Roasted Chipotle Butternut Squash Linguine with Sage (Vegan)

So…. Let’s talk about how Fall is almost here. It’s been unseasonably cool in the Northeast, which makes me happy for a few reasons. 1.) my birthday is coming up, 2.) As a Libra, I am destined to love all things Fall, pumpkins, apples, spice, cider, leaves, sweaters…. I have *chills*.  Lastly, 3.) I have literal chills. I love when it gets a bit cooler outside.

With Fall comes some of the best dinners. Apple Crisp, delicious soups. carbs to prepare for winter. Once squash comes into season, all bets are off. Butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkin dishes, the list goes on.

It’s also the Autumn equinox. This has a lot of spiritual significance. In Western Religion, it denotes the changes that lead to the dark of winter and is marked as the beginning. Animals start to grow thicker coats, stow away food for the winter, and trees shed their old foliage for their seasonal rest.

This sounds cliché, and maybe even a bit old-timer-ish, but when my birthday rolls around I like to look back on everything that’s changed in the last year, what I’ve learned, and to recount any discernable situations that helped be grow. I always come back to the same “lessons”, but with different perspective each time.

The good with the bad, the old with the new, the darkness with the light

On the day of Autumn Equinox, day and night almost exactly the same length of time.  To me, this really brings into play the need for balance in our lives, and how quickly we forget its importance. It is just as important to be thankful for your darkest moments as you are for your best and brightest…. I truly feel that it takes a moment of darkness to most appreciate the light. Another cliché – but when you have real balance, you know that your trouble will eventually fade, your fear will subside and your pain will heal.

Surrendering and letting go

I mentioned the leaves falling before, I see that as a literal and metaphor of shedding your old habits, shedding your past, and preparing to start fresh, releasing any burdens you may have carried. Religious traditions also attribute their acts of rehabilitation and surrender to certain times of the year, so this is not all that different. Shed your regret and past limitations and start fresh.

Nothing is forever – embrace, and appreciate

With the idea of getting rid of your burdens, limitations and old energy, it should also come to mind that things change; things happen in phases, and everything in this world is finite. Not in a depressing way, but rather a reminder that we should take advantage of opportunity, savor what we love, and weather through the trouble.

With that, a recipe that captures seasonal offerings and delicious flavor comes to mind. This recipe is vegan, but dairy cream could also be added for a richer flavor and texture. Adding squash and some zest to a nice, carb-filled dish makes for a crowd pleasing, warm dinner dish. Take your time with this dish, like on a Sunday afternoon

Vegan Roasted Chipotle Butternut Squash Linguine with Sage

fullsizeoutput_313.jpegPrep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 60 min

Serves 4-6


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, approximately 1.5-2 lbs, skin removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp chipotle pepper powder
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 12 oz whole grain or gluten-free fettucine

(optional: 1/3 cup of shaved parmesan cheese for non-vegans)


  1. in a large pan, add olive oil and let stand over medium heat. Once the oil starts to bubble, add the 2 tbsp of the sage and gently stir, allowing oil to coat the leaves. If cooking too quickly, feel free to turn down the heat. Fry until crisp and slightly browned and set aside on a plate. Season with salt, and allow to cool.
  2. In the same pan, add the squash, onion, garlic, remaining sage, red pepper flakes and chipotle. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to slightly brown, until the onion is translucent… this should take about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, until the squash is soft and the liquid is reduced by about half. This should take about 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring large stock pot filled with water to a boil, and add pasta. Cook until al dente per pasta directions, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the squash mixture is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. At this point, you can either place pan ingredients into a blender and purée, or you can use an immersion blender. **When using an immersion blender, you should be sure you’re using a stainless-steel pan, and are taking precautions to reduce splatter.) Mix until smooth, adjusting salt, pepper and chipotle to your preference.
  6. In the same skillet, combine the pasta, squash purée and ¼ cup cooking liquid. Cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking water as needed, until the sauce covers all of the pasta, about 2 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper and garlic if necessary.
  7. Serve the pasta and top with fried sage, and a pinch of salt over top (and parmesan, if desired).




