The winter season is, at its heart, about hospitality. We open up our homes and invite others to step inside and take the chill off, join us for a full-blown holiday party, an informal gathering of friends, a family dinner. Slightly decadent foods that are bursting with flavor (butter, sugar, nuts, are the siren song of my holiday season) are mandatory, both for that convivial feeling and to stave off the cold.

I made this saffron-infused rice dish for an imagined New Year's Eve gathering (as part of a styled shoot that I'll reveal here on the blog soon!) inspired by jewel tones and rich flavors. Though it's based on a traditional Persian dish called 'jeweled rice', I'll be the first one to admit that my technique is less than traditional in approach, leaning heavily on ad-libbing and 'things I like' vs. 'the way it's done.' I didn't use dried barberries, for example, a common-enough Middle Eastern ingredient that's less common and harder to find here. I like the ruby glow of pomegranate seeds in this dish so much better, and the satisfyingly juicy, caviar-like pop as each one yields between your teeth in the middle of a warm bite of rice. I didn't use the required amount of sugar (most recipes call for the carrots and orange zest to be candied in syrup before mixing in, which frankly, is just way too much sweetness for me). And my largest crime against tradition? I didn't go for the extra step at the end and allow the rice to steam in a heavy-bottomed pot until browned and crispy on the bottom. This delicacy, known as


, is unbelievably delicious to anyone who loves browned crispy things (which at last count was, like, 100% of the population) and.........I have never once been able to make it properly. If anyone wants to help me complete my rice education,

teach me this!

I'm in your hands.

Still, I'm pretty satisfied with the way this streamlined version of an elegant dish turned out in my kitchen. Rich & fragrant, it't the perfect opportunity to be a little extravagant and use slightly spendy ingredients like saffron and pistachios, plus plenty of butter because.......winter. The sweetness of dried fruit and carrots contrasts so nicely with the tartness of orange juice and zest, and the earthy quality of saffron ties it all together. Celebrate the dead of winter with pops of the brightest colors imaginable on your shared table, a winter sun to light the path into the new year!

Saffron Jeweled Rice

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 cup diced yellow or white onion

1 cup grated carrot

2 tablespoons orange zest

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup diced dried apricots

1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachios

2 cups long grain rice (Basmati is preferable)

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

salt & pepper, to taste

Heat orange juice just until warm to the touch, add saffron and let infuse.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until just softened, then add grated carrot and continue to cook while stirring for about 3 more minutes. Add saffron liquid, orange zest, spices, apricots, pistachios, and remaining butter. Stir until butter has melted and spices are fragrant, then remove from heat and set aside.

Rinse the rice in a few changes of cold water, until the water that runs off is clear. Drain and set aside. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the rinsed rice and boil until grains are tender, then drain well in a colander and return to pot while still hot.

Gently re-warm the saffron butter mixture if it has cooled, then drizzle over cooked rice and stir until fully combined. Place a lid on the pot and let everything steam in the residual heat for five minutes.

Fold in pomegranate seeds, then serve. A wide platter is great for presentation, or a pretty bowl in a contrasting color. For our New Year's Eve styled shoot, we actually served this as an appetizer, spooned into the crunchy 'cups' of pale green endive leaves. More on that coming soon!


And I just can't wait until next Halloween

'Cause I've got some new ideas that will really make them scream

And by God, I'm really gonna give it all my might!

- Jack 'The Pumpkin King' Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas

I didn't realize it until it was too late this year, but when we chose this house we moved into one of 'those' neighborhoods: Halloweentown. As the first day of October flipped over on our collective calendars, the decorations began to creep out of storage. A black cat here, a twiggy broom there....then suddenly in the last few weeks there was an onslaught of fake cobwebs, giant lawn inflatables, spooky lights and severed heads and all things ghoulish. One house a block away hosted a full-on haunted house, complete with tombstone-strewn front lawn and sound effects. For a neighborhood that had seemed outwardly a bit conservative, it was a real pleasure to discover that my neighbors were.......basically, kind of secret freaks, after all. It was weirdly comforting.

Of course, as I mentioned, we realized it too late this year. Too busy with home renovations, with work, with general life things. No decorations, not even any costumes for us. But next year.....oh my goodness, the thought of next year has me cackling and rubbing my hands with cartoonish glee. And like the Pumpkin King, I've got big plans.

