Chocolate & Walnut Pumpkin Bread

As I mentioned in a previous post (Pumpkin Pancakes), pumpkin bread is something I like to make every fall. I like to try different recipes every year to keep things interesting in my kitchen. This year, as I do every year, I scoured Pinterest to find this year’s recipe. I knew I wanted to add chocolate chips because the combination of pumpkin & chocolate is truly magical. I came across Sally’s Baking Addiction & knew this was the one.

After making pumpkin pancakes last weekend, I realized that not only do pumpkin & chocolate go incredibly well together, but adding walnuts created the most delicious, deeply autumnal flavor that I was really excited about. So naturally, I threw some walnuts into the pumpkin bread.


It’s a fairly simple recipe that uses ingredients you probably have in your pantry or fridge already! It’s a great recipe to have on hand during the holidays because it’s simple to throw together, easy to make multiple loaves & travels well to bring to all your holiday parties!

I recently started baking using my kitchen scale to measure ingredients. Most recipes these days will have two measurements to go off of. You’ll see ingredients measured in teaspoons, tablespoons, or cups. Then you’ll also see ingredients measured in grams or milliliters. I made this recipe using my scale to weigh the ingredients. Weighing your ingredients gives you a much more accurate measurement & ensures your baked goods come out perfectly every time. Start by measuring out your dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Next, you’ll measure out your wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Then add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & stir to combine using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Stir until just combined making sure not to over mix the bread.

The recipe doesn’t include this step, but whenever I’m adding chocolate chips or nuts of any kind to a batter, I like to mix the chocolate or nuts with a tablespoon or so of flour. Mix together to coat the chocolate & nuts in the flour before tossing them into the batter. This step ensures that the chocolate & nuts don’t sink to the bottom of whatever you’re baking. The flour helps to keep the chocolate & nuts suspended in the batter making sure they’re evenly distributed throughout the bread. I recommend doing this anytime you have chocolate chips or nuts in any baking recipe!


Pour the batter into a greased 9X5 loaf pan & bake in a 350 degree oven for about 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, cover the bread with foil so it doesn’t get too brown. Once the bread is finished baking, set it on a wire rack (in the loaf pan) to cool completely before removing it from the pan.

I made two versions of this recipe. One with chocolate chips & walnuts (pictured above) to take to a work meeting. And a plain version (pictured below) to keep at home.




  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (340g) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) orange juice
  • 2/3 cup (120g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

*The recipe didn’t call for nuts but I added about 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts!

For the full recipe, check out Sally’s Baking Addiction


Taco Pizza

After discovering how delicious the Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Trader Joe’s is, I have been spending my weeks figuring out every possible topping for a pizza. This pizza pulls inspiration from the Tostada Pizza from California Pizza Kitchen. The dough is hearty & filling with the right amount of chew on the inside & crispness on the outside. It’s topped with a layer of quick refried beans & cheese before being tossed in the oven to get hot & melty. When it comes out of the oven it’s topped with fresh veggies & sour cream. Served with a side of guac & its all you need for a perfect meatless Monday.


Before beginning on the beans you’ll want to take the pizza dough out of the refrigerator & set it on the counter to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before rolling it out. Then get to the beans! Start by draining & rinsing 3 cans of black beans but reserve the liquid from 1 can. Then heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

When the oil is hot, cook the garlic for about a minute, just until you start to smell it. Then add the spices and cook all together for 1-2 minutes.


Next, add the beans & reserved liquid to the spices & stir to combine. Bring it to a simmer & cook, covered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about 10 minutes, take a potato masher & mash the beans until the reach a refried consistency. Lets move on to the dough!

Place dough onto a well floured surface and sprinkle some extra flour on top. Roll out the dough into a rectangle until its the size of a half sheet pan. Lightly oil your sheet pan and place the dough on top. Bake the dough in an oven preheated to 475 degrees for about 10 minutes until the edges begin to brown & the center is set. While the dough is baking, prepare the guacamole.




Quick Guacamole 

Start by cutting your avocados & removing the pit. Then scoop them into a bowl & mix in the juice of 1 1/2 limes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, & 1/2 teaspoon pepper.




Once the pizza dough has baked, spread on the beans & top with shredded cheese. Toss the pizza back in the oven & bake until cheese it melted, about 3-4 minutes. Once the cheese it melted top the pizza with shredded lettuce & chopped tomato. Dollop sour cream over the pizza & finish with a squeeze of lime! Serve your pizza alongside the guac & enjoy!



Pumpkin Pancakes

Growing up I always thought I didn’t like pumpkin because my parents never cooked with it or used it in the kitchen. It was an unfamiliar flavor to me that as an adult I just assumed I didn’t care for. But you know what happens when we assume right…

Fast forward to my adult years when I began cooking for myself and I realized I was in a position to do whatever I wanted in my own kitchen. Every fall there was so much buzz around pumpkin and everybody was obsessed. I knew I had to give it a try.

