Japanese Pumpkin Bread

I love pumpkin. What I don't like are all the ingredients in most of the pumpkin treats that you buy during the glorious Pumpkin Season. Therefore, I decided to concoct my own health(ier) version of Pumpkin Bread. It's amazing and you're welcome. I was just using up pureed Kabocha and had no real plan in mind when I started this bread. Subsequently, we'd already eaten half of it before my blogging brain woke up and demanded a photo.

If you're wondering what makes this particular bread Japanese, it's the Kabocha Squash (aka Japanese Pumpkin) that I use in lieu of Sugar Pie Pumpkin. Kabocha is naturally sweeter and requires less added sweetener. The end result is a delicious treat that you can feel good about making for the people you <3. 

Japanese Pumpkin Bread

1-1/2 cups of Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of pureed Kabocha squash 
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/4 cup of mashed banana
2 Flax eggs (2 tblsp ground flaxseed, 1/2 cup of very hot water)
1/4 cup of water
 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1. Preheat oven to 350* 
2. Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt 
3. In a small bowl, mix flax egg ingredients, set aside
4. In a separate bowl, combine squash, oil, banana, flax eggs, water and spices
5. Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir until dry and wet ingredients are combined - do not over stir.
6. Pour into a greased loaf pan (9x5). Bake for 50-60 minutes. This loaf may not cook like a traditional bread. It stays very moist. When the top has a nice brown crust and an inserted toothpick comes out mostly clean, it's good to go!

The original recipe that I used was healthier than the norm, but when I made it the second day (that's right - we ate it all), I substituted a bit of a banana instead of oil and used less sugar for this healthier version. Also - I drastically reduced the sugar because the coconut oil lends some sweetness, along with the banana and this particular squash variety. The result of these substitutions is a very moist pumpkin-y bread that your boyfriend will eat all of - in one day. Do yourself a favor and double the recipe. ;) 

I hope that you're all as happy about Friday as I am and that you have some fun AND some serious relaxation planned for the weekend. 

Let me know how your Pumpkin Bread turns out!  



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Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Nick had a business meeting in Fontana and came home with a chew toy for Malone and Sun-Dried Tomatoes for me, from one of his colleagues who does a great deal of canning. These were, by far the best Sun-Dried Tomatoes EVER. They were sweeter, a vibrant shade of red and more dried-tomato-like than any store bought version I've ever had. They were absolutely delicious. For a few days, they sat patiently on the counter, waiting for me to decide their fate. As luck would have it, I was making hummus - shocking I know - and decided, rather spontaneously, to throw some of them into the mix. Delicious with crackers, a toasted baguette or carrots, brocolli and celery, or in your salad! 

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

2 cups of garbanzo beans (reserve a 1/4 cup of liquid)
2 garlic clove
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of tahini
1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
salt & pepper to taste

You know the drill now, right? Throw everything in the food processor and enjoy. Maybe make this one in addition to the Hoppy Dance Hummus, if you're taking it to a party, just in case someone's not a hop head. I know, I know, who doesn't love hops??

Aaaand it's Saturday. Start a ruckus!!


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Hoppy Dance Hummus

While making hummus last week I wondered, what if I used beer instead of lemon and garbanzo bean liquid? Nick quickly cast his vote for Pale Ale. I whipped up a batch and remained slightly skeptical as Nick devoured it - with a spoon - literally. Hummus has a very short shelf life in our house, but nothing's ever disappeared so quickly. I have subsequently tested this recipe on a number of people, and the general consensus among beer lovers is that it is good. I'll be making a batch of this for Sunday - we were invited to join our beer loving friends (he brews for Stone) at their home for Football and this will be the perfect hummus for the occasion!

Hoppy Dance Hummus

2 cups of garbanzo beans
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons of tahini
6 oz Karl Strauss Pintail Pale Ale
salt & pepper to taste

Hummus is so simple to make, right? Throw the ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix on high. I haven't tried this recipe with any other kind of beer, if you try a different kind, perhaps taste it as you add the liquid. Pintail is my favorite Pale Ale - a solid West Coast Pale brewed with Motueka hops from New Zealand and Cascade hops from the States. This particular recipe goes best with chips or crackers to balance it's hoppy finish.


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Spiced Kabocha Squash Soup

Last fall, I wanted to make Pumpkin Soup. The store I stopped at was completely out of pumpkins. They did however, have these bizarre pumpkin like gourds that were green, called Kabocha Squash (commonly known as a Japanese Pumpkin). I was intrigued. I took one home and made a soup with it, don't remember the ingredients, but it was the perfect autumn soup. When I saw Kabocha at Whole Foods this year, I concocted this recipe, invited my mom for dinner at the last minute, and was so proud of myself, that I decided to make this soup when my boyfriends mother was visiting. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the wine we had at a wine bar first, but I got spice happy and it was awful. Awfully embarrassing because I'd talked this damn soup up! This week, undeterred, I decided to give it another try. I did good this time. Happy Dance Status!


