Help a friend: Please VOTE for MADE FRESH!

My talented friends made it as the top 5 finalist in the Barilla L'Arte della Cucina poster design contest (Made Fresh poster shown below). Please help them win with your votes!

You can vote directly on the company's website or on their Facebook app. You can vote once a day and also be entered for a chance to with $1,000 and a year's supply of pasta and sauce until November 12th.

My friends and I thank you. 

Soup: Curried Butternut Squash (Inspired by The Butcher's Daughter)

Prep & Cook Time: ~30-45 minutes
Serves: 4

Tool: Hand held immersion blender
*If you don't have one, use a blender/food processor blending a small amount at a time so you don't have hot soup explode all over you and your kitchen OR use a potato masher or fork to thoroughly mash the squash.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp curry powder
2 lbs butternut squash, chopped
salt & pepper (to taste)
1 c water
1 c coconut milk (I recommend Native Forest)

Optional additional ingredients: (what I used in this recipe)
1/2 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground ginger
For heat, try a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or paprika (a little can go a long way in a simmering soup)

1. In a pot, drizzle olive oil on medium heat. Add the diced onion, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and cook until transclucent.
2. Once the onions are translucent, then add the chopped butternut squash. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and curry (and any of the additional spices as mentioned above). Be sure to coat the squash well with the spices.
3. Add the water and bring to a simmer and cover with lid. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until the squash is fork tender.

4. When the squash is fork tender, carefully use the immersion blender and blend in pulses until the entire soup is smooth. You can slowly add, a little at a time, the coconut milk. The soup should become creamy smooth. Add more or less liquids based on your consistency preference. 
5. Simmer for about 10 minutes longer to heat through again and serve.

A recipe inspired by the awesome soup from The Butcher's Daughter in NYC.


Rich Chocolate Tart (from Cook's Illustrated)

Seeing this beautiful tart on the cover of Cook's Illustrated and I was sold.
And, I was determined (and was very ambitious) to re-create it at home.

After three long evenings, this was the result. What do you think? 

Prep/bake time:
Plan to make this in one full day or in increments taking three evenings like I did (this was my after work project).

Special tools you'll need:
  • 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (tinned steel, recommended by CI)
  • Food processor (to make the crust)
  • 2 cups of pie weights (or dry beans) -- Note: I didn't have any so I carefully blind baked the crust.
  • Fine, metal mesh strainer
Ingredients shopping list:
  1. Eggs (at least a half carton for the 4 eggs you need)
  2. Heavy cream (you'll need just a small carton for less than 2 cups)
  3. Unsalted butter
  4. Almonds, sliced
  5. Instant espresso powder
  6. 11 oz (at least) of bittersweet (dark) chocolate (Ghirardelli, recommended by CI) -- Note: Reserve extra chocolate to use as garnish like curls.
  7. Sugar
  8. Flour
  9. Light corn syrup (but I used agave syrup since I had this in the house)
  10. Salt
Ingredients/Directions below for: Crust, Filling and Glaze

