Monday, December 9, 2013

Roasted Grapes with Brie

This is one of those appetizers that will welcome guests into your home with an amazing aroma.  It always gets a ton of compliments and recipe requests, both of which are a testimony to true good eats!

1/2 pound green grapes, broken into small clusters
1/2 pound red grapes, broken into small clusters
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small shallot, finely minced
leaves from 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
pinch sea salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
small brie wheel or wedge, to serve

1 - Preheat oven to 450°F.

2 - Place grape clusters,  shallot and thyme on a baking sheet. 

3 - Toss with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper.

4 - Roast for 10 minutes, pull out of oven and make room on baking sheet for your brie.

5 - Return to oven just until brie is warned and grape skins are slightly crisp but the grapes are still soft and juicy inside, about 15 minutes.

Serve warm, along with crackers or crusty bread and wine.  These are also great on a savory-sweet wood fired pizza!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pumpkin Rice Pudding

Oh my goodness.  This is one of those desserts that's not even really indulgent (see nutrition info, below) but is still seriously tasty.  It was so good, in fact, that I need to make more to get a better photograph--we gobbled it up before that could be accomplished!  Good enough for dessert but nutritious enough for breakfast.   Garnished above with a bit of Greek yogurt lightly sweetened with local honey.


  • 1 cups Korean sweet brown rice*
  • 3 cups water
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, canned
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum or apple cider (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons raisins (optional)
*It is important that you use this rice variety to get the same gooey, sticky, pumpkiny results.  You can find it at Asian groceries and I've even seen it in the bulk section at Whole Foods.  It is a short grain, pearl rice that cooks up into a sticky mass--sometimes called mochi.


Bring water and rice to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until water is 3/4 absorbed.

Add pumpkin and seasonings, stir occasionally until mixture has a creamy consistency and rice is soft.

Optional: While pudding is cooking, soak raisins in rum, Southern Comfort or apple cider.  After rice has finished cooking, spoon in equal portions into 6 dessert dishes. Drain excess liquid off of the raisins and use them to garnish individual dishes.

This pudding is good warm or cold. 

Recipe makes 6 servings.  Per serving:

nutrition facts

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Homemade Mayonnaise | Tart Style

We really try to avoid eating foods containing processed corn and/or soy ingredients; which is really hard since that eliminates most foods in the inner aisles of the store.  Mayonnaise is one of those foods but, no worries, mayo is not only really easy to make at home--but tastes better too.  My recipe calls for tempering the egg yolks which means it stays good in the fridge for 5 days. 


  • Egg yolks from 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. of vinegar (I prefer white wine or champagne vinegar for this)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or can sub 1 tsp dry mustard powder)
  • 1 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (preferred) or extra virgin olive oil for stronger flavor
  •  Small clove of garlic and/or fresh herbs such as chervil, tarragon or dill to taste (optional)


    1 - Combine egg yolks, vinegar and salt in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure water does not touch bottom of bowl, and beat constantly with a whisk until mixture has tripled in volume and forms a thick ribbon when whisk is lifted, about 3-5 minutes (while beating, be sure to clear bottom of bowl with whisk so that eggs do not scramble).

    2 - Remove from heat and transfer to bowl of food processor or blender. 

    3 - Add mustard and turn on food processor (this works as an emulsifier and keeps it from separating).  If using, garlic add now. 

    4 - With food processor running, slowly drizzle oil in a steady stream, allowing the mixture to emulsify.  Once all oil has been incorporated in, allow mixture to continue to gain volume in food processor for at least one minute more.  If you are adding herbs such as chervil, tarragon or dill, you can add them at this time.  When mixture has lightened and is thick, remove and place in jar.  Use within a week. 

    Recipe makes approx. 1 2/3 cups or 30 tablespoons.

    Nutritional info per each 1 tablespoon serving:

    nutrition facts

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Chocolate Ganache Tiny Tarts

    We try to eat meat infrequently in our home and, when we do, I strive to eat locally sourced or the wild harvested stuff.  During the week I follow a vegan regimen, both for my concerns of the sustainability of industrial farming and for my personal health.  On the weekend, I might occasionally indulge in some amazingly full-flavored aged cheese or eat some meals out that are more on the mainstream side, but I really do try and keep it vegan Monday through Friday. 