Girl-Scout Cookie Truffles (Paleo)

I have a love/hate relationship with girl scout cookies. I was girl scout for years, my mom was Cookie Mom… I have fond memories of a time when cookies weren’t $4 a box and were actually filled full with cookies. This was also a time where I could eat a box in its entirety, and the only consequence was the sugar high that lasted for what felt like a lifetime.

I tested that theory a few years ago, and those days are definitely over. I think the metabolic cut-off for that is about age 11.

I can recall. It was a rainy day, and I had just left my part time job at a clothing store. It was situated right next to a high end grocery store, which every girl scout knows is the mecca of selling cookies. I was hungry, my feet hurt, and the sweetest little Brownie, vest covered in patches she had earned, asked when the last time I had my favorite  cookie was.

You’re good, I thought. This little girl’s sales tactics are aggressive.

“Too long”, I said.  Out of respect, I bought a box of Caramel Delites, or “Samoas” as other regions know them.

I ate the whole box as I drove home. I still feel guilty when I think of that.

In my pursuit to recreate this cookie, but a much healthier version, my little truffle bites were born. This cookie is refined-sugar and guilt free. Added bonus: it’s vegan! If you miss the cookie but don’t have a crazy sweet tooth (I don’t), you can use the darkest chocolate available to balance out the coconut palm sugar. It’s absolutely delicious.

There’s really something to be said about all the silly things we feel guilty for. As you read this, you might think I’m crazy for feeling guilty about eating one box of cookies, 6 years ago. Then again, there’s probably things that everyone holds onto, feeling guilty, when from the outside it may seem quite silly. Though this cookie recipe may be small and simple, take it with a grain of salt (literally! Salt is so good on these things) and move forward from whatever little things make you feel guilty. It does you no good, harboring all these shameful thoughts about even the smallest of things…. if it’s so small, why not just chuck it and start over?


Paleo/Vegan “Caramel Delite” Bites


Prep time: 45 min

Cook time: n/a

Yields 10-12



  • can full-fat coconut milk
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, vegan certified
  • ½ tsp course Himalayan sea salt



  1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the coconut milk and coconut sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and let the mixture cook slowly. Continue to stir frequently, until reduced to a thicker, syrupy texture.. this should take about 30-35 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla extract.  Set pan aside to cool. (side note – once cooled, this can be stored in a jar for up to two weeks, wahoo!)
  3. Combine shredded coconut in a bowl with caramel sauce until mixed thoroughly. Place mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes, until it has solidified.
  4. Melt chocolate using double boiler. If not available, heat on VERY low heat right in a saucepan with a smidge (1/2 tsp) of coconut oil, so that it won’t stick or burn.
  5. Meanwhile, scoop out about 1-2 tablespoons of the coconut mix, and shape into a ball in your hands. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat with rest of mixture, leaving 1-2 inches of room between each ball.
  6. Once all the balls are formed, pour a spoonful of the still-hot chocolate over each, ensuring the chocolate spreads evenly… it may pool down the side, which is fine. Once all are covered, you could garnish with extra shredded coconut, or salt.
  7. Place back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to allow to dry before serving. If storing long term, they really only need less than 5 minutes to thaw before you can eat them.




Vegan Mexican Street Corn Salad

Ah….the robust heat of August… similar to that of a steam oven. There’s lots of things I think about when I think about the best dinners from throughout the summer growing up, and it always goes back to corn. Corn was everywhere – and it was the best indicator, as a kid, of how much summer vacation you had left.

We would eat corn just about every day – it was easy to make, and shucking the corn got my sister and I out of the house and out of my mother’s hair. If you found the right farm, at the right time of the summer, you could get these giant corn cobs with the sweetest, most delicious taste…. Ever. Then again, I can only guess what it actually tasted like. Anything tastes good when you’ve got your own personal stick of butter to slather over it all.

These days, I still enjoy corn just as much…. But after a tragic dental mishap with a razor scooter, no helmet and no brakes, remedied by enough porcelain to stock a China cabinet, I’m no longer able to eat corn still on the cob. That doesn’t stop me from finding creative ways to eat it! The ever-popular Mexican Street Corn is an amazing method of taking a perfectly healthy corn cob, and completely negating all of it’s nutritional value by smothering it in any delicious cheesy zesty by-product that will stick to it. It’s genius, it’s portable, and I LOVE everything about it. I will never dislike something involving cheese. (I was thinking I’d be willing to test that theory at some point, but I did just remember that truly stinky cheese is a real thing, and my gag reflex isn’t really onboard with stinky things. Standby on this.)

