Super Simple Pearl Barley Salad w/ Sweet Potato

I work from home, so I'm always searching for quick and easy lunch ideas. I've learned over the years to cook more than I need. I like to always have a healthy starch ready to go in the fridge. On Sundays, I usually cook a big pot of brown/wild rice, quinoa or pear barley! That way, I can use the rice during the week for different recipes. You can do the same with sweet potatoes! Cook 2 at the beginning of the week. Re-heat them for lunch or throw an egg on top. 

Pear Barley Salad


  • Chicken Jalapeño Sausage (from Whole Foods)
  • Pear Barley
  • Butternut Squash
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Red Pepper 
  • Red Onion
  • Green Onion
  • Parsley
  • Parmigiano-Reggioano 
  • Salt / Pepper
  • Garlic Salt 
  • Olive Oil

How To - Pearl Barley Salad: 

  • Follow the pearl barley instructions. Barley usually takes 45 - 50 minutes. Plan accordingly! 
  • Peel and chop your butternut squash into cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until squash cubes are soft. 
  • In a sauté pan, cook your sausage all the way through. Slice and brown again. Remove the sausage from pan.
  • In the same pan add red onion, bell peppers and sauté. If it's a bit dry, add a drizzle of olive oil. 
  • Saute for about 5 minutes or until onions turn translucent and peppers are a bit cooked. Add the sausage back in and mix together for another 2 - 3 minutes. 
  • When the barley is finished cooking, add the barley to a large bowl. In the same bowl, add the cooked butternut squash, onion, peppers and sausage mixture. 
  • Toss and season to your liking. 
  • For garnish and extra green. Add chopped flat leaf parsley and green onion. Toss again. 

How To - Sweet Potato

  • Cover sweet potato in foil. Depending on the size of the potato, cook for 45 minutes plus.  When the sweet potato is soft, it's done!  

Serve the pearl barley salad next to the sweet potato. I'm a huge fan of flaking/finishing salt!!! I added Jacobsen Flaking Sea Salt to the sweet potato. Bon Apetit! 

Fresh Arugula Salad Recipe


Homemade salads have always been a little eh to me! I've gotta get my greens in some how, so I've been testing out a few ingredients and playing with different types of lettuce. My two favorites are arugula and butter lettuce. Two polar opposites but both super delicious. There's a restaurant here in LA (Little Doms in Los Feliz) that serves the most simple arugula side salad. There's not much to it but the lettuce, parmigiano reggiano and lemon dressing.  I figured I'd start with that base and build from there. 


Salad Ingredients: 

Arugula Lettuce

Pomegranate Seeds

Persian Cucumbers 

Parmigiano Reggiano

Finishing Salt (Jacobsen Salt Co. or Maldon Flaking Salt)

Dressing Ingredients:

Olive Oil

Fresh squeezed Lemon Juice

Whole Grain Dijon Mustard

Salt & Pepper  

Build the salad to your liking and make your dressing. For the dressing I mixed all of the ingredients together, using more olive oil than lemon and about half a tablespoon of the dijon mustard. Taste as you go for the dressing. You can always add more lemon, olive oil and salt. Shake or whisk together and boom! 

Greek Yogurt Bowl


I promise this isn't bird food! This has been my go to breakfast the past few weeks. It's super quick and pretty healthy. I keep the base the same but switch up the toppings. The only way I can eat plain greek yogurt is if I add a million toppings to it. I like adding the honey because it gives the yogurt a sweet kick without making it unhealthy. You can sub out any fruit and or nut.

Lemon Lavender Pound Cake

I was thumbing through an old Bon Appetit magazine and I came across this unique recipe. Ironically I had all of the ingredients on hand including the lavender (random, I know). The lavender was left over from this recipe. If you can't find dried lavender buds in your local market, most spice shops have them. I got mine from a spice shop in Silverlake. Also, I have a new love for whole vanilla beans. I'm not sure why it took me this long to use them! They are expensive but worth every penny. 

Blood Orange +Burrata Salad

Ever wonder how the citrus in your restaurant salads look so perfect? Well, here you go. The trick is in the slicing.

  • Slice off the top and bottom of the blood orange (BTW, this can be done with any citrus).
  • Slice around the fruit to remove the skin and the pith of the entire piece of fruit. Be careful not to slice off too much pulp. You can remove any left behind pith later. 
  • Place your knife between the membranes and individually remove the citrus slices. All membranes and pith should be sliced off. 

Once each citrus slice is cut out, the middle section can be tossed or eaten. 

