White Chocolate, Raisin and Oat Cookies



My mother-in-law’s chocolate chip cookie recipe is something held sacred among her boys.

I, however, can’t ever get them right, even when I follow her recipe down to the most minute details. And trust me, have had lengthy conversations about her exact process, and I still really can’t figure out how she makes them so perfect each time. I have decided to stop beating myself up and attribute my past failures to the loss of 4.5K in elevation. But I still try! And, I tell ya, every time I make them, I always get a lack luster “yeah… they’re…good! But they just aren’t the same…did you change something in the recipe?”

At first…no, I wouldn’t change the recipe. But then after multiple failed attempts, I started to veer off and blaze a new trail.

Side note/Fun fact: I can never stick to a recipe. I always have to add a little this or a little that to make it more *me.* This aspect of my personality drives my other half absolutely bonkers.

Lucky for me, my daughter thinks it is super fun. If it were up to her, we wouldn’t use a recipe (or logic even) for anything we make.


Bless her heart, she just loves to be in the kitchen with me.

Most days of the week, my daughter asks if I want to make cookies with her. I know that she is ultimately asking because she is Cookie Monster’s mini-me, but I like to give her the opportunity to help out as much as possible in the kitchen and pass my knowledge on to her as often as I can. It’s a good life skill to have! So we usually make a little something together a few times a week.

Today, I had a container of oat bran staring me in the face (purchased to make Honey Raisin Oat Bran Muffins) My MIL’s chocolate chip recipe calls for oats, so I figured I would start with her recipe as a base and make a few…alterations.

First thing I did was swap out the Old Fashioned variety for Oat Bran.

Now, there isn’t anything wrong with old fashioned oats, it is just a little different than oat bran. Since I am super-pregnant at the moment, I need all the protein and calories I can get, I decided to opt for the bran (and here’s why…)

First, let’s have a closer look at oats:

WholeGrainKernel_WGC_0When oats are harvested, their inedible hull is removed and you have Oat Groats. Groats are made up of three parts: the Bran, Endosperm and Germ  (Click here for more information on those layers). In a nutshell…The BRAN layer is the outside layer, rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and B-vitamins. The ENDOSPERM is the large middle layer that is rich in starchy carbohydrates, and also contains some protein as well as small amounts of vitamins and minerals. The GERM is the innermost layer that contains lots of healthy fats and b-vitamins as well as some minerals, protein.

Old Fashioned Oats come from a processing technique that steams the oats and then rolls them flat, giving you all three parts of the groat, thus making it a whole grain. Oat Bran is not considered a whole grain, because it is just the nutty outer layer that is full of fiber and protein.

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Looking at the nutrients side by side, Oat Bran provides significantly more fiber and protein, and has a texture closer to flour, so it works well in baked goods. Not saying one is superior to the other, they are just different.

Getting back to these delicious cookies…

Some other swaps I made were changing half of the flour to 100% White Wheat Flour, substituting honey for part of the sugar, and adding cinnamon.

The result was surprisingly delicious, probably the best luck I have had with this recipe yet!

White Chocolate, Raisin and Oat Cookies

  • Servings: 26 Cookies
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
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  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Shortening*
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Oat Bran
  • 1/2 Cup 100% White Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup (approx) Raisins
  • 1/2 Cup (approx) White Chocolate Chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, shortening, sugar, brown sugar and honey in a mixer on medium-high speed for a few minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Add Oat Bran and Flours until combined. Add Raisins and Chocolate Chips according to taste.
  4. Space cookies at least an inch apart on cookie sheet, as they spread. Bake for 10-14 minutes (smaller cookies 10, larger cookies will need more time). With a spatula, transfer to cooling rack and enjoy!



*I really am not a huge fan of shortening, because most contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and other chemicals that don’t belong anywhere near our bodies. But I do seldom use it in some baked goods because it does create a superior texture for cookies. Trader Joe’s doesn’t have shortening (that I know of), so you can use 1 cup of butter as opposed to part butter/part shortening. OR if you have some lard on hand, try that.  I use All vegetable crisco baking sticks because they have no trans fat (the oil has been fully hydrogenated to saturated fat as opposed to partially hydrogenated to a trans fat), but they still aren’t the best option. I haven’t really found an alternative, so if you have any tips or tricks to replace shortening in cookies – leave a comment below!

Honey Raisin Oat Bran Muffins

Honey Oat Bran Muffins FFK


I love me a good Bran Muffin.

