Panzanella salad


It’s finally time to gear up for the greatest Holiday of all time—Thanksgiving! Number one on my thankful list? FOOD. I have been planning my Thanksgiving menu for probably a good 2 months, now (seriously, you can ask my boyfriend). He and I will be spending the holiday together, just the two of us, with enough food to feed Jon and Kate plus 8.

Growing up in my house, the menu for Thanksgiving didn’t just consist of dinner and dessert. Hell no. It was filled with festive, boozy drinks, an overly extensive hors d’oeuvre spread, a “change into your stretchy pants” dinner, and various desserts we were too full to eat, but stomached anyway. The in-between time was filled with football watching, game playing, and of course, more boozy drink sipping. Although I don’t often get the chance to spend Thanksgiving with my family, I do my best to create that same food and drink filled atmosphere whomever I’m with. Luckily for me, my boyfriend loves to grub, so I foresee a long awaited food coma in our future.

We’ve decided to each make a couple (or 5) appetizers, and this panzanella salad will be one of mine.  Panzanella is basically just a salad using day old bread combined with some type of vegetable (usually tomatoes) with oil, vinegar, and herbs. The bread sops up all the juices and flavor from the rest of the ingredients, so the longer you let it sit and meld, the tastier it is. My family always has some form of caprese or bruschetta with crostini as an appetizer, and this sort of a combines them all. It’s super easy and can also be served as a side dish, so if you’re scouring for new menu ideas this holiday, give it a try!



  • day old bread (I used whole wheat ciabatta)
  • tomatoes
  • fresh mozzarella
  • basil
  • garlic
  • Italian seasoning (or herbs de provence)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut up the bread into 1/2 inch cubes, toss with a little olive oil, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and bake bread until golden brown and crispy. Watch carefully as to not burn the bread. Transfer bread to a bowl and let cool.

Cut the tomatoes into small chunks and put in a large bowl. I used a combination of heirloom and cherry tomatoes (cut in half). Mince garlic or use a garlic press and add to tomatoes. Cut up mozzarella into small chunks (similar in size to the tomatoes) and add to bowl. Tear basil leaves into small pieces and add to bowl. Season liberally with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over mixture. I don’t measure when I do this, I simply add more vinegar or oil to taste. Start out with small amounts, as you can always add more. You want the mixture to be juicy so the bread can soak it up. The salt with help draw moisture from the tomatoes as it sits.

Add the bread cubes to the mixture about 30-45 mins before serving.

Turkey sausage and kale soup

kale soup_2

So, California weather finally decided to get with the times—it was 49 degrees when I woke up the other day. F o r t y-n i n e. For Californians, that’s like 10 degrees because we are pathetic creatures who wear knit hats when it’s 80 because, according to a calendar, it’s winter. Even though I may have complained a bit about goosebumps and the fact that I only got to use my new air conditioner for a week, I’m actually ecstatic about the temperature change. Cold weather = soup season = heart eyes emoji. Simple as that.

I came across this recipe one winter while I was living in Minneapolis and it’s been a go-to ever since. It’s super healthy, but still very satisfying and hearty with all the chunks of potatoes and sausage. I think that’s one of the constant struggles with eating healthy—trying to find something that fills you up (and tastes good), without breaking the calorie bank. And this soup does exactly that.

Another thing I love about soup in general, is how versatile the ingredients can be. I chose specific veggies for this one, but you can really interchange them with any you’d like (think: butternut squash, bell peppers, celery, beans, etc). As long as they’re  firm enough to hold up in the broth without breaking down (think: spinach) feel free to throw them in. And you can always use whatever sausage you like or have on hand. Chorizo or spicy Italian sausage would be awesome, I bet.



  • 14 oz turkey sausage, partially cooked
  • 6-8 cups kale, chopped (approx)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, cut into slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium red potatoes, chopped
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low or no sodium)
  • 2 cups water
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper


Start by chopping up all your veg. The soup should have nice, big chunks, so don’t dice them too finely. I left the skin on the potatoes, but feel free to peel them first if you’d like.