Blood Orange Salad Recipe


  • Blood Orange
  • Burrata Cheese
  • Mint
  • Honey
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt

DIY Flavored Kettle Chips

I'd choose a salty bag of potato chips over a piece of sweet cake any day of the week. One of my favorite things to do when I travel abroad is to check out the country's chip flavors. They always match with the country's top cuisines. I've had ramen flavored chips in Japan, beef flavored chips in Botswana, olive oil chips in Italy, jamon and queso in Spain and one of my all time favorites are the cajun crawtator flavored chips right out of Louisiana. When I saw Clinton Kelly from The Chew transform a plain bag of kettle chips, I almost fell out of my chair. Why hadn't I thought of this before? It's so simple. Purchase a plain bag of kettle chips and season them myself, duh. The flavor combinations are endless. I made these a little fancy and served them in brown paper bags for each guest. You could decorate the bags, but I left these plain.


  • Brown Paper Bag
  • Scissors
  • Plain Kettle Chips (salted or unsalted)
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Rosemary 

How To:  


Drop plain kettle chips in a bag, add seasonings to your liking, shake the bag then divide them up between the empty bags or pour in bowl.The flavor combinations are endless here. There are a million spices and flavors out there. You could even make a sweet batch if you have a sweet tooth; maybe cinnamon, brown sugar, all spice and nutmeg.

Goat Cheese Crostinis + Proscuitto


Sooo....we made goat cheese. This was a pretty awesome project that will happen again and again. It takes a few days for the cheese to set and "age" but it's worth the work and wait.  We stole the flavor idea from one of our favorite cheese makers, Cypress Grove. They make two of my favorite cheeses, Purple Haze and Midnight Moon.  The recipe ended up making 6 disks of the goat cheese; three flavored and three plain. We added fennel pollen and lavender buds to the outside of the goat cheese and aged it for a few days.  I made a couple of recipes with the cheese but, these crostinis were my favorite! This recipe is pretty easy and only involves caramelizing the onions. do not have to make your cheese from scratch. You can buy any type of goat cheese from the market. Ingredients: 

  • Crusty bread
  • Goat cheese
  • Tomatoes (I used heirloom)
  • Caramelized onions (recipe here)
  • Any type of dried ham, proscuitto, salami, coppa etc

How to:

  • Slice bread into round disks
  • Slice tomato and rub the bread with the tomato juice and seeds 
  • Layer the rest of the ingredients on top of the bread 

This can be made as an appetizer or as a compliment to any kind of tomato based soup. I didn't bother toasting the bread because the point of the tomatoes is to saturate the bread with tomato "juice". Enjoy! If you make this dish or anything else form Pickles+Palmtrees, please send us an email and let us know how it turns out.

Ripened Pear Granita

I'm a big fan of snow cones, slushies, hawaiian ice and pretty much anything frozen and fruity. Los Angeles doesn't really have the corner snow cone stands like in the South so the closest thing to getting that is to make it myself. These can be made with pretty much any ripened juicy fruit. Materials & Ingredients: 

  • Pie Dish or Pan (Metal or Glass)
  • Juice of 4 ripened Pears (I used this juicer)
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Mint Simple Syrup (you can use this recipe) 
  • Cinnamon (Optional)

How To:

  1. Juice the pears and lemon.
  2. Strain your juice a few times to create a smooth texture. 
  3. Add a small amount of simple syrup (to your liking) and mix well. 
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan and place in the freezer. 
  5. Every 20 minutes run your fork through the mixture to break up the ice and fluff. Doing this will create individual ice crystals.
  6. When the mixture is fluffy and frozen its ready to eat. 
  7. Optional - Sprinkle cinnamon on top and garnish. 

Easy Caramelized Onions

If you've never made caramelized onions, I suggest you give it a shot. Even if you aren't a fan of onions, I promise you'll love these. That disturbing tart taste of an uncooked onion gets cooked out and turned into sweet caramel goodness. Make a big batch and store them in the fridge for a few days. They are tasty on pretty much everything - sandwiches, soups, eggs, burgers, crostinis, etc.There are a million recipes floating around for caramelized onions but I like to make mine with these 3 ingredients: sugar (brown or white), butter and olive oil. Sometimes I use salt, but that depends on what I'm eating. Ingredients:

  • Onions
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt (optional)

How To:

Melt butter and olive oil in the pan together on medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and coat with the butter and olive oil mixture. Sprinkle the sugar on the onions and make sure all of the onions are coated. Cook on medium heat tossing periodically. Cook slow and be patient. 