    Already gluten free due to being intolerant, it might seem that it's near impossible to find foods that are nutritionally balanced, gluten free and vegan.  Not so!  I actually find myself being much more creative trying to obtain desirable textures and flavors in this realm.

    These tiny tarts are the results of one such creative session.  Having to provide a dessert tonight for meeting I am attending, I wanted it to be amazing to any palate but something I could eat on a Wednesday.  These. are. it. 



    2  cups pecans
    2/3 cup sugar
    4  tablespoons melted coconut oil*, cooled
    *If you'd like to make this without a coconut flavor, use an expeller pressed variety that no longer tastes like coconut.  Using extra virgin oil makes for a subtle flavor without being overpowering. 

    1 cup sugar
    1/3 cup water
    2 tablespoons honey**
    8 ounces 100% cacao baking chocolate, broken into pieces (I used 2 Ghirardelli 4 oz bars)
    1 12.3 container silken tofu

    **Technically speaking, honey is not considered vegan.  A true vegan might use agave nectar or brown rice syrup.  I am not a fan of agave nectar due to heavy processing and misleading health claims so I opt for raw, unprocessed, local honey that is a more natural selection. 

    To make crusts:
    1 - Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

    2 -  Run pecans and 2/3 cup of the sugar through a food processor until coarse like sand. Add melted coconut oil, with food processor motor still going, just until combined.

    3 - Divide crust evenly between 30 mini muffin pan cups.  Using an object slightly smaller than the size of the muffin cups, press the dough firmly into place so that it climbs up the sides and makes walls.  I used the handle side of my citrus reamer

    4 - Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is lightly toasted (be careful not to over-bake crust). Once the crust has cooled completely, make the ganache.

    To make ganache:

    1 - Mix sugar and water together in saucepan and heat until just dissolved.  Add in honey and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly.  Set aside.

    2 - Lightly heat chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat (don’t let it boil). Add bittersweet chocolate; stir gently until mixture is thick and chocolate is melted.  In a steady stream, pour in sugar and honey syrup while whisking into the chocolate.

    3 - When chocolate is smooth, add to the bowl of a food processor, along with the silken tofu.  Run until combined and creamy with no remaining traces of tofu showing.  Immediately spoon or pipe into shells and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. 

    Notes: To make into a single 10-12" full-sized tart, increase crust ingredients as follows; 3 cups pecans, 1 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons coconut oil.

    Chocolate matters!  This is the star of this dish so use good quality stuff :) 

    Optional Toppings:  You could top each with a dollop of whipped coconut milk fat solids or a piece of fruit.  Or nothing, I am telling you, these are so rich that they'll fool even the most carnivorous of your friends!

    Recipe makes 30 decadent, gluten free, vegan servings. Per serving:

    nutrition facts

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Choco Avocado Butter

    You can watch the video of this recipe being made by clicking here.

    INGREDIENTS:Flesh of one avocado
    1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
    2 teaspoon raw honey
    1 teaspoon coconut sugar or date sugar (optional)


    Food Processor

    1 - Place ingredients in bowl of food processor and whip until smooth.  Taste.  Add more cocoa or a pinch more of sugar as needed.  This should taste and look like a rich, chocolate frosting.

    This stuff is SO stinkin' good.   Use as a sweet spread on some Ezekiel bread or even as a healthy muffin/cupcake icing option.  Or just eat on a spoon :) 

    Recipe makes 4 servings.  Per 1/4 cup serving:

    nutrition facts

    Friday, August 30, 2013

    Give Me A Sign

    Often, when there is a decision or a choice to be made, I look for a sign while I am weighing my options.  Sometimes it comes after I have made my decision, as it did this morning when I couldn't decide whether or not I was too sore to take a run.  Yesterday's workout was pretty intense; enough so that most parts of my body seemed to be cursing my trainer this morning, including some obscure muscles that run along my side that I never knew existed.