And so – in the spirit of pushing the envelope and making something else delicious from something already absolutely fabulous, this side salad was born. I’ll warn you now – you should buy a lot more corn than you think you need… because you will want mass quantities of this after you taste it. Also – corn cobs do not yield as much shaved corn as you think they do, so if you plan on bringing this anywhere, you’ll definitely want to double or triple the recipe. This calls for a few things from your garden, so make sure you use the absolute freshest of what you can!



Mexican Street Corn Salad


Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 20 min (40 min if making Cotija)

Serves 4-6


  • 6 ears of corn, grilled or boiled
  • 1/3 cup Vegenaise (Vegan!) or Coconaise (not Vegan!), more if preferred
  • 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced (about 1 heaping tbsp)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced, stems and seeds removed
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves, plus for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup cotija cheese (if not making Vegan version), more for garnish


Vegan Cotija (optional)

  • 1 1/2 Cup Cooked White Beans (Rinsed & Drained)
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt



For the Cotija, if making:

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients into a fine paste, making sure to scrape the sides to mix thoroughly.
  3. Spread over a parchment lined cook sheet, about ½ inch thick.
  4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until dry/crisp. Allow to cool, and finely crumble.


For the Salad:

  1. Preheat grill to 400 degrees F if using grill for corn. You can also use an oven! If boiling, place corn in a large pot with enough water to cover all of the cobs.
  2. For the grill or oven, with husks on, place on the top rack for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes (oven you can just let them be). If cooking on stove, place de-husked corn into the pot and let boil in water for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool until corn is able to be handled, husks can be removed and kernels can be shaved off.
  3. Thoroughly remove corn from cobs and place into a bowl. You can (carefully!) use a knife, but I love this little tool from Pampered Chef. Add shallot, jalapeño and garlic… mix thoroughly.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, lime juice, cumin, salt, paprika, chili powder and cayenne together. Adjust spices to taste. If you find that it’s too spicy, you can add more mayo, a half tsp at a time.
  5. Stir sauce into corn mixture, coating evenly.
  6. Garnish with cotija and cilantro!

Enjoy 🙂


* note – there was originally tomato in my recipe, but I found it was better without. Tomatoes are pictured!

Poor Man’s “Crab Cakes” – Gluten Free Zucchini Cakes (Vegan option, too!)

fullsizeoutput_2fc.jpegI loved making these in college. I was too broke for crab meat, but my mom would send me back to school with giant zucchinis and told me to get creative. Looking back at that, having my budget limiting me to mashed potatoes, couscous and macaroni and cheese may not have been so bad. I had to get really creative to eat healthy, and it’s pretty hard to do that when you have Whole Foods taste on a budget provided to me by my mom’s small installments of Giant store gift-cards… she didn’t trust me with cash for fear of it going straight to the bar. This was not an unrealistic concern.

That being said, I was left to my own devices with a giant zucchini, and my roommate’s generous collection of Italian staples; breadcrumbs, eggs, butter. I would do a quick mental checklist of how many beers I could still get at the bar if I splurged on the fancy Dijon mustard and mayo, based on my weekly allowance of money. I was still in the clear – operation dinner was a “go”. I took the best crab cake recipe I know (which I will reveal at a later time J) and changed it up to sub zucchini (!!!) out for crab. The good thing about these is they’re quite forgiving for any modifications you want to do, including vegan alternatives.

While I didn’t (nor could I) cook as much in college as I do now, I always loved having everyone over to eat. Back to the times where I would only splurge on avocados to make guacamole, I’d make sure I told all my friends to come over and eat with us. Good food or bad, hungry college kids were always grateful to enjoy some homemade dinner to make chugging their Natty Lights a little less of a bummer.

What this recipe really reminds me of is to just appreciate what it is you already have, even if you want more. I’m currently reading a book about Manifestation and the principles behind it. They seem counterintuitive, but it truly makes sense with consideration to the laws of attraction. Positivity begets more positivity – abundance, love, happiness, all of these things will continue to flow if you just start your thoughts around them. The idea of being grateful for what you have and feeling like it’s everything you ever wanted won’t necessarily limit you to just that, but there’s two outcomes, both of which are a win/win. Either you learn to appreciate what you have already and are able to live with content, or your positivity and forward thinking mindset will allow you the means to achieve what you want. Your thoughts are half the battle!