If your onions are translucent, turn up the heat. If your onions are getting charred, turn down the heat. Your onions should brown evenly and end up a pretty caramel color. If you want a slight crunch to them do not cook them as long. 

Kumquat 101

Have you seen this fruit at the farmers market or your local market? It's a Kumquat. I'm in love with them right now! If you like extremely tart and sweet things you need to get your hands on these. Kumquats are a winter fruit and in season between January - March. When you purchase or pick your kumquats, you'll want to eat them sooner than later as they don't have a long shelf life as most fruits. If you have a branch of kumquats clip the bottom of the stem and store it in water (similar to fresh flowers). If the fruit is already off of the stem, store them in a paper bag or plastic bag in the refrigerator. To be honest, your best bet is to just eat them right away to avoid the risk of spoiling!Before eating, I like to rub the kumquats between my hands to release some of the oils and the fragrance from the skin. Not sure if it's a waste of time or a myth, but I still do it because I like the fragrance it leaves behind. Wondering how to eat these?  You can peel the skin off or eat the skin and the flesh. The seeds are edible too, but I don't eat them. If you like super sour things, you'll love this fruit. A girlfriend of my says it reminds her of a sour skittle, and I couldn't agree more. 

Donut Snob


My donut world was rocked this weekend! Two words: DONUT SNOB. These donuts taste just as good as they look. Just a heads up they don't have a shop yet, but they can be found in around Los Angeles at cafes or you can order for delivery (one dozen only). My favorites were the Oinkster - Bacon with Maple Glaze, Brown Butter Bourbon Vanilla, Salted Caramel AND Berry Blast. No I didn't eat all of them alone. I nibbled and shared. 

Treat your self!

Valentine's Day Candy Kabobs

There are a few days out of the year that we get a pass to consume 1000 grams of sugar ... Valentine's Day is one them! Its wouldn't be Valentine's Day without sweet treats, chocolate and candy. Here's an easy and fast DIY for you to add to your list.


What You Need:

  • Gummy candy of your choice
  • Wood skewers
  • Narrow cellophane bags
  • Pretty ribbon

The How To:

  • Thread each individual candy onto a skewer 
  • Slip into a cello bag
  • Seal with a ribbon

Happy Valentine's Day!

Pop Up Pastries - Los Angeles, CA

I had the pleasure of trying out one of Los Angeles' newest pastry companies -- Pop Up Pastries. Pop Up Pastries is a local start-up that "popped" up last summer. The baker behind it all is Kelly Mathews. Pop Up Pastries started as Kelly's hobby and quickly turned into a full-time business.  The unique thing about Pop Up Pastries is the use of local ingredients. All of the fruit used for the jam comes from Los Angeles farmers markets or the local farmers that Kelly has maintained relationships with over the years. The flavors change weekly, monthly and seasonally depending on the fruit that's available and in season.I ordered a 4 pack and received Cinnamon Sugar, Strawberry (x2) and Lemon Blackberry. There are a few ways to get your pastries. You can order online via the website (don't worry, they ships across the U.S), head to the Marina Del Rey Farmer's Market Thur 9a - 2p or Playa Vista Farmer's Market Sat 9a - 2p, R+D Kitchen in Santa Monica 8a - 10a or order via GoodEggs LA (free delivery in and around Los Angeles). 

I am deeming Kelly a dough expert; her tarts are the perfect combination of flake and butter. So perfect that you can see the layers when you bite into the tart. All 3 flavors I ordered were superb. I really wish I had ordered more! Another plus, these treats can be frozen for up to 3 months. Perfect to pop into the oven for a quick morning snack or brunch when you have guests over. 

Pop Up Pastries offers more than just their tarts, they also have: cookies, cookie dough, pie shells, pie crusts (whole wheat option too) and caramels. All of which can be ordered via their website or GoodEggs LA. I'm really excited to order more tarts and to try some of their other products. I'm looking forward to seeing where Pop Up Pastries pops up next! Find her at the farmers market or place your order online ... I promise you will fall in love and thank me! 

Healthy Turkey Meatballs + Veggie Tomoato Sauce

New year, new things! I'm on a roll with cooking new recipes and using ingredients that I've never even thought of buying i.e. eggplant, bok choy, lentils, chickpeas, etc. Big props to Buzz Feed's clean eating guide! I tested out some of their recipes and I can honestly say they are all delicious. I also discovered that chickpeas are sort of meh to me.  The recipe that shocked me the most was the baked turkey meatballs and homemade tomato sauce.  There's a secret ingredient that keeps the meatballs in the "clean eating" category ...  it's rolled oats! The oats replace the bread crumbs; its crazy talk, but it works.

