Oatmeal Chia Seed Pancakes with Mixed Berry Compote

Many locals claim that Gwyn’s High Alpine (where I work) has the best breakfast in the entire Aspen/Snowmass area.  While this is constantly up for debate, there is no doubt in my mind that it has the best breakfast above 8000 feet, far and wide.  This is partly due to the fact that as one of the very few independently owned restaurants in the area, Gwyn’s does not have to succumb to the quality compromising and culinary short-cuts of the Aspen Ski Co. owned restaurants scattered throughout the mountains.  What I appreciate about Gwyn’s is that most everything served in the restaurant, both during breakfast and lunch service, is made from scratch.  I’d take a from-scratch meal over a pre-prepared and processed meal any day.

One of my favorite parts about the breakfasts at Gwyn’s are the fresh fruit pancakes.  The batter is made in-house daily as are the fruit compotes they serve on top, and they are insanely good!  Isn’t it interesting how something so simple as a home-made pancake batter can make me so excited?  It’s not a novel idea or anything, in fact it’s probably one of the more simple and basic recipes out there.  Why is it that in our culture of pre-made preservative and chemical-filled mixes, we have almost forgotten how to spend a relaxing morning putting time and love into such a traditional breakfast for the joy of ourselves and others?  What would our grandparents or great-grandparents say if they could see us now?

Not much makes me happier than waking up on a leisurely weekend morning to cook a simple breakfast with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, some nice tunes and a little bit of sunshine.  Most of the time it’s two eggs, a piece of toast and maybe some fruit (or bacon if I have it), but a few days ago I decided to make some pancakes from scratch using a few odd ingredients I had lying around the kitchen to spice it up.

Throw away those just add water mixes, people, let’s do this.

Oatmeal Chia Seed Pancakes with a Mixed Berry Compote


  • 2 cups mixed berries (blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry.  You can usually find bags of mixed berries in the frozen section of the grocery store)
  • 1 cup water
  • juice/zest of half lemon
  • 1tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon

Mixed berry compote. You can substitute almost any type or combination of fruit or berries to make this compote.

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring.  Turn down heat to low and allow to simmer for about an hour or until all the berries have reduced to create a syrup like texture.  Add more water if needed to prevent burning.  You can create the pancake batter while the syrup is simmering on low.

Pancake Batter:

  • 1 1/3 cups rolled oats, ground in a coffee grinder or small blender
  • 1 cup flower
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, you can combine white vinegar and milk by pouring one tbsp. vinegar into a measuring cup and adding milk up to the 1 cup mark, stir and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before adding it to the pancake mixture)
  • Butter, for frying

cage-free organic eggs are best, and look how pretty they are!

Combine all dry ingredients, including chia seeds in a large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl, mix the eggs and buttermilk (or milk and vinegar mixture) then add to the dry ingredients.  Stir together to combine ingredients, however don’t overmix as it will toughen the texture of the pancakes.  Heat a saute pan or griddle and melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add a few drops of water to the buttered pan, if it sizzles then your pan is hot enough to add the batter.

each chia seed packs an incredible amount of energizing nutrients and also give any recipe an extra crunch

Ladle the pancake mixture in about 1/4 cup amounts into the pan, allow the pancakes to sit for three to four minutes before flipping.  Cook for about two minutes more, or until pancakes are evenly browned on both sides, and adjust heat as necessary to cook the pancakes well without burning.  Melt a new piece of butter in the pan before cooking another round.  Store pancakes in the oven wrapped in some aluminum foil until the batch is complete.

To serve, ladle a generous spoonful of the mixed berry compote on top of two or three pancakes, and as always, ENJOY!

A special note about chia seeds and their liquid gold status:  chia seeds have been prevalent in many culture’s diets throughout history all the way from ancient Mayan civilizations through modern-day tribes such as the Tarahumara from the Copper Canyons in Mexico.  As a primary source of energy in an arid environment these tiny seeds pack quite a punch.  Filled with Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and zinc they give you the proper fuel for your day’s bright start.