Heat a small amount olive oil in a large soup pot over med-low heat. Cut the sausage into thin slices and add it to the pot (if you’re using uncooked sausage, cook it whole and slice it later). Once brown, take sausage out of the pot and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pot, along with the onions and carrots. Cook over medium heat until slightly soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the broth and water, along with the salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, sausage, and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the kale and bring back to a simmer. Cook, partially covered for 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through. Adjust seasonings.

Pumpkin spice latte (in a blender)


So I know I’ve said I’m not a fan of the ever popular PSL, but I’m retracting that statement because I figured out how to make a yummy, homemade version that doesn’t make me feel like a 5-year-old after eating his entire stash of Halloween candy. Sayonara, Starbucks.

The best part about this drink, is that you don’t even need an espresso maker to do it! All you need is a blender. And a coffee maker. But just a regular coffee maker. It may not be as rich and sweet as Starbucks’ version (which is why I like it), but it still has all those warm pumpkin spice flavors.

I experimented with a couple different methods, which turned out very similar, but decided this one produced the best consistency. At the bottom of the page, I’ll explain my alternative method in case you’d like to test it out.

Basically, the only difference is mixing the spices into the actual coffee grounds before brewing the coffee, rather than tossing them in the blender at the end. I found with the latter, it made the drink somewhat gritty, whereas the former gave off the flavor of the spices without the unwanted texture. I actually saw pumpkin pie spice extract at the store, which would be even more ideal for this recipe as it’s a liquid, and you could keep adding more if the flavor didn’t stand out enough. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little, find what works best for you!



  • 1 cup strong coffee (espresso)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (for 4 cups coffee)
  • 1 tsp raw sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Start by brewing the coffee. Espresso is basically just very concentrated coffee, so you can do this using your regular coffee maker by doubling the amount of coffee grounds you normally would use.

Example: I usually use 4-5 tbsp coffee grounds for 4 cups coffee (I like my coffee strong). Instead I used 8 tbsp. 

Add the pumpkin pie spice in with the grounds and stir before brewing. While the coffee is brewing, heat up the milk on the stove or in the microwave until hot, but not boiling.

In a blender mix all ingredients and blend on a high speed until super frothy.

*ALTERNATIVE METHOD: Omit adding pumpkin pie spice in with the grounds before brewing coffee. Instead, add 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice into the blender with all other ingredients before blending.  

**For a richer flavor, you can use whole milk or half and half. And to make it sweeter, add more sugar. Just an FYI in case you misplaced your noggin. 

Pumpkin spice banana bread (gluten free)

pumpkin spice banana bread

We may not get to enjoy the beautiful fall colors and activities here in California, but we still get to enjoy all the delicious flavors that come along with it. And now that I have an AC unit (thank you, Aunt Sylvia!), I’ve been taking full advantage of my stove. Roasted vegetables, hearty soups, and spiced baked goods have been on the menu this season. Nothing makes my tummy smile more than the scent of fall coming straight from the oven.

One of my favorite fall foods is, of course, pumpkin. Growing up, as soon as the leaves started to change there were two dishes on my mind—my dad’s spicy pumpkin soup and my grandma’s best friend’s famous pumpkin pie ( The earthy, yet sweet flavor of pumpkin makes it a very versatile ingredient, and I’ve been experimenting using it in savory and sweet dishes.

I had a couple bananas on the verge of death this week and I’ve been trying really hard to not waste any produce, so I brainstormed what I could do with them. The obvious came to mind—banana bread—but I had a scented candle lit, so I was inspired to “fall” it up a bit. I had like 5 cans of pumpkin puree in my cupboard (you never know when there’ll be a shortage, I swear there’s one every year), so I thought AHA! pumpkin banana bread, let’s do this.

