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Orange Mango Banana Poppy Seed Bread

15 Jun


One of my fellow MasterChef 4 competitors invited me to write a guest post for her blog. I decided to share this delicious quick bread (or muffins – your choice!). Oh, and would you believe it’s low-fat and gluten-free?! Oh, yes!!! Please visit Celebration Generation for the recipe and other interesting tidbits about our MasterChef 4 experience.

Cornmeal Fried Okra

6 May


I was going to prepare the okra I got from the farmers market as Sambal Bendi with chili paste and dried shrimp but then I thought… I’ve been posting a lot of Asian inspired recipes lately, and while there’s nothing wrong with that b/c I love to cook and eat Asian cuisine, I wanted to give you all some variety. Now let’s bring it back to the bottom of the map. Somewhere I stumbled at, somewhere they eat gumbo at. Yes, I am paraphrasing Lil Wayne. Most people who know me know that I get amped up on hip hop to start my day. Plus my momma is from New Orleans so this recipes has me really excited!

Time: 15 minutes                     Serves: 4


  • 1 pint fresh okra, rinsed & patted dry – try to avoid large pods as they tend to be tougher
  • 1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal
  • 2 tsp Creole seasoning
  • 1 tbsp flour (I used brown rice flour for a wheat-free option)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • sea salt, to taste

How to make it

  • Preheat oil to 375F in a deep fryer or wok.
  • Cut tops and ends off okra pods, then cut into about 1″ discs.
  • Combine cornmeal, flour, and Creole seasoning in a large, shallow dish. Add okra slices, in batches, and toss to coat.
  • Working in batches, drop okra into hot oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  • Remove and transfer to a paper towel lined. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Greek-Inspired Zucchini Pancakes

5 Aug

Keep those zucchini & summer squash coming! Here’s another great way to use them.

Time: 20 minutes           Serves: 4


  • 1 large zucchini or summer squash (or half of each – which is what I used)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup (whole grain) bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dill weed (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp oregano (or more to taste)
  • splash of fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil for pan frying
  • sour cream (plain Greek yogurt or Crème fraiche work too)
  • micro-greens or fresh herbs of choice for garnish

How to make it

  • Grate zucchini/squash with a box grater or in food processor fitted with grater blade. Place in a colander and squeeze to drain off some excess liquid.
  • Place drained zucchini, minced garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, egg, lemon juice and seasonings into a large mixing bowl. Mix to incorporate.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop large spoonfuls into skillet and pat down a bit. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes, until browned. Drain on paper towel.
  • Serve with sour cream and garnish with micro-greens of fresh herbs.

Zucchini Bread Granola

28 Jul

With zucchinis in abundance this time of year, a recipe I found on Tasty Kitchen for granola that incorporated them appealed to me. I tweaked it to suit my tastes and dietary needs. It smells just like zucchini bread while baking in the oven. Perfect to sprinkle on top of yogurt for a healthy, satisfying breakfast or snack.

Time: 40 minutes                Serves: about 8


  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 1/4 cup psyllium husk (optional)
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • (or use 2 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning in place of cinnamon & nutmeg)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans (may use untoasted, but add in with dry mix in first step)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 325F. Line on large or two small baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, rice cereal, psyllium husk, and fla seeds.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine zucchini, oil, honey, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and slat. Mix well to incorporate.
  • Add zucchini mixture to dry ingredients. Mix around and try to break up any clumps if any are present.
  • Put mixture onto prepared baking sheets, breaking up any clumps as needed. Spread evenly in a thin layer.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, remove and stir around.
  • Bake for 10 more minutes, remove and stir around. Add nuts, bake additional 5 minutes, remove and stir around.
  • Add chocolate chips and stir around. Place in oven for about 2 minutes or until just starting to melt. Remove from oven and give a good shake by lifting sides of parchment paper.
  • Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Granola Bars

8 Jul

I’ve been meaning to try my hand at granola bars for some time now and I’m so glad I finally did! These were so easy to make, taste great, have just the texture and amount of sweetness (not too much) I look for. This is so versatile, use whatever fruit and nuts you want & this can easily be adapted for people with dietary restrictions in that they can be tailored to be nut-free, low on the glycemic index and are already gluten free and dairy free as the recipe is written.

Time: 30 min + cool              Serves: 16


  • 1 cup nut, roughly chopped (I used raw almonds)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 1/4 cup psyllium husk (optional)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries & raisins)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup honey/brown rice syrup/agave nectar or combo
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line a 13×9 baking dish with parchment paper, with overhang on the sides.
  • Place nuts, oats, and flax seeds onto lined sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until fragrant & lightly browned. Remove & set aside to cool. Reserve paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine puffed rice cereal, psyllium husk, dried fruit, and cooled toasted nuts, oats and seeds.
  • In a small saucepan, combine oil and honey (or whatever you’re using). Bring to a light simmer. Add sugar, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine. Remove from heat.
  • Pour honey mixture into mixing bowl and work quickly to mix around so every part gets a bit of the sticky goodness.
  • Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Smooth out with a wooden spoon or spatula (may spray with nonstick cooking spray but not totally necessary). Spread as even as you can, making sure to get all the way to the edges and corners.
  • Place reserved parchment paper over top and press down firmly with your fingers, all around, trying to compact the mixture as best you can paying attention to the edges & corners.
  • Remove top paper & allow to cool on countertop completely. Then, place in fridge to chill for 2 hours. Now they will be easier to cut.
  • Lift parchment up by overhangs and place entire thing onto cutting board or cutting surface. Using a long, sharp knife, cut the bars into your desired size. I cut horizontally down the middle and then into eight sections vertically.
  • These will last stored in an air-tight container at room temp for at least 2 weeks. You may also refrigerate these. I chose to wrap each bar in wax paper before placing in an air-tight container for portability with ease.

