Banana Mint Whip

April 24, 2015

Banana MInt Whip Cinema & Spice

This dessert is a lifesaver when your sweet tooth kicks in and you are really fighting the craving to sink your teeth into a candy bar.  It’s really quick to make (if you have a good blender or food processor), so keep frozen bananas around for when the urge strikes.  This recipe is full of health benefits, the bananas are a great source of potassium and biotin, and the cacao is full of antioxidants and is known to be a mood enhancer. You can freeze this dessert and eat it the next day, but it is best freshly whipped up.

To see the video of us making this recipe, click here!


  • 4 bananas, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch coins, and frozen
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs


Put the frozen bananas into your blender (or food processor) and blend on the highest speed possible.  You’ll probably need some sort of device push the bananas towards the blades to get the whipping process started.  Once the bananas are almost fully blended add the mint and cacao and continue blending until smooth.


Serves 4

Cardamom Cake

February 5, 2015

cardamom cake cinema and spice

Years ago, I briefly dated a guy whose family was from Sweden.  One of my best memories from that relationship was this cake.  He baked me a version of it from an old family recipe and it completely swept me off my feet.  I had never tasted a dessert that utilized a spice that I’d only had in savory dishes.  Cardamom is extremely popular in Sweden, they eat about 60x the amount of cardamom there than in the US, and after you taste this cake you’ll see why.  It’s just the right amount sweet and is great with coffee.

cinema and spice cardamom cake

cardamom cake cinema and spice 1

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetite‘s Cardamom Pound Cake


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft (1.5 sticks)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (Or use freshly ground whole cardamom pods!  I recommend this extra step, it makes a big difference.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup honey roasted sliced almonds (we like the ones from Trader Joe’s!)
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour plus more for dusting

Lemon/cardamom whipped cream (optional):

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9x5x3” loaf pan; line bottom and long sides with a strip of parchment paper, leaving overhang. Butter parchment and dust pan with flour, tapping out any excess.  Whisk baking powder, cardamom, salt, and 2 cups flour in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk milk and ½ cup crème fraîche in a small bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat sugar and ¾ cup butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula, then add vanilla and almond extracts.

Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with crème fraîche mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Beat just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth the top, and then sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55–65 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 15 minutes.

If you want to serve the cake with cardamom lemon whipped cream, use a chilled bowl and beaters to whip the cream, sugar, cardamom, lemon zest, and salt on medium until soft peaks form.  Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate.  If you make it ahead of time, give the whipped cream a quick whip with a hand whisk right before serving.

Serves 8

Dark Chocolate Caramels

December 15, 2014

dark chocolate caramel cinema and spice

This recipe was created by accident.  We were making caramel covered apples and the mixture thickened too quickly to dip the apples in it.  I tried to salvage the caramel by pouring it in a tupperware and letting it cool.  The finished product was SO TASTY we couldn’t stop eating it, and then Natasha had the brilliant plan of coating them in chocolate, which obviously makes everything better.  As a finishing touch, we sprinkled them with toasted nuts & salt and put them out at a dinner party that night.  Our guests gobbled them up like wolves and demanded more.  Now they’re in our arsenal of addictive treats and are perfect to pack and send this holiday season.

dark chocolate caramel cinema and spice 2

chocolate covered caramels cinema and spice 3


▪   2 cups light brown sugar

▪   1 3/4 cups heavy cream

▪   3/4 cup corn syrup

▪   2 tablespoons unsalted butter

▪   1 teaspoons kosher salt

▪   1 bag of chocolate chips

▪   1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions: To make the caramel, combine the brown sugar, cream, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a medium/large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Using a candy thermometer, boil the mixture until it reaches exactly 250 degrees fahrenheit (this will take about 10 minutes).  Stir well and pour into a buttered, parchment lined pyrex baking dish.  Let sit for a couple of hours until cool to the touch.   Cut the caramel into squares (we like our to be big, about an inch on each side) and lay out on a piece of parchment paper.

Melt half of the chocolate over a double boiler just until the chocolate melts (not any longer).  Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the chocolate chips until melted.  Coat the caramels in chocolate and set out on parchment to cool.  Sprinkle with salt and pecans.  Wrap in parchment squares or store in an airtight container.


Makes twenty four 1″ x 1″ x 1/2″ caramels

Healthy Spiced Nuts

December 11, 2014

Healthy Spiced Nuts Cinema and Spice 2

We might be in the minority here, but after all the holiday cookie parties, epic meals, egg nog, fudge, toffee, spiked cocoa etc, it gets to a point where we are no longer thrilled to be receiving decadent treats. Which is why, this year, we are recommending giving out two treats.  One of the usual holiday variety, dark chocolate caramels, and a healthier option, spiced nuts.  Usually candied nuts are full of sugar, butter, and oil, but these are made simply with spices, a little canola oil, and maple syrup. Easy to make, easy to package, and fun to eat.