I found what I thought seemed like a good recipe online and tweaked it up a bit, basically swapping ingredients to fit whatever I had in the cupboard. I used oat flour instead of regular flour (hence gluten free) and brown sugar instead of white. I also used less sugar/honey than the recipe called for because I don’t like overly sweet things. I blame my mom for that, she was always putting half the amount of sugar in our Kool-Aid growing up. Not cool, Rita.

I’m happy to say this fall baking experiment turned out quite well. I did get my hair caught in the mixer while I was making the batter, but that’s neither here nor there. The flavor was great with those warm fall-y pumpkin spice notes and a hint of sweet from the banana. The texture was moist and dense, almost like a pound cake. I baked it about 10 minutes shy of the recipe because I was afraid of it drying out, but I think there was enough moisture from the ingredients, I could’ve gone the full time.

As always, feel free to tweak up the ingredients as you like, this doesn’t HAVE to be gluten free!



  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine banana, pumpkin, eggs, oil, honey, and sugar. Mix on a low speed until blended. In a medium mixing bowl combine remaining dry ingredients and mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, and mix on low until just combined (I know there’s an “add wet to dry” mantra, but this seemed like the easiest way to not make a mess).

Spray loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and pour batter into the pan. Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.


Coconut water fruit popsicles

Coconut water popsicles with fruit

Today officially marks the first day of fall, and to some parts of the country this means chilly nights, cute scarves, and pumpkin flavored everything. To Los Angelonians, not the case. We’re currently enduring an extremely obnoxious heat wave. Over the last couple months, I can’t remember a single day it was below 80 degrees, and I remember way too many days nearing 100. So as I sweat my ass off in my air conditioned(less) studio apartment, the mere thought of a pumpkin spice latte makes me nauseous—and not just because they’re actually not very good (sorry).

In lieu of the heat, I present you with a frozen treat to keep cool (for like 5 minutes). I spotted these popsicle molds at the store, and it immediately brought me back to making homemade Kool-Aid pops as a kid during the summer.

My version steps up the homemade popsicle game a bit by using real fruit and the ever trendy coconut water, which is known for its hydration capabilities—crucial for surviving a heat wave. These frozen pops are super easy to make, and surprisingly tasty for how healthy and simple they are. The natural sweetness of the coconut water compliments the bright and tangy flavors of the fruit, perfect for a cool treat that’s not overly sweet.



  • coconut water
  • fruit of your choice, such as:
    • kiwi
    • mango
    • pineapple
    • strawberries
    • raspberries
    • blueberries
    • dingleberries


Chop up all the fruit into small pieces. Fill the molds halfway with coconut water, and drop the fruit in. Add more water/fruit to the mold until it is evenly filled to the top. Insert the sticks and put in the freezer for 2 hours or until frozen.

You may need to run a little hot water over the mold to loosen the pops.

*Currently taking donations for an AC unit. Cash accepted. Make checks payable to Lauren Regnier. 

My adventures with Neapolitan pizza pie

*Forewarning: this entry is long. If you’re just looking for the dough recipe, skip to the end. But you’re missing out on lots of laughs and fun. Bye. 

Lately I have been obsessed with pizza. But not just any pizza, I’m talking authentic, Neapolitan style pizza cooked in a wood fired oven at extremely high temps with a thin, chewy crust, topped with simple, rustic ingredients. This obsession came to head when I was visiting my best friend, Carissa, in Boston last month.  Her dad (Eddie Spaghetti), being the awesome Italian that he is, has a wood fired pizza oven in his backyard—cue praying hands emoji. So, you better believe I made Spaghetti whip me up a couple pies while I was there. Not only was it the best homemade za I’ve ever had, I also learned a lot about authentic, Italian cooking.