…and we’re not talking the healthy kind! The more the honey and sugar to disguise the bran, the better. It’s for this reason, my bran muffin consumption usually falls in the “special occasion” category.


That’s where this recipe comes in. I found a Mimi’s copy-cat recipe on the internet, and made many tweaks to get the nutritional profile to a range that I would feel comfortable with calling this “breakfast” as opposed to “dessert.”

Some of the changes included swapping the regular flour for my favorite 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, swapping out the oil for a mix of melted butter and mashed banana, and drastically changed the glaze entirely (that one was painful).  I also added some extra flavor in the form of vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice.

Is it nearly as decadent as I am use to? No. But is it a whole lot healthier and tasty enough for me to enjoy? Absolutely.

This would pair really nicely with Vanilla Greek Yogurt and Berries for breakfast…and Coffee…Of course.

Honey Oat Bran Ingredients FFK

Honey Raisin Oat Bran Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 1 Cup 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Oat bran
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk (or milk + 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp Melted Butter
  • 1/2 Mashed Banana
  • 1/3 cup Chopped Raisins
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1 Egg
  • Glaze:
    • 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
    • 2 Tbsp Honey
    • 1 Tbsp Hot Water


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mix first five ingredients (the dry ingredients)
  • In a separate bowl, combine the next seven ingredients (the wet ingredients).
  • Create a well in the dry ingredients, and mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated (don’t overwork this).
  • Grease muffin tin (I use the coconut oil spray), and place ~ 1 Tbsp of batter into each section. Should be 1/2-3/4 full.
  • Bake for ~ 20  minutes. While muffins are baking, whisk together all glaze ingredients in a separate bowl
  • Remove while warm and place on a plate. Cover with glaze (about 1/2 tbsp per muffin). Glaze will fall down the top of the muffin and gather at the bottom of the muffin.
  • Best when consumed immediately and piping hot!

Coffee Crunch Bars

Coffee Crunch Bars

The holiday season has begun, and one of my favorite things to do is get in the kitchen and bake cookies and treats. This one is my all-time-favorite. I have begun to incorporate this recipe into my life throughout the year too. Since it contains coffee, it is perfect for late night events or brunches. For instance, it has become my go-to cookie that I bake during tech week.

It also is a PERFECT cookie to serve Santa Claus on Christmas Eve to give him energy as he pulls the ultimate global-all-nighter.

Coffee Crunch Bars Ingredients

Coffee Crunch Bars

  • Servings: 32 (2 cookies per serving)
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: very easy
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  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Instant Coffee (regular or decaf)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Salted Butter (two sticks), softened
  • 6 oz Chocolate Chunks (or chips)
  • optional: Chopped Nuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first five ingredients (dry) in mixer and combine on low. Add vanilla and butter and mix on medium speed until crumbly. Add chocolate chunks and/or nuts and mix until just combined.

Put dough into two 11X7 glass pans (or one large jelly roll pan), and press down. Should be about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (less time if they are thinner, more time if thicker).

Remove from oven, cut into pieces and let cool before removing from pan.

Nutrition Information: – Per 2 Cookies:  130 calories, 1 g protein, 7.5 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 80 mg sodium, 15 mg cholesterol, 9 mg caffeine



Summer Spinach Tortellini Salad

Summer Spinach Tortellini Salad from The Fearless Flying Kitchen This past weekend, I went up to the mountains with my mom (who is a vegetarian) and my daughter (who regularly survives on bread and cheese alone) to attend my dear friend’s 10 year wedding vow renewal ceremony. I volunteered to pack a lunch to make sure we had everything we needed for the all-day-affair. What to make that would keep in a cooler for hours and satisfy both of their needs? Thus, the Summer Spinach Tortellini Salad recipe was born! Good news was that it lasted hours without wilting, was full of vegetables, and provided the little one with enough carbohydrates to keep her going. Bad news is that I didn’t make enough to get a second helping.

Summer Spinach Tortellini Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 Package of Spinach Tortellini
  • 1/2 Bag of Organic Spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 Bag of Organic Frozen Broccoli
  • 1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Diced
  • 1 Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Tuscan Italian Dressing

Directions: Fill a large pot with about 4 quarts of water. Bring to boil over high heat. Add frozen broccoli. in 2 minutes, add Spinach Tortellini and cook until done, about 5 minutes (the package says 2-3 minutes, but because you will be adding something frozen just prior, it will decrease the temperature, thus needing more time). Prior to removing from the heat, add red bell peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, (to rehydrate them) for just a few seconds, then remove from heat and strain well, and rise with cold water.  In a separate bowl, combine spinach, mozzarella and the strained pasta/veggie mixture with 1/2 cup Tuscan Italian dressing. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Rosemary Salmon with Balsamic Green Beans and Tomatoes


My daughter can eat salmon any time, any where. For my last birthday, we were at Disneyland and had lunch at The Blue Bayou, a nice restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Little Miss O orders salmon, of course. When it arrives, she grabs it off of her plate and hoofs it down in 2 minutes flat, and eats it just like it is a burrito.