TOMATO SAUCE via Buzz Feed Makes 2 servings


1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 of a yellow onion 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 medium carrot, peeled & chopped 3 garlic cloves, chopped 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar 1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes 6 basil leaves, chopped kosher salt,  freshly ground pepper & cayenne pepper for heat (optional)


  • Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened 3 - 4 minutes.
  • Add carrot and garlic and cook until carrot is soft, about 7 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to high, then add the balsamic vinegar. Stir the vegetables around the pan and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about a minute.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and basil and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Season with freshly ground pepper and cayenne (if you are using that). Cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
  • Remove lid and let the sauce cool for 10 minutes.

When the mixture has cooled slightly, transfer to a blender and puree until there are no large chunks. Tomato sauce will keep for up to 5 days, refrigerated in an airtight container. 

Turkey Meatballs - Makes 9 balls depending on your roll size

Ingredients: 1/2 cup rolled oats 2 eggs 1 package of lean ground turkey 4 basil leaves, chopped 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt freshly ground pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • While the tomato sauce is simmering, pulse oats in a food processor until they look like bread crumbs.
  • Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until the mixture is combined and uniform throughout (I used my hands).
  • Roll the mixture into balls and space them out on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through (there should be no pink inside, and a thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F).

Place your turkey balls in a bowl and pour the sauce on top.

Bon Appétit! 

Proscuitto Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese (VIDEO)

Proscuitto Video

Recipe below -- PRESS PLAY![video_lightbox_youtube video_id="FeoKYk164uo" width="640" height="480" anchor=""] I'm a big fan of proscuitto wrapped anything -- including this one! This combo is perfect together. A little sweet and a little savory always work together right?

These are great for a pre dinner snack or a non-traditional dessert. I added herbs to half and left the other half plain (goat cheese only). To be honest, I like the plain ones better.


  • Dates (pitted)
  • Goat Cheese
  • Proscuitto
  • Honey
  • Cane Sugar
  • Herbs (OPTIONAL)


  1. Pre-Heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Pit Dates
  3. Spoon in goat cheese
  4. Close date and wrap proscuitto around the date
  5. Pierce with a toothpick
  6. Arrange dates on your cookie sheet
  7. Drizzle honey and sprinkle organic cane sugar
  8. Place the tray in the oven for 15 minutes
  9. Serve warm and Enjoy!

If you're wondering where to buy proscuitto, any large market will have it. I'm partial to the fresh Spanish proscuitto from the actual meat counter vs. the pre-packaged kind in the cooler, but both will work just fine.

Tex-Mex Tomatillo Green Salsa a.k.a "Green Sauce" (Video Included)


"Green Sauce" recipe video below.

[video_lightbox_youtube video_id="P5zArfZJYTM" width="640" height="480" anchor=""]

This recipe took me waaay back to my Houston days. I get a little homesick for Tex-Mex every now and again and have to whip out one of my favorite cookbooks -- "The Homesick Texan" by Lisa Fain. This book was a gift from my sister and I can't get enough of it.

If you're a Houstonian, you will identify with my next statement. Mamma Ninfas (or just Ninfas) was  (and might still be) one of the top go to Tex-Mex spots in Houston. We frequented Ninfas for their amazing queso, fajitas and "green sauce". When you are seated at your table, you are immediately served a large bowl of chips, "red sauce" (salsa) and "green sauce".  Some Tex-Mex restaurants serve the "green sauce" but some choose not to.  I don't see the sauce served much in Dallas and I definitely don't see it in Los Angeles Mexican restaurants. The sauce is a great regional Tex-Mex dish.

It's been years since I've been to Ninfas so I was super excited when I saw that Lisa Fain had a "Ninfas green sauce" recipe in her cookbook. The recipe is a play on the exact sauce at Ninfas. And guess what? It tastes just like it!

The night I made this, I cooked fish tacos and poured this sauce all over the tacos and used it as dip for my homemade tortilla chips.

Since I'm thousands of  miles away from H-town, this recipe will have to do.Ninfa’s Green Sauce


  • 4 - 5 tomatillos, cleaned and chopped
  • 3 medium-sized ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños or chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 - 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 tsp. of salt

How to:

Boil Water in a pot and add tomatillos. Boil tomatillos for 5 minutes or until tomatillos become soft. Combine tomatillos, avocados, jalapeños, garlic, cilantro and salt in a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl and EAT.

*Depending on what texture you want your sauce to be -- add or subtract tomatillos and or avocados. If you want it really creamy, fold in a dollop of sour cream at the end.

Makes 4 to 5 cups