Of course, being on the East Coast also meant I had to try the local pizza, since LA pizza pales in comparison, according to every East Coaster, ever. Verdict? They’re right—kind of. The reason I say kind of is because I’ve come to realize that the east and west coast aren’t going for the same result when it comes to pizza, so it’s not really fair to compare the two. I discovered this when Carissa’s brother, Paula (his name is Paul, but I call him Paula because it’s cute) said that the West Coast tries to be “too fancy” with their pizza. The East Coast is good at keeping it classic with the basic, simple ingredients (think: cheese, pepperoni,  and basil) whereas the West Coast tries to elevate their za with exotic ingredients (think: truffles, goat cheese, and duck bacon).  So, if you ask me which one is better… I’d probably still say the East Coast, who am I kidding? But, I do have an appreciation for California’s creativity.

za collage 2 And so, taking all my newfound knowledge and experience with pizza making, I ventured to the kitchen to create my own (sort of) authentic, Neapolitan style pizzas with a California twist. I dragged my brother along with me cause God knows I couldn’t be trusted with measuring cups alone.

Story Time

My brother (Stephen) travels a lot for work, so when he’s home we take advantage of spending time together. For us, this usually consists of cooking and drinking, usually simultaneously. So last week I proposed the idea of getting together to make some homemade pizza. I told him all about the pizza Spaghetti made on my trip, and suggested we try out the dough recipe. He was all in. Since the dough takes two days to rise he asked if I wanted to make the dough by myself, I repeat by myself, and then bring it over to his place when we were ready to cook. I politely reminded him that I need adult supervision when it comes to measuring, and then politely forced him to help me.

So, cut to, we’re in my kitchen very diligently measuring out the all ingredients (there’s four ingredients in this recipe) when he gets a phone call and leaves the room. I decide to carry on with the measuring and before I know it, I’ve added two tablespoons of salt instead of two teaspoons. Oops. He looked away for five seconds and I’ve already ruined everything. When he comes back to the kitchen he simply picks out most of the salt with his fingers (genius) and we call it good.

Now that we’ve combined all the dry ingredients, it’s time to add the water and form the dough. Stephen pours the water in little by little while I mix it together with my hands. So far, so good. When we near the end of this process, Stephen thinks the dough looks too dry and suggests we add more water. I don’t really think it needs more water, but I enthusiastically agree anyway and we add the water. Oops numero deux. The dough turns into a sticky, hot mess. I’m a little worried at this point, but secretly happy I wasn’t the only one that made a mistake, today. We both decide that adding more flour seems like a legit solution, so we keep adding flour until we feel it looks right.

Next comes the fold and stretch. The recipe does not describe how exactly you’re supposed to “fold and stretch” the dough, so Stephen just decides to stretch the hell out of it at all angles and mangle it into a ball. I think I have a better idea of how to do this, so I try it out and Stephen agrees it’s more civilized, and we press on.

Alas, the dough is done. We wipe the sweat off our brows and high five each other in the form of downing a bottle of wine. We deserve it.

Pizza Time 

The recipe makes about four pizzas, so we both came up with a couple ideas for each pizza, all inspired by noteworthy zas we’ve encountered in the past. We split it up into four courses. I created courses one and two, Stephen did course three, and we both (along with Stephen’s girlfriend, Adriana) created the fourth course.

  • Course one: Margherita
  • Course two: Mushroom, truffle oil, and arugula
  • Course three: Roasted curry carrot with beets and shaved Brussels sprouts
  • Course four: Proscuitto, sage, and fig jam

Unfortunately none of us have a wood fired pizza oven, or a backyard for that matter, so we decided to grill the pizza instead of putting it in an oven (with the exception of course four).

Course one: Margherita



bufala mozzarella
fresh basil
red sauce*

*whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes, kosher salt, and oregano (blended). Do not warm, sauce cooks in the oven. 

Making this pizza was important to me because I wanted to make a truly authentic Neapolitan style pizza, like the one Spaghetti made for me in Boston. So, I called him up and he helped me out with the sauce and all the essentials.

IMG_1193I love this pizza because the ingredients are so simple, but the flavors are so vibrant. What I’ve learned about Italian cooking is that they like to keep things simple, fresh and rustic. They use good quality ingredients, and let them shine on their own.

