Layered Wild Rice and Roasted Squash Salad

jstr I had a wonderful and indulgent Thanksgiving.  I just got back to New York yesterday, so I decided to do something I don't normally do--meal prep.  I picked up some beautiful pomegranates at the market, so I decided to make a favorite salad of mine that is wonderfully accented by the burst-y crunch of fresh pomegranate seeds.  I thought about naming this salad “Crazy Salad” since it is Crazy Colorful, Crazy Vibrant, Crazy Delicious, Crazy Filling, and Crazy Healthy.


Before making this salad, I had never cooked black rice before.  Black rice turns its cooking water a deep aubergine color.  You can substitute the black and wild rice with just about any grain.  The total time to assemble this salad is about an hour. I love having healthy breakfasts and lunches during the holiday season so that I feel less guilty when it's time to eat all of the delicious holiday goodies ;)

Layered Wild Rice Salad and Roasted Squash Salad

Ingredients 1/2 cup black rice 1/2 cup wild rice 1 medium butternut squash 1/2 cup olive oil, divided 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons honey 2 green onions, thinly sliced 1 cup pomegranate seeds 2 cups parsley 1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped


Preheat oven to 450 F.  Roast the squash with 1/4 cup olive oil on a baking sheet.

Cook black rice and wild rice in a covered pot on low, with 2 cups of salted water. Cook until tender, about 45 minutes.  (Taste to determine when rice is done and be sure to add water if the rice isn’t cooked by the time all of water evaporates.) Drain and rinse, shaking off as much water as possible.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Roast the squash until it is browned and tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper.  Let cool.

Prepare the red wine vinaigrette by whisking red wine vinegar, honey, and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl.

Distribute the vinaigrette among several medium-sized jars. For the second layer, add the black rice and wild rice. (This way, the vinaigrette won't cause the other ingredients to be soggy.) Distribute the roasted squash among the jars for the next layer, followed by the green onions, pomegranate seeds, pistachios and parsley.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Apple Pie Video Recipe

I had such a great time making this pie and this video! My friends Angela and Sophia helped out and peeled apples for me. Making an apple pie is as easy as... pie! I hope this video de-mystifies how  to make this American classic. You can make your own crust, or you can buy ready-made crust. Either way, your pie will be delicious, and the only thing you'll need to enjoy it is your family and friends. (Vanilla ice cream wouldn't hurt either!)  Video filmed by the amazing Angeline Quintilla!

Apple Pie with Lattice Crust

Apple Pie with Lattice Crust

Apple Pie with Lattice Crust Recipe



2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5g) salt
2 1/2 sticks (280 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6-8 tablespoons cold water


3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4-inch wedges
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream
demerara sugar (or white sugar), for sprinkling



Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to mix. Add the butter. Pulse until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 short pulses. Sprinkle in the water and continue to pulse until the dough starts to come together.

Remove the dough from the food processor and divide in half.  (The dough will be sticky, but it will firm up once it cools.) Shape each half into a four-inch disc. Wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.

*You This recipe makes enough dough for a double crust pie (top crust and bottom crust). However, if you want your lattice strips to be close together, you will need additional pie dough.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough into a 12-inch round that's 1/8-inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Set aside in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, flour, spices, lemon juice, and salt. Mix until combined. Pour into lined pie plate. Add the two tablespoons of unsalted butter on top.

Roll second disc of dough. If making a lattice crust, cut the dough into strips and layer it on top of the apple mixture. Seal the pie edges by crimping the crust with the tines of a fork. Place the pie in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Using a pastry brush, brush heavy cream over the crust. Sprinkle the crust with demerra sugar. Place the pie on a baking sheet, and bake until the crust is golden and the juices in the center of the pie are bubbling over, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool for 1 hour before serving and sharing with friends.