Healthy Spiced nuts cinema and spice 3


  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted, salted cashews (we used roasted cashews because we think they taste better and are less expensive, but you don’t have to)
  • 3 1/2 cups raw walnuts


Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a big cookie sheet with parchment paper. On the cooktop, toast each variety of nut separately in a large pan, since different varieties of nuts toast more quickly than others.  Toast nuts until they are aromatic, and slightly darkened, but not burnt. Put the toasted nuts into a large bowl and mix together well.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, vanilla extract, canola oil, maple syrup and kosher salt. Mix and pour over the nuts.  Stir until the nuts are coated in the mixture and lay them on the cookie sheet, trying not to pile them so that they evenly cook. Bake for 30 minutes or until the nuts have dried out.  The dryer the nut, the more candied it will taste.

Cool, and enjoy!

Makes 6 cups candied nuts

Healthy Spiced Nuts Cinema and Spice

A Perfect Day in Santa Monica

November 23, 2014

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When friends come to visit from out of town we always like to give them well planned out days of fun. Since we’ve both lived here for 9 years we have a pretty good sense of what’s around, and are able to keep up with the changes in the different areas. Because of this we’ve decided to provide you (every once in a while) with a mini guide to different parts of the city for your explorative pleasure.


We will start with Santa Monica because that is where we met.


In the morning you have to go to Bagel Nosh and get a bagel. It’s on the corner of 17th and Wilshire, and it is hands down the best bagel in Los Angeles, sit down, grab a newspaper, and enjoy while watching the other weirdos eating bagel sandwiches. I (Natasha) always get a pumpernickel bagel toasted with cream cheese and cucumbers and Julianna gets a fresh everything everything bagel with cream cheese. Truthfully, you can’t go wrong, unless you get the jalapeño and cheese one, because that is just gross.

You might be inclined to get a delicious cup of coffee at this point, if that’s the case to go to Funnel Mill.  They have a huge selection of rare coffee and teas and they make every cup with such attention to detail that it is a combination of enthralling and a little bit hilarious.

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If it’s a Wednesday, or a Saturday, after your bagel you should stroll down to the promenade and check out the farmers market.  The produce is amazing, the flowers are gorgeous, watching the chefs run around with the giant carts is amusing, and most of all the farmers are all really nice and excited to tell you about what they’re selling.  If it is neither one of these days you should hit Bergamot Station, which is the largest art gallery complex in Southern California, you can stroll around, check out the art, and perhaps buy an odd thing or two in the gift shop, or paper store.

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For a healthy lunch you should check out Real Food Daily, it is one of the most successful health food restaurants in the city and where Julianna and I met (both working as waitresses). If you want to sit outside, enjoy the fresh air and eat some delicious jerk chicken and plantains, then head over to Cha Cha Chicken (it’s BYOB too!).

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We love spending afternoons at The Santa Monica Public Library, reading books in the aisles, and drinking a million cups of tea.  For a little down time, this is the place to go, not to mention they have a great audiobook selection… if you’re into that sort of thing.  It’s also fun to hit up Vidiots if you have time to rent and watch a few movies.  It’s one of our favorite gems in the city because they specialize in hard to find/obscure films.


Before dinner, get a drink at The Penthouse Bar (located on top of the Huntley Hotel) the drinks are pretty good, but what’s really amazing about this place is the view.  Then walk over to Tar & Roses for dinner and you MUST order the whole fried snapper for 2. It is so delicious, and who doesn’t love to eat with their hands!

You might be exhausted at the end of this busy & food heavy list but you’ll know that you’ve won the day.


Click on the links below to check out our favorite Santa Monica spots:

  1. Bagel Nosh
  2. Funnel Mill
  3. farmers market
  4. Bergamot Station
  5. Real Food Daily
  6. Cha Cha Chicken
  7. The Santa Monica Public Library
  8. Vidiots
  9. The Penthouse Bar
  10. Tar & Roses


Root Mash with Wine-Braised Shallots

November 22, 2014

cinema and spice root mash

If you’re looking for something a little “off the beaten path” this year for Thanksgiving, we recommend trying this root mash instead of a traditional sweet potato casserole.  The wine braised shallots taste so good paired with turkey, and personally, with all the desserts that are available on Thanksgiving, we are always pleased when our vegetables come sans marshmallows.

This recipe is a slight variation of Yotam Ottolenghi’s from his newest cookbook Plenty More.

root mash cinema and spice 2


For Mash

  • 1 large celery root, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 kabocha squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

For Shallots

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 18 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 1 2/3 cup red wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt to taste


Heat the oil for the shallots over a medium high heat in a small pot and add the shallots.  Toss to coat in oil.  Once the shallots begin to soften add the wine, stock, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, sugar and a pinch of salt. Turn down the heat and simmer for 1 hour with a lid on the pot.  Once the shallots are a deep purple, raise heat to low and reduce the liquid until half remains.  Set aside for the potatoes.

