Lemon Green Bean Almondine

Jazz up green beans with this easy technique of bringing lemony flavor to Lemon Green Bean Almondine - anneliesz

Truth or dare? I always go with dare, but will start here with a truth. At Thanksgiving, my two favorite dishes growing up starts with my Tita’s dressing (I’m not alone there as my Tia doubles the batch so she can freeze half, defrost, and reheat whenever she has a hankering for her mother’s cooking). The other dish at its core is more cream of mushroom soup concentrate and crunchy onions from a tin than green beans. One hopes that time outgrows habit and on that point, I still love my Tita’s dressing and a good Green Bean Casserole, though now I prefer homemade mushroom cream and fried shallots.

This dish is not that dish and yet I dare you to swap out the heavy, creamy traditional side dish for this one. It’s quick and the best part is the cooking time is about 2 minutes. Warm the lemon butter sauce in the microwave for 1 minute and as long as you’ve toasted the almonds ahead of time, you’ve got a new-to-the-Thanksgiving table side dish that takes less than 5 minutes but that also makes any evening meal a side dish cinch. You’re welcome.

Lemon Green Bean Almondine - anneliesz

Lemon Green Bean Almondine

Who doesn’t love recipes you prep in advance? Toast the almond slices the night before the big feast. Even blanch the green beans. Then on game day, reheat, toss, and serve. Easy

Makes 4 servings

1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons toasted almond slices

Blanch the green beans. Heat the butter, lemon juice, and salt for 1 minute until the butter is melted. Top with the almonds.


Salad for Endless Summer


Salad for Endless Summer

Everything inside of me wants to braise– to uncover a pot and release the steam of beer-scented lamb into the small confines of the kitchen. My red Dutch oven peers out from its file cabinet perch, forlorn. The sourdough starter that brings joy to the bread eaters in my family and among friends sits on the top shelf of the refrigerator, its fermentation retarded until its bi-weekly feeding time. Sandwich boards tout the flavors of fall even as the thermometer tells me otherwise.

We live in Oakland. We live in endless summer. In fact, I’ve taken to calling our fair city “endless summer” anytime the occasion arises, which I can assure you is as frequent as forgoing cups of hot tea for cooling quenchers of iced. For years, I lived in a patch of fog that finagled the idea of grey skies into my daily experience. Yet, even when I visit the bookseller friend in that former San Francisco neighborhood whose fondness for the East Bay encouraged me to embrace our move, she tells me the patch of fog in our old neighborhood has hung up a sign that it’s on holiday.

During the summer, no-bake recipes flitter through feeds on twitter, eat up the thread on pinterest, and woo home cooks with the idea that dinner can be a winner without the assistance of the oven. Zucchini noodles may just have transitioned this summer from fringe food to mainstream main dish. When it comes to kitchen gadgetry, bypass one of those contraptions that cranks out zoodles for the humble box cheese grater or reach for your food processor.

A simple lunch salad for endless summer comes together with a can, a squash, a squeeze, and a sprinkling of almonds. It takes a nod from summer appetizers of prosciutto wrapped figs pairing them with creamy garbanzos. As dinner, it comes together in 10 minutes and satisfies the urge for healthy food that’s fast. It is a safeguard against evenings of easy take-out and my response to the days of drought that keep summer forestalling fall. Soon enough, the pumpkins will get hacked into roastable chunks. The half moons of delicata will sizzle from brushed-on olive oil. Raw squash will give way for roasted. And, the glow of oven coils will replace the long days of our overworked brightest star.

Salad for Endless Summer

A Salad for Endless Summer

Feel free to omit the prosciutto for a vegetarian version of the salad—the garbanzos star in this salad that can easily be doubled and is best served right away. 

Makes 2 servings

3 zucchini, grated (3 cups)

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

3 slices prosciutto, rolled and chopped

9 dried figs, chopped (1/3 cup)

1 tablespoon chopped green onion

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 crushed red pepper flakes

Stir together the zucchini, garbanzos, prosciutto, figs, green onion, almonds, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes.