While I’m able to make real crab cakes these days, I almost see these little zucchini substitutes as a luxury, instead of the reverse. They’re fresh, tasty, and it feels good to use ingredients from your garden out back. Try them out and see for yourself!


Zucchini Crab Cakes

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves 5-6


  • 2 cups peeled and shredded zucchini
  • 1 large egg (vegan alternative can be used such as Ener-G egg replacer, 1 1/2 tsp with 2 tsp water mixed prior in separate bowl)
  • 1/2 cup Coconaise (Vegenaise mayo can be used)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (or panko if gluten free is not necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon fines herbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel the zucchini. Depending on the size, you may need to slice in half and remove middle seeds and pulp with a spoon. With a hand-grater or food processor using the grating blade, grate the zucchini into shreds.
  3. Drain the zucchini thoroughly, squeezing out as much moisture as possible, using a cheesecloth. If you’re able to drain the zucchini and let sit/air out ahead of time, this is also an option. Once drained, set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and then add in the mayo until combined.
  5. Add the breadcrumbs to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the fines herbs, garlic powder and Old Bay. Next, add the dijon and Worcestershire sauce, stirring until mixed. Next, stir in the zucchini.
  6. Once mixed, form mixture into 5-6 cakes. Depending on the size, sometimes I can get 7 or 8 out of this mixture.
  7. Add parchment paper to a cookie sheet (cooking spray works, too), and place cakes on the cookie sheet, about 2-3 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. You can serve with cocktail sauce, or make a tartar sauce out of extra Coconaise and relish mixture.

Note: smaller portions can be made for hors d’oeuvres or snacks! They freeze well once cooked and can be reheated.



Easy Caprese Salad

This one goes out to all my Italian family and has a special place in my heart. Growing up, almost all of my extended “family” was Italian. I loved this, because we are not one iota of Italian. A little Czech, a little Native American, a smidge of Irish… but we definitely got to enjoy the family/food-centric-lifestyle of a big Italian family. My mom’s parents owned a mushroom farm, and for decades the mushroom industry was (and still is!) sustained by several prominent Italian families, many of which became our own.

I can tell you, this was absolutely more of a blessing than it was a curse. On the upside – everyone was your ‘cousin’! Go to the grocery store? See your cousins! At a party? Call them all your cousins! Half of them aren’t really your cousins, but it’s easier to explain than saying “my mom grew up with their mom Lisa and she dated Lisa’s brother for a year but then he married Patty… so that’s my Aunt Lisa.”

Generations grew up alongside each other, and the grandparents had their kids, who played alongside each other, married into another big local family, had kids and did the same thing all over again. Your network of people who care about you is your entire town. It’s a great thing.

On the downside… your family is your entire town. You’ve got so many “cousins” that you have to do a family tree run-through just to make sure you’re in the clear if you plan on going on any dates. Speaking for a friend.


While there were plenty of dinners filled lasagnas and raviolis, and Seven Fish feasts to attend at Christmas, nothing is as simple (and equally delicious) as this salad. You don’t need any secret spices or coveted recipes by your Nana (but…. I need to find someone to give me a Gnocchi recipe… i’ll have to do some investigating…), you just need a big platter, the freshest Mozzarella, and some tomatoes and basil from your garden. Throw in some salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic and olive oil, and you have a fancy salad that looks beautiful anywhere.

That was basically a walkthrough of this recipe…. no, really! But i’ll still post how to arrange it. it is literally 2 steps – best simple salad ever.

Caprese Salad

Serves 6-8, small portions

Prep time: 10 min


  • 2 cups small mozzarella balls, in water
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ~ 2 tsp basil, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of fresh minced garlic (optional – literally just a PINCH – you do not want to overpower the salad)


  1. Mix mozzarella and cherry tomatoes in a bowl, stirring to get some of the tomato juice around.
  2. Add garlic (if using), then balsamic vinegar, then olive oil. Stir to coat salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I let mine sit for at least 20 minutes to marinate, but you can serve immediately.