This year, we'll be dining on Halloween candy and I'll be dreaming of these individual stuffed pumpkins I made not long ago. Pumpkin season continues even after the cobwebs have been swept away, so make sure to take advantage of this recipe while you can. It's something of a relative to Dorie Greenspan's famous

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

recipe, and is basically one of my favorite savory bread pudding recipes stuffed into a pumpkin--the most wonderful, roastable bowl that you can eat afterwards!

Petite Stuffed Pumpkins

3 cups cubed bread (day-old, slightly stale bread is great if you have it)

2/3 cup milk

3 small pumpkins

1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage

1/2 cup diced onion

1 cup sliced crimini or button mushrooms

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup grated parmesan

3 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

salt & pepper

In a large mixing bowl, place bread cubes and pour milk over them, set aside. Cut 'lids' into each pumpkin as you would for a jack o'lantern, with a sharp knife. A note on 'small' pumpkins: size is approximate, I had one Sugar Pie pumpkin and two smaller Sweet Dumpling pumpkins (winter squash have

the cutest

produce names


). Scoop out seeds and other stringy bits, discard or set aside for roasting.

Preheat oven to 350, get out a roasting pan that can hold all three pumpkins at once. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, saute Italian sausage until about halfway cooked through, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go. Add mushrooms, saute until browned, stirring occasionally. Add onion and celery, cooking for several minutes until both are softened and translucent. Transfer mixture mixing bowl with bread and milk, toss to combine. Add parmesan, fresh thyme, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly, stuff into pumpkins and place pumpkin caps on top. Roast at 350 for 20 minutes, remove caps and bake for 10 more minutes--at this point they should smell heavenly and be nicely browned on top. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes, then serve while warm.

You can scoop everything out beforehand and serve it that way, but I'm a fan of serving each person their own personal pumpkin. Make sure to scrape the insides of the pumpkin itself while eating from this 'bowl' to get a little of the sweet, creamy pumpkin mixed with the savory stuffing.


I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?

--Anne Shirley, in

Anne of Green Gables

by L.M. Montgomery

Fall is here.....or is it quite yet? October in the desert is always an exercise in waiting, in longing. Staring intently at photos of everyone else enjoying crisp mornings, cozy flannel, freshly picked apples and woodsmoke and steaming lattes (you know the Three-Letter Seasonal Beverage of which I speak) gets a little disorienting when the weather is determined to hang onto endless summer. A tempting breeze ruffles the leaves just outside my window, the light is all golden-tinged and wonderful....but I am not tempted at all. It's one hundred degrees and it's mid-October and I just plain have summer fatigue. Better to stay indoors, gazing adoringly at photos of pumpkins and woodpiles instead, dreaming of November.

We may not be ready for boots and hot apple cider just yet--if ever!--here in the Southwest, but we


have our pumpkin spice if I have anything to say about it. Just like last year, I'm

not exactly feeling

that Three-Letter Seasonal Beverage, but I do think the combination of pumpkin and something spicy is a winner. These Pumpkin + Chorizo Empanadas are like perfect little parcels of fall flavor (unladylike admission, you guys? I absolutely love anything that can be picked up and eaten out of hand in a few bites), and they're full of rich, wonderful pumpkin filling with just a hint of smokiness that makes me think of cooler days ahead. Pair this with an earthy, autumnal kale & apple salad in white miso-apple cider vinaigrette (more on that later), and November may as well be here already.

Pumpkin + Chorizo Empanadas

Makes about 12 empanadas

For the dough:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup vegetable oil

ice water

1 egg

For the filling :

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup diced onion

1/3 lb ground pork chorizo

1 cup pumpkin puree (I used organic canned pumpkin, but you're welcome to roast your own)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon honey

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add vegetable oil, then sprinkle in ice water a tablespoon at a time until dough reaches a kneadable consistency. Knead only two or three times to form the dough into a bowl, then cover and let rest in fridge for an hour.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, saute onion until translucent. Add chorizo and cook until done, stirring frequently. Add pumpkin, chili powder, cumin and paprika, continue stirring for another minute, then remove from heat. Taste and add salt and honey (feel free to adjust these amounts slightly, to taste), then let filling cool thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment. Remove dough from fridge, pull small bits (slightly larger than a walnut) off it and roll them out individually into flattened squares approximately 3 inches on each side. Place a small spoonful of filling in the center of each, fold the other side over to form a triangle and crimp edges together with a fork. Beat egg and brush the top of each empanada lightly with the mixture. 

