bad as it sounds. But I hear that Ms. Portman is actually quite smart. But now we are just getting sidetracked.

The first recipe (a new one!) is all about natural flavor. No Botox, no facelifts, no salting necessary. It is a simple Beet and Avocado Carpaccio that can be expertly stacked with the top of a food processor and a spoon. No special tools necessary. Take that, Wolfgang.

Makes 4-6 servings


  • 2 red or yellow beets, ends cut off (64 mg of sodium for 1 large beet)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime


1. Preheat oven to 375 dg F.

2. Wrap each beet individually in tin foil. Place in oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until slightly soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can comfortably touch the foil, 5 minutes. With the beets still wrapped, use the foil to rub off the outer layer of skin. Place “peeled” beets aside to cool and rinse off foil to save or recycle.

3. While beets cool, cut avocado in half and remove seed and skin. Dice the avocado into small cubes and divide into 4 to 6 piles, depending on how many carpaccio towers you want to create. Divide each pile in half.

4. When they are cool, dice the beets into cubes that are the same size as the avocado. Then, divide them into piles that match the avocado piles. You may have some beets left over so you should eat them. You deserve it.

5. Place the top of the food processor on a cookie sheet or a serving platter. Using a spoon, carefully fill it with one pile of avocado bits. Press down lightly with the bottom of the spoon. Then, layer a pile of beets on top of the avocado, pressing down lightly again. Finally, add a second pile of avocado on top of the beets, pressing down with the spoon as you gently pull up off the food processor top. Ta da. You have a beet carpaccio tower. Repeat until you have made all the towers and if you built them on a cookie sheet, use a spatula to carefully transfer them to a serving dish.

6. Grate some lime zest over the towers and squeeze a bit of the juice on top for added brightness. Serve with salt-free chips or a lightly oiled rocket/arugula salad.

Now that you have mastered that recipe, round out the menu with the following crowd pleasers:

Kalua Pork Lettuce Wraps

Babaganoush Bites

Yuba Rolls

and to finish, Lemon Meringue Pots

So roll out the red carpet and start prepping for an evening of good water cooler fodder and truly satisfying low sodium treats.

Be sure to thank the Academy and your parents, and chow on.


Filed under cooking, quick fix, recipe box, sweets, tips & tricks

Love Your Heart Recipe Rally

I had a dream.

I know. I’m one national holiday too late. But still, I had a dream.

And no, it wasn’t the one where I was flying over buildings or showing up late to school without my pants. Or flying pant-less over buildings to make it to school on time. That would be absurd.

This was a real life dream and something that could impact more than just me and my personal well-being. This was something that had the potential to change people’s approach to food. To health. To life. This was a dream about making bagels, pizza, and bacon wrapped scallops, without the salt. And then encouraging other people to do it too.

Then I woke up, and two weeks ago, I sent out a challenge, a few tweets, and a handful of emails, asking a group of bloggers to do just that – cook a single recipe with little to no sodium.

I asked them to do this because, during this month of February, we are currently celebrating Heart Health month, Valentine’s Day, and the release of the USDA’s new food regulations (which now say that 50% of Americans need to eat 1,500mg of sodium or less a day – about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt).

With all of that going on, I thought we needed to have a cyber party. With lots of food and maybe some festive hats.

And fifteen people responded – enthusiastically – even though none of them have dietary restrictions.

And trust me, none of them took the challenge lightly. To stick to the low so guidelines, they could have simply baked chicken without any salt or blended tomatoes together and called it soup. But instead, because they are all culinary rockstars, they picked recipes that were highly dependent on soy sauce, cheeses, broths, and breads. All ingredients that are high in sodium.

They asked questions; they shared their discoveries (really? there’s sodium in milk!); they began to notice how high sodium is in both packaged and natural ingredients; they found great solutions by thinking beyond the Morton’s box; they withstood ridicule from their wives (sorry Oui, Chef!); they made multiple attempts until things tasted just right; and I think it is fair to say that they even surprised themselves with the salt-free results. I know I’m beyond impressed.

In the end, they created sixteen incredible low sodium dishes for you, me, and America to enjoy.

But beyond the gusto and total generosity they gave to this project, they also proved that, as food-loving, salt-enjoying eaters, low sodium, making satisfying versions of their favorite foods was not only possible, but exciting.

And while I could talk about these bloggers until the end of the day, I think it is time that you leave this page and check out their masterful work. So, without much further ado, let me present to you the first ever Love Your Heart Recipe Rally. There is plenty of good reading and eating to last you through the long weekend.