Bacon Wrapped Asparagus with a Duck’s Egg

Ever since I have discovered a few markets where I can easily find organic produce and quality meat, dairy and grain products (namely, Vitamin Cottage in Glenwood Springs and The Aspen Emporium & Flying Circus) in and around the relatively isolated Aspen/Snowmass area, I have had this new obsession with creating simple recipes with quality ingredients and only a few easy steps.  The great thing about cooking simply, or cooking in general for that matter, is that ingredients used in the recipes can be substituted to suit your tastes.  Despite the simplicity, I still want to post my recipes in hopes that you might find some inspiration to create your own.  Please feel free to use my posts as models, rather than recipes, in order to cook a dish that suites your taste.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus with a Duck’s Egg

wrap a small bundle of organic (smaller and thinner than non-organic) asparagus in two to three pieces of bacon (I used all-natural uncured which gave it an amazing flavor)

I will use my sister Kyle as an example.  With this recipeI know how much she despises asparagus so if I were to cook it for her I would substitute, say, brussel sprouts or something of the like.

pan saute the bacon-wrapped bundle on medium heat until it is cooked thoroughly by rotating ninety degrees every minute or so (the thin asparagus needs hardly any cooking at all to achieve a soft yet crispy texture, so focus here on the doneness of the bacon, which should be crispy and caramelized all around rather than chewy)

Brussel sprouts, however, don’t have a shape that is conducive to wrapping whole slices of bacon around it.  Therefore, I suggest chopping the bacon into small pieces and pan saute it with the brussel sprout halves so that they cook in the yummy bacon grease to get that great flavor and caramelized color.

on a non-stick pre-heated pan, fry a duck's egg over easy by cooking it sunny side up until most of the white is cooked, then flip over for a quick sear on the other side and remove from heat. Serve on top of the asparagus with a runny yolk, and alongside a small salad or any other side of your choosing.

Once the brussel sprout/bacon mixture is done, remove from the pan and cook the duck’s egg in the same pan (that is still hopefully coated in bacon grease) for two reasons: the grease helps to ensure the egg does not stick to the pan, and also to get that great bacon flavor into the egg.

As a substitute for bacon, you could use prosciutto or turkey bacon.  For the duck’s egg, any type of egg is fine but it’s best to use free-range organic eggs as always.

The Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus

Photo editing credit to Ms.Kyle Kemp

Do you remember that feeling you used to get as a kid every time you’d walk into a toy store and marvel at the seemingly infinite display of new and awesome toys to play with?  This uninhibited excitement and enthusiasm is a feeling that we as adults tend to experience increasingly less often as the years pass by, it seems.  On occasion, though, something new and exciting comes into our lives and in experiencing it for the first time, we are brought back to that childlike blissful state.  For me, yesterday was one of those days when I stepped foot in an incredibly unique little store in Aspen called The Aspen Emporium & Flying Circus and felt this rush once again.

My good friend Lucia had mentioned this place to me a few weeks back when she gave me a little chocolate truffle rose for my birthday, which she happened to pick up at this then unknown store recently opened by her friend.  But it wasn’t until my good friend Nozomi took me to one of her newest little obsessions in Aspen that I recalled the connection.

This little gem of a market has everything to offer: delicious artisan foods, organic produce, natural body products, boutique doggy treats, homemade jewelry and clothes, and just about every little hand-crafted trinket you can imagine.  I love the idea of supporting local artists and food producers, but seldom can you find a place where such vastly different products are available under one roof.  Heaven.

And what far greater value there is in buying local and organic!  Honestly, considering the amount of produce I bought yesterday for only eighteen bucks, these words have never sung truer.  One of the common misconceptions regarding local, organic products (and in particular, produce) is that it’s drastically more expensive than what you might find in a large-scale super market.  Okay, sure, it might be a little more expensive to buy, say, artisanal mustard over the store brand yellow mustard.  But it’s important to remind myself what I’m actually paying for: taste(!), far greater nutritional value, supporting environmentally conscious and sustainable farming and processing methods, supporting a local business rather than simply pumping more money into the hands of the greedy, health and well-being (both in the present and the long-term), and lastly my own integrity, to name only a few.

Sure I break the rules from time to time, like this delicious handful of goldfish crackers I’m currently munching on (because, seriously, if you don’t enjoy goldfish crackers there is something seriously wrong with you).  I don’t ever want to get all political on this blog, and my intention here is not to push my own values onto others. I’m just a firm believer that wholesome and organic food is truly good for the soul, and I hope that everyone gets to experience that for themselves.


Apple Cinnamon Banana Bread

I have a very love/hate relationship with baking.  I love the endless delicious baked goods you can create with baking, but I hate how the recipes call for specific proportions and are affected by tons of different factors, kind of like a science experiment.  I am by no means a perfectionist, and I wouldn’t really call myself “detail-oriented”.  Sure, I took chemistry lab four hours a week for an entire year of college,  but I was not very good at it.  My measurements were never precise and I found accounting for all the variables quite tedious and time-consuming.  Truth be told, I’m not too comfortable with baking, and while I’d like to learn how to bake like a pro, I still find it quite intimidating.