Place baking sheet in oven, bake for 22-25 minutes (flipping once, around the 15-minute mark), or until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool until just warmer than room temperature (beware of steaming hot pumpkin filling burns!), then serve and enjoy.


This sandwich is so much more than a sandwich, you guys. Garlic chicken pitas with carrot salad and edamame hummus (say yes to green hummus!) are most likely magical. Some dishes require a kind of synergy of ingredients to be truly complete, know what I mean? That unearthly shimmer that seems to pass over a dish like the successful casting of a good witch's spell in a fairy tale, the flavors of each ordinary, individual part melding perfectly once they're all together. Pull those ingredients apart, however, and each are........somehow lacking. Refusing to shine. Much less than the sum of its parts. Like a lackluster solo career that never should have been (if there were a sandwich equivalent of Scott Weiland), it's simply more evidence that some partnerships are just not meant to be split up, ever.

This dish, though, guys? Definitely NOT one of those situations. Fantastic together, fantastic apart, whatever the situation calls for....each of the elements of this sandwich is your new mealtime best friend. Allow me to introduce you.

This colorful flatbread sandwich, including tender, citrus-glazed garlic chicken with carrot & feta salad and a generous schmear of edamame hummus is something more like a dream team, composed of only star players. Simple flavors--olive oil, garlic, lemon--repeat again and again like plucked notes against a strain of music, creating a kind of resonant harmony when the layers of this sandwich comes together. Yes, it's that good. But split it apart into three new recipes for your mealtime arsenal,'s still that good. These garlic-infused chicken breast slices, for example, could also moonlight as toppings for a hearty kale salad or sit atop a tangle of whole wheat pasta dressed lightly with olive oil and tomatoes. Sweet and earthy carrots play brilliantly off the tart brightness of fresh lemon juice and the salty tang of crumbled feta in a simply assembled carrot salad, one of my favorite side dishes ever. Try this alongside grilled lamb, layered in almost any sandwich, or tossed with leafy greens as a main-event salad. Carrot salad is a perennial hit in my household and formed the original inspiration for this layered pita sandwich, but I have to admit, it was nearly overtaken by a new favorite I discovered while developing this recipe: edamame hummus. Hummus. Made with edamame, you guys.This simple twist on classic hummus is lighter and fresher than the original, and takes on the kind of pretty, delicate green hue that always inspires wonder and hunger in me simultaneously. Edamame hummus is the kind of easygoing side dish that will happily play with flatbread, crisp raw vegetables, fancy crackers, and just about anything else you'd care to pair it with. All things being equal, I'd recommend a spoon. :)

Garlic Chicken Pitas with Edamame Hummus, and Carrot Feta Salad
Makes 4 servings

For marinated chicken:

1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper

For carrot feta salad:

3 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
3 teaspoons flat leaf parsley, chopped (divided)
1 tablespoon feta, crumbled

For edamame hummus:

8 oz. shelled edamame (frozen)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
¼ cup water
¼ cup tahini
4 pitas, or other flatbread of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, arrange chicken breasts in roasting pan. In a small bowl, whisk together one tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon lemon juice, one garlic clove the dried oregano, then drizzle this dressing over chicken and finish with a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 20 minutes, or until chicken breasts are done. Remove, season lightly with pepper to taste, then set aside to cool. Once chicken has cooled for about ten minutes, cut into ½” slices for serving.

Place grated carrots in a bowl, pour 1 tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon lemon juice and one teaspoon honey over them, toss well with a fork. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon parsley and all of the crumbled feta over carrots, toss once more with a fork.

Heat a good amount of salted water to boiling in a medium saucepan, add edamame and boil for 5 minutes, then strain and place in bowl, set aside to let cool. Once cool, place edamame in a food processor with minced garlic clove, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons parsley, ¼ cup water and tahini. Puree until a smooth paste begins to form, then drizzle in the remaining three tablespoons of olive oil and continue to blend until the oil is absorbed.

To assemble sandwiches, spread a heaping tablespoon of edamame hummus on each pita (or inside, if using pitas pocket-style), top with slices of chicken and another heaping tablespoon of carrot feta salad. Fold, eat, and enjoy!


Straight outta the farmer's market, yo. It's my new obsession: green garlic.