Course two: Mushroom, truffle oil, and arugula 



cremini mushrooms
goat cheese
truffle oil
olive oil

The inspiration for this pizza actually came from the restaurant I work at in Culver City, called the Overland. We recently added flatbread pizzas to our menu and my favorite one has mushrooms, arugula, and burrata cheese. I wanted to recreate that, but put my own spin on it.

IMG_1228I added truffle oil and used goat cheese instead of burrata. I thought that the tanginess of the goat cheese would pair nicely with the peppery arugula and cut through the pungent, rich flavor of the truffle oil.


Because we didn’t use a sauce for this one, we thought it came out a bit dry. If I were to make it again, I think I’d make a bechamel (white sauce) to put on it as well, which is actually what they do at my work. You win this time, Overland. Luckily, I had plenty of sauce left over from the Margherita, so we used it as a dipping sauce.

Course three: Roasted curry carrot with beets and shaved Brussels sprouts



shaved Brussels sprouts
toasted hazelnuts
goat cheese
carrot curry sauce*

*I have no idea what’s in this sauce, you’re gonna have to wing it or call my brother.

This pizza was designed by my brother after eating at one of his favorite places in New Orleans called, Domenica, which in Italian means, Sunday. It’s hilarious to me that he chose to make this one because it’s rare that he eats vegetarian pizza. He one time said and I quote, “I need meat. I’m not in the mood for a f***ing farmer’s delight,” when we were deciding which pizza to order. Yikes.

IMG_1261Anyway, I guess one of the locals at this place suggested the Roasted Carrot pizza and he was in the mood for a f***ing farmer’s delight that day. He said it was one of the best pizzas he’s ever had, so here we are. I don’t know what the pizza at Domenica tasted like, but if it was anything like this, I suggest you check it out if you’re ever in New Orleans.

IMG_1280I’m a huge fan of the beets and goat cheese combo, so that made me happy right off the bat.  The nuttiness from the hazelnuts paired well with the curried carrots, and the crunch of the sprouts made it all come together. Not only was it tasty, but it was beautiful as well. I love how rustic and bright this pizza is.

We decided if there was one thing we would change, it would be to add some sort of cream element to the sauce to make it a bit more, well.. saucy. But I think that’s what makes cooking fun. People think they aren’t allowed to make mistakes, but that’s how we learn and become better cooks. Speaking of mistakes.

Course four: Proscuitto, sage, and fig jam



fresh sage
mushroom brie
fig jam

This was sort of our “we have four pizzas, but only three ideas, what the hell should we put on the last one?” pizza. I decided proscuitto would be a good idea, and then my brother and Adriana came up the rest by running across different items at the grocery store. Now don’t get me wrong, all of these ingredients have the potential to make up a very yummy pie, but the failure came in our execution and maybe one too many glasses of wine.

IMG_1294What I believe our thought process was, was to make it more of a dessert pizza since it was the final course. Smart. What we did to make this a dessert pizza, was simply douse it in copious amounts of fig jam. Not so smart. The end result was a much too sweet, sticky mess, that was kind of similar to eating a spoonful of jelly. We really just should have smeared some PB on it and called it a day.

However, this was the only pizza we made in the oven, and I thought it most resembled the way a Neapolitan style pizza cooks in a wood fired oven. So that was nice

My brother was so determined to not let the pizza go to waste, that he decided to repurpose it and make bread pudding. If you’re baffled as to how/why he did this, join the club. I’m sad to say I never tried the pudding, so I can’t tell you myself how it tasted, but I just talked to my brother and he said it’s still sitting in the fridge, untouched—it’s been a week. I’m making him try it, now. Stay tuned.



Okay, he just called with the verdict. His words, “Dude, this is f***ing bomb.” So there you have it, folks. If at first you don’t succeed, make that shit into bread pudding. #wordsofwisdom

And, finally, here’s the recipe for Neapolitan style pizza dough (2 day method). Enjoy.