Creamy Coconut Joys

If you’re reading this you might have noshed on an elegant slice of flourless chocolate cake last week. Perhaps you whisked together a last minute dark chocolate pudding and dusted it with chopped pistachios. Maybe, you received two bars of chocolate in the guise of Blueberry Lavender or Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt that you will hoard away until the moment calls for a square or two to be notched off the ends. If February 14 had a movie moniker, it would be, “There Will Be Chocolate.”

What is it with chocolate and Valentine’s Day that makes them feel indispensible, one from the other?

In the other room, the synthesized music of Mew floats into this room, over to my desk as a knife chops applewood smoked bacon for a once a year gift of homemade Carbonara. It’s become our tradition of a simple decadent dish anticipated with the fervor of turkey and dressing or any dish you might assign to a holiday. Soon, a sizzle and the wooden spoon’s nudging against the stainless steel walls will join the happy sounds coming forth from our kitchen. Then too, more chopping will commence, but a harder sound, as if knuckles rap against the front door. Twirling my fork around the noodles, watching John Cusack become Edgar Allen Poe on screen and sidled up against my love, this, this is worth remembering. And we try to etch the small moments into the trunk of our memories.

What is it with our need to complicate the very best things in life? We chase happiness like it just might be joy but that goodness can’t last. Joy, on the other hand, never ceases to surprise me. How can something so good be found in the dregs of circumstance? And maybe that’s it. Circumstance proves happiness to be so very fickle, where it cannot touch joy. Other times, we have to scratch around the dry earth of our spirits for that joy, but that does not vanquish it from existing. I think of Corrie ten Boom, a personal hero of mine who somehow found bits of joy even as she was incarcerated in a concentration camp for hiding Jews in her house during World War II or Paul singing songs in prison.

When you come down to it, joy can be hard to understand. If history has shown me anything, we don’t often chase after what we don’t understand. Instead, we try to quell it. Happiness and joy- which one are you running toward or trying to cultivate?

And this is why, after a day dedicated to chocolate and the kind of love found in small gestures or the grandiose, we come back to joy. It’s no surprise that the classic combination of almonds, coconuts and chocolate culminate in nomenclature of joy. Just as I think you will agree these Creamy Coconut Joys can present a small luscious gift whenever the occasion calls for it.  Stumbling over the ridiculously luscious St. Benoit yogurt had me clamoring for resuming my post-dinner yogurt habit. Since I trust the folks in Sonoma to not steer me wrong with yogurt, we go full fat and I’ve been told by an RD friend that yogurt from grassfed cows can give more omega’s, which is a bonus to the creamy consistency of our other favorites, Straus Organic or our love of goat’s milk yogurt from Redwood Hill Farm. Keep in mind, light yogurt equals more processing and really, when you’re keeping it simple, quality ingredients are paramount. You might find these Creamy Coconut Joys live up to their name.

We all need a bit more joy in our lives, methinks.

Creamy Coconut Joys The Food Poet



This recipe comes together pretty easily. I enjoyed this regularly without the coconut milk, so you can opt for that or take it over the top and make your own coconut cow’s milk yogurt. It’s your choice really. Make the yogurt hours in advance of serving and let it sit in the fridge so the flavors can coalesce. You can also toast the coconut in advance too. I find this makes for a novel, portable dessert for intimate potlucks as all items get packed into jars and are easy to transport by bus or walking.

YIELD: 4 servings

1 quart high quality full-fat plain yogurt

1 can coconut milk

4 tablespoons thick shredded unsweetened coconut

4 tablespoons raw almonds, chopped

4 tablespoons high quality bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips

In a medium sized bowl, empty contents of one quart of yogurt. Spoon coconut milk into the yogurt and stir. Cover and refrigerate.

In a pan or electric oven, toast the coconut for around 2:30 to 3 minutes on low medium heat until it starts browning but before it burns. Set aside to cool.