The return of spring, for me, always brings with it an obsession with bright green—the color hardest to come by in the dead of winter, which is when I’m always dreaming of tender shoots and leaves. Green garlic is always a welcome surprise at my farmer’s market, and when it begins to show up around springtime (it will stick around through early summer, too), I like to make this vibrant green-as-green-can-be soup to highlight the color & grassy flavor of the season. This particular soup gets its verdant hue from not only green garlic and zucchini, but also a hefty dose of fresh basil and parsley, as well.

It’s almost supernaturally creamy (considering it doesn’t have a drop of dairy in it), for two reasons: the mild taste & wonderfully smooth texture of pureed zucchini, and the magic that happens when soaked raw cashews are blended into a rich, very cream-like puree. This is the perfect soup to hit all those ‘luxury craving’ sensors in your brain without weighing you down with overindulgence, and it’s an ideal spring or early summer dinner meal.

Green Garlic & Zucchini Soup

Makes 4 servings

2 bunches green garlic (about 1/2 lb.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large zucchini, unpeeled and diced into ½” pieces (abut 1 ½ lbs.)
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
¼ cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
1 cup raw cashews (covered in water and soaked for at least two hours)
½ cup water
Salt & pepper, to taste

For Parsley Oil:

1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup olive oil

Slice green garlic (crosswise, across the bulb) into ¼” sections, including the darker green tops. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat, add the white and pale green slices of garlic (save the darker green slices for the moment, you’ll add them later so they don’t burn) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add zucchini and the sliced green tops of the garlic, continue to stir as you cook for 5 more minutes, allowing everything to soften. Add stock, basil and parsley, reduce heat slightly to medium low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. While soup is simmering, make the creamy cashew puree and parsley oil.

Heat a pot of water to boiling, drop 1 whole bunch of parsley into it and blanch for 10 seconds. Remove quickly and shock with cold running water (or an ice bath) to stop cooking; parsley should be bright green and lovely. Dry well and place in blender with ½ cup olive oil, blend to a fine puree. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, save the resulting bright green oil for garnishing.

Drain soaked cashews and rinse well. Place in food processor or high-powered blender, blend until creamy and smooth. After 30 minutes, add to pot and continue to blend the entire soup mixture (you can do this is batches in your blender, or an immersion ‘stick’ blender is great for this) until smooth. Taste soup, add salt & pepper to preference. Serve warm, garnished with a freeform swirl of parsley oil.


I know, guys. I know. 

Kale recipe posts in January are as inevitable as cherry pie in July or hot apple cider in October. Fresh off the last round of New Year's resolutions (but not so far into the new year that we've all fallen off that wagon and begun eating chocolate by the handful....yet), it seems everyone's eating big bowls of dark leafy greens in between juice cleanses and probiotic shakes, right? Well, this is a kale recipe. And I did warn you it was coming. And I'm a well-known kale enthusiast from way back. 

But this is no mere austere bowl of's got style. Soul. Swagger. Cojones. Whatever. It's got tender bits of prosciutto, mingling with the brightness of fresh lemon zest and a hint of red pepper. It's got silky shreds of sauteed kale, woven cozily into a bowl of golden pasta, all snuggled under a sprinkling of grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. Seriously, isn't that just about the coziest thing you could imagine right now? Let's make some of this tonight, and let's keep eating it until the weather outside is warm again, shall we? It's one resolution you won't mind keeping.

 Pasta with Kale, Prosciutto, Lemon & Parmesan

Serves 2 generously

6 oz. pasta of choice (in my house, it's Barilla's GF spaghetti)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 oz. prosciutto, sliced into roughly 1/2" squares
1 bunch of organic kale, washed, ribs removed & roughly chopped (size of bunch will vary, but you should have at least 3 loosely packed cups of chopped kale)
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt, to taste
freshly grated parmesan, to taste

 Fill a large pot with water, add salt generously and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until done to your desired degree of firmness. Drain and set aside.

In a skillet over medium high heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil (reserving the rest) and heat until shimmering, then add prosciutto and saute quickly until it just begins to color. Add kale one handful at a time, stirring constantly. The kale will wilt quickly in the heat and make room for the next handful, continue doing this until all the kale is in the skillet. Add minced shallot and garlic and continue to saute, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. The mixture is done after about five minutes, once the kale has turned dark and tender. Remove from heat and add the lemon zest and red pepper.

Return warm pasta to pot and add kale mixture, tossing to combine thoroughly. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and let sit (cover the pot to keep remaining warmth in) for a few minutes to allow flavors to intermingle. Serve in bowls, showered with freshly grated parmesan, and enjoy!