Likewise, I have a very love/hate relationship with bananas.  There are times when I’m craving a healthy, filling snack and a banana seems to nicely fit the bill.  They go well in cereal, pancakes and are a key ingredient in the perfect breakfast smoothie.  However, what annoys me about bananas is the incredibly small time frame with which I find them appetizing before they go from hard and tart to mushy and overly sweet.  I never really know how many to buy at the store because in any given week I could crave a banana every day, or I could be turned off to the idea of eating a banana at all.

Today on my day off, with time on my hands and a much overdue blog entry to get done, I felt up for a challenge.  When I looked in the pantry and found two overly ripe bananas, the challenge became clear: it was a banana bread-making kind of day.  But most people, I figure, have made and/or know how to make a basic banana bread.  Thus, I opted to incorporate a few other ingredients that I picked up at the market yesterday and improvise a bit.  This is what I came up with:

Apple Cinnamon Banana Bread


For filling:

  • 1 large or 2 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced into small chunks
  • Half a cup of apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • juice of half a lemon

For banana bread:

  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour for this recipe, but have used white flour in the past and it turned out moister than with the whole wheat flour)

For streusel topping:

  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

For apple filling, throw apple chunks into a saucepan with apple cider, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Add all other ingredients and allow to simmer for at least half an hour, or until the chunks are soft and a deep yellow color.

For the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl until combined evenly and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter for batter preparation and combine with the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar eggs and vanilla extract and combine evenly.  Add baking soda and salt, then the flour last and stir until all ingredients are mixed evenly throughout the batter.  Once the apple mixture has cooled, fold apples into the batter evenly.  Pour batter into a loaf pan and then once spread evenly use your hands to spread streusel topping over the batter.

Bake for approx. an hour (I had to bake for over an hour because of the high altitude.  The best way to tell if the bread is done is to stick a knife into the center of the batter and pull it out.  If any of the batter is stuck to the knife then your banana bread is not ready and you must cook for longer.  After five minutes, check again).  Remove from oven when baked thoroughly, allow to cool for five minutes.

Serve warm with a delicious cup of coffee and a newspaper on a leisurely Sunday morning.


Less is More: A Dinner at Lucia’s

This is what a typical dinner at the home of my cooking mentor, the amazingly gifted Lucia, looks like:

homemade hemp seed crackers, sun dried olives, avocado and cremini mushroom salad, Barbera d'Alba wine

simple avocado and cremini mushroom salad with basil, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper

mixed greens with nasturtium flowers, mint, and a light olive oil and homemade lemon confit dressing

simply sliced blood orange for dessert

What I love the most about her cooking is that it’s incredibly light and simple, and yet she manages to create beautiful dishes that literally dance around in my mouth.  I wanted to post these pictures as a reminder to my readers, but mostly to myself, that flavorful cooking does not need to be complicated.  This is the perfect example of the phrase less is more, in allowing the flavors of real and pure ingredients speak for themselves.

Tonight Lucia sent me home with a jar of her homemade cherries preserved in grappa, an Italian beverage with intense alcohol flavor.  She also wrote down the recipe for her homemade lemon confit, which I hope create and document it on this blog in due time.


Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

When I was in college I found this awesome recipe for chicken enchiladas.  While the enchiladas turned out really well, all in all it took me about five time consuming hours to make them. This entailed roasting a whole chicken from start to finish, preparing the sauce from scratch, assembling the dish and then baking.  It’s not that I mind spending a few hours cooking a dish, or even all day if that’s what it takes and I have the time on my hands.  It’s just that between work, school, family and social life or whatever other hobbies we choose to spend out time doing, it’s not always a possibility.  Thus, it’s important for me to find shortcuts in cooking that can ease the accessibility of a recipe that might otherwise take a million years.

For instance, a whole chicken pre-roasted on a lazy sunday can last up to a week in the fridge.  I like to roast the chicken and then shred it, the pieces of which can be used in home-cooked meals for the next few days.  Or as another example, the roasted tomatillo salsa with which I topped my chicken enchiladas in college.

For those who are unfamiliar with a tomatillo, its a green fruit bearing a similar resemblance to a tomato that comes wrapped in a husk.  Tomatillos are best eaten when cooked and have a sweet tangy flavor that can be found in many traditional Mexican staple dishes.  My tomatillo salsa recipe is a simple, easy way to make a sauce that goes well with any number of latin-themed dishes.  You can top it on tacos, quesadillas, burritos, or enchiladas, use it as a salad dressing in a taco salad, or even serve as an appetizer with a bag of tortilla chips.  In my version I add avocado, which gives it a creamy consistency in between a salsa and guacamole.