In the same pan or electric oven, toast the chopped almonds until they start giving off their aroma and before they burn, around 2:30 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

When you’re ready to assemble the Creamy Coconut Joys, pour about 1/2 cup of the coconut yogurt into a small bowl. Scatter a tablespoon of almonds on top. Then, sprinkle a tablespoon of the toasted coconut. Lastly, dot the surface of the Joys with a tablespoon of chocolate chips or chunks.




Rocky Road Popsicles

DESSERT RECIPES- Rocky-Road-Popsicles

School cannot prepare you for this. You may define “this” differently. Perhaps it’s paying a mortgage, considering a career change, mourning a death. Where does simple mathematics play in here? Or perhaps mathematics is too much of a given, that simple logic of 1-1= 0. Maybe you would say that high school French class was a misstep in your education, but it taught you the importance of J’ai perdu. Some things cannot be taught but must be learned. This distinction can be quite a doozy.

A friend sent a forward with her good intentions. It served as a sign of her thinking of me, of her including me among her inner sanctum of women to send this email. I gave the tiny screen of my smart phone a cursory glance in the Atlanta airport, waiting for the gate attendant to begin announcing the boarding of the flight to Miami. Sipping an iced coffee, I was using the time to catch up on an inbox that might have subscribed to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Among junk emails and subsequent messages, I found my friend’s forward cajoling me to “Buy More Bath Oil!”

That subject line caught me by surprise. It niggled at me along with all the other signals trying to catch my attention in ATL: the small boy complaining about needing a nap, the affluent young couple decked out in Louis Vuitton and flip-flops, the mechanical voice on the P.A. noting a gate change for Flight 5260. The Nora Ephron email won.

With my curiosity piqued by that curious subject line, subject and seeming irrelevance to one another, I tuned out the imposing distractions and read on. Ephron, who passed away just a few weeks ago began this essay on aging with the statement that “it’s sad to be over 60.” She continued describing rising health risks and watching friends die, even going into elaborate and heart-panging detail over one particular friend she described as her “phantom limb”.

This well-written essay disturbed me with its candor and her perspective of what the young have to look forward to. Something she said pronounced a truth so profound that it elicited the need for a response. “Death doesn’t really feel eventual or inevitable. It still feels… avoidable somehow. But it’s not. We know in one part of our brains that we are all going to die, but on some level we don’t quite believe it.” I could taste her fear through her words. I found myself needing to refute them, believing another way exists, that aging can be graceful. Moving toward death doesn’t have to mean fear.

I’m 35 but I know that much. I’ve seen it in the death of my landlord mere weeks ago and I hear it in the poetry of Jane Kenyon.

School doesn’t prepare you for your death.  Is it so morbid to consider we will one day die? Is it not in some way the reminder to truly live? To die well is to live well. I think about a story my Mom told me a week after my Dad died unexpectedly. While it penetrated some of the cloak of grief I had wrapped tightly around my shoulders as comfort, it means something more to me now. He had walked out his front door to fetch the newspaper and waved at his neighbor. Somehow death wormed its way into their conversation. It has a way of making room for itself like that.  He told his neighbor he was ready to die, that he had lived a good life, that his only regrets would be to leave his wife (of 25 years) behind and not see me get married. At the time, he was not dying, but sometimes epitaphs are pronounced in advance of events. May I be so blessed to be able to say the same thing as my Dad when my time has come many years from now.

I don’t know about you, but I want to suck at the nectar of what life still has left to offer! How I want to grow old and grow into these bones more, even if osteoporosis comes with that later. How I want to be old with time enough to embrace those that need to be embraced. I think of my death in light of my voracious appetite to live. We don’t know what’s up ahead the bend, do we? Whether smooth or rough, if I could make you a batch of these Rocky Road Popsicles, I would.  One of these might take the edge off enough to consider the cause of mortality in light of the call of action to live.