Crust - Watch the video link above to help visualize the steps below.
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 c sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 c (1 3/4 oz) sugar
1 c (5 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  1. Beat egg yolk and cream together in a small bowl. 
  2. In the food processor, add almonds and sugar until the almonds are finely ground. Then add the flour and salt, mix/pulse again. Add the pieces of butter into the mixture, mix/pulse again until it resembles coarse cornmeal. While the food processor is running, add the egg yolk/cream mixture until a dough ball forms. Transfer dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap and form into a 6-inch disk. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. 
  3. Roll out dough between two large sheets of plastic wrap until it forms into an 11-inch circle and about 3/8 inch thick. Cover the dough in the plastic wrap and place it on a baking sheet to refrigerate until firm, but pliable, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Grease the tart pan with a vegetable oil spray or with butter. 
  5. Keep one side of the dough on a plastic sheet and flip the tart pan upside down (inverted) onto the exposed (non-plastic) side of the dough and press down into the dough to cut. See the video to help visualize. :)
  6. While holding the tart pan in place with one hand, flip the dough/baking sheet and tart pan over. The tart pan will now sit bottom side down allowing you to cut the dough and leaving the bottom crust into the tart pan. 
  7. Remove the sheet and peel off plastic (reserve the plastic). Roll over the edges of the tart pan with a rolling pin (your hands will work too) to cut the dough and gently press down the dough into the bottom of the tart pan.
  8. Reserve the dough scraps and gently roll them into 3/4-inch diameter ropes. Place the ropes along the edges of the tart pan and press them into the sides to make the wall of the crust. Crust should be about 1/4-inch thick. Tip: Use the reserved plastic wrap over the tart pan and use a measuring cup to press along the sides to form the wall of the crust. See the video to help visualize. :)
  9. Use a paring knife to trim away the excess dough from the top. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and freeze for 20-30 minutes. (I placed the tart on a baking sheet to prevent me from accidentally ruining the crust by pushing up the bottom tart pan.)
  10. Blind baking: Pre-heat oven to 375 degree F with a rack in the middle position. Spray or grease one side of a sheet of aluminum foil and place the greased side down on the tart/dough (tart pan should still be on the baking sheet). Once the aluminum foil has covered the tart, place the pie weights on top of the aluminum foil into the tart. Bake for about 25 minutes until the dough is dry and golden brown. Carefully remove the foil and weights and back for another 8-10 minutes until the dough is a rich golden brown. 
  11. Let the tart/dough completely cool on a wire rack.
1 1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp salt
9 oz bittersweet (dark) chocolate, chopped fine
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and softened
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
  1. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degree F. 
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the cream, espresso powder and salt to simmer (stirring once or twice). 
  3. In a large, heatproof bowl, add the chopped chocolate and pour in the simmering cream mixture over the chocolate. Cover and let it stand for 5 minutes to soften the chocolate.
  4. Using a whisk, stir the mixture slowly and gently (to prevent air bubbles from forming) until fully blended and smooth. Add butter and continue to whisk gently. 
  5. In a small bowl, crack the eggs into it. Grab the metal mesh strainer and pour the eggs through the strainer into the chocolate mixture. Whisk in the eggs gently until fully incorporated and smooth. See the video to help visualize. :)
  6. While tart is still on a baking sheet, pour the chocolate filling into the tart crust and shake gently to release any air bubbles (pop large bubbles with a toothpick). 
  7. Bake the tart for about 30-35 minutes until the outer edge of the filling has small, faint cracks on the surface (filling will be wobbly). See the video to help visualize. :)
  8. Refrigerate, uncovered, for about 3 hours or longer until the filling is fully chilled and set. 
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp light corn syrup
2 oz bittersweet (dark) chocolate, chopped fine
1 tbsp hot water
  1. 30 minutes before glazing, remove tart from the refrigerator. Note: Glaze takes a few minutes to make, so do not make this when you just took out the refrigerated tart.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the cream and corn syrup (I used agave syrup) to simmer (stirring once or twice). 
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate and cover. Let it stand for 5 minutes to soften. 
  4. Whisk the sauce gently to prevent air bubbles until smooth. Add in the hot water and whisk gently until fully incorporated. Glaze should be smooth and glossy. 
  5. Immediately pour the glaze over the tart and quickly distribute the glaze by tilting around the tart pan until the glaze covers the entire surface. See the video to help visualize. :)
  6. Pop any large bubbles with a toothpick and let it stand for at least 1 hour to 3 hours. 
  7. Remove the outer ring of the tart pan and release the bottom plate by carefully using a thin-metal spatula. Slide tart onto a large serving plate.
Serving suggestions: Garnish with chocolate curls (I used a vegetable peeler to make the curls) and try the tart with a sprinkle of sea salt (as I did) or chopped nuts or fresh fruit like raspberries or, for the adventurous, a little chili powder or garam masala.
My final thoughts: This. Was. TOUGH!!!! But well worth it and I got a lot of compliments. This was a super dense tart, so I only had tiny servings at a time (think half a slice of what you'd want for a pie, yields 8-12 slices). Also, I thought using a dark chocolate glaze over a dark chocolate filling felt a bit too one-note, so I might try using a hazelnut glaze in the future or something to break up all the dark chocolate; however, dark chocolate lovers may think this is perfect just the way it is. 