Naan Pizza

4 Jun

In the mood for pizza and wanting something quick, I turned to one of my favorite freezer items – Trader Joe’s Tandoori Naan. This is more of an idea that I’m sharing than a recipe. Feel free to change it up to your liking 🙂

Time: 10 minutes                Serves: 1


  • 1 piece Naan flatbread (I used Trader Joe’s Tandoori garlic Naan)
  • 2 tbsp pizza sauce (tomato sauce seasoned, or marinara will work here too)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
  • 3-5 green olives, halved
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 oz micro-greens

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Remove naan from freezer. Spread sauce over it. Top with cheese, olives, and red pepper flakes. Please note that you should leave an outer edge without cheese/sauce as the crust, so the cheese doesn’t spill over while cooking.
  • Place directly on oven rack. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crispy and cheese is melted.
  • Remove from oven. Top with micro-greens, and enjoy!


Egg Rolls

27 Jan

Served up as the starter for our celebratory Chinese New Year inspired meal.

Time: 30 minutes              Serves: 8


  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken (I used poached chicken)*
  • 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded (I used purple)
  • 6 mushrooms, diced (I used baby bella but use any type you like)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • vegetable oil for frying (I used canola)
  • 8 egg roll wrappers (I used Nasoya brand, found in the produce section)
  • *Note: You may substitute any other type of protein here (ex: beef/pork/shrimp/tofu) or leave it out altogether.

How to make it

  • Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil & sesame oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sprouts, celery, carrot, onion, cabbage, mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes. Add soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Toss to combine and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a colander in the sink and let strain so excess moisture is expelled.
  • Combine cornstarch with water and mix well to create a paste.
  • Transfer vegetables to a bowl and mix with cooked chicken.
  • Place about 2-3 tbsp veggie mixture in middle of egg roll wrapper (you want the wrapper in front of you like a diamond not a square). Fold from the bottom, tucking tightly. Place a bit of paste on remaining outer edges. Fold the corners from each side over and press to secure. Roll remaining part, be gentle but sure that you are rolling tight enough. Repeat with remaining wrappers. Cover rolls with plastic wrap as you go.
  • Heat about 4 inches of oil in a medium stock pot or frying pan to 350F. Carefully place rolls in seam side down. Fry for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel lined plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
  • You may also bake these. Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place egg rolls on sheet, seam side down. Brush with olive oil/spray with olive oil/spray with cooking spray. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  • To reheat, preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Collard Green Won Tons

31 Dec

I adapted this recipe from one by Paula Deen to incorporate my Collard Greens recipe. Another lovely treat for New Years day but equally as delicious and unique any time of year.

Time: 30 min         Serves: 6


  • 4 cups cooked collard greens
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 30-40 won ton wrappers
  • vegetable or peanut oil for frying

How to make it

  • Squeeze out excess liquid from greens. Combine greens with cream cheese and mix well. Place a spoonful of mixture in the center of a won ton wrapper. Using fingertip, rub edges of one side with water, then fold in half into a triangle pressing to seal. At this point you can become creative and try different shapes with the way you fold. Repeat with remaining wrappers.
  • Heat several inches of oil in a heavy deep pot to 350F. Fry in batches until golden brown for about 2-3 minutes per batch, turning occasionally to brown evenly. Drain on paper towels.

Roasted Black Eyed Peas

30 Dec

This recipe was inspired by the fried black eyed peas from Relish in Historic Roswell, GA that Alton Brown showcased on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. I came across a recipe for roasted chick peas on Tasty Kitchen’s website (by mcmom) and this is the brainchild of both of these things. They are a great snack, perfect for New Years day or anytime!

Time: 5 min prep, 30 min cook         Serves: 4+


  • 2 15oz cans Black Eyed peas
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • dash white pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Rinse and drain peas and dry well on paper towels. Place peas on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and shake. Return to oven for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine seasonings in a small bowl. Remove peas from oven and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with spices, and shake – tossing to coat. Return to oven for another 10 minutes, or until peas are browned and very crunchy.

Spinach-Dill Pie

27 May

This recipe is so versatile and so very tasty! It can be served for breakfast/brunch, as an appetizer, a wonderful side dish or just a tasty snack. Original recipe by Martha Stewart from

Time: 15min prep, 1 hour cook         Serves: 6-8


  • 10 oz fresh baby spinach, tough stems removed – roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small-medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites (large)
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dill, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
  • cooking spray

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Heat butter in large skillet over low-medium heat. Add onion & cook until tender & beginning to caramelize. Add garlic and cook for about a minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted & bright green, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander to cool & drain.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, eggs & egg whites, parsley, dill, Parmesan, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in cooled spinach mixture.
  • Lightly coat a 9-inch (Pyrex) pie plate with cooking spray. Place one sheet of dough in plate, spray and repeat with remaining 7 sheets spraying between each layer. Trim edges with scissors, leaving a slight overhang. Spoon filling into the dish, spreading evenly. Spray outer edge of dough. Bake until golden brown & filling is set, about one hour. Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.