  • 5 cups Italian “00” flour (you can find this at Whole Foods)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 14 oz room temperature water


Add all dry ingredients to large mixing bowl and stir. Add water and mix for about 2 minutes. I used my hands, but you could use a Kitchenaid mixer if you have one.

Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, and then mix for another 2 minutes.

Take the dough out of the bowl and stretch and fold dough into a ball. I’m not 100% sure on the correct way to do this, but I just kind of stretched it apart and then folded it under, tucking it into a ball shape. Cover the dough with a bowl and let rest for 5 minutes.

Perform three more stretch and folds every 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl big enough for it to double in size. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

The recipe says to take the dough out and divide it into 4 sections and form into balls at this point, but I just left it in the fridge for the additional 24 hours and cut it up into balls when I was ready to make the pizzas.

When you are ready to make the pizza, take the balls out of the fridge and bring them up to room temp. Flour a large, flat surface, such as a counter top, and begin forming the pizza. I just gently stretched the dough apart using my hands until I formed a shape/thickness I liked. You want it to be thin, but not so thin that it will fall apart when you put your toppings on. Transfer the dough to a pizza paddle or something that’s easily transferable to your cooking source. Top the pizza with any ingredients you like. Feel free to try out some of mine, above.

To bake the pizza

If you’re using an oven:

Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it will go for 45 minutes with a pizza stone in the oven (you can use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone).  Put the pizza on the stone and bake until edges are charred and the dough and toppings are cooked through.

If you’re using a grill:

Oil the grill (not with spray) to prevent the dough from sticking. Briefly cook the dough on both sides creating grill marks before adding the toppings. Take off the grill to add all the fixings and then transfer the pizza back on the grill until toppings are to your desired doneness.

*These methods were an experiment for us, so you may find a method that is easier or works better for you. Be creative. Best of luck. 


Peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins (gluten free)

Peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins

Peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (and again, and again), baking and I do not get along. We are like that annoying couple who hate each other, but keep trying to work it out as if things are going to change. Every time I get it in my head that baking is a good idea, I immediately regret it when I’m choking on flour as if I’m in a dust storm at Coachella.

Pretty sure the only time I’ve ever been really proud of my baking was when I was going to college in Minneapolis, I made this amazing loaf of banana bread. It had that perfectly moist texture where the top was almost sticky. I was so pumped to have my roommates try it to prove that I could actually bake, but before anyone got home my roommate’s dog jumped on the counter and ate the whole thing. All of it. Gone. You better have enjoyed that, Trooper!

Anyway, I’m not going to give up on baking. I mean, did Shaq give up basketball just because he couldn’t make a single free throw? No.

A while back I decided to try my hand at making banana muffins. I looked up a few recipes and landed on one that used ground up rolled oats instead of flour. The recipe said to grind the oats in a food processor to form a flour-like powder. Easy, right? Well, not if you don’t have a food processor. I thought, no problem, I’ll use my extremely cheap blender instead. Long story short, I’m an idiot. It is possible to use a blender for this process, but it took a long time and I ended up having to mix the rest of the batter by hand while my blender laughed at me for relying on it to do anything productive. Moral of the story, invest in a food processor.

I wanted to change up the recipe a bit to make it my own, so I threw in some peanut butter, not really knowing what would happen to the composition of the muffin–I have about zero scientific knowledge about what makes baked goods do their thing. To my surprise, they turned out quite well, fluffy with a nice, subtle peanut butter flavor. I would’ve liked them to be a touch more moist, so if anybody has any suggestions on that, I’d be happy to hear them! I only put peanut butter in half the mixture to see which ones tasted better, and hands down PB won. But feel free to omit it, if you are boring.



  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2-3 large spoonfuls peanut butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with 12 liners.

In a food processor (or a blender, if you must) pulse oats til they form a powder. Add all remaining ingredients to food processor and blend til a smooth batter forms. If you do not have a food processor, add ground oats and all remaining ingredients to a large bowl and whisk (and whisk, and whisk) until you get the batter as smooth as possible.