A couple years ago I made a recipe for pumpkin bread that I found on Pinterest which turned out to be delicious. Then it dawned on me, what else have I been missing out on? This bread was moist, deeply flavored and so easy to throw together. I was hooked. Chocolate Walnut Pumpkin Bread

As the years go on I try to incorporate more and more pumpkin dishes into my fall repertoire. I love fall, and especially Halloween, so I love to be able to get into the spirit in as many ways as possible. Cooking is definitely one of those ways. Now that I do 90% of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s I have been introduced to the plethora of pumpkin items that flood their shelves come September. Each week since the beginning of September, I have been picking up at least 1 (usually more) pumpkin related items from Trader Joe’s and I am pleased to say I have yet to be disappointed. I will do a separate post reviewing each of the pumpkin items in detail for you guys!

This morning I tried the pumpkin pancakes and oh my word. They were incredible. It was a boxed dry pancake mix that only required you to add butter, milk and 1 egg. Simple right? And totally customizable!

The end result was an incredibly fluffy pancake with deep fall flavors. Not overpoweringly pumpkin flavored, but a nice balance of pumpkin and spices. I added chopped walnuts to a few which gave the pancakes a great crunch. I also made a couple with both walnuts and chocolate chips which I HIGHLY recommend because they were out of this world.

I topped these bad boys with Trader Joe’s new Vanilla Bean Infused Maple Syrup which I also highly recommend. The vanilla in the syrup paired nicely with the spices in the pancakes to create the perfect fall bite.

I served the pancakes with a quick scramble made with eggs, chopped bell peppers, Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage  and mozzarella cheese.

Happy Brunching!


And I obviously had to bust out the festive plates because it’s only 24 days till Halloween!



Creamy Cannellini, Lemon & Feta Dip

Any recipe that can be thrown together in just a few minutes using just a few ingredients is a recipe I can always get behind. This Cannellini dip is no exception to that.

This dip combines white beans with feta cheese and lemon to create a smooth and intensely flavored concoction. Think of an Italian version of hummus. It’s the perfect appetizer or party treat, but also makes a great snack. Serve it up with pita wedges & veggie sticks! (Or whatever you like, its your life man!)

This dip is as simple as it gets! Just throw all the ingredients into a food processor.


Blend until smooth & voila! Dip is done!




  • 1 14oz can Cannellini Beans (or white beans) rinsed & drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt & pepper


Recipe from Flavour and Savour


Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Finding meatless dishes continues to be a challenge as the weeks go on, but it has also really opened my eyed & my mind to new ideas. I found this recipe when reading through a Buzzfeed article about meatless lunches and thought it would make a great meatless dinner. It seemed simple enough to throw together on a busy day, which I always love.

Any dish that resembles pizza in the slightest is something I can get behind. Calzones are no exception to that. This version is stuffed with spinach & cheese giving it a creaminess you always crave with calzones, but the spinach makes the calzones a little lighter, and I don’t know about you, but that always makes me feel a little better about what I’m eating. Not to mention the crust is whole grain so this dish is basically “healthy”… right?

Serve these up with a simple green salad, or Cesar if you’re feeling a little fancy on a Monday night, & some warmed marinara sauce for a complete meal.

I hope you love these!

Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, oil & egg yolk.


Place the pizza dough on a well-floured surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough until it is between 1/8″ & 1/4″ thick. For this recipe I used a whole wheat dough because its heartier & better for you, but you can use whatever dough you like.


Cut out 4 large circles to make larger calzones, or cut out 6 smaller circles for smaller calzones. (For this recipe I made 6 calzones, but the amount of filling will work for either.)


Once the dough is cut it is time to fill the calzones. Divide the filling into either 4 or 6 portions, depending on the size of the calzones. Lay the filling on one half of the dough, making sure to leave a border.


After you have filled each calzone, fold the half that doesn’t have the filling over the top of the half with the filling. Pinch the edges together (like a pie crust) to seal the calzone, then go over it with a fork to ensure a tight seal so the filing doesn’t escape in the oven. Then cut 3 or 4 slits into the top of the calzones to let any steam escape. Brush them with the egg wash and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the calzones from the oven, brush with remaining egg wash & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven & bake an additional 8 minutes.

Serve with a side of marinara & simple green salad.


Recipe adapted from Kitschen Cat-Ricotta and Spinach Calzones with a few small changes noted above.

Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 calzones

10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed & with all liquid removed
4 ounces shredded mozzarella
8 ounces ricotta
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg yolk
1 pound whole wheat pizza dough

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, oil & egg yolk.
  3. Place the pizza dough on a well-floured surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough until it is between 1/8″ & 1/4″ thick.
  4. Cut out 4 large circles to make larger calzones, or cut out 6 smaller circles for smaller calzones. (For this recipe I made 6 calzones, but the amount of filling will work for either.)
  5. Once the dough is cut it is time to fill the calzones. Divide the filling into either 4 or 6 portions, depending on the size of the calzones. Lay the filling on one half of the dough, making sure to leave a border.
  6. After you have filled each calzone, fold the half that doesn’t have the filling over the top of the half with the filling. Pinch the edges together (like a pie crust) to seal the calzone, then go over it with a fork to ensure a tight seal so the filing doesn’t escape in the oven. Then cut 3 or 4 slits into the top of the calzones to let any steam escape. Brush them with the egg wash and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the calzones from the oven, brush with remaining egg wash & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven & bake an additional 8 minutes.
  7. Serve with a side of marinara & simple green salad.

Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza

When it comes to meatless Monday meals, I sometimes struggle with finding recipes that are filling enough to be called a dinner, but are also exciting. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a Tasty video I watched, about 5 different ways to make meatless tacos. One of the taco ideas was a buffalo cauliflower taco.

I am not a huge fan of cauliflower so I was skeptical at first, but I love anything buffalo, so I figured “cauliflower can’t be that bad when drenched in buffalo sauce…right?” Watching the video I thought to myself, I can easily make this buffalo cauliflower, but I wanted to do something different than tacos. Then it hit me. PIZZA.

The cauliflower part of the recipe was inspired by Tasty, and the taco version can be found here: Meatless Tacos 5 Ways

Serves 2-3


  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce, divided
  • 1 lb prepared pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 4 stalks celery, peeled into ribbons
  • Classic Blue Cheese Dressing


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Remove pizza dough from the fridge and rest on the counter while you prepare the cauliflower.
  3. In a bowl, add flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and milk. Stir to combine.
  4. Add cauliflower florets into the bowl with the flour and milk mixture. Stir to coat the cauliflower.
  5. Transfer cauliflower to a silicone-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.
  6. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, brush it with 1/2 cup of buffalo sauce and place back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until sauce begins to bubble.
  7. While the cauliflower bakes, roll out pizza dough to roughly 13 inches on a well oiled surface. Place on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil (or a pizza stone if you have one).
  8. Bake the crust at 475 for about 10 minutes, or until firm and starting to brown on the edges.
  9. Remove the crust from the oven. Brush it with remaining buffalo sauce, then top with mozzarella cheese and cauliflower. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbling.
  10. While the pizza finishes baking, run a vegetable peeler down the sides of the celery stalks to create long, thin ribbons.
  11. When the pizza is finished baking, top it with celery ribbons. Finish the pizza with blue cheese dressing and serve.




Black Bean Chimichangas

When trying to come up with my own recipes they often change throughout the process. Somewhere between coming up with the initial idea to actual execution, there are some bumps in the road which lead my original idea to sometimes shift. That was no exception with these chimichangas.

This recipe originated as an idea for black bean flautas. Flautas are similar to taquitos but use flour tortillas instead of corn. This idea changed when I began filling them and realized they were too big to call them flautas, but definitely too small to be full burritos.

Flautas are rolled like taquitos, which leaves the ends open and I was afraid all the filling would escape when they were being fried, so I tucked in the edges, making them look more like little burritos. Enter the chimichanga. Chimichangas are traditionally larger since they are just deep fried burritos, but I figured if I was going to fry them, it was best to make them smaller. They ended up being delicious which is all I could really ask for right?


Prep time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 12 chimichangas


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 medium flour tortillas
  • 1-1 ½ cups shredded jack cheese
  • ¼- ½ cup canola oil*

For serving:

  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and cook until soft and beginning to brown.
  3. Add cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add drained beans to vegetables and cook until beans begin to soften.
  5. Once beans are soft, transfer beans and vegetables to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  6. Spread about 3-4 tablespoons of pureed beans on the center of each tortilla and top with 1-1 ½ tablespoons of cheese then fold the tortilla ‘burrito style’.
  7. In a large sauté pan, heat canola oil on medium high heat and cook chimichangas in batches, until browned on both sides.
  8. Top browned chimichangas with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted.
  9. To serve, top chimichangas with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and a drizzle of sour cream

*Add enough canola oil to the pan to go about halfway up the chimichangas.



Smashed Chickpea & Broccoli Tacos w/ Lemon Tahini Spread

When the new year started I knew I wanted to enact a new tradition in the kitchen. I was also trying to eat less meat so Meatless Monday’s seemed like the perfect choice. At first it was very daunting, the thought of having to come up with a new meatless recipe every single week, but I was excited for the challenge.