In a large pot heat 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Add the celery root, carrots, and kabocha squash and cook for 15 minutes, add the sweet potatoes and cook for another 10.  Poke a few vegetables with a fork to make sure they’re all tender and ready to be mashed.

Drain the vegetables and mash with a fork.  Add the butter, maple syrup, and a large pinch of salt and black pepper.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like.

Put the mash in a serving bowl and serve with the shallots and reduced sauce on top, making sure to remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.


Serves 6

Low Sugar Pumpkin Bread

November 22, 2014

low sugar pumpkin bread cinema and spice

We’ve been on what seems to be an endless quest for a guilt-free pumpkin bread.  As the holidays are around the corner, we decided now was the time to take on the task.  We spent a lot of time testing this recipe and discovered that while whole wheat pastry flour and unbleached white flour are both delicious in baked goods, they create very different bread textures.  Since we liked the flavor of the white flour better but preferred the texture (and the health benefits) of the wheat flour, we ended up making a bread that utilizes both flours.  We also subbed applesauce for a lot of the oil and sugar and took out the dairy.  We think the final result is the best low fat, low sugar, healthy pumpkin bread out there.

cinema and spice low sugar pumpkin bread

(Cinema & Spice plate courtesy of studio LQ)


For Bread

  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup no-sugar-added applesauce
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie spice)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For Pumpkin Seed Topping

  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • large pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a small pan over a medium high heat and add pumpkin seeds. Toss in maple syrup and salt and cook until the sugar from the maple syrup begins to crystallize and separate (about 5 minutes).  Set aside on a piece of foil.

In a medium bowl, sift all of the dry ingredients and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and mix until well incorporated.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and pour into a greased bread pan (preferably glass) and top with pumpkin seeds. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.

Serves 6


Olive Oil Ice Cream

November 22, 2014

Olive Oil Ice Cream Cinema and Spice

From David Lebowitz’s The Perfect Scoop.

You’ve probably figured out by now that Julianna and I create nearly all of our recipes from scratch.  Every once in a while, though, we find a recipe that’s PERFECT.  Instead of reinventing the wheel, we give a nod to the brilliant chef who created it and just pass it along. This is one of those moments. David Lebowitz makes some incredible and inventive ice creams, and this olive oil one is no exception.  It is creamy and smooth and just the right amount sweet. We served it with Ottolenghi’s Goat Cheese & Fig tart from his book Plenty More.

Olive Oil Ice Cream Cinema & Spice 2

cinema and spice fig tart 2

cinema and spice fig tart


1 1/3 cups (330 ml) whole milk

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup (125 ml) fruity olive oil


Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

 Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Whisk the olive oil into the custard vigorously until it’s well blended, then stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Serves 6

Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins

July 31, 2014

Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins Cinema and Spice 2

We recently had a meeting at a big company where the executive kept talking about flax seeds. Honestly, she found a way to bring them in to every part of our conversation. So, of course we had flax seeds on the brain when we left. We decided to spend the evening concocting a delicious and healthy blueberry muffin, complete with this high fiber and omega-3 rich seed.

We kept the muffin batter relatively low in sugar because the sugar is better used in the streusel topping (yum).  Make them over the weekend, and invite some friends over for brunch (preferably us).

Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins Cinema and Spice 1

Recipe is inspired by Blueberry Flax Seed Muffins by Chef Meg


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons flax meal
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup blueberries

Streusel Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch sea salt


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare the muffin tins.  In a small bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk and let sit for about 5 minutes.  In another bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt, and flax meal.  Whisk to combine and set aside.  Using an electric mixer, beat the egg, applesauce, and brown sugar at a medium speed for three minutes.  Then add the oat and buttermilk mixture and beat on medium to combine.  Then slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.  Fold in the blueberries and set the mixture aside to make the streusel topping.

To make the streusel topping, combine all of the topping ingredients in a small bowl and use your fingers to mix well until the mixture is crumbly.

Pour the batter evenly into the muffin cups and sprinkle the streusel mixture on top.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Horseradish Dill Bagel Sandwiches

July 21, 2014

horseradishdillbagelsandwichcinemaandspice1 horseradishdillbagelsandwichcinemaandspice2

In June I (Natasha) went to New York and made a stop at my bagel Mecca, Russ & Daughters.  I had a sesame bagel with horseradish dill cream cheese, and it was so damn good I had to recreate it at home.  Julianna and I made it at home by adding horeseradish & dill to regular cream cheese and piling on a ton of veggies.  I would be lying to you if I said I had only one bagel while we were recipe testing… Ok, enough blabbing, here is the recipe.


  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (+ more to taste)
  • 4 bagels (we used sesame)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 cup fresh sprouts, washed well
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin rounds

Directions: Combine the horseradish, dill, cream cheese and salt. Taste and add more salt if you need (this will really depend on how salty the bagels are). Slice and toast the bagels and build your sandwich. We like to spread cream cheese on both sides and add the avocado, then the cucumbers, then red onion, then tomato and lastly sprouts. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4


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