Divide batter evenly between the muffin tins. Bake 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it in the middle of a muffin.

Confessions of a tomato snob

Heirloom tomatoes

Heirlooms <3

When is it okay to act like a snob?

  1. Is it okay to hate on someone who hasn’t waxed their eyebrows in two months (or ever)? No.
  2. Is it okay to seat yourself at a restaurant because you have the patience of a 5-year-old and can’t wait 13 seconds for the host to direct you to a table? No.
  3. And, is it okay to say that something is perplexing instead of confusing. Hell no.

There’s only one instance when it’s okay to act like a snob, and that’s when it comes to food. I’m not talking about judging people who hit up Taco Bell and BK in the same trip, or the all-stars who eat squeeze cheese right out of the can. I’m talking about refusing to buy produce that tastes like the plastic fruit your mom used to keep on the dining room table. For some food snobs this may be buying dark greens over iceburg lettuce or portobello mushrooms over white button, but for me it’s all about tomatoes.

My name is Lauren and this is my story.

I am a tomato snob, and I am proud to say it runs in the family. When my dad was a kid growing up in Illinois, his uncles had a huge tomato farm right down the block from his house. He’d find himself posted up in his Radio Flyer wagon, salt shaker in hand, enjoying the fruits of their labor. In the 70s, when him and my mom were in college, they created their own tomato heaven on a farm outside of Ladysmith, WI, where they’d harvest at least 100 tomato plants each year. They didn’t really have a choice as all their college buddies relied on them to provide the tomato juice for bottomless bloodies on football Sunday. Hello, Wisconsin!

Even after they moved off the farm and started a family, they kept the tradition alive. Growing up, summers in my household meant digging holes in the soil and endlessly filling up watering cans from the hose. But all that hard work paid off in the fall when you’d pick a tomato straight from the vine and bite into its warm, juicy, tomato-y deliciousness. You automatically thought, now this is what a tomato should taste like.

Until I moved to college and started buying my own food, I didn’t realize that tomatoes from my dad’s garden tasted different than tomatoes from Aisle 12. I remembered the word “heirloom” spewing out of my dad’s mouth when he’d draw up blue prints for his garden each year, so whenever I saw those at the store, I’d ditch the 99 cent Romas and splurge on the heirlooms. Other than that, I didn’t really know why I was a tomato snob, I just knew that I was one.

Seven years later, I finally decided to pick my dad’s brain to see why I am so prejudice against Roma tomatoes.

Side note: If you buy Roma tomatoes, we can’t be friends. It’s like trying to pass off the $16 boyfriend watch you bought at Target as Marc Jacobs. Stop it.

This is what I learned.

Heirloom vs Hybrid 

So, the reason my dad’s tomatoes taste so good is because they are of the “heirloom” variety (or “old world” as my dad says). This means that they have never been crossbred, which results in a bolder, more natural flavor. Contrarily, the reason that most of the tomatoes at the grocery store taste so bad is because they are of the “hybrid” variety. This means that they have been crossbred to have specific characteristics, such as resistance to pests and disease and a perfect uniform shape. Although hybrids may look pretty, they lack the flavor that heirloom tomatoes provide. On the other hand, heirlooms may be misshapen and more susceptible to disease, but they produce a richer flavor.

Norm’s fav heirloom varieties

I asked my dad to share some of his favorite breeds and their characteristics from his own garden, and this is what he came up with.

  • Brandywine – BIG. Yellow and red in color. Juicy.
  • Pineapple – BIG. Orange and yellow stripes. Juicy.
  • Prudence purple – Purple, green, and red in color.
  • Old German – Orange/red in color.
  • Green zebra – Green stripes.
  • Black Russian cherry – Green and purple in color. Sweet. Larger than average cherry tomato.
  • San Marzano – A juicier, way better version of the Roma tomato. (exact definition)
  • Amish paste – A larger, juicier, way better version on the Roma tomato. (exact definition)

3 best ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes

Tomatoes can be tossed in anything from salads to sauces, but here are a few of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy freshly picked tomatoes.