Needless to say, salmon is probably the most popular dinner in the Fearless Flying Kitchen.  This is also the dish that means I will always have a rosemary plant growing somewhere at my house. I don’t know what my family would do if salmon just up-and-disappeared one day.

I have made other (very delicious) versions of salmon, some with pesto and tomatoes, others with a miso glaze, but the hubs always tells me that this very simple preparation is the best. And I would have to agree! it is easy, simple and delicious.

We usually alternate the veggie that gets served along side. This time, I decided to fancy up a bag of green beans with a little balsamic glaze and grape tomatoes.  In the past, I have also added some chunks of goat cheese, which is always a plus in my book.

Now, I don’t think you can talk about salmon without bringing up the different types you can purchase and their overall controversial nature.  (Didn’t know salmon was controversial?! Now you do!) These two articles (one from The Cleveland Clinic, the other from The Washington State Dept of Health) do a great job with taking the research that is out there and outlining the pro’s and con’s to consider when choosing between wild or farmed salmon. In a nutshell, farmed fish is more readily available, costs less, has slightly more omega-3’s, and to some (self included) it taste better. But it also has a bit more saturated fat and calories, and with that extra fat, it stores more pollutants and carcinogens (such as PCBs). Either type of salmon is not considered to be high in mercury, with farmed salmon being lower in mercury than wild. Regardless of which option you choose, salmon has a lot of health benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids (great for your brain, eyes and heart and just keeping inflammation down in general) and it is a great source of muscle building protein. So, I would recommend including salmon in your healthy diet, try the wild first, and if that isn’t possible, farmed is fine…but keep it to a weekly meal as opposed to a daily occurrence.

Rosemary Salmon and Balsamic Green Beans

Getting this salmon party started!

Start by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees, and then prep your salmon. I always purchase salmon that has the skin still on, but it really doesn’t matter what type you purchase. If you do purchase the “skin-on” salmon, just make sure you discard the skin prior to eating. Most of the salmon is already de-boned that you purchase from Trader Joe’s, but I have, on occasion, come across some tiny bones, so I always rub my finger across each fillet to make sure I can’t find any hard spots.

Prepare your baking sheet. You can place the fillets directly on the sheet, or if you want an easier clean-up, place fillets on top of foil or parchment paper. Pour a little drizzle of Olive Oil over each fillet, and rub in. Then sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. As I previously said, I always have a rosemary plant (originally purchased in the Garden department of TJ’s) that I can go raid, but you can also purchase organic rosemary in a small package from the refrigerated section. Pop that bad boy in the oven for 15-18  minutes (depending on the size of the fillet). You’ll know it is finished if you insert a fork in the fillet and it flakes and will not appear “raw.” Know that there will be some carry-over cooking in the few minutes after it is removed from the oven, so if it is still slightly pink, that is ok. You will also notice that the white fat starts to appear on the top and sides of the filet.

While your salmon cooks, prepare your side items. For these green beans, I simple sautéed them in a little bit of Olive Oil for a few minutes, then added tomatoes and the Balsamic glaze. If you are following a low-carb diet, then your dinner would be done at this point. If you are a member of my family, you love your carbs, so we always have microwave brown rice in the freezer to serve alongside meals like this. Easy peasy.

Voila! Gourmet dinner that will impress, with minimal effort!

Rosemary Salmon

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 18 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 Salmon Filets
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary, chopped fine
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon filets on a baking sheet, skin side down (if there is skin). Run finger along the meat to make sure no bones are present. Drizzle a tsp of olive oil on each filet. Then adorn with rosemary, salt and pepper. Place in oven for 15-18 minutes, or until it no longer appears pink and “raw” on the inside. Remove from oven and let rest for about 3-5 minutes before serving.

