Watermelon and Mint Salad

Watermelon Salad ++ the pear and plum

My sister just got back from the Middle East and brought me a bunch of things… herbs and spices, goodies from what sounds like the most magical flea market on Earth, and a simple recipe she learned from a friend. Not sure it has anything to do with Middle Eastern cuisine but it was lovely just the same. The ingredients are vague because theres really no wrong way to do this.


  • Watermelon, cubed
  • Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • Small handful of fresh Mint Leaves
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper


  1. Cut the watermelon into cubes and put in a colander. Salt the watermelon to get rid of some water. Let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse well.
  2. Chop the mint and mix it into the watermelon.
  3. Crumble the goat cheese on top of the salad.
  4. Salt and pepper on top and serve.

Fennel Citrus Salad


A refreshing salad that is super quick to put together but still looks really fancy. A couple things are key with this salad:

1) The citrus has to be as sweet

2) The fennel has to be shaved thin.

If you’ve got both, perfection ensues. If not, its still worth making, just not as good as it can be .

(makes a small bowl of salad for 2-3 people.)


  • 1 Large Orange
  • 1 Large Grapefruit
  • 1 Bulb Fennel – Shaved on a mandolin – reserve some of the fronds for decoration
  • 1 Avocado, sliced in wedges
  • 1/8 C Olive Oil
  • 2 T Rice Vinegar
  • 1 T Honey (may need more depending on sweetness of citrus)
  • Fresh cracked Black Pepper


  1. Peel the orange and the grapefruit. Slice in rounds and then separate in to small pieces. Put in bowl
  2. Shave the Fennel and toss with citrus
  3. Cut Avocado into wedges and toss with citrus.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the Olive Oil, Rice Vinegar and Honey and mix until emulsified. Pour over salad. Add cracked pepper on top and toss lightly to coat.
  5. This one looks really pretty served on a platter, especially if you leave some of the citrus rounds whole for decoration. You may also want to use some of the Fennel fronds for color as well.

Kale Ceasar salad (with Lemon Yogurt Dressing)

Kale Ceasar, the pear and plum



January is the month of Kale for me. I don’t know why but I need it so much (smoothie, stirfry, etc)  Heres yet another way to obsessively consume it.


  • 1 clove raw Garlic, smashed in a garlic press
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • around 2 T Lemon Juice (add zest too if you want)
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Crushed Black Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 Cup Yogurt
  • Parmesan to taste
  • 1 Bunch Kale



  1. Put lemon juice and smashed garlic into a small bowl let sit for 5 min.
  2. In another small bowl, combine olive oil,  mustard, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add garlic and lemon juice when ready.
  3. Whisk in 1/4 cup yogurt and parmesan to taste. Combine well.
  4. In the mean time, wash kale and cut off stems and ribs. Cut up really small and put in salad bowl.
  5. Dress salad. Add more parmesan on top.


Oven Roasted Tomatoes

roasted tomatoes ++the pear and plum

Not only does this taste awesome, you’re also going to make your house smell incredible for hours. We served them as a side dish (but they would be amazing over pasta with roasted garlic and olive oil…. mmmm… I’ll do that next time.) I also sprinkled a tiny bit of hot pepper over them at the end which was really really great.


  • 3 – 4 Tomatoes (medium size)
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 – 2 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin
  • A couple sprigs of fresh Rosemary, chopped fine (You could also use Basil and/or Thyme)
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • Aleppo Peppers (or your favorite crushed hot peppers)


  1. Preheat oven to 325° F
  2. Cut each Tomato in half once (horizontally) and take out the seeds.
  3. Pour Olive Oil onto baking sheet or pan and rub the cut side of the tomatoes in the oil.
  4. Flip them over so they’re sitting cut side up and rub the cut Garlic over them. When you’ve rubbed all the tomatoes, put the extra garlic in each tomato where the seeds used to be.
  5. Sprinkle them with Salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper and Herbs. (make sure to push the herbs in so that they dont sit on top and burn.)
  6. Bake for 2 hours or until done.
  7. Sprinkle some Hot Pepper on the top (optional) and serve.

Spiced Hummus

Spiced Hummus ++ the pear and  plum

I totally take it back. Turns out Tahini is awesome…. at least in this hummus that my sweet husband created.


