Cooking with Family and Friends

My kitchen remodel is nearly done and it’s looking great! We have had a ton of fun cooing together this past week and learning where things are as we go. The contractors will return after the New Year but for now it is just my kitchen. Sharing it here with my daughters, Hannah who flew in from California and Kristen who came over to bake.


I hope you all are enjoying this season of family and friends. It has been quite busy in my kitchen and I’d like to share a couple recipes with you that we like to make. The first is so delicious and yet so simple and comes from The Kind Diet Cookbook by alicia silverstone.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups:

 ½ cup Earth Balance butter

¾ cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)

¾ cup almond meal

¼ cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener (I used regular sugar and it was fine)

1 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips

¼ cup soy, rice, or nut milk

¼ cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts

  •  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  • Melt the Earth Balance butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the peanut butter, almond meal and maple syrup and mix well.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat. Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
  • Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan. Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
  • Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Top with chopped nuts.
  • Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.


The refrigerator in the background which is my living room is going to the Habitat for Humanity Re-store soon!

Chestnut Tarts:

1 cup (5ounces) whole peeled chestnuts roasted or bottled dry chestnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup maple syrup

2 large egg whites (free range, organic or egg substitute)

¼ tsp salt

2 packages 15 count phyllo pastry tarts

½ cup fresh whipped cream

  • Reconstitute chestnuts if dried, pulse in food processor until finely ground. Remove to a  medium bowl, stir in vanilla and maple syrup.
  • Beat together egg white, salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the chestnut mixture.
  • Place phyllo tarts into mini muffin pan and fill each with the chestnut mixture.
  • Bake at 375 for 10 minutes until golden.
  • Allow to cool and pipe a whipped cream star on top of each cooled tart.

Off to see Shakespeare and Company It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play with all my Children. Photos and story to follow.


Kira and her pal Pooh approve of the kitchen remodel mostly because they can see out the new back door.

Be Well and Enjoy!

Winter Blessings

I love waking to a snow covered landscape which was the case this morning. I’m not sure what it is that makes me so happy when it snows but I do know it brings the kid out in me. I couldn’t wait to get outside with the dogs and play. Thankfully, my daughter came to help shovel so that task also became fun!


We could hear others in the neighborhood talking as they were shoveling. In the distance someone had a snow blower running and it sounded like it was in a box because the snow covered ground absorbed the harshness of the machine. It was time for lunch when we finished and I realized there was nothing quick to make so I had some hummus while planning what to make for dinner. Kristen came in and had some of the gluten free ginger cookies I had and checked out my nearly completed kitchen renovation that is awaiting the counter top and appliances!

I can’t wait to be cooking in my kitchen again. When preparing meals these past few months I have gathered ingredients from my storage jars in the upstairs bedroom, brought them to the small table in my living room where I prepared them for cooking and once prepped brought everything to the range we moved into the basement. I have certainly got my exercise running up and down the stairs while cooking. it will seem so easy to make meals when it is all in one space on one floor.


The gas range will fit into this space


AND the refrigerator will go here.

Those ginger cookies were really good but I ate too much sugar today so I made a wonderful Shiitake Mushroom Soup for dinner to help rid my body of all the sugar. It was delightful and a perfect way to end this very busy winter day full of blessings.

Shiitake Mushroom Soup

 1 bunch scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts separated

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

8 cups water

2 inch piece kombu

1/4 cup bonito flakes

3 oz dried shiitake, rinsed and soaked for 5 minutes or 10-12 fresh shiitake

½ cup sweet white miso

1 pound baby bok choy, cut in quarters
8 oz firm tofu cut into small cubes

 1)      In a large soup pot over medium heat add the scallion white parts, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.

2)      Cook for 1 minute and add 8 cups water.

3)      Rinse the kombu and soak it for 5 minutes, add it to the pot along with the bonito flakes.

4)      Bring it to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes – do not let it boil.

5)      Remove the kombu and set it aside.

6)      Add the shiitake mushrooms and miso to the pot and let it simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are hydrated and tender.

7)      Add the bok choy and simmer until it is tender, about 10 minutes.

8)      Add the tofu and cook for another 5 minutes.

9)      Ladle into bowls and garnish with the reserved green parts of scallions.

I am counting my many blessings this evening including my wonderful children, my warm home in this beautiful part of the world and my health.

That’s all for this week.

Brightest Blessings



Winter Food

I love the way snow and sunlight interact to create brilliant sparkles and the quiet of a walk when snow is falling.

Winter is here with brisk air and shorter days reminding us to slow down and pull in for a bit. With this season comes the need for us to make meals that will warm and sustain us when we interact with father winter. One of my favorite hearty soups is just the dish for a cold winter day. It is so simple and yet so delicious.
Cannellini Bean and Barley Soup:


  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and soaked overnight (or 15oz canned)
  • 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup barley
  • 4 cups fresh kale


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over  medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and basil; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and just beginning to brown, 5-6 minutes.
  2. Mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Stir the mashed and whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in Kale and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Enjoy!
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”  
Lewis Carroll
Peace and Brightest Blessings