Roasted Tomatillo Avocado Salsa


  • 5 or 6 healthy looking tomatillos, husks peeled and washed
  • Half an onion chopped into quarters (in my pictures I used a red onion, causing my salsa to take on an almost pink color.  I would recommend using a white or yellow onion to prevent this discoloration)
  • One jalapeno, sliced in half length-wise, and then halved again (for spicier salsa, keep the seeds in tact.  For mild, remove seeds and white inner pith)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 avocado, peel and seed removed
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Poke a few holes in each tomatillo with a fork.  Assemble the first four ingredients onto a baking sheet and toss into oven for at least half an hour, or until the juices begin to seep from the tomatillos and all ingredients are thoroughly caramelized and softened (without being burned).  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Add all ingredients to a blender, including raw avocado, olive oil, salt and pepper and pulse until smooth (its okay if there are a few chunks).

So, in conclusion what I’m really trying to say here is that if you have a tendency to be incredibly lazy at times like me, then you’ll come to love and appreciate all the little shortcuts we can take in the kitchen during those precious moments when we are actually feeling a bit inspired.  I’ve created a new category on my blog called “short cuts” where you can find this recipe as well as other similar posts in the future to help make cooking just that much more convenient for all of us busy folk.


Jalapeño Escabeche with Cauliflower

My very good friend Vanessa owns a cow.  Well, sort of.  You see, in the state of Colorado you must own a cow in order to legally consume raw, unpasteurized milk.  Or at least, you must own part of a cow.  Thus, she is part of a co-op in Carbondale whereupon paying her monthly dues entitles her to a portion of a cow’s raw milk.

The great thing about raw cow’s milk is the flavor and consistency.  For those of you who have never had the opportunity to enjoy raw cow’s milk, imagine as if the happiest cow on earth was kissed by a thousand angels and was then immediately milked.  With an incredibly creamy and rich consistency, it really is that good.  On the flipside, however, having been unprocessed there are no chemical additives or preservatives to keep the milk from going bad within a few days.  Not wanting it to go to waste, for the past couple of weeks Vanessa has been delivering me a small portion of this luscious nectar.  This past delivery was gone within one day without fail, my milk mustache smiling from ear to ear with each sip.

As she refuses to accept monetary compensation for her gifts, I’ve been brainstorming ways of repaying her.  This past delivery was given in a glass jar similar to what one may use as a container for pickling, so I thought why not pickle some vegetables in this jar of hers and deliver it back to her for a tastier form of repayment?  By combining a few online recipe suggestions, I came up with my own simple recipe for Jalapeño Escabeche with Cauliflower, a fancy way of saying pickled jalapeño with cauliflower, carrots and onion.

Jalapeño Escabeche with Cauliflower


  • 4 or 5 whole jalapeños, destemmed and sliced in 1/4 inch wheels
  • 2 or 3 carrots, skins removed and sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick
  • Half an onion, chopped in large pieces
  • Half of a cauliflower head, roughly chopped
  • 3 or 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped in half
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. whole black peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in a pot and head on medium to high until boiling.  Stir continuously until the jalapeños change color from bright green to a darker olive green, about fifteen to twenty minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to cool before pouring mixture into a sterilized jar.  To maximize flavor, allow to refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

I cannot confidently tell you that this recipe beats the flavor of raw cow’s milk, a true gift from the heavens, but if there’s any consolation then this is it.


The Best Way To Store Your Spices

An interesting read.

The Best Way To Store Your Spices.


Money-Saving Tip: How To Keep Your Herbs Fresh

This happens to me all too often! Buy a whole bunch of fresh herbs for a recipe and use only a small portion, only to forget about them…and then find them wilted and brown in my fridge a few days later.  Hopefully this article can help prevent this from happening to all of us, as much as possible.

Money-Saving Tip: How To Keep Your Herbs Fresh.


His and Her Homemade Pizzas

There are approximately two things that Tim and I have in common when it comes to food.  The first thing is that we both like to eat it.  The second: we both agree that pizza is awesome.  But that’s just about where this agreement comes to an end, you see, because our preferences for toppings could not be more polar opposite.  I would prefer not to have pepperoni, sausage or lots of meat of any kind on my pizza. And especially when different types of meats are mixed; in any type of food, mixing meats just weirds me out.  I’d much rather devour a veggie slice, or dig into a pineapple jalapeno.  I also really like weird pizzas with interesting flavor combinations.  Tim, on the other hand, is pretty simple when it comes to pizza: he likes lots of cheese, and lots of meat.

