Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Energy Bars

Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes: 12 

2 cups quick oats
1 cup wheat germ
½ cup flaked or shredded coconut, unsweetened
½ cup flax meal
1½ cups peanut butter
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter

Line a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir quick oats, wheat germ, coconut, flax meal, peanut butter, honey and vanilla until evenly distributed and mixture becomes thick. If you’re noticing that the mix isn’t holding together, add another ¼ cup of peanut butter and pour in a little more honey. Or, if it seems to be too gooey to hold together, add more oats. Once you’ve mixed the ingredients, press evenly into prepared dish and refrigerate for 1 hour. Once set, cut into bars.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt together chocolate chips and butter, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Using a fork, drizzle chocolate over bars and place in the fridge until chocolate has hardened — about 15 minutes.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Chicken Little Salad Cups

Start to finish: 25 minutes
Impresses: 4

For the salad:
    butter lettuce leaves
2    cups shredded rotisserie chicken
½    cup grapes, halved
2    stalks celery, diced
¼    red onion, diced

For the dressing:
½    cup cottage cheese
      salt and pepper

Combine cottage cheese, salt and pepper into a small blender cup and pulse until smooth. Set aside.

Carefully separate lettuce leaves from the core. Using a damp paper towel, gently wipe down each lettuce leaf and place onto a tray.

In a large bowl, combine all remaining salad ingredients and toss together with pureed cottage cheese. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before scooping into lettuce cups
and serving.

Slammin' Salmon Salad

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Impresses: 4

For the salad:
1    lemon
4    3-ounce salmon filets,
      skinned and deboned
      salt and pepper
1    5-ounce container arugula
1    cup fresh spring peas
¼    cup dill
1    cup quinoa,
      cooked to package instructions

For the dressing:
¼    cup extra virgin olive oil
¼    cup lemon juice
½    cup plain yogurt
1    garlic clove, minced
      salt and pepper
½    cup feta cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside four pieces of parchment paper, each about the size of a magazine.

Slice lemon into thin rounds. Grab a sheet of parchment and place two lemon slices in the middle. Place a salmon filet on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold one side of parchment to meet the other, then starting from the left, fold the bottom portion of parchment over the top. Repeat all the way around to create a sealed pouch. 

Repeat with rest of lemon, salmon and parchment pieces. 

Place salmon pouches onto a baking sheet and cook for 15–18 minutes or until salmon is a light pink color and flaky. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before opening pouches.

While salmon steams, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except feta, until fully combined. Stir in crumbles of feta. 

Divide arugula onto four plates or bowls and top with equal parts peas, sprigs of dill and quinoa. Top with piece of poached salmon and drizzle with a few tablespoons of dressing.

Breakfast Cobb

Start to finish: 40 minutes
Impresses: 4

For the salad:
1    medium-sized sweet potato
2    tablespoons olive oil
      salt and pepper
4    eggs
1    5-ounce bag baby spinach
4    ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
4    slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

For the dressing:
1    cup buttermilk
½    cup mayo
¼    cup fresh chives
¼    cup fresh dill
1    clove garlic
½    lemon, juiced and zested
      salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

Cut the ends off the sweet potato and discard. Slice it in half long ways and cut each half into spears. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Roast for 25–30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Set aside to cool once finished.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and carefully place eggs in one at a time. Set a timer and simmer for 6 minutes.

While the eggs cook, fill a medium-sized bowl with ice water. Set aside.

To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together until combined.

Once timer has ended for the eggs, immediately transfer them to ice water for one minute to stop cooking. Remove and carefully peel each egg.

Serve up spinach on plates or in bowls and top with crumbles of bleu cheese and bacon, a few sweet potato spears and a soft-boiled egg sliced in half. Drizzle with the buttermilk ranch dressing.


Herby Grain Salad

Start to finish: 1 hour
Impresses: 4

1    cup barley
2    cups chicken broth
1    stick European-style butter
½    cup parsley
¼    cup basil
¼    cup dill
2    tablespoons oregano
2    tablespoons sage
½    cup parmesan cheese
      salt and pepper

In a medium-sized sauce pan, combine barley and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

While the barley cooks, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until it turns a toasty, amber color. (You’ll be able to smell it during this step.) 

Remove from heat and carefully pour through a fine mesh sieve into a jar or small bowl. Set aside.

Roughly chop all of the herbs and place into a large bowl. Once barley is cooked, add to the bowl with herbs. Toss together with butter, parmesan, salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.

This Salad is Rad-ish

Start to finish: 15 minutes
Impresses: 6

1    cup whole milk cottage cheese
     salt and pepper
2    bunches radishes
1    fennel bulb
¼    cup mint

Plating tip
Assorted cut vegetables for serving (we love carrots, celery and cucumber).