  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/4 Cup Pistachios (or Cashews)
  • 1 can (15 oz) Garbanzo Beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Sumac
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek (optional but i LOVE it)
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1 Lemon, Juiced & Zested
  • 1 T Chopped Dill
  • 1 T Tahini
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Put Garlic in a food processor and pulse until chopped.
  2. Add Lemon juice and scrape the garlic down so it sits in the lemon (You can let it sit for a couple minutes to take some of the heat out.)
  3. Add in nuts and blend until well chopped.
  4. Add the Beans, all the Spices, Lemon Zest, Dill & Tahini and process.
  5. As the machine is running, slowly add the Olive Oil.
  6. Process until smooth and then taste and add Salt & Pepper to your liking.
  7. Sprinkle Sumac on top to make it pretty.

Vegetarian Sushi

Vegetarian Sushi ++ the pear and plum

Rolling and cutting sushi is incredibly satisfying.

Wrapping a big mess into a lovely green cylinder that you then slice into neat little rounds. I wish i could roll up my living room and slice it neat.

3 things to note:

1. Make sure you use sushi rice – I read a bunch of recipes. There are lots of opposing opinions about using different kinds of rice – However – NO ONE says sushi rice doesn’t work so I stuck with that. Please let me know if you have another option.

2. I use our serrated bread knife to cut the sushi. Whatever knife you use, just make sure its super sharp.

3. If you want to 1/2 the recipe and make less, that totally works.

Recipe in two parts below… First: making the rice and Second: making the roll.

(Rice Recipe from Alton Brown)

MAKING THE RICE  (makes 4 Cups)


  • 2 cups sushi or short grain rice
  • 2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt


  1. Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.
  2. Place the rice and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered.
  3. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds.
  5. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture.
  6. Allow to cool to room temperature before using. [I put mine in the fridge while i prepped the veggies]



  • Seaweed wrappers [Sold at any decent grocery store.]
  • Avocado, Cucumber, Carrots [I used a mandolin to shred the veggies long and thin]
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soy Sauce (as much as you want for dipping)
  • Tiny bit of Ginger, minced fine and added to the soy sauce (optional)
  • anything else you want to add.. pickled ginger? cream cheese? sweet potato? basil? bean sprouts?


  1. Set up your station: Put a large flat surface on your table. (I used my cutting board.) Fill a small bowl with cold water and put that near you. Surround yourself with your chopped veggies, cooled rice, sesame seeds, seaweed wrappers and whatever else you wanted to include. Once you get going, you’re going to be covered in rice so you want to have everything at the ready.
  2. On your flat surface, lay out one piece of seaweed and cover the whole thing with a thin layer of rice.
  3. After the rice is spread out, place your vegetables at the end nearest you (because when you start rolling, this edge will end up in the middle of your roll). Add sesame seeds over the vegetables.
  4. When everything you want in the roll is all situated, start to roll away from you. Keep everything pretty tight or you wont be happy when you start to cut them. When you get to the end, you can use your water to seal the roll shut. You now have a green cylinder.
  5. Use your serrated bread knife to slowly cut your sushi pieces.
  6. After you make one roll, you’ll see what you want to change for the next one.



Armenian Bean and Walnut Pate (Oleana)

Armenian Bean and Walnut Pate ++ the pear and plum

A wonderfully creamy rich spread, great on anything from a tomato sandwich to a cracker. This is a regular recipe at our house because its really easy protein on the go.

It comes from my favorite restaurant, Oleana. It’s a part of Anna Sortun’s cookbook, Spice. Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean. I’ve made it a million times and so I’ve come up with some edits and helpful hints that are noted below. You can use dried beans or canned. Honestly, I don’t have the patience to use the dried but if you do, the recipe will probably be better for it. I’ve always use canned and love the result so I’ll include both measurements & directions below so you can decide.

a note about herbs: I’ve used all combinations of the 4 listed below. You don’t need to use them all but you do need to use at least 2 kinds.

(serves 8)


  • Beans: 1 Cup Dry Kidney Beans, soaked overnight and rinsed OR  2.5 Cups Canned Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 Cups Water
  • 1/2 Small Sweet Onion, minced (I’ve used onions before that ended up being really bitter so now I always use sweet)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1.5 Cups Walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 tsp. minced Garlic (about 1 small clove)
  • 3 T Butter (original recipe calls for 4 but i didn’t taste the difference with less)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T chopped fresh Dill
  • 1 T chopped fresh Mint or Basil
  • 1 T chopped fresh Parsley


1. For DRY Beans: In a medium saucepan over medium high heat bring the beans to a boil with the water, onion and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 40-50 minutes until the beans are very tender.

