How My Friend Became a Real Food Champion

Meet Leslie Nance, founder of and Lunch with Leslie

Meet Leslie Nance, founder of and Lunch with Leslie a live cooking show broadcast every Tuesday through Friday on Twitter and Facebook

I am not sure there are many in America who’s lives have not been affected by cancer, either directly or through a loved one. Leslie Nance, is a person whose life was radically transformed by cancer, and in her case, this was a good thing. It was December 22, 2012. I was working at The Cupboard. If you are reading this blog, you are likely a fan of The Cupboard and know just how crazy it is on December 22nd. [Read more…]

Put Your Pumpkin Pants On!

The Fort Collins Foodie Walk is a slow growing trend that makes for a fabulous Friday night.  This month we have Laurel Smith from Buena Vida Farm to talk about her heirloom pumpkins. Like wise staff member and foodie walk veteran,  Marcia , will be in the kitchen cooking up some of those pumpkins.

Listed below are the dishes she’ll be trying her hand at.


Roasted Winter Squash Cushaw with Raspberries


  • 1 ½ pounds cushaw peeled cubed into 1 inch squares (you could use butternut squash but that is not fair)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons Sorghum
  • ¼ Teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (For the adventuresome I recommend Bourbon Barrel Foods Bourbon Smoked Pepper)

1 1/3 cups (About 6 ounces) of fresh raspberries

  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 1/3 cup (6 ounce package) fresh raspberries


1. Preheat oven to 400

2. Prepare squash cubes, keeping size uniform to insure even baking. Place in a 9×9 glass baking dish.

3. Add butter, sorghum, salt and pepper tossing around to coat squash.

4. Bake until fork tender, anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes depending on the moisture content of cushaw.

5. With your fingers, sift ginger over top of dish. Carefully stir in raspberries, taking care not to bruise the fruit.

6. Bake another 5 minutes. Serve warm. As I side dish, I would expect to easily serve four to six. Wonderful for supper, but equally welcome on the breakfast table!


Cinnamon Baked Cushaw

Yield: 6-8 servings


2.5 lb Cushaw, cored, peeled, and sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup half & half


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Coat an oven safe glass dish with butter or a non stick spray. Arrange cushaw slices into an even, flat layer along the bottom of the dish. You do not want the cushaw slices packed in too tightly. Leave a little wiggle room for cream along the sides of each slice.

Give each cushaw slice a heavy sprinkle of cinnamon. Then follow up with some fresh grated nutmeg. Lastly, sprinkle the brown sugar all around the pan. Don’t worry about being precise, just make sure each piece is brown sugared!

Lay the butter slices on top of each slice of cushaw. Larger pieces get two slices of butter….smaller pieces get 1. And your personal piece you already picked out gets 3 slices of butter. 🙂

Pour the heavy cream around the edges of the pan…and then come back a second time and do another round with the half & half. The liquid will come up to about half way up the sides of the cushaw.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until incredibly tender when pierced with a fork. Then remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.


Healthy Bacon & Pumpkin Pasta


  • 2 cups dry whole grain shells
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ounce light cream cheese
  • ¼ cup fat free evaporated milk
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions or green onions


  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and return to pan. Reduce heat to low.
  2. Add pumpkin through salt and pepper and stir until cream cheese is melted and mixture is warmed through.
  3. Divide between two bowls and top with crumbled bacon and green onions.


I’ve also made this with caramelized onions for a little sweeter, more buttery flavor.


Vegan Pumpkin Spice Almond Butter Fudge (gluten-free)

Makes approximately at least 24 1-inch squares (with some additional leftover not-as-pretty edge pieces perfect for picking on)

1 cup raw unsalted almond butter

1/4 cup coconut oil (softened but not melted)

1/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

dash of ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 ounces dark chocolate

Line a baking dish (I used a 6″ x 9″ glass bread pan) with parchment paper or plastic wrap, two pieces works so the paper can go up both sides.

Mix all of the ingredients — except the chocolate — together in a large mixing bowl until totally mixed. It should be creamy and smooth. Pour the mixture into the lined dish and smooth it out with a spatula. Place in the freezer until solid, approximately 1-2 hours.