These tacos were my first ever Meatless Monday recipe and I was so happy they turned out as incredible as they did. It was scary after all, trying something new. The delicious taste and full feeling in my tummy after eating these tacos was telling me I’d be okay.

When trying to come up with this recipe I first focused on the main ingredient. What was going to be my ‘meat substitute’ for this dish? I also knew I wanted to do tacos because they’re an easy way to try out new ingredients and combinations.

I have always loved chickpeas and I find them really filling so I decided to make them the base of the taco. I knew I wanted to add a fresh component to add contrast so I thought riced broccoli and avocado would be really yummy. Then I just had to figure out how to season the chickpeas and some kind of saucy or creamy element and I was done! My first Meatless Monday recipe, done! This was very exciting for me. The best part? This wasn’t just a meatless dish, but it was also vegan! What an exciting way to start a new tradition!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: about 8 tacos


  • 2-3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 6-8 tortilla (depending on size)
  • 1 avocado, sliced


  1. Put broccoli florets into a food processor & pulse until broccoli becomes finely chopped up, set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine drained chickpeas with 1 tablespoon of oil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Toss to coat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine tahini & lemon juice and stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a medium sauté pan heat remaining oil on medium heat. Add onions and sauté until onions are soft & starting to brown. Add the smashed garlic clove and stir around until fragrant.
  5. Add seasoned chickpeas to the pan and cook until heated through and slightly browned.
  6. When chickpeas become soft take a potato masher (or fork) and smash about half of the chickpeas.
  7. Add shredded carrots to the pan with the chickpeas & cook until they become soft.
  8. Heat your tortillas and spread some of the tahini onto the bottom of the tortilla.
  9. Next, lay on the chickpea & carrot mixture.
  10. Top each taco with broccoli, sliced avocado & more of the tahini mixture.
  11. Enjoy!



Creamy Ranch Dressing

I’m a woman who believes in many things. But one thing I will always stand behind?BOTTLED SALAD DRESSINGS ARE GARBAGE.

That may seem a little aggressive, but I feel very strongly about the topic…

Bottled dressings are bad for a number of reasons. There is nothing fresh inside of that bottle so the taste will never be what it should be. There are a lot of yucky things on that label that you’ve probably never heard of, and definitely should not be putting into your body. And lastly, they are packed with things that cause them to have high levels of sodium, cholesterol, and fat.

Making dressings at home saves you money and is a much healthier option. Not to mention it will taste a million times better than anything that comes out of a bottle. Now, I will admit there are a very select few (less than 4) bottled dressings that are excluded from my hatred and Trader Joe’s Romano Cesar Dressing is one of them, but that’s besides the point here guys!

Weather you make a big batch at the beginning of the week, or quickly assemble something before putting together your salad, take my advice and try making your dressings at home.

Yes I realize the irony here involving me talking about making healthy choices on a blog post about ranch dressing but even homemade ranch is a healthier option than a bottled one! And don’t worry, there are more (healthier) dressing recipes coming your way soon!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: about 1 1/2 cups of dressing


3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.  IMG_0085


Weeknight Fish Tacos

Fish tacos have always been a special treat for me because the best fish tacos always come from the seafood stands near the beach. They were never something I really thought to make for myself. That is until I stumbled upon battered halibut in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s.

I quickly grabbed a box and tossed it in my cart. I couldn’t wait to taste them to see if they tasted anything like fried fish from one of the previously mentioned seafood stands.

Boy were they good! Fresh out of the oven they had an unmistakable crispiness that rivaled any ‘freshly fried’ piece of fish I’d had before. I knew they would be perfect for fish tacos, paired with a creamy white sauce and topped with a fresh slaw. I hope you guys enjoy these tacos as much as I did!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2

1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon milk (if needed)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 box battered Halibut (Trader Joe’s)
4 flour or corn tortillas*
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/3 cup grated carrot


Preheat the oven according to package directions.

Combine sour cream, 3 tablespoons of lime juice, cilantro, salt & pepper in a bowl. Mix until smooth & check the consistency. If you like your sauce thinner, add the milk. Then store in the fridge until ready to use.

In a medium bowl, combine the shredded cabbage and grated carrot. Cover with remaining lime juice & toss to coat. Set aside.

Cook the fish according to package directions.

When the fish comes out of the oven toss in the tortillas (carefully) & warm them until they are pliable.

Once the tortillas are ready, spoon some of the sauce on them and top with a few pieces of fish, some cabbage & carrots, then dollop more sauce on top if you please (trust me, you please).

I served my tacos with a rosemary & olive oil quinoa blend made by Near East.

*Corn tortillas are more traditional for this dish but I usually have flour tortillas on hand so thats what I generally use.