    I decided to go for it, figuring that the worst that would happen is that I'd have to stop and walk--and since walking is one of the single best things we can do for our health, a failed run would still have been a win. 

    The loop I take around my neighborhood is only two miles and, truthfully, I had only planned on taking it once anyway.  A mile into the loop, I ran by this lovely sign.  Fresh figs, yes, only $2.00 a dozen.  These suckers were huge, too, nearly as big as a baseball.  I don't know their variety but their flavor was rich and reminiscent of honey.  Yes, I realize this roadside stand is constructed of cat litter bins and no, I did not eat the figs as I ran by. 

    Something really amazing happened to me when I saw this sign.  Fearful that I would not be able to get home and gather up enough cash to beat other passers by, I ran fast.  I don't know the last time I ran quite as quickly, but the promise of good food is always a great motivator for me. 

    Moments later I was digging through my purse, my dresser, the console of my car and finally my husband's wallet.  My efforts produced four singles, enough for  two dozen of these delectable goodies. I even saved a dozen for the next lucky passerby.  

    After eating two on the way home, I hit the kitchen and sliced two more.  I sweetened 1/2 cup of homemade Greek/strained yogurt with 2 teaspoons of local, raw honey.  Into the yogurt I added my favorite yogurt accompaniment: chia seeds.  Chia seeds are nutrient powerhouses that swell up to ten times their size so they not only help the body with hydration and digestion, but help keep us fuller longer--all while adding a nutrient punch that includes omega-3s, calcium, fiber and protein.  They gel up and give the yogurt a tapioca texture which I also love.  You may have seen some recipes online for chia pudding.  No matter how you get your chia in, it's good stuff.

    Oh and I sprinkled basil on top because I have been obsessed with adding it to unlikely places lately.  And because I have a ton of the stuff growing around my yard!

    My post-run breakfast was rich in nourishment and tasted friggin amazing.  It really is the simple things that make a balanced life so very rich. 

    Per serving, not including the figs I ate on the way home:

    nutrition facts

    Look at all that honest, real food nutrition.  It's a sure sign to love the foods that love you back.~

    Saturday, August 10, 2013

    Watermelon Margarita Slices

    These booze soaked watermelon slices were inspired by this Martha Stewart
    recipe. I made a couple of changes, most notably that I doubled the margarita marinade to make sure that there was enough to cover an entire small watermelon.  I also mixed lime zest in the salt for a more intense lime flavor and snuck some peach schnapps in the mix.  For those that aren't fans of the schnapps, you probably won't taste it but you could omit it altogether if you really don't like it.  That said, these turned out so great that I am certain it's what I'll be brining to the next picnic that I am invited to!


    1 small seedless watermelon, quartered and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
    2 cups sugar
    1 ½ cups water
    1 cup tequila
    1/2 cup triple sec
    1/3 cup peach schnapps
    3 limes
    zest of 2 limes (leave one unzested for serving)
    flaked or course sea salt (I used Hawaiian Red and the color w/ the zest made this all the more special)


    1 - Arrange watermelon in two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. Original recipe called for single layer but I stacked them and it turned out fine.

    2 - Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in tequila, triple sec and peach schnapps. Let cool slightly. Pour syrup over watermelon wedges, and refrigerate for at least two hours.  I let this soak all day and the flavor was uh-mazingThe longer you soak, the more intense the flavor but, be careful, as soaking for much more than 12 hours will cause the watermelon to break down and this will make it difficult for people to pick up.

    3 - Remove watermelon from syrup, and arrange on a platter. Save syrup for making watermelon margaritas later on (we found this easy to do by adding a little water, tequila and lime juice to taste).

    4 - Thoroughly was the skin of the limes.  Pat dry.  Cut only one of the limes into wedges and arrange on platter with watermelon.  Using a micro planer or zester with the remaining limes, remove only the green outer layer of the lime zest, making sure to not to include any of the bitter, white pith that lies just below the surface.

    5 - Mix zest with approximately 2 teaspoons of sea salt. 