For CANNED Beans: I’m never sure if this step is necessary but I’ve always done it to at least cook the onions and infuse the bay into everything…. Anyways, Cook the canned beans with the onions and bay about 10 minutes.

2. Drain the beans into a colander and discard the bay leaf

3. While the beans are still warm, toss them with the toasted walnuts, garlic and butter in a mixing bowl. Add some salt and pepper. Stir until the butter is melted and then dump mixture into your food processor. Puree 3 to 4 minutes until it is a thick paste.

4. Add Herbs and puree until mixed in. Taste it and add more salt and pepper if it needs it.

5. Now here’s where the recipe and i totally differ. I don’t really need the pate to be pretty. We eat this all week long as a snack and a meal so I’m not looking to impress anyone. I pour the whole thing into a glass bowl with a lid and keep in the fridge. Just spread on a piece of bread and go. However, If I were looking to impress, I’d follow the original recipe:  dump out the mixture onto plastic wrap and roll it up into a log so that you can slice it up for serving. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve with Armenian String Cheese.

Saturday Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread

This bread is wonderful for sandwiches (not too many holes so your fixings stay put), french toast, smothered in cheese or nutella, oooo I bet it would make a great bread pudding. Just mix it up. Let it sit overnight. Cook it.

Thank you, thank you for posting this recipe  Simply So Good.

Spring 2018 Update: I’ve made some edits due to a new stove.(see note below) I’ve also added honey to the dough which gives the bread a tiny bit of sweetness and I love it so much I’m never going back .

(serving size: 1 Loaf)


  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1  tsp. Kosher Salt (EDIT: Used to be 1 3/4 tsp but it seemed a bit too salty)
  • 1/2 tsp. Instant or Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • 1 T Honey


  1. In a large bowl, [I used my Kitchen Aid mixer bowl] whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Add honey to the water and then add that mixture to the dry (put on dough hook attachment) and mix on low until combined and the dough sticks together.
  3. Cover with a really damp dishtowel and leave out on the counter to proof for 12 – 18 hours [I did 20 hours because thats how our day was going and it worked out fine. Dont let the cloth dry out too much]
  4. Heat oven to 450 degrees (use bake, not convection) and preheat your pot and lid for 20 minutes. [Original recipe uses those lovely Le Creuset pots. I used my 8 inch, oven proof, All Clad stock pot.]
  5. While pan is preheating, dump dough out onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a neat lump. Cover with a damp dishtowel and let rise until the 20 minutes is up for the pot in the oven.
  6. Move dough to parchment paper (it will be sticky so you can flour the top if you want) and drop into pot. Remind yourself over and over again that the pot is really H O T. You should probably leave a potholder on top of the lid to remind yourself.
  7. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove lid and cook for 15 more to brown it up. (2018 update: We got a new stove and the above times aren’t working for me anymore. I’m going to try 40 min with lid on and 20 with it off. I will update)
  8. Cover in homemade butter and jam…. wowza.

Other Versions:

Whole Wheat Flax Bread ++ the pear and plum

3.25.13 Update:  I Just made a Whole Wheat Flax Seed Version of this which was great. I might add honey next time because while its really nice and nutty tasting, I’d like it to be a tiny bit sweet. The directions are the same but heres the ingredient list:

  • 2 Cups White Flour
  • 1 Cup Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Toasted Flax Seeds
  • 1  3/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water

tags: Saturday food, Dinner, Appetizer, Lunch, Soup Bread, Sandwich Bread, Dip, Quick Bread, Yeast Bread

Sweet Cornbread


Basic. Easy. Awesome. I did cut down on the sugar (imagine that) and i feel like its perfect…. not cake and not plain bread. Y.u.m.

(Original from here)

(Makes one 8 inch cake or a dozen muffins)


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar [original recipe said 2/3]
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup oil [we used Safflower Oil – next time try Coconut Oil]
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F Grease 8-inch square baking pan or cast iron skillet. [ARG! My skillets are too large and too small so i used an 8 inch pyrex. Not nearly as exciting as an iron skillet.]
  2. Combine flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, eggs, oil and butter in small bowl and mix well. Add to flour mixture and stir just until blended.
  3. Pour into baking pan or skillet. Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean.
  4. Cover in homemade butter and you are the happiest person alive.

(For corn muffins, spoon batter into muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans.)