In a large bowl, mix together cottage cheese, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cut off the top and bottom of each radish and discard the stems.

Wash the radishes and dry before slicing into thin rounds. You can do this carefully with a sharp knife or with a mandolin.

Cut fennel bulb in half and then into thin slices. Roughly chop mint.

Add sliced radishes, fennel and mint to bowl with cottage cheese. Stir to combine.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve chilled.

Meant to Brie

Start to finish: 10 minutes
Impresses: 4

For the salad:
1    5-ounce container spring mix
2    grapefruits
4    ounces brie cheese

For the dressing:
¼    cup extra virgin olive oil
2    tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
2    tablespoons honey
      salt and pepper

Slice each grapefruit in half long ways and remove the peel and white flesh. Place one half cut-side down and identify the thin, white lines in-between the flesh of the grapefruit. Using a paring knife, carefully slice between each white line to create segments. Repeat until entire grapefruit is sliced. Set aside.

Cut brie into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the dressing until emulsified.

Toss together spring mix, grapefruit segments, brie and dressing. Serve immediately.

Fro-Yo Margaritas

Start to finish: 5 minutes
Impresses: 2

1    cup vanilla frozen yogurt
1    cup ice
¼    cup fresh lime juice
3    ounces tequila
1 ½      ounces triple sec

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse to combine. Pour into a glass rimmed with sugar or salt and serve with extra lime wedges.

Want it alcohol free?
Omit the tequila and triple sec and add in an extra squeeze of lime for a tart, frozen limeade fit for all ages

Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas

Start to finish: 45 minutes
Impresses: 6

1     cup onion, chopped
½    cup green bell pepper, chopped
5    tablespoons butter
3    cups baby spinach
2    cups chopped cooked chicken
1     4-ounce can chopped green chiles (or roasted anaheims/hatch chiles)
¼    cup all-purpose flour
1     teaspoon ground coriander seed
¾    teaspoon salt
2½    cups chicken broth
1     cup sour cream
1½    cups shredded Monterey jack cheese (or more)
12    6-inch tortillas

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

In large saucepan, cook onion and green pepper in 2 tablespoons butter until tender. Combine in a bowl with spinach, chopped chicken and green chiles. Set aside.

In the same saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Whisk in flour, coriander and salt. Stir in chicken broth. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and ½ cup of cheese. 

Stir ½ cup of the sauce into the chicken mixture.  Dip each tortilla into remaining hot sauce to soften and fill each with about ¼ cup of the chicken mixture and roll up. 

Arrange rolls in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and pour remaining sauce over. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes or until the top begins to brown.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos

Start to finish: 11 hours
Impresses: 8–10


For the carnitas:
1    tablespoon cumin
1    tablespoon paprika
1    teaspoon salt
1    teaspoon pepper
1    4–5 lb. pork shoulder/butt
1    white onion
6    garlic cloves
2    oranges
2    limes
2    bay leaves
1    10-ounce can whole green chiles

For the chipotle crema:
2    cups sour cream
2    chipotles in adobo with sauce

For serving:
    corn tortillas
    cilantro, chopped
    white onion, chopped
    lime wedges

In a small bowl, combine cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.

Dry pork shoulder with a paper towel and then rub spice mix all over. Place pork into a slow cooker. Cut onion in half and smash each garlic clove. Place into slow cooker with skin on.

Add in the juice of the oranges and limes, bay leaves and can of green chiles
with juice. 

Set slow cooker on low for 10 hours.

In a blender, pulse together sour cream and chipotles until fully blended. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Pork is finished once it’s tender and easily pulls apart. Heat oven broiler and line a baking sheet with several layers of foil. 

Using two forks, pull pork until shredded, discarding the fatty parts. Place pork on the baking sheet and ladle 1–2 cups of the cooking liquid atop the pulled pork and toss to coat. Broil for 10–15 minutes, stirring twice.

To serve, place pork inside warm corn tortillas, top with cilantro, onion, a squeeze of lime juice and drizzle of chipotle crema.

House Chips & Guac

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Impresses: 4

For the guac:
2    poblano peppers
3    ripe avocados
1     lime
½    small red onion, diced
2    roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1     serrano pepper, seeded and diced
¼    cup cilantro, diced
      salt and pepper
¼    teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
2    ounces queso fresco

For the chips:
12    corn tortillas, cut into wedges
    cooking spray

Heat oven broiler to high and adjust the top rack to be about 6 inches from the coils. Line a baking sheet with foil and place poblanos on sheet pan on top oven rack. Broil peppers until charred all the way around, about 4–5 minutes per side. Once finished broiling, place peppers into a gallon-sized zip–top freezer bag and seal. Set aside. 