Hogwash: Curried Cumin Crackers

Taste Food: Red Hot Low Sodium Chicken Wings

Oui, Chef: Curried Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Maple-Ginger Sweet Potatoes and apples

Allison Fishman: Jersey Za’

Farm & A Frying Pan: Low So Sloppy Joe and Chocolate Bark

Mrs. Wheelbarrow: Broccoli and Potatoes, Indian Style

Haute Apple Pie: Heart Healthy Beef and Broccoli

Gina’s Skinny Recipes: Baked Seasoned Fries with Skinny Garlic Aoli

Couldn’t Be Parve: Love Your Heart Chocolate Pudding Recovery Water and Power Bar

Shared Bites: Spicy Polenta Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Dip

The Sustainable Palate: Low Sodium, Big Flavor French Onion Soup

Gotham Skinny: Pistachio And Cardamom Cookies

SF Tao of Pao: Mapo Tofu

The Internat (happy birthday!): Granola

Thank you again to our unbelievable low sodium superheroes who went beyond the call of duty (and who, I hope, are all wearing pants). I know that these recipes – and each cook’s own journey – will inspire you and your loved ones to cook food that will feed and fuel your body. And I also hope they inspire you to experiment and innovate on your own as well.

Even with a low sodium diet, there’s nothing you cannot make. It may taste a little different, it may look a little different, but the creativity you will bring to the table will surely please the eye, stomach, kidney, and heart.

And as for my contribution (this is my party and I can cook if I want to), check out the recipe for “Fake’in Wrapped Scall-Nots” below.

Click, read, and chow on.


  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced length-wise with a mandoline
  • Bowl of ice cold water
  • 2 halibut filets (serves 4 guests, 3 “scallops” each)
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


1. Mix the curry and brown sugar together in a wide bowl. In a separate bowl, do the same with the cumin and smoked paprika.

2. Bring a small pot of water to boil and quickly blanche the zucchini ribbons, 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove from pot and dunk them into the cold water bath, 3-4 minutes. Remove from water and tap to shake off extra liquid. Roll the zucchini ribbons in the cumin/paprika bowl until well covered. Set aside.

3. Using a tablespoon scoop, press down lightly on the halibut filet (start in the corner, like cutting cookies from dough). Trace the shape with a knife to cut out scallop-like rounds. Repeat until you’ve created 3 scallops per guest.

4. Dredge the halibut rounds in the curry/brown sugar mixture. Make sure both sides are covered.

5. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into three equal ribbons – the width should be about the height of the halibut scallop. Repeat until you have enough ribbons for each piece of fish.

6. Wrap the zucchini ribbon around the halibut and secure with a toothpick. Repeat until all the halibut scallops are wrapped.

7. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high flame. Add the halibut rounds to the pan in a single layer and cook, 5-8 minutes per side or until halibut has a golden sear. Remove halibut and set aside.

8. Just before serving, place all the halibut scallops on a cookie sheet and cook in your oven’s broiler (on low) for 3- 5 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and immediately serve over something luscious, like white wine cream sauce, or something super healthy, like a vibrant pea puree. Enjoy.


Filed under breakfast, brunch, dinner, improbable eats, lunch, quick fix, recipe box, sweets

Cute As A Cupcake

Last Friday, as soon as 5:00pm hit the clock, it was clearly the hour for happy hour. I rushed home, curled my hair, curled my lashes, and put on that favorite pair of jeans (not to be outdone by the high-heeled boots). TGIFriday had barely commenced, and I was already out on the town, painting it red. Or green. Or whatever color means that you are taking this city by storm and no one can stop you.

Which would be great if any part of that was true. Because by 5:00pm on Friday, I was actually stuck in traffic after a long day of doctor appointments, wearing the same sweatpants that I had already “donned” a few days that week, with hair that may or may not have been brushed (I’m gonna go with not), flowing in a tornado of frizz behind me.

And when I actually got home and attempted to put myself together, which consisted of brushing my teeth with that last squeeze of toothpaste that I had to really work for, I didn’t actually paint the town anything. But instead, I spent my evening frosting cupcakes with my dear friend, making three dozen Dora the Explorer look-alikes for her niece’s 3rd birthday party.

Yeah, that was my Friday. And I don’t feel bad about it one bit. Not one speck of edible glitter. Because while going out was/is/can be super fun, so is sitting in your sweatpants and licking frosting from a spoon with a real pal who doesn’t care that you smell just a little bit.

With that, I give you a recipe for sodium-free chocolate cupcakes that was created for me, by my darling little sister-in-law, who still has years of curled hair and hot pants ahead of her. So while she’s out doing her thing, I’ll just sit back on my couch, catch up on the last few episodes of Glee, and enjoy a few of these.

Chow on.

makes 12


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder (sodium-free brand)
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper or foil cupcake liners.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt-free baking powder.

3. Place the chocolate and butter in a large, heatproof bowl and put over a pot of simmer water (this is your double boiler). Stir frequently until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl and let it cool to room temperature, 10-15 minutes.

4. Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, and then mix in the vanilla.

5. Gently fold the flour mixture into your chocolate, sugar, egg mixture until no traces of flour remain. Do not overmix.

6. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners until each is 3/4 full.

7. Put into oven and bake until you can insert a toothpick into the center of the cupcake and it comes out clean, with only a few crumbs attached, 20-25 minutes.

8. Allow the cupcakes to completely cool on a wire rack, 1 hour, and then garnish with salt-free buttercream frosting or powdered sugar.



Filed under sweets

Big Love, Big News, Big Treats

Love food. Love others. But most of all, love yourself.

That’s the message of today’s post and my attempt to tie three big topics together under one little photo of a chocolate covered quinoa treat.

To begin, I wanted to give a quick update about next week’s “Love Your Heart Recipe Rally.”


Yes, the whole idea was a bit last minute, but amazingly, in just a few days, some wonderful bloggers – none of whom have any low sodium dietary restrictions – have joined the Rally and have agreed to take on the challenge of cooking food with little to no salt.

Kind of heart warming, don’t you think?

Currently, the star-studded blog roll includes:

Farm & A Frying Pan

SF Tao of Pao

Jess Thomson

Allison Fishman

Taste Food

Oui, Chef

Mrs. Wheelbarrow

Haute Apple Pie

Gina’s Skinny Recipes (the winner of the Homie awards!)

Couldn’t Be Parve

Exercise for Everyday

Shared Bites

The Sustainable Palate

And hopefully, by next Friday, we will grab a few more participants to really blow this event out of the water.

But beyond the unexpected and enthusiastic replies, the thing that has been most exciting is talking with people who have never cooked low sodium food before. I have been cooking without salt for so long that I have, in many ways, forgotten how overwhelming it can seem. I mean, for those who have earned their culinary degrees by watching food shows or reading cookbooks, making a meal without salt seems absolutely preposterous! And boring.

Yet, the absolute opposite is true. By removing the salt, you are forced to be creative, original, and innovative. You are forced to be a great cook. You are forced to become a force to be reckoned with. And isn’t that the point of cooking and eating? To take the classics and riff and raff until you’ve made it your own? To surprise your palate with combinations you never expected? Isn’t that why we love shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef and Salt-Free Chef. Oh wait, that last one isn’t a show. Yet.


The point is that yes, we love cooking because it is an outlet for creativity. And while we patiently wait for a low sodium cooking show to be broadcast on national television, we’ll just have to settle for the good word to spread in print and on the interweb. And this week, I’m excited to announce that Ladies Home Journal gave me the opportunity to promote my low sodium philosophy.

You see, I recently realized that cooking without salt is very similar to playing (and dominating) a game of charades and I wrote about this little metaphor, as well as my own cooking metamorphosis, on the Ladies Home Journal Ladie’s Lounge Blog. So if you want to know what silently impersonating Oprah has to do with making a low sodium sloppy joe, then check out this link. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to put on your apron, or at least host a game night for your friends. Either way, it’s a win-win situation

It is just a friendly reminder to approach your diet less as a restriction and more as an opportunity to do something whimsical, different, and delicious. Like covering quinoa with chocolate. And that brings us to our third and final topic of the day. These crazy Quinoa Cocoa Bites.


I have been craving the crispy rice pop of Nestlé Crunch candy bars and in a search for a low sodium alternative, I happened upon these quinoa chocolate bars from Alter Eco. I also happened to have a few Alter Eco Chocolate Orange bars of my own as well as a fresh bag of quinoa. And suddenly, one plus one equaled a dessert that was completely guilt-free, dreamy, and as simple as making a box of Sara Lee brownies.

With that, happy almost Valentine’s Day, which in my mind is less about fancy pants reservations at a decadent restaurant and more about filling your stomach and life with the people and food that make you feel really good. But I’ll take that fancy pants reservation too, if you’re offering, that is.

Chow on.


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 chocolate bars (preferably with orange flavor)


1. Put quinoa and 3/4 cups of water into a pot and bring to a boil. Then, lower heat so water is gently simmering and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover. Stir the quinoa and add a pinch more water if any of the grains are stuck to the bottom. Quinoa should be cooked but crunchy. Set the pot aside.

2. Turn the oven broiler on low. Spread quinoa on a cookie sheet and put into oven. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until quinoa is crispy.

3. In a double boiler (or a microwave), melt the two bars of chocolate. Stir constantly to make sure that the chocolate doesn’t burn.

4. Meanwhile, set up your treat-making station. Silicone cupcake cups or little bowls are easiest to use. In each, mix a tablespoon of quinoa and two tablespoons of chocolate in the cup. I used a chopstick to do the stirring. And make sure the chocolate is spread throughout. You want the quinoa to be covered on all sides. Then, put the cups or bowls in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

5. When ready to eat, pry the treats out of the cups or bowls and serve immediately so they melt in your mouth and not on your carpet.


Filed under quick fix, sweets