The other day I read a post on this cute little blog I found online, Love and Olive Oil, that described making his and her’s frozen pizzas.  What I liked so much about this idea is that the compromise is that there is no compromise, really.  Instead of combining fav ingredients into a then mediocre pizza or one person having to bend to the other’s preference, in this situation both people get to be selfish!  Each person gets to pick their own toppings and yet the whole cooking part is still an activity that the two people can do together.  Genius!

I’ve made a few pizzas here and there, but I’ve always just used the pre-made pizza dough you can get from Trader Joe’s or most specialty food stores.  Tonight was the first time I can recall ever making pizza dough from scratch, and one reliable recipe to stick to is nearly impossible because it seems like everyone has their own specifications.  For instance, some people insist on refrigerating the dough overnight before preparing the pizza, while others necessitate using an electric mixer that I do not yet own.  The truth is, however, that there really is no one uniform dough and crust consistency preference.  What I learned tonight is that making pizza dough really isn’t all that complicated if you aren’t too picky about how your crust comes out.  Good thing Tim and I can also agree on that.

For my pizza dough recipe, I referred roughly to the ratio of ingredients in the Love and Olive Oil recipe mentioned above.

Homemade Pizza Dough


  • 2 1/4 cup of flour (plus more for de-stickifying)
  • 3/4 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 7 oz cold water
  • cornmeal for dusting

First, I mixed the dry ingredients together (flour, salt, yeast), then added the olive oil and water in small increments, first whisking the ingredients together and then getting down and dirty with my hands.  The mixture was at first incredibly sticky, so I had to periodically coat the gooey mess in flour for it to eventually form a ball.   Other recipes will tell you to allow the yeast dissolve in warm water for 15 minutes to activate it or whatever, but this is my blog so I will tell you how I made the dough and you can decide for yourself whether or not to go by my word.

After kneeding the dough for a few minutes and then letting it sit, we split the dough in half and each got into flattening it out separately.  I personally don’t think you should worry about getting your dough completely circular, as homemade pizzas are all unique and an asymmetrical shape only adds to the rustic appeal in my opinion.  Once the desired shape and thickness was achieved we coated our baking pans in olive oil and then sprinkled a healthy amount of cornmeal onto the baking sheet and placed our pizzas down on top of the cornmeal.  Once this was all taken care of, we could now focus our efforts on the fun stuff: the toppings.

Hers: Pear, Prosciutto and Fig Pizza

This is a recipe that takes me back to the good ol’ days when I was just a wee one attending Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY.  One of my best friends Taylor and I had lunch at a restaurant where we shared a delicious pizza with similar ingredients that inspired me to attempt to recreate it once back at school, another time when I was home visiting my parents, and again tonight.  It’s got the whole sweet/salty combination going on and thus far the flavors have never disappointed.


  • 1/2 a ripe pear, chopped
  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped
  • A few slices of prosciutto
  • Goat cheese
  • Arugula
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  On the stovetop, heat a small pan with olive oil and saute the thinly chopped onions until caramelized and translucent, about 8 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to cool.  Meanwhile, spread the fig spread very thinly on the unbaked dough, leaving about 1/2 perimeter uncovered for the crust.  Thinly slice the pear down the middle vertically, and then chop the half to create many thin slices and disperse evenly around the pizza.  They should not be entirely covering the pizza, just enough to get a piece every other bite or so.  Shred the slices of prosciutto into small pieces, spacing them evenly throughout the dough and in between the pear slices.  Sprinkle the caramelized onions around the pizza.  Lastly, with your hands break apart the goat cheese into small pieces scattered evenly as well.  Your pizza should look roughly like the above picture before it goes into the oven.


Bake for 10-15 minutes, keeping a close eye on it so as to ensure it doesn’t burn.  In the meantime, coat some arugula with olive oil, salt, pepper and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice.   When the crust starts to brown, remove pizza from oven and allow to cool.  Scatter the arugula on top of the pizza before eating and enjoy.

His: BBQ Chicken Pizza


  • BBQ sauce of your favorite variety
  • Ground chicken
  • Bacon
  • Sauteed onions
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pepper jack cheese


The basics to this recipe are quite similar to mine.  Cook the ground chicken and bacon before assembling them evenly onto the pizza.  Spread the BBQ sauce around the pizza evenly, then add bacon bits, chicken chunks and sauteed onion.  Top with a generous coating of cheeses.  Bake at 450 for 10-15, checking frequently.


And guess the best part?  Not only did I really enjoy the boy’s BBQ pizza, but he actually and without hesitation liked the taste of my pizza as well.  I leave the kitchen tonight feeling increasingly more hopeful about this severe taste bud discrepancy.