1. Plain Jane—Cut tomato into thick slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Old school sandy—Spread butter on a piece of white bread. Layer with thick slices of tomato, sprinkle with salt. Top off sandwich with another piece of white bread.
3. Caprese crostini—Layer sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil on a large platter. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lightly toast crostini and rub with raw garlic clove. Assemble tomato, basil, and mozzarella on top of crostini.

Paprika chicken in a white wine butter thyme sauce

Paprika chicken

I’m sure ya’ll hate the saying “winner winner, chicken dinner” as much as I do (except you, Guy Fieri), but this dish is seriously a winner chicken dinner. It’s elegant, rich, and savory. Not to mention, beautiful. When I made this, I felt like I was on a date with myself. So, for any of you who actually have dates, please make this for them. If they don’t love you already, they will. Maybe. Don’t hold me to that, actually.

Paprika chicken with brown rice copy
I paired mine with brown rice, which soaked up all the rich, buttery sauce, hiding any evidence of its health benefits. But you could skip the rice and just drink the sauce after you’re done with the chicken if you want. In which case, we should get married because I love you.



  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • paprika
  • cayenne
  • salt and pepper


Rub chicken breasts with paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Finely chop the garlic and remove the thyme from the stems.

Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat and melt 3 tbsp of butter. Add the chicken and cook til a golden brown crust forms. Flip the chicken and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add the remainder of the butter, garlic, and thyme and stir until softened.

Add the wine and reduce heat to med-low. Cook until the wine has reduced to a sauce and the chicken is cooked through. You may need to flip the chicken a few times throughout. Serve over any grain of your choice and garnish with a little fresh thyme.

*This recipe makes about 2 servings.

Zucchini cake Florentine with coconut oil hollandaise

Zucchini cake Florentine

There are two types of people when it comes to using up leftovers. The people that suck and let them sit in the fridge for 3 months til they turn to moss, and the people that are awesome who use them to create something innovative and delicious. I’m probably a bit of both, but for cool factor purposes I’m going to consider myself more of the ladder for this entry.

Last time, I presented you with the zucchini cake. This time, I have repurposed the cake and transformed it into a unique take on a brunch time favorite—eggs Florentine. For those of you unfamiliar with Florentine, it’s essentially eggs Benedict (if you don’t know what this is Google it, you should be ashamed of yourself) with the addition of spinach.

When I am cooking for myself, I like to see how I can lighten up dishes that are usually considered heavy/rich/sinful/decadent without sacrificing flavor.  And this, my friends, is a winner. I healthified (it’s a word) the hollandaise sauce by swapping out butter for coconut oil, and you can’t. even. tell. You can even ask my brother, who I assure you does NOT prefer to healthify his food.

Happy eating, everybody. And don’t waste your leftovers!



  • Zucchini cakes
  • eggs
  • spinach
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley (for garnish)

For the hollandaise 

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • lemon juice
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reheat leftover zucchini cakes for about 20 minutes, or until crispy and warmed through.

Fill a blender with boiling water, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. This will keep the sauce warm after you make it.

Pour the hot water out of the blender and dry it thoroughly. Add the yolks and lemon juice (as much or as little as you’d like, you can always add more) and pulse. Quickly heat the coconut oil on the stove. When oil is hot, set blender to low and slowly pour the oil into the mixture. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and pulse to blend.

Heat olive oil over med-low heat and saute spinach until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Cook eggs any style you like. Traditionally, poached is the way to go, but I did sunny side up because I’m lazy. Layer the spinach and the egg on top of a zucchini cake and drizzle with hollandaise. Garnish with fresh parsley.

*This recipe only makes enough hollandaise for 1-2 cakes (depending on your preferences, of course). I would double or triple the recipe if making for a group.