    6 - Cut the limes into halves and squeeze over melon, and then season with salt and zest mixture.


    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Hummus is Good Food

    There's not much I don't love about hummus.  It's full of fiber and healthy fats and it's a seriously satisfying snack.  Heck, I even love it smeared on a brown rice cake with some jalapeños for lunch. This recipe makes a ton of hummus but no worries, it freezes well!  If you like, you can always cut ingredients in half for a smaller batch.


    16 ounce bag of dried chic peas or garbanzo beans
    1/2 cup tahini paste (sesame butter)*
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    juice of 1-2 fresh lemons (to taste)
    3-4 cloves of garlic, skins left intact
    reserved cooking liquid from beans
    sea salt to taste (approx. 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp)

    * For those allergic to tahini paste, you can sub unsweetened almond butter or sunflower seed butter or just increase the olive oil.  You may want to add cumin to enhance the flavor.


    roasted red peppers
    jalapeño peppers
    pine nuts
    artichoke hearts
    caramelized onions
    lemon zest


    Crock pot/slow cooker
    food processor or blender
    frying pan or other shallow pan for "roasting" garlic


    1 - Place chic peas in slow cooker and cover with enough water to cover by two inches. Cook on high for 8 - 10 hours or low for 10 - 12 or until the beans are cooked and squish beneath a fork but not overdone or mushy.

    2 - Drain beans reserving 1/2 - 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Set both aside to cool.

    3 - On cooktop, heat frying pan to a very high heat and place garlic cloves, skin on, in dry pan.  Allow skin to bubble and blacken, turning often so that all the surfaces on the garlic get a chance to char, without burning the meat inside.  Remove from pan and set aside for a minute to cool.  This roasting makes the garlic flavor more mellow and your breath less offensive to your family and friends :)

    4 - Place beans in bowl of food processor along with tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt.  For the lemon juice and salt, I do each of these to taste so start out with less and you can always add more.  Peel charred skins off of garlic and add to the bowl.

    5 - Run the food processor until the mixture has combined and is smooth.  Add reserved cooking water, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached.  Many commercial hummus brands use a lot more oil to reach that lighter feeling consistency--water does a pretty great job without making the fat completely unreasonable.

    6 - Chill and serve.  If you like, you can stir in any of the optional ingredients before refrigerating. 

    * I will calculate nutritional data and provide photos the next time I make this so that the accuracy will be better. 

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    There's a Fire in My Kitchen

    Nope, I am not even kidding: something's burning!  Summertime living has long been my laziest food prep season of the year and with good reason: the ingredient selection this time of year is so fresh, and the flavors so vibrant, that I don't have to spend tons of time cooking most meals to achieve fantastic results. 
    It's hot out and I've stopped using my oven.  Between the grill, the crockpot, picnicking and outdoor gatherings, there's been no need to use my oven for weeks now.  In fact, the last time I used my oven was on Father's Day to make a blueberry buckle; which must've boiled over because there's smoke coming from my preheating oven at this very moment.
    What's the cause for the smoke?  Today I am making roasted okra to be used as a TV magic swap-out on tonight's Healthy Living on the Go, a local TV project I've been working on with the Wicomico County Health Department and our local Public Access Station, PAC-14.
    Okra is one of those love it or leave it foods that people are typically strongly opinionated about.  This Tart loves nothing more than a challenge and I am often serving up trays food items to people that they never thought they'd like but end up falling in love with.  This okra dish is one that's fun because it's a snacky finger food that is tasty.  Plus, it bears no resemblance to the slimy stewed okra or breaded and deep fried stuff that most people imagine.  What I really like about it is it's nutrient profile, which boasts being high in fiber, Vitamin C (160%), calcium (37%) and iron (25%) to name a few.  If you really want to look and feel your best, getting your nutrients through highly nutritious food is the way to go.  It keeps the fire of inflammation out of the body, decreasing the likelihood of chronic disease and the need to exist on a cocktail of medications. 
    Make the food real, and keep it fun!


