Saffron Butternut Squash Risotto with Steel Cut Oats

There’s this place on West 3rd street conveniently located about 6 minutes from the NYU Bobst Library door called OatMeals. It’s a tiny little oatmeal cafe that I discovered as a sophomore in college, and grew to love. In fact, my very first Spoon article was about OatMeals, giving it an extra special nostalgic garnish on top of its already adorable charm.

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Not only was OatMeals my first experience in food journalism (which inevitably kick started my love of writing for Spoon, general interest in food writing, and eventually this blog), it is also perhaps one of the most inspiring places for me in a culinary sense. How could this be, you ask? Because the head chef and owner of OatMeals named Sam, who more often than not, was in the kitchen herself when I’d run in for my fix, takes the seemingly humble oat, and reinvents it continuously, going outside “typical” boundaries and showcasing a grain in innumerable imaginative ways.

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It inspire ones to break their own culinary boundaries and rethink everything, from what they can do with oatmeal to what they can do with their lives. Sam was an investment banker for years, then went to pastry school and opened OatMeals after having the idea linger in her head for nearly a decade. Her story and her smile with every bowl of oats she serves up makes my heart smile, as do her delicious oats.

Butternut Squash Risotto Saffron steel cut oatmeal

So not only does OatMeals have “classic” oatmeal dishes, like bowls topped with fresh berries and almonds or peanut butter and bananas, they have a large assortment of savory oat bowls, many of which are honestly better than the risotto you find at high-priced restaurants. I had played with savory oatmeal before visiting OatMeals, but never prepared it in a risotto-type dish. This opened me up to a whole new side of oats to me, and when I wanted a cheesy-tasting risotto with squash but had no aribotto rice on hand, I took advantage of the steel cut oats I did have in my pantry and this dish was born. I added saffron because I recall loving it in the risotto dish I made in Food Science last year. Yes, the good days when I actually got school credit to play chef in a kitchen. Twas heaven. And so is this risOATo, pun absolutely intended.

Butternut Squash Risotto Saffron steel cut oatmeal

Simple, filling, and warm to the body and soul, this Butternut Squash Risotto made with steel cut oatmeal won’t let you down, the way, say, Bravo playing movies on Friday and Saturday nights does. Make a batch and eat it up. It’s best fresh out of the pan and into yo face. Happy late February friends! I just learned as I was typing this that it’s apparently national oatmeal month. So celebrate and take comfort in large bowls of oatmeal and the fact that warmer weather will eventually be coming.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
serves 2


  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
    • optional: sub 1/2 cup water for 1/2 cup canned coconut milk for a richer dish with a subtle coconut undertone
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cubed (I used pre-cut bagged butternut squash from Trader Joe’s, defrosted frozen would also work)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium onion or one scallion, chopped
  • 1  teaspoon dried sage or 4-5 fresh leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan or parmesan)
  • salt & pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss butternut squash cubes in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium or large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add chopped onion. Sweat onion until it becomes translucent. Add sage, cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon saffron. Add steel cut oats to hot pan and toast, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes.

3. Slowly add vegetable stock, 1 cup at a time, Stir slowly  and near constantly after each addition, until stock is absorbed, at which point add another cup, until all 4 cups have been absorbed and oats are plump and tenderized yet still al dente, and liquid appears creamy, about 20-30 minutes total. Remove from heat.

4. Stir in nutritional yeast or parmesan. At this point the squash should be about done. Add the squash to the risotto, as well as the remaining 1 teaspoon and stir gently. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Butternut Squash Rissotto Safron steel cut oatmeal 1

Hummus Barley Bowl with Sweet Potatoes & Kale

You ever have those days were you just want to eat the earth in bowl? Where you just want something earthy, hearty, warming, full of umami and spice and nourishment that will fill you up without making you feel weighed down? Well I do. And today was one of those days.

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For reasons beyond my explanation I was really craving barley this morning. I’ve been very into plain grains lately. Kamut, corn, wild rice, black rice, oats…just something comforting about a bowl of simple grains to feed the body and mind.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of eating carbs. They literally and figuratively fuel the brain and make you all sorts of happies, inside and out. The key is doing ‘em right. Whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits are nature’s way of being like “hey everyone I love you.”

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Back to barley. Couldn’t get it out of my head. And I was really craving a warm bowl of something hearty and filling. Barley fit the bill, as did the earthy creaminess of hummus. I decided to stir hummus (I used Horseradish hummus from Trader Joe’s…omg.) into barley while the barley was still slightly warm, almost to create a light hummus-sauce of sorts. The result was creamy flavorful grains in my face. In love. Adapting this idea and using it widely in the future.

