Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WDW - Butternut Squash, Quinoa & Kale Salad


OK, this salad is my new addiction!

We all know that kale is good for us - right?  If you don't, read this.

I love sauteed kale with garlic, or putting it in a smoothie.  But, kale salad has been a bit difficult to love.  However, I have recently learned that the secret to a great kale salad is to massage it.   I know, sounds kind of weird, but it's essential to soften the kale and make it a palatable salad green.  I even got my sister to like kale salad with this one (wink, wink Suz)!

To massage kale, wash, dry, and cut it into bite sized pieces (remove tough center membrane & discard).   Then place it in a bowl, and squeeze a lemon over it.  Drizzle with about 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Then, get in there with your hands and start "massaging" the kale.   Just squeeze the leaves and toss it around at the same time.  Do this for a few minutes.   At this point, you can add in any ingredients you might like (we love radishes or fennel, toasted nuts, dried cranberries or apple).   Now toss again with a vinaigrette of your choice... voila!  Yummy kale salad.

When I saw this kale salad recipe I knew I would love it!  I LOVE butternut squash and usually roast it along with apples or pears, or make soup with it.   And, quinoa is such a great source of protein and adds great texture to any salad.   We eat it often. 

This recipe didn't call for the kale to be massaged -- so I did my little trick on it first, then followed the rest of the recipe, and it turned out fantastic.

You can buy your butternut squash whole or pre-chopped.  Unless I'm going to use it right away, I don't buy the pre-chopped kind.   To use a whole butternut squash, simply peel the outside, then cut in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and cube.  A medium size squash yields about 2 cups of small cubes.

Butternut Squash, Quinoa, & Kale Salad

1 cup quinoa (I used half golden, half red)
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes (about 2 cups)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8-10 cups kale, cut into bite sized pieces and "massaged" with lemon, olive oil, & salt (see above)
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, chopped 

Vinaigrette: 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp. honey, salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions on stove top.  Set aside to cool.

Using a lined baking sheet, spread out the butternut squash cubes evenly. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Watch to ensure they don’t burn.  

When squash is done, remove from oven.  Cook the walnuts on a baking sheet for 5-8 minutes or until toasted. 

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, & honey.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large serving bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa, the roasted butternut squash cubes, massaged kale, walnuts, and the dried cranberries. Drizzle on the dressing and toss to coat (you may not need all the dressing). Serve immediately.


I find it helpful to cook the quinoa and butternut squash a day ahead so they are well chilled when the salad is made.  You can also wash, dry and cut the kale ahead of time.

You can skip the massaging part if you are able to obtain baby kale.  It is much more tender than regular.
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Monday, October 7, 2013

The four minutes that always make me cry

Click below to see what makes me cry every.single.time!

Ahhh, that was such a glorious day!  I love to re-live it.

And now believe it or not, we are just a few short months away from Emma & Nick's wedding!  It is such a blessing that everything is falling into place so nicely. Of course, there are still some details to tend to but Emma & Nick are doing a great job in their decision making and planning! I'm really looking forward to November when things really kick into high gear and all the showers for my sweet Emma begin! 

Here is a pic of Nick & Emma at their engagement party at the Steadman's in mid-September.  Nick's sister Briana is a very talented baker and made them this adorable mini wedding cake, and a bunch of beautiful cupcakes as well.  It was such a delightful time meeting all of Nick's extended family and toasting/encouraging the bride and groom to be!


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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Are you hungry? Where to eat in L.A.

Recently I was asked by someone to provide a list of some of my favorite restaurants in the L.A. area.  I had fun compiling it and thought I'd share that list with my fellow foodie blog readers.  

I can't take the time to list all my favorite dishes at these places but if you do want to know about a certain place, feel free to drop me an email at  

Also please comment if you have a suggestion for my list-  I love recommendations of new/unknown places to eat in this great city.

On my current list of places to try:  
Casa Bianca - Eagle Rock
Proof Bakery - Silver Lake 
Canele - Los Angeles
L.A. Cafe - Los Angeles
Nobu - Malibu 
Pedaler's Fork - Calabasas (been for coffee but not food)
Some of the restaurants here are longtime old favorites (and/or nostalgic L.A. eateries) and some are new discoveries.  Enjoy!

Italian & Pizza
Boccali’s – Ojai
Tony’s Bella Vista – Burbank
Dino’s Pizza  - Burbank
Pitfire Pizza – North Hollywood
Pizzeria Mozza – Los Angeles
Spaghetti Factory – various locations
Il Piccolo Ritrovo – Pacific Palisades
Gjelina -Venice
Piccola Trattoria – Santa Clarita

Cacao Mexicatessen - Eagle Rock

Off Vine – Hollywood
Green Street – Pasadena
Urth Caffé – Los Angeles & Pasadena (coming soon)
Aroma Coffee & Tea – Studio City
Philippe – Los Angeles
Oinkster  - Eagle Rock
Bottega Louie -  Los Angeles
Sweet Salt - Toluca Lake
Gjelina  - Venice

Crab Cooker – Newport Beach
Malibu Seafood –Malibu
Roy’s – various locations

Jewish Deli
Brent’s – Northridge or Westlake

Green Street – Pasadena
Black Cow Café – Montrose
Marston’s – Pasadena & Valencia
Bricks & Scones – Larchmont village
Aroma Coffee & Tea – Studio City
Urth Caffe– Los Angeles & Pasadena (coming soon)

Back Door Bakery – Sunland
Berolina – Glendale
Porto’s – Glendale or Burbank
Bottega Louie - downtown L.A.

Ginger Grass – Silver Lake
Luscious Dumplings – San Gabriel
Golden Deli - San Gabriel

Middle Eastern
Zankou Chicken – various locations
Raffi’s Place – Glendale

Pie n Burger – Pasadena
Umami – various locations
Bob’s Big Boy – Toluca Lake
Hook Burger – various locations

Ice Cream
Haagen Dazsvarious locations
Bulgarini -  Altadena
Carmela’s – Pasadena

Urth Caffé – Los Angeles & Pasadena (coming soon)
Intelligentsia – various locations

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