Just before you are ready to pull the fudge out, melt your chocolate over a double boiler.

Lift the fudge out of the pan by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper and cut it into 1-inch squares. Place the squares in a single layer onto a parchment paper lined tray or pan. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over top of all of the fudge. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or sea salt, if desired.

Return back to the freezer in a sealed container. This must be kept in the freezer until ready to eat.


Quinoa Black Bean Pumpkin Soup {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

Quinoa Black Bean Pumpkin Soup makes for a hearty and filling meal full of healthy and nutritious ingredients. Gluten-Free and Vegan too.

Author: Vicky Berman

Recipe type: Soup

Serves: 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 red chili pepper, diced
  • 3 cups cubes pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 20 ounce can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • For garnish:
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • handful cilantro, diced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat and cook onion for a few minutes. Add garlic and red chili pepper and cook until aromatic.
  2. Add pumpkin and spices and cook for a couple minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups of the vegetable broth and quinoa. Bring a boil and cook for 5 minutes before adding the remaining vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add beans and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Served garnished with cilantro, avocado and lime juice.

All of these recipes can be found on our Pinterest page as well, on the “Fall” board.

Robin Chocolates
image courtesy of

Robin Chocolates

If you have strolled by our candy case, you have seen and hopefully tasted the artful, melt in your mouth truffles hand-crafted by Robin Autorino.  During our August Foodie Walk (Friday August 16th from 5-8p.m.) you can try Robin’s delectable chocolates and learn about her unexpected path to becoming an award winning chocolatier.

Robin Autorino image courtesy of

Robin Autorino
image courtesy of

Robin started out in the Navy and travelled the world.  14 years of service provided her incredible opportunities to live, work, and travel over-seas.  The next chapter of her life formed around working for various tech companies in Northern Virginia during the Internet boom.   But this was not her passion.  Her son was grown and forging his own life, so Robin began to look for the next adventure.  Fortunately for all of us chocolate lovers, her search lead her to Northern Colorado to start a new life in Boulder and begin training to be a professional chef.  While in school she spent part of her time studiying in Avignon, France, where she studied with Michelin star chefs and at a local pâtisserie.  It was her experience working in the local pâtisserie that sparked her desire to become a pastry chef.  Ironically, Robin had been allergic to chocolate all of her life.  When it came time for her to taste chocolate in front of the French chef, Robin wasn’t about to expain her allergies.  She just took a bite and was ready to suffer through the consequences.  To her amazement, no allergic reaction came.   The door to working with chocolate was open!

Over the next several years Robin worked to develop her craft in the pastry kitchens of a number of landmark restaurants. Among these are Flagstaff House and Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder as well as The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. During this time she also interned at Tru in Chicago.  In her free time she began experimenting with making molded chocolates.   A request from a local florist in 2008 to make chocolates for Valentines was quickly heeded, and Robin Chocolates was born.

Robin now has her own store front in Longmont:

600 S Airport Road Bld B Ste D, Longmont, Colorado 80503

and of course you can always find her chocolates at The Cupboard!

Serving Slabs-re-purposed granite from Salida, Colorado

June Foodie Walk Special: (Rock Out with) Serving Slabs

Rustic. Refined. Recycled? Indeed! The beautiful stone serving trays from Serving Slabs are not only striking but sustainable. Started by Derrick and his wife Wendy, the Salida, Colorado-based company gives unused granite that would have ended up in landfills a new life as stunning and solid serving dishes and other home goods. Since April 2011, they’ve diverted an average of 2500 pounds of granite from landfills per month! [Read more…]

Exploring Colorado Wineries by Paula Mitchell

Meet Paula Mitchell and Explore Colorado Wines!

Many of us know the pleasures of a good bottle of wine. When properly paired with a meal, it can create a plethora of uniquely exciting tastes, taking a home-cooked meal from good to outstanding. However, even some of the most passionate locavores might come up with questions when it comes to nearby wineries. That’s where Paula Mitchell and her book Exploring Colorado Wineries come in. Mitchell has assembled an easy to use compendium of wineries and tasting rooms in our very own state. Believe it or not, there are over 125 and luckily we have Exploring Colorado Wineries to help us discover them. [Read more…]