Author: Natalie Bergman, Screenwriter, Mom, Wife, Foodie, Home Cook

Moroccan Chicken with Dried Apricots, Chickpeas, Butternut Squash and Green Olives

Okay, so admittedly I have never been to Morocco so I make no claims to its authenticity. But it is delicious and reheats beautifully. INGREDIENTS 1 cut-up chicken 1 can of chickpeas drained (or 12 ounces of dried chickpeas soaked overnight, then drained) 1 onion, cut up 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced 1 cup of cut-up butternut squash 2 medium carrots, chopped 1 cup of dried apricots 1/2 cup of pitted green olives 2-4 cups of chicken broth 2 tablespoons paprika 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon ground cinammon 1 teaspoon ground ginger salt & pepper 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil     STEPS Salt and pepper the chicken pieces to taste, while heating oil in the dutch oven. Sear the chicken with its skin on in the dutch oven until all sides are crispy. Remove the chicken from the dutch oven and pour off some of the chicken fat if you prefer a less oily batch. Then sautee the onions in the remaining chicken fat. Once onions are translucent and …

Israeli Couscous Sweet & Savory

I adore couscous in all its various sizes, but I really think the Israeli style which features a nice large round ball of semolina goodness, is definitely my fave. It’s got a great mouth feel and soaks up all sorts of flavors. Here is a super-easy, very flavorful approach to prepping couscous to go with my Moroccan Chicken or other middle eastern recipes. INGREDIENTS 2 cups couscous 2 tablespoons butter/ghee/coconut oil 1 minced shallot 1 cinnamon stick 1 bay leaf zest of 1 lemon fresh parsley 1/4 cup golden raisins 1/4 cup pine nuts salt   STEPS Start by melting the butter or ghee (clarified butter) (or a vegan fat like coconut oil if you prefer) in a medium-sized pot. Once the fat is melted, sautee a small diced shallot until softened, then toss in the couscous, and gently swirl the couscous around so that it gets a little golden and toasty. Once that’s done, add a cinammon stick, bay leaf, a pinch of salt, zest of one lemon, and 4 cups of chicken broth or water …

Killer Banana Bread

So, having a few bananas getting to the point where they were almost beyond redemption – so ripe the skin has darkened and thinned out – is the perfect opportunity to magically turn it into a delicious banana bread. Ingredients: 1 cup of ripe bananas, mashed 3 tablespoons sour cream or whole plain yogurt 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon of high quality vanilla extract 1 cup brown sugar (or sub your preferred sweetener) 1 cup all purpose flour 2/3 cup whole wheat flour 1 stick unsalted butter (European style butter preferred such as Plugra or Kerrygold) Optional Add-Ins: 1 cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips, or toasted & chopped up pecans or walnuts Steps: Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 Celsius) In a medium bowl mash bananas, add dairy and vanilla In a separate bowl, sift the flours, flaxseed, salt, baking powder and baking soda In the mixer using a paddle, cream the butter, then add the brown sugar until fully incorporated and somewhat …

The Rise of the Small Lot Subdivision

As the price of land soars ever higher here in California, city planners and developers are turning to novel solutions to maximize housing development on small lots. Having just navigated the sale of a 3-lot parcel in Los Angeles to a large multiunit developer, I know how complex and how rare it is for developers to be able to secure multiple parcels of land in a row in highly desirable neighborhoods. In fact, on the block where we sold 3 duplexes, a 4th owner held back, resisting the opportunity to sell. As a result, this one duplex property will be sandwiched between two large multistory apartment complexes…and its future resale value will likely decrease, due to the loss of privacy and increased density on both sides. The City of Los Angeles has made the opportunity to build multiple homes on small units a more efficient way to generate the greatest utility/value for these small lots. The original law passed in 2004 has helped small lot developers like Modative and Minaret to provide new housing in …

Home Sales Surge Locally

Home sales surged by 24% in February, with the buying season kicking off early this year, possibly driven in part by our very mild winter. Home sales are up 12% this February, compared to Feb of 2015.   Interest rates are lower now than they were at the end of 2015 which is enticing more peeps to get into the home-buying fray. Of course, if you can manage all cash versus getting a loan, your chances of snagging the home of your dreams definitely increases, as it makes you a much sexier buyer. Interest rates have crept up a tiny bit over the past two weeks, but overall are still quite low (under 3.7% for 30-year fixed loans, and 2.96% for 15-year loans). It’s definitely an excellent time to list your home – with inventory at significant lows – buyers are willing to pay a hefty premium to secure the home they want. 2016 is looking good for continued appreciation here in SoCal.

Los Angeles Homeowners Rejoice

Single-family home price increases in Los Angeles have shown no sign of slowing as we enter the third month of 2016. The main cause: our very constrained and limited supply. In general it is considered healthy for a real estate market to have a 6-month supply of inventory (houses for sale) on hand. At the moment in L.A., that level has dropped to a 4.8-month supply, which definitely puts an upward-pressure on home prices. People are willing to bid and pay top dollar, especially if your home has been remodeled and preferably staged to show well. Green and smart home features such as low-water-consuming landscaping, Nest thermostats, Launchpad or other smart devices to control your alarm system, your lights, your temperature, your sprinklers, your washer & dryer and more, are also growing more and more popular. In the westside home sales market, houses that have even a modicum of good taste in design, sell quickly. Frankly, I am seeing total tear-downs (such as the one in the photo above) selling for over-asking price by land-starved …