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I decided to add some more delicious goodness to the bowl with an all-time favorite vegetable: the humble yet glorious sweet potato. Cubed and roasted plain and simple (okay I added a little cumin for extra flair). But this would be a miraculous way to use up any root vegetable or squash in your house. The pre-cut frozen butternut squash cubes would also work wonders.

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Kale made it’s way into the dish because I had about a fourth of a bag to use up. I’m normally not into cooked greens (I like ‘em raw) but a gentle sauté  seemed appropriate for the earth bowl. Cumin, curry powder, paprika and chili powder all lend earthy spiciness to the dish, as well. I threw some more chickpeas on top for extra filling power, adding some more texture, fiber, and protein to keep me satisfied.

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I am so in love with this dish I can’t even express the words. It’s a perfect lunch or light dinner and tastes great eaten as leftovers out of the fridge later on.

Barley Hummus Kale Sweet Potatoe Bowl 2

I used barley, but truly any hearty whole grain would work. Quinoa or brown rice would also do the trick. Use whatever you have on hand, but by all means, give this a go. Your tummy will thank me. Happy hummus bowl-ing :-)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Level: easy
serves 2


  • 1 cup uncooked barley (or wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, oats, etc)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup hummus of choice (I used Trader Joe’s Horseradish hummus and it was excellent!)
  • 1 large sweet potato (or about 1 cup cubed butternut squash – pre-cut frozen would work great!)
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 shallot
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper [ —> quick note on spices: if you really don’t have any of these or some of these on hand, a hearty dose of curry powder or cumin or any combination will get the job done and still be tasty]
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed


1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cube sweet potato and place on a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat sweet potato cubes. Toss gently with a spoon and add salt and pepper to taste. Place into the oven and roast until browned and tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare spice mix by mixing curry powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together with a fork and set aside.

3. Prepare barley or rice according to package. For barley, I added the 2 cups of water to 1 cup of barley, brought to a boil, and simmered over medium heat until barley had plumped and thickened, about 12 minutes.

4. While barley is cooking, drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a small skillet or pan. Chop onion finely and add to oil. Add 1/3 of spice mix and simmer onions and spices lightly on low heat until onions are translucent. Lightly chop kale and add to pan. Toss kale gently to soften and cook down slightly.

5. Transfer barley to a medium bowl. While still warm, add hummus and remaining 2/3rds of spice mix. Stir to evenly coat barley with hummus and spices.

6. Add cooked kale and onions from pan directed to bowl and mix again. Top with cubed sweet potatoes and chickepeas. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy :-).

Chocolate Nut Clusters with Sea Salt & Raw Sugar

Chocolate with nuts is my absolute favorite chocolate combination EVER. As both a chocolate addict and a nut lover, when they collide, I am euphoric. You may as well call me powerless before a bag of dark chocolate covered almonds. Specifically the ones from Trader Joe’s.

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And as far as sweet treats go, chocolate and nuts aren’t such a bad thing. Nuts are full of healthy fats essential for brain function and dark chocolate has all sorts of antioxidants, as well as more fiber, protein and iron than you’d expect, which is why I feel no remorse enjoying a daily cup of hot cocoa.

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That’s why when the Recipe Redux challenge for February was to share a recipe involving your favorite chocolate pairing, while I could think of a million chocolate combinations I enjoy, none could trump chocolate and nuts.

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Take that a step further with chocolate covered nuts with salt. That extra punch brings out the best of both worlds, and you can bet your bottom dollar I will buy anything with the words “chocolate” “nuts” and “salt” in the title. Done. Sold. Gimme.

Here I add another element of crunch and intrigue with some raw sugar. It has the same gritty yet pleasant textural appeal as salt, but adds another depth of flavor to the treat.

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  • 1 cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s 72% Pound Plus chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cup nuts of choice (I used a mix of equal parts pecan and walnut)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (can also use butter)
  • 2  tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar (like Sugar in the Raw)
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt


1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Chop nuts and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, microwave coconut oil until melted. Add maple syrup and sti. Pour onto nuts and mix until nuts are evenly coated. Sprinkle raw sugar and mix again. Allow to sit until coconut oil has cooled and sugar is sticking to nuts, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, microwave chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment, until melted. Allow to cool slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Pour chocolate over nut mixture and mix well until nuts are covered with chocolate.

3. Using two spoons or a small ice cream scooper, transfer small amounts of nut mixture onto baking sheets in clusters of desired size. Before chocolate has set, sprinkle more raw sugar and raw sea salt over the top of the clusters.