Homemade Apple Pie

Homemade Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

img_0036 Leaves changing colors, colorful gourds and sweaters all remind me that it's finally fall. This colder weather has me craving warm drinks. I'm not the biggest coffee person, but I'm a huge pumpkin person. So I decided to make a homemade pumpkin spice latte to see what all the rage is about!


I love baking and cooking with pumpkins,  butternut squash, acorn squash & sweet potatoes. Canned pumpkin works great in making the latte part of this drink. I added pumpkin purée to a saucepan over low heat. I stirred in cinnamon and freshly-grated nutmeg. I then added coconut milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract. And voila, that's the "pumpkin spice latte" part that can be added to espresso or just strong coffee. I then added a dollop of whipped cream and garnished it with a cinnamon stick and freshly-grated nutmeg.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
Author: Vallery
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 servings
  • 2 cups espresso or strong coffee (warm)
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk or whole milk
  • Whipped cream
  • Cinnamon sticks, for garnish
  1. Prepare espresso or coffee and keep warm.
  2. Add the pumpkin purée, cinnamon and nutmeg to a small pot over low heat. Stir for about one minute. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir for another minute. Stir in the milk and increase the heat to medium. Heat until the milk just starts to simmer.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk or blend until the mixture becomes frothy (I used a hand mixer).
  4. Pour one cup of espresso or coffee into each latte or cappuccino cup. Divide the pumpkin-milk mixture evenly between the two cups.
  5. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a cinnamon stick. Serve immediately.

This recipe was adapted from half baked harvest.


Carrot Cake Truffles

Carrot cake truffles When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!  When life gives you a collapsed cake... make cake truffles. Or cake pops. Or cake balls. They are all the same thing: cake combined with icing, shaped into a ball, and decorated.

My very beautiful carrot cake that I made at Easter that didn't survive the long, hot subway ride to Brooklyn inspired me to make Carrot Cake Truffles. It's also a great way to use any cake scraps that you have. You simply crumble cake, mix it with icing, shape it into spheres, refrigerate it, then decorate. I decorated these by dipping the chilled balls in melted chocolate. But, you can also use finely crushed nuts, pulverized cookies--even sprinkles.

Carrot cake balls

Of course, you don't have to use carrot cake. You can use any cake. You can also use white chocolate, or dark chocolate, or milk chocolate... The possibilities are endless. You can decorate the cake truffles once the chocolate has set. I stuck pretzels in them to dip them in chocolate since I had both pretzels and chocolate leftover from the chocolate-covered pretzel Easter nests. The pretzels worked fabulously, plus, the edible pretzel stick offers a unique way to serve these delectable treats.

Carrot Cake Truffles
Author: Vallery
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 dozen
  • a two-layer carrot cake, or a 18.5 ounce box of cake mix prepared according to instructions
  • 12 ounces frosting (3/4 of one can)
  • 3 pounds chocolate
  • 48 pretzel sticks
  1. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Crumble the cake and put the crumbs in a large bowl. Make sure to crumble the cake as finely as possible.
  3. Add the frosting and mix well. Spoon out the cake-frosting mix and form it into a 1.5 inch ball with your hands. If your hands are slightly wet, you can mold them more easily. Also, washing your hands frequently during the process will help you mold them more easily.
  4. Place the ball on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all of the balls are formed. Let them rest on the baking sheet for 15 minutes.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and place the prepared baking sheet in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours.
  6. Once the cake balls are chilled, melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or on the top of a double boiler. Be careful not to overheat.
  7. Once the chocolate is melted, insert a pretzel into the top of each cake ball, and dip each ball into the chocolate, one at a time. Place the chocolate-covered cake truffle back on the prepared baking sheet, and carefully insert a pretzel stick at the top.
  8. Repeat until all of the truffles are coated, reheating the chocolate if needed.
  9. **If too much chocolate is on the cake ball, you can pick it up after a few minutes and re-set it on a different sheet of parchment paper. This will leave the excess chocolate behind.
  10. Allow an additional 15 minutes for the truffles to set. You may store them in a covered container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.