Balsamic Green Beans and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 10 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 Bag of Organic Green Beans
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp (approx) Balsamic Glaze


Add a small amount of olive oil to a skillet and turn heat to medium-high. When hot, add green beans and sauté until they start to soften. Throw in cherry tomatoes and a squirt of balsamic glaze. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until tomatoes just barely start to break down. Add more or less balsamic glaze to taste.

Spinach, Mushroom & Beef Lasagna

Spinach Mushroom Beef Lasagna

Growing up, lasagna was this elusive meal only consumed by cats that sounded like Bill Murray. For some reason, we never ate it at my house. Perhaps it is the lack of Italian ancestors in my family tree? I am not sure.

Any who, fast forward about 20 years, my best friend invites me to her dad’s lasagna party. Every year, her very Italian (and awesome) father cooks multiple pans of delicious lasagna and opens his home to about a hundred of their closest family and friends. This was one of the best parties ever, not only because the wine flowed as fast as the videos of Father Guido Sarducci, but the lasagna was incredible. Now, long story short, at this point in my life, I had eaten my fair share of lasagna, but I still hadn’t ever made it. So, when the time came, I asked my friend to give me some pointers, and what does she do? She straight up gives me a link to re-create her fathers lasagna. Score! So, for the past few years, this has been a stand-by recipe. Only recently have I started to alter it to make it more of “my own.”

I did a couple of tweaks to make it a healthier choice, such as swapping regular ricotta for non-fat, decreasing the amount of meat, and using more veggies. And I am willing to bet that as soon as TJ’s starts to carry whole wheat lasagna noodles, that will be another swap!

Spinach and Mushroom Beef Lasagna


lasagna ready for oven Fearless Flying Kitchen

Ready for the oven!


  • Lasagna Sauce (see recipe below)
  • Ricotta Cheese Mixture (see recipe below)
  • 1 bag mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package (12) lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (Fresh if possible)
  • 1 tbsp butter


  1. Make sauce (see below)
  2. Make ricotta mixture (see below)
  3. Butter 13×9 dish
  4. Assemble: noodle, 1/2 ricotta, 1/3 sauce, mozzarella, noodle, 1/2 ricotta, 1/3 sauce, mozzarella, noodle, 1/3 sauce, Parmesan and a little more mozzarella (but not too much)
  5. Bake at 350 for 35-40 min. Let sit a few minutes prior to serving.

Lasagna Sauce

Spinach Mushroom Beef Lasagna from The Fearless Flying KitchenIngredients

  • 1 lb 96/4 ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bag mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 bag baby spinach
  • 1 jar Tomato Basil pasta sauce


In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, start to brown ground beef. Once it starts to release its juices, add diced onions and cook until meat is starting to brown and onions are starting to soften. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms begin to soften. Add pasta sauce and put to simmer on a low heat for about a half an hour. Towards the end, add spinach until just wilted and remove from heat.

Ricotta Cheese Mixture

Spinach Mushroom Beef Lasagna from The Fearless Flying KitchenIngredients:

  • 1 container non- fat ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • 2 tsp basil, dried
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined.

Suggested pairings: 

A nice Chianti

sautéed zucchini sprinkled with parmesan cheese

A light salad with balsamic glaze, meyer lemon olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Overnight Coconut Chia Seed Pudding

Overnight Chia Seed Pudding

By a show of hands, how many of you have seen some one boasting about their chia-seed-filled breakfast on social media? Or how about having a Pinterest feed full of chia seed recipes? I know mine is up!

As with most trends, I need to make sure it is tried and true before I start to experiment with it. Every time I go to Trader Joe’s, I see the small bag of chia seeds and am always so tempted to get it, but really, what would I do with them?

But really, why not get them? I shouldn’t let my lack of creativity stop me from these awesome little guys.

Chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, with just one tablespoon boasting 70 calories, 6 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat (mostly polyunsaturated, 3 of those grams are the omega-3 fatty acid ALA).

The recipe for a very basic chia seed pudding is one part chia seeds to four parts milk (of your choice), and from there you can customize with whatever sweetener or other additions you want!

I packed this for a snack at lunch, and I could barely finish because it was so filling! This makes for a great breakfast that will leave you satisfied for hours.

Overnight Coconut Chia Seed Pudding

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: (super)easy
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  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Vanilla Coconut Milk
  • Drizzle of honey (probably 1-2 tsp)
  • Mixed berries (the more the merrier! But probably about 1/4-1/2 cup)


Place chia seeds and coconut milk in a small, sealable container and stir. Let sit 2-3 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator. Once set, give it a good stir and try a small bite to see how much honey you need (1-2 tsp, or none at all if the sweetness from the coconut milk is enough for you). Top with mixed berries and enjoy!