    Saturday, July 6, 2013

    Simple Pleasures and Wellness

    I  have never been one to like housework and as such, my house would never EVER pass a white glove test.  I do try to keep my space orderly but, of course, it's always with an air of chaos because I am far too sentimental to toss anything without thoroughly sorting through every item to tedium; you never know what might hold a memory. 

    I would not even describe myself as a person who loves to cook which often surprises people.  Truth is, I love to eat and I am obsessed with food so I have embraced the process of food preparation.  As with anything we wish to be successful in--whether it's weight management or health or our career goals--we need to find pleasure in the process. 

    When I slice up fruits and vegetables I feel a connection of energy between my body, the cutting board and the sustenance between.  It may be the high quality ingredients, which I insist on always, or it may be the genuine love I feel for foods that I know will nourish and love my body back.   I find so much joy in the smell of fresh berries or in taking a bite in a fresh peach full of that combo of tart and too sweet (like nature's lemonade).  The act of picking fresh fruit or tending to my herb garden is a very spiritual one for me.  It feels so good to know where your food comes from and have that earthly connection to its source. 

    I even find myself taking joy in gathering the scraps to walk out to the compost bin and maybe this is because I am still connected to the food as it returns to the earth for fulfillment of the life cycle.  It feels so simple but this involvement in the process is a joy that brings me and my family good health.  Appreciating the blessings, no matter how small, allows us to embrace the process and keep on keeping on.  In the end, I could probably do without most of the garbage I sort through looking for memories.  Life is good in the here and now and that's all that matters!  Eat well, live well.  It's a true story, my friends.

    Happy Saturday!


    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    Chocolate Avocado "Pudding" with Whipped Coconut Milk Solids

    Crazy, vegan hippie food.  That's the first thing that popped into my head when I was making this tonight.  I eat a lot of crazy, vegan hippie food, for sure, but this is definetly decadent enough to pleasantly surprise most tasters.

    I am not claiming this to be low in fat but it has very little added sugar and is completely dairy free.  After eating too much refined junk over the holidays, this Tart is craving real, minimally processed foods in a major way.  And the Tiny Tarts got kind of used to dessert this last few weeks so this was a great thing to throw in while we all wean ourselves off of sugar and back onto a balanced diet.


    For the pudding:

    Flesh of one avocado
    1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon coconut sugar or date sugar
    1 teaspoon nutella (I know, refined and not whole but it was minimal and added a nice flavor; I think I might try looking for some hazelnut extract to use instead however)


    Food Processor
    Electric beaters/ hand mixer

    For the whipped "cream":

    One can of coconut milk, not lite or low fat, kept in refriderator overnight
    1 teaspoon coconut sugar or date sugar
    pomemgranate seeds, to garnish

    *Note, since I've learned you can whip coconut milk solids like whipped cream, I keep 2 cans of this stuff in my fridge at all times!

    To make pudding:

    1 - Place ingredients in bowl of food processor and whip until smooth.  Taste.  Add more cocoa or a pinch more of sugar as needed.  This should taste and look like a rich, chocolate frosting.

    To make whipped coconut:

    1 - Place can of coconut milk in fridge overnight.  You can not shorten this by freezing, it creates lumps of fatty ick in your whipped topping (ask me how I know this...).

    2 - Scoop hardened solids into the bottom of a deep bowl.  Strain off all liquid.  Save the liquid for another use (stir fry or a piña colada smoothie or something!)

    3 - Use hand beater to whip until the mass has more than doubled in size.  It will be light and fluffy.  Lightly sweeten (or not, it's actually quite good all on it's own!)

    Place pudding into 3 small serving dishes or shot glass and top with cream.  Garnish with pomegranate seeds.  Use small, demi spoons to enjoy this decadent real food dessert!   Think about how great your skin will look from all those yummy natural fat sources and vitamin K!

    Makes 3 servings. Per Serving:

    nutrition facts
    *Don't sweat the fat! This is a dessert. It's not something you'll eat every day but believe me, your body will better process all of that natural fat than it would tons of refined sugar from some 100 calorie snack bar. Besides, just look at all the fiber and other nutrients! This is packed full of love for sure.