YIELD: 16 mini popsicles
TIME: Overnight plus 5 hours passive time; 10 minutes active time

If you stick with just steps 1-4 below, you will make your own fresh Chocolate Almond Milk. It’s ridiculously easy and gives you the ability to control how sweet you want your milk. Then again, if you don’t have time to make your own almond milk, by all means, buy a box of your favorite flavor from the store and proceed accordingly. I developed this recipe  with the intention of not making the popsicles themselves all that sweet, so feel free to add more sugar and taste while you go. I figure with the addition of the mini chocolate chips and marshmallows, they sweeten things up enough for my palate. Go crazy and leave some of the almond pulp in your milk for a variation of texture. If you do try that, then why not also add graham cracker crumbs sprinkled generously over the popsicle sticks and tops of the cups for a variation on a Rocky Road S’more Popsicle? The sky’s the limit. I picked up a bag of “Black Cocoa” from a recent visit to King Arthur Flour and can vouch for not skimping on the quality of cocoa used- the flavor is unparalleled.

2 cups organic almonds

7 cups water plus 4 cups water

2 tablespoons Black Cocoa (or premium unsweetened dark cocoa powder)

2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

1 cup mini marshmallows

Optional: 1/4 cup organic almonds, toasted and diced


1. Place your two cups of almonds in a large bowl. Then pour seven cups of water over the almonds and let sit overnight (7-10 hours).

2. After the almonds are done soaking, drain out the almond soaking water and place almonds into the body of a blender. Pour 4 cups fresh water into the blender and then puree until smooth, about 3 minutes.

3. Take your large bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Hold onto the corners of the cheesecloth and begin pouring the almond milk into the cheesecloth, slung over the bowl, so that the almond pulp is caught in the cheesecloth and strained from the almond milk. Do this until all the liquid from the blender has been strained.

4. In a medium sized pot, pour the freshly strained almond milk and add your cocoa, vanilla and sugar. Stir over low heat until combined and heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Pour liquid back into large bowl. Cover and set in fridge to cool for 20-30 minutes.

6. Once cooled, remove bowl from the refrigerator and place on a counter. Stir in mini chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and diced toasted almonds if including them.

7. Line a rimmed roasting pan with mini 3 oz. paper cups. Using a tablespoon, measure 5 tablespoons of rocky road mixture into each cup. Aim for about 4-5 marshmallows per cup- they will bob to the top.

8. Once all cups are filled, place a small popsicle stick in the middle. Since your liquid is pretty thin, use the marshmallows to help hold the stick in place, positioning them as point guards around the stick.

9. Place your pan in the freezer and leave to set for about 4-5 hours. Once frozen, peel back the paper cups and enjoy.





Homemade Almond Joys

DESSERT RECIPES- Homemade Almond Joys 

Mom likes to remind me that I was a bit of a precocious child.

Sewn into my fabric at a young age I possessed a flair for the dramatic. Just last week, we noticed a young girl with her mother outside of a brunch eatery. She carried a princess book that matched her outfit consisting of layers of pink. Her curly blonde hair was swept into a side ponytail and affixed with a wide pink ribbon and tiny pink Crocs on her feet. She caught our eye though from twirling- in the middle of a somewhat bustling sidewalk, this girl twirled and shimmied without a care about who might watch. At some point, she noticed us and smiled a wide toothy grin. She proceeded to tell us the following:

“Today is my birthday.”

(Her mother smiled and mouthed, “No it’s not; she tells people everyday it’s her birthday.”)

“You can come over to my house and play with me and my dog.”