French Onion Soup (with Italian Style Breadcrumbs)

My ultimate comfort food is French Onion soup. Nutritionally speaking, there isn’t much there aside from a lot of sodium and a whole bunch of cheese. I like to feel better about eating it by telling myself that my comfort food of choice could be a lot less healthy.

Ingredients for French Onion Soup (Fearless Flying Kitchen)It has been a dreary May (at least for this past week), so the first thing I wanted was French Onion Soup. I have not attempted to make this within the last, I don’t know, 10+ years? This usually only enters my diet at restaurants, when I purchase sub-par frozen versions, or get the BEST CUP OF F.O. SOUP EVER MADE at the House of France at Christmas on the Prado (or December NIghts for those of you new to San Diego). Seriously, best ever. I have decided this is mostly because it is not very heavy, the onions aren’t completely caramelized (they are still a light caramel color instead of a dark brown), and they have a few interesting flavors that seem a little more authentic (Herbs de Provence? No clue). I tried to emulate that in this recipe. It is getting pretty close! I am not sure what else I could add, aside from maybe a few more spices, let it cook for a longer period of time, or…I am not sure. But regardless if it tasted exactly like the soup from the House of France, it was good, and completely satisfied my “Dreary Weather Blues.”

French Onion Soup (With Italian Style Breadcrumbs)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/4 Cup (half stick) of butter
  • 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 (Quart) Containers of Beef Broth
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Thyme, dried
  • 1 bag Italian Style Breadsticks
  • 1 Bag Shredded Swiss & Gruyere


On medium-high heat, add butter to a large pan, and once melted, add the thinly sliced onions. Cook until they are a nice caramel color (about 15-20 minutes). Add minced garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and beef broth. Let come to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes (or longer if you have the time, the longer it simmers, the more robust flavor).
In the meantime, while the onions are caramelizing and/or the soup simmers, make your croutons. Put your oven on to pre-heat at 375. Slice breadsticks into 1 inch thick pieces and put onto a baking sheet. Place in oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until they are just starting to get crunchy.
Once soup and croutons are done, remove bay leaves (if you can find them!), fill a bowl with soup, top with croutons and then shredded gruyere/swiss mix, and put in the broiler for a few minutes, until cheese is melted and gets the signature “french onion” bubbly look.

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade and Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Come on, get appy! No, not an iPhone app, not an appendectomy…an appetizer!

I could eat appetizers all day long. Cheese boards. Baguette. Hummus. Artichoke and spinach dip. Everything just seems to be more decadent and taste better when it is in amuse-bouche form (in fact, quit what you are doing right now, and do a google image search of amuse-bouche. ooooooohhh, aaaaaahhhh). And quite honestly, if I were on Top Chef, this would be my specialty, because I LOVE hors d’oeuvres.

Fun fact about me: I once co-hosted a book club with my best friend just for the appetizers.

Any way, I am sure you can imagine that I try to pass off appetizers as “dinner” from time to time. For some reason, I always feel like it would be transformed into a “meal” if we added a simple salad. Here are some from my repertoire:

Polenta and Artichoke

Left: Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade
Right: Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

  • 2 Artichokes
  • About 2 cups veggie broth (home made or store bought)
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Aioli Mustard
  • 2-3 Tbsp Reserved veggie broth liquid
  • pinch of salt and pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp basil  (optional)
  • 1 tsp oregano (optional)


  1. To prepare the artichoke: rinse them, cut the stem off, trim the top of the leaves (because they can be a little prickly.) Cut each artichoke in half and remove the bitter, flower-y part in the middle, between the leafs, and the “choke.” (This also helps get flavor throughout and cook faster.)
  2. Store Bought is Fine

    Store bought is fine

    Place the artichoke, cut side down in a pot. Add two cloves of garlic, two lemon slices and two bay leafs and cover with veggie broth. You can easily make your own, which will be coming in a future post. However, in the words of my favorite celebrity chef, Ina Garten, store bought is fine.

  3. Cover and simmer until artichokes are tender. Then remove and serve along side of sauce (but don’t toss the veggie broth just yet! You’ll need that for the sauce)
  4. To make the dipping sauce: combine mayonnaise, mustard, and then a few tablespoons of the veggie broth mixture you just boiled the artichokes in. I think I also added a couple other spices, but I really can’t remember. Maybe some dried basil and oregano? Salt and pepper? I don’t know, but it was delicious. I am sure whatever spice you put in there would be delicious.