4. Place clusters in the fridge and allow chocolate to set, at least 15-20 minutes. Remove from fridge and enjoy!

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For more Chocolate Goodness from other members of the Recipe Redux, click around below!

The Best Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! I feel like this is a holiday people either love or hate. Personally, I’ve never felt bitter or angsty about it, even while single. And why would I be bitter? Valentine’s Day means half price candy on February 15th. #win.

Speaking of the season of love, do you know what I really really love? (besides my dog and Starbucks, obviously.) Chocolate pudding. It has always been a favorite of mine since I was a wee one. I recall being obsessed with the GenSoy soy puddings with the little panda guy on him when I was tiny, often eating a 4-pack in one sitting, enjoying every creamy chocolately blissful bite. Yums. Memories.

Vegan ToFu Pudding

My love and adoration for pudding has never ceased into adulthood. And when I have the time it’s something I still love to make.  Yes, you can use a packet and mix it with whatever milk you desire and have that classic box-pudding taste, which is divine in its own nostalgic right. And sometimes I like to do that, too. But it’s also really fun to make pudding from scratch. The major bonus with this option is that you can control the amount of chocolate and the consistency a little better. Personally I like my pudding super chocolatey and fairly thick, but you can tweak it and twerk it just the way you like.

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This pudding is very simple to prepare. All you need is 4 ingredients, a food processor or blender, and 5 minutes. Could anything be better? Perhaps only the fact that this pudding is one of those desserts that is secretly healthy, but you’d never know, nor would the biggest anti-health-food-glutton you might share it with.

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Delicious, fast, easy, healthy, chocolate pudding. This is my Valentine’s Day gift to you all.

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Love and chocolate!


-Kbakes & Milliemoo

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes (but you may want to chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before eating, though not necessary if tofu is already cold)
Level: couldn’t be easier

makes 2 servings


  • 1 12-ounce package silken tofu (I can’t stress silken enough, if you use extra firm like I accidentally did the first time, a smooth creamy texture will be much harder to achieve!)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (more if you like it runny)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon cornstarch (if you like it thicker, adjust cornstarch to preference. more cornstarch = thicker pudding)


1. Place tofu, cocoa powder, almond milk, sugar and cornstarch in a food processor or blender. Puree or blend until a smooth consistency is achieved.

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2. Place in a bowl or cups and place into the fridge for 20-30 minutes if you desire it chilled or until consumed, but you can also go ahead and eat it immediately. :-D Garnish with coconut whipped cream if desired.

Vegan Chocolate Tofu Pudding 5

Simple Lemon Pasta

Hello! Sorry if you’ve tried to visit kbaked this past week; due to technically difficulties the page was down for six whole days! But I’m happy to say we’re BACK baby (and that I stopped breathing when it was down).

Lemon Pasta Kbaked Vegan Simple

Blah. Life has been busy and hectic and weird this last week. So do you know what chaos means? Easy pasta. Like this beautiful Simple Lemon Pasta. 5 Ingredients. 15 minutes start to finish. Refreshing and light, yet filling.

Lemon Pasta Kbaked Vegan Simple

I used to make this a lot when I was busy. And then that thing happened where you forget about a recipe for a while and then you remember it and it’s the whole everything-old-was-new-again infatuation like when you find that old mix CD you used to jam out to all the time two Januarys ago. This pasta is just like that, but better.

Lemon Pasta Kbaked Vegan Simple

Pasta is love. Easy pasta = double love. And triple love = puppies. Today is my adoption anniversary with my dog, Millie, aka the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Happy one year to my sweet nugget!

millie the nugget <3

Make this pasta. Pretend it’s spring if you want to. It’s refreshing lemon zing will make you feel hopeful that spring is indeed coming, even though it’s like 14 degrees. Add peas if you like. Or add asparagus. Or don’t. As long as the noodles and lemon juice, salt, and olive oil are there, you won’t be let down. Happy noodling and happy eating! 8-)

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 9-11 minutes, depending on pasta used
Level: Easy
serves 2


  • 6 ounces (1/2 pound or 1/2 a box) linguine, spaghetti, or any other pasta of choice
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, freshly grated parmasen or vegan parmesan, depending on preference
  • 3/4 cup fresh peas or asparagus (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste


1. Cook pasta according to directions on box.
2. While pasta is cooking, juice lemons and set lemon juice aside.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.19.39 PM 3. When al dente, drain pasta and return to pan. Add olive oil and toss to coat. Add lemon juice and nutritional yeast or parmesan. Add fresh peas or asparagus. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and serve with more nutritional yeast or parmesan.