For additional reference, check out this blog: My Year with Chris


Vegetarian Tikka Masala

New year, new home. Still setting up my kitchen, but threw together my attempt at a Vegetarian Tikka Masala using ingredients I had around...and, I must say, I impressed myself with how tasty it turned out! My taste tester approved. What do you think?

I basically made up this recipe in my imaginative head until it tasted nice. The tikka masala recipe is based off of memory and loose measurements -- definitely play around with this and adjust to your liking. I think that's part of the fun and adventure!

Recipe below...
(most are organic ingredients)

Tikka Masala
In a pot, add 1 tbsp of oil or butter (I used coconut oil) and toast the spices a little before adding tomato base to bring out the flavors.

Spices: (* = essential) 
1/2 cinnamon stick (be sure to dig this out before serving)
10 cardamom seeds (be sure to dig this out before serving, tip: bundle them in a little cheese cloth so you can dig this out once you're done cooking)
1 tsp coriander seeds 
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garlic powder*
1 tsp of garam masala*
1/2 tsp ginger powder*
1/4 tsp of cayenne
1/2 tsp of dried red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

Tomato sauce base:
1 (6oz) tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream -- or I've used Coconut Cream which works wonderfully for a vegan / dairy-free version, I use this brand: Native Forest Classic - http://www.edwardandsons.com/native_shop_coconut.itml
~1 c water (Only use to help thin out sauce, pour little by little to desired consistency)

Totes up to you. I just added what I had in the house: frozen corn and broccoli. Try adding tofu, potatoes, peas, chickpeas, etc. 

Cooked per package instructions for the rice.*

1 cup Basmati Rice*
2 cup water*
1 cinnamon stick (dig out before serving)
5 cardamom seeds (dig out before serving)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt & pepper 
(seasoning can always be adjusted to your taste)

Serving suggestions: Sprinkle chopped cilantro or coconut flakes on top.

Serve over rice and side of naan. Yum.


Happy 2014!

Love, gratitude, joy, good health and many great eats to all the lovely buddha bellies. 

Here's to my humble blog approaching its fifth year (wow)! I don't know where this journey will take me, but it's been fun & tasty so far. xo

P.S. I hopped on the video collages bandwagon for fun. 

*Music Credit in Flipagram Video: Cory Helms - "Open E"


Books: What I'm reading.

Below are some new cookbooks I received to keep me busy, and full, in the New Year! I'm excited to try recipes from these books. I've already made a few out of the Sriracha and Raw Food cookbooks that were successful and tasty. 

I'd love to hear your recommendations for great cookbooks too!

Books pictured:


Soup: French Potage with Pistou (from the Vegetarian Times)

For a comforting soup, this one turned out great and tastes great on repeat as a left-over too.

The name is fancy, but it's essentially a potato soup with a pesto sauce.

Definitely on my list as a repeat recipe. Yummmm.

See how it turned out in comparison to the original. What do you think?

French Potage with Pistou 
Recipe from the Vegetarian Times


Hand-held immersion blender (what I used) OR blender/food processor (Note: blend small amounts at a time so you don't have hot soup explode all over you and your kitchen!)


2 Tbs. unsalted butter (I used coconut oil, but olive oil or vegan butter will work)
2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts chopped (4 cups) 
¼ cup dry white wine
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced (2 cups) (I used 2 since they were medium sized)
4 medium carrots, chopped (3 cups)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
(I also added dried red pepper flakes, ground flax and hemp seeds to my soup)

1 cup firmly packed basil leaves (I used fresh oregano since my store was out of basil)
¼ cup walnuts, toasted (I used cashew since I didn't have any walnuts around)
1 clove garlic, peeled
¼ cup olive oil

1. To make Potage: Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and pinch of salt; cover, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until leeks are softened, stirring often. Stir in wine and garlic, and cook, uncovered, 1 to 2 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated.

2. Add potato, carrots, thyme, bay leaf, broth, and 2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes, or until potato and carrots are soft.

3. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Purée soup in blender or food processor, or with immersion blender, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
4. To make Pistou: Place basil, walnuts, and garlic in blender. Pulse to combine. Pour in oil, and blend until smooth. Add water if necessary to form smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Serve dollop on top of Potage.

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