Cooking with Cinnamon


In the WTNH kitchen with Jeff Valin and my daughter JoAnna who peeled all the apples for the cinnamon apple-crisp tart!

I had a great time featuring 4 cinnamon recipes on Good Morning CT yesterday with anchor Jeff Valin.

Cinnamon Apple-Crisp Tart


Make individual cinnamon apple-crisp tartlets when entertaining and serve warm with berries and farm fresh ice cream.

An all American favorite, apple crisp, is teamed up with orchard fresh apples and organic cinnamon in this simple tart anyone can enjoy.  This version has less sugar, more cinnamon and a gluten free almond crust that’s pressed, not rolled, and easy to make. Coconut oil replaces butter in the dairy free topping and I used gluten free oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oats).

Nut Crust
10 oz whole almonds
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

6 medium sized apples such as Cortland, Macoun, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup maple syrup (use sweeter apples, such as Macoun’s,  if using syrup)
1/8 cup quick cook tapioca, fine beads plus 1 tablespoon
optional: 2-3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup oats, gluten-free
1/4 cup spelt flour, all purpose gluten-free flour or oat flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar, brown sugar or 1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified or softened melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Finely chop almonds in a food processor. Warm honey and coconut oil together to liquify.  Add the honey mixture to the chopped almonds and almond meal. Coat 10 inch removable bottom tart pan with cooking spray (I like Spectrum’s grapeseed oil spray).  Press the almond mixture into your tart pan, starting in the middle and working the crust up the sides of the pan. Bake crust for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges.  Set aside to cool.

Peel, core and cut up apples into medium thin slices in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and tapioca beads. Mix well to incorporate all ingredients. Set aside.

Combine topping ingredients and incorporate with your hands until it lumps together.

Pour apple filling mixture into a 10 inch tart pan. Optional, dot with butter. Sprinkle on the topping.  If topping is very moist, especially if using maple syrup, press topping onto apples to cover. Bake for 30- 45 minutes or when apples are soft and cooked through. Remove tart pan and serve warm.

Updated 2/16/14

Sweet & Savory Pumpkin Seed Crunch


7 spices add pop and medicinal qualities to roasted pepitas

My spin on a seasonal spa food favorite uses cinnamon and six other sweet and savory spices for a delicious and healthy anytime snack.  Keep it local with honey or maple syrup from your area and cut down on refined sugars with juice sweetened cranberries.

2 cups raw unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, allspice, ground corriander, cumin, nutmeg, sea salt, chili powder or cayenne pepper (not both or this will be too spicy)
1/4 to 1/2 cup dried fruits (raisins, cranberries and/or cherries)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix agave, syrup or honey and spices in a bowl and set aside. Spread 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in oven for 15 minutes. Add roasted seeds to the bowl and stir spices to coat. Return pumpkin seeds to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Break into clusters and toss with dried fruits and remainder of the raw pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cinnamon


A colorful side dish spiced with cinnamon

Local butternut squash and maple syrup are usually available this time of year at winter farmer’s markets popping up in many towns.  Drizzle syrup over oven roasted halves and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Or toss squash cubes with olive oil, syrup and cinnamon and roast till caramelized.

1- 3 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 8 cups)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon cinnamon
Salt & pepper to taste

On a baking sheet or iron skillet, toss squash, EVOO, syrup and cinnamon to throughly coat, adding extra if needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your cubes or until a knife goes easily through the squash flesh. If the underside of the cubes have not caramelized and browned a bit, broil the tops for a few minutes, careful not to burn.  Serves 8.

Hot Cinnamon Chocolate with Almond Milk


An old favorite with a dairy-free twist, hot chocolate laced with cinnamon warms up a wintry day

Ancient native american cultures knew that chocolate laced with cinnamon was a perfect combination.  Almond milk makes this version creamy and dairy-free. A sprinkle of cinnamon adds a dash of spice along with a cinnamon “swizzle” stick.  Or try Mexican-style cinnamon chocolate which has a courser texter. I like northeast local Taza stone-ground chocolates hand crafted in Massachusetts.

1 cup almond milk plus 2 tablespoons
1 heaping tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder or 1 dark chocolate or cinnamon chocolate Taza 1.3 oz disc.
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, honey or agave (omit if using the Taza disc)
1 dash of cinnamon (optional)
1 cinnamon stick

Heat the almond milk in a small pan on medium high heat before letting it simmers or boils.  Stir the cocoa powder, sugar or honey and cinnamon plus 2 tablespoons milk to form a paste in a large mug, or add finely chopped mexican-style chocolate omitting the extra milk.  Pour the hot milk into the mug and stir thoroughly. If the cocoa or chocolate is not fully dissolved, pour the milk back in the pan and heat for one minute. Optional: froth with a wisk or Mexican molinillo. Add a cinnamon “swizzle” stick and let steep 2 minutes till serving.

Poached Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash

Waking up in darkness on winter solstice makes me want to brew a nice cup of tea first thing and enjoy a hardy breakfast while watching the sun rise.

Place a perfectly made farm fresh poached egg atop a simple hash of diced sweet potatoes (leave skins on if you choose), chopped onions, thyme, kosher salt and pepper to taste and you’ll have a wonderful sunny meal to wake up to.

To make the hash, place all ingredients (except the egg) into an iron skillet with olive oil and let the sweet potatoes caramelize a bit over medium to medium high heat to add flavor and some crunch. Stir often, careful not to burn the onions.


Not just for breakfast, this hash makes a colorful side dish with any meal.

Break the egg over the hash and let the potatoes soak up the creamy yoke. Enjoy savoring every bite!

No-Bake Chia Seed Pumpkin Pudding


It’s challenging to make a dessert in an hour for a cooking class which is just what we did for Feeding Your Soul which met last week for the first time. I love sweets (actually not-so-sweet-sweets) and this recipe fit the bill perfectly, found online at

Ok, so we cheated and Paula made the pudding the night before to let it set. But we did make a fresh batch just to see how easy this recipe is.  Chia seeds actually plump up when soaked in liquid and there’s no baking involved! We topped off the pudding with unsweetened flaked coconut and served it in individual ramekins.  Cooks and non-cooks alike will love to make this dessert and everyone will love to eat it. And with coconut or any non-dairy milk,  it’s also vegan. So yum and creamy!

Kale Salad with Citrus Soy Dressing

It’s December and I just picked the last kale from my garden before the big snow here in Connecticut. Kale is a hardy veggie and it has been slowly growing up till now, especially since I have been covering it in frigid weather.

Maybe I’ll make a simple kale salad or use in my green smoothie tomorrow morning with some bananas and almond or coconut milk. Nonetheless, kale is nature’s super food and I can’t do without it!

P.S. I left the stalks in tact with a few budding leaves in the garden and will report back as to whether it survives.

Kale Salad with Citrus Soy Dressing
1 part citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange)
1 part EVOO
1 part Tamari Soy Sauce (I use wheat and gluten-free)
Sesame Oil to taste
3 cups kale – shredded

Combine liquid ingredients and massage into shredded kale. Refrigerate for at least one hour to soften and absorb the dressing as kale will not wilt. Toss with toasted sesame seeds or cashews. Enjoy!

Feeding Your Soul

IMG_1416A kale salad with butternut squash and grated “cheddar” goat cheese, tuscan soup and chia seed pumpkin pudding was on the menu for the first community “prepare and dine” lunch in Seascape at Mercy Center. Thank you to all who attended and thank you Paula Kinney for bringing this group together!IMG_1413

There’s space available for anyone who wants to join on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Next Feeding Your Soul, Tuesday, Jan 14th.