Guilt-Free Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Drinks | October 21, 2014 | By


It looks like Cathy and I think way too much alike. We’ve both gone a little crazy with pumpkin this month, and we have declared October to officially be Pumpkin Month. This year it’s especially important for me to have a lot of orange in my life, as it is, after all, an #OrangeOctober. For those of you who don’t follow sports, the SF Giants have made it to the World Series, and their tagline is Orange October. Last week I watched all the games, had some crazy nights cheering at Finnerty’s, the San Francisco bar here in New York, and they did it! And I’m actually GOING to the World Series next weekend in SF! So drink up friends, and brace yourself for this Orange October.

This smoothie is one of my favorite fall breakfast treats. It is deceivingly healthy even though it tastes deliciously like pumpkin pie. It is protein-packed and the pumpkin adds a healthy boost of carotenes. The key ingredient is definitely the pumpkin pie spice, which adds a blast of flavor. I will probably be drinking one every day of this World Series. Go Giants!


Guilt-Free Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 Frozen Banana

1 Heaping Cup Organic Pumpkin Purée

1/3 Cup Non-fat Greek Yogurt

1/4 Cup Almond Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla)

1 Tsp Agave or Maple Syrup (I used Trader Joe’s Agave-Maple)

1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 Ice Cubes


Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.




Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Desserts | October 16, 2014 | By


Yep, another post where I bake with pumpkin products. As an unapologetic pumpkin-lover, I’ll let you into a little blog preview/secret: Hailey and I have no plans on stopping this pumpkin obsession.Though this might be due to my lack of self-control around Trader Joe’s various pumpkin products … oops … I have so many ideas on how to incorporate this delicious orange goop into all my favorite fall foods. I’ll probably even write a few of these posts while in a Starbuck’s PSL-haze.  So, we better just get it over with and rename this blog,  “Cathy and Hailey Cook With Pumpkin.” But hey, at least we’ll be predictable, right?!

At the risk of over sharing and losing all resemblance of a social life, I’m going to share with you, the reader, how I spent my last Sunday. (Whatever, I’m about to go into a PSL happy coma anyways). I went to a cat’s 2nd birthday. One of my friend’s threw her cat a Mad Hatter-themed birthday party, complete with presents and party favors. I’ve got to say, it was really fun. Chester (the cat) ended up leaving the party after we tried to dress him up in his new dinosaur costume (purchased partially by yours truly), leaving a handful of girls around to drink mimosas, swap stories and eat these brownies.

A few words on these brownies: this is my favorite brownie recipe ever. There’s been weeks where my roommate Marta and I can polish off a pan of these brownies in under a week. Now that’s impressive a skill since these are some of the densest, moistest and richest brownies I’ve ever eaten. I added a cream cheese- pumpkin swirl to the top (while singing “chocolate and pumpkin swirrrrrlllll” … anyone who gets this reference, gets me) just because I’m always in the pumpkin mood.

Hope you enjoy!



Pumpkin Swirl Brownies (adapted from Comfortably Domestic and Betty Crocker)


1 1/2 Cups of Flour

1/3 Cup of Cocoa Powder

1/2 Tsp. of Instant Coffee

1/2 Tsp. of Salt

3/4 Cup of Butter, at room temperature

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar

1 Cup of Sugar

2 Cups of Chocolate Chips (I used semi-sweet chocolate)

2 Tsp. of Vanilla Extract

4 Large Eggs

Pumpkin Swirl

3 Oz. of Cream Cheese, softened

1/2 Cup of Canned Pumpkin Puree

1 Egg

3 Tbsp. of Sugar

1 Tsp. of Cinnamon

1 Tsp. of Nutmeg


In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, coffee, salt, sugar and brown sugar together. Set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips, vanilla extract and butter at 30 second intervals until melted completely. Make sure that you stir the chocolate chips in between each microwaving session to help the heat distribute faster and more evenly. Mix the melted chocolate into the dry ingredients and stir completely. Stir in one egg at a time, taking care not to over mix. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, pumpkin puree, an egg, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a 9X9 inch greased pan, pour in 90 percent of the brownie batter. Once the batter settles, spoon pumpkin mixture on top, covering most but not all of the batter. Then do the same for the last 10 percent of the brownie batter. Take a clean butter knife and slightly swirl together the brownie and pumpkin. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes back slightly fudgy.




A Taste of NYC: The Meatball Shop

A Taste Of | October 15, 2014 | By


Meatball 3The Meatball shop has been getting a lot of press these days. Even before moving to NYC I remember seeing it featured in some Bank’s small business advertisements. I’m not particularly a huge fan of meatballs, but with all the hype, I thought I’d give it a try. They actually have several locations now including the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Chelsea and Upper West. I went to the Chelsea location (wow, I just realized how much time I’ve been spending on the West Side!).

So here’s the deal about the meatball shop- it’s sort of pick and choose/design your own, think Counter Burger with the fun check marks you get to put on your menu. They have several staple kinds of balls (turkey, beef, chicken, veggie), and always a special. Besides creating your own sort of bowl or concoction, you can also get a single meatball on a slider. This is a great little appetizer if you want to taste the meatball of the day but don’t want a whole plate of it.

I’m kind of a sucker for design your own places…so I loved it. I actually had a salad, which did not at all help my attempt to be healthy as it was rather heavy (it’s a must to come here very hungry, you will eat a lot). My salad had all sorts of market roasted vegetables, topped with my choice of ball and sauce: chicken meatballs and pesto. Finally topped with a fried egg. Yum.