Turn off broiler and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spritz the same baking sheet that was used for the poblanos with cooking spray. Place tortilla wedges in a single layer and spritz with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until chips have started to crisp around the edges. 

While chips bake, cut avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop flesh into a medium-sized bowl. Squeeze lime juice into bowl and, using a fork, gently mash avocado and lime together. Stir in onion, tomatoes, serrano, cilantro, salt, pepper and cumin, if desired.

Remove the poblanos from the bag, peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Roughly chop the peppers.

Place prepared guacamole into a serving bowl and top with roasted poblanos and crumbled queso fresco.

Not Your Grandma's Chocolate Cake

Start to finish: 3 hours
Makes: 8–12 slices

For the cake:
1¾    cups flour
2      cups sugar
½     cup cocoa powder
2      teaspoons instant espresso powder
1½    teaspoons baking powder
1½    teaspoons baking soda
½     teaspoon salt
2      eggs
1       tablespoon vanilla
½     cup plain yogurt
1      cup milk
1      cup boiling water

For the frosting:
8     ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2     sticks unsalted butter, softened
6–7    cups powdered sugar
1     teaspoon vanilla
2–4    tablespoons whole milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pull off two sheets of parchment paper and place one on top of the other. Using a 8- or 9-inch round cake pan, trace the base of the pan onto the parchment with a pencil. Cut out the circle with scissors. Grease the pans with butter and then place the circles on the bottom of each pan. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, add dry cake ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour in wet ingredients and whisk until batter is relatively smooth. 

Divide batter between prepared cake pans and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Once finished, set pans on a cooling rack.

While cakes cool, fill a small pot with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil. Place a heat-safe bowl on top of the pot, being sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add in the chocolate chips and stir frequently until melted. Remove bowl from heat and let cool.

Once cake has cooled completely, flip the pans over onto a clean, flat surface and pat the bottom of each pan gently. Twist the pan back and forth as you pull up to loosen the cake from the pan. Peel off parchment paper. 

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and powdered sugar, starting with 1 cup of sugar at a time. Beat on high until fully combined, about 3 minutes. Frosting will be the texture of small peas. Beat in vanilla and a few tablespoons of milk until it becomes airy and fluffy. Add in the melted chocolate and beat an additional 2 minutes.

To assemble the cake, place the bottom layer, flat side up, on a serving dish. Spread about one-third of the frosting on top to act as “glue” for the next layer. Add the top layer, flat side up, and frost the top and sides with remaining frosting.

Roasted Carrots with Yogurt Chimichurri

Start to finish: 50 minutes
Impresses: 4
Makes: 1 1/
2 cups sauce

For the carrots:
2    pounds rainbow carrots
2    tablespoons olive oil
    salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1½    cups plain yogurt
½    cup parsley
¼    cup cilantro
¼    cup chives
2    cloves garlic
½    lime, juiced
    salt and pepper

For serving:
¼    cup pine nuts
¼    cup parsley

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Peel carrots, but leave tops on. Place on baking sheet and pour on olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and then arrange in a single layer. 

Roast 30–35 minutes, turning once, until slightly softened.

While carrots roast, place pine nuts in a small pan and bring to low-medium heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about
5 minutes.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender. Pulse to combine. 

Chop parsley for serving, set aside.

Once carrots are finished, drizzle with chimichurri, sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley, and serve immediately.

Curry Thighs & Drummies

Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes
Impresses: 4

1    1-inch piece ginger root
2    cups plain yogurt
2    teaspoons turmeric
1    teaspoon garam masala
1    tablespoon red curry paste
1    clove garlic, minced
    salt and pepper
2    pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and
    drummies (about 4 of each)
    canola oil

Carefully remove the skin from ginger root. Using a handheld grater, grate the ginger into a small bowl. (You can mince the ginger if you don’t have a grater.)

Add yogurt, turmeric, garam masala, curry paste, garlic, salt and pepper to the bowl. Stir to combine.

Place chicken pieces in a gallon-sized zip-top bag and pour marinade on top. Seal bag and gently toss to coat all pieces in marinade. Place in fridge and let marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Place a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, pour in a few tablespoons of canola oil.

Remove chicken from fridge and place two drummies and two thighs in the pan at a time. Sear until browned on each side, about four minutes per side. Remove first batch and place on a paper-towel-lined plate. Add more oil and repeat with second batch.

Once second batch has browned, place the chicken from the first batch into the pan with the second batch. 

Put entire pan into the oven and roast for 15 minutes, or until juices run clear. Serve immediately.