Perfectly-Perfect-Artichoke from The Fearless Flying Kitchen

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade

This is REALLY easy to make and will seem very gourmet. I have done this with home made polenta as well as store bought polenta as well as different varieties of olive tapenade. They are all delicious, and it really just depends on how much time you want to invest into this.


  • Home-made polenta (like this Rosemary Polenta recipe) or the store bought Organic Polenta
  • Approx 1 Tbsp Olive oil or Butter
  • 3-4 Tomatoes (“on the vine” or Beefsteak varieties are best)
  • 1 container of Olive Tapenade
  • 1 container of creme fresh or sour cream
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped


  1. Preheat griddle over medium high heat and spray with some cooking spray, butter or a little olive oil. Slice polenta into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and place on grill. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, not very long because it is already cooked. Just until heated through and has some delicious looking grill marks. Remove form heat and arrange on dish.
  2. Slice tomatoes into thick slices and grill like you did with the polenta.  Once it gets beautiful grill marks, place on top of each polenta slice. Top with a half Tbsp of Olive Tapenade of your choice (I have used three different Olive Tapenades from Trader Joes, and all are excellent, probably leaning more towards the one found in the refrigeratedsection), a dollop of Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream (or, on that note, Greek Yogurt if you are really trying to make this healthy) and then a sprinkling of fresh basil.

Grilled Polenta and Olive Tapenade from The Fearless Flying Kitchen

Rosemary Polenta, Tomato Confit, Carmelized Bacon and Eggs

Polenta Caramelized Bacon Eggs

In order to become a dietitian, you have to go through a minimum of a bachelor’s program in nutrition (and not just any program, one that is officially a “Didactic Program in Dietetics”). Then after that, you have to complete a 1-2 year (approx.) internship program, and then you can sit for your national exam.

My internship was at the VA Medical Center, and there were six of us interns who grew to be like sisters over that year (or, 10 months, to be exact). We would carpool, share food, spend holidays together, fight, complain, some even lived together. I really adored all of my intern-mates, and will have a special spot in my heart for them for the rest of my life.

One time, my intern-mate, Hai Van, invited the girls over to her place for brunch. It was probably the best breakfast I had ever had in someone’s home. I kept asking her what she did, and have tried to re-create the meal, but every time, it just isn’t the same. I shouldn’t be surprised, because this girl would come up with THE MOST creative menus, and was also a professionally trained chef. I mean, how can you live up to that??

I remember being very intimidated by this meal, not only because Hai Van was an incredible chef that made magic in the kitchen…but it called for Polenta. I had never made that before, and my only experience was seeing the log at the store. But my friend walked me through the entire process, and it ended up being a success.

Rosemary Polenta

This was adapted from The Barefoot Contessa. Believe it or not, I actually reduced the amount of butter, half and half and milk by quite a but. It still turned out creamy and delicious. If you are short on time, you can always use the pre-made Organic Polenta from Trader Joe’s. (Side note, I don’t think Trader Joe’s carries cornmeal, at least I have never purchased it from there. Does any one know?)


  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • Flour, olive oil, and butter, for frying


Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, and pepper and saute for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, half-and-half, milk, and water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly sprinkle the cornmeal into the hot milk while stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan. Pour into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan, smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm and cold.

Cut the chilled polenta into 12 squares, as you would with brownies. Lift each one out with a spatula and cut diagonally into triangles. Dust each triangle lightly in flour. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large saute pan and cook the triangles in batches over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once, until browned on the outside and heated inside. Add more butter and oil, as needed. Serve immediately.

The rest of the meal was fairly easy. You can make the polenta the night before and in the morning, just slice some of it up and pan fry it in a little butter and oil. To make the Tomato Confit, combine a container of little grape tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in a glass dish at 325 for 40 minutes.

The bacon is partially cooked on the stove then finished off in the oven @ 425 (until done, it all depends on how much you cook it on the stove). Before putting in the oven, sprinkle with pepper and brown sugar.

The eggs were just simply fried over medium. Then the dish was assembled with the polenta cake on the bottom, tomato confit and then topped with the egg. Bacon was served on the side.

When Hai Van made this, she sprinkled some fresh basil on top and served a side salad of field greens with balsamic vinaigrette and goat cheese, which was perfect for a brunch. It also added some more color to the plate. She also had a bloody mary bar, which is always a fan favorite (Side note – Trader Joe’s has a great bloody mary mix!)