We walked away from this child with presence beyond her years and Mom said, “that’s exactly how you were as a child” before proceeding into a story of me singing and entertaining the godparents over dinner one night. Ah, childhood. You feel unstoppable.

homemade almond joys recipe

It’s no real surprise given my demeanor at six years of age that a few years later into adolescence I would choose to bake and compete in the Church Bake Sale.

homemade almond joys recipe

homemade almond joys recipe

To set the record straight, this was no ordinary church bake sale. After all, we lived in Texas where purportedly (and accurately) everything is bigger. At this time, the church could be easily called a mega church before the term even existed. Droves of home bakers entered and at 12, I wanted to bake and I wanted to win one of the awards.

homemade almond joys recipe

We scoured through Mom’s recipe box with the painted flowers on it and pulled out the recipe below, which I have since slightly tweaked. Written in Mom’s round and voluptuous cursive script, the recipe for “Barbara Walter’s Chocolate Coconut Cookies” held our attention and made it into the grocery list.

homemade almond joys recipe

Mom participated in baking but mostly, she supportively watched me melt, stir and mix. The house smelled of chocolate and coconut- two ingredients that seem made for each other. We plated them, wrapped them and readied ourselves for competition.

homemade almond joys recipe

Sometimes things happen you can’t exactly explain. A man began announcing into the microphone winners for the different categories: best pie, best cake, best cookie, best candy and so on. Let me tell you- the place was chock full of delectable entries. As they continued working their way through the list and dissemination of ribbons, I listened intently. Best candy came and went without a stuttering of name-calling, thus making me hang my head. And then came the announcement for Grand Prize winner, shortly followed by an all too familiar pause and name butchering. I won! They presented me with a red, blue and gold wrapped ribbon that gleamed of satin and looked like a giant sunflower on three legs. Mom laughed and threw her arms around me, so proud, so happy, so surprised! I basked in the unbelievable, giddy and on cloud nine for days. That bake sale taught me to dream big and go for it. For many years that grand prize ribbon hung on a wall in a place of honor in my room until later it got moved and removed in lieu of Teen Bop posters.

As you get older, sometimes that bit of cheeky shoulder to the world gets thrown back and you lose your swagger. You need the help of a child to set you right. That way of looking at the world- that wonder and creativity- children help us adults remember what it looks like to twirl as if no one else is watching, to bake and enter an adult bake sale because why wouldn’t you, to sing loudly even if off-pitch. And sometimes to pull a faded and crumpled prize ribbon out of a box and remember you can because you have.

I’ve said it before and I’ll invite you again. The cause is that important. The reason is that good. 17 million children last year in the United States lived in food unstable homes. That ability to dream and create and experiment in the kitchen that was so much a part of my childhood food memory building is not at their disposal. Share our Strength is working to ensure “No Kid Hungry” in the United States. And I’m trying to do my part and inviting you to join me and many others.

homemade almond joys recipe

So this weekend if you are in San Francisco, head on over to 18 Reasons on Guerrero and 18th from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or to Kiehl’s on Fillmore from noon – 6 p.m. and purchase home baked goods from your local San Francisco Food Bloggers Bake Sale. All baked goods are hand made with time, energy and thoughtfulness baked in. All proceeds of the sale go to Share our Strength. Organized by Gaby Dalkin, the Food Bloggers Bake Sale is taking place on Saturday around the United States, letting food bloggers like Aggie in Central Florida, Laura in Alaska, Maggy in NYC, and Keren in Seattle do what they do best: bake for other people & for a sweet cause. For more local San Francisco food bloggers participating in Saturday’s bake sale, click on the frosty pink cupcake button.

homemade almond joys recipe



Homemade Almond Joys

Adapted from “Barbara Walter’s Chocolate Coconut Cookie” recipe in Global Cookbook

Here’s the thing. Trying these now, they have more of a candy like consistency than cookie. The flavor is reminiscent of a grown up adult version of the popular candy bar. Using dark chocolate makes them rich and cuts down on the sweetness. Also, I think the thicker cut coconut just looks sexier. The fine shred coconut makes the candy resemble more of a bird’s nest.

YIELD: 1 dozen

  • 1 cup sweetened condensed lowfat milk
  • 4 ounces unsweetened dark baking chocolate
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup almonds, minced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of double broiler, combine lowfat milk, chocolate and salt. Cook over boiling water, stirring frequently, till chocolate melts and thickens.
  2. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 min.