A close look at the chicken-pesto Credit:

My friend designed a pasta bowl, also topping it with chicken meatballs and pesto (yes, I was a copy-cat because apparently that is the best combination…maybe I’ll be more creative next time!). We also shared a side of garlic roasted broccoli, which was very good, although with all the veggies on my salad I probably didn’t need it.

So my only regret about this place was not saving room for dessert! They have a make-your-own ice cream sandwiches with homemade cookies…reminded me of my college days spent at Diddy Riese! (If you live in West LA, you know what I’m talking about). Next time maybe I’ll share a plate of balls and a dessert…that sounds like a good plan.

(Sidenote: We sat outside and it was very dark so please excuse the photos!)

Meatball 1

Chicken Pesto Meatballs atop pasta

The Meatball Shop

Multiple NYC locations, including:

200 9th Ave New York, NY 10011

What to Order:

Meatballs! Any kind of ball you like. It’s design your own so you can’t go wrong, but the chicken balls with pesto was amazing!

And save room for an ice-cream sandwich to share :)

Meatball 2

Meatball Salad


Cranberry Kale Salad

Sides & Starters | October 14, 2014 | By

Kale 1This is almost as simple as it gets for a fall salad, but it’s darn delicious. I recently came across this great Buzzfeed article here, and it made me want to try SO many dishes with fall ingredients! This simple salad features kale and cranberries which are in season right now, but spices it up with a lemon vinaigrette, roasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan cheese.

This may be the first recipe I’ve made with fresh cranberries. I always go for the dried variety for salads and the like, but thought I’d give the fresh ones a go since they’re in season. My experience was that they are a LOT less sweet than dried cranberries, but I sort of enjoyed the tangy sourness in a salad. It was a great new experience, but definitely not for everyone (my friend didn’t like them all that much unfortunately).

This salad is a great appetizer, side dish or even a full meal. It also pairs great with Chardonnay (I clearly know from experience…). Happy fall everyone, and…

Bon Appétit!

kale 4

Kale Cranberry Salad

1 Bunch Curly Kale, chopped

3/4 Cup Fresh Cranberries

1/4 Cup Shaved Parmesan

1/4 Cup Pine Nuts

Roast the pine nuts over medium heat in a pan, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Set aside to let cool. Combine kale, cranberries and parmesan. Add pine nuts.


2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to Taste

1 Clove Garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and mix into the salad.

Kale 5Kale 2

A Taste of NYC: Keste Pizzeria

A Taste Of | October 10, 2014 | By

Keste 2Since I live in NYC, I’m obviously on a quest to find the best pizza around. Somewhat inspired by my friend Jen who used to have a blog that sought the best of every “New York food,” such as bagels, pizza, doughnuts, black and white cookies…I have been on a more low-key quest. (FYI her blog was really cool…check it out here! Gourmande on the Go). While I’m not necessarily documenting my quests, I hope to one day have an extensive lists of all the bests of NYC…maybe one day it’ll even appear on this blog.

Keste constantly comes up as a must-try for New York pizza. It’s not exactly New York-style pizza, it’s very Italian, but this cozy West Village spot is a favorite among many. Keste has been on my list for awhile, but I recently got to try it sort of on a whim, and sort of by accident.

My friend and I actually had intentions of a healthy and active evening. We decided that we would go on a run along the Westside highway. (Side note for runners- it’s really a beautiful path along the water, I had no idea how great it is!). It was a beautiful day, and I decided I would just walk from downtown to my friend’s place in Chelsea. Well, it’s kind of a farther walk than I expected. Coming from LA where I’m used to Cathy being my “neighbor” when she lived a mile and a half away, nothing in NYC seems far for me.

Well, by the time I got there and climbed the 5-story walk-up, I was tired and hungry. We embarked on a jog nonetheless, and made it about a mile before we decided we were over it. We decided to then run TO food. (Of course this is when my friend told me he and my other high school friend went on runs to Shake Shack frequently in the summer…his justification was that it’s healthier than taking the subway to Shake Shack!) So we ran into the West Village, and of course stumbled upon Keste, which I immediately recognized from my “list.”



The guy sitting next to us, seeing we were in work out clothes, started cracking up and mocking us, saying wow, good for you guys, going on a jog before eating. It was quite a scene.

So finally, the pizza…we were lucky to be there on a Tuesday evening, as it was fairly empty and there is usually a long wait. We ordered two pizzas to share, one with meat and one veggie. The crust was incredible- very doughy and fluffy. The cheese was very good as well, and the sausage on one of our pizzas was also quite good.

Some may kill me when I say this but….it actually wasn’t my favorite pizza in NYC! Don’t get me wrong, it was fantastic, but maybe a bit too saucy and not enough cheesy for my preferences. I’ve also been into very thin crust pizza lately, and this was a bit doughier and heavier. So far my favorites have been Otto and Malaparte (reviews to hopefully come soon!). Nonetheless, definitely worth heading to Keste for a delicious pizza meal.



Keste Pizzeria

271 Bleecker St. New York, NY 10014

What to Order:

We ordered two pizzas to share, the Ortolano (tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella, artichokes, mushroom, extra virgin olive oil), and one with sausage that I can’t seem to find the name of! There are so many different variations of pizza, and all vary only slightly so you really can’t go wrong.

The mozzarella is definitely very good quality, and the crust is a medium-thickness and very fluffy. Certainly one of the better crusts I’ve had.