Garlic Roasted Kale Sprouts {Kalettes} aka the Brussels Sprouts Kale Hybrid

As you probably know, I write over at Spoon University. Yes I’m obnoxious and constantly self-promoting all my articles via social media. I don’t share all my pieces that I write for Spoon on kbaked, but if If you want to check out what I do over there, you can check out the Published section of this site, or my author archive over at Spoon by clicking here. Woot. Enough links for one intro paragraph? K good. Moving on.


This piece was about Kale Sprouts aka Kalettes. It’s the kale + Brussels sprouts hybrid that’s recently hit the shelves all over the country that I’m sure is gonna be super trendy in 2015. Also some people are saying kale is “so 2014.” I beg to differ. Kale is going no where, friends. Mark my words.


I gave Kale sprouts a whirl. You know, for the sake of food journalism. Lol. I tried a couple raw, shredded some and made a salad, and made these simple garlic roasted Kale Sprouts below. I dug them in all their various forms. You can learn all about Kale Sprouts by checking out the original piece here, or simply read below:

Photo by Katherine Baker

Kale Sprouts are roughly the size of their parent the Brussels sprout, though darker in color and streaked with beautiful purple hues. The leaves that frill from each sprout are leafy with ribbed edges, resembling those of kale.


According to, kalettes are the result of 15 years of vegetable breeding techniques, and are considered a non-GMO food, as they were developed through traditional crossbreeding methods as opposed to genetic modiffication. Both parent vegetables are part of the Brassica Olercea species, which houses broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage as well.


In addition to novelty, these hybrid vegetables are incredibly versatile and delicious. Kalettes boast a lovely nutty flavor with a slight sweetness and an incredibly contrast of both a crunchy and chewy texture. You can prepare them in nearly any way you would typically prepare either parent vegetable, whether it be chopped or shaved raw in a salad, sauteed on the stovetop, or roasted in the oven. To truly appreciate and taste the new vegetable, try the Garlic Roasted Kale Sprouts recipe below.


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Total Time: 20-25 minutes
Level: Easy

2 cups Kale Sprouts (Kalettes)
2 cloves fresh garlic
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Wash Kale Sprouts and place in a large bowl.
3. Chop garlic into thin slices and add to bowl with Kalettes.
4. Drizzle the olive oil and toss the Kalettes until evenly coated.
5. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, until edges are crisp and brown.
6. Enjoy.

Carrot Cake Granola

I really like carrot cake. Like, a disgusting amount. My sister knows this and ever-so-sweetly took her first attempt at vegan baking to make me this vegan carrot cake with macadamia nut frosting for my birthday. It was outstanding. I ate a lot of it.

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 Carrot cake is great because it’s a lovely “everyday” kind of cake. There are few days I’d turn it down. It’s sweet. It’s spicy. It has raisins and nuts inside. Mmm. I buy big slabs of it from a local vegan bakery (East Side Ovens) and sort of have it as a regular fixture in my refrigerator. That’s normal, right? Okay good. Noms.

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In addition to eating lots of carrot cake, I’m also very into making granola lately. It’s so quick, easy, and far less expensive and more tasty than store bought. I made this Nutty Gingerbread Granola, and then this Banana Bread Granola and this almost-a-bit ridiculous Puppy Chow Granola. Granola kick anyone? Yes I think so.

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The idea of gingerbread granola and banana bread granola and puppy chow granola got me thinking of turning other dessert-y things into granola. And while mixing carrot cake chunks and some granola into my coconut milk yogurt for dessert a few weeks ago: BAM the idea for carrot cake granola hit me.

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I made it a few times before getting it quite right. The first time I used quick cooking oats by accident because I accidentally got those instead of rolled. Pro-tip: don’t do this. Use rolled oats.

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Anyways, below is my perfected recipe for carrot cake granola. It’s spicy and sweet and crunchy and reminiscent of carrot cake in all the right ways. Full of pecans, walnuts, raisins, coconut shreds, and real carrot, it’s almost like cake for breakfast. Almost.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy

makes about 4 cups granola


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 1 cup baby carrots or 3 large carrots)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Shred carrots into a large bowl. Add oats, shredded coconut, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well.

3. In a small bowl, combine coconut oil, molasses, brown sugar, and maple syrup or honey. Mix well.

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4. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and mix until well combine. The oats should all be a little wet. Transfer to a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet. Place into the oven for 30-35 minutes until nuts and oats have browned. Mix once about 15 minutes into baking. When it is done, it will still be sticky. Take it out of the oven anyways. It will harden as it cools.

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