Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito Bowls with Cilantro Lime Cauli-Rice

Part of being a food blogger is being lucky enough to meet and become friends with loads of other amazing and talented food bloggers, cookbook authors, recipe developers, food photographers, etc. It just sort of happens over time. Besides having social media feeds loaded with food photos and constantly chatting about what’s for dinner, it’s mostly just incredibly inspiring. Being surrounded virtually and in the real world with people that are passionate about food, eating and sharing this love and passion with others. It’s pretty darn amazing.

Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito Bowls with Cilantro Lime Cauli-Rice

More and more of these talented folks are authoring beautiful cookbooks filled with their creative recipes. I now have bookshelves full of incredible recipe resources. In 2014, I got a bit behind on my cookbook reviews and I am working to remedy that this year. So, I am working on a new series I am calling Foodie Friend Fridays, where every other Friday (or there-abouts), I will share cookbook reviews and recipes from some of my favorite cookbooks, guest posts from incredibly talented friends, occasional giveaways and more! Some of the reviews will feature cookbooks that are paleo, some vegan, others just a general topic cookbook, with recipes that would work for us gluten-free folk, but be sure I will always share gluten-free recipes and I will always give you my honest critiques.

First up is Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple by Danielle Walker. It felt natural that this would be the first cookbook I’d review and share a recipe from, in this new year, as I had the pleasure of working closely with Danielle this past fall on the set of Access Hollywood.  Danielle was a guest on a segment promoting this book and she asked if I would work as her food stylist for the shoot. This meant I shopped for and made all of the recipes from her book featured on the episode, from start to finish, plating the dishes, getting the set all prepped for the shoot and making it all pretty. (watch the segment here, check out the sweet plating, the props from my home collection and the pretty flowers, too while you’re there ;) ) It was an incredible experience and also a ton of work. I now have an immense amount of respect for people that do this on the regular. More than anything, I was excited to get to get my hands dirty creating 3 of the delicious recipes from Danielle’s latest NY Times Best Seller.

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Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Spicy Orange Parsley Chimichurri

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Spicy Orange Parsley Chimichurri

Ya wanna know what I think? I think roasted Brussels sprouts are just about the most brilliant creation ever. I know for many people Brussels sprouts are a you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em kinda thing, but I would bet even the biggest of haters could get down with these Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Spicy Orange-Parsley Chimichurri. It’s THAT good, people! We got some Brussels sprouts in our CSA box from Beachgreens this past week and I have more oranges growing than I know what to do with and some extra fresh parsley, so this dish was born out of what I had on hand. As most of my favorite dishes are.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Spicy Orange Parsley Chimichurri

In my opinion, this delicious and flavorful spicy orange-parsley chimichurri is the perfect addition to an already delicious food. It compliments the roasted and toasty flavor of the Brussels in the most perfect of ways. A little  pop of bright sweet, tartness from the orange juice and zest, the wee bit of spicy and a load of flavors from the parsley, oregano and garlic. Oh and be sure to bookmark this recipe, this chimichurri is so amazing on other foods like any of your other grilled 0r roasted veggies, try it with baked sweet potato fries, steak, pork chops, fish and more. Use it as a marinade or a dipping sauce, too.

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Slow Cooker Coconut Red Curry Vegetable Soup

With this being only our second winter in California I am pleasantly surprised this year by the cooler weather and the rain. It really feels wintery to me (in comparison to our usual warm and sunny days). As much as I know we needed the rain and I of course wanted it, I really just was starting to believe it didn’t actually happen here.

Last year was pretty much just hot and sunny the entire winter season, very little rain, it basically just felt like a continuation of the rest of the year. I assumed that was the norm and was really only bummed about it because I was missing comforting winter foods like soups and stews and other winter weather favorites.

Slow Cooker Coconut Red Curry Vegetable Soup

This year we have had some wonderfully welcomed grey and chilly days, complete with rain and the need for cozy-time. I’m talking a hot fire, lots of blankets and comforting hot foods and drinks. I have made lot of soups and my love of hot drinks has been taken to a new level. In fact, while I write this, I am sipping away on a steamy mug of dairy-free hot cocoa, while under a cozy blanket, in front of the roaring fire place. I know, I know, those of you dealing with single digit temperatures and loads of snow, probably think this Southern California girl who hails from Buffalo, NY, should shut up about rainy 50º weather, but it’s all relative, friends. Promise.

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Baby Kale and Quinoa Salad with Dates, Avocado and Citrus Hibiscus Vinaigrette

Even if I eat the very best that I can during the holidays, the minute the celebrations are over, my body craves greens, salad, soups and anything else healthy and comforting it can get it’s hands on.

This year, the morning after Christmas the hubby and I hopped into the car with the pooch and headed off to Palm Springs for a much-needed, relaxing 3-day getaway. We stayed at the Ace Hotel, which we simply adore. Despite the chilly desert weather, we enjoyed the time away, snuck in some pool side cocktails, a couples massage and lots of laying around.

The best part about getting away for me, is letting other people do the cooking, for once. As much as I enjoy doing it, it has still become a job, of sorts, for me and oftentimes I look forward to those moments when someone else is serving me something delicious and nourishing, that I didn’t have to slave over.

Baby Kale and Quinoa Salad with Dates, Avocado and Citrus Hibiscus Vinaigrette

While we were away, one morning I had a delicious kale and quinoa salad for breakfast at the King’s Highway, the fab diner at the Ace. I had it topped with a poached egg and it was exactly what I needed. But as usual, I immediately started dreaming of ways I could make it better. I obviously cannot take total credit for this, but this salad is my take on their dish. I changed some things around, I opted for baby kale, rather than regular raw kale (which I find can be slightly bitter, at times), I also added some sliced avocado and chose toasted, spiced, shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for crunch rather than Marcona almonds, the caramelized shallots replaced onions. Also, I feel like I can say this, my vinaigrette puts theirs to shame.

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