Spiced Kabocha Squash Soup

Makes 8 cups

9 lbs of Kabocha Squash (approximately 2 average size squash)
1-3/4 cup of Unsweetened Soy Milk 
1-3/4 cup of Water
2 tbsp Garlic Olive Oil **
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
Dash of Smoked Salt

1. Preheat oven to 375*  

2. Cut squash in 1/2, scoop the seeds and discard, and put face up on a baking sheet. You can brush the exposed flesh with a bit of olive oIl, before putting in the oven, if you wish. The squash will need to bake for 20-40 minutes depending on your oven. When the flesh is easy to pierce with a knife, you're ready!

3. Warning! You may have to do the following in stages (I did, thanks to a small food processor!). If you go the "stages" route, don't worry about how much milk and water you add to each batch, you'll be able to bring it all together with a good stir on the stove at the end!
Once the squash are cooked and cooled, scrape flesh out of the skins and place in food processor. Add milk and water and blend.


4. When squash, milk and water are thoroughly blended together, pour into a stock pot and heat over very low heat on the stove (because the soup is thick it bubbles easily). Add ginger and garlic olive oil and heat to a desirable temperature, stirring often. 

5. When you're ready to serve, add cinnamon and nutmeg and pour into bowls. A dash of smoked salt on the top of each bowl is absolutely delish! 


** You can use regular olive oil, but if you wish to make garlic olive oil, simply simmer garlic cloves in olive oil on VERY low heat. When the garlic can be pierced easily with a knife, it's ready to eat whole, and you have garlic olive oil. Make extra and pour into an old olive oil bottle so you have it on hand - it's fantastic on salads too!

Note: You can use any dairy substitute; almond, soy, etc. I have never tried this recipe with actual milk, so I can't speak to that. Also, you can use vegetable stock in lieu of water. I've used vegetable stock before and it was delish, but also had massive quantities of sodium added. I didn't have time to make my own this time, and the water worked just fine! 


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Mushroom Bolognese over Carrot Fettuccine

This little gem owes all of its inspiration to the culinary genius of Red Table, a delicious restaurant in Huntington Beach. The best part about Red Table is that they have a special called "Trust Me". You tell them what you want - low carb, vegetarian, gluten free, all bacon - whatever it may be, and they will whip up a delicious meal for two.

The bolognese sauce is adapted from a recipe I found at theitaliandishblog.com.

I love Italian dishes that are light on the heavy and this dish fits the bill perfectly, while also being Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten-Free. The noodles are simply peels of carrots. This is a lot of fun to make for guests because it's so unique and delicious - and good for you.

We'll start with the sauce, because the longer you let that simmer, the better. I did everything from scratch, but I'll list substitutes along the way, in case you're not up for it (although I will tell you, it's very simple).


Tomato Base

3 lbs of ripe tomatoes (very ripe is okay!)
2 tbs Olive Oil
3 cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped

Fresh tomatoes

Oven roasted tomatoes

Turn oven broiler on high. 
Cut tomatoes in half and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic. Place in oven about 3-5" beneath broiler for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside to cool. 
Once cooled, roughly chop half and set aside (preserving as much liquid as possible) and throw the other 1/2 in the food processor and blend thoroughly.

 **If you don't want to make your tomato base, use a 15oz can of crushed tomatoes and a 15 oz can of pureed tomatoes......that doesn't even sound pretty. . . I'm just saying. I've done it both ways and from scratch is infinitely yummier and more rewarding.



1/4 cup olive oil/liquid from broiled tomatoes or 2 tblsp olive oil (if you didn't broil tomatoes)
1 carrot, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves
3/4 red wine
1 lb mushrooms (I used a mix of cremini, shitake, trumpet and oyster, portabello's are also good.)
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1-1/2 cups of water
16 oz of tomato sauce (from broiled tomatoes)
16 oz roughly chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregan
2-3 tsp of coconut sugar, the sugar mutes the acidity of the tomatoes, try it after you add a little bit of sugar, before adding more *
Salt and Pepper to taste **

First off, toss the porcini mushrooms in a bowl and add enough very-hot water to cover the mushrooms, set aside and let them sit for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, drain 1  cup of procini liquid into a bowl and set aside. Chop porcini and mixed mushrooms.

In a large pot, add 1/4 cup of the olive oil/tomato liquid from tomato broil, throw in diced celery, carrot and onion. Stirring frequently, cook vegetables over low heat for 9 minutes, add garlic, cook for one minute. Add red wine, pour yourself a glass, bring veggies and wine to a simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, porcini liquid, water, tomatoes and sauce, oregano and bay leaves. Bring ingredients to a simmer and allow liquid to cook off until it reaches your desired consistency. Generally an hour and a half, minimum.

*A note about sugar.  We use coconut sugar in our home for anything that would typically call for sugar. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index (35) than other sugars - white sugar comes in at 64 - and the taste is delicious - sort of caramely.


Carrot Fettuccine

3 lb bag of carrots

Chop ends off carrots and peel outer layer. 

Peel Carrots into a large bowl. There isn't really a wrong way to do this - I generally wind up with some flat, wide, short noodles, and some skinny, long ones. It will seem like you have way too much, but it will boil down in the next step. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil - I use a 6 quart pot with 4 quarts of water - once water is boiling, add peeled carrots, reduce heat to medium. The length of time you leave the carrots in the boil depends entirely on how you like your "pasta". In 3 minutes you'll have a more al-dente but slightly cooked noodle, in 6 minutes you'll have a noodle that more closely resembles the typical Americanized spaghetti. I taste as I go and let the boyfriend decide when it's ready to pull. Once noodles have reached your desired level of cooked-ness, pour into a colander. Drain noodles - very well! Return to pot and add sauce.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did! 


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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I love Hummus. If you're ever over at our house, this will be painfully obvious to you as it probably seems like it's the only thing I serve as an hors d'oeuvre. I, however, do not like store bought hummus - it's the whole number of ingredients thing and the quality of the ingredients used and it just never tastes right, to me. This recipe is simple and delicious and I'm usually sort of full by the time I'm done salting and sampling it at every possible stage.  

I roasted my own red peppers this time but I have been guilty of cheating and using the jarred ones (read the label and make sure they're not marinating in cheap olive oil or water with salt, sugar, citric acid and calcium chloride). Roasting your own is ridiculously simple and incredibly worth it. 


Beautiful red pepper


Roasting Red Peppers

1. Crank the oven to 500*. 
2. Place Red Peppers on a baking sheet in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Flip half way through. They will start to char black and sizzle - this is good! They will make your house smell incredible.
3. Put charred peppers in a sealable baking dish or wrap in aluminum foil. (I wrapped mine one at a time because I'm special like that). Leave them wrapped for at least 20 minutes, 30 if you're patient.
4. After 20, oops 30 minutes, carefully take them out of the foil. I suggest you do this next step over the sink with cold running water, especially if you're impatient like me and only waited 10 minutes. These suckers are HOT. While cold water is running on your peppers, peel off the charred flesh and remove the seeds and stem. 

That's it! You roasted red peppers. Kind of a big deal.  

Now, onto the Hummus. I swear, you will be eating this with a spoon....forget crackers or veggies. 

A note about Garbanzo beans - you can either buy canned garbanzo beans (I prefer organic) or you can throw dry garbanzo beans in a crockpot, submerge under a lot of water and crank it to high and let it work it's crockpot magic for about 3 hours. 


Charred to perfection! 


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

2 cups of garbanzo beans (reserve a 1/4 cup of liquid)
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon of salt or 1 tablespoon of tamari
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons of tahini
1 roasted red pepper
salt & pepper to taste



Throw all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend thoroughly. If you find that your hummus is too dry, you can add a tiny bit - like a tablespoon at a time - of the garbanzo bean liquid. Warning: a little goes a very long way - you don't want hummus soup. 

That's it! You have delicious hummus with none of the crummy ingredients. Chop up some carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower or enjoy with your favorite crackers, chips or lavash. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this hummus is as a spread on lavash with a bunch of fresh veggies, all rolled up into a wrap! 



Welcome to my kitchen

Sharing home-cooked, healthy, quality meals with my friends is one of my greatest pleasures in life.  After I rather suddenly found myself living alone several years ago, I took on the task of making healthy meals for one. I quickly realized that I really enjoyed cooking and gradually learned more and more about the food I cooked and how it made it's way to my plate. One thing led to another and eventually I made the decision to mostly give up animal proteins. I'll talk more about this later, but it's not really the point of my blog. I don't really know what to call myself; vegetarian? vegan? snob? I guess if I have to sum myself up in one word, I'd say I'm a flexitarian - I mostly eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet. WIth that said - I do occasionally enjoy an ethically raised egg from my friend's coop or a wild-caught, sustainable salmon filet. More importantly, I don't judge. I feel best when I adhere to my mostly vegetarian diet, but I know it's not for everyone and I'm confident that regardless of whether you're a meat and potatoes kind of gal or a vegan guy, you will find plenty to love about my recipes.

Enjoy the recipes, comment, ask questions and spark conversation! I believe we're at our best when we're learning, growing and stretching